Bucs running back Bobby Rainey was started in only three percent of Yahoo leagues in Week 11. Three. And it was totally understandable. He was a committee back (or so we thought), tied to a low-yield offense.
So while he was dominating Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, lots of us found ourselves staring at something like this...
...and the numbers just kept getting bigger.
Brutal. I'm not even gonna mention who I played as a flex in that league; the shame is too great. We shall speak no more of it. Instead, let's simply talk about Rainey's breakout day, with expectations moving forward.
Brian Leonard actually handled rushing responsibilities on Tampa's first series, the only Bucs' first-half possession that ended with a punt. Rainey took over on the team's second series, breaking off an 11-yard gain on his first touch and a 10-yarder on his second. And then he really started doin' work.
Rainey's first touchdown was a 43-yarder, his second this punishing 3-yard score. (Note the cruel mistreatment of Sean Weatherspoon in that clip.) Rainey added a 4-yard receiving TD in the third quarter, ultimately finishing his day with 167 total yards and three scores. He dominated the backfield touches, with 32 (30 carries) to Leonard's eight.
Obviously we need to credit the Atlanta defense with an assist on Rainey's big day — the Falcons entered the week allowing 126.8 rushing yards per game and 4.6 per carry. They can't stop the run, nor the pass. They're cooked. But despite Atlanta's general ineptitude, we still learned a little something about Rainey on Sunday. He's clearly the guy to own here, even if he is the backup to the backup's backup. When Rainey gets daylight, he can go. It's also worth noting that his team trusts him in goal-to-go situations, an important detail for a player his size (5-foot-8).
Rainey is available in three-quarters of Yahoo leagues, and he's the no-doubt priority pickup of the week. He's approved for use next week at Detroit, plus he gets a friendly Week 16 matchup with St. Louis. If he's unowned in your league, go do what needs to be done.
The rest of us will sit quietly, wishing we could un-do the decision to bench him.
[STRING OF EXPLETIVES].
• Seven different Bills had rush attempts on Sunday, and most of those players were better than CJ Spiller (13 carries, 6 yards). Fullback Frank Summers had the only rushing score for Buffalo, because Doug Marrone hates us — all of us, everyone. Bills quarterback EJ Manuel had an efficient, effective day against the Jets defense, completing 20 of 28 throws at 8.8 yards per attempt, tossing a pair of TD passes. Marquise Goodwin had the biggest receiving day for Buffalo, taking full advantage of multiple absences, hauling in six of nine targets for 81 yards and a score.
Geno Smith was notably bad for New York, eventually getting himself yanked in favor of some Simms kid — Toby or Corky or Chris or Matt.* Geno tossed three picks before the benching, plus he lost a fumble and absorbed four sacks. Chris Ivory delivered another respectable stat line for the Jets (15 carries, 98 yards, TD), but nothing else worked. Such a big green mess.
As Pianowski put it...
If you start two Jets on your fantasy team, are you point shaving? #stopa8k
— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) November 17, 2013
*It was Matt, for sure. Confirmed. Geno remains the starter, though.
• No player in the NFL frightens us with the pain-face quite like LeSean McCoy, but he pretty much always bounces back. Shady gave us an early hamstring scare in Week 11, yet he returned to maul Washington, ultimately finishing with 150 total yards and a pair of TDs. RG3 made some second-half noise, per his usual (2 TDs), and Alfred Morris gave his owners another nice-yardage/no-touchdowns performance. The Nick Foles-Riley Cooper connection didn't quite pay off in Week 11 (3-37-0), though the pair had a near-TD to set up one of McCoy's scores.
• OK, granted, Case Keenum wasn't exactly shredding the Oakland defense on Sunday afternoon. But he certainly wasn't bench-him-for-Matt-Schaub bad, right? Because we've confirmed that Schaub is kind of a plague, have we not?
Keenum was indeed sent to the sideline against the Raiders, replaced by Schaub. And here's the way that bold move played out:
The home crowd was decisively pro-Keenum and violently anti-Schaub:
Wade Smith: Disappointed we had to go to silent count at a home game cuz of booing Schaub. #Texans
— Dale Robertson (@sportywineguy) November 17, 2013
Sigh. No idea where the Texans go from here, really. It might be a new low point in their season — which is crazy, given the parade of pick-sixes.
Rashad Jennings had a monster day for Oakland, rushing for 150 yards and one score on 22 carries. Quarterback Matt McGloin threw three touchdown passes, and generally played well enough to earn another start. He made some tight throws — here's an example — among his 18 completions. Tight end Mychal Rivera had a decent day (not that anyone started him), catching five balls for 54 yards and one TD.
• Matthew Stafford's day began well enough, with a 327-yard, two-touchdown first half. But he was somewhat less effective after the break: 35 yards, zero TDs. Overthrows and drops were part of the story here, unsurprisingly. In the end, I suppose fantasy owners can be content with 362 yards and multiple scores. Calvin Johnson delivered his usual phenomenal day, catching six balls for 179 yards and two scores. Reggie Bush was a fumbly dud, we should note, while Joique Bell had 12 touches for 97 yards and one TD.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 367 yards and four scores for the Steelers, who wore the Buzzy Bee tribute unis this week...
Pittsburgh handled all the scoring in the second half, as Detroit flat-lined. Antonio Brown was, again, nearly unstoppable (7-147-2).
• Chad Henne completed passed to 10 different receivers on Sunday, though none finished with more than 62 yards. Cecil Shorts was limited to just two catches and 22 yards, and he's not happy about it, you guys. Henne tossed a pair of picks on the afternoon, which should come as no great shock.
Also not shocking: Rashard Mendenhall out-touched Andre Ellington, 16 to 10. Neither back did anything in terms of yardage this week, though Mendy's day was saved by a TD. Carson Palmer passed for 419 yards for the Cards, and, incredibly, none of those yards belonged to his opponent. In fact, Michael Floyd finished with 193 and one score, and Larry Fitzgerald added 61 with another TD.
(And no, I'm not gonna link the play where Ellington lost a bunch of hair. Gross. Did not enjoy that clip, not at all. But I'll give credit to Babin for the stylish manner in which he discarded the hair.)
• The Bengals lost the first quarter to the Browns on Sunday, 13-0, but they won everything else. Cincy scored 31 points in the second quarter — the barrage included a defensive TD and a blocked-punt score — and, well ... that was that. Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes despite finishing with just 93 yards, which ain't easy. Josh Gordon continues to be recession-proof for Cleveland (125 yards, TD), but no other Browns skill player has much appeal.
• I have total respect for the fans who stuck it out at Soldier Field on Sunday, waiting out a lengthy tornado/storm delay, then enduring ridiculous wind and rain. And at some point during the tornado freakout, they had to deal with this horror...
Was just told by Soldier Field employee that concessions were stopped because TOO MUCH beer was being sold. — Amy Jacobson (@AmyJacobson) November 17, 2013
Yikes. Again: TOTAL RESPECT.
Chicago pulled out an OT win on a remarkably sloppy field, in a game they tried to give away. (Rough end-game management in regulation.) Josh McCown threw the ball well in miserable conditions (216 yards, TD); his 43-yard overtime connection with Martellus Bennett essentially decided the game.
Ray Rice had his first excellent day in forever, rushing for 131 yards on 25 carries. His first tote went for 47 yards; his touchdown was a walk-in 1-yarder. It seemed as if Baltimore could get a long gain off a delayed hand-off whenever they wanted it.
But really, your takeaways from Ray's big performance should be these: 1) Chicago's defense remains horrible against the run, and 2) Rice is still capable of exploiting a favorable matchup. I can't recommend him as a strong play against the Jets in Week 12. I'm not there yet. If I owned him, and my trade deadline hadn't passed, I'd look to sell.
• San Diego's offense piled up yards (435) but not points (16) on Sunday, in part because the team also piled up penalties (10 for 76 yards). The Chargers were led in receiving by sleeper-ish tight end Ladarius Green (4-81-0), and Antonio Gates scored his team's only TD. Keenan Allen is dealing with a knee issue of as-yet-unknown severity, so that's a small worry.
Miami's backfield continues to be a guessing game with only bad answers (although Daniel Thomas had a TD on Sunday). Lamar Miller carried just four times for 17 yards against the Chargers. Rishard Matthews backed up his crazy Week 10 performance with a solid line, snagging four balls for 52 yards on six targets.
• Seattle averages fewer than 26 pass attempts per week, yet Russell Wilson still manages to produce useful fantasy lines. Because he's ridiculous. After Sunday's home win over woeful Minnesota, Wilson now has a streak of five straight multi-TD games. He needed just 18 attempts to total 230 yards and two scores on Sunday. Again, ridiculous.
Percy Harvin had a quiet fantasy week in his regular season debut, but he showed plenty of life on a 58-yard kick return. Harvin gets a bye in Week 12; he'll be something close to a must-start thereafter.
• Drew Brees had a typical week, completing throws to 11 different receivers, three of whom were drifters he found at a bus depot. He finished with 305 passing yards and one score. New Orleans needed three successful fourth-quarter field goals from Garrett Hartley to pull out a win over the Niners, and the kid came through. Good for him. Mark Ingram followed his big week with the expected dud.
Colin Kaepernick owners had to feel good about seeing 31 pass attempts from their QB — he hadn't thrown 30 passes in any game since Week 1. Unfortunately, Kaepernick only completed 17 for 127 yards (4.1 Y/A), and he only ran the ball three times. So yeah, he's still a problem. Hopefully a visit to Washington in Week 12 will help. And if he gets his favorite receiver back in the huddle (see below), even better.
PRIORITY PICKUPS FOR WEEK 12
RB Bobby Rainey, TB (at Det)
RB Donald Brown, Ind (at Ari)
QB Josh McCown, Chi (at STL)
QB Mike Glennon, TB (at Det)
QB Carson Palmer, Ari (vs. Ind)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ten (at Oak)
WR Michael Crabtree, SF (at Was)
WR Vincent Brown, SD (at KC)
WR Rishard Matthews, Mia (vs. Car)
WR Tavon Austin, STL (vs. Chi)
WR Marquise Goodwin, Buf (bye)
WR Jerricho Cotchery, Pit (at Cle)
TE Delanie Walker, Ten (at Oak)
TE Garrett Graham, Hou (vs. Jac)
TE Ladarius Green, SD (at KC)