Tunnel Vision: Week 15
David Dorey
December 16, 2013
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Nick Foles 469 3
Ryan Fitzpatrick 424 4
Matt Cassel 401 3
Alex Smith 304 5
Matt Flynn 299 4
Running Backs Yards TD
Jamaal Charles 215 5
Matt Asiata 66 3
Eddie Lacy 171 1
DeAngelo Williams 168 1
DeMarco Murray 153 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
DeSean Jackson 195 1
Greg Jennings 163 1
Julian Edelman 139 1
Dez Bryant 153 1
Pierre Garcon 129 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Tim Wright 82 1
Delanie Walker 53 1
Vernon Davis 79 1
Andrew Quarless 66 1
Tony Gonzalez 62 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Dan Bailey 3 5
Phil Dawson 3 4
Jay Feely 4 3
Shaun Suisham 3 3
Blair Walsh 6 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Seattle 0 4 5
Indianapolis 0 4 2
Pittsburgh 1 1 1
Cleveland 2 2 3
Kansas City 1 0 5

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Donald Brown - Neck
DeVier Posey - Ankle
Zac Stacy - Hip
Josh Boyce - Leg
Peyton Hillis - Head
Victor Cruz - Concussion, knee
Larry Fitzgerald - Concussion
Drew Brees - Hand
Brandon Bostick - Foot

Welcome to nirvana. Typically game scores decline later in the season but week 15 just served up the most points scored in NFL history. There were 17 teams that scored at least 27 points. Jamaal Charles turned in 215 yards and five touchdowns for his career best. That was the most fantasy points scored this year and the most since Clinton Portis gained 254 yards and five touchdowns back in 2003. If you get reception points, Charles just generated the most fantasy points since Jerry Rice caught 13 passes for 225 yards and five touchdowns back in 1990. When the best fantasy game in the last 23 years happen in your playoffs, Christmas just came early.

But it wasn't all kind. When you draft next summer, you'll be thinking about Peyton Manning and Drew Brees who both started the year red hot and never cooled - until recently. The top six quarterbacks for week 15 were Nick Foles, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith, Matt Cassel, Matt Flynn and Kirk Cousins. None of which were drafted as starters if they were even drafted at all.

Working the waiver wire paid off handsomely this week with quarterbacks and when replacing injured running backs. The Vikings' Matt Asiata wasn't certain to play until game time but scored three touchdowns on the Eagles. The Rams' Zac Stacy ran for 133 yards and one score on the 49ers. Andre Ellington generated 158 yards of offense for the Cardinals while Jordan Todman replaced Maurice Jones-Drew and racked up 153 yards for the Jaguars. Take a look at your league rosters and chances are teams look very differently than they did back in week one. And the ones with the most changes are probably in your playoffs.

What will we do next summer with tight ends? On Sunday the only fantasy studs to make a difference were Vernon Davis (5-79, TD) and Tony Gonzalez (6-62, TD) who won't be there in 2014. Rob Gronkowski is out injured again. Jimmy Graham only gained 25 yards in St. Louis. Granted it was only one week but how can you not tag Gronkowski as injury prone? And defenses are figuring out how to stop tight ends like Graham.

The Masters of Timing

The Redskins turned to Kirk Cousins with great results aside from the failed two-point conversion pass that lost the game. Cousins passed for 381 yards and three touchdowns in Atlanta and this week is at home against the Cowboys. It simply does not get any better for a quarterback this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 402 yards and four scores on the Cardinals and this week plays in Jacksonville against one of the weakest secondaries. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will host the Vikings this week with every opportunity for a big game.

Alfred Morris disappointed this year but at least he'll wind up this week playing the Cowboys and there is no reticence to run up the score in this rivalry. LeSean McCoy faces the visiting Bears that always give up plenty to running backs and the Eagles have no room for error. The Titans travel to Jacksonville and face either Maurice Jones-Drew or Jordan Todman who will go against one of the weakest rush defenses in the league. DeMarco Murray is already running well - and probably not nearly often enough - and he'll be in Washington this week. After the loss to the Packers, figure on Murray getting a monster workload just to keep the Cowboys from literally throwing away yet another game.

The Browns' Josh Gordon winds down facing the Jets and their injury-ravaged defense. Both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery end up in Philadelphia where the Bears are likely to face a shootout. The return of Aaron Rodgers this week would be a blessing for the Packers who get to host the Steelers who no longer own a secondary to fear. That should spark better games for James Jones and Jordy Nelson. Weather will be a potential issue in most games but when your season is "one and done" every advantage should be pursued and especially for those with the prime matchups.

You Picked a Fine Time, Lucille

Drew Brees posted 313 yards and four scores on the visiting Panthers in week 14. Now he must head to Carolina for a game that decides the winner of the NFC South. The other four most recent games for Brees never topped two touchdowns. The Panthers at home play better and already know what to defend. Tom Brady plays in Baltimore but couldn't win in Miami without Gronkowski despite owning that series for the last decade against the Dolphins.

Steven Jackson and Roddy White both finally paid back fantasy owners in recent games but must play in San Francisco this week. Even if Adrian Peterson is healthy this week, he'll have to play in Cincinnati for one of the toughest matchups. If he doesn't. Matt Asiata is not likely to see three short touchdowns again this week. Larry Fitzgerald has to pass concussion testing this week and even if he did, playing in Seattle is never a positive experience. Vincent Jackson ends up in St. Louis that just handled a far better offense when they beat the Saints this week.

The Fear

There is nothing worse than rolling the dice on players in your fantasy playoffs only to see them benched or otherwise under-used. There is no reason to look at the Saints backfield that must play in Carolina since they split the work up among three runners and there won't be much to share. The Patriots are back to strictly hands off for running backs when they benched Shane Vereen for fumbling even though they lost the game. Facing the Ravens this week is bad enough but guessing between Stevan Ridley, Legarrette Blount and Shane Vereen is more risk than reward. And this week you must reduce all risk.

What is even worse is when teams just decide to try out new players. It is the end of the year and for all those teams not in the playoffs, now is the time for some look-and-see on other players for next year. In Cleveland it seemed certain that Chris Ogbonnaya would replace Willis McGahee. No, say hello to Edwin Baker who ran eight times for 38 yards and scored the first touchdown of his career. The Broncos lost to the Chargers while Andre Caldwell scored twice and led the team with 59 receiving yards. Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas all ended with less than 50 yards and no score. The Titans threw two touchdowns to wideout Michael Preston as the first in his three-year career that had only totaled six catches previously.

Perhaps the best of all came in the Jets-Panthers game where fantasy teams might have started Chris Ivory who gained 66 yards on only 11 rushes. There was a rushing touchdown but it benefited no one. Not Bilal Powell. It was Sheldon Richardson who rushed twice to punch in the touchdown. No worries about ever starting him since he is a 294-pound defensive end and yet another way to diminish the primary running back. Week 16 will see even more surprise players getting game action for evaluation purposes. By the season finale, all bets are off on who rests and who plays. And that's exactly why fantasy playoffs should end this week.

Sunday Snippets

SD 27, DEN 20 Makes you wonder. Peyton Manning in the cold this time was back to only 289 yards and two scores in a game that he trailed more often than not. The Broncos only rushed for 18 yards on 11 runs and no receiver had more than 59 yards. Andre Caldwell had those 59 yards and two scores as the only decent fantasy play on the entire team (and one that no one made). Philip Rivers passed for 166 yards and two touchdowns that both went to Keenan Allen (2-29). Ryan Matthews was the only runner who showed up when he gained 127 yards and one touchdown. The 11-3 Broncos still have the best record in the AFC and head to Houston where they pretty much could not blow it. The 7-7 Chargers host the Raiders.
WAS 26, ATL 27

Close game, nearly a Redskin win. Kirk Cousin showed he is an NFL caliber quarterback tossing 382 yards and three touchdowns with Pierre Garcon (7-129, TD) turning in one of his best games and even Aldrick Robinson (4-99) enjoyed rare success. Alfred Morris ran for 98 yards on 18 carries for yet another marginal game. Matt Ryan only passed for 210 yards and one score that ended with Tony Gonzalez (6-62). Roddy White slipped back with only 53 yards and while Steven Jackson only ran for 38 yards on his 15 carries , he scored twice. In St. Louis he was yards without scores. Now in Atlanta, he is scores without yards. Mike Shanahan just walked out of his press conference when the questions about his job started. The loss sends the 3-11 Redskins home to host the Cowboys and the 4-10 Falcons head out to their next loss in San Francisco.

CHI 38, CLE 31 Nice points. The return of Jay Cutler became 265 yards and three touchdowns and Brandon Marshall (6-95, TD) and Alshon Jeffery (5-72, TD) both had decent games thanks in part to a Joe Haden injury. Matt Forte ran for 127 yards and gave Michael Bush the touchdown. Jason Campbell passed for 273 yards and one score but it was late in the game when Josh Gordon finally scored and salvaged his stat line of 3-67-1. Jordan Cameron only caught three passes for 23 yards. With Willis McGahee out, the correct answer was Edwin Baker (8-38, TD) in his first NFL trip to the endzone and not Chris Ogbonnaya (46 total yards). Now the 8-6 Bears head to Philadelphia and the 4-10 Browns will play the Jets in New York.
HOU 3, IND 25

Yeah, Houston's just biding their time. Case Keenum only threw for 168 yards and two interceptions including only 18 yards on four catches for Andre Johnson. Ben Tate ran for 72 yards but this was a lot of nothing going on and nearly a shutout. Andrew Luck passed for 180 yards and two scores but no one had a big game. T.Y. Hilton was tops for receivers with eight catches for 78 yards and Trent Richardson ended with 102 total yards and a score mostly because Donald Brown was knocked out of the game. And they were playing the Texans. Now the 2-12 Texans - YES YOU STILL HAVE TO PLAY MISTER - host the Broncos and the 9-5 Colts head to Kansas City.

BUF 27, JAC 20 Pretty good game overall. E.J. Manuel threw for only 193 yards but had two touchdown plus ran in one himself. Robert Woods was tops with 82 yards and a score on five catches. Fred Jackson ran for 80 yards on 17 carries while C.J. Spiller gained 67 yards on 13 runs. Chad Henne threw for 237 yards and two scores but Marcedes Lewis was the lead receiver with only four catches for 54 yards and one score. Jordan Todman filled in for Maurice Jones-Drew and ran for 109 yards and added four catches for 44 yards. Nothing big here but Todman turned in a very nice replacement game. Now the 5-9 Bills host the Dolphins and the 4-10 Jaguars play the visiting Titans.
NE 20, MIA 24

Very good game with a few notable performances. Tom Brady passed for 364 yards and two scores but one very costly interception that ended the game. The Pats backfield is a complete mess after Shane Vereen fumbles and was benched. Julian Edelman is still the best receiver with 13 catches for 139 yards and one score but Danny Amendola also showed up with ten receptions for 131 yards. Ryan Tannehill was very respectable with 312 yards and three scores and Mike Wallace (6-105, TD) enjoyed the rare big game. This game was a nice representative of the week with a division leader losing. Now the 10-4 Patriots will play in Baltimore and the 8-6 Dolphins will go to Buffalo.

PHI 30, MIN 48 Another high scoring game that shows that no one wants to get into the playoffs. The Eagles only ran LeSean McCoy eight times for 38 yards though he added 68 yards on five catches. Nick Foles passed for 428 yards and three touchdowns with DeSean Jackson (10-195, TD) the best receiver. Matt Cassel ended with 382 pass yards and two scores that mostly went to Greg Jennings (11-163, TD) and Jarius Wright (4-95). Matt Asiata filled in as the starting RB and only gained 51 yards on 30 carries but scored three touchdowns. Now the 8-6 Eagles will host the Bears and the 4-9-1 Vikings head to Cincinnati.
SEA 23, NYG 0

Getting shut out at home is no way to make a case to keep the head coach. Or anyone on the offense. Eli Manning is a machine. An interception machine. He threw for only 156 yards and FIVE interceptions. Andre Brown rushed for 17 yards on 11 carries and the best receiver was Jarnal Jooriig Jareld Jellyham Juulis jeergerer a guy that no one in the world started. Victor Cruz only caught two passes for 25 yards before leaving with a concussion from beating his head against a wall. Russell Wilson only needed to pass for 206 yards and one score to Doug Baldwin (6-71, TD). Marshawn Lynch ran for 47 yards and one score while also being the lead receiver with six catches for 73 more yards. As you would expect, the shutout really meant only the defense had a big game. Now the 12-2 Seahawks can claim the #1 seed when they beat the visiting Cardinals this week. The 5-9 Giants head to Detroit.

SF 33, TB 14 This game is what we expected would happen starting the season but kinda a surprise the 49ers were so dominant. Colin Kaepernick passed for 203 yards and two scores split between Vernon Davis (5-79) and Michael Crabtree (5-45). Frank Gore ran for 86 yards on 22 carries. Mike Glennon only threw for 179 yards and two scores split between Tim Wright (7-82, TD) and Vincent Jackson (5-58, TD). Bobby Rainey only managed 27 yards on 11 carries while this looked like the bad Buccaneers team earlier in the season. Now the 10-4 49ers will host the Falcons and the 4-10 Buccaneers head to St. Louis.
NYJ 20, CAR 30

The Jets were a bit better than expected. Geno Smith produced 167 pass yards and one score to Jeff Cumberland (3-50) because it looked like he was started to prefer Kellen Winslow (1-12). Chris Ivory ran for 66 yards on 11 carries but they gave Bilal Powell eight runs to gain 37 yards and the Jets let defensive end Sheldon Richardson take the lone rushing score from the one yard-line as just a way to say they hate fantasy football. Cam Newton passed for 273 yards and one score to DeAngelo Williams who ended with 168 total yards thanks to his 72-yard touchdown reception. Greg Olsen ended with 88 yards on five catches and Mike Tolbert hawked the only rushing touchdown. Now the 6-8 Jets host the Browns and the 10-4 Panthers host the Saints.

KC 56, OAK 31 Beatdown as expected but a whole lot more points than anyone saw coming. Alex Smith passed for 287 yards and five touchdowns and yet the only receiver of any note was Jamaal Charles who snared eight passes for 195 yards and FOUR touchdowns with 34 rushing yards and his fifth touchdown as a runner. This was a really, really, really good time to own Charles. Matt McGloin threw for 297 yards and two scores with four interceptions. Andre Holmes (4-58, TD) was the only decent receiver for the Raiders and Rashad Jennings gained 91 yards and two scores on his 23 runs. Now the 11-3 Chiefs host the Colts and the 4-10 Raiders head to San Diego.
NO 16, STL 27

Really? Really? Drew Brees passed for 393 yards but only one score and two interceptions. Marques Colston (8-92, TD) was again the top receiver and even Lance More (6-78) had a better game but Jimmy Graham only left with two catches for 25 yards right when you needed him the most. The fractured backfield of the Saints only came up with a total of 61 yards on 20 carries and Brees ran in the only rushing touchdown. Kellen Clemens passed for just 158 yards and two scores but no interceptions. There were no Rams receivers of any note and Austin Pettis (4-41) was as good as it got. Zac Stacy ran for 133 yards on 28 carries and one score as the best player in the entire game. Now the 10-4 Saints can try, again, to lock up a playoff spot with a win in Carolina. Oh. That's gonna be a big game this week. The 6-8 Rams host the Buccaneers.

ARI 37, TEN 34
Overtime win in a game you would not expect to produce 71 points. Carson Palmer only passed for 231 yards and one score. Andre Ellington ran for 71 yards and was the top receiver with 87 yards on four catches. Rashard Mendenhall only ran for 69 yards on 21 carries but scored twice. Larry Fitzgerald (6-49) left after getting a concussion. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 402 yards and four scores and everyone on the Titans had a nice day as a receiver. Kendall Wright (12-150), Nate Washington (7-92), Delanie Walker (8-53, TD) and even Chris Johnson (3-51, TD) all were productive though Johnson only ran for 40 yards on 13 carries. The 9-5 Cardinals head to Seattle and the 5-9 Titans will play in Jacksonville.
GB 37, DAL 36

Great game, close one and a shining example that the Curse of December is alive and well in Dallas. Tony Romo passed for 358 yards and two scores but had two interceptions including the "Yep, there it is" pick to end the game.Dez Bryant gained 153 yards and a score on 11 catches before storming off to the locker room. Jason Witten (4-71, TD) also turned in a nice performance. DeMarco Murray ran for 134 yards and a score on just 18 carries but apparently that wasn't good enough to call off the late game run to kill the lock and instead throw the interception. Now the 7-6-1 Packers return home to face the Steelers and the 7-7 Chokers Cowboys head to Washington to really test the December Curse.

CIN 20, PIT 30 This game all happened in the first quarter when the Steelers rolled up a 21-0 lead. Ben Roethlisberger passed for just 191 yards and one score to Antonio Brown (5-66). And Brown also returned a punt for a score as well. Le'Veon Bell ran for 57 yards and one score with 50 more yards coming via five receptions. That was about the entire game. Sort of boring after the first quarter. Bengals punter got his jaw fractured when he was leveled but that was about all the excitement. Andy Dalton threw for 230 yards and two scores and the top receiver was A.J. Green (9-93) who Ike Taylor refused to let get deep even if it meant a first down on every catch (almost did). Giovani Bernard scored on a run and total 46 yards. The 9-5 Bengals will host the Vikings this week and the 6-8 Steelers play in Green Bay.

Huddle Player of the Week

Jamaal Charles - Not really close this week. Charles was the player to own all year and now that fantasy playoffs are happening, he comes up HUGE. Charles ran eight times for 20 yards and one score and added a mere eight catches for 195 yards and four more touchdowns.That is 51.5 points in a standard league, 59.5 in a reception point league. If you had distance bonuses he scored from 49, 39, 1, 16 and 79 yards. 16 touches for 215 yards that no fantasy owner will ever forget.


Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 424 4 QB Philip Rivers 175 2
RB Matt Asiata 66 3 RB Shane Vereen 21 0
RB DeAngelo Williams 168 1 RB Andre Brown 26 0
WR Andre Caldwell 59 2 WR Steve Johnson 4 0
WR Greg Jennings 163 1 WR Demaryius Thomas 45 0
WR Santana Moss 64 1 WR Andre Johnson 18 0
TE Tim Wright 82 1 TE Jimmy Graham 25 0
PK Dan Bailey 18 pts PK Rian Lindell 2 pts

Huddle Fantasy Points = 125

Huddle Fantasy Points = 31

Sunday's Couch Commentary

The highest scoring week in NFL history. In week 15 no less. How great is that? And this is when great teams distance themselves but maybe there really are no great teams. The Broncos lost and are now tied with the Chiefs but at least own the first tie-breaker. The Patriots lost and now the Bengals and Colts are both within one game of challenging for the #2 seed. The Colts were the only AFC division leader who did not lose this week and they had the worst record of the four.

The Broncos still look like the #1 seed and that means the Chiefs take a wildcard. The Colts have already clinched the AFC South. Most likely the Patriots and Bengals end up division winners and the Fins and Ravens vie for the final wild card but there is still room for change there.

In the NFC the Saints lost and now are tied with the Panthers in the NFC South. The entire NFC East lost because they played outside of their own division. The Seahawks will be the #1 seed. The 49ers will end up with a wildcard, The Saints and Panthers determine this week which is the #2 seed and which one is a wild card. Then in the NFC East and NFC North, it will take both final weeks to decide who gets to lose to a wild card team in the first round.

The Game-O-The-Week? Very hard to say. There were six games that featured both contestants scoring 26 points or more. Four of those were decided by a touchdown or less and 13 teams scored 30 points or more. The Cardinals-Titans tilt went into overtime and was won 37-34 by the Cards. The Raiders never allowed 56 points in any game ever until this week. But I cannot resist the most surprising... and yet not surprising... of them all.

Green Bay 37, Dallas 36

In a week that the Eagles lost, the Cowboys had a chance to tie them for the NFC East lead. Playing at home is always a benefit and going against the Rodgers-less Packers seemed an easy win. After all, their only win in the last six weeks was just one week previous when they clipped the visiting Falcons by one point. How could you lose to a team like that? Here's how:

This was a laugher at halftime when the Cowboys led 26-3 and scored on six of their seven possessions. Four times they settled for a field goal but so what - the Packers only had three points.

The Packers opened the second quarter with a touchdown drive when Matt Flynn hit Jordy Nelson for a 13-yard score. But the 26-lead was extended when the Cowboys marched down and settled for field goal #5 and a 29-10 lead.

Next series the Packers drive 80 yards and end with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless, Packers trail 29-17 but the Cowboys end the quarter with a three and out. The punt is returned to the Dallas 26-yard line.

First series in the fourth quarter ends with an 11-yard touchdown pass to James Starks and the score is 24-29. This is noticed by the Cowboys who realize now that the Packers are not going to go quietly. So Romo drove 80-yards and scored with a short pass to Dez Bryant for a more comfortable 24-36 lead with 8:04 left to play.

But the Packers drove 80 yards again and ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to James Jones with 4:23 left to play that made the score 36-31 with 4:23 left to play.

Next series is time to get serious and put this away by the Cowboys. So four plays into the drive Tony Romo throws an interception at mid-field with 2:58 left to play.

The Packers need seven plays to reach the DAL 4-ya4rd line where a third and one was converted into a first down by an Eddie Lacy run. Next play, Lacy vaults the line and scores a touchdown. The two point conversion attempt is no good do with 1:15 left to play the Cowboys now trail 37-36.

The Cowboys have two time outs. Plenty of time in a home game for Tony Romo to step up and win the game. Starting on their 20-yard line, Romo hits Cole Beasley for a nine yard gain. Next Romo throws an incompletion to Beasley.Only it sort of looks like an interception. The replay showed it was clearly an interception. Game over yet again on a Romo interception.

Dez Bryant just walks off the field into the locker room before the game is over. Jerry Jones looks like he just ran over his own dog and stammers how this might be the worst loss ever. It is actually the second worst loss as they led by 23 points and yet still found a way to lose. The December Crumble started last week in Chicago and carried through in a shocker at home against a team that couldn't hardly beat anyone anywhere without Aaron Rodgers.

If you are in a league championship this week - congratulations on owning Jamaal Charles Josh Gordon on your management skills! This has been a wild season and to make it the playoffs was challenge enough.

If you are not in the playoffs, don't forget to congratulate the owner who takes the title. You'll appreciate when everyone else does that for you.

Next year.

Now get back to work...

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