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.
Texans – Jaguars
The Texans’ 11th straight loss ended up getting Gary Kubiak fired. The good news is that Houston is now in the capable hands of Wade Phillips. Wow, a team that has lost 11 games in a row and has quit on the season being led by Wade Phillips. I set the over/under for players being at practice at 20. Houston may be struggling but Andre Johnson is still a force. He caught 13 passes for 154 yards on an absurd 21 targets. It came at a perfect time for owners that needed Johnson in the first round of fantasy playoffs. Maurice Jones-Drew left with a hamstring injury late but not before he went for over 100 yards on just 14 carries. Jacksonville has struggled covering the tight end all year and Garrett Graham took advantage by seeing 14 targets. Graham finished with eight catches for 73 yards and a score. He has now seen 47 targets through his last four games.
Raiders – Jets
Marcel Reece got the last-minute call to start when Rashad Jennings wasn’t cleared to play because of a concussion. Reece rewarded owners like me who inserted him in their lineups by racking up 161 total yards and scoring on a 63-yard run. Rod Streater also had a big game for Oakland, catching seven passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Streater has emerged as the Raiders’ most consistent fantasy receiver this season. The Jets scored 37 points, which are more than they’ve combined for in about a month. Things went so well for the Jets on Sunday that even Ed Reed had an interception.
Colts – Bengals
Andy Dalton had one of his five big fantasy days of the season, throwing for 275 yards and accounting for four touchdowns. And it came just in time for owners who started him in the first round of the playoffs. Giovanni Bernard just missed a 100-yard rushing day, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored twice. One week after realizing that Trent Richardson can’t play, the Colts did the same with Darrius Heyward-Bey. Although, to be fair, Richardson is Adrian Peterson compared to Heyward-Bey. Andrew Luck found chemistry with two young receivers on Sunday. Da’Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill combined for 160 yards and four touchdowns on nine receptions. I would recommend picking both guys up, but who knows what that idiot Pep Hamilton is going to do next week. He’ll probably want to run the fullback more.
Lions – Eagles
In what was the best of many snow games, the Lions and Eagles proved they could put up points in any conditions by combining for 54 in a blizzard. LeSean McCoy ran over the Lions’ defense for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Reggie Bush owners, he didn’t run over anyone. Bush was dealing with a calf injury all week and then slipped in pre-game warmups. He never played a down and no doubt cost many owners a win. Joique Bell filled in for Bush and put up 127 total yards and a touchdown, although he did lose two fumbles in the snowy conditions. Brent Celek cost Nick Foles another touchdown because he slid down with less than 2:00 to go and the Eagles up by 14. Next time just score and do a snow angel.
Dolphins – Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger continues to have a strong fantasy season. He threw for 349 yards and three touchdowns, rewarding owners who started him in the playoffs. Lamar Miller left the game early with a concussion and Daniel Thomas took advantage by rushing for 105 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Antonio Brown had another huge game. He saw only five targets but caught all of them for 137 yards and a score. Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery also had touchdown receptions. It was Cotchery’s ninth of the season. Brown would have had another score on one of the craziest plays in NFL history but stepped out of bounds by two inches on the final play of the game.
Browns – Patriots
It’s really amazing how many bad teams choke against the Patriots. Don’t get me wrong, Tom Brady and New England deserve a lot of credit for coming back, but this was a game the Browns had to win. They dominated for much of the way and still lost. Then again, it’s hard when you’re playing against the officials too. What would happen if the Patriots played Notre Dame in Notre Dame? Would the refs just never throw a flag? Jason Campbell threw for 391 yards and three scores, Josh Gordon went for over 100 yards in the fourth straight game and Jordan Cameron caught nine passes for 121 yards and a score, yet the Browns still came up short. That’s because of Tom Brady and Shane Vereen. Brady threw for 418 yards and two touchdowns, while Vereen caught 12 passes for 153 yards and scored a rushing touchdown. Owners who dropped Vereen earlier this season must really be kicking themselves. The other big story from the game is the injury to Rob Gronkowski, who is out for the season with a knee injury. In my league where I had a bye, I’ve now lost Gronk, Reggie Wayne, Julio Jones and Justin Blackmon. It’s amazing I had a bye.
Chiefs – Redskins
I can’t fathom why teams still want to hire Mike Shanahan as their coach. Is he going to bring John Elway with him? Do you realize that since 2006 Shanahan has a record of 48-61? Even last year he needed a miracle run to avoid another losing season. Reports surfaced last week that Shanahan cleaned out his desk at the end of last season. Well, after Sunday’s 45-10 demolition, I have a feeling he’s going to be cleaning out his desk again. Don’t worry though because another team will be dying to hire him so they can go 7-9. The guy is the biggest fraud in the NFL. For most of the year it’s been good to own Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs’ defense. That was the case again on Sunday. Charles ran for 151 yards and scored twice, while Kansas City’s defense/special teams recorded six sacks, caused two turnovers and scored two touchdowns of their own.
Vikings – Ravens
In a game that featured one of the wildest final two minutes ever, the Vikings and Ravens scored four touchdowns over that span. The big story from this game besides the amazing finish was the injury to Adrian Peterson. Peterson left early with a foot injury, no doubt killing the chances of many fantasy owners. For those who survived, I’ve mentioned a couple of times that Toby Gerhart should be owned in all leagues by Peterson owners as insurance for the playoffs. However, now he has a “tweaked” hamstring, so his status for next week is up in the air as well. Cordarrelle Paterson has really been coming on and he torched the Ravens for 141 yards and a score. Dennis Pitta made an impact in his first game back, catching six passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. If you lost Rob Gronkowski, Pitta is a guy you should be targeting this week as a replacement. He looked pretty good, especially considering the conditions he played in.
Falcons – Packers
I was trying to think about what to write about this game but I realized I just don’t care anything about it. Can you believe that? This is a game that was supposed to feature two Super Bowl contenders but instead it ended up being a matchup only gamblers and fantasy football owners cared about. To make matters worse, owners of Aaron Rodgers didn’t even care about it. Even the guys who scored—Drew Davis and Andrew Quarless, for instance—were meaningless. Eddie Lacy ran for 65 yards and a score. Roddy White seems to be back. He had his second good game in a row with eight receptions for 74 yards. That’s about it though. Then after thinking this game was meaningless, I realized the NFC North is so bad that if Rodgers comes back next week the Packers will probably win the division. That Jim Schwartz is doing one hell of a job in Detroit.
Bills – Buccaneers
I guess the Bills are hoping the offseason gets here a little faster than the Bucs, because for a team that’s been pretty competitive this year, they didn’t have a lot in the tank against Tampa Bay. Last week I joked that Bobby Rainey’s big day was because he was playing against Atlanta’s awful rush defense. After I sent in the column I thought to myself, “Damn, he plays the Bills next week.” Well, Rainey did run over the soft Bills’ rush defense for 127 yards and a touchdown. The Bucs don’t have a soft rush defense, as C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson found out. The two combined for just 34 yards on 16 carries. EJ Manuel and Mike Glennon have had some good games this year but this wasn’t one of them. The two looked like rookies on Sunday, combining for six interceptions.
Titans – Broncos
It looked for a while like the Broncos might be in trouble, but then Peyton Manning and the offense got cranking and hung 51 points on Tennessee. Manning threw for another 397 yards and four scores, as he’s almost single-handily helping some owners to a fantasy title this year. Montee Ball had another good game, running for 77 yards and a score. Ball had 15 carries and Knowshon Moreno had 14. It stinks for Moreno owners because it’s coming at the worst time for them, but we officially have a committee in the Broncos’ backfield as Denver tries to keep Moreno fresh for the postseason. Matt Prater capped off a wild Sunday by kicking an NFL record 64-yard field goal.
Rams – Cardinals
Well, it’s not your week when you play against Larry Fitzgerald in the playoffs and he catches 12 of 12 targets for 96 yards and a touchdown. Not one ball thrown in the dirt? To make matters worse I also went against the Arizona defense, which racked up four sacks, caused two turnovers, got a safety and scored a touchdown. Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall both scored. Zac Stacy found the end zone as well but was held to just 25 yards on 14 carries by the stout Cardinals’ rush defense. Stacy should have a much better outing next week versus New Orleans, if you’re still alive in your league.
Giants – Chargers
For all the crap Geno Smith is taking in New York, Eli Manning has thrown just as many interceptions. I guess the difference is that Eli has won two Super Bowls. While Giants fans will tell you none of Manning’s interceptions are his fault, the bottom line is that he’s played terrible this year. Sunday was more of the same, as his passes sailed and he threw two more interceptions. He would have thrown a third but it got called back. Philip Rivers is on the other end of the spectrum. He’s had a bounceback season. Rivers threw three more touchdowns on Sunday, two to sensational rookie Keenan Allen. Allen has been a savior for both the Chargers and my fantasy team.
Seahawks – 49ers
You know, I love Russell Wilson, but doesn’t he need to have a good game against San Francisco once in his career before we put him in the Hall of Fame? For all the talk about him being a borderline MVP candidate, you have to play your best against the best defenses before you get put in that category. There weren’t many fantasy studs from this game. Frank Gore went over 100 yards but didn’t score. Marshawn Lynch was held below 100 yards but did score. I mean, when Luke Wilson is the big fantasy performer from the game, that’s all you need to know.
Panthers – Saints
The Panthers came in with the league’s best defense but it got sliced and diced by Drew Brees Sunday night. Brees threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. Cam Newton was bottled up all game long until a late touchdown pass to Steve Smith. One of the things I was noticing watching the Panthers is they run the ball well but they don’t have a running back. Their best rusher is Newton. Jonathan Stewart is always hurt, DeAngelo Williams is average and Mike Tolbert is more of a specialty back. So the Panthers have three running backs but they need to draft a running back. Carolina gets a chance for revenge in two weeks but they’ll need to play a lot better than they did on Sunday if they want to even the score at home.
Cowboys – Bears
Monte Kiffin did it again. There have been three games this year when a team hasn’t punted and two have been against Dallas, including Monday night’s game. Kiffin is the worst coach on the planet. You can insert whichever first name you want, either Lane or Monte, but the worst coach in the world’s last name is definitely Kiffin. If you started Josh McCown he rewarded you with 348 yards and five total touchdowns. Matt Forte went over 100 yards and Alshon Jeffery continues to be a monster. Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes but only 104 yards. DeMarco Murray ran for 146 yards against the worst rush defense in the NFL.