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Fantasy Game Recaps: Week 15

When it comes to fantasy playoffs, week 15 favored those who rolled out some of the old (defined as “non-rookie”) reliable wide receivers like Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Hines Ward and Marques Colston. On most Sundays, Steve Smith’s nine catch, 165-yard outing would have stood out amongst the rest. But this Sunday belonged to Andre Johnson, who blew away all fantasy players with eleven catches for 207 yards and a touchdown.

Texans 13 - Titans 12

Fantasy Superman: Andre Johnson
Fantasy Performers: Steve Slaton, Matt Schaub, Justin Gage, Rob Bironas
Fantasy Hens: Kevin Walter, Chris Johnson, LenDale White

Despite the fact that only one touchdown was scored in Houston, Andre Johnson had no peers on Sunday. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the first quarter. By game end, Johnson hauled in 11 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. Since Matt Schaub threw for 284 yards and a touchdown, there really is very little else to discuss about the Texans passing game. Kevin Walter had a terrible game with only two catches, failing to even cross the 10-yard mark. Steve Slaton started off slowly but ended Sunday with 100 yards on the ground and 15 receiving yards.

The Texans apparently have the cure to keep lightning in a bottle as for the second game this year, Houston contained Chris Johnson. Johnson rushed for only 65 yards and did very little in the passing game with two yards on two catches. Unlike their first match-up this season, the Texans also contained LenDale White, who rushed for only 26 yards and no scores. Other than Rob Bironas’ four field goals, the only decent performance for the Titans came from Justin Gage who caught three balls for 76 yards.

Patriots 49 - Raiders 26

Fantasy Superman: Matt Cassel, Randy Moss, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, Darren McFadden
Fantasy Performers: LaMont Jordan, Wes Welker, Justin Fargas, JaMarcus Russell, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Zach Miller
Fantasy Hens: None

Sure, we have seen it before. Brett Favre’s father passes away and he has the game of his life. This however, was Matt Cassell, not Brett Favre. Nevertheless, Cassell connected on 18 of 30 passes for four touchdowns. And he did this using only his two favorite wide receivers and Kevin Faulk (yes, I am discounting Sam Aiken’s 16-yard catch), spreading the ball as evenly as butter on a slice of bread. Randy Moss caught five passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Wes Welker only caught six balls on Sunday (I say this in disbelief), but he did so for 69 yards and a touchdown. Kevin Faulk also caught six passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, rushing for an additional 45 yards. The running game was equally as rewarding with Sammy Morris rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown and Lamont Jordan rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown. Oddly, other than Sam Aiken, every Patriot offensive player who touched the ball on Sunday scored at least one touchdown.

Darren McFadden has been so up and down this year, but if you played him in your play-off match-up, you were not disappointed as McFadden rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 68 yards. Johnnie Lee Higgins thought he played for the Patriots catching three passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Zach Miller caught five passes for 60 yards. Justin Fargas rushed for 70 yards. Jamarcus Russell passed for 242 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Colts 31 - Lions 21

Fantasy Superman: Dominic Rhodes, Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith
Fantasy Performers: Peyton Manning
Fantasy Hens: Marvin Harrison, Anthony Gonzalez

The Colts turned in huge performances by Dominic Rhodes and Dallas Clark. Rhodes rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns and caught four passes for 30 yards. Dallas Clark hung a dozen grabs for 142 yards and a touchdown. The question is whether you finally sat Reggie Wayne, only to watch him finally take off with seven catches for 104 yards. Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez suffered from the performances turned in by Rhodes, Clark and Wayne, with Harrison catching only two for 22 yards and Gonzalez catching one for six yards. Peyton Manning eclipsed the 300-yard mark with 318 yards on 28 of 37 passing, but he only tossed one touchdown.

The Lions may be 0-14 and have no discernible offense, but don’t tell that to Calvin Johnson. Megatron caught nine passes for 110 yards and a touchdown (he also fumbled away the ball once). Kevin Smith feasted on a weak Colts run defense, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown, catching six balls for 31 yards and fumbling one away. Dan Orlovsky put up numbers relatively similar to Manning’s with 233 yards and a touchdown.

Steelers 13 - Ravens 9

Fantasy Superman: Hines Ward
Fantasy Performers: Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes,
Fantasy Hens: Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore, Nate Washington, Heath Miller, Willis McGahee, Joe Flacco, Mark Clayton, Derrick Mason

Two powerhouse defenses matched up and the results were not unanticipated by most fantasy managers. Hines Ward put up the top performance with eight catches for 107 yards. Ben Roethlisberger tossed for 246 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown went to Santonio Holmes who only hauled in three catches for 21 yards. Nate Washington pulled down five for 76 yards. The Ravens stuffed the run, limiting Willie Parker to 47 yards and Mewelde Moore to only 16 yards.

The Steelers stuffed both the passing and running game, limiting Joe Flacco to only 115 passing yards and causing two interceptions. The Ravens top wide receiver was Mark Clayton with only three catches for 38 yards. Derrick Mason caught three for 23 yards. Le’Ron McClain had moderate success, rushing for 87 yards. Willis McGahee was held to just 18 yards rushing and 15 yards receiving.

Bears 27 - Saints 24

Fantasy Superman: Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston
Fantasy Performers: Drew Brees, Matt Forte
Fantasy Hens: Reggie Bush, Lance Moore, Kyle Orton, Devin Hester

So, you are deep in your fantasy play-offs because you took a risk on a rookie running back with a questionable offensive line. You are hoping that on Thursday night you can immediately put some distance between you and your opponent. On his first run, Matt Forte injures his foot and you immediately begin to utter expletives loud enough to wake up the neighbor’s children. However, in his bid for rookie of the year, Forte returns and while he can only muster up 64 combined yards, he scores a touchdown and you are counting your blessings in the realization that you still have fantasy life. But, if you were relying on Devin Hester or Kyle Orton, you were not as fortunate. Despite the announcers oozing love for Hester’s performance, none of them had Devin’s four catches for 46 yards on their fantasy roster. And those pundits who praised Orton for his final drive of the game, neglected to note that he turned the ball over three times and did not pass for a single touchdown on his meager 172 yards passing. Only his six-yard rushing touchdown masked a thoroughly horrible performance.

Reggie Bush left the game midway with a knee injury and ended the day with 30-yard rushing, 16-yard receiving performance. Bush’s exit turned Pierre Thomas into a fantasy bonanza, touching the ball 29 times. Thomas rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown, caught seven passes for 59 yards and scored a second touchdown. Drew Brees passed for only 232 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Marques Colston has been killing you all year, but if you made it this far and said “I never bench my studs” you were rewarded with six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Lance Moore turned into short play Moore with five catches for 27 yards.

Panthers 30 - Broncos 10

Fantasy Superman: Steve Smith
Fantasy Performers: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Jake Delhomme
Fantasy Hens: Tatum Bell, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Jay Cutler

Steve Smith came up huge, garnering nearly half the Panthers yardage with nine catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. Muhsin Muhammad caught four for 70 yards and the rest of the Panthers caught a total of 18 yards. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart split touchdowns, Williams on 88 rushing yards and Stewart on 52 rushing yards.

The only Bronco to go over 50 yards either by air or by ground was……running back P.J. Pope, who did so by rushing for 51 yards and catching three balls for 24 yards and a touchdown. Tatum Bell rushed for 43 yards. Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal each went for 48 yards, Royal on six catches and Marshall on five. Jay Cutler passed for 172 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Chargers 22 - Chiefs 21

Fantasy Superman: Vincent Jackson
Fantasy Performers: Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Tyler Thigpen, Tony Gonzalez, Dwayne Bowe
Fantasy Hens: Chris Chambers, Larry Johnson

With almost 59 minutes elapsed, Vincent Jackson managers were pounding their heads and opponents were praising the fantasy gods. In 1:11, the tables turned when Jackson caught a 42-yard pass and followed it up with a 10-yard touchdown, giving Jackson six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. Jackson elevated Philip Rivers to 346 yards passing, 12 yards rushing, two touchdowns and two turnovers. LaDainian Tomlinson continued in his state of mediocrity, rushing for 39 yards, catching six passes for 35 yards and scoring on a six-yard run. Antonio Gates shook off the cobwebs, hauling in seven catches for 78 yards. Although he was not on many fantasy rosters, in deeper leagues, Malcolm Floyd paid big dividends with five catches for 67 yards and a rally starting touchdown. Chris Chambers should not have been in many fantasy play-off line-ups, but if he was, two catches for 28 yards will not likely catapult him into any line-ups next week.

Tyler Thigpen’s legs make him a viable fantasy quarterback. Thigpen rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown. He threw for 171 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Even though Thigpen only threw one touchdown, it was not to Tony Gonzalez, who did catch a Larry Johnson touchdown pass, making up one of his six catches for 62 yards. Instead, Thigpen’s touchdown pass went to Dwayne Bowe who also caught six passes, but only went for 44 yards. Larry Johnson was more effective as a quarterback, throwing a four-yard touchdown pass on his only attempt. Johnson rushed for 55 yards.

Seahawks 23 - Rams 20

Fantasy Superman: Steven Jackson
Fantasy Performers: Maurice Morris, John Carlson, Deion Branch, Torry Holt, Donnie Avery. Marc Bulger
Fantasy Hens: None

A numerologist would have fun with the Seahawks as pretty much everyone ended up with a six in their numbers. Maurice Morris rushed for 86 yards. Seneca Wallace threw for 226 yards. John Carlson and Deion Branch each caught five balls for 76 yards and Bobby Engram caught three balls for 46 yards. The only offensive touchdown came from T.J. Duckett, who is only two teams shy of playing on his sixth team.

Having Steven Jackson on your roster all year may have dampened your play-off chances, but if you made it, you were happy to have S-Jax going up against the Seahawks in week 15. Jackson rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown, while catching four passes for 36 yards. Even Torry Holt came alive with a touchdown on four catches for 64 yards. Donnie Avery ran for 11 and caught six balls for 61 yards. Marc Bulger tossed the ball for 207 yards and a touchdown, without turning the ball over…for once.

Bengals 20 - Redskins 10

Fantasy Superman: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cedric Benson
Fantasy Performers: Chris Henry, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, Jason Campbell, Chris Cooley
Fantasy Hens: Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh

So, you are stuck playing Cedric Benson and cursing your bad luck with all your team’s injuries going into the fantasy play-offs. Then you look at the game center and you witness a miracle - Benson has turned into Cedric the Entertainer with 73 rushing yards and three receptions for 88 yards. Also having nice days in the rare Bengal victory were Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Henry, who hooked up four times for 54 yards and a touchdown. Fitzpatrick totaled 209 yards and a touchdown in the air to go with 29 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Meanwhile, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson likely put you out of your fantasy misery after their early draft selections. Each had three receptions, Johnson for 33 yards and Housh for only 19 yards.

Through Santana Moss’s efforts, the Redskins made a gallant comeback bid. Moss caught seven passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Chris Cooley was the only other factor in the Redskin aerial attack, hauling in five catches for 51 yards. Jason Campbell completed only four other passes, spread evenly amongst four players, for only 44 yards. Clinton Portis rushed for 77 yards and no scores.

Vikings 35 - Cardinals 10

Fantasy Superman: Tarvaris Jackson, Adrian Peterson
Fantasy Performers: Chester Taylor, Bobby Wade, Bernard Berrian
Fantasy Hens: Tim Hightower, Anquan Boldin

Tarvaris Jackson may not throw often or for much yardage (163), but he seems to make the most of his throws by throwing touchdowns. He put the ball up 17 times. He connected on 11 passes. Four of those 11 were for touchdowns and 100 of his 163 yards came on two passes. Chester Taylor vultured the passes, catching four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown, to go along with his 66 yards rushing. No receiver had more catches than Bobby Wade, who snagged two for 67 yards and a touchdown. Bernard Berrian proved you only need to have one catch to be fantasy relevant, with a 41-yard touchdown. Adrian Peterson racked up 165 yards, but again was left standing alone at the alter without a touchdown.

Many teams in the fantasy play-offs soared on the wings of the Cardinal passing game. Those teams were grounded Sunday when the Arizona passing attack was led by Jerheme Urban and J.J. Arrington instead of Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald or Steve Breaston. Kurt Warner threw for 270 yards, one touchdown and an interception. However, 130 yards were tallied by Urban and Arrington. Anquan Boldin caught six passes for only 34 yards and fumbled the ball away. Steve Breaston caught four for 46 yards and Larry Fitzgerald caught five for 52 yards. Tim Hightower put five for 20 twice, once in the ground game and once in the passing game.

Jaguars 20 - Packers 16

Fantasy Superman: Maurice Jones-Drew, Dennis Northcutt, James Jones
Fantasy Performers: David Garrard, Ryan Grant, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Aaron Rodgers
Fantasy Hens: None

Maurice Jones-Drew is the ultimate second half performer. Jones-Drew seems to put up better fantasy numbers in the second half of the season and in the second half of games. Jones-Drew only had 70 combined yards, but his two fourth quarter touchdowns were huge for fantasy managers with him on their rosters. David Garrard also had a very nice game, throwing for 238 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 31 yards too. Dennis Northcutt probably is not on many fantasy rosters, but whoever ran him out looks like a genius with five catches for 127 yards and a touchdown.

No Packer left fantasy managers high and dry. The worst performance came from Ryan Grant who still amassed 56 rushing yards and three receptions for 32 yards. Like the Jaguars, the best numbers on the day came from a less used player, James Jones, who caught four passes for 132 yards. Greg Jennings only caught three passes for 22 yards, but one of those passes was a four-yard touchdown pass. Even Donald Driver picked up five catches for 65 yards.

Dolphins 14 - 49ers 9

Fantasy Superman: None
Fantasy Performers: DeShaun Foster, Isaac Bruce, Chad Pennington
Fantasy Hens: Ted Ginn, Jr., Davone Bess, Ronnie Brown

Hopefully, your play-offs did not rest on this game as the only two touchdowns came from unheralded players on the Miami offense. While Chad Pennington threw both touchdowns, his 156 yards was little to boast about. The touchdowns went to two tight ends not named Anthony Fasano. David Martin caught a 61-yard touchdown and Joey Hanos caught one of 19 yards. Ronnie Brown had a high per carry average of 6.7 yards, but only toted the ball 10 times for 67 yards. Davone Bess caught three for 25 yards, Anthony Fasano caught two for 20 yards and Ted Ginn, Jr. only caught two for six yards.

If you lacked depth Frank Gore’s absence may have been a death knell for your team. However, if you were able to pick up DeShaun Foster, he was able to keep you in your play-off match-up with 76 yards rushing and 25 yards receiving. Shaun Hill threw the ball 43 times and had only 233 yards and no scores to show for it. Isaac Bruce led the charge with seven catches for 71 yards, while Bryant Johnson was not far behind with five catches 41 yards.

Jets 31 - Bills 27

Fantasy Superman: None
Fantasy Performers: Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Brett Favre, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson
Fantasy Hens: J.P. Losman, Lee Evans

If efficiency mattered, Leon Washington rushed the ball only once for 47 yards and a touchdown. Thomas Jones was far less efficient, carrying the ball 20 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. In most fantasy formats, Jones had a better performance (the exception being leagues that award bonuses for lengthier touchdowns). Brett Favre threw for 207 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Laveranues Coles reeled in five catches for 82 yards. Jerricho Cotchery caught less, but was more efficient, scoring a touchdown on four catches for 34 yards.

J.P. Losman found a way to steal a win and then turn it into a loss. Losman threw for only 148 yards, but he tossed a touchdown pass and ran one in. His performance was marred by four turnovers. Marshawn Lynch averaged six yards a carry rushing for 127 yards, but his inability to score a touchdown limited his productivity in fantasy leagues. Accordingly, Fred Jackson’s 31 yards rushing and six receptions for 24 yards were just as productive as he scored a touchdown. The remaining 124 yards in the passing game were limited to a best performance by Josh Reed with four catches for 43 yards. Lee Evans saw four receptions for a grand total of only 22 yards.

Falcons 13 - Buccaneers 10

Fantasy Superman: Michael Turner, Antonio Bryant
Fantasy Performers: Warrick Dunn, Brian Griese
Fantasy Hens: Matt Ryan, Cadillac Williams

Michael Turner came up huge during the fantasy play-offs with 182 combined yard outing. Turner rushed in for a touchdown to boot. Roddy White only caught four passes for 61 yards, while Michael Jenkins caught three for 55 yards. All the praise for Matt Ryan did not translate into fantasy numbers as he connected for 209 yards, no scores and two interceptions.

Antonio Bryant came up big for the second straight week with eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. In a one touchdown loss, Brian Griese had a better outing than Ryan, tossing for 269 yards, a touchdown and one interception. Warrick Dunn rushed for only 40 yards, but also caught seven passes for 50 yards. Cadillac Williams rushed 14 times for 59 yards, which is not all bad considering where he has come from, but if you are relying on him for fantasy numbers, 59 yards is not a game worthy of note.

Cowboys 20 - Giants 8

Fantasy Superman: Tashard Choice
Fantasy Performers: Tony Romo, Patrick Crayton, Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith
Fantasy Hens: Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, Derrick Ward, Eli Manning, Amani Toomer

Tashard Choice looked like a bad play when Marion Barber came out as the starting running back. With two carries and a 10 yard reception after one play in to Dallas’ third series to Choice’s none, Barber looked to be the feature back. Those managers who played Choice were smashing their heads against the wall. Sixty minutes later, Choice had 91 yards rushing, a touchdown and four catches for 52 yards. Despite the down-playing of the Romo-Witten-Owens love triangle, Romo did not appear to be on the same page as his receivers for much of the game. Witten and Owens were limited to 44 and 38 yards respectively. Other than Patrick Crayton’s 34-yard touchdown reception, no receiver stood out. Tony Romo passed for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Marion Barber averaged only .25 yards per carry, gaining two yards rushing and 24 yards on two catches.

The Plaxico distraction has gone into its second week and as suggested by some pundits, the Giants entire offense is adversely affected in Plaxico’s absence. Derrick Ward rushed for 64 yards and the ground game was held to 72 yards. Eli Manning failed to connect for a score and threw for only 191 yards and two interceptions. Domenik Hixon caught six for 60 yards and Steve Smith caught five for 59 yards. Amani Toomer caught three for 32 yards.