Sunday Scene, Week 12: Let us now praise MJD, useful player in a fantasy wasteland

Roto Arcade

The Jacksonville Jaguars are the NFL's lowest-scoring team (12.5 PPG) and its least-productive in terms of total yardage (250.0 YPG). The Jags have found the end zone only 11 times this season, while committing 15 turnovers. On Sunday, they benched their starting quarterback in favor of a McCown. So things are clearly not going well.

Nonetheless, Maurice Jones-Drew is quietly delivering a heroic fantasy campaign, despite the terrible team context. MJD was responsible for 166 of his team's 255 total yards in Week 12, and he owns five of the Jaguars' 11 total touchdowns on the season. The man constantly faces overloaded defensive fronts, yet he's still reached double-digit fantasy points in 10 of 11 games — and the one time he didn't get there, he managed to rush for 84 yards. This is just a uniquely impressive season authored by a unique player, but it's possible that the only people who've noticed are his fantasy owners.

Remember how we were all terrified of MJD's surgically repaired meniscus and his talented handcuff, way back in August? Well, the knee held up and Rashad Jennings didn't. Jones-Drew has given us a sensational year. As an owner, I have no complaints. He called out fantasy gurus early in the preseason, and he's backed up the talk brilliantly. Tip of the cap, sir.

For those who haven't seen much of MJD's work in 2011, here's a clip from Week 12. Those are just 29 of the 1,246 scrimmage yards he's delivered this season, and three of the broken tackles. Jones-Drew will face San Diego next Monday night — not sure what the schedule-makers were thinking there, but fine — and he'll get Tampa Bay the following week. MJD's double-digit scoring run seems likely to continue deep into the fantasy playoffs, no matter which lousy quarterback is behind center for the Jags.


This week, when Mike Shanahan spun the Wheel of Running Backs, the arrow pointed to Roy Helu. The rookie didn't disappoint, carrying 23 times for 108 yards and catching seven passes for 54. Helu's 28-yard fourth quarter touchdown was an obvious play-of-the-day candidate. (Just for the record, Roy Lewis is the dude he hopped over and Kam Chancellor is the tackler he shrugged off). You'd like to think that Sunday's big stat line would earn Helu a long leash, but of course we're dealing with an unreadable coach. We've had this fire-drill many times. Helu faces a tricky schedule through Week 16 — NYJ, NE, at NYG, Min — but he's clearly a back who can still thrive when his team scraps the ground game.

Vincent Jackson was a non-factor against the Broncos, per his usual. He caught just two passes for 25 yards on Sunday. I'm not usually interested in player-versus-team numbers, but in this particular case, we have a talented receiver with a long history of non-production. Jackson has faced the Broncos 11 times, and he's still looking for his first 100-yard game against them. He's averaging 54.3 receiving yards against Denver, with only three career touchdowns. That won't pay the bills.

Ryan Mathews, we should note, was barely inconvenienced by the Broncos' D, rushing for 137 yards on 22 carries. He doubled up Mike Tolbert's workload on a day when we were concerned about his availability. The Chargers are toast at this point, obviously, but Mathews has friendly match-ups on the schedule in Weeks 14 and 16 (Buf, at Det).

Wes Welker's name appeared in a fair number of sit/start questions this week, as many fantasy managers seemed to consider a single disappointing game to be the unmistakable beginning of a horrible decline. Well, those people can [double-expletive] relax. Wes is just fine. He hauled in eight passes on Sunday, two of them for touchdowns, and finished with 115 receiving yards. He's a well-established member of the every-week club. Rob Gronkowski had a quiet week, which for him means just one touchdown. He's up to 11 scores on the year, still on pace to break the single-season record for TDs by a tight end (13).

Garbage time began early in the third quarter for Vince Young, and he delivered a useful fantasy line in a losing effort (little thanks to DeSean Jackson, who's probably still dropping passes somewhere). Young passed for an even 400 yards, connecting with Jason Avant on a 1-yard score in the game's final minute. The Eagles play the Thursday game in Week 13, so there's a chance Michael Vick could sit again in a short week.

Just to be perfectly clear: I think the Tim Tebow storyline is great, and I'm happy to keep telling it. Fun player, clearly not intimidated in the biggest moments. But when we discuss the Broncos' recent winning streak, the defense shouldn't be a footnote. It's the story. Denver's D has held each of its last three opponents to 13 points or fewer, while the Tebow-led offense hasn't topped 17. It should be OK to respect what the quarterback has accomplished, without giving him credit for the success of every phase.

(Related: 22 carries for a pro quarterback is just a crazy number, yet it worked. John Fox certainly has his flaws — his weird loyalty to DeSahun Foster leaps to mind — but it's tough not to respect this year's coaching effort).

Marshawn Lynch continued beasting in Week 12, gaining 111 yards on 24 carries, adding a 20-yard touchdown catch. That makes seven straight games with a TD, and four straight in which he's received at least 24 touches. There's clearly no sitting him while he's on this ridiculous binge, and the match-ups are favorable over the next two weeks (Phi, STL). Sidney Rice suffered a head injury in the loss to Washington, presumably a concussion, so he's unlikely to play in Week 13. This isn't really the time of year to keep inactive WR2/3's on your roster, so if you need to make the drop, I'll look the other way.

Caleb Hanie was a mess for the Bears on Sunday, tossing three interceptions against the Raiders (and risking a few more). Chicago can probably beat bad teams with Hanie at the controls, but it won't be pretty at all times. We should note that he rushed for 50 yards on five carries, and that sort of mobility can make him an asset in deeper formats. As of this writing, Hanie is the seventh-highest scorer at his position in Week 12. But again, he was a mess.

Nick Novak's day started off so well, with a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter. But then the camera found him in an awkward moment on the sidelines — I won't link the video, because ... well, c'mon — and he missed a pair of long kicks, one in the fourth quarter, another in OT. If he doesn't rank among the Week 12 LVPs, I'll be stunned.

Oakland's Shane Lechler gets the highly coveted Roto Arcade Clutch Punter of the Week Award(TM) this week. He boomed an 80-yarder over Devin Hester's head early in the fourth quarter, flipping field position at a critical time. And with just a minute remaining in the game and his team ahead by five, Lechler pinned the Bears deep in their own territory, angling a kick out of bounds. Insofar as a punter can be a badass, that's what Lechler is. He was great.

Also great: Both of the kickers involved in the Bears-Raiders game. If you only watch the NFL for the specialists, then this was probably your favorite match-up of the year. Sebastian Janikowski went 6-for-6 on field goal attempts — at the moment, he's this week's No. 4 fantasy scorer overall — and Robbie Gould hit a pair of fourth quarter tries from 50-plus. Sea Bass and Gould combined for 332 yards of made field goals on Sunday, which sure seems like a lot. But if we're praising kickers, then it's probably well past time for pick-ups...

Early waiver adds for Week 13

QB Kyle Orton at Chi (18 percent owned)
QB Matt Moore vs. Oak (13 percent)
QB Kevin Kolb vs. Dal (29 percent)
RB Roy Helu vs. NYJ (45 percent)
RB Maurice Morris at NO (36 percent)
RB Donald Brown at NE (12 percent)
RB Marion Barber vs. KC (24 percent)
WR Nate Burleson at NO (38 percent)
WR Brandon LaFell at TB (3 percent)
WR Johnny Knox vs. KC (30 percent)
WR Doug Baldwin vs. Phi (25 percent)
WR Damian Williams at Buf (23 percent)
WR Riley Cooper at Sea (5 percent)

-posted at 11:50 pm ET

Two-Minute Drill

If you're a Beanie Wells investor, you got the full ownership experience on Sunday. Beanie gave us two injury scares, he fumbled once, he didn't catch a pass, he was tackled from behind on his longest gains ... and yet he still he had a massive fantasy day.

Wells rushed for a team-record 228 yards on 27 carries against the Rams, crossing the goal line once. It was an excellent performance, interrupted by occasional non-excellence, and you worried at all times that his knee might explode. That's Beanie. The Cards needed everything he gave 'em, too, because John Skelton had an unimpressive day (12-for-23, 114 yards, 2 INTs).

Incredibly enough, this wasn't the biggest fantasy number that an opposing running back has delivered against St. Louis this season. Most of you no doubt recall DeMarco Murray's 253-yard breakout performance in Week 7. The Rams defense entered the day ranked dead-last against the run (148.1 YPG), and they'll leave looking a bit worse. Beanie will face several of the NFL's best run defenses down the stretch — Dal, SF, Cle, at Cin, Sea — so you can't reasonably expect another monster fantasy line. Hope you enjoyed Sunday's effort.

This has really been a good day for several of the low-expectation running backs. DeAngelo Williams found the end zone twice against the Colts, once from short-range. (This is notable since Williams has had almost no role at the goal line this season). Elsewhere, Chris Johnson took full advantage of the match-up with Tampa's sad defense, rushing for a season-best 190 yards on 23 carries. That was CJ's third 100-yard performance of the season. He failed to cross the goal line, which is tough to do when you challenge the 200-yard mark. But still, his owners can't really complain, not this year.

Reggie Wayne was only started in 31 percent of Yahoo! leagues in Week 12, and I certainly can't blame any of you for benching him. In fact, many of those starting him were probably deadbeat owners who've abandoned their teams. Wayne hadn't given us either a touchdown or a 100-yard performance since Week 1. But nonetheless, Wayne demonstrated against the Panthers that he still has a few skills, hauling in five passes for 122 yards and a score. Perhaps he was motivated by the Marvin Harrison ring of honor ceremony, or (more likely) maybe it was the favorable match-up against a miserable Carolina D. It's just nice to see Wayne make an appearance on the leader board.

Percy Harvin had as solid a day as anyone could have expected, catching eight balls for 95 yards and a score. He accounted for more than half of Christian Ponder's passing yards (186), and he very nearly had two additional touchdowns. He had a 104-yard kickoff return that did not end in a TD, which ain't easy.

No player in the NFL needed a bounce-back week quite like Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he delivered against the Jets. Fitzpatrick passed for 264 yards and three TDs, and he would have had a fourth score, a game-winner, if Stevie Johnson's hands hadn't stopped working on the final drive. Brutal ending to a solid day. CJ Spiller was at least serviceable in a degree-of-difficulty match-up, gaining 70 yards on 22 touches. Tashard Choice carried twice for Buffalo, losing eight yards. He's no immediate threat, although it's worth noting that he has a history with Chan Gailey, dating back to their Georgia Tech days.

The news is in on Matt Leinart, and it isn't good: He's likely done for the season with a broken collar bone. Even when he was on the field in Week 12, the Texans weren't taking deep shots. Andre Johnson finished with just two catches for 22 yards. Leinart's replacement, rookie TJ Yates, completed eight of 15 throws for just 70 yards. This is a mess. Yes, you need to worry about Andre. No, this doesn't help Arian Foster or Ben Tate — it's never a good thing when opposing defenses don't respect your quarterback.

Dustin Keller had a terrific day against Buffalo, catching a pair of touchdowns. (On the first score, the defense mysteriously ignored him). Mark Sanchez had one of the uglier four-TD performances you'll ever see, completing less than half of his throws, tossing a terrible pick, and gaining just 5.1 yards per attempt. But if you started him on Sunday, you obviously knew not to expect any style points.

Julio Jones wasn't re-injured in Week 12, to the best of my knowledge. He seemed to be merely a decoy. Jones was completely uncovered on this play, in fact, and could have had an easy 3-yard score if Matt Ryan would have looked his way. (That's him at the top of the screen, No. 11, alone and ignored). But instead, Jones failed to make an appearance in the box score.

AJ Green drew a tough assignment in Week 12, matching up with Cleveland corner Joe Haden. But Green again demonstrated that he's a match-up-proof receiver, capable of making ridiculous plays like this late 51-yarder on third down. That kid is a star, and the Dalton-Green combination could be fun to own for the next decade or so.

The Titans and Bucs combined for nine turnovers on Sunday, and LeGarrette Blount was involved in the giveaways. However, Blount also rushed for 103 yards on 20 carries and surprisingly caught three passes for 56. He's a fun watch when he gets a full workload, even though Tampa rarely gives us an offensive clinic.

-posted at 6:00 pm ET

Opening Drive

Cam Newton took a designed draw to the end zone early in the second quarter at Indianapolis, giving him 10 rushing touchdowns in just 10-and-a-half games this year. The NFL single-season record for rushing TDs by a quarterback is 12, established by Steve Grogan back in 1976. (Funston owned Grogan, Franco Harris, Cliff Branch and Chuck Foreman in the Friends & Family League in '76, so he dominated. Ridiculous draft). At this point, it would be a mild surprise if Cam didn't finish the year with 13 or 14 scores on the ground. He still has a pair of match-ups with Tampa Bay's user-friendly defense remaining on the schedule.

Houston's Matt Leinart was delivering a check-down clinic in the first half against the Jags (10-for-13, 57 yards, TD), but he was suffered a shoulder injury late in the second quarter and went to the locker room with trainers. Uh-oh. TJ Yates replaced him, leading a drive that ended in three points. Yates is a rookie fifth-rounder out of North Carolina, where he completed 66.8 percent of his throws as a senior. I'd like to keep an open mind about Yates, but it's never good when the scouting report says stuff like this...

Has a rag arm — balls tend to hang up in the air. Limited athletic ability. Inconsistent footwork diminishes accuracy, and it really wanes outside 15 yards.

So, um...yikes. Yates hit a few early passes, but he opened the third quarter with misfires. Andre Johnson still hasn't caught a pass, as the Texans are treating downfield passes as if they're illegal.

Beanie Wells gained 118 first-half yards on just nine carries, doing most of the damage on this 71-yard run — note the fine stiff-arm near then end there, leading to bonus yards. Wells appeared to get dinged later in the half (maybe the knee, maybe the thigh), but he opened the third quarter in Arizona's backfield.

John Skelton sailed several early throws over the heads of his receivers, and his inaccuracy cost Larry Fitzgerald a possible score. Skelton's first quarter INT was intended for Fitz, but it would have been a challenging catch for an eight-foot wideout. At half, Skelton was just 6-for-14 with 34 passing yards. Fitzgerald hadn't yet seen a catchable ball.

Roddy White had a shot at a long score in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but Matt Ryan's pass scraped the receiver's fingertips, then hit the turf. White later caught a 6-yard TD, so it hasn't been such a bad day. We still haven't heard from Julio Jones, but he's active and allegedly healthy. Harry Douglas caught an early score, helping no one.

Marcedes Lewis had a brutal end zone drop in the second quarter, after Blaine Gabbert put a pass right on his hands. On the game's next play, Lewis was targeted again, and he whiffed again. Gabbert needs all the help he can get. Maurice Jones-Drew is having his typical heroic day, accounting for a ridiculous percentage of Jacksonville's total yards. He's already over triple-digits, with nearly two full quarters left to play.

So Stevie Johnson has enjoyed this week's visit to Revis Island. The Bills have challenged Darrelle Revis all afternoon, and Stevie is winning most of the battles. He went into the break with five catches for 44 yards and one TD. Johnson also gave us a Plaxico-shoots-self-in-club TD celebration, which seemed a little cold.

Peyton Hillis has dominated the backfield work for the Browns, though he hasn't really done much for fantasy owners yet. Montario Hardesty suffered a setback in warm-ups on Sunday, clearing a path to relevance for Hillis. The Browns will face Pittsburgh and Baltimore four times over the final five weeks, you'll recall, so it's tough to get excited about anyone in that team picture.

Donald Brown and Joseph Addai split the early carries for the Colts, with Brown breaking the plane from 17 yards away in the second quarter. As we discussed on Monday, some running back embarrasses the Panthers defense every week. Pick on that group whenever possible.

Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford are inactive for the Raiders this afternoon, but Darrius Heyward-Bey is apparently good to go. That receiving corps is a bit thin in Week 12; it's basically DHB, Chaz Schilens and Kevin Boss.

As expected, Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin are out for the Eagles. I'll assume you already made the move for Vince Young and Riley Cooper, as needed.

-posted at 3:00 pm ET

Bonus update, before the early kickoffs: Kevin Kolb is inactive for the Cards on Sunday, so John Skelton gets at least one more start (which seems like decent news for Larry Fitzgerald). Adrian Peterson is inactive for the Vikes, as expected. The news is much better for Julio Jones, AJ Green, Andre Johnson and Joseph Addai, as all are ACTIVE this week, good to go. Additionally, Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty are active for the Browns, so that low-yield offense gets a bit more complicated. Good luck with that mess.

-posted at 11:45 am ET


OK, sure, maybe you're facing an opponent who started Aaron Rodgers, Laurent Robinson and the Baltimore D this week, so you're facing an uphill battle. But as long as there are games yet to be played, there's hope.

And c'mon, this is nothing like the Thanksgiving massacre of '98, when Randall Cunningham, Randy Moss, Herman Moore and Emmitt Smith buried your team before the pie was served. You've been in tighter fantasy spots than this. Let's go get a win.

You'll find our updated Week 12 position ranks right here, and a thorough sweep of the injury news over here. If you have last-minute questions, we'll bring some last-minute advice to Fantasy Football Live, beginning at noon ET. Please drop by and enjoy the chat. Sunday Scene will be enhanced throughout the day, on the standard schedule. Check back for notes, spin and the usual injury-related panic.


Photos via Getty Images (Atlanta fan) and US Presswire (Cam, Stevie, Beanie, MJD, D-Jax)

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