“Better late than never” is like all great clichés in that, no matter how rote it’s become after decades and decades of overuse, there remains an everlasting, undeniable truth in its meaning. Yes, it’s terribly unfortunate that thing we expected forever ago is only just now arriving, but at least it’s finally here.
Coming into Sunday, Roddy White wasn’t just late, he was nonexistent. His 209 receiving yards across eight injury-plagued games ranked 160th in the NFL. Kellen Winslow, who served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy, had more yards. Sidney Rice, who last caught a pass on October 17, had more yards. Backup Chiefs TE Sean McGrath had more yards. Robert Meachem had more yards. Everybody had more yards.
So the question after White caught 10 passes for 143 yards in Sunday’s battle of attrition with the Bills in Toronto is, is his arrival on the 2013 scene in time for anybody? For the Falcons, it was already too late by the time they were losing to Geno Smith at home in Week 5. For the vast majority of fantasy owners who contributed to White’s 30.8 ADP, it was probably too late after White returned from a month-long absence in Week 10 only to catch one pass against the Seahawks.
But for the lucky few who both spent one disappointing month after another stashing White on their bench and made the fantasy playoffs? The time is finally now. White didn’t just post good numbers Sunday, he looked the part. White consistently gained separation, successfully executed double moves and made contested catches. He played like … Roddy White.
Now he gets a Packers defense not stopping much of anything in Week 14, and a Redskins defense allowing the 13th most fantasy points to receivers in Week 15. White’s previous struggles were severe enough that one game certainly doesn’t undo all the damage for a player who was drafted to be a WR1/2. With everything on the line for those who are still alive, trusting White as more than a WR3 would be foolhardy. But he’s no longer a wing and a prayer WR3, but a WR3 with legit, tangible, tantalizing upside.
For most owners, White’s disappearing act is part of the reason their 2013 fantasy season now belongs to the sands of time. For the charmed few, however, his return comes just in time to be a high-upside wild card in a tournament that’s typically decided by high-upside wild cards. Put White’s lost start behind him, and reap the benefits of what will likely be a fast finish.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 14. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.
1. Eric Decker
One way to shake off four scoreless weeks? By scoring four touchdowns. Decker made like Marvin Jones, turning rookie CB Marcus Cooper to ash as he exploded for 8/174/4 in a career game. The huge effort erased all memory of Decker’s one-grab Week 12, and has him on pace for 84 catches, 1,295 yards and nine touchdowns. There are some caveats. Decker certainly wouldn’t have garnered so many red-zone targets had Julius Thomas not been inactive and the referee not gotten in Demaryius Thomas’ way on a potential 92-yard touchdown. An 8/174/4 day on the heels of a 1/4/0 performance also illustrates the obvious: Decker is an inconsistent option in an offense with five big-time passing-game threats. But this is still a player who’s cleared 70 yards seven times in 12 games, and has weekly WR1 upside. Decker is not someone who can be benched for the fantasy playoffs.
2. C.J. Spiller
While Roddy White was better-late-than-nevering for the Falcons, Spiller was doing the same thing on the opposing sideline. Coming off Buffalo’s bye week, Spiller gained 77 yards on his second carry, and scored a dizzying 36-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter en route to a 15/149/1 day. That comes out to a cool 9.9 yards per carry, and is 33 more yards on the ground than Spiller had gained in any game this season. This being Spiller, he also appeared to re-tweak his ankle, but that was before his score. Spiller may not be 100 percent, but he’s as healthy as he’s been in months, and in position to take advantage of a stretch-run schedule that includes dates with the Bucs (No. 14 run defense), Jags (No. 29), Dolphins (No. 25) and Pats (No. 31). Spiller may still yet salvage one of fantasy’s most frustrating years.
3. Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill not only made it back-to-back 300-yard games on Sunday, he made it back-to-back 300-yard games against good defenses. Tannehill dropped 331 yards on a unit that’s been among the best in the league at home, posting just his fifth multi-score effort of the year in the process. Tannehill benefitted from the Jets’ total ineptitude on offense — Gang Green couldn’t score any points, putting all the pressure on its defense, and removing it from Miami’s offense — but continued to develop his connection with Mike Wallace while finding each of Wallace, Brian Hartline and Charles Clay for at least seven passes. Tannehill is going to have a hard time dropping 300 on the Steelers in Pittsburgh next weekend, but is righting the ship at just the right time for a still contending Dolphins team.
1. Order In The Patriots’ Backfield
We’ve been critical of Bill Belichick’s stern treatment of Stevan Ridley in the past, but Sunday we got it. Unless you’re Adrian Peterson or Barry Sanders, three fumbles in three games simply isn’t acceptable. Making him a healthy scratch still seemed like a bit much — not to mention a detriment to the team — but it was at least a defensible decision. What was far less defensible, however, was replacing Ridley with fellow fumbler LeGarrette Blount, whose loose grip is even more infamous than Ridley’s. But there was Blount, leading the Pats in carries, and out-touching Brandon Bolden 12-4. It wasn’t terribly instructive usage heading into Week 14. Blount lost a goal-line carry to FB James Develin, while all it really proved is that it’s a “Lord of the Flies” backfield in New England right now. But the chaos does mean that only Shane Vereen can be trusted against the Browns, and that there’s no guarantee Ridley rediscovers his mojo between now and when the fantasy playoffs are through.
2. Andy Dalton
The Bengals improved to 8-4, but the victory was again in spite of their quarterback, who could manage only 190 yards against the league’s worst secondary. Dalton also made one of the worst throws you will ever see, heaving a hail mary on a second quarter 1st-and-10 that S Eric Weddle literally fielded like a punt. Since posting four straight 300-yard games in Weeks 6-9, Dalton has completed 51-of-101 passes (50.4 percent) for 557 yards (5.51 YPA), six touchdowns and six picks in three games. He’s a peak followed by a valley followed by a Christian Ponder. Dalton can’t be trusted as more than a QB2 for the fantasy playoffs, even in a dream championship week matchup with the Vikings.
3. Trent Richardson
Acquired for a first-round pick, T-Rich has now been demoted to second-string back. Anyone who’s been paying attention already knew that Richardson’s re-draft value was shot, but the question now is, what’s his Dynasty-league status? We’d like to think T-Rich’s stock couldn’t sink any lower, but we’ve thought that many times before. Be that as it may, trading Richardson now or early in the offseason would be selling him at his lowest-possible moment. Instead of getting pennies for your scuffed silver dollar, it would be far better to wait and see how Richardson bounces back in 2014 rather than selling him for whatever you could get. That’s because whatever you could get likely isn’t more than a stick of gum.
1. Marc Trestman knows these games aren’t just being broadcast on pay cable in Canada, right?
2. Arizona, did you find this link helpful?
3. Houston, when will you formally announce the formation of the world’s first cutting-edge “How To Lose” laboratory?
Stats of the Week
Josh Gordon is the first receiver in league history to post back-to-back 200-yard games. Gordon is averaging 124.9 yards per game, which leads the NFL. His 19.5 yards per catch is second only to Kenny Stills’ 21.4. Gordon, of course, has 42 more catches than Stills. 22 of Gordon’s 64 grabs have gone for 20-plus yards.
With 75 percent of the season in the books, Peyton Manning is on pace for a record 5,500 yards and 55 touchdowns. His 4,125 yards is already more than he threw for in all of 2007 or 2008.
The Chiefs have just two sacks over their past five games after tallying 35 across their first seven.
Joe Flacco’s 39 sacks are already more than he took in all of 2011 or 2012, while his 14 interceptions represent a career worst. If his 78.5 QB rating holds, it would be the lowest of his six-year career. $52 million doesn’t go quite as far as it used to.
Antonio Brown is on pace to lead the league in receptions. Mike Wallace is second in the league in drops (I know Wallace has upped his game of late, though).
Julian Edelman has six fewer yards than Wes Welker.
Pierre Garcon has been the most targeted player in the league through 12 games.
Adrian Peterson needs to average 198 yards over his final four games to reach 2,000. He gets the league’s No. 6 (Baltimore), No. 19 (Philadelphia), No. 8 (Cincinnati) and No. 3 (Detroit) run defenses. In other words, it would take an … Adrian Peterson-esque effort to get back to 2K.
The Browns’ 517 pass attempts are the most in the NFL.
Goat of the Week: Forget all the drops before it, of which there were many. Pierre Garcon letting the Giants simply take the ball away from him to end Sunday night’s tire fire of a game was a fitting end to a contest befitting of two truly terrible teams.
The Why You Should Still Be Impressed With Andrew Luck Award: With Luck’s stats backsliding, the backlash against his anointment has begun in earnest. Instead of picking nits with the game’s best young player, however, maybe step back and consider what Luck’s accomplished with 1. A truly terrible offensive line. 2. Extremely questionable coaching. 3. No running game to speak of. 4. Coby Fleener as his No. 2 weapon. Luck’s future remains impossibly bright.
Week 13 Fantasy All Pro Team: QB Peyton Manning, RB Adrian Peterson, RB DeMarco Murray, WR Josh Gordon, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Eric Decker, TE Rob Gronkowski, TE Zach Ertz
2013 Fantasy Regular Season All Pro Team: QB Peyton Manning, RB Jamaal Charles, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Calvin Johnson, WR Josh Gordon, WR Demaryius Thomas, TE Jimmy Graham, TE Julius Thomas
Tweet of the Week, from @Browns: And again, @bweeden3 is intercepted. #JAXvsCLE
Officially Admitted To The Jimmy Clausen Club: Geno Smith.
Most Absurd Moment of Week 13: There were many candidates, but we’ll go with T.J. McDonald's high-pitched tackle of Vernon Davis.
Something I’d Like To See: Sunday’s overtime period between the Bears and Vikings playing at two times normal speed soundtracked by “Tomorrow Never Knows.”