Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts
Zach Miller – Foot
Charcandrick West – Concussion
Robert Woods – Knee
LeSean McCoy – Thumb
A.J. Green – Hamstring
Cody Kessler – Concussion
Roger Lewis – Concussion
T.J. Yeldon – Ankle
Marcedes Lewis – Ankle
Ryan Mathews – Knee
C.J. Prosise – Shoulder
Darren Sproles – Rib
Giovanni Bernard – ACL
Troymaine Pope – Ankle
It was the week that the music died.
Week 11 offered the lowest scoring totals of the season. Going into Monday night, there had only been a total of 57 offensive touchdowns scored – three short of the 60 in Week 7. Worse yet, there were only five wide receivers with more than 100 yards and two of those did not score. There were only three players with more than one touchdown. And only the Redskins totaled more than 30 points.
Typically scoring declines later in the season and Week 11 served up a few games with wind or rain as a factor. For those in total point leagues, I hope you’re pleased with your current points because they’ll be harder to accumulate for the rest of the season. After several weeks of relatively light injuries, Week 11 brought down the hammer on several fantasy stars.
TAG TEAM SWAPS
Philadelphia Eagles – Entering into the loss to the Seahawks, the Eagles relied on a two-man backfield. By the end of the game, there was just one and Wendell Smallwood wasn’t one of the original two. Ryan Mathews suffered an MCL sprain and will likely miss a few games. Darren Sproles injured his rib on a punt return and may not play versus the Packers this week.
That would leave Smallwood with a big chunk of the backfield carries replacing Mathews and even more work as a receiver if Sproles is out. The next two weeks are against the Packers and Bengals that are both struggling due to injuries. The Eagles rank in the top five for running back fantasy points and suddenly could be faced with a committee of one.
Seattle Seahawks – C. J. Prosise finally had a chance to become the primary back and delivered 153 total yards in the Week 10 win over the Patriots. He placed a stranglehold on that role last week when he opened 72-yard touchdown run. But then he fractured his scapula and will likely be out for the rest of the regular season.
That installs Thomas Rawls back into the same primary role that he held at the end of the 2015 season. He finished with four 100 yard efforts and a total of six touchdowns. Rawls suffered a fractured fibula back in Week 2 and just returned from that injury. He rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries and caught three passes for 31 yards on Sunday. He’ll be a workhorse against the next opponents of the Buccaneers, Panthers, Packers, Rams and Cardinals.
Cincinnati Bengals – It’s Code Red for the struggling Bengals who just lost Giovani Bernard to a torn ACL and A.J. Green to a torn hamstring – in the same game. The losses will be devastating to the offense but it will promote heavier use of Jeremy Hill. Bernard averaged nine carries and four catches per game and Rex Burkhead won’t take as much of that workload as Hill.
Green was the only elite weapon on the team and he was the main success factor in the Bengals three wins. The rookie Tyler Boyd stepped up when Green left the game and ended with a team high six catches for 54 yards and one touchdown in the loss to the Bills. Tyler Eifert may see more passes but he was already the most targeted receiver after Green and now becomes an even bigger focus for the defense. Both Hill and Boyd will see more work as the Bengals play against the Ravens, Eagles, Browns, Steelers and Texans.
Buffalo Bills – LeSean McCoy dislocated his thumb and will require surgery but amazingly may not miss a game. If he does or needs a lighter load, Mike Gillislee will benefit. Robert Woods was coming off a breakout performance in Week 9 when he rolled up 162 yards on ten catches in Seattle but twisted his knee in the win over the Bills. Brandon Tate is his direct back-up who caught two passes for 48 yards on Sunday. But it may not be that simple in replacing Woods for the expected few weeks or more that he could miss.
Sammy Watkins could be back as early as this week. His return would completely change the passing offense as the only consistently productive wideout the Bills have. Percy Harvin is also getting back into the game plan with a run for 11 yards and catching two of four targets last week. The Bills have a very nice schedule upcoming with home games against the Jaguars, Steelers, Browns and Dolphins, plus just one road game in Oakland.
Jacksonville Jaguars – T.J. Yeldon left the loss to the Lions with an ankle injury and his absence sparked Chris Ivory to gain his highest yardage of the year. Yeldon has been only an occasional rusher but handled up to eight catches per week in a third down role. With him out, Ivory not only ran 17 times for 39 yards but added six catches for 75 yards. If Yeldon misses further time, Ivory gets to serve as the new workhorse back. The upcoming schedule is brutal facing the defenses of the Bills, Broncos, Vikings and Texans next and the rushing yardage will not be significant. But serving as the pass catcher out of the backfield is sure to be a growing need.
CUE THE SAD TUBA
The NFL set a new record with a total of 12 missed extra points in a single day. This is even more impressive considering that the final year before moving the extra point attempt back to the 15-yard line only totaled eight misses. That’s 150% increase in missed attempts in just one day compared to all of 2014. Robbie Gould and Mike Nugent both missed two. And this will not improve as bad weather becomes a more frequent factor in games.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAVE NO FREE AGENCY DOLLARS LEFT?
This late into the year will see many leagues shut down their free agency and all contests will shutter those doors within the next week or two. And yet – there are still players worth taking.
TE Jared Cook (Packers) – Considering that only five tight ends gained over 50 yards in Week 11, finding a new option for the position is exceedingly rare this late into the season. But Cook missed two months because of a high ankle sprain. His first game back saw him lead the packers with six catches for 105 yards and one touchdown. Aaron Rodgers will need a reliable check down option with the Eagles, Texans and Seahawks up next.
WR Malcolm Mitchell (Patriots) – The fourth-round rookie finally had a break out game with four catches for 98 yards and one touchdown in the win over the 49ers. He’s only an add in the deepest of leagues but makes more sense for dynasty rosters looking forward to future years.
RB Wendell Smallwood (Eagles) – He’s bounced back and forth from the waiver wire in most leagues but it’s time to bring him back at least for a few weeks.
RB Rex Burkhead (Bengals) – As the only other healthy back on the roster for the Bengals, Burkhead is the first option to replace Giovani Bernard. They may also call up Tra Carson from the practice squad or bring in a free agent back. The Bengals need a receiving back and Hill rarely has more than one catch per week. But while Burkhead could slide into that role, he’s only caught 19 passes over his four seasons with the Bengals.
RB Alex Collins (Seahawks) – Thomas Rawls will take over as the workhorse but there’s still a need for a second back at least for relief work if not more. Collins is the fifth-round pick out of Arkansas who impressed in the preseason not only as a rusher but also as a receiver. He’s a must grab for the Thomas owner.
The scoring was down and the incidence of wind and rain was up last week. That drives down the fantasy scoring right when many fantasy team owners are trying to reach the league playoffs. Don’t forget to double up on every position even if your league continues to allow free agency. Always have options for when the unexpected happens on Sunday morning. And remember – injuries to a star NFL player will impact everyone on the team.
BUF 16, CIN 12
Only two offensive touchdowns? Pitiful. LeSean McCoy scored one before leaving with a dislocated thumb and A.J. Green never had a catch before apparently tearing his hamstring so he’s not only out but you got nothing for him on the day. Tyler Boyd (6-54, TD) caught the only receiving score in the game. Losing Green seems just as catastrophic to Cincy as expected. The 3-6-1 Bengals head to Baltimore this week and the 5-5 Bills host the Jaguars.
PIT 24, CLE 9
A Browns game with only 33 total points? Wow. Ben Roethlisberger threw for only 167 yards and no scores. Antonio Brown (8-76) and Terrelle Pryor (5-97) were the only receivers of note and Le’Veon Bell ran for 146 yards and one score plus caught eight passes for 55 yards as the only big performance. But this is what you get in a windy, cooler game that one team knows that they can win. The 5-5 Steelers head to Indianapolis this week while the 0-11 Browns host the Giants.
BAL 17, DAL 27
The only surprise here was that Ezekiel Elliott was held to 97 rushing yards with no score but Dez Bryant (6-80, 2 TD) helped pick up the slack. Dak Prescott topped 300 passing yards for the second time in his career and threw for three scores. Aside from Steve Smith (8-99, TD) the Ravens had no great fantasy plays and now are splitting up Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon enough so that neither are a good start. The 5-5 Ravens host the Bengals this week while the Cowboys welcome the Redskins.
JAX 19, DET 26
The Lions won thanks to an interception return and a punt return for touchdowns. Eric Ebron scored the only offensive touchdown for the Lions and it was on a one-yard run. No Lions player rushed for more than 13 yards. The Jaguars also had no success rushing and Chris Ivory (6-75) was their leading receiver. Blake Bortles threw two scores but only had 202 yards and two interceptions. Allen Robinson (3-18, TD) and Marqise Lee (4-52, TD) was as good as it got. The 2-8 Jaguars play in Buffalo this week while the 6-4 Lions host the 6-4 Vikings for sole ownership of the NFC North.
TEN 17, IND 24
This should have been one of the highest scoring games but instead it was just another disappointment though not as bad as most of the others. Marcus Mariota threw for 290 yards and scores to Tajae Sharpe (4-68) and DeMarco Murray (3-9) who also ran for 70 yards. Andrew Luck passed for 262 yards and scored for T.Y. Hilton (5-97) and Donte Moncrief (4-37). Rishard Matthews ended with 122 yards on nine catches. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t nearly as good as it all could have been. The 5-6 Titans play in Chicago this week and the 5-5 Colts host the Steelers.
TB 19, KC 17
Oh boy, another low scoring game but at least it was an upset. Jameis Winston threw for 331 yards and one score with Mike Evans (6-105) the top receiver. Doug Martin totaled 105 yards but the Bucs won this with four field goals. Spencer Ware ran for 69 yards but only gained 16 as a receiver. Travis Kelce (7-108) was the only receiver with more than 53 yards. Just another uninspired, low scoring game. Now the 7-3 Chiefs have to play in Denver (wonder if they were looking too far ahead in Week 11) and the 5-5 Buccaneers host the Seahawks.
ARI 24, MIN 30
Somehow the only game with two top defenses facing each other was the highest scoring tilt of the early games. Carson Palmer threw for 198 yards and two scores while Larry Fitzgerald (6-63) lead all receivers and David Johnson (160 total yards, TD) continues to be matchup-proof. The Vikings scored on interception and punt returns but the best performance was Adam Thielen with only 65 yards and one score. There is no offensive turnaround by the Vikings here, the defense and special teams finally scored touchdowns again. The 4-5-1 Cardinals play in Atlanta this week and the 6-4 Vikings head to Detroit where the 6-4 Lions share the NFC North lead.
CHI 16, NYG 22
Yet another game with lower points than expected. Jay Cutler passed for 252 yards but only one score and the only receiver of note was Zach Miller (3-61, TD) who left injured. Jordan Howard ran for 77 and added a 22-yard catch. Eli Manning opted for one of his worst home games with only 227 yards and two scores while Odell Beckham (5-46) was oddly quiet. Rashad Jennings ran for 85 yards and one score while Paul Perkins (4-16) was back to being an afterthought. The 2-8 Bears host the Titans this week while the 7-3 Giants go to Cleveland for a week off.
MIA 14, LA 10
This was the rain-soaked debut of Jared Goff (134 yards) and all of the Fins points came in the fourth quarter. Yet another bad weather, no offense affair. Ryan Tannehill only passed for 172 yards and scores for DeVante Parker (8-79) and Jarvis Landry (5-28) who caught the game winner when a scrum from the five-yard line ended up in the end zone. Jay Ajayi ran for just 77 yards 16 carries. Todd Gurley had one of his better days with 76 rushing yards and an actual touchdown but no other Rams player did anything notable. The 6-4 Dolphins host the 49ers and the 4-6 Rams travel to New Orleans.
PHI 15, SEA 26
Predictable and still a little low scoring. The Eagles ran through their starting running backs with Wendell Smallwood the only one not getting injured. No Eagles receiver had more than 59 yards and no rusher topped 48 yards. C.J. Prosise had a 72-yard touchdown down and then is likely lost for the season. Doug Baldwin ended with 104 yards on four catches but no other receiver gained more than 46 yards. The only notable coming out is that both teams appear to be relying on a new starting running back. The 5-5 Eagles host the Packers and the 7-2-1 Seahawks head to Tampa Bay.
NE 30, SF 17
The was another rain-soaked affair but at least the Patriots still cared enough to hammer down on the hapless 49ers. Tom Brady returned to his hometown for the first time and threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Legarrette Blount rushed for 124 yards and while four different receivers scored, none of them were named Martellus Bennett (1-14) who faced the worst defense against tight ends and just blocked all day. Julian Edelman (8-77, TD) and Malcolm Mitchell (4-98, TD) were the best plays. No receivers had more than 46 yards for the 49ers, Carlos Hyde totaled 110 yards as the only notable 49er. The 8-2 Patriots now hit the road to play the Jets while the 1-9 49ers will be losing in Miami this week.
Huddle Player of the Week
David Johnson – This is richly deserved and not just because he was the highest scoring fantasy player in this week where hardly no one else scored. Johnson ran for 103 yards on 22 carries in Minnesota and caught seven passes for 57 yards and a total of two touchdowns. But even more – Johnson never has a bad game. He just doesn’t. He’s been the most consistently productive player this year.
Drama 101 – Somebody has to Laugh, Somebody has to Cry
|QB||Dak Prescott||317||3||QB||Ben Roethlisberger||167||0|
|RB||Rashad Jennings||129||1||RB||Darren Sproles||21||0|
|RB||Tim Hightower||126||0||RB||Isaiah Crowell||23||0|
|WR||DeVante Parker||79||1||WR||A.J. Green||0||0|
|WR||Malcolm Mitchell||98||1||WR||Kelvin Benjamin||56||0|
|WR||Tyler Boyd||54||1||WR||Odell Beckham||46||0|
|TE||Eric Ebron||71||1||TE||Tyler Eifert||37||0|
|PK||Robert Aguayo||4 FG 1 XP||PK||Mike Nugent||0 FG 0 XP|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 136||Huddle Fantasy Points = 22|
Packers 24, Redskins 42
This was the highest scoring game in a week that had no other real contenders. It is not unusual for a week to have low scoring or be filled with upsets or suddenly have all the road teams win. This lull in the season is when teams are getting tired and often looking for a week off.
At least this did not end up to be one of those, though describing what the Packers are doing is not always that easy. Aaron Rodgers passed for 351 yards and three touchdowns plus rushed for 33 yards. He made Jared Cook (6-105, TD) into a star for at least one week while all the other receivers disappointed. Jordy Nelson scored but only managed three catches for 28 yards. There is a chance that Christine Michael shows up eventually if only to prove that any back there is going to fail. James Starks only ran for 25 yards on nine carries though he added a score on his five receptions for 46 yards.
Kirk Cousins threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns that went to all three starting wideouts – Pierre Garcon (6-116, TD), Jamison Crowder (3-102, TD) and DeSean Jackson (4-51, TD). Rob Kelley ran for 137 yards and three scores though 66 yards came on a late touchdown run.
Let’s hope that Week 12 pumps up the scoring and that you missed the bullet that took out A.J. Green, Giovanni Bernard and C.J. Prosise.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. Even despite all the stress, angst and anger rolling around society these days, it is a great place to live and good time to be alive.
Besides, at least you don’t have to hold that clipboard or take roll like Marvin Lewis when he asks “okay, so who do we have left?
Now get back to work…