The news of the week was Eli Manning’s benching. This blunder, combined with 10 losses in 12 tries, forced the dismissal of New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese.
It also was a weekend for milestones. Frank Gore moved into fifth place on the all-time career rushing list. The only players with more yardage: Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin. Hall of Fame, anyone? Larry Fitzgerald passed Issac Bruce for fourth on the career receiving yardage list. Fitz can pass Randy Moss with 26 yards in Week 14.
With all of that goodness out of the way, the attention turns to the fantasy playoffs. Unless you play in a 10-teamer or a league in dire need of reformatting, this is the week all of the fun begins.
10-100-1: Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is the first player in the past 15 seasons across the entire NFL to post three consecutive games of at least 10 receptions, 100 yards and a touchdown.
Takeaway: During said three-game tour, Allen has racked up 33 receptions on 41 targets … 436 yards and four scores later, he’s living up to the preseason hype of seasons past. LA hosts Washington before going on the road to KC and the Jets. Allen owners would be greedy to ask for a better slate to close out the fantasy season.
11 targets: Browns receiver Josh Gordon looked pretty darn good considering all of the time he has missed. The maligned wideout was targeted 11 times, snagging four balls for 85 yards.
Also see: Week 13 fantasy recap
Takeaway: While everyone would like to see him catch more than 36 percent of his looks, the fact Gordon was targeted 11 times is an encouraging accomplishment. More time with DeShone Kizer will only help, but remaining fantasy games against Green Bay, Baltimore and at Chicago don’t exactly instill a great deal of excitement for huge playoff push. There is some upside with Baltimore losing Jimmy Smith and Chicago getting pushed around by a receiver-less 49ers passing game. The Packers offer a favorable matchup on paper, but if they harass Kizer like they got to Jameis Winston in Week 13 (seven sacks), all bets are off.
27 touches, 143 yards: Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin missed Week 13 against the Packers with a concussion, but he could return to a lesser role or worse with the way Peyton Barber played in his absence.
Takeaway: Realistically, the Bucs have no reason to play Martin at this point. He isn’t the future, and there’s no incentive in going away from Barber. He was explosive and played better than Martin has at any point this year — all behind an offensive line shredded by injuries. Martin was grossly overpaid with his last contract, a deal owing him more than $21 million over the next three seasons. The Bucs will lose nothing in dead cap by cutting him, so look for a changing of the guard sooner than expected.
101 yards, 1 TD: The Arizona Cardinals running backs combined for this line after Los Angeles Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree went down late in the first quarter and didn’t return. The backfield had combined for just five yards rushing in the first quarter before the injury.
Takeaway: The opening drive for the Cards lasted all of one play before an interception. While Bruce Arians’ squad didn’t try to run before the Ogletree injury with much conviction, having expected this offense to find similar success — fueled by Kerwynn Williams’ 97 yards — would have been highly contestable. In the five previous games, the red-hot Alvin Kamara’s theatrics and a two-touchdown day by Latavius Murray were the only positive fantasy efforts. Chris Thompson, way back in Week 2, was the only relative unknown to have his way with this defense. As long as Ogletree, whose injury is not believed to be serious, is on the field, don’t expect much from the RB position in the next three games (PHI, SEA, TEN).
Houston Texans tight end Stephen Anderson hauled in five passes on 12 looks for 79 yards and a touchdown, posting 18.9 PPR points.
Takeaway: First of all, Tom Savage chucked the ball 49 times. The injury to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz made Anderson the only tight end of note on the field. Wideouts Bruce Ellington and Braxton Miller also left with injuries. Anderson’s last three games combined for 12 targets. Looking ahead, there’s an opportunity, but we’ve seen enough of Anderson to know by now he won’t take over the NFL. Houston has one of the toughest remaining schedules for the position to boot.
Cruisin’ for a bruisin’: Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford left Week 13 with a severely bruised throwing hand, but X-rays were negative. He was without starting center Travis Swanson to begin the game, but by its end the Lions were down starting right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Rick Wagner. No bueno. Detroit has done so much to upgrade its line over the past two offseasons, but this team still can’t run the ball and has given up a ridiculous 39 sacks over the past 12 games. Stafford is lucky a nasty bruise is the severity of his injury.
The Gronky Tonk Man: In what appeared to be his best imitation of a WWE move, Rob Gronkowski‘s cheap shot against Buffalo rookie Tre’Davious White would make Ric Flair proud. Unfortunately, it also should earn Gronk a time out for Week 14. Don’t be surprised if the NFL forces him to take a seat, which will also create a buzzy story line for a Week 15 return against the Pittsburgh Steelers that would make Vince McMahon smile.
Also see: Week 13 Tunnel Vision
Feeling brave: Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has topped the 20-point mark in fantasy three times over the past four games. Admittedly, it hasn’t been pretty, but it can’t be taken away from him. Next up is an incoming Seattle defense that has plenty of holes in the backend. Not necessarily encouraging, nor is it a recommended matchup for putting your season on the line. After the Seahawks, matchups with Houston and the 49ers could make Bortles a sly play. All of that said, it’s tough to expect any team making it to a title game without a viable starting quarterback. Maybe Bortles can help win a few bucks in DFS.
Sneaky snakes: Other players with great PPR matchups to consider over the playoff stretch: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams, Browns WR Corey Coleman, Ravens WR Mike Wallace, Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook, Bears TE Adam Shaheen, Redskins TE Vernon Davis, Redskins RB Byron Marshall and Colts RB Marlon Mack.