BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Roy Helu – Abdominal
Andre Ellington – Hip pointer
Zach Mettenberger – AC Joint sprain
Justin Hunter – Lacerated spleen
Rashad Jennings – Ankle
DeSean Jackson – Bruised fibula
Gary Barnridge – Ribs
Marlon Brown – Concussion
Fantasy playoffs are gearing up and the NFL is serving up major yards and scores. While most running backs turned in very moderate games, a handful blew up for big yardage and multiple touchdowns like Le’Veon Bell, Tre Mason, C.J. Anderson and Joique Bell. Wide receiver scoring remained very healthy with DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Johnson, Keenan Allen, Donte Moncrief, Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Brandon LaFell all scoring twice in their games. Last year only two wideouts managed two scores this week. The year before that it was just three. This year, we have eight.
The quarterbacks had Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Ryan Fitzpatrick all score at least five touchdowns. That’s happened only once in the last ten years and it was week 17 of the pass-happy 2011 season when all records were shattered.
There may be parity overall between most players but week to week this has been a record season for monster fantasy scores by a select few. Assembling a roster of players that are likely to blow up for that week and yet staying within a salary cap is what makes Daily Fantasy so much fun. This is the year of monster games.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE THE DEPTH CHART
Hakeem Nicks has yet to take advantage of playing with Andrew Luck and after a season of sub-50 yard games, his chance is over. The Colts opened with the ex-Mississippi rookie Donte Moncrief as the third receiver and the 6-2/221 pound speedster made a big difference in the win over the Redskins. Moncrief already turned in a 113 yard effort in Pittsburgh a month ago but has been otherwise little used. Now that he’s become a starter, he turned in touchdowns of 48 and 79 yards and ended with a team high 134 receiving yards and two touchdowns plus a six yard run. Reggie Wayne was held to only four catches for 31 yards and has been in obvious decline this year. That leaves Moncrief ripe for an increasing role right when the Colts will play at the Browns, the Texans and then at the Cowboys.
The Redskins are unlikely to be switching back to Robert Griffin III after Colt McCoy’s big stats during the losing effort at Indianapolis. McCoy was held to only 94 passing yards in the first half when the Colts led 21-10 but he responded well in the comeback bid, ending with 392 passing yards with three touchdowns. He also brought Jordan Reed (9-123) back to life which totaled 16 completions with the tight end over the two games when McCoy started. The opportunities to pass for more yards and scores will be plenty with an ending schedule of the Rams, at the Giants, the Eagles and finally the Cowboys.
Dan Herron replaced the injured Ahmad Bradshaw in week 12 and posted 65 yards on just 12 runs and added five catches for 31 yards. In that same game, Trent Richardson scored once and gained 42 yards on 13 rushes. The disparity between the two backs just grew even bigger with Richardson held to only 12 yards on eight carries with no catches while Herron ended with 88 yards and one touchdown on just eight runs plus two receptions for eight yards. Herron’s dual role as a runner and a receiver ensures that he’ll be involved regardless of the quality of defense while Richardson has become too risky to merit a fantasy start.
After trailing 20-3 in the fourth quarter and Brian Hoyer had thrown two interceptions, the Browns did what they had to do. They unleashed the media Kraken known as Johnny Manziel who responded nicely. He directed an 80-yard drive that took up only about three minutes and ended with a scramble up the middle for a ten-yard touchdown. It included an 18-yard strike to Josh Gordon and a drop by Travis Benjamin over the middle. His second series was less impressive with a failed fourth-down attempt. But Manziel connected well with Gordon after Hoyer was criticized for not finding him on deeper routes. While HC Mike Pettine said he would wait to name a starter this week, Manziel is sure to play at least some role if not start.
The NFC South may seem to be the division that no one wants given that the lead is shared by the Falcons and Saints with only a 5-7 record each. But expect the Saints to not only win it running away but to generate some late season fantasy magic in the process. Sure they lost three home games in a row but they bounced back winning in Pittsburgh. They lost Brandin Cooks but Kenny Stills stepped up to eight catches for 98 yards in the Ravens loss and then led the team with five receptions for 162 yards and a score in the win over the Steelers. Drew Brees passed for 257 yards and five scores and Mark Ingram gained 122 yards on 23 carries there. The Saints schedule now enters what should be a fantasy point bonanza as they end the season playing the Panthers, at the Bears, the Falcons and finally at Tampa Bay.
And while Jimmy Graham was held without a catch, the Steelers lost in the attempt.
JUST BEING REAL
Despite an NFC best 9-3 record, downgrade your Cardinal players and weigh any fantasy starts carefully. The Cardinals already were shaky without Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald remains out with an MCL sprain. They then lost Andre Ellington to a hip pointer in Atlanta where the Falcons sport one of the worst defenses in the NFL. But the Cards could only gain 28 yards on 10 carries by the running backs and while Drew Stanton threw for 294 yards and one score, he tossed two interceptions. They were easily handled by the Falcons and now face the Chiefs, Rams and Seattle next – all with far better defenses than the Falcons. Worse yet was the Cards defense giving up 361 pass yards and a career best 189 yards and a score to Julio Jones right over the top of Patrick Peterson. The injuries are significant and the Cards appear to have peaked a while back.
Before you hop aboard the Ryan Fitzpatrick train because he just threw six touchdowns and 358 yards on the visiting Titans, realize just how big of an aberration that was. Fitzpatrick has played in 103 games over his ten year career. He had eight games with three touchdowns, four that had four touchdowns and none with more than four until last Sunday. He’s only thrown one game with more than two touchdowns in the last two years. The Texans will remain a run-first team and wind down their year playing at the Jaguars, at the Colts, the Ravens and then the Jaguars again. All his six touchdowns really did was to help him stick next year as the back-up during the second and final year of his contract. Unusual game? Fitzpatrick just played the Titans two weeks ago when he was held to 227 pass yards and one touchdown.
Keep an eye on the offense in Tennessee because it could surprise in the coming weeks if only for fantasy performances. Zach Mettenberger suffered a Grade 1 AC Joint sprain but may end up playing this week. If not, Jake Locker is back in. Justin Hunter was lost to a lacerated spleen that may end his season. But that means that Kendall Wright and Nate Washington will see increased reps as they did in Houston where Wright ended with 132 yards and a score on seven receptions and Washington turned in a touchdown on his five catches for 61 yards. That bodes well for a team whose remaining schedule is the Giants, the Jets, at the Jaguars and finally the Colts.
|CHI 17, DET 34||The Bears were beaten up as expected but at least Jay Cutler passed for 280 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions. Martellus Bennett came back to life with eight catches for 109 yards while Alshon Jeffery ended with nine catches for 71 yards and two scores but Brandon Marshall (6-42) spent most of the day sitting at the kids table for Thanksgiving. Matt Forte only ran for six yards but added six receptions for 52 yards. Matt Stafford ended with 390 yards and two touchdowns that both went to Calvin Johnson (11-146, 2 TD) while Golden Tate (8-89) still held his own and Joique Bell was the only runner and gained 91 yards and two scores. Now the 5-7 Bears host the Cowboys and the 8-4 Lions welcome the Buccaneers.|
|PHI 33, DAL 10||Is it December already? The Cowboys may have started their annual slide a little early by never being competitive against the visiting Eagles. Tony Romo only threw for 199 yards and two interceptions and Dez Bryant (4-73) was as good as it got. DeMarco Murray was held to only 71 yards on 23 carries but did score once. He added 40 yards on six catches. Mark Sanchez was nothing special with 217 yards and one score to Jordan Matthews (4-51) and Jeremy Maclin (8-108) is back to leading the team even with Sanchez as the starter. LeSean McCoy ran for 159 yards and one score and looked very much in form. Now the 9-3 Eagles own the division by a game and host the Seahawks while the 8-4 Cowboys head to Chicago.|
|SEA 19, SF 3||This was such a treat for people who love to watch defensive wars (which is basically no one). Collin Kaepernick was held to 121 yards and two interceptions and Frank Gore only gained 28 yards on ten carries. No receiver had more than 38 yards for the 49ers. Russell Wilson only threw for 236 yards and one score but added 35 rush yards. Marshawn Lynch gained 104 yards on 20 carries. The loss sends the 7-4 49ers off to face the Raiders in Oakland and the 8-4 Seahawks travel to Philadelphia.|
|CLE 10, BUF 26||This was a fun game only because Brian Hoyer was benched in the fourth quarter and Johnny Manziel came in to direct a very nice drive that ended with his ten yard touchdown run but his second series had the center snap the ball too early which ended up as a fumble recovery touchdown by the Bills. Josh Gordon (7-75) was decent but not a game changer. Kyle Orton passed for just 190 yards and one score and none of the Bills had much of a game including Sammy Watkins held to just 11 yards on three catches. The 7-5 Bills head to Denver this week and the 7-5 Browns host the Colts.|
|TEN 21, HOU 45||Predictable beatdown but Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 358 yards and six scores had to surprise even himself. DeAndre Hopkins (9-238, 2 TD) had a career game and Andre Johnson (7-53) also scored. Arian Foster only ran for 79 yards but added 26 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. The Titans got 132 yards and a score from Kendall Wright but Bishop Sankey was limited to only ten carries to gain 42 yards. The 2-10 Titans now host the Giants and the 6-6 Texans head to Jacksonville.|
|NYG 24, JAC 25||Good close game despite having marginal fantasy implications. Blake Bortles threw for 194 yards and one score to Marqise Lee (6-75) but Bortles was also the leading rusher with 68 yards. Eli Manning threw for 247 yards and one score but Odell Beckham was the lead receiver with seven catches for 90 yards. Rashad Jennings ran for 91 yards and two scores as the best fantasy player. The Giants though they won it with a field goal with 3:30 left but the Jaguars drove the field and kicked the winning field goal with 32 seconds left to play. The Giants led this game 21-0 before yet another massive choke. The 3-9 Giants head to Tennessee while the 2-10 Jaguars host the Texans.|
|CAR 13, MIN 31||The Panthers decline continues with Cam Newton passing for just 194 yards and one score and Kelvin Benjamin ending with just five catches for 56 yards. Jonathan Stewart ran for 85 yards which will never happen again if you actually started him. Teddy Bridgewater only threw for 138 yards but scored twice and only needed to throw 21 times. With no Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata (14-52) was the lead runner and Ben Tate (5-15) was second. No receiver was better than Greg Jennings (5-45, TD). Now the 3-8-1 Panthers head to New Orleans and the 5-7 Vikings host the Jets.|
|NO35, PIT 32||Obvious contender for Game-O-The-Week. Tons of fantasy points all over and a great finish as well. Drew Brees passed for 257 yards and five touchdowns but only Kenny Stills (5-162, TD) had more than 17 receiving yards. Mark Ingram ran for 122 yards but this game only had 19 completions by Brees and five were scores. Ben Roethlisberger did not get started until almost the end of the game and yet ended with 435 yards and two scores. As someone who used Roethlisberger in a Daily Fantasy game, I great appreciated him taking over at his own two yard line with 1:02 left to play and then driving the field to throw a touchdown as time expired even though the game was over and it would not let him win. Yards and points are good no matter when they are attained or if they have any meaning to the game. Le’Veon Bell ran for 95 yards and a score plus caught eight passes for 159 yards. Antonio Brown had his normal eight receptions for 97 yards and two scores. Now the 5-7 Saints host the Panthers and the 7-5 Steelers head to Cincinnati.|
|CIN 14, TB 13||Whatever happened to the Bengals needs to be quarantined before it catches on other teams. This was nearly a trap game. Though they won, somehow, Andy Dalton only passes for 176 yards and one score with three interceptions. A.J. Green (4-57, TD) was the only receiver that matter and no runner had more than 49 yards because they have to split all the carries. Josh McCown passed for just 190 yards and one interception but Mike Evans (4-49) was as good as it got for the Bucs. Surprisingly, Doug Martin ran for 58 yards and one touchdown as the primary back. Now the 8-3-1 Bengals host the Steelers and the 2-10 Buccaneers head to Detroit.|
|SD 34, BAL 33||Another contender for GOTW, this was a really good game. Joe Flacco passed for 225 yards and two scores with a third rushed in. Torrey Smith (6-65, 2 TD) continues his assault on the second half of the season though no other receivers really mattered. Justin Forsett ran for 106 yards on 24 carries. Philip Rivers threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns with Keenan Allen (11-121, 2 TD) as the lead receiver but three others gaining over 80 yards. Ryan Matthews only gained 40 yards on 12 runs but scored once. Rivers drove the field starting at 2:22 and threw the touchdown with 46 seconds left to play. The 8-4 Chargers host the Pats this week and the 7-5 Ravens head to Miami.|
|WAS 27, IND 49||The result is the same but at least Colt McCoy passed for 392 yards and three touchdowns. Jordan Reed (9-123) and DeSean Jackson (5-84, TD) were the best receivers and Alfred Morris was held to 67 yards. Andrew Luck threw for 370 yards and five touchdowns split between Donte Moncrief (3-134, 2 TD), Coby Fleener (4-127, 2 TD) and T.Y. Hilton (5-62, TD). Dan Herron ran for 88 yards and a score on just eight carries. Plenty of fantasy points all around. Now the 3-9 Redskins host the Rams and the 8-4 Colts head to Cleveland.|
|ARI 18, ATL 29||This game really said two things – one that the Falcons at home are still decent and more than the Cardinals offense has problems that are going to be their undoing. Losing Andre Ellington is catastrophic with no Carson Palmer or Larry Fitzgerald. Remember – this was against the horrible Falcons defense. Drew Stanton threw for 294 yards but only one score against two interceptions. The best receiver was Jaron “not John” Brown (7-75) and the best runner was Marion Grice with 16 yards. Matt Ryan threw for 361 yards and two scores, Julio Jones (10-189, TD) had a career best yards and Hugh Douglas (9-116) replaced Roddy White. Steven Jackson ran for 101 yards on 18 carries to make it all surreal. The 9-3 Cardinals host the Chiefs this week and the 5-7 Falcons travel to Green Bay.|
|NE 21, GB 26||Great game, maybe a little lighter on points than we hoped. Tom Brady passed for 245 yards and two scores that both went to Brandon LaFell (5-38, 2 TD) while Rob Gronkowski (7-98) led the receivers. LeGarrette Blount (10-58) is the primary back now though Branden Boldin came in for the touchdown run. Aaron Rodgers produced 368 pass yards and two touchdowns though Davante Adams (6-121) was the most productive though Randle Cobb (7-85) and Jordy Nelson (2-53, TD) were decent. Eddie Lacy turned in 115 total yards. The 9-3 Patriots head to San Diego and the 9-3 Packers host the Falcons.|
|DEN 29, KC 16||The game was really over once the Broncos went up 14-0 since the Chiefs cannot mount a passing comeback against a decent team. Alex Smith threw for 153 yards and two scores but one went to Anthony Fasano (1-20) and the other went to Jamaal Charles (4-24) who added just 35 yards on ten carries. The Chiefs wideouts combined for three catches for 38 yards – there’s your comeback killer. Peyton Manning only passed for 179 yards and two scores and the best receiver was Emmanuel Sanders with only 73 yards on six catches which ended Manning’s record streak of consecutive games with a receiver over 100 yards. Demaryius Thomas ended with six catches for 63 yards and one score. C.J. Anderson was a beast with 32 runs for 168 yards and two catches for 17 more yards and one score. This sends the 9-3 Broncos back to Denver to host the Bills and the 7-5 Chiefs head to Arizona.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DeAndre Hopkins – The second year player lays down a career best game when the Titans gave up nine catches for 238 yards and two scores to Hopkins. You knew the matchup was good but Hopkins had never caught two scores in one game or exceeded 117 yards. It was like two of his best games ever combined into one and that helped out fantasy owners in a big way.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||Ryan Fitzpatrick||358||6||QB||Colin Kaepernick||138||0|
|RB||Roy Helu||66||1||RB||Andre Ellington||12||0|
|RB||Robert turbin||55||1||RB||Shane Vereen||32||0|
|WR||Donte Moncrief||134||2||WR||Anquan Boldin||18||0|
|WR||Eddie Royal||81||1||WR||Vincent Jackson||24||0|
|WR||Harry Douglas||116||0||WR||Brandon Marshall||42||0|
|TE||Coby Fleener||127||2||TE||Jimmy Graham||Nope||0|
|PK||Matt Bryant||17 pts||PK||Stephen Gostkowski||3 pts|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 174||Huddle Fantasy Points = 19|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
Monster scores this late into the season are different. But they keep coming and not just by the run or by the pass. We saw some major scoring this week and it made for some very interesting fantasy results. Chances are there is a huge difference between the best and worst scoring teams in your league. That was exciting and a great way to propel teams into their playoffs.
The Game-O-The-Week? Yes, it should have been the Saints- Steelers or the Chargers-Ravens. I love a high scoring, closely fought match as much as the next guy. But I have to admit, I must be the rare person who loves a blowout. Not so much when my team is getting demolished, but I can appreciate the dynamics at play when one team just throttles the other and never lets up.
Raiders 0, Rams 52
No undue respect to the Raiders, but come on. This was great. They won last week and although HC Tony Sparano said that his team had “gotten a taste of victory and like it”, he apparently was mistakened. Maybe it was the taste of high-proof alcohol. Probably it was just the absence of a bitter defeat for once. But when this team reverts to playing poorly, they take it rather seriously.
Derek Carr threw two interceptions and was eventually replaced by Matt Schaub who threw one. The only – and I mean only – offensive weapon of any note was Latavius Murray who only ran four times and who is still out with a concussion. The Raiders ran for 60 yards on 20 carries carefully mixing in Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcel Reese as if any of them mattered or will even be with the team next year.
Reece was the leading receiver of course nothing says “failed comeback” like having a fullback be the leading receiver.
Shaun Hill only passed for 183 yards and two scores because he had 178 yards and both scores in the first half and they already led 38-0. Tre Mason ran for 117 yards and two scores on just 14 carries and he added a third score with three catches for 47 yards. They SAT HIM at times so that Zac “Sluggo” Stacy could run out the clock never minding that Mason was on my Daily Fantasy team and a few regular leagues.
Stedman Bailey (5-100) led the receivers. It is not like the Rams are an offensive juggernaut. But a motivated team facing the visiting Raiders just went off as a carpet bombing. Tavon Austin scored a touchdown. Yeah – that Tavon Austin.
It was a great week with a ton of points. Big scores. Monster games. And hopefully just the right mix of events to get you into your league playoffs.
Now get back to work…