LeSean McCoy delivered big during the first week of the fantasy playoffs (USAT)
Matt McGloin had an impressive 3:0 TD:INT ratio during his first career start, which came in Houston against a Texans defense that ranked first against the pass at the time (at least if you used total yardage against, which admittedly isn’t the best method). Since then, he’s arguably been even better, as he’s gotten 8.2 YPA over the past three games, taking just three sacks over that span. One game came against a Tennessee secondary that entered Week 14 having allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in the NFL, while another came in New York on Sunday, when the Raiders lost their 13th straight game in the Eastern Time Zone while playing without the team’s No. 1 WR and top two running backs. Teammate Terrelle Pryor (who saw some action Sunday) and Case Keenum are two recent examples of why not to overreact to small samples of a quarterback getting off to a hot start, but McGloin has had an encouraging beginning to his NFL career…Geno Smith tossed a TD for the first time since Oct. 20…Facing a Jets front seven that has allowed an NFL-low 3.1 YPC, Marcel Reece ran for 123 yards and a score on just 19 carries, adding another 38 receiving yards on two catches. Reece was highly productive when he was Oakland’s primary ballcarrier for a stretch last season and would be a high-end RB2 for fantasy purposes during the rest of the fantasy playoffs should he continue to be so, although early word suggests Rashad Jennings will return in Week 15…Here’s Chris Ivory doing Chris Ivory things.
The Patriots have scored 10 points in the first half over their last four games, including getting shut out at home Sunday against a Cleveland defense that allowed 32 points to the Jaguars last week. New England has gone 3-1 despite it, but there’s got to be some worry about the slow starts. Moreover, the Pats required something of a miracle to win Sunday, as they were down 12 points with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter…Tom Brady finished with 418 passing yards and two scores, also getting 8.0 YPA with a 61.5 completion percentage, but he missed a lot of throws. Let’s just say it wasn’t his most accurate day (although he also dealt with plenty of drops), and now he’ll be without Rob Gronkowski for the rest of the season (Brady also lost a horrible fumble during the first play after Gronk left). It’s tempting to call Gronkowski injury prone at this point, but what a brutal hit he took on his knee (it’s also tough to blame T.J. Ward, who would get fined/penalized if he went high opposed to low with the hit). This seemingly comes down to whether an NFL receiver should care more about his career or his life afterward…Jordan Cameron secured all nine of his targets for 121 yards and a score, making it his best performance since Week 3. His future remains bright.
Jason Campbell posted a 3:0 TD:INT ratio with an 8.9 YPA mark while taking one sack in New England, which probably isn’t a great sign for the Patriots defense…Stevan Ridley isn’t totally buried, but he’s in no way a reliable Week 15 fantasy option. Meanwhile, Shane Vereen saw a whopping 17 targets, hauling in 12 catches for 153 yards while also scoring on the ground. He’s easily a top-10 RB in PPR leagues and not far off a top-15 option in standard formats…With 10:15 left in the third quarter, the Browns went for two up 12-0. It’s too simplistic to point out how they didn’t convert and ended up losing by one point, but this was a mistake regardless of outcome with more than 25 minutes left in the game…Over the last three games, Josh Gordon has totaled 683 yards and four touchdowns, including this 80-yarder Sunday in which he once again makes it look so easy. Gordon has more receiving yards over the past month (774) than any wide receiver has had over a four-game stretch in a single season in the history of the NFL. He leads the leage in receiving yards despite being suspended the first two games of the season while playing his home games outdoors in a division known most for its defense and having horrific quarterbacks throwing to him. Gordon is three years younger than A.J. Green.
This motorcyclist should probably find a different mode of transportation (seriously, it takes a few views to fully grasp it, but this is probably one of my three favorite GIFs ever).
This is the scariest commercial of all time (you’ve been warned).
I must admit I didn’t see Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton combining to throw for seven touchdowns (and a TD run) with zero interceptions and no sacks, totaling more than 600 passing yards while playing outdoors. Luck also led Indy with 32 rushing yards, as I had him ranked too low among QBs and had Donald Brown ranked far too high among RBs this week. Brown was given just four carries Sunday compared to six for Trent Richardson, with the latter also adding six catches for 68 receiving yards…Luck somehow threw for 326 yards and tossed four TDs with Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton combining for 30 yards and zero scores, while Coby Fleener got 3.9 YPT sans a TD as well. Da’Rick Rogers looks like a possible interesting player down the road. He’s 6-3, 215 with good speed and only went undrafted because of character concerns, not a lack of talent…The Colts will probably be underdogs during their likely first round playoff matchup at home against the Chiefs. They didn’t even hit Dalton a single time Sunday. Luck has more rushing yards for the Colts this season than Richardson...Giovani Bernard got 8.3 YPC while BenJarvus Green-Ellis got 2.8, but the latter got two goal-line scores, one of which late in the second quarter on 4th-and-goal was curiously overturned, as he sure looked short on replay. It hasn’t been Jeff Triplette’s best year. Bernard also hauled in all four of his targets for an additional 49 receiving yards. He’d be a fantasy monster if Cincy ever made him a true workhorse…LaVon Brazill broke six tackles on this 19-yard TD catch.
I got a lot of questions on Twitter about benching Nick Foles on Sunday morning when it became clear there was going to be a lot of snow. My response was to treat him mostly as you would in normal weather conditions, since I tend to only worry when there’s bad wind, and after all, Las Vegas still had it as the highest over/under game of the week (it may have dropped a point or two, but it was still 51.5 in most places). I certainly felt stupid with the score 8-0 more than halfway through the third quarter, but somehow the teams ultimately combined to score 54 points, securing the “over” in the process. Of course, Matthew Stafford owners certainly have a complaint, but while Foles was intercepted for the first time in his career and completed only 11 passes for 179 yards, he had a TD pass, ran for another 23 yards and a score and converted a two-point conversion. He also would have had another TD toss had Brent Celek not (smartly) intentionally fell at the one on a would-be score late in the game in order to run out the clock…The weather conditions resulted in a whopping seven two-point conversion attempts – including the first time in NFL history a team attempted one in the fourth quarter in a tied game - (the lone extra-point try was missed), which was an obvious benefit for those who started skill position players (as were the eight fumbles, five by Matthew Stafford, which often led to shorter fields), so the conditions actually had some hidden benefits (unless you were using a kicker in this game). Of course, it also helped that the snow lessened up after halftime.
LeSean McCoy ran for a career-high 217 yards and two scores, getting 7.5 YPC against a Detroit front seven that had been extremely stout against the run. In fact, Detroit entered having allowed the fewest total rushing yards to opposing running backs (739) in the NFL this season (there had actually been a stark difference between McCoy’s YPC this season while playing with Michael Vick compared to Foles, but Sunday’s outing makes that much closer). McCoy’s 148 rushing yards in the fourth quarter were the most in a decade, and 103 of his rushing yards Sunday came after contact, which was especially impressive considering he was playing with eight inches of snow on the ground. McCoy now leads the NFL with 1,305 rushing yards…I hope Reggie Bush owners were by their computer Sunday, as he aggravated his calf injury about 20 minutes before kickoff. What a disaster, especially during the first week of the fantasy playoffs in most leagues. It wasn’t a problem for those who owned Joique Bell and were able to make the change, as he totaled 127 yards with a touchdown (and a two-point conversion) despite losing two fumbles early on. In fact, since Bush gets removed at the goal line, there’s a pretty strong argument owners of both shouldn’t exactly be hoping for a quick return. The Lions play on Monday night in Week 15, which presents a possible nightmare scenario for those who only own Bush.
The Dolphins entered having allowed one touchdown to a wide receiver this season and ceded three to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Jerricho Cotchery has the quietest nine TD grabs in recent memory…Daniel Thomas was once ruled out for the year, but he returned Sunday and was given 16 carries compared to just six for Lamar Miller, who left after suffering a concussion. If Miller is out for Week 15, Thomas suddenly becomes an interesting fantasy option with a matchup at home against a struggle Patriots defense…Charles Clay had 97 receiving yards and pulled down two touchdowns, with his second highlight worthy…It remains unclear why Troy Polamalu returned a missed Caleb Sturgis field goal late in the first half, as if he hadn’t the Steelers would’ve had the ball at their own 43-yard line with 18 seconds left. Instead, it was halftime. They were one play from field goal range had Polamalu not done that, but apparently Auburn’s highlight play was on his mind. Let’s just say this hasn’t been Mike Tomlin’s best year coaching…Not only did the Florida based Dolphins go into snowy conditions and win in Pittsburgh, but dome based teams fared surprisingly well in similar if not worse conditions Sunday also (the Lions lost but entered the fourth quarter with a 14-6 lead in Philly. Atlanta lost by one point in Green Bay. The Vikings lost by just a FG in Baltimore. All were life and death and would’ve entered as underdogs even in perfect weather conditions)…In a week full of incredible finishes, this one would have easily been the craziest. How does Antonio Brown go out of bounds there?!
Mike Glennon somehow completed just nine passes (36.0%) while getting 3.6 YPA and getting picked off twice yet the Buccaneers won 27-6. That’s because E.J. Manuel was sacked seven times and posted a 0:4 TD:INT ratio. The sacks were more than the rookie QB had over his previous four games combined, and the interceptions were more than Manuel had over his past six contests…C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combined for 34 yards on 16 carries. Pro Football Focus grades Spiller as the second-worst running back in football this year, and the only back below him (Ray Rice) has played twice as many snaps…Bobby Rainey’s 109 yards after contact Sunday led the NFL in Week 14.
Headlines of the Week: Professor Hawking Fan Tries To Prove Time Travel By Creating Invitations For Party That's Already Happened ...Switched At Birth: Son Born To Rich Parents Sues Hospital After Life Of Poverty...TSA Has Over $500,000 In Forgotten Pocket Change From 2012...Gov. Walker Urges Parents To Skip Toys And Send The Christmas Money To Him...Baffling 400,000-Year-Old Clue To Human Origins...Man Moves Into Home While Family Is Away And Claims He Now Owns It...Of Course Applebee’s Is Going To Replace Waiters With Tablets.
At home as just three-point underdogs, Washington was down 31-0 with 9:45 left in the second quarter, reaching a new low in a season that had already thought to have bottomed out (it didn’t get any better with early Sunday reports about Mike Shanahan nearly ready to quit at the end of last year). Last season’s NFC East winner is now 3-10, with the worst point differential in the NFL other than the Jaguars…Dwayne Bowe will certainly go down as a disappointment, but at least he’s scored three touchdowns over the past four games. Although he still hasn’t reached 70 receiving yards in a game this season…Over the last four games, Pierre Garcon has a whopping 45 targets, although that’s resulted in just 214 receiving yards and zero touchdowns…Comparing Jordan Reed concussion to Le’Veon Bell’s is a reminder that the severity of how it looks at the time is no indicator of long-term effects…Alfred Morris has six catches this season…After Kansas City recorded just two sacks over its previous five games, they had six Sunday, also scoring two special teams touchdowns…I said here previously that I was extremely concerned with Jamaal Charles wearing down late in the year with how many touches Kansas City was giving him, but after averaging 4.2 YPC over the first eight games this year, he’s gotten 6.2 over the past five, a span that’s included him scoring five touchdowns over the last three contests. Charles is on pace to finish the season with 1,996 yards from scrimmage and 16 scores.
Facing a Vikings secondary that had allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing QBs, Joe Flacco threw for 245 yards on 50 attempts (4.9 YPA) and three interceptions, although fantasy owners weren’t complaining with his three TD tosses. After throwing three touchdowns in each of his final three games during the postseason last year, Sunday marked the first time Flacco reached that mark in the 2013 regular season...What a tough loss for Adrian Peterson owners, especially at such an inopportune time during the first half of the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Brutal. Meanwhile Toby Gerhart’s eight broken tackles tied LeSean McCoy for the most in the NFL in Week 14…The Ravens are 6-1 at home and 1-5 on the road this season…Dennis Pitta saw 11 targets during his first action of the year, getting 48 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Torrey Smith was a huge disappointment, hauling in just one of five targets for 11 yards against a Minnesota secondary that entered having yielded the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers…The ending to this game was one of the craziest you’ll ever see, featuring an NFL record six fourth quarter lead changes. In fact, there were somehow five touchdowns in the final 2:05!…I had a three-team (10-point) teaser with the Patriots, Ravens and Broncos, and considering how the first two teams had their games end, I’m going to say I was a little fortunate. Epic.
Police Blotter: Woman Doesn’t Know When To Stop After Early Thanksgiving Binge Drinking (seriously, this might be the worst cop car chase caught on camera in recent memory)...NYPD Busts Man After Mistaking Mints For Ecstasy...A Truck full of Nuclear Waster was stolen in Mexico, although thankfully it was later found. The thieves are all likely to die...Police: Newlyweds Killed Pa. Man For Thrills...Man Jailed For Having Sex With Goat Faces Victim In Court.
Eddie Lacy had another nice game, totaling 90 yards with a score, but he got injured on the final play of the first half, when Mike McCarthy thought it would be a good idea to call a run play on 3rd-and-10 with four seconds left from Green Bay’s own 32-yard line. The upside here is obviously close to nil, while the downside was highlighted by Lacy getting banged up (a lost fumbled returned for a TD is another possible outcome), resulting in him missing the first drive of the second half and playing at less than 100% the rest of the way. As if the rookie RB wasn’t getting worked hard enough as is (he currently ranks sixth in the league in carries despite missing essentially two full games). I’d fire McCarthy before I would Greg Schiano, that’s for sure. I’m not basing that on just this, but I admittedly may be a bit irrational as someone relying on Lacy to play in Week 15, something that now looks iffy...The Falcons scored 21 points in the second quarter and zero during the other three frames, becoming the first team to lose to the Packers without Aaron Rodgers this season…Roddy White is still searching for his first broken tackle this season…This defensive touchdown by Atlanta was easily one of the plays of the week.
Animal Antics: Two Thousand Mice Dropped On Guam By Parachute To Kill Snakes...Absurd Creature of the Week: This Fly Hijacks an Ant’s Brain – Then Pops Its Head Off...Here’s an ad selling two unicorns, who “must go together.” The asking price is $930,000 per unicorn.
The Broncos were down 21-10 late in the second quarter, and yet they covered their -12.5 point spread with ease, ultimately winning 51-28. Matt Prater set an NFL record by making this 64-yard field goal as time expired in the first half…I’d obviously rather own Knowshon Moreno over the next two weeks, but Montee Ball sure looks like a possible future top-five fantasy commodity. It’s interesting how much Denver trusts him with goal-line carries right now despite his past fumbling issues…After seeing 39 targets over the past four games, Kendall Wright saw just three Sunday, although it’s worth noting Ryan Fitzpatrick attempted only 24 passes…Wes Welker now has 10 touchdowns (making the Broncos become the first team in NFL history to have four players with 10 touchdowns, and Eric Decker is just two away from making it five), but he’s yet to reach 100 yards in any game this season. Worse yet, Welker suffered his second concussion of 2013, and after having a history of this in New England, it’s definitely become worrisome. It would be a surprise if he plays Week 15 with Denver playing Thursday night…Peyton Manning is now on track to finish with 5,566 passing yards and 55 TDs.
The Cardinals did the unthinkable, somehow not allowing a touchdown to an opposing tight end, although Jared Cook did lead the Rams with 49 yards receiving…Despite some unfavorable matchups and leaving a game concussed, Zac Stacy has scored five touchdowns over his past five games…Larry Fitzgerald secured all 12 of his targets, although that resulted in a modest 96 yards. Still, he scored yet another touchdown, giving him five over the past four games and 10 on the year. Fitz is going to be one of the more interesting wide receivers to rank next year, but I can’t imagine him being close to inside my top-10 despite the recent TD splurge…With the victory, Arizona ended its eight-game division-losing streak, which was the longest active in the NFL…After failing to record a sack over the first six games this season, John Abraham now has 11 over the past seven contests.
Here’s harrowing footage of a cliff jumper suffering a brutal fall after dealing with a failed parachute opening. He somehow survived.
Andre Brown got 5.1 YPC but lost a fumble as well as goal-line carries to Peyton Hillis. It was a disappointing performance, and the back now gets matchups against Seattle and at Detroit to end the (fantasy) year, so expectations need to be held in check…Ryan Mathews has one fewer 100-yard rushing games this season (four) than he had during his previous three years since entering the league combined…Hakeem Nicks has 85 targets this year. He also has zero touchdowns. Eddie Royal has seven scores on 52 targets. Meanwhile, Victor Cruz hasn’t scored a TD since Week 4, reaching 90 receiving yards just once over that span…Keenan Allen left Sunday’s game with what looked like a shoulder injury that would keep him out, but he later returned to score his second touchdown of the game, although his first was more impressive. I’m a huge Eddie Lacy fan, but Allen probably deserves to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year…Philip Rivers is on pace to throw for 4,778 yards, which would rank 14th all time. Among the 13 ahead of him, only Drew Brees had a better completion percentage (71.2 in 2011) than Rivers’ current 70.3 mark. And after a bit of a lull in TD production despite gaudy stats otherwise, Rivers has thrown seven touchdowns over the past three games, as he’s been one of the better fantasy surprises in all of football, also highlighting Mike McCoy’s candidacy as Coach of the Year…With 11:10 left in the second quarter, the Giants committed a neutral zone penalty during a Nick Novak missed field goal. He made the following 36-yard attempt. It’s safe to say this hasn’t been the Giants’ year.
Headlines of the Week Part 2: Topless Kansas City Woman Chases Peeping Tom Through Store...Amsterdam Has a Deal For Alcoholics: Work Paid in Beer...Shanghai’s Disappearing Skyline: 21 Images of Record Pollution...Coffee Shop Holds Food Drive For Man Who Stole From Tip Jar...Man Invites Offers For Wife Or Harley Davidson...China Decides To Ban Time Travel...Deer Struck By Car Goes Airborne, Strikes Jogger...Black Parents Shocked To Give Birth To White Baby Girl.
Russell Wilson had a modest game, but he got 8.0 YPA while taking just two sacks with his only pick coming on a desperation throw to end the game. Seattle was coming off a huge win Monday night playing on a short week with not much at stake (they essentially have the No. 1 seed locked up), so really this was an impressive performance nearly winning in San Francisco…This game featured 155 yards in penalties…Colin Kaepernick made some nice throws, but his interception on 1st-and-10 from the Seahawks’ 20-yard line late in the third quarter was awful…San Francisco blocked a punt, and at Seattle’s 17-yard line, a Seahawks player intentionally punched the ball forward, all the way to the 34-yard line. The Niners were then left with this decision: either accept the penalty, which would result in a retry of the down, or accept the result of the play. Huh? How ridiculous is that rule? Call me crazy, but that should be changed…With 1:06 left in the fourth quarter and SF with the ball at Seattle’s 6-yard line, Troy Aikman asked “do you let them score here?” This was on third down. He did not bring up this option when it was 1st-and-goal from the seven with 2:27 left. One can only hope Aikman someday becomes an NFL head coach. Speaking of which, yes, it appears the best strategy would have been to allowed the 49ers to score during that first down.
It’s weird, but the Saints and Panthers have a combined 19-7 record yet are without a running back you can start in the fantasy playoffs…New Orleans scored more first half touchdowns Sunday night (three) than Carolina had previously allowed all season (two), helping the Saints become the big favorites to be the NFC’s No. 2 seed…The combo of Sean Payton and Drew Brees haven’t lost at home since 2011, going 15-0 over that span…I’ve been a fan of “Riverboat Ron” this season, but it remains unclear if he’s truly turned the corner, as he called for a DeAngelo Williams run play from Carolina’s own 20-yard line with 18 seconds left in the first half (he also punted on 4th-and-3 down 31-13). I don’t get it. I guess the Panthers have enough money tied up in their backfield to afford an injury (which they would later suffer, as Jonathan Stewart tore his MCL)…Marques Colston’s two scores Sunday night matched his previous season total, while Brees now owns a 23:3 TD:INT ratio over seven home games…If I get the No. 1 pick in a draft next year, I’d think long and hard about taking Jimmy Graham…Greg Hardy, who predicted he’d get 50 sacks this year, announced himself as “Kraken” from Hogwarts during SNF.
Longread of the Week: “Oops, You Just Hired The Wrong Hitman.”
Tony Romo threw for an anemic 104 yards Monday night, but at least three of his 11 completions went for touchdowns…Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray ran for a combined 248 yards, but it was Josh McCown and Joseph Randle with the game’s two rushing scores. Although to be fair, Forte did add 73 receiving yards and a TD through the air, as both defenses’ leaky front sevens lived up to their hype. The Bears have now allowed a 100-yard rusher in six straight games, tying an NFL record…McCown completed 75.0 percent of his passes while getting 9.7 YPA with a 4:0 TD:INT ratio, also taking just one sack and adding the score on the ground in a monstrous fantasy performance. It would be hard for Chicago to turn back to Jay Cutler at this point (at least for the rest of this season. The future is another story)…Dez Bryant and Jason Witten combined for three receptions for 22 yards, although both scored…With 25 seconds left in the third quarter, the Cowboys went for it on fourth down, which was amazingly the first time they had done so all season, marking the longest streak to start a season since the league started tracking the stat. I’d be shocked if Jason Garrett is still Dallas’ head coach in 2014, but then again, it’s not like Jerry Jones is known for making the right decisions…Alshon Jeffery continues to amaze, with this ridiculous 25-yard touchdown catch the latest example of him becoming one the NFL’s premier downfield receivers. What hands. As a Niners fan, I’m beginning to think drafting A.J. Jenkins ahead of Jeffery may have been a mistake. Considering their difference in ages, it’s going to be interesting to see which Bears wide receiver will be ranked higher on most fantasy boards next year, Brandon Marshall or Jeffery.
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