RG3 is all smiles (USP)
As the biggest favorites in a game so far this season, it was more than a little surprising to see the Texans down 34-20 in the fourth quarter to a Jaguars team that has won once this year. I would say it was even crazier since the underdog lost its starting quarterback early on, but it's Blaine Gabbert, and Chad Henne impressed…Rashad Jennings has obviously been a huge disappointment since taking over for Maurice Jones-Drew, but there were plenty of fantasy owners still counting on at least some production in deep leagues, so a heads up about his benching sure would have been nice. "Winning" the FAAB bid on Jennings has proven to be anything but…Go ahead and add Jalen Parmele. The Jags' next two opponents have given up the most and the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season…I loved Jacksonville going for it on 4th-and-10 from the 47-yard line with 2:30 left in overtime. Punting and playing for a tie there would have been so cowardly with their record.
Businessman walking the wrong way down an escalator.
Week 11 was the first time all season Arian Foster didn't score a touchdown, and he's also the AFC's leading rusher, so it's pretty ridiculous to complain about his performance. But 28 carries for 77 yards at home against the Jags, really? He's now at 3.8 YPC on the year and even worse, after totaling 1,221 receiving yards over the past two seasons (while missing three games), he's on pace to finish with just 171 this year. I've watched a ton of Foster this year, and I really do put a lot of the blame on the team's run blocking, which has quickly gone from one of the league's best to average. And of course, his lack of involvement as a receiver is systematically based…Speaking of systems dictating fantasy value, Sunday was a good reminder Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson could return to elite status if they didn't play for a team with such a strong defense. Schaub's 527 passing yards tied for the second-most in NFL history, while this game also marked the first time ever two players finished with 200 receiving yards in the same game.
The Chiefs are 1-9 with the worst point differential in the NFL (-132) and are a truly miserable team. They allowed 100 rushing yards to BenJarvus Green-Ellis - his first over the past 24 games (playoffs included), and Brady Quinn somehow looked like an upgrade at the quarterback position. This would actually be just fine if they tanked like this last year, with Andrew Luck and RG3 waiting in the wings, but as is, they seemingly chose the wrong time to be picking early in search of a franchise quarterback (and this is coming from someone who at one point thought Matt Barkley was going to be a future star). Especially with the way the Saints have looked lately, KC's win in New Orleans earlier this year may go down as the most dumbfounding of the 2012 season…Props to the Bengals for calling a fake punt on just their second drive of the game…A.J. Green has now scored in nine straight games (10 total), which is pretty remarkable for any wide receiver, let alone one in just his second year in the league and with a non-elite QB throwing to him.
As a 49ers fan, watching the Rams lose at home 27-13 to a Jets team that was not only 1-5 over their last six games but also had scored just one offensive touchdown since Week 8 would have been far more discouraging if not for the heavily favored Texans going deep into overtime at home against the Jaguars as well as the Falcons playing a life-or-death game at home against the Cardinals (and if you're feeling generous you could lump the Cowboys in here as well), as it really emphasized just how much of an "any given Sunday" factor the league still has…I know it wasn't a huge deal since the game was mostly out of hand, but why did Jeff Fisher go for two down 27-13 with 5:40 left? Maybe I'm just a bitter "Greg the Leg" owner, but I'd love to hear the logic on that one…Mark Sanchez hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns in a game on the road this season…I love me some Danny Amendola (although with him again missing time with a foot injury, his health risk continues to rise), but he got 3.7 YPT on Sunday. That's not exactly ideal.
This is a bit long, but here's a compilation of a bunch of crazy drivers in Russia.
With 4:37 left in the second quarter on 2nd-and-16, Dez Bryant made a 15-yard catch before meekly going out of bounds without even attempting to fight for the first down (which he would have easily made with even a half-hearted attempt). I'm a Bryant apologist, but this was a microcosm both of his career and a Dallas team even I'm becoming tired of defending. Dallas lost left tackle Tyron Smith in Sunday's game, but at what point do the excuses stop? How does this team have three points on the board into the fourth quarter at home against the Browns (who were missing Joe Haden)? The crazy thing is after having said all that, there's a real chance they are favored in all of their remaining six games, so the division remains very much in the picture despite what's happened so far (and of course it should be noted they did in fact win Sunday, winning two games in a row for the first time this season)…And in honor of Ben Watson's big game, I give you this.
Despite getting 8.0 YPA this season, Pro Football Focus grades Cam Newton as the 28th passer in the league so far this year…The Bucs have won four straight, with three of them coming on the road, as they remain a seriously dangerous team, although their upcoming schedule doesn't appear easy…Vincent Jackson is averaging a whopping 20.5 yards-per-catch and is on pace to shatter all of his previous career-highs during his first year in Tampa Bay…Over the last four games, Doug Martin has totaled 766 yards with six touchdowns. He leads the NFL with 41 broken tackles and has been an absolute beast as a rookie. Martin will be a top-five fantasy pick next year.
I do not think John Skelton is a good quarterback. In fact, I'm sure he's one of the worst in the league, and he missed a wide open Larry Fitzgerald for a would-be touchdown Sunday, but as someone who was facing the Falcons defense, I wasn't happy when Arizona benched him up 13-3 for a sixth-round pick who hadn't played a single snap in the NFL. So I can't say I was shocked when Ryan Lindley's second ever drop back resulted in a sack, a lost fumble and a return for a touchdown (the single biggest scoring play in fantasy football not accounting for yards). Lindley finished with 3.2 YPA…What a game by LaRod Stephens-Howling. I certainly didn't see that coming…For frustrated Larry Fitzgerald owners, the only solace I can provide is that the Falcons have shut down opposing teams' No. 1 wide receivers all season…Daryl Washington is on pace to finish with 138 tackles, 13 sacks and two interceptions…Midway through the third quarter, Roddy White fumbled and an Arizona player made a terrific play by throwing the ball back in bounds to a teammate while diving. It was one of the better plays I've seen this season regardless if it stood, which was questionable as it was unclear if his toes were on the line before he dove. But that all turned moot, as Mike Smith threw the challenge flag before the booth made a decision whether it should be reviewed or not (as always happens after a turnover), which not only resulted in a penalty on the Falcons, but it also meant the play could no longer be reviewed. All things considered, even with Atlanta winning, this was probably the biggest coaching gaffe of the week…The Falcons became the first team since 1967 to win a game in which their quarterback had a 0:5 TD:INT ratio.
This Korean Driver is better than me in the face of crisis.
Matthew Stafford overthrew Calvin Johnson on two would-be big plays. He was under pressure on one, but there's no doubt he left a lot of yards on the field, with Johnson losing out…The Packers' rushing attack is a total mess and needs to be avoided in fantasy leagues…Mason Crosby entered the game missing 5 of his previous 10 field goal attempts, which obviously shook Mike McCarthy's confidence, as he passed on a 49-yard attempt in the first half only to see Crosby miss not once (after Jim Schwartz tried to ice him) but twice from 50 yards at the end of the second quarter. Crosby later missed a 38-yard attempt, pretty much sealing his fate I'd guess (although he did barely make a 39-yarder with 19 seconds left, covering the spread in a beautiful way)…Over the first three games of the season, Aaron Rodgers got 6.48 YPA with a 3:2 TD:INT ratio. Over his next seven games, he's gotten 7.84 YPA with a 24:4 TD:INT ratio.
At the very last minute Sunday morning, I benched Robert Griffin for Carson Palmer in my home league. I also had Andre Johnson on my bench. That was a bit frustrating…It doesn't get more efficient than Griffin, who threw for four touchdowns on 15 attempts while getting 13.3 YPA with a 93.3 completion percentage. His QB Rating was perfect, and that's not even counting his 84 rushing yards on 12 carries…Obviously RG3 deserves most of the credit, but seriously, what happened to Nnamdi Asomugha? His "defense" during Aldrick Robinson's 49-yard touchdown was at best embarrassing, although his teammates might have outdone him during Santana Moss' 61-yard score when he was double-teamed…But please don't let this excuse Philly's offense, which was equally as horrendous. Nick Foles, who was facing a defense that entered having allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, dropped back 51 times Sunday, resulting in zero touchdowns, two interceptions and 177 yards. Considering his weapons and the system he's in, that was surprising, regardless of Foles' lack of experience. And while acknowledging this is totally meaningless, the fact the Redskins had lost their previous eight games versus rookie QBs only piles it on...Pierre Garcon didn't exactly impress during his return to action…LeSean McCoy's concussion, which occurred with less than two minutes remaining in a blowout, sure didn't look good. Bryce Brown should be bid on aggressively.
This idea of a videogame urinal isn't bad, but who's the guy calling it "a man's dream?"
If I owned Marcel Reece and Darren McFadden, I'd strongly hope the latter never returns this season…The Raiders have been outscored 123-34 in the third quarter this year. That's 89 points. To put this in perspective, only three other teams in the NFL have been outscored by more than 90 points during the entire season. Obviously some of this is random variance, but since this has occurred right after halftime, it's hard not to question the coaching…The Saints are 5-1 over their past six games (with their only loss coming in Denver), including a win in Tampa Bay (which is TB's lone loss over their past six games) and the only win against the Falcons this season. After a 0-4 start that included both a home loss to Kansas City (its only victory of the year) and a one-point loss in Green Bay, New Orleans sure has turned the corner. Their next five games look like this: SF, @ATL, @NYG, TB, @DAL, so it's not exactly easy going, but the Saints have clearly overcome their early season struggles…Denarius Moore hauled in just one of his seven targets for only nine yards against a New Orleans secondary that has allowed an NFL-high 8.5 YPA this season.
This guy continued to make food deliveries after stealing a car.
Despite Ronnie Hillman's lackluster performance, with Willis McGahee tearing his MCL, he'll be worth a max FAAB bid. Lance Ball will also be involved, but Hillman should get 15-20 touches per game in an explosive offense. Especially at this time of year, might as well go all in with this type of upside…San Diego opened the second half with a surprise onside kick, which was successful (as surprise ones are more apt to be)…The Chargers' first nine points scored Sunday were by their defense…Danario Alexander, who's suddenly something of a must start while his knees hold up, had a clear touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter, although Solomon Wilcots was questioning its validity greatly for some reason…Eric Decker has totaled just 38 receiving yards over the past two games, although he did score Sunday. There's nothing to worry about here.
Here's a drunk lady videobombing a newscast.
Brady is fired up (USP)
Considering the opponent and the whopping 18 targets, Reggie Wayne's seven-catch, 72-yard game without a touchdown was disappointing. As was Andrew Luck's 6.7 YPA and 63.3 QB Rating, although volume (50 pass attempts) led to 334 passing yards and two scores, which salvaged his fantasy day. There's no question in my mind Luck is a future star, but I will point out he's committed 14 turnovers over five road games compared to three at home this season…The Colts have allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs this year, so I didn't expect Julian Edelman to lead the Pats with 47 rushing yards Sunday…With 7:38 left in the fourth quarter and down 28 points, Indy decided its best chance to win the game was to punt on 4th-and-2. Of course it was likely inconsequential, but the decision resulted in an eight-yard net. The process was bad enough, and the result only highlighted that…Rob Gronkowski was about as good as it gets Sunday, hauling in all seven of his targets for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also broke his forearm. Although he hasn't been as valuable as last season, all things considered, Gronk has been a top-15 fantasy commodity, so his loss will be felt just as much by his fantasy owners as the Patriots (Pro Football Focus has him graded as the second-best run blocker among tight ends this season).
The tale of the Smithfield boy, the goat and the tree.
Within the first minute of Sunday night's game Byron Leftwich had a 31-yard touchdown run. Since 2006, he had totaled 20 yards on the ground…Rashard Mendenhall may have regained his starting status during his return to the lineup, but Jonathan Dwyer (and the staff's usage of him) made it clear who the best back on the roster is. That said, expect a committee moving forward…I gave Arian Foster a hard time earlier, but Ray Rice has failed to rush for 70 yards in six of 10 games this year, while LeSean McCoy has not only disappointed similarly but might also be done for with a concussion — and to talk more about first rounders, let's not forget Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden and DeMarco Murray. Suddenly Chris Johnson doesn't look so bad. Imagine thinking that back in Week 6…Mike Wallace has reached 75 receiving yards in just two games this season. To put this in perspective, he averaged 100.0 yards over the first eight games last season…I'm a big Mike Tomlin fan, but the decision to call a timeout with 2:04 left in the 4th quarter was a mistake. I'm normally all for taking timeouts before the two-minute warning, but when it's this close to 2:00, it opens up the possibility for the opponent to pass (this also led to a completely unnecessary offsides, which also cost the Steelers 35 seconds).
Longread of the week: Meet the girl who feels no pain.
What a performance by the 49ers, who held the Bears to just 143 total yards of offense, which is the second fewest in the NFL this season. Jason Campbell lost nearly as many yards while getting sacked (49) as Matt Forte had rushing (63). Aldon Smith seemingly lived in Chicago's backfield, totaling 5.5 sacks to give him 15 for the year. The NFL record is now in play…Brandon Marshall saw just four targets, but he's now up to eight scores, already marking his second highest total in a season in his career…Welcome to the Colin Kaepernick coming out party. There's no question his offensive line played far better than Chicago's, but Kaepernick has an absolute howitzer for an arm and showed surprising touch with his accuracy while running a pro system that if anything saw its playbook actually expand with him in there. The 49ers really do have a decision to make now at quarterback, as Alex Smith is guaranteed nothing even when healthy. Because of his rushing ability, Kaepernick certainly has more fantasy upside of the two (and Vernon Davis owners likely aren't clamoring for a change back). It will be interesting to see what the team does moving forward.