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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Fantasy Impact: Week 15
Ken Pomponio
December 16, 2013
 

Dolphins 24, Patriots 20
Sun Life Stadium; Miami Gardens, Fla.
Tom Brady didn't have Rob Gronkowski or a healthy WR corps, but that didn't mean the QB returned to his early-season struggles. Far from it as he threw for 364 yards and a pair of scores. For once, though, Brady couldn't engineer a game-winning drive at the end, getting picked off in the end zone on the final play.
Extra points: The Fins' Ryan Tannehill wasn't too shabby either, finishing 25-of-37 for 312 yards and a trio of TDs. ... As for the Miami RBs, Lamar Miller bounced back from a Week 14 concussion to lead the team in rushing (15-61), but it was Daniel Thomas (6 touches-18 total yards) and Marcus Thigpen (2 catches-23 yards) who got into the end zone on pass receptions. ... Mike Wallace (6-105, TD) continued his late-season resurgence with his third double-digit-point fantasy game in the last 4 weeks. ... So who stepped up among the Pats' pass-catchers? By process of elimination: WRs Julian Edelman (13-139, TD) and Danny Amendola (10-131), who were targeted a combined 33 times. ... LeGarrette Blount (11-47) led N.E. in rushing, while Shane Vereen (2-13 rushing, 3-8 receiving) picked a bad time for an off week.

Bills 27, Jaguars 20
EverBank Field, Jacksonville
Those who still stuck with Bills rookie QB EJ Manuel after his 4-interception Week 14 disaster in Tampa, were rewarded with 193 passing yards, 37 rushing and a trio of TDs (2 passing, 1 rushing).
Extra points: Fred Jackson (88 total yards on 18 touches) outgained backfield mate C.J. Spiller (68 on 14), but neither found the end zone. ... WR Robert Woods (5-82) led the Bills in receiving. ... The Jags played without their top two offensive weapons in the injured Maurice Jones-Drew and Cecil Shorts, but No. 2 RB Jordan Todman stepped up to fill one void with 109 rushing yards and 44 more on 4 receptions. ... TE Marcedes Lewis, AWOL for much of the season, led J'ville with 4 catches for 54 yards and a TD.

Colts 25, Texans 3
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Trent Richardson has lost his starting job to Donald Brown, but he was the main man suddenly Sunday in Indy when Brown (5-38) went out with a neck stinger in the opening quarter. Richardson responded with 102 total yards -- his first time north of the century mark this season -- and a receiving TD.
Extra points: Andrew Luck was OK with 180 passing yards, 2 TDs and a pick, and wideout T.Y. Hilton (8-78 on 12 targets) reassumed his role as QB's No. 1 receiver. ... Recently re-signed WR Griff Whalen (4-45) caught a TD pass, but TE Coby Fleener (no catches, 1 target) drew a blank. ... The Texans? Ugh. Case Keenum (168 yards, 2 picks) and the passing attack struggled mightily -- and with TE Garrett Graham injured and inactive -- little-used TE Ryan Griffin (6-62) finished as the team's leading pass-catcher. ... That meant it was a rare off day for wideout Andre Johnson (4-18 on 10 targets). ... RB Ben Tate (92 yards on 19 touches) qualifies as the Texans' fantasy "standout," helping the Indy D (2 forced turnovers, 4 sacks) emerge as one of the better starts of Week 15.

Bears 38, Browns 31
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
Jay Cutler was back at the helm for the Bears, and overcame a slow start to complete 22-of-31 passes for 265 yards, three TDs. He also ran for 11 yards and tossed a pair of picks.
Extra points: Stud wideouts Brandon Marshall (6-95) and Alshon Jeffery (5-72) both hauled in TD receptions, although Marshall was targeted 8 more times (13-5). ... Speaking of studs, Matt Forte (24-127 rushing, 1-4 receiving) continues to deliver. ... It took a 47-yard, garbage-time TD catch for the Browns' Josh Gordon (3-67) to avert a dud of a day. ... Still, that ranks as one of the few highlights for the Cleveland offense, which couldn't  take advantage of a shaky Chicago D and benefitted greatly from two TDs from the Browns' D. ... With Willis McGahee (concussion) out, Edwin Baker (8-38 rushing, TD, 4-46 receiving) was somewhat of a surprise. ... TE Jordan Cameron (3-23) just can't be trusted after his sizzling start to the season.

Falcons 27, Redskins 26
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Kirk Cousins, making his first start of the season in place of the shut-down RGIII, turned the ball over three times (2 picks, fumble) and couldn't prevent the Skins' sixth straight loss, but all that matters for our purposes here is that he was a fantasy success (29-of-45, 381 yards, 3 TDs).
Extra points: Matt Ryan got the QB win, but wasn't nearly as effective with 210 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception and a fumble. ... Atlanta pass-catchers Tony Gonzalez (6-62), Roddy White (5-53) and Harry Douglas (5-37) all were targeted 7 times apiece and produced middling yardage totals, but only Gonzo snared a TD pass. ... RBs Steven Jackson (19-43 total yards) and Alfred Morris (19-106) both finished with 9 standard-scoring points, but took different routes to get there.

49ers 33, Buccaneers 14
Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.
Move over, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin. It took until Week 15, but another pass-catcher -- namely WR Michael Crabtree (5-45) -- finally had a TD reception for the Niners. Davis (5-79) also scored, while Boldin finished a quiet 3-43.
Extra points: Colin Kaepernick (203 yards, 2 TDs, 7-39 rushing) and Frank Gore (22-86) were merely workmanlike for San Fran. ... For the Bucs, Mike Glennon (179 yards) connected with TE Timothy Wright (7-82) and WR Vincent Jackson (5-58) on TD passes, but Bobby Rainey (30 total yards on 12 touches) couldn't get anything going against the rugged Niners' D, which had 4 sacks and forced a pair of turnovers.

Seahawks 23, Giants 0
MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, N.J.
Even on the road, the Seattle D vs. the mistake-prone Giants figured to be a mismatch, and it lived up to its billing with Eli Manning (156 yards) tossing five interceptions to bring his league-leading total to 25. The Hawks also had four sacks.
Extra points: The Seattle D was so dominant that QB Russell Wilson -- who completed 18-of-27 passes for 206 yards, a TD and a pick -- was pulled with 10 minutes remaining.  He did roll up a team-high 50 rushing yards on 8 carries before leaving. ... Marshawn Lynch only rushed for 47 yards, but did find the end zone and added a season-high 73 receiving yards on 6 catches. ... WR Doug Baldwin (6-71) was Seattle's most productive pass-catcher once again, while TE Zach Miller (1-8) disappointed. ... For the Giants, Andre Brown was held 26 total yards, including an 11-17 rushing outing, while WR Jerrel Jernigan (7-67) finishing led the team in receiving. ... That was more than the combined outputs of TE Brandon Myers (3-37) and WRs Victor Cruz (2-25) and Hakeem Nicks (1-5), who were targeted a total of 15 times. ... Both Cruz and RB Peyton Hillis (32 total yards) left in the third quarter with concussion symptoms. Cruz also reportedly suffered a sprained knee.

Vikings 48, Eagles 30
Mall of America Field, Minneapolis
As the final score indicates, this one was filled with big-time fantasy difference makers, but not all of them were expected. Certainly qualifying under the latter category is Vikes' third-string RB Matt Asiata, who gained only 51 yards on 30 carries but punched in a trio of short scoring runs filling in for the injured and inactive Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. Asiata had company in teammates Greg Jennings, who hit season highs with 11 receptions, 163 yards and a TD on 13 targets, and QB Matt Cassel, who threw for 382 yards and two TDs.
Extra points: As for the expected, Nick Foles torched the defenseless Vikes for a career-high 428 yards and 3 scores, while also leading the team in rushing (5-41). ... That was three more rushing yards than LeSean McCoy (8-38), who must've missed the snow. McCoy did, however, top 100 total yards thanks to his 68 yards on 5 receptions. ... Foles' favorite target was WR DeSean Jackson (10-195, TD), while fellow wideout Riley Cooper (4-29) was a non-factor. ... Looking for a late-season TE? Give Philly rookie Zach Ertz a shot. Ertz caught 6 passes for 57 yards and a score Sunday, giving him  18 receptions for 198 yards and 4 TDs over his last 4 games. ... Minnesota rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson had a modest 5 catches for 35 yards but found his way into the end zone for the third straight contest.

Chiefs 56, Raiders 31
O.Co Coliseum; Oakland, Calif.
Years from now, longtime fantasy-league foes will fondly (or not-so-fondly) recall Jamaal Charles' fantasy postseason-altering explosion (215 total yards, 5 TDs) in 2013's Week 15, but a few of the particulars might get forgotten. Charles' total included a season-low 20 rushing yards, while his career-high 195 receiving yards were bolstered rather nicely by an amazing 172 yards-after-the-catch total.
Extra points: Charles accounted for all but 92 of Alex Smith's 287 passing yards and 4 of his career-high 5 passing TDs. ... Good-looking Charles handcuff Knile Davis (9-34) rushed for a TD, while WRs Donnie Avery (2-33) and Dwayne Bowe (3-24) combined for an ugly 5-57 day. ... Oakland starting QB Matt McGloin threw for 297 yards and two scores, but turned the ball over 5 times, including 4 picks. ... As planned, Terrelle Pryor (1-4, 12 yards; 3-19 rushing) saw his share of QB snaps but also managed to toss an interception -- one of seven turnovers overall gathered in by the K.C. D. ... Rashad Jennings made a triumphant return as the Silver & Black's No. 1 back with 103 total yards and 2 TDs. ... Rod Streater paced the Raiders with 4 catches for 58 yards, but fellow WR Andre Holmes (4-58) and TE Mychal Rivera (3-30) were on the receiving end of McGloin's TD tosses.

Panthers 30, Jets 20
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
With Jonathan Stewart sidelined again, DeAngelo Williams had a few more touches (18) than usual to work with, and he made the most of them with 168 total yards and a TD, thanks largely to a 72-yard scoring reception.
Extra points: Fellow RB Mike Tolbert (12-18) scored his obligatory touchdown, while QB Cam Newton was a little below his lofty standards with 273 passing yards, a TD and only 12 rushing yards on 7 carries. ... TE Greg Olsen (5-88) once again led the Panthers in receiving, while Steve Smith (3-20) failed to produce for his fantasy owners. ...  For Jets' rookie QB Geno Smith (167 yards, TD, 6-44 rushing), perhaps the best news is that he had only 1 turnover. ... Chris Ivory (11-66) and TE Jeff Cumberland (3-50, TD) were N.Y's leading rusher and receiver, respectively.

Packers 37, Cowboys 36
AT&T Stadium; Arlington, Texas
The equation was Matt Flynn (299 yards, 4 TDs, 1 interception) >> Tony Romo (358 yards, 2 TDs, 2 4th-quarter picks) as the Pack stunningly overcame a 26-3 halftime deficit by scoring 5 TDs on 5 second-half possessions against the bedraggled Dallas D.
Extra points: It also was Eddie Lacy (171 total yards, TD) >> DeMarco Murray (153, TD), but Murray was once again hampered by some dubious Dallas play-calling with the Cowboys only logging 7 second-half rushes despite the 23-point lead. In the meantime, Lacy is the first Green Bay RB to top 1,000 yards since 2009. ... Dez Bryant (11-153) and Jason Witten (4-71) hauled in Romo's TD passes. ... Flynn, meanwhile, spread things around with TE Andrew Quarless (6-66, TD) and WRs Jarrett Boykin (6-83), Jordy Nelson (5-61, TD) and James Jones (3-49, TD) all getting in on the act.

Cardinals 37, Titans 34
LP Field; Nashville, Tenn.
As has played out in a few Arizona games this season, rookie RB Andre Ellington (10-71 rushing, 4-87 receiving) had the flashier yardage numbers, but Rashard Mendenhall (21-69, 1-9) was the back to find the end zone, doing so twice to up his season total to 8.
Extra points: Cards QB Carson Palmer cooled off with 231 yards and a TD pass, and the resulting numbers for WRs Larry Fitzgerald (6-49) and Michael Floyd (2-33) reflected that. ... Ryan Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, had no such issues, completing 36-of-58 passes for 402 yards and four TDs. ... With WR Justin Hunter a healthy scratch due to a violation of team rules, Fitz's top target was Kendall Wright (12-150), but he didn't catch a TD. ... Instead, WR Michael Preston, who entered the game with all of 2 receptions, had a pair of scoring receptions among his 3 catches for 27 yards. ... The Titans were also glad to get TE Delanie Walker (8-53, TD) back from a concussion. ... Chris Johnson was held to 40 rushing yards on 13 carries, but atoned with 51 yards and a TD on 3 grabs.

Rams 27, Saints 16
Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis
Drew Brees faced a double whammy Sunday: He was on the road and he was facing the Rams, who had held him to fewer than 300 yards and intercepted him exactly 2 times in each of the four previous meetings since Brees joined the Saints in 2006. Brees got his 300 yards and then some (393) in this one, but sure enough, he had his requisite 2 picks -- and a fumble to boot -- while throwing for only a single TD.
Extra points: With Kellen Clemens throwing for 2 TDs but only 158 yards, Zac Stacy came through with a productive 28-133, one-TD rushing effort. ... TEs Cory Harkey (3-29) and Lance Kendricks (2-13) had scoring receptions for the Rams, stinging those who rolled with St. Louis starting TE Jared Cook (1-9) in their fantasy lineups. ... Darren Sproles (7-24) and Pierre Thomas (8-21) were held in check on the ground but both were busy as targets out of backfield with Sproles hauling in 8 passes for 38 yards and Thomas finishing with 7 catches for 62 yards. ... WR Marques Colston (8-92, TD) delivered for his fantasy owners, while TE Jimmy Graham (2-25 on 6 targets) did not.

Steelers 30, Bengals 20
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Really not much to report from the Sunday nighter. The Steelers did upend the AFC North-leading Bengals, but Ben Roethlisberger (20-25, 191 yards, TD, pick) failed to throw for 200 yards and multiple TDs for the first time in 5 games.
Extra points: On the flip side, Steelers WR Antonio Brown 5-66, TD) and Le'Veon Bell 107 total yards, TD) continue to come through. ... For Cincy, meaningful fantasy points were hard to come by as Andy Dalton (230 yards, 2 TDs), Giovanni Bernard (46 total yards, TD), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (4 total yards) and A.J. Green (9-93 on 18 targets) all had sub-par showings.


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