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Fantasy Game Recaps - Week 14
John Tuvey
December 14, 2009
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You’d think with Drew Brees throwing for 296 yards and three TDs it would have been easier for the Saints, but it took a late field goal for them to keep their record unblemished. Brees spread the ball around, with five different Saints catching four or six passes for between 46 and 57 yards. Reggie Bush (6-46-2) returned from a knee injury to take two catches to the house and Marques Colston (6-54-1) found the end zone, but Robert Meachem (4-57) saw his five-game scoring streak snapped. The running game never got going, with Pierre Thomas’ 13 carries for 47 yards leading the way.

Despite playing without Michael Turner and Matt Ryan, the Falcons stayed with the Saints every step of the way. Chris Redman turned in a 303-yard, one-TD effort in place of Ryan, but for a change his top target was Michael Jenkins (3-82-1 plus another potential long touchdown bouncing off his fingertips) and not Roddy White (2-41); Tony Gonzalez (6-50) was as involved as always, though Redman ignored him on the game-ending fourth-down play in throwing underneath to Jason Snelling, who was stopped short of the first down. Snelling’s 10-37-1 on the ground was hardly a replacement for what Turner usually brings to the table, though Snelling’s 4-65 as a receiver helped him salvage fantasy value.

FANTASY IMPACT: White continues to be targeted heavily—six this week, second only to Gonzo’s seven—but Redman is not as successful as Ryan in actually completing his passes down the field. He connected on 12-of-14 working to backs and tight ends but only 11-of-20 to wideouts. White’s fantasy owners have to hope Ryan’s toe injury doesn’t keep him out another week—assuming they survived this round of the playoffs. Sans Mike Bell, the Saints’ backfield delivered productive fantasy games for both Thomas (19 touches, 100 yards) and Bush (12 touches, 79 yards, two TDs). If Bell returns from his injury, however, he’s been taking an average of 14 touches a game out of the mix. So before green-lighting Bush or Thomas the rest of the way be sure to check Bell’s injury status.


The Lions are the cure for whatever ails a struggling offense, and this week it was the Ravens’ turn to get well. Baltimore’s 548 yards of offense included 308 yards on the ground, paced by Ray Rice’s 13-166-1; Rice added in 4-53 as a receiver to offset the three RB rushing scores he ceded to Willis McGahee (12-76-2) and Le’Ron McClain (6-32-1). Though there wasn’t much left for Joe Flacco to do, he threw 20 passes for 230 yards and a 62-yard touchdown to Derrick Mason (5-94-1), the only Ravens pass-catcher besides Rice to have fantasy value.

There was little to get excited about on the Detroit side of the field. Calvin Johnson (4-37) was held in check as the Lions produced just 229 yards of offense. Eighty-eight of them came from Kevin Smith (21-69 on the ground, 2-19 as a receiver) before a serious looking left knee injury forced him out of the game. Daunte Culpepper, filling in for the injured Matthew Stafford, completed 16 of 34 passes for 135 yards and was picked twice.

FANTASY IMPACT: What little there was left to see in Motown was thinned by the injury to Smith. Maurice Morris (3-11) and Aaron Brown (1-12) would be the replacements, if it even matters. Maybe the Ravens can spot them a back; Rice’s fantasy owners, while thrilled with the touchdown and 219 yards from scrimmage, would have liked to see their guy pick up a larger share of Baltimore’s ground game production. They can take solace in the fact that all of McGahee’s production came in the second half, after Rice had already amassed 151 rushing yards—and also that the Ravens won’t see a cream puff run defense like Detroit again until Week 17 when they face the Raiders.


The Bears apparently have Aaron Rodgers’ number; they held him in check in the opener and shut him out this week. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Packers’ running game did much of the heavy lifting behind 20-137-2 from Ryan Grant. The pregame debate over Bear-killer Greg Jennings and Donald Driver’s drought against Chicago turned out to be much ado about nothing; Jennings (3-56) caught a two-point conversion but little else, while Driver (2-11) was almost non-existent. The passing game leader was tight end Jermichael Finley, with five catches for 70 yards.

Rare is the week where Jay Cutler outperforms Aaron Rodgers, but Cutler was helped by Chicago’s inability to run the football. As a result the Bears threw 36 times and gave their backs just 16 carries, led by Matt Forte’s 12-51—and this time the clubhouse leader for fantasy bust of the year wasn’t bailed out by his receiving (4-17) numbers. Sans the injured Devin Hester, Cutler turned to Johnny Knox (5-83-1) and Devin Aromashodu (8-76-1); the former wasn’t entirely unexpected, as Knox has the speed to replace Hester as a downfield threat, but the latter was a total shock provided by a receiver who came into the game with two catches for 16 yards.

FANTASY IMPACT: Since the Bears won’t see a favorable run defense until Week 17, you’d better get to know Aromashodu. If Hester remains out he could become Cutler’s new BFF; he’s apparently forgotten about Earl Bennett (1-6) and Greg Olsen (2-14). Grant added a bonus 62-yard touchdown run to an otherwise solid 19-75-1, perhaps serving as a reminder; while next week’s date in Pittsburgh doesn’t look to be an opportunity, Grant just might be a championship week savior in Week 16 against a Seattle squad that looks like the stamp is affixed and the envelope licked.


Maybe Matt Schaub should separate his shoulder more often. Schaub practiced all week despite the injury, then tore up the Seahawks with 336 yards and two touchdowns... in the first half alone! Most of that production came courtesy of Andre Johnson, who caught 10 balls for 184 yards and two scores before the break. Gary Kubiak called off the dogs, and Houston’s only second-half scores were a field goal and an interception return for a touchdown. As a result, Schaub finished with “only” 365 yards and the two scores, while Johnson ended up with 11-193-2.

Matt Hasselbeck had 82 passing yards at half time, so you can credit his bottom line of 247 yards to garbage time. Seattle got nothing going on the ground, splitting work between Julius Jones (10-39, 1-4) and Justin Forsett (9-26, 4-47); they got little more from their high-profile wide receiver tandem of T.J. Houshmandzadeh (4-52) and Nate Burleson (3-50). John Carlson (3-24-1), invisible most of the past month, provided the Seahawks with their only touchdown.

FANTASY IMPACT: Before you write off the Seahawks completely, consider that they host the Buccaneers next week. Maybe Seattle can come up with some fantasy relevancy in the cushy match-up; right now, there isn’t a Seahawk you can plug into your fantasy lineup with any degree of confidence. In Houston, Kubiak responded to Steve Slaton going on injured reserve by introducing us to yet another member of his backfield committee; Arien Foster carried 13 times for 34 yards and also caught four balls for another 54 yards. Chris Brown, the Texans’ starter, finished with seven yards on three carries while Ryan Moats (10-43-1, 1-3) was the most productive fantasy-wise. With a date against the Rams up next, it sure would be nice if there were some clarity to this situation; however, that looks unlikely.


Denver did many things right: they picked Peyton Manning three times and holding him to 220 yards, limited Reggie Wayne to four catches for 43 yards, and held Joseph Addai out of the end zone. However, they forgot to cover Dallas Clark, who caught three of Manning’s four touchdowns as part of his 5-43-3 afternoon. Addai was the only Colt to provide much fantasy help in yardage leagues with 16-67 on the ground an 5-49 as a receiver, and he ceded nine carries to Mike Hart.

While the stadium ushers weren’t handing out bobbleheads, it was clearly Brandon Marshall Day in Indy. Marshall set a new NFL record for catches in a game with 21, producing 200 yards and two touchdowns in the process. Put another way: Kyle Orton completed just eight passes for 77 yards to Broncos other than Marshall. The running game didn’t help much, with Knowshon Moreno kicking in just 63 yards on 23 carries (and another 13 on three catches) and Correll Buckhalter (4-19) pure afterthought.

FANTASY IMPACT: Marshall single-handedly dragged Orton (277 and two) into fantasy relevancy. He looks just as dominant as he did during his zenith last year, and it’s become abundantly clear that no other Bronco receiver will step up to battle him for looks. The Colts have now locked up all there is to lock up in the regular season, and they’ve already talked about resting key players for the playoffs. Whether that happens remains to be seen, of course, but Hart seems to be the primary ballcarrier if Addai is on the sidelines and Donald Brown in street clothes. Who Manning (or perhaps Curtis Painter) will be throwing to is another matter entirely; Hank Baskett, perhaps?


As per usual, Ricky Williams (28-108-1, 2-7) was the offensive story for the Dolphins, though perhaps just as big a story were Williams’ three fumbles (one lost). Chad Henne (21-29-220-0-1) was solid but required a rushing score to provide fantasy help, and those who thought Davonne Bess (3-22) had established himself as the Dolphins’ go-to- receiver—and maybe banked on it hard enough to plug Bess into a fantasy line-up—had to be surprised by Greg Camarillo’s 7-110 effort.

The Dolphins’ defense is good, but... 217 yards of total offense for the Jaguars? Maybe it’s because Maurice Jones-Drew handled the ball just 20 times, with 18 runs for 59 yards and a score and two catches for another 24 yards. That was the entirety of the Jacksonville production; David Garrard completed just 11 of 26 passes for 139 yards and no scores; his only notable play was a 63-yard hook-up with Torry Holt, though the aging wideout couldn’t get to the end zone.

FANTASY IMPACT: It didn’t help MoJo that the Jaguars lost the time of possession battle and ran 17 fewer plays than the Dolphins. And a clearly hindered Mike Sims-Walker (1-6) didn’t help Garrard or the passing game. But that sounds like excuses; if Jacksonville has any hopes of emerging in the AFC Wild Card picture they’ll need more than 83 yards from their go-to guy. And that’s going to require Jones-Drew to touch the ball more than 20 times. Henne’s emergence as a legitimate NFL quarterback, coupled with the absence of Ronnie Brown due to injury, has all but removed the Wildcat from the Miami repertoire. However, that’s also meant that Miami receivers are starting to demonstrate some fantasy viability; you just have to figure out which one it might be from week to week.


Interim Bills coach Perry Fewell is proving to be adaptable. In the past couple of games Ryan Fitzpatrick has been given the green light to throw, primarily to Terrell Owens; this week, Fitzpatrick completed a touchdown to T.O. but threw just 20 passes. Meanwhile, Fred Jackson carried 20 times for 99 yards (and was also Buffalo’s leading receiver with 3-23) and Marshawn Lynch added 12-84 on the ground and 3-10 through the air. The ground game produced no touchdowns, but it did move the Bills into position for three Rian Lindell field goals—and in a game with only 26 total points, that was enough to make the difference.

If the past month has been an audition for the Chiefs’ feature back role in 2010, then Jamaal Charles should be pretty set heading into next season. Charles accounted for more than half of the team’s total yardage with 20-143-1 on the ground and 7-38 as a receiver; his 76-yard gallop was KC’s only touchdown on the day. No other member of the offense produced more than 50 yards of offense as Matt Cassel completed 26 of 43 passes for 224 yards and was picked four times.

FANTASY IMPACT: Dwayne Bowe is eligible to return from his suspension next week; so, where does he fit into the Chiefs’ receiving corps? This week Chris Chambers led the wideouts with 4-50, followed by Mark Bradley (3-35) and Bobby Wade (4-34); tight ends Leonard Pope (4-45) and Brad Cottam (1-26) also chipped in. Is there even a place for Bowe? Does it matter, with dates against a pair of defenses (Cleveland and Cincinnati) that have allowed the sixth- and eighth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this year? There aren’t many teams the Bills will be able to run the ball 32 times against, and with the split looking to be in the vicinity of two-thirds Jackson and one-third Lynch it’ll be tough for either to carve out fantasy value the rest of the way. That leaves Owens, with three TDs in the past four games, as the only Bill worthy of fantasy attention the rest of the way.


A week after being beaten soundly on both lines in prime time last week, the Vikings got back to their pre-Favre basics. That meant 26 carries for Adrian Peterson, who produced 97 yards and two touchdowns on the ground as well as 40 yards receiving. Chester Taylor chipped in with 5-25 on the ground and 2-32 through the air, leaving little for Brett Favre (17-30-192-1-1) and the wide receivers to do. At least Sidney Rice (4-39-1) scored; Bernard Berrian took advantage of Percy Harvin’s migraine-related absence to lead the team with a mere four catches for 43 yards.

Credit the Bengals for not abandoning the run; despite trailing for most of three quarters they passed just four more times than they ran. Cedric Benson (16-96) didn’t score but posted yet another solid outing against a very good run defense. However, in learning to run Cincy has apparently forgotten how to throw; Carson Palmer (15-25-94-1) couldn’t even break triple-digits, and Chad Ochocinco’s 3-27-1 led the team in receiving yards.

FANTASY IMPACT: The Bengals will play in San Diego next week with, for all intents and purposes, a first-round bye on the line. And then Cincy will be in the unique position of possibly resting their starters for the playoffs. Does that mean less Ocho and more Andre Caldwell (4-25)? Less Benson and more Larry Johnson (3-4)—especially with a date with LJ’s former employer looming? This is uncharted territory for the Bengals, so stay tuned. Minnesota reverted to what we thought would be their recipe this season: heavy doses of the ground game, with Favre throwing just enough to keep defenses honest. That had to make AP owners happy, especially after the egg he laid last week. And Rice held his value with his touchdown. But Favre’s numbers were a bit of a letdown based on what he’d done thus far this year, dragging the other receivers with him. And if the Vikings nail down the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, fantasy owners better get used to it.


Following an eventful week of practice—Tom Brady becoming a dad, Randy Moss getting sent home—the Patriots likely found respite on the field. They did just enough to beat an undermanned Panthers team, but it was by no means a walk in the park. Brady (19-32-192-1-1) leaned heavily on Wes Welker (10-105), in part because Moss (1-16) appeared to have checked out early on. The running game picked up the struggling Pats passing attack, led by 22-94 from Laurence Maroney and 10-58-1 from Kevin Faulk.

DeAngelo Williams (13-82) proved he can run on anybody, but aside from a 41-yard touchdown toss to Steve Smith there wasn’t much help from the rest of the Panthers. Matt Moore completed half of his 30 passes for 197 yards and the aforementioned score, but no receiver besides Smith topped 30 yards. And with Jonathan Stewart stopped at 29 yards on seven carries, no Panther period chipped in as much to the offensive effort.

FANTASY IMPACT: Williams’ ability to run on any defense will be severely tested the rest of the way, with Carolina facing the Vikings, Giants, and Saints. That likely means Stewart’s fantasy value will be nil from here on out, and if Moore can’t provide any more of a passing game threat and Jake Delhomme isn’t back in the lineup Williams will see more than a few nine-man fronts. The scuttlebutt following the game was Carolina’s d-backs talking about how Moss quit during the game, and how that was part of their game plan. Sideline cameras showed Brady in heavy discussion with Moss (a pep talk? a scolding?), but fans in Minnesota and Oakland have seen this before. Does it stem from Brady’s array of injuries preventing him from throwing Moss’ beloved deep ball? The only certainty heading into next week’s visit to Buffalo—and a secondary that’s played extremely well since allowing a combined 234 yards to Welker and Moss in the season opener—is uncertainty.


This was almost exactly as the Jets drew it up during their game planning. Substitute quarterback Kellen Clemens only had to throw 23 passes (completing 12 for 111 yards), while the Jets ran the ball 42 times led by Thomas Jones (24-99-2). Given the 10-minute time of possession advantage, the 19-point halftime lead, and Jones’ age about the only surprise was that Shonn Greene (6-41) and Danny Woodhead (4-17) didn’t get a little more work in garbage time.

Having your rookie quarterback throw five picks isn’t entirely unexpected, as there are bound to be growing pains; the key is how they bounce back the following week. So the fact that Josh Freeman opened this game with an interception on the Bucs’ first play has to be a bit disconcerting. That wasn’t Freeman’s only foible; he completed just 14 of 33 passes for 93 yards and threw two more picks. So while Kellen Winslow (4-26) and Antonio Bryant (2-22) again led the Bucs in receiving, there simply wasn’t enough to go around. Though it hardly seems possible, the ground game was actually worse with Carnell Williams (11-14) failing to top Freeman’s 21 yards on four scrambles.

FANTASY IMPACT: That makes eight picks against zero touchdowns in the last two games for Freeman. Next week’s opponent (Seattle) offers a little hope he can salvage some late-season fantasy value for Bryant and Winslow, but using the past fortnight as evident it’s clear the road back for the Bucs will not be a short one. Even though Mark Sanchez is likely to return next week, don’t expect the Jets to mess with the formula they employed so effectively this week. Jones is finishing strong, and in Greene and even Woodhead the Jets have the complementary pieces to consistently—and successfully—run the ball 35 times a game.


Chris Johnson was the paint brush and LP Field was his canvas. In the first quarter alone Johnson broke off a 39-yard touchdown run and took a short pass 66 yards for another score. He finished the afternoon with 28-117-2 on the ground and 3-69-1 as a receiver, but he wasn’t the only Titan having his way with the Rams. Vince Young (6-8-132-1) was solid before a hamstring injury at the end of a 44-yard run sent him to the sidelines. Kerry Collins (11-19-154-1) was solid in relief, and the combine efforts of Tennessee’s passing game pushed four receivers over the 40-yard mark, led by Kenny Britt (2-75).

Making his first career start, Keith Null made up for lost time by joining fellow rookie quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, and Josh Freeman in the five-INT club. Null also managed a touchdown pass to Randy McMichael (2-15), but failed miserably in his primary job: giving the Titans’ defense something to think about besides shutting down Steven Jackson. Null only threw two passes to Jackson (for just six yards), and the lack of anything resembling a passing game contributed to Jackson’s 19-47 rushing line.

FANTASY IMPACT: Brandon Gibson (6-43) led the Rams’ sorry receiving corps, but so long as Null is at the helm there will be even less to see here than before—as if that’s even possible. The Titans, meanwhile, warmed the cockles of Johnson’s fantasy owners by feeding him the ball despite the double-digit margin. In fact, the only other Titans to carry the ball besides Johnson were Young and Collins. No LenDale White, which can be extrapolated to mean that even if the Titans don’t force their way into the AFC playoff picture they seem more than willing to feed their star player’s run at CJ2K—and maybe even Eric Dickerson’s record.


If you would have told Redskins fans at the start of the season that all of their scoring would come from Fred Davis, Quinton Ganther, and Graham Gano they would have thought you were crazier than Clinton Portis. Yet that’s exactly what happened in Week 14: Ganther, the fourth different starting back the Redskins have used this year, carried 14 times for 50 yards and two scores and added another 43 receiving yards to play this year’s unexpected first-round fantasy spoiler. Davis, who started seeing regular playing time after Chris Cooley broke his leg, caught three balls for 50 yards and two touchdowns. And Gano, signed this week after Shaun Suisham’s miss cost Washington an upset of the Saints last week, was perfect on two field goals and four PATs. Aside from Jason Campbell (16-28-222-2) directing the show and Santana Moss (4-58) making a cameo appearance, the Redskins’ success was totally dependent on the newcomers.

No heroics for Bruce Gradkowski this week; after completing 10 of 18 passes for 153 yards and keeping the Raiders close, the Big Gradkowski limped off with a knee injury. On came JaMarcus Russell, who was sacked an astounding six times on 22 dropbacks and threw for 74 yards and a pick while Washington scored 17 unanswered points to put the game out of reach. Oakland’s ground game was non-existent, with Justin Fargas (9-21-1) salvaging value with a touchdown. Darren McFadden produced 21 yards on eight carries but mixed in 84 yards on three catches, while Zach Miller caught seven balls for 46 yards. And that was it for the Raiders.

FANTASY IMPACT: The wide receivers corps, suddenly viable with Gradkowski at the helm, vanished once again as Russell took the reins. Johnnie Lee Higgins’ 3-35 was the best of a group that produced a total of six catches for 63 yards. And with Fargas and McFadden splitting touches, there’s nothing to see in the ground game, either. Here’s hoping you had Ganther this week, as opposed to chasing this week’s performance with a waiver wire pickup in hopes of a repeat. The Raiders were a soft touch on the ground; Washington’s next three opponents—the Giants, Cowboys, and Chargers—rank between seven and 19 spots lower than the Raiders in fantasy points surrendered to running backs.


It wasn’t pretty, but the Chargers leaned on all of the familiar faces in dispatching of Dallas. Philip Rivers (21-32-272-1-1) directed a passing game that leaned heavily on Vincent Jackson (7-120) and got a touchdown from Antonio Gates (4-44-1), while LaDainian Tomlinson ground out 50 rushing yards on 21 attempts but snuck into the end zone from the one. Mix in a couple Nate Kaeding field goals and that’s your ballgame.

Don’t blame Tony Romo; he didn’t throw a pick while completing 19 of 30 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. That was enough for Miles Austin (6-71-1) to get his, but Jason Witten (4-49) was back in the role of forgotten man while Roy Williams (4-74) and Patrick Crayton (2-31-1, the score an absolute garbage-timer at the end of the game) worked their way into the mix. And while the Cowboys ran successfully—Felix Jones (10-51) averaged better than five yards a carry and Marion Barber (14-47) chipped in as well—they couldn’t punch it in when it mattered; MB3 received four straight carries at the stripe but was denied each time. So blame Nick Folk, who missed a field goal, or just blame the calendar; after all, if it’s December it’s time for the Cowboys to melt down.

FANTASY IMPACT: You look at a running game that produced 108 yards on 26 carries and think there’s fantasy value to be had. But despite a beefy line, despite a heretofore competent goal line back, Dallas just couldn’t get it done at the stripe. Sans touchdowns, the Cowboys’ carries are too diversified to produce any real fantasy helpers; closing dates against the Saints, Redskins, and Eagles aren’t going to make fantasy owners feel any better about giving MB3 or Jones a starting nod. As for the Chargers, it’s clear they’re going to focus on the basics. So if you’ve been getting any fantasy burn out of Darren Sproles (25 yards from scrimmage) or Malcolm Floyd (3-40), that’s likely come to an end. Barring injury it’ll be LT slogging his way to mediocre yardage and a touchdown while Jackson and Gates comprise the bulk of Rivers’ yardage numbers.


So much for a NFC East defensive battle. And so much for Donovan McNabb never having thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game at the Meadowlands. The Eagles got plenty of help from their defense (a 60-yard fumble return by Sheldon Brown) and special teams (another long punt return score for DeSean Jackson), but it was McNabb’s 17-26-275-2-1 that paced Philly’s attack. Jackson also kicked in another long score on a 60-yard TD reception as part of a 6-178-1 outing. Brent Celek (5-64-1) also had a big outing, but with Jeremy Maclin aggravating his foot injury that was the extent of the fantasy-relevant receivers. Ground game work was equally split between Leonard Weaver (9-33-1) and LeSean McCoy (10-28), with McCoy adding 4-26 as a receiver.

Look at the statistics and you’d think the Giants owned this game. Eli Manning was pick-free while completing 27 of 38 passes for 391 yards and three touchdowns, while the running game produced 115 yards and two scores almost equally split between Brandon Jacobs (15-60-1) and Ahmad Bradshaw (14-55-1, plus 4-46 as a receiver). And as you’d expect, with nearly 400 yards of passing game multiple receivers got fed as well, led by Hakeem Nicks (4-110-1 despite multiple drops), Steve Smith (7-74), and Kevin Boss (7-70-1).

FANTASY IMPACT: While the loss was not what the Giants were looking for, fantasy owners can’t be disappointed with the results. In fact, the only downer may have been Domenik Hixon (1-61-1) stealing what might have been a Mario Manningham (2-16) touchdown. On the other hand, Manningham had multiple opportunities of his own but consistently failed to come down in bounds. Don’t look now but the Eagles’ answer to their short-yardage woes might just be Michael Vick. Again this week Philly used the Wildcat at the stripe, and again this week Vick produced a rushing score. He also completed one of two passes and was the primary receiver on another gadget play but the Giants had him covered. If you’re stuck for a quarterback down the stretch, you could pin your hopes to a rushing score from Vick; after all, it’s not as if Weaver or McCoy are wowing anyone.

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