Rookie QBs continue to impress (USP)
I've blamed Houston's run blocking mostly this year, but it's hard to defend Arian Foster when he gets 2.8 yards-per-touch against a Titans defense that has allowed the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Of course, he once again helped fantasy owners by hitting pay dirt, but with Justin Forsett equaling his 14 carries and nearly doubling his yardage, the O-Line excuse becomes weaker. Foster has a legitimate shot at finishing as the No. 1 fantasy running back while getting fewer than 4.0 YPC AND having less than 150 receiving yards — a feat in which I'd be shocked if it wasn't the first time ever…Andre Johnson didn't see one target in the second half Sunday. Expect him to be more involved this week in New England...The firing of Chris Palmer at OC certainly didn't seem to improve Tennessee's offense, although to be fair, they actually got more yards per play (5.2) than Houston (4.7) despite facing the far better defense…The Texans lost a defensive touchdown after recovering a Chris Johnson fumble and an inadvertent whistle blew the play dead before an easy return for a score. I hate inadvertent whistles…J.J. Watt added another sack, forced fumble and pass defended, as he continues to be the biggest defensive force in football this season. While Watt, Von Miller and Aldon Smith may not technically play the same position, the three best pass rushers in the NFL all came from the 2011 draft.
Tom Brady has thrown more interceptions (18) and has fumbled more times (11) against the Dolphins during his career than any other team. Of course, part of that is sharing the same division, but this isn't purely due to volume, as his INT% jumps to 2.9 (his career mark is 2.1), and his YPA drops to just 7.2 when facing Miami. A whopping 31 of his 40 pass attempts Sunday targeted either Wes Welker or Aaron Hernandez, as Brandon Lloyd continues to be an afterthought…Tough break losing Jake Long to what looks like a season-ending injury, but his play had really slipped of late. After being graded as the NFL's second best left tackle in 2009 and 2010, Pro Football Focus ranked him 21st last season and just 46th so far this year…Ryan Tannehill badly missed a wide open Brian Hartline midway through the first quarter on a would-be 50-yard touchdown…Brady has now won 10 division titles, passing Joe Montana for the most in NFL history.
Speaking of Dolphins, here's one biting a girl at SeaWorld.
After Jalen Parmele was lost for the season, there was some hope Rashad Jennings could again become fantasy relevant before leaving with an injury Sunday, as just when you think the Jaguars backfield couldn't be any more disastrous for fantasy owners, it is…In a game that totaled 52 points, I certainly would have expected more than 27 combined receiving yards from Stevie Johnson and Justin Blackmon...Interesting to see Fred Jackson get 27 touches compared to C.J. Spiller's 15, although both played well…After getting 10.4 YPA with a 6:1 TD:INT ratio over his past two games, Chad Henne got just 5.1 YPA with a 43.9 completion percentage Sunday. Poor weather conditions probably had something to do with it, but even so, Henne wasn't a total bust for those who used him in fantasy leagues, as he also rushed for a touchdown...Over his past four games, Cecil Shorts has 20 catches for 368 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
This "best of" News Bloopers collection is pretty awesome. I'm changing all my team names to "The Vacuum Cleaner Man."
With 2:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Colts were just past midfield and down 33-21, so Sunday's outcome was pretty improbable. In fact, their win probability at the time was one percent. The fact the comeback featured neither a turnover nor an onside kick makes it that much crazier. Leading 23-14 at halftime yet getting outscored 14-3 in the fourth quarter, this was essentially the opposite of every other game Detroit has played this season, although the end result has been all too familiar…Andrew Luck has committed 17 turnovers over six road games this year, but fantasy owners aren't exactly complaining after his performance in Detroit on Sunday, when he totaled 426 yards with four touchdowns. His TD pass on the final play of the game was really a thing of beauty, as his ability to move outside the pocket consistently extends plays. His YPA and completion percentage don't jump off the page, and his stats actually pale in comparison to fellow rookie Robert Griffin, but Luck definitely passes the eye test. He's already won more games during his first year in the league than any other No. 1 overall pick in NFL history...One week after Jim Schwartz cost his team in a big way by throwing a challenge flag, for some reason he left it in his pocket after a highly questionable 42-yard Donnie Avery "catch" early in the third quarter. It was only exacerbated by Luck waiting a good 10 seconds at the line of scrimmage before he called hike…Tough break for Ryan Broyles (torn ACL), who was looking at extended action with Titus Young no longer with the team…Calvin Johnson is on pace to finish with 1,904 receiving yards this season, which would easily be an NFL record.
The Panthers have now lost 13 straight coin tosses so far this season (12 to open the game and another in overtime). Of course this means nothing, but it's pretty crazy nevertheless…Where did that come from, Brady Quinn?...Over his last four games, Cam Newton has gotten 8.6 YPA while averaging 257.8 passing yards with an 8:2 TD:INT ratio. He's also added 44.3 rushing yards per game with two scores on the ground, as he's quietly returned to being an elite fantasy option. It's too bad his second matchup with the Saints is in Week 17 this year, but he does have a highly favorable meeting at home against the Raiders in Week 16.
Man almost run over by train. Hero saves his life.
The Jets/Cardinals game set football back a few decades, as over the first 1.5 quarters, they combined for four interceptions and two missed field goals. The game was 3-0 entering the fourth quarter (with the field goal coming thanks to a 40-yard gain on a fake punt), and that couldn't exactly be contributed to dominant defensive performances. It's pretty sad when Greg McElroy gets a loud standing ovation entering the game...The player listed as Yahoo's "Top Performer" for Arizona was someone on special teams who touched the ball one time (and didn't score)...Ryan Lindley got 71 yards on 32 pass attempts. Wow…Over the past three games, Larry Fitzgerald has gotten 65 yards on 26 targets…Shonn Greene slid down on his own volition at the 1-yard line at the end of the game. It was a heady real life move, but fantasy owners have the right to be frustrated.
Here's footage of a zebra chasing a pony in Staten Island.
The 49ers losing obviously serves me right after joking about how they had the Super Bowl in the bag last week. Apparently the Rams have their number. How crazy is it these two teams were 26 seconds away from tying twice in the same season? There were a few complaints for a 49ers fan, as their safety was an incorrect call - when the QB is out of the pocket, the line of scrimmage extends beyond out of bounds, and Chris Givens was clearly bobbling a catch while going out of bounds in overtime, and the upstairs booth didn't even bother to ask the refs to review it, but SF deserved to lose this game no question (during the aforementioned safety, the play started at the 17-yard line, which should pretty much never result in giving away two points). Also, up 10-2 with the ball and just three minutes left, I wasn't exactly on board with running a trick play in which Ted Ginn is the primary option on a pitch…Colin Kaepernick certainly didn't play well (his pitch to Ginn was terrible, but why didn't Ginn just fall on the ball?), but he was under constant duress, and while it's impossible to tell if he made bad reads downfield and missed some opportunities, he certainly didn't make many poor throws.
Steven Jackson got just 48 rushing yards on 23 carries, but he ran hard and broke numerous tackles, also adding 69 yards on five catches. I can't believe he's not slowing down while approaching 2,800 career touches…Delanie Walker had a horrible drop on a would-be touchdown late in the fourth quarter and followed that up with a holding penalty on the very next play…Vernon Davis has averaged 28.4 yards receiving over the past seven games…Johnny Hekker's 14-yard punt in overtime was pretty awful, but he's not nearly the shankapotomus David Akers has been this season…The Rams are now 4-0-1 in their division. They are 1-6 outside of it…Aldon Smith has the most sacks over the first two seasons of an NFL career in the history of the league (and he still has four games to play).
Sunday marked the Packers' first rushing touchdown since Week 5…Green Bay's 11-minute drive to start the fourth quarter was the longest of the NFL season, although it resulted in just a field goal…Jordy Nelson, ugh. As a fellow owner, I'm not exactly planning on counting on anything from him from here on out this year…What exactly is going on here?…I loved how during Adrian Peterson's 82-yard touchdown run, which was the longest of his career, he watched himself on the stadium's big screen during the final 15 yards. AP is on pace to finish with 1,928 rushing yards this season, which would be the eighth most in NFL history despite him tearing his ACL less than one year ago. His 6.2 YPC is a career-high by a fairly wide margin. He ran for 210 yards Sunday despite not being given a single carry in the fourth quarter.
Here's old footage of a guy down on his luck winning the lotto while being filmed live on TV.
Wilson is the real deal (USP)
The one criticism about Russell Wilson was his play on the road earlier this year, but that's gone after he's performed well in back-to-back games away from home, including an especially impressive outing in a tough Chicago environment Sunday. Over the past four games, Wilson has gotten 8.2 YPA with a 9:0 TD:INT ratio. He's also added 170 rushing yards (5.7 YPC) over that span (in which he faced two of the six defenses that have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks). Wilson is without question the real deal. And as a 49ers fan, this terrifies me…The Seahawks upcoming schedule is ARI, @BUF, SF, STL. The Seahawks have a legit shot of winning the NFC West, and I kind of like them as a long-shot Super Bowl bet right now too. They are 33/1. Their cornerbacks' status could prove pivotal…Earl Bennett's drop while wide open deep down the field was likely the worst by a receiver in all of Week 13…What a play by Jay Cutler, finding Brandon Marshall for a 56-yard gain down three points with just 20 seconds left at their own 14-yard line. It was a remarkable comeback, although it was equally as surprising to see Seattle drive 80 yards for a touchdown with ease on the road in Chicago against a tough Bears defense to open overtime.
Here's the world's best parallel parking (in reverse). Although this skill may soon be irrelevant, as self-driving cars become more and more inevitable. In fact, driver's licenses may be obsolete by the year 2040.
Doug Martin has gotten just 106 yards on 39 rushes (2.7 YPC) over his past two games, although he's also scored twice while adding 55 receiving yards over that span, as the rookie has remained valuable even during a slump…Eric Decker has 10 catches on 19 targets for 119 yards over his past four games. What a huge disappointment…This play by Peyton Manning and Knowshon Moreno was pretty legit…With 50 percent of the late games Sunday not on "Game Mix" since the Chargers and the Raiders were both blacked out (the latter was for me in all ways, since I'm in the Oakland market), I found myself watching the Red Zone Channel for the first time this year, and man Andrew Siciliano kept making mistakes. I think he's generally considered very good though, so I probably just caught him on a bad day. The RZ channel is great (especially the loophole that allows you to catch some of the game that's blacked out in local markets), although I resent the fact it only became available on cable after I moved into a place where I could finally get DIRECTV.
The Onion naming Kim Jong-Un the "Sexiest Man Alive" was pretty funny, but it became even better when China's "People's Daily" fell for the spoof (especially when you look at the past winners list). Then again, it looks like he's going to win Time's "Person of the Year," so he may end up having the last laugh.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis became the first Bengal to rush for 100 yards in three straight games since 1999, when Corey Dillon did it…Philip Rivers has 11 turnovers in the fourth quarter/overtime this season. That's not ideal. Moreover, San Diego has lost four games already this year in which they led in the fourth quarter…I know the NFL is crazy and unpredictable, but I'm genuinely surprised Ryan Mathews has been unproductive while healthy this year…Speaking of being healthy yet unproductive, Antonio Gates is about as bad as Mathews. Gates is averaging 37.9 yards per game — the worst since his rookie season. His 11.0 yards-per-catch is the worst of his career. The targets have been there, so this is plain and simple a sign of decline. Good thing I targeted Gates, Aaron Hernandez and Vernon Davis in most of my leagues this year…Takeo Spikes got a personal foul penalty for hitting Andy Dalton in the head after he batted his pass down. I didn't realize that was possible…Danario Alexander has entered must-start territory, but his matchup in Pittsburgh this week is as tough as it gets.
The Miguel Cotto/Austin Trout fight was pretty good, and although I thought it was closer than the cards had it, the right person definitely won, as Trout pulled off the upset. Unfortunately, that might prevent a highly anticipated Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez matchup from happening now.
Here's my latest hoops column, if you're into that sort of thing.
I wasn't exactly shocked to see Darren McFadden inactive, but I was surprised to see Marcel Reece lose so much backfield work to Jeremy Stewart. With McFadden typically such a slow healer, I really thought there was a decent chance Reece would have fantasy value Weeks 14-16, but that doesn't appear to be the case regardless of McFadden's availability…Over 10 games last year, Carson Palmer threw 13 touchdowns while getting 8.6 YPA. This year he's tossed 20 TDs over 12 games while getting 7.0 YPA. Go figure. He's really taken advantage of garbage time, as 13 of those 20 touchdowns have come in the second half. Palmer is on pace to finish with 671 pass attempts, which would be the third most in NFL history (although that might get bumped down to fourth, since Matthew Stafford is on pace to break the record. Moreover, Andrew Luck is currently tied with Palmer, which is pretty crazy for a rookie)…Brandon Myers caught 14 of his 15 targets for 130 yards and a touchdown, as he continues to be one of the better surprises at the tight end position this year…Phil Dawson was a perfect 23-for-23 on FG attempts before having a 28-yarder blocked late in the third quarter Sunday…The Browns won on the road for the first time in 13 games and have won back-to-back games for the first time in what amounts to two full seasons.
Meet the Clark brothers, who are both becoming increasingly more and more child like despite being in their 30s and 40s. What a sad story.
How does Pittsburgh lose the turnover battle (highlighted by Emmanuel Sanders, who turned a would-be 72-yard touchdown into a fumble lost while untouched in what might be the single worst play of the 2012 season) while starting Charlie Batch at quarterback win in Baltimore, where the Ravens had won 15 straight games? The Steelers also lost cornerback Ike Taylor to injury early in the first quarter. Pretty crazy...Vegas bumped up the spread to around nine points before game time, which suggests they think the downgrade from Ben Roethlisberger to Batch was around six points — you won't ever see a bigger discrepancy than that as far as one player affecting line movement (this was especially extreme considering how familiar these two teams are with each other)…Mike Wallace had a horrible drop on a perfectly thrown pass only later to be badly overthrown by Batch when he was wide open in the end zone…What was up with the Mike Tomlin/John Harbaugh handshake exchange at the end of the game?...Ray Rice didn't have a single touch in the fourth quarter.
Bryce Brown lost another fumble, but wow is he impressive otherwise, showing incredible vision and tackle-breaking ability to go along with speed. His 4.2 YPC after contact leads the NFL, and he's broken a whopping 13 tackles over the past two games, which is as many as Steven Jackson, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte have all season. Brown should be considered a top-three fantasy start as long as LeSean McCoy is out. Brown announced where he went to school in the 8th grade during NBC's telecast, as he apparently hated his high school experience as much as he did college…Jason Witten is on pace to finish the year with 117 catches. And just one touchdown…DeMarco Murray looked solid enough during his return, albeit a bit tentative at times. Still, he's going to have to come at a pretty significant discount next year to be worth drafting with his injury history…So I guess Jeremy Maclin is unusable in fantasy leagues even while healthy and with DeSean Jackson sidelined…Over his last four games, Dez Bryant has totaled 29 catches for 475 yards and six touchdowns (that's a season's pace of 116 receptions, 1,900 yards and 24 scores). It sure looks like the enigma is finally living up to his potential. What a beast.
Longread of the week: There's been a running joke among Joe Posnanski readers waiting for his long-awaited "iPad review." He finally delivered one, although it's not exactly what was expected.
Ahmad Bradshaw didn't have a monstrous game Monday night, but with Andre Brown out, it looks like he could be a true difference maker in the fantasy playoffs. The newly minted workhorse gets a Saints team that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs at home in Week 14, and his following two opponents (@ATL, @BAL) are in the bottom 12 as well…Over his past three games, Robert Griffin has completed 73.0 percent of his passes for 10.6 YPA with a 9:1 TD:INT ratio. He's also run for 185 yards over that span, getting 7.7 YPC. I stand by my love for Andrew Luck earlier in this column, but there's little question who's been the best rookie quarterback this season…Don't forget just how good Pierre Garcon has looked while on the field this year, and he's not even close to 100 percent right now either. In this system and with RG3 throwing to him, Garcon has the upside to be a top-10 fantasy wide receiver next year, and that's being conservative. His ceiling might be more like top-three.