It was another wild week both in the NFL and for fantasy owners. Here’s a recap of every game in the Tuesday Morning Buzz.
Packers – Lions
It’s probably time to close the book on Matt Flynn. The only thing that stunk more than Flynn on Thanksgiving was my wife’s attempt at baking a pie. Flynn took down every single Packer with him too as only James Jones (3 catches 79 yards) had a decent fantasy day for Green Bay. The Lions had no trouble producing fantasy studs. Does Aaron Rodgers have anything to do with Green Bay’s rush defense? For the second straight week the Packers got run over by both a starter and his backup. Reggie Bush ran 20 times for 117 yards and a score, while Joique Bell racked up 94 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. With the awful run defenses of the Packers, Bears and Vikings all in the NFC North, it’s surprising Bush isn’t threatening to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record.
Raiders – Cowboys
In one of the weirder fantasy situations you’ll see, both Rashad Jennings and DeMarco Murray had strong fantasy days without doing much on the ground thanks to combining for five touchdowns between them. Jennings ran the ball 17 times for 35 yards and two touchdowns, while Murray rushed 17 times for 63 yards and three scores. The most productive runner on the day was actually Dallas’ Lance Dunbar with 82 yards on 12 carries but he didn’t score. Just to show that any receiver can get open on Monte Kiffin’s defense, former Dallas practice squader Andre Holmes caught seven passes for 136 yards on 11 targets. Holmes came into the game with five receptions for 76 yards and 13 targets in his career. My guess is Holmes’ performance has more to do with Dallas’ defense than him. A lot of guys are having career games against Kiffin’s defense this season.
Steelers – Ravens
This was a classic Ravens/Steelers game. Justin Tucker kicked five field goals for the Ravens, while Le’Veon Bell was Pittsburgh’s main source of offense. Bell racked up 136 total yards, seven receptions and a touchdown. He would have had another touchdown too had his helmet not popped off just before he crossed the goal line. Torrey Smith had a big fantasy night, catching six passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown finally had a down game, which means the Dolphins are in trouble next week. Ray Rice had his usual 12 carries for 32 yards. I read somewhere that Rice will be a RB2 next week versus Minnesota. Listen, I know the Vikings’ rush defense stinks but on no planet is Rice a RB2. If someone is selling you that nonsense, you’re getting bad advice.
Titans – Colts
The Colts benched Trent Richardson. I don’t understand, how can you bench a guy who gets almost a full yard every time he touches the ball? Donald Brown got the start and rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown. Brown may not be a stud but at least there’s a chance he can get positive yards every time he touches the ball, unlike Richardson. I’ve criticized Colts’ offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton in the past and word is his job may be in jeopardy. Hamilton has the imagination of a wet mop. Hopefully for Andrew Luck dynasty league owners, Hamilton will be shown the door. Does anyone know why Darrius Heyward-Bey is still in the NFL? I don’t but I was hoping someone else did.
Jaguars – Browns
The Jaguars finally found a quarterback. Maurice Jones-Drew finished with a quarterback rating of 139.6. That’s good news because Marcus Mariota is going to be one of the biggest busts in draft history if Jacksonville was thinking about selecting him. No one throws to a wide open receiver like Mariota. That guy is awesome when Oregon is up by 30 against Colorado. Speaking of busts, Brandon Weeden started and while he threw for 370 yards, three Weeden turnovers in the final 2:00 of the first half really cost Cleveland. The guy is abysmal. Josh Gordon can’t be stopped. Gordon caught 10 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. In his last two games Gordon has 24 receptions, 498 yards and three scores. Can you imagine what he would do with a real quarterback?
Bears – Vikings
If you own both Gordon and Alshon Jeffery and lost last week, you must have the worst fantasy team of all-time. Jeffery torched the Vikings for 12 receptions, 249 yards and two touchdowns. Josh McCown made a strong plug and play for owners who used him. McCown threw for 355 yards and two scores. The problem with Chicago is they have an offensive coordinator posing as a head coach. If Marc Trestman wants to hang around for a while, he has to do a better job with the defense. Even with the injuries, Chicago’s defense shouldn’t decline to the point where it’s the worst unit in the NFL. Adrian Peterson ran for 211 yards and Matt Cassel threw for 243 yards in a half. That’s simply inexcusable.
Buccaneers – Panthers
Mike Glennon and the Bucs have been playing well but Carolina’s defense was just too much for them on Sunday. That’s going to happen with a young quarterback. Cam Newton celebrated Auburn’s Iron Bowl win by racking up 331 total yards and three touchdowns. Cam did throw two interceptions but overall it was a big fantasy day for Newton. It looks like the shine has worn off Bobby Rainey. It turns out his huge day was because Rainey was playing against the Falcons.
Patriots – Texans
It’s pretty apparent that the Patriots can’t stop the run. One week after the Broncos rushed for 280 yards against them, Ben Tate ran for 102 yards and three scores. Tom Brady saved New England for the second straight week, throwing for 371 yards and two touchdowns. With Steven Ridley inactive, LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen shared the backfield duties. Neither did much on the ground but Blount scored and Vereen caught five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Vereen is clearly the best New England fantasy back to own for the playoffs because of the numbers he puts up as a receiver. Which back gets touches other than Vereen on a weekly basis is anyone’s guess. I have no idea.
Cardinals – Eagles
Michael Floyd just missed out on his third straight 100-yard game by a yard. He did catch five passes and score though, so it’s three big fantasy games in a row for Floyd. Nick Foles continues to be a fantasy machine. Foles threw for 237 and three more touchdowns. Foles still hasn’t thrown an interception this season, which is an amazing statistic. Zach Ertz is a tight end I like for next year. With Arizona’s corners locking down the Eagle receivers, Chip Kelly did a good job of using Ertz. The rookie tight end caught five passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Ertz’s performance was most likely gameplan specific but he’s a guy to watch for 2014.
Dolphins – Jets
Well, we can stick a fork in the Jets. After Geno Smith went 4-of-10 for 29 yards and an interception he was replaced by Matt Simms. He was much better completing 9-of-18 passes for 79 yards, an interception and a fumble. Hey, thank God the Jets signed Ed Reed, huh? Ask him if he can play quarterback, receiver or tight end. Then again he can’t even play safety anymore, so forget it. The big news in this game is Miami ran the ball 36 times. That’s more than they run the ball in a month. The Dolphins also had no problem moving the ball through the air. Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace and Charles Clay combined for 23 receptions, 189 yards and two touchdowns. There’s no need to fear the Jets’ defense anymore. It’s gotten worn down from being on the field so much this season.
Falcons – Bills
You have to think when the Falcons’ coaches thought of their offense this year; this was a little bit of what they envisioned. Steven Jackson rushed for 84 yards and two scores, Roddy White caught 10 passes for 143 yards and Tony Gonzalez hauled in four receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown. In what has been just a miserable year in Atlanta, Sunday the Falcons showed they still have a lot of weapons when their offense is firing on all cylinders. The same can be said about Buffalo’s backfield. This is kind of what the Bills envisioned had C.J. Spiller been healthy. Spiller ran for 149 yards and a score on 15 carries, while Fred Jackson racked up 78 total yards and scored twice on 15 touches. I guess at the end of the day this was the best of both offenses playing two bad defenses. Hey, it made for an entertaining game and produced a lot of big fantasy numbers.
Rams – 49ers
Zac Stacy was cleared to play after suffering a concussion and while his 72 yards on 19 carries wasn’t a huge game, it showed two things. First, Stacy is still going to get almost all the carries going forward, so owners don’t need to worry about Benny Cunningham. Second, even though Stacy didn’t blow up the stat line, he had a lot of tough runs against a defense focused on stopping him. Stacy should be rated very high heading into next season. Stedman Bailey is a player I liked coming out of West Virginia but he’s done virtually nothing until making his second career catch last week. Against San Francisco Bailey caught three passes for 46 yards. I still like Bailey if you play in a dynasty league as a receiver down the line. Frank Gore really only has fantasy value if he scores now. He scored on Sunday, so he had some value.
Broncos – Chiefs
In a game that featured almost 1,000 yards of offense, it was a bad week to be playing against Peyton Manning. I had the luxury of playing against someone who had both Manning and Adrian Peterson. Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns. Four of those scores went to Eric Decker, who ended up with 174 yards on eight receptions. Decker torched rookie Marcus Cooper all day long. While Jamaal Charles had a strong game, Alex Smith also threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns. It was obvious Knowshon Moreno ended up playing but was a non-factor on the ground. Montee Ball saw 13 carries and recorded his first 100-yard game of his career. Despite his fumbling problems, Ball should be owned in all leagues for fantasy playoffs.
Bengals – Chargers
The Chargers are the most perplexing team in the NFL for me to figure out. I thought they were going to have a miserable season back in the summer. Then San Diego’s offense surprised me and played much better than I thought it would. Still though, some weeks the Chargers look like they can’t be stopped and other weeks they struggle to score 14 points. This was one of their bad games. Whether the Chargers are hot or cold, Keenan Allen has been productive. Allen had another 100-yard game; catching eight passes for 106 yards. Ladarius Green scored for the second straight week. Fantasy writers will be drooling over him next summer. Just as I was swearing A.J. Green up and down and declared that he was going to keep me out of the playoffs, he caught a touchdown pass. I then did the same thing to Wes Welker. It didn’t work with Welker who I’m considering benching for Jerricho Cotchery next week.
Giants – Redskins
Andre Brown had a Rashad Jennings like game where he didn’t gain many yards but his two touchdowns saved his fantasy day. Hakeem Nicks had his usual 34 yards receiving. Hey, it was just nice to see that Nicks’ agent allowed him to suit up this week. Brandon Myers has now scored in back-to-back weeks. That’s kind of amazing because I don’t think that guy can beat me in a foot race. To be honest, the Giants offense is trash. They struggled last week against Dallas and were held under 300 yards by a terrible Washington defense. Eli Manning is playing like garbage, the line is garbage and Nicks doesn’t want to be there. Speaking of garbage, you can close the book on the Redskins. I hope Mike Shanahan sends John Elway a Christmas card every year. For a genius, he hasn’t done a whole heck of a lot without one of the greatest quarterbacks ever running his offense.
Saints – Seahawks
In what was supposed to be a heavyweight fight in the NFC, the Seahawks scored a first round knockout. Drew Brees’ 43 consecutive game streak of throwing for over 200 yards came to an end as the Seattle defense smothered the Saints. Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three scores. He also added 47 yards rushing. The only negative from a fantasy perspective on the Seattle side was Marshawn Lynch was held to 45 yards on 16 carries. Jimmy Graham scored but had a terrible game overall. Graham caught just three of nine targets and looked like he wanted nothing to do with the Seahawks’ physical defense. Then again, neither did any of his teammates. The bottom line is Seattle was just way too physical for the Saints from the opening kickoff and the score actually didn’t do the Seahawks dominance in the game justice.