AP aiming for rushing record (USAT)
Since returning from injury, DeMarco Murray has 44 carries for 136 yards, good for a 3.1 YPC mark, although he's salvaged fantasy value by scoring twice. Among Murray's 21 rushing attempts Sunday, his longest gain was seven yards, although in fairness the Bengals are actually the best team in the NFL at limiting long runs, as they've allowed just five carries for 20+ yards and zero for 40+ on the year…BenJarvus Green-Ellis had one carry that went at least 30 yards during his career entering Week 12. He's had runs for 48, 41 and 38 yards in each of his past three games, respectively…Assuming you weren't on bye, A.J. Green sure picked a bad week to have his worst game of the season. After scoring in nine straight games, Green has been held out of the end zone in each of his past three contests…Dez Bryant, who was actually quiet for most of Sunday but has now scored seven touchdowns over the past five games, might be looking at season-ending surgery on his finger, which would obviously be a devastating blow to his owners. After scoring seven of his nine touchdowns in the first half last year, getting accused of disappearing late in games, Bryant has scored all nine of his TDs in the second half this year (which leads the NFL), all of which have occurred when Dallas has been behind at the time. Go figure…Terence Newman dropped a pretty easy interception against his former team…On a day in which the Cowboys and Eagles both won on the final play of their games (with the former overcoming a nine-point deficit in the last 6:35 minutes and the latter winning despite being down 11 points with 3:55 left) to go along with the Chargers dominating the Steelers in Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger back, it was officially bizarro week.
Over his first five carries, Fred Jackson had zero yards and one lost fumble. He's a good football player, with some of his numbers misleading since he played earlier in the year hurt, but it's getting tougher to defend his usage compared to C.J. Spiller's. Jackson is far better at blocking, but he's also fumbled five times over 10 games, and his 3.8 YPC pales in comparison to Spiller's 6.6, which is on pace to set an NFL record. The complaint looks moot now that Buffalo should be forced to give Spiller a full workload with Jackson out for the year, but it really shouldn't have had to come to that…Chris Givens has had a productive rookie season, but he got just 2.5 yards-per-target Sunday. That's incredibly bad when you realize he saw double-digit looks…I get the injury risk, but the Rams clearly made a major mistake by releasing Danario Alexander - his 10.9 yards-per-target is currently tied with Demaryius Thomas for the NFL lead.
This is amazing and a must watch. Dude is out of control good.
The Eagles secondary had been historically bad over their past six games since changing defensive coordinators, yet Josh Freeman somehow completed just 41.2 percent of his passes for 189 yards (5.6 YPA), although he did toss two touchdowns with no interceptions. Still, it was a disappointing effort from a team with playoff aspirations against another that had been accused of quitting…Nick Foles continues to get better the more he plays, including tossing a game-winning TD with zero seconds left Sunday. In fact, he was second only to Cam Newton among all quarterbacks in fantasy scoring in a crucial Week 14…What a catch by Jason Avant. While I wouldn't have been shocked if you told me Bryce Brown was going to be a bust Sunday, I was definitely surprised it had nothing to do with fumbles. The Bucs run defense is strong, but after Brown broke the same amount of tackles over the previous two weeks as Steven Jackson, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte had all season, it was perplexing to see the rookie get just six yards on 12 carries.
Student falls asleep during physics lecture while apparently having a bad dream. Teacher can't stop laughing afterward.
After winning a coin toss for the first time this season (over 13 attempts), Carolina outgained Atlanta 206-to-18 yards over the first 20 minutes of Sunday's game. Thanks to the college regular season being over, it was nice to hear Gus Johnson back announcing an NFL game (love him or hate him, he's entertaining), and there was no better way to welcome him back than Cam Newton's fantastic 72-yard TD run, which concluded with him flipping into the end zone. Over his last four games, Newton has gotten 9.1 YPA with 286 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns and zero turnovers. He became the first player in NFL history Sunday to throw for 250 yards with a passing TD while running for 100 yards with a rushing TD. Newton's rushing scores are down this season, as pretty much everyone expected, but his YPA and YPC are both up while his INT% is down…After being held catchless over the first half, Roddy White proceeded to haul in nine receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown over the next two quarters…Over his last five games, Michael Turner has averaged 2.9 YPC. Still, his four touchdowns over that span have kept him fantasy relevant, although he was on the field for just 30.7 percent of Atlanta's offensive snaps Sunday.
Adrian Peterson had 104 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. Ridiculous. His 49 broken tackles as well as his 3.9 YPC after contact both lead the NFL this season, and he apparently is making a point to break 2,000 rushing yards (and has even hinted at wanting to break Eric Dickerson's record). Imagine if he didn't tear his knee up just last year. At this point, it's pretty hard not to consider Peterson one of the top athletes in the world (this is actually a pretty good conversation starter. Others who immediately come to mind are LeBron James, Calvin Johnson, Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Mike Trout and Jon Jones, but I'm sure I'm leaving other obvious names out. Your thoughts?)…I was worried Jay Cutler suffered yet another concussion Sunday, but it appears it was "only" whiplash…Christian Ponder didn't throw a pick over the first four games of the year and looked like a QB taking the next step, but he hasn't gotten 7.5 YPA since Week 1 (and has gotten just 4.3 over his past three games). It remains unclear if Minnesota has a QB for the future…Brandon Marshall has been targeted 50 times over the past three games. 50! He's on pace to finish with 124 catches for 1,652 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, as he's been nothing short of beastly.
So apparently this guy just learned Rugby. Someone please direct him to a football field ASAP.
In my home league we count yardage against for defenses, so they are more important than most formats and despite having a few options stashed, my main Ds had really bad matchups in Week 14, so I decided to roll with Jacksonville, otherwise known as the Steel Curtain 2.0. It was the movable force versus the stoppable object while facing the Jets. Anyway, it was frustrating to see a Jags defensive TD overturned by replay (correctly I think, although it was very close), as was the Jets effectively running the ball even though it was quite clear their game plan was "hide the quarterback," making all the rushing attempts obvious. Since the start of last season, Mark Sanchez has committed the most turnovers in the NFL with 45 (tied with Philip Rivers)…Pretty crazy the Jets are 6-7 and have three winnable upcoming games, including a barnburner in primetime in Tennessee on Monday night.
I would give Denarius Moore a hard time for running the wrong way, but it sure looked like he suffered a head injury earlier in Thursday night's game, and the bigger question here is why Denver tackled him.
I've praised Andrew Luck a lot this year, but I must acknowledge just how bad his pick-six was Sunday, even if it was a horrible call and shouldn't have counted. The decision and the throw directly to Will Witherspoon deserve criticism regardless of the refs' ineptitude. Luck's other interception was meaningless, coming on the final play of the first half on a Hail Mary, but he got just 5.8 YPA with a 47.1 completion percentage (and a 50.8 QB Rating) while playing at home in a highly favorable matchup. Still, Sunday marked Luck's sixth game-winning drive in the fourth quarter/OT this season, tying him for the most by a rookie since the merger…Kenny Britt continues to be such a tease…Indy's pick-six on the defensive side was one of the easiest you'll ever see…Pretty awful drop by Donnie Avery late in the fourth quarter in the end zone…Tennessee's attempt to recover Delone Carter's fumble was truly pathetic…Not only are the Colts 9-4, but they actually control their own destiny when it comes to the AFC South.
So apparently M. Night Shyamalan is now even putting twist endings into his trailers, although this one is admittedly pretty obvious.
Danario Alexander made such a nice double-move during his 39-yard touchdown catch. He has 491 receiving yards with five touchdowns over his past five games, with his latest effort (seven catches 88 yards, two TDs) coming against a Steelers secondary that entered having allowed the fewest fantasy points against opposing wide receivers this season…Ben Roethlisberger did most of his work in garbage time, but it all counts the same in fantasy leagues. And for those who remained patient with Mike Wallace, it sure paid off, although it wasn't easy owning him and making the playoffs. His big performance included a drop on a deep bomb as well. Wallace totaled 91 yards and one touchdown over his previous four games before getting 112 yards and two touchdowns Sunday…Roethlisberger's interception was his first at home this season…Pittsburgh has committed 16 turnovers over its past four games…With 1:14 left in the third quarter, the Chargers successfully attempted a fake punt from their own 28-yard line, although at this point Norv Turner has nothing to lose.
Police Blotter: Handyman kidnapped, forced to do repair jobs…White supremacist with neo-Nazi tattoos on his face apologizes from the bottom of his heart after getting a life sentence for murdering a corrections officer. Apparently there's actually more to his story here...Burglary suspect calls 911 after homeowner holds him at gunpoint.
The Chiefs led 7-0 and had the ball 1st-and-goal at the Browns' 4-yard line Sunday. They ended up losing 30-7. They did so while giving up zero passing TDs (and a 56.7 completion percentage and 7.2 YPA) while holding Trent Richardson to just 2.3 YPC. Like Baxter pooping in the refrigerator and eating a whole wheel of cheese, that's more amazing than worth getting mad over…Richardson is averaging just 3.5 YPC this season, but he's also on pace to score 12 touchdowns to go along with 55 catches and 428 receiving yards. He seemingly passes the eye test, but that low YPC stands out, especially since Pro Football Focus has graded Cleveland's run blocking as (slightly) above average so far this year. Of course, Richardson is young and has plenty of time to improve (and he's coming off another knee surgery), but it's been volume (and surprisingly goal-line work on a bad team) that has been the big reason for his fantasy value this season. Obviously, Richardson's ability to convert those short-yardage scores and his work as a receiver deserve credit, and I'd bet his YPC makes a big leap next year.
Pizza Hut perfume? Pizza Hut perfume.
Joe Flacco had three touchdown passes over the first 21 minutes Sunday — more than he had over his previous three games combined. He didn't do much more afterward though, and you'll almost never see an offensive coordinator (especially one with such a track record) get fired with a 9-4 record like Cam Cameron did…Anquan Boldin caught all three of his targets, getting 78 yards while scoring twice. That's about as efficient as it gets…I wonder how many people benefitting from Pierre Garcon these days actually drafted him. I'd guess less than 50 percent...Robert Griffin's injury looked bad at the time, so it was surprising to see him return for a few plays (that resulted in nearly 50 yards) before he finally went to the sidelines for good. Let's hope the dynamic rookie's injury isn't serious, although when he's able to come back he might find himself in a quarterback controversy in Washington after how Kirk Cousins played Sunday.
Aldon Smith entered Week 7 with a modest 4.5 sacks on the year but followed that up with 15 over the next seven games, giving him a season's pace of 24, which would be an NFL record. He's 23 years old. Only one player in the history of the league under 25 years old (Derrick Thomas) has ever recorded even 18 sacks in a season…Late in the first half, the Dolphins made one of the worst plays you'll ever see, as a player on special teams corralled a punt at the 49ers' 3-yard line, only to then proceed to walk into the end zone, making it a touchback. The punter then got into said player's face and pushed him. It was truly an unbelievable span of events…The end result may not show it on paper (3.8 YPC), but LaMichael James impressed during his NFL debut. He's going to be a major asset for San Francisco down the stretch, albeit not likely much of one for fantasy owners even if Frank Gore goes down, as he's definitely not going to be a workhorse…Vernon Davis is averaging 23.7 yards over the past seven games…I love Jim Harbaugh, but what was he thinking challenging an eight-yard catch (on first down no less) in the fourth quarter? The play was confirmed, but even if he was right, the risk there is nowhere near worth the reward. There were 14 minutes left, and the 49ers were then without any timeouts (and therefore no challenges as well) for the rest of the game…Colin Kaepernick didn't light it up, but he completed 78.3 percent of his passes and got 8.0 YPA without committing a turnover. More importantly, his 50-yard touchdown run with two minutes left covered the spread and made his fantasy owners happy.
This is a pretty great way to store your bike.
Lynch had three scores on 11 touches (USAT)
The Seahawks scored 58 points in a game in which Russell Wilson completed seven passes and threw his first interception at home this season. Marshawn Lynch was also only given 11 carries, while Sidney Rice was held to two catches for 35 yards. And yet Seattle took a 38-0 lead into halftime…The Cardinals had already committed seven turnovers Sunday with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. I'm beginning to think Arizona has a problem at the quarterback position…Last week I suggested betting on the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl at 33/1 odds. I'm going to Reno this week and planned on putting my money where my mouth (writing?) is, but I'm guessing those odds won't be nearly the same now, unfortunately…Up 51-0 on 4th-and-23 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Seattle threw the ball into the end zone, trying for yet another touchdown. They also blitzed with less than two minutes left. I don't care about that stuff too much, but it's easy to see why some are annoyed by Pete Carroll.
Friends discover they are long lost siblings.
Over the last three games, Drew Brees has gotten 7.2 YPA while throwing nine interceptions…So that's what all the previous hype about David Wilson was about. I guess 327 all-purpose yards with three touchdowns on only 17 touches is decent enough. He's the first player ever to have 200 return yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game…Joseph Morgan is averaging 44.3 yards-per-catch this season…Pretty crazy two teams combined for 110 points during the afternoon games Sunday…Late in the second quarter, pass interference was called both on the wide receiver (Hakeem Nicks) and the cornerback (Patrick Robinson) on the same play. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before.
The UFC on Fox didn't turn out all that great, but I appreciate them putting on a free card the same night as a big boxing match, making a party all that more enjoyable. While the MMA bouts resulted in mostly decisions and were generally "good, not great," the Juan Manuel Marquez/Manny Pacquiao fight was an instant classic — one of the better boxing matches in the last 10 years, resulting in a surprising knockout by the underdog with just one second left in the sixth round. There were two previous knockdowns already in a fight that consisted of constant action (the fight likely ending in a KO was speculated beforehand, as fighters have become increasingly skeptical of letting it go to the cards with recent questionable decisions, highlighted by Pacquiao losing to Timothy Bradley during his previous fight). Assuming Mayweather/Pacquiao will never happen, count me on board for Pacquiao/Marquez Part 5.
After scoring more points in the fourth quarter than the first three quarters combined for the year, the Lions have been outscored 24-6 in the fourth over the past two games. It was definitely a mess when it comes to weather, but Matthew Stafford gifted Green Bay a defensive touchdown to help the Packers get back into the game Sunday night…Stafford entered the year with three career rushing touchdowns. He already has four this season…I, for one, didn't expect Kris Durham to be the better fantasy play than Mike Thomas, who somehow didn't see a single target despite Detroit's injury (and head case) issues at the wide receiver position…Randall Cobb has caught all 13 of his targets over the past two weeks and is second only to Percy Harvin (a similar player, actually) among wide receivers with 14 broken tackles on the year. Cobb has hauled in 79.8 percent of his targets this season, with only Mario Manningham ahead of him (80.4 percent), and the latter has come in a far smaller sample…Aaron Rodgers has actually committed more turnovers (four) than he's recorded touchdowns (three) over the past three games, and while last year's 9.2 YPA was sure to regress, I still expected better than his current 7.5 mark. Of course, Rodgers has been plenty good this year regardless, as I'm just nitpicking.
Longread of the week: An Oral History of "White Men Can't Jump." Easily one of my favorite sports movies ever.
Sitting around 3.5 points all week, the Pats/Texans line jumped all the way to six before game time Monday, and all the late money on New England was apparently correct, as what was billed as the game of the year quickly turned into a boat race. As someone who bet on the Patriots over 12 wins before the season, that certainly didn't look too good when they started 3-3. But now, I'm heavily favored to cash it (that may or may not have been a reverse jinx with the 49ers playing in New England on Sunday night. Their other two games are @Jax and Mia). Also, as someone who lost in Survivor in Week 2 because of them, I find it humorous the Patriots are the only team in football to lose at home against the Cardinals this season…Stevan Ridley lost a ton of snaps after fumbling early on Monday night, but he should be safe moving forward after securing the ball and later scoring when he returned to action, but with "Bob" Belichick in charge, he better not put it on the carpet again any time soon…Excellent timing, Brandon Lloyd…Tom Brady has a 19:1 TD:INT ratio over the past seven games…Andre Johnson's 122 targets are the eighth-most in the league, while his five red-zone targets are tied for 63rd, behind the likes of Tiquan Underwood, Juron Criner, Michael Spurlock and teammate Keshawn Martin. Johnson hasn't been targeted a single time inside the 5-yard line this season. He's been able to stay healthy this year while flashing his old skills and has been plenty valuable, especially in PPR leagues, but Houston's RZ philosophy prevents him from being among the elite fantasy wide receivers. Johnson's lack of scoring has been anything but a fluke.