Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts
Ryan Tannehill – ACL
Melvin Gordon – Hip
Vance McDonald – Shoulder
Randall Cobb – Ankle
Matt Forte – Knee
C.J. Fiedorowicz – Head
Donte Moncrief – Hamstring
Week 14 in the NFL brought a rude awakening to fantasy leagues starting their playoffs and for large contests determining their individual league champions. The week that you needed your star players the most too often became their worst week of the season. Weather was a major factor from snow in Buffalo and Cleveland to driving rain in Miami. Five games were played in freezing weather. And normal fantasy scoring levels declined for many players.
Empty Booths in Club 300
The average week in the NFL produces around seven quarterbacks that throw for over 300 yards and that includes the weeks that contain teams on bye. The worst was Week 12 when only four quarterbacks topped that mark while four teams were out. But only two players threw for more than 300 yards for Week 14. Worse yet, Trevor Siemian (334 yards, one touchdown) wasn’t certain to be active until game time because of his foot injury. And both he and Carson Wentz (314 yards, one touchdown) were highly unlikely to be used in fantasy leagues.
All fantasy quarterbacks underperformed. In every other week this season, there were at least five quarterbacks that outscored Week 14’s best of Andrew Luck. From errant throws to dropped passes, the drop in production was across the league and it was more than merely the weather.
You Picked a Fine Time, Lucille
Matt Forte owners were ready to cash in when the Jets visited the 49ers. But he left the game with a knee injury after only three carries. Bilal Powell became the primary back and ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 29 runs and added 34 yards on five catches. Forte’s absence left the Jets with only Powell and Brandon Wilds who was recently brought up from the practice squad. Khiry Robinson was signed last week as well. Forte described the injury as more than a simple sprain. That makes Powell the likely starter for at least this week against the visiting Dolphins if not also in Week 16 in New England. His role as a receiver ensures that he’ll continue to produce regardless of the game situation. Notable too was that his five receptions were during Bryce Petty’s second start at quarterback.
Melvin Gordon is a top ten running back and already scored 12 touchdowns. But he too only managed three carries before leaving the loss in Carolina due to a hip injury. Kenneth Farrow ran for 55 yards on 16 carries and caught six passes for 23 yards as the replacement. Gordon may return as early as this weekend but the value of owning Farrow is more apparent now. The Chargers next two games are hosting the Raiders and then visiting the Browns. Both games should benefit the starting running back.
Sorting Through the Markdowns
The Dolphins lost quarterback Ryan Tannehill to an ACL injury though they pulled out the win over the visiting Cardinals. That gives ninth-year back-up Matt Moore the reins for the final games though his last start was in 2011. He’s thrown only 30 passes over the last five years. That drops the value of Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills and even impacts how the defense will treat Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins will also be on the road playing in potentially cold games in New York (Jets) and Buffalo for the next two weeks.
Bryce Petty now has two starts for the Jets and even threw for 257 yards in the overtime road win against the 49ers. That left Quincy Enunwa and Brandon Marshall as risky fantasy considerations. But the rookie Robbie Anderson already posted a team high 69 yards on three catches in Week 10 during Petty’s first start. Last Sunday, Anderson again led the team with 11 targets that became six catches for 99 yards. No other Jet gained more than 35 yards as a receiver. As noted, the Jets will be forced to throw early and often in the next games against the Dolphins and Patriots. Anderson is the preferred target for Petty.
Theo Riddick was a surprise inactive on Sunday due to ankle and wrist injuries and he’s been unable to shake nagging maladies most of the season. Dwayne Washington took over the primary rusher role with a season high 16 carries for 64 yards in the win over the Bears. The Lions backfield is one to avoid for the next two weeks with Riddick uncertain and playing on the road in New York (Giants) and Dallas. Matthew Stafford tore ligaments in the middle finger of his throwing hand but continued to play by wearing a glove. That injury could become a bigger factor in tougher road games than it was at home against a 3-10 Bears team.
Devontae Booker struggled to produce effectively for over the last month but he was afforded up to 26 touches per week. His volume gave him at least moderate overall production but in Tennessee he only rushed three times for one yard and added ten yards via two receptions. Newly signed Justin Forsett rushed six times for 17 yards and caught three passes for 18 yards. Booker remains the primary rusher but Forsett has already made a positive impact for an offense that is looking for help. This week hosting the Patriots is not likely to afford as many rushes for a backfield that is already starting to split the load again.
Raise the Roof
The overall quality of the offense and their opponent has an obvious bearing on how many scoring opportunities are afforded their respective kickers. But a secondary characteristic to consider is the weather. There were five games played in freezing weather and their kickers averaged only 4.3 points per game. Consider where the top five kickers for the week played – Nick Novak (16 points, dome), Graham Gano (14 points, Carolina), Jason Myers (10 points, Jacksonville), Caleb Sturgis (10 points, Philadelphia) and Roberto Aguayo (10 points, Tampa Bay).
The worst five kickers were Dan Bailey (1 point, New York 30⁰), Greg Zuerlein (2 points, Los Angeles), Dan Carpenter (2 points, Buffalo 24⁰), Chandler Catanzaro (3 points, Miami rain), Cairo Santos (3 points, Kansas City 23⁰). Weather impacts the entire offense including the volume of kicking attempts and their difficulty.
The inclement weather also seems to have a bigger impact on the visiting team. Consider the five freezing temperature games and their visiting quarterback stats – Derek Carr (117 yards), Ben Roethlisberger (220 yards, three interceptions), Andy Dalton (180 yards, two touchdowns), Russell Wilson (240 yards, one touchdown, five interceptions) and Dak Prescott (165 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions). In the driving rain in Miami, Carson Palmer only passed for 145 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Weather is never the main determinant of success or failure but it should be at least a consideration.
PIT 27 , BUF 20
It was cold and snowing and Le’Veon Bell would not stop. He ran for 236 yards and three touchdowns plus added 62 yards on four catches. Antonio Brown caught five passes for 78 yards but the two players accounted for but 80 yards of the offense. Ben Roethlisberger only passed for 220 yards and three interceptions. Tyrod Taylor (228 yards, 2 TD) mostly threw to LeSean McCoy (6-81) who ran for only 27 yards on 12 carries but scored once. Sammy Watkins (4-54, TD) finally had a score for the first time this year. Now the 8-5 Steelers head to Cincinnati and the 6-7 Bills host the Browns.
SD 16, CAR 28
Ends up that missing Melvin Gordon makes a difference. Gordon only ran three times before leaving with a hip injury and Kenneth Farrow ended with 55 yards on 16 carries and caught six passes for 23 yards. The only notable Charger was Dontrelle Inman with 71 yards and a score. The Panthers won mostly with field goals. Jonathan Stewart (24-66, TD) scored but Cam Newton only threw for 160 yards and one score to Devin Funchess (2-33, TD). Greg Olsen (4-87) had a decent game. The loss sends the 5-8 Chargers home to face the Raiders and the 5-8 Panthers go to Washington.
CIN 23 , CLE 10
The Bengals only needed Jeremy Hill (25-111, TD) and Tyler Eifert (5-48, 2 TD) to take this easy win. Robert Griffin III only completed 12 of 28 for 104 yards and one interception while killing the fantasy value of Terrelle Pryor (1-3) who was only thrown one pass. Isaiah Crowell ran for 113 yards on just ten carries but the Browns were otherwise overwhelmed by a Bengals team that had never looked this good. The Browns look very safe with that 0-16 right now. The 5-7-1 Bengals host the Steelers this week while the 0-13 Browns will lose in Buffalo.
CHI 17, DET 20
This was far too close for the second best record in the NFC. The Bears defense held Matt Stafford to only 223 yards and one passing score though he would also rush one in as well. No Lion had more than 68 yards. The Bears scored once on an interception and on a 31-yard pass to Cameron Meredith (6-72, TD). Jordan Howard totaled 110 yards but did not score. Overall, both offenses were lethargic. The 3-10 Bears host the Packers the week and the 9-4 Lions play the Giants in New York.
HOU 22, IND 17
Upset. The Texans had success rushing with Lamar Miller (21-107, TD) and Alfred Blue (16-55) but needed five five field goals from Nick Novak. Brock Osweiler only passed for 147 yards and one interception. Andrew Luck threw for 276 yards and two scores with T.Y. Hilton (9-115, TD) as the only player with any fantasy relevance. Now the 7-6 Texans host the Jaguars and the 6-7 Colts head to Minnesota.
MIN 25, JAC 16
The Vikings get a much needed win thanks to Sam Bradford (292 yards, TD) and Adam Thielen (4-101). Kyle Rudolph (4-60, TD) was the only other notable Viking. Matt Asiata scored once but only ran for 37 yards on 11 carries. Blake Bortles threw for 257 yards and one score but Marquise Lee (5-113) was the only Jaguar with more than 31 receiving yards. The Vikings won thank to four field goals by Kai Forbath. The 7-6 Vikings host the Colts this week and the 2-11 Jaguars play in Houston.
ARI 23, MIA 26
David Johnson totaled 212 yards like usual but these are not the same Cardinals otherwise. Carson Palmer only passed for 145 yards and two scores with two interceptions. The best receiver was Jermaine Gresham with just 45 yards on five catches. Ryan Tannehill passed for 195 yards and three scores before blowing out his ACL. Jarvis Landry (4-103) caught a 71-yard pass and Kenny Stills (6-97, TD) had the best fantasy game. Jay Ajayi was held to only 63 total yards. Now the 5-7-1 Cardinals host the Saints and the 8-5 Dolphins play the Jets in New York.
WAS 27, PHI 22
Kirk Cousins only passed for 234 yards and two scores but both DeSean Jackson (3-102, TD) and Pierre Garcon (5-59, TD) had decent games. Robert Kelley totaled 88 yards and a score. The Eagles had three field goals and a returned interception for a score as their only points other than Darren Sproles (40 total yards, TD) receiving touchdown. Carson Wentz passed for 314 yards but just one score and Zach Ertz ended with ten catches for 112 yards while Jordan Mathews caught eight passes for 79 yards. The 7-5-1 Redskins host the Panthers this week while the 5-8 Eagles head to Baltimore.
DEN 10, TEN 13
The Broncos completely abandoned the run with nine carries for 18 yards but at least Trevor Siemian passed for 334 yards and one score. Demaryius Thomas (10-126) and Emmanuel Sanders (11-100-1) both had big games despite the minimal points. Marcus Mariota won despite only completing 6 of 20 for 88 yards and no score. DeMarco Murray ran for 92 yards and the one very important touchdown but no receiver had more than 30 yards. The 8-5 Broncos have to host the Patriots this week
NYJ 23, SF 17 OT
The hapless 49ers push their futility to 12 straight games despite Carlos Hyde rushing for 193 yards on 17 carries and scoring once as a receiver (1-7, TD). Colin Kaepernick only passed for 133 yards and the one touchdown. Bryce Petty passed for 257 yards and after Matt Forte was injured, Bilal Powell blew up with 145 yards and two scores on 29 runs and added 34 yards on five catches (AKA Forte-points). This battle of the sad sacks naturally had to go into overtime. The 4-9 Jets host the Dolphins this week and the 1-12 49ers bring cheer and good will to Atlanta.
SEA 10, GB 38
The Seahawks left their offense in Seattle since Russell Wilson only threw for 240 yards and one score with five interceptions. No receiver had more than 46 yards and Thomas Rawls gained 67 yards on only 12 runs. Aaron Rodgers passed for 246 yards and three touchdowns in this feel good story of the season. Jordy Nelson (6-41, 2 TD) and Devante Adams (4-104, TD) had big games while Ty Montgomery came back to life with 86 total yards and a score. The 8-4-1 Seahawks return home where they are still kings and face the Rams while the 7-6 Packers head to Chicago.
ATL 42, LA 14
The Falcons did not need Julio Jones to record their biggest win of the year. Matt Ryan passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns though Taylor Gabriel (3-82, TD) was their only receiver with more than 49 yards. Tevin Coleman totaled 56 yards and a score as a receiver and as a runner while Devonta Freeman only totaled 18 yards. Jared Goff (235 yards, 2 INT) scored as a rusher as did Todd Gurley (16-61, TD). But Kenny Britt (7-82) was their best receiver. Now the 8-5 Falcons host the 49ers for a freebie and the 4-9 Rams head to Seattle while wondering why they signed Jeff Fisher to a contract extension.
NO 11, TB 16
This is just sadness. This was not a baseball game. Drew Brees passed for 257 yards and three
touchdowns interceptions and Willie Snead (6-85) took his turn as the top receiver on a bad week. All combined, the Saints ran for only 46 yards on 15 carries. Jameis Winston only threw for 184 yards and no receiver had more than 47 yards. Doug Martin ran for 66 yards and a score on 23 carries. When these teams just have defensive battles, the NFL is irrevocably changed and not for the better. The 5-8 Saints play in Arizona this week while the 8-5 Buccaneers head to Dallas.
Huddle Player of the Week
Le’Veon Bell – Not even remotely close. Bell came up with a career best game who set the new Steelers record with 236 rushing yards on 38 carries which was also the most that the Bills had ever allowed. He scored three touchdowns and added four catches for 62 yards. In a reception point league, he laid down 51.80 points. For those using him in a high dollar contest, he just basically did in one game what a good back would do in three games. On a day of so many disappointments and underwhelming performances, Bell just became the premier difference maker.
Drama 101 – Somebody has to Laugh, Somebody has to Cry
|QB||Ryan Tannehill||215||3||QB||Drew Brees||257||0|
|RB||Bilal Powell||179||2||RB||Melvin Gordon||5||0|
|RB||Kenneth Farrow||78||0||RB||Matt Forte||8||0|
|WR||J. J. Nelson||64||2||WR||Kelvin Benjamin||11||0|
|WR||Ty Montgomery||86||1||WR||Dez Bryant||10||0|
|WR||Dontrelle Inman||71||1||WR||Larry Fitzgerald||12||0|
|TE||Charles Clay||52||1||TE||Jimmy Graham||16||0|
|PK||Nick Novak||5 FG 1 XP||PK||Greg Zuerlein||2 XP|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 999||Huddle Fantasy Points = 16|
Cowboys 7, Giants 10
What a perfect way to end this bad week – the Cowboys not only lose for the first time in 11 games but they only score one touchdown and the margin of the game was the 55-yard field goal attempt by Dan Bailey that hit the crossbars and bounced back for the want of six inches. There was no real Game-O-the-Week. There was no high scoring close game. The Falcons laid down 42 points but the Rams mostly just stood there and took their beating.
There were 15 teams that failed to score more than 17 points. Half the league! You like tight ends? Only five scored this week and that included Dion Sims and Charles Clay. Scoring was down all over which made games like Le’Veon Bell had incredible difference makers. Insurmountable ones.
We can only hope that the weather improves for the next two weeks or league and contest champions are going to be the Bell owners who own enough starters with games in the south or in domes to be unbeatable. Drafting dome kickers… using fair weather quarterbacks… starting running backs when snow means handing off more than passing…
Sounds like the 2017 drafting season is already starting!
Now get back to work…