BUMPS, BRUISES AND BOWOUTS
Bruce Ellington – Hamstring
Johnny Manziel – Hamstring
Dwayne Allen – Knee
Percy Harvin – Rib
Pierre Thomas – Foot
Steven Jackson – Quad
Jermaine Kearse – Hamstring
Aaron Rodgers – Calf
Marshawn Lynch – Upset Stomach
THE LESSONS OF 2014
- CONSTANTLY CHURN YOUR ROSTER – Odell Beckham was well-represented in the fantasy playoffs after spending the last three weeks catching 31 passes for 421 yards and six touchdowns. Those are season marks for many wideouts and Beckham produced that since Thanksgiving. Despite being a first round pick by the Giants, he was on most waiver wires in week 4 because he had not yet played. Martavis Bryant, Jarvis Landry, Travis Kelce, Brandin Oliver and Tre Mason were also picked up on waiver wires and produced at least for a few weeks if not the rest of the season. Any change in situation on a team depth chart creates an immediate need to get the new starters. If they bomb as many do – throw them away. If not, enjoy your upgrade and never let a Beckham pass you by.
- BACK-UP RUNNING BACKS MAY PAYOFF – Another name for a back-up running back is just the next guy up when the primary back is injured or falters. But just because you have a roster full of #2 backs doesn’t mean you are sitting on a gold mine. The only back-up running backs that you should consider are those who are on teams with a great offense. We’d like to believe that individual players control their destiny but the reality is they must have the offense around them and blocking in front of them or it doesn’t matter. Second-string running backs from Denver, New England, Houston, Kansas City and Green Bay have all had a big game when they were given a start. Owning any of the backs from Carolina, Tampa Bay, Tennessee and Jacksonville didn’t have a fraction of the success as any starter in a top offense.
- TIGHT ENDS ARE IN DECLINE – The overall value of the top ten is no longer as significant as it once was. We still see Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham at the top of the heap though both have not been as dominating as in past years. But moving down the list the overall points do not drop much meaning that there is not much difference in the top ten. Even worse is the inconsistency so many tight ends have from week to week. The position is actually just returning to normal after an unusually productive 2013 season. The position is much more in line with 2012 and before.
- TIGHT ENDS ARE ON FIRE! – We could speculate why but for some reason, tight ends do much better in the first month of the season than they do the rest of the way. It happens every year. Julius Thomas again started red hot for six weeks and then has been dogged by injuries and marginal play. Remember how happy Larry Donnell made you? Four touchdowns in the first month and then you could never start him. Martellus Bennett scored more touchdowns in the first three weeks (3) than he has the rest of the year (2). Aside from Gronkowski and Graham who are the main weapon of their quarterback, tight ends often start out hot and then really cool. Delanie Walker scored in three of his first four games and then only once since. Look yourself – most of them just disappear. This is why you never overpay for a tight end besides Gronkowski and Graham and even they are in a small decline.
- WELCOME TO THE QB DISCOUNT – The most telling factor in how players and positions will be valued the next year is how well the elite players performed the previous season and more so, at the end of the year since our collective memories can barely handle birthdays and anniversaries let alone what went on in October of 2014. A month ago you could have expected to see the first and second round dominated by Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. All were highly drafted and posted big stats. But recently fantasy teams relying on any of the four experienced unthinkably bad games when they needed them the most. Andrew Luck led the pack as the #1 fantasy quarterback who was very well represented in fantasy championships and he just laid an egg the size of Texas in Dallas before getting yanked from the game. Manning had announcers discussing all-time NFL records. Then his two straight weeks of sub-180 yard games killed the talk and his fantasy owners’ playoff chances. That will translate into a slide in 2014 drafts.
- ALL IN ON THE ROOKIE WIDEOUTS! – This has been a record year for rookie wide receivers and every one of the first round picks were golden – Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin. Other deeper picks already have looked good as well like Jarvis Landry, Jordan Matthews and Marqise Lee to name but a few. But compare those picks to the first two rounds of 2013 – Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter and Robert Woods. How about 2012? Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, A.J. Jenkins and Brian Quick. We had a tremendous year for the rookie receivers but next August consider 2012 and 2013 far more than the freakish 2014.
- ALL OUT ON THE ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS AND TIGHT ENDS – I know, Johnny Football was drafted in every single league. Many times even Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and even Derek Carr were taken. It never works out. By the end of the year, we won’t have any rookie quarterbacks in the top 20 just like every non-Manning and non-Luck year has been. They do not even make decent backups so leave them alone in August. Same for tight ends that are drafted on hype and actually have no successful predecessors. There has never been a valuable rookie fantasy tight end. They’d have to be top five to be difference makers anyway and that will not happen. Eric Ebron, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Jace Amaro – who did you ever start?
- EAT BRAINS AND DRAFT RUNNING BACKS – Knowing that the previous year has a dramatic impact on current player value; it would make sense that almost all running backs take a back seat to stud wide receivers, a few quarterbacks and maybe even two tight ends. After all, over half of the first three rounds last season were running backs and they had a spectacular fail rate – far higher than wide receivers or quarterbacks. Adrian Peterson, Giovani Bernard, Montee Ball, Zac Stacy, C.J. Spiller, Reggie Bush, Doug Martin and others were major misses that greatly hampered their fantasy teams. But it never matters. After a good year, everyone wants a running back. After a bad year, they still want a running back because they believe they cannot wait on a riskier back. But they are all risky picks. Over half of the primary backs from week one this year were no longer the primary backs by week 16. Resist joining the running back zombies and go for proven high production and consistency with each of your first three picks.
|TEN 13, JAX 21||It’s like they are trying to drive away their audience. The only thing worth watching here was Jordan Toddman running for a 62-yard touchdown which was actually one yard less than his season rushing total. Kendall Wright (4-73) played with a broken hand. It was as bad as we feared. The only remotely good fantasy aspect was that Toby Gerhart (12-53) scored one touchdown. Now the 2-13 Titans can go lose their tenth straight game by hosting the Colts who might just lay down again this week. The 3-12 Jaguars finish in Houston.|
|PHI 24, WAS 27||This was a great game though explaining why it was is harder to do. The Eagles had everything to win and did not. Mark Sanchez threw for 374 yards and two scores to Riley Cooper to help no one. Zach Ertz suddenly blew up for 115 yards on a Redskins’s record 15 receptions. But the Redskins had Alfred Morris run for 83 yards and one score but let Darrel Young run in two one-yard touchdowns. LeSean McCoy ended with 116 total yards and score. Robert Griffin only threw for 220 yards and one interception but gets the win. Now the 9-6 Eagles head to New York to face the Giants while hoping for an unlikely and unearned miracle. The 4-11 Redskins wind up hosting the Cowboys.|
|SD 38, SF 35||Another great game – not sure why. The 49ers did their standard collapse after leading 28-7 at the half and gave up 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and then overtime. Philip Rivers started out with three interceptions but ended with 356 yards and four touchdowns. Antonio Gates (7-92, 2 TD) and Eddie Royal (10-94, TD) were the big stars. Frank Gore ran for 158 yards and a 52-yard touchdown while Colin Kaepernick only threw for 114 yards and a score but ran for 151 yards including a 90-yard touchdown for their only score of the second half. Now the 9-6 Chargers head to Kansas City and the 49ers finish hosting the Rams.|
|CLE 13, CAR 17||This was just as exciting as expected – particularly after Johnny Manziel bowed out with a hamstring. Jordan Cameron (3-88, TD) had a 81-yard score that made the Browns look way better than they really were since otherwise they only had 85 pass yards in the game. Cam Newton threw for 201 yards and a score and ran for 63 yards while stealing the touchdown from Jeremy Stewart (24-122) but threw him the one score. The score says it all – not a lot going on here. Now the 6-8-1 Panthers head to Atlanta to fight for the NFC South title and the 7-8 Browns go to Baltimore.|
|DET 20, CHI 14||The Lions had far bigger problems dispatching the Bears than they should have. Matt Stafford threw for 390 yards and two scores just three weeks ago against these Bears and now all he can do is 243 yards and two interceptions? Calvin Johnson (6-103) did not score and somehow Reggie Bush (7-54 rush, 6-44 receive, TD) decides he is going to play for the first time this year. Jimmy Clausen wasn’t bad with two scores but only threw for 181 yards. Matt Forte ran for 55 yards and had six catches for 40 yards and one score. Alshon Jeffery (6-72, TD) also scored but no one else really mattered. Marquess Williams (7-66) is getting better replacing Brandon Marshall. The 11-4 Lions have clinched the division but still have to fight for a seeding when they head to Green Bay while the 5-10 Bears go to Minnesota.|
|BAL 13, HOU 25||There was the mistaken belief that the Ravens wanted to win this game to help their playoff aspirations but apparently not. Joe Flacco ended with 195 yards and two scores to Torrey Smith (5-59) but that all happened late in the game after the three interceptions. There was no rushing by the Ravens. They were dominated until late in the game when the Texans already knew they won. The Texans won this with six field goals and one touchdown pass by Arian Foster who totaled 109 yards as a running back.|
|ATL 30, NO 14||The Saints peaked too early – some say it was last year – and facing a terrible defense was both not enough and not nearly as terrible as the Saints defense again proved. Drew Brees ended with 313 yards and one score with two interceptions but most of that happened late in the game. Mark Ingram dropped 61 yards and two scores on the Falcons back in Atlanta but could only muster 55 yards and one score this time and the best play was Jimmy Graham (6-53, TD) even with his lost fumble at the one foot line. Julio Jones (7-107) not only played but was the only one that really mattered. Matt Ryan threw for 322 yards and one score. Now the 6-9 Falcons host the Panthers for the right to host a playoff loss in the first round. The 6-9 Saints head to Tampa Bay.|
|NE 17, NYJ 16||What is it about the Jets so that they suck against most teams but then play the Pats so well? They almost won this game. This was everything that fantasy playoffs hate. Tom Brady faces one of the worst secondaries and throws for just 182 yards and one score while no one rushes for more than 38 yards. Rob Gronkowski (6-31, TD) was as good as it got. Geno Smith threw for 210 yards and one score but there was nothing happening in the offense that gave up fantasy points. Chris Ivory ran for 53 yards. That was about it. Now the 12-3 Patriots will end hosting the Bills. The 3-12 Jets hold their Christmas office party in Miami where afterwards they will immediately disband the team. Players and coaches are requested to clean out their offices/lockers prior to leaving for Miami to avoid any awkward moments when they return. There will be empty boxes available in the cafeteria.|
|KC 12, PIT 20||Alex Smith threw for 311 yards and no touchdowns though one pass did hit Dwayne Bowe in the hands in the endzone so it is sort of a half touchdown. It is as close as any Chiefs wideout has come this season. Jamaal Charles was held to only 77 total yards and no score. Ben Roethlisberger only managed 220 yards and one score to Super Buddy Antonio Brown (7-72, TD). Le’Veon Bell was held to 72 yards and one score making owners openly weep since they thought 200 yards and two scores were guaranteed every week. The 8-7 Chiefs return home to face the Chargers and the 10-5 Steelers host the Bengals in the Sunday night game.|
|GB 20, TB 3||This was much closer than it looks – GB scored ten points in the fourth quarter. Aaron Rodgers passed for 318 yards and one score to Jordy Nelson (9-113). Randall Cobb (11-131) and Eddie Lacy (17-99, TD) dominated the plays for the Packers. Josh McCown only threw for 147 yards and the Buccaneers only ran for 16 yards. This was the Packers playing down to the Buccaneers level without allowing trash time or yards. The 11-4 Packers host the Lions in the battle for the NFC North while the 2-13 Buccaneers host the Saints while starting the process of deciding who is the best player in NFL draft.|
|NYG 37, STL 27||The Rams had only allowed 12 points over three games, shutouts in two and were at home so naturally they gave up 37 points to the Giants. Eli Manning threw for 391 yards and three scores because Odell Beckham (8-148, 2 TD) automatically spots him most of his yards and points. Rashad Jennings was out so Andre Williams (26-110) filled in. Even Ruben Randle caught six passes for 132 yards and one score if only because he is not Beckham and no one covers him. Shaun Hill passed for 290 yards and two scores but Tre Mason (13-76, TD) was not allowed to play much when the Rams trailed in the game and abandoned the run. Kenny Britt (9-103) had a good game in trash time. Now the 6-9 Giants host the Eagles and the 6-9 Rams head to Seattle.|
|IND 7, DAL 42||Though unsubstantiated, the prevailing belief is that the Colts just chose their players from a random “check your seat numbers” from the 50 yard line section where the old, fat and rich people sit and since they were Cowboy fans they naturally let the Cowboys have their way with them. There is no other way to explain Andrew Luck throwing for 109 yards and two interceptions or why he suddenly had long flowing blond hair. Tony Romo threw for 218 yards and four scores and even Brandon Weeden had a touchdown pass. DeMarco Murray ran for 58 yards on 22 carries and one score because the Cowboys were never comfortable with the 35 point lead and are intent on using up every ounce of energy he has. Jason Witten (7-90, TD), Dez Bryant (5-73, TD) and even Terrance Williams (2-52, 2 TD) had big games. The win gives the 11-4 Cowboys the division and they head to Washington while the 10-5 Colts also have already clinched (and tanked like it) and will end in Tennessee.|
|BUF 24, OAK 26||The Raiders cannot even get losing for a better draft pick right. Derek Carr passed for 214 yards and two scores and yet there was no Raider with much fantasy value beyond Latavius Murray who totaled 108 yards. Kyle Orton passed for 329 yards and scores to both Sammy Watkins (3-75, TD) and Robert Woods (7-52, TD) and Fred Jackson led with 93 yards on nine catches but the Bills only ran for 17 yards on nine carries. Now the 8-7 Bills head to New England and the 3-12 Raiders end up in Denver.|
|SEA35, ARI 6||This was close for one quarter and then it was not close. And then it was “who knocked my momma down?”. The Cardinals ran for 29 yards and passed for just 216 yards and one interception. Russell Wilson not only passed for 339 yards and two scores, he ran for 88 yards and a touchdown. Marshawn Lynch sent his fantasy owners to throwing up in the wastebasket (like he was apparently) but he finally got the Rolaids to work and merely ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns on just ten carries. Luke Wilson only had 191 yards and one score on 17 catches for the year so he naturally caught his standard three passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Doug Baldwin ended with 113 yards on seven receptions as well. Now the 11-4 Seahawks mosey on home to face the 6-9 Rams.|
HUDDLE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Russell Wilson – This could have gone to Odell Beckham but it already did last week and probably will next week. Wilson needed to win in Arizona and pulled out his best game to get it done. He threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns plus added 88 yards on six runs that included a 55-yard scamper and a 5-yard touchdown. He probably wasn’t started in too many leagues going against the Cardinals but you might as well get used to it. The Seahawks are back in the driver’s seat in the NFC.
DRAMA 101 – SOMEBODY HAS TO LAUGH, SOMEBODY HAS TO CRY
|QB||Shaun Hill||291||2||QB||Andrew Luck||109||0|
|RB||Leon Washington||73||1||RB||Jamaal Charles||77||0|
|RB||Jordan Toddman||76||1||RB||Justin Forsett||32||1|
|WR||Riley Cooper||53||2||WR||Josh Gordon||45||0|
|WR||Terrance Williams||52||2||WR||Jeremy Maclin||62||0|
|WR||Bruce Ellington||20||2||WR||Andre Johnson||65||0|
|TE||Luke Wilson||139||2||TE||Martellus Bennett||zip||0|
|PK||Randy Bullock||19 pts||PK||Adam Vinatieri||1 pt|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 138||Huddle Fantasy Points = 31|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
Most leagues are over now but there are a few left – invariably these are really old leagues that never want to change anything or that can never pass any changes because no one agrees on anything. But this year we could see more than the usual problems with teams resting players. The Colts just turned in an epic tank job in Dallas that boggled the mind. Week 17 will still see them with nothing to win. Or the Cowboys who are locked as the #3 seed. Or probably the Broncos since the Pats play an early game and should be the Bills making the Broncos game meaningless in the afternoon.
So let’s see. Peyton Manning, C.J. Anderson, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Andrew Luck, T.Y Hilton and Reggie Wayne could all have no reason to play. Yeah, please end your leagues in week 16. Spend week 17 playing Daily Fantasy.
The Game-O-The-Week? Two teams we never see much because they never blow up like this.
Vikings 35, Dolphins 37
This game had 72 total points?
It was like every other low scoring game on Sunday except for a fourth quarter that suddenly pumped out 41 points. It was 17 to 14 in favor of the Vikings at the end of the third quarter. Then Lamar Miller runs in a short touchdown. Blair Walsh kicks a field goal. Then Mike Wallace catches a touchdown but is immediately followed by Jarius Wright scoring. Then Matt Asiata ran in a touchdown but with 1:11 left to play, Damien Williams catches a touchdown to draw the game to a 35-35 tie all ready for overtime.
But the Vikings had Bridgewater scramble for two yards from his own 11-yard line. The Fins took a time out.
Bridgewater threw an incomplete which killed the clock. Might ought to have thought run the clock out there.
With 51 seconds left, he was sacked for a four yard loss and the Fins used a time out.
On fourth down, the long snap falls short and by the time the punter gathers it and punts it straight, it is blocked and flies out of the back of the endzone. Safety and game won.
It was a classic choke job by the Vikings who have a small habit about losing games they had won. But Teddy Bridgewater passed for 259 yards and two scores for Greg Jennings (3-56, TD) and Jarius Wright (3-38, TD). Matt Asiata ran for 58 yards and two scores on 16 carries.
Ryan Tannehill passed for 396 yards and four scores including two completions of 40 yards or more. Lamar Miller ran for 92 yards and a score plus 58 yards on five runs while Mike Wallace ended with 58 yards and two scores on five receptions.
Hopefully your championship went well and more importantly you had some fun playing fantasy football in 2014. I started back in 1990 and produced The Huddle since 1997. And I know I still get stupid excited at the first of every season. Hope you come back next year and have even more fun.
Next week – Huddle Awards!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all – have a great week!
Now get back to work…