Wow, what a week 15! The playoff picture got clearer, the team that hadn’t lost did, the team that hadn’t won did, and all Tebowmaniacs got a little bit of a wake-up call. For those in the fantasy playoffs weeks like this can be frustrating since players you’ve relied on to get you this far all the sudden lay an egg (yes Aaron Rodgers, we’re looking at you) while others dominate and carry you into the championship (Drew Brees for example.) To give you the full rundown let’s go game-by-game through all the action and give you players who were clutch and some that were not so much then at the end we’ll have our emergency adds and the latest from the injury ward…. Enough intro let’s get to the games:
New England 41, Denver 23
Clutch: Tom Brady-In a game where there were plenty of points to go around, Brady didn’t let down his owners as he threw for 320 yards and 2 TDs while running for another. He and Drew Brees are big-name QBs bringin’ their big-game in the fantasy playoffs…Aaron Hernandez-Hernandez caught 9 passes for 109 yards and a TD while adding 16 yards on a rush as well. He was the beneficiary of the extra attention that the Broncos paid to Rob Gronkowski. He had his breakout on the perfect week if you were still alive and started him…Tim Tebow-Although Tebow-mania did take a small step backwards, his overall numbers were still good and he did help your fantasy team. He finished with 93 yards rushing and 2 TDs to go with his 194 yards passing. He remains a QB1 if you’re in the finals…Demaryius Thomas-joins a long list of receivers that have enjoyed great games against the Pats secondary. Thomas was targeted a very nice 13 times and caught 7 passes for 116 yards.
Not so much: Willis McGahee-left with an injury (see below) and finished with only 70 yards…Rob Gronkowski-picked a bad week to have a bad week as he could only pull in 4 passes for 43 yards. He’s still an awesome option moving forward but the Broncos focused on not letting him beat them all day long…Wes Welker-Champ Bailey and the rest of the Broncos secondary did a great job limiting Welker to 41 yards on 4 catches. Welker is still one of the elite receivers going forward and should be in your lineup no question going forward…Eric Decker-He was only thrown to 2 times and caught 1 for 22 yards. Decker is not Welker and is completely off the fantasy radar headed into the last few weeks of the season.
Miami 30, Bufallo 23
Clutch: Reggie Bush-Bush exploded for 203 yards and a TD on the ground highlighted by a 76 yard TD run to ice the game. He’s become the go-to-guy in the Dolphins offense. Depending on who the coach is and his health he’ll be a solid RB2 with some upside next year. If he carried you to the finals, he’s got a great matchup next week against a Pats run defense that had no answer for the Broncos yesterday…CJ Spiller-Spiller ran for 91 yards and a score and caught 9 catches for 76 yards and another score as he did his best Fred Jackson impersonation. Spiller will be a breakout candidate next year if his development continues.
Not so much: Ryan Fitzpatrick-Fitz threw 3 picks that took away from his 2 TD, 316 yard day and continued to struggle, but Buffalo remains committed to him as their franchise qB going forward. He showed a lot of promise at the beginning of the year, but has regressed as the season has gone on…
Seattle 38, Chicago 14
Clutch: Marshawn Lynch-Only had 42 yards on the ground but 2 more TD’s make his owners happy against a tough matchup. It doesn’t get any easier next week against the 49ers… Seattle’s Defense: looked great again today causing 5 Turnovers and getting 4 sacks. They’re definitely one to watch for next year…Kahlil Bell-the only bright spot in the Bears offense, Bell ran for 65 yards and gained another 43 on his 5 catches and scored the Bears only TD. He might be more useful this year (Packers, Vikings) then next year with Matt Forte returning, but a clutch performance today…Golden Tate-Tate’s a sleeper pick I’ve been on for the past few weeks. Today he led the ‘Hawks in targets (7) and had 4 catches for 61 yards. He’s got the goods to be a very good NFL receiver. I’ll remind you of him next year since he’s definitely a breakout candidate.
Not so much: Caleb Hanie-The Hanie Project is officially a waste. He’s 0-4 as the starter and Coach Love Smith wouldn’t commit to him for next week. Today’s autopsy: 10/23, 111 yards, 1 TD, but 3 INT… Marion Barber-Barber ran 11 times but could only generate 33 yards.
Carolina 28, Houston 13
Clutch: Arian Foster-Foster again reminded everyone why he was a popular choice for #1 overall as he ran for 109 and a TD while catching 5 passes for 58 yards. He’s an elite option especially in this run-heavy of a scheme…Cam Newton-If you road the Cam-train to the playoffs, he didn’t let you down as he threw for 149 yards and 2 TDs while rushing for another 55. It wasn’t huge but a solid game in a good win for the rookie…Steve Smith-A pleasant surprise this year has been the reemergence of Smith who today caught 5 passes and took them for 82 yards and 1 TD. Not a huge day, but serviceable…
Not so much: T. J. Yates-Speaking of serviceable, that’s all the Texans ask of Yates, but today he wasn’t as he completed 19 of 30 passes for 212 yards but had 2 killer INT’s and no TDs. Yates will need to be better than this if they’re going to make a run in the playoffs… Owen Daniels-Playing in what should have been a great matchup he only grabbed 2 catches for 29 yards. Yates ineffectiveness hurt his value… Jonathan Stewart-In the time-share that is the Panthers backfield it wasn’t his turn to have the good game as he only managed 43 yards on 11 carries and 8 yards on 2 catches (no TDs).
Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 13
Clutch: Donald Brown-He’s the winner of the Colts backfield mish-mash this year as he ran for 161 yards with 80 of those yards coming on a long TD run and had a career day leading the Colts to their first victory in 50 weeks…Dan Orlovsky-The guy was in danger of closing out 2 0-16 seasons but stepped up today and threw for 82 yards and a TD, but no turnovers and he won…Jared Cook-Cook has been a disappointment this year but showed why the Titans like his upside with his first 100 yard receiving game (103) on 9 catches. He did lose an important fumble though.
Not so much: Matt Hasselbeck-Hasselebeck was lifted for Locker at the end of the game because he couldn’t get the offense going. He did have 223 yards, but with that came 2 killer INT’s…Chris Johnson-returned to his “invisible man” persona as he only coudl get 55 yards on his 15 carries. In PPR leagues, he saved his day with 8 catches for 54 yards, but CJ’s up an down year was definitely down today.
Kansas City 19, Green Bay 14
Clutch: Chief Defense-The Chiefs stopped the previously unstoppable and although they didn’t have a great fantasy day (O TO, 4 sacks), they were clutch when it counted and knocked the Packers from the ranks of the unbeaten. Go ahead and celebrate all you ’72 Dolphins…
Not so much: Aaron Rodgers-In fantasy terms he didn’t have a horrible day, but he had individually carried teams, and failed to do that today. He did get 235 yards and a TD as well as adding a TD rushing for 32 yards, but was unable to generate the kind of offense that the Pack has all year. Most of the struggle can be attributed to Greg Jennings and James Starks being out and playing a tough defense on the road, but Rodgers owners can’t take much comfort in that if they’re out of the playoffs now…Jordy Nelson-Nelson caught 2 passes for 29 yards. For a guy who carried teams earlier in the year, one word: ouch.
New Orleans 42, Minnesota 20
Clutch: Drew Brees-Made himself right at home by throwing it all around the dome up North in Viking-land for a grand total of 412 yards and 5 TDs. He is functioning at an incredibly high level and next week’s home game against the Falcons will be a great one… Lance Moore-Moore caught 5 passes for 91 yards and 2 of Brees’s TDs. He’s a WR3 since the wealth gets spread so much by the Saints, but he was clutch today..Darren Sproles-continues to contribute in every facet of the game as he ran for 33 yards on 8 carries and caught 5 passes for 79 yards and a TD. He’s unconventional and can be inconsistent, but Sproles did well for you if you had him this week…Toby Gerhart-Gerhart only got 2 carries but did go for 12 yards. He made his impact today by hauling in all 4 passes thrown his way and taking 2 of them to the house while amassing 46 yards.
Not so much: Adrian Peterson- It was great to have Peterson back on the field to be sure, but he was only able to carry the ball 10 times (and get 60 yards) as he works his way back. He was just limited due to his recent injury, and you can expect a larger roll next week against the Redskins… Percy Harvin-Harvin disappeared in this one and was only able to catch 3 passes for 8 yards. It was Ponder’s inefficiency and some good New Orleans defense that shut him down today. He’ll bounce back…Christian Ponder-Ponder only completed 14 of his 31 passes for 120 yards, 2 TDs and an INT. He also rushed for 34 yards. His overall stat line wasn’t that bad, but his play has declined sharply since his hot start and he isn’t a startable QB2 for the rest of the season. The Vikes probably will start the year next year with him as a starter and hopefully he can progress over the offseason. He has potential but he’s not reaching it yet.
Washington 23, New York Giants 10
Clutch: Ahmad Bradshaw-he was about the only fantasy player in this game to turn in a decent day as he ran for 58 yards and a TD and 3 catches for 21 more yards. He’s over his benching last week but is still in a time share and gets the Jets defense next week. He’s a good flex-play but a bit of a stretch for an RB2 in your championship.
Not so much: Eli Manning-Where to start? Manning threw for 257 yards but had no TDs and 3 INT’s. He’s got a difficult matchup against the Jets next week making him only a low end QB1 for next week…Hakeem Nicks: Nicks did pull in 5 passes for 73 yards but had a wide open TD pass bounce off his facemask and then had another one called back for a penalty. He didn’t kill you in fantasy leagues but he sure left a lot more points out there. He still led the team in targets (12) and even against Darrelle Revis he’s a WR1…Roy Helu-only had 53 yards on 23 carries and 3 catches for 16 more yards. It wasn’t for lack of touches, but Helu couldn’t make it happen today… Rex Grossman-did enough for the Redsking to win but his 185 yards passing 1 TD and 2 INTs probably weren’t enough for you to win in fantasy land…
Cincinnati 20, St. Louis 13
Clutch: A. J. Green-the rookie receiver has been as good as advertised and continues to be fellow-rookie Andy Dalton’s #1 option. Today he pulled in 6 of his 9 targets for 115 yards. That’s the good news; the bad news is in the injury ward at the end of this article…Steven Jackson-his up and down season was mostly up again today as he ran for 71 yards and caught 9 passes (PPR gold) for 72 yards. He couldn’t find the end zone but is the only good part of the Rams offense.
Not so much: Cedric Benson-had a gift of a matchup but could only deliver 76 yards and a TD with a catch for 11 yards. He wasn’t horrible, but if you thought he was going to go off against the Rams sorry run D, he let you down…Andy Dalton-Dalton throw for 179, 0 TDs, and 1 INT. He struggled under constant pressure today but still did enough for the Bengals. If you had him, he probably didn’t do enough for you… Brandon Lloyd-Is anyone staring any Rams still? Lloyd caught 5 passes for 42 yards, and except for S-Jax stay away from the Ponies…
Arizona 20, Cleveland 17
Clutch: Peyton Hillis-If you had a good vibe on Peyton and the guts to throw hit out there, Kudos to you. (Also, you can have his 108 all purpose yards and a TD). This was by far his best game and it seems he’s healthy. He’s someone to pay attention to this offseason to see where he’ll be playing and what his value will be as he looks to bounce back from a rough 2011…John Skelton-Skelton threw for 313 yards a TD and an INT and let the Cards back from a 17-7 deficit to win 20-17. Skelton has shown he deserves a chance to start somewhere if Arizona sticks with Kevin Kolb… Greg Little-see below for a full breakdown but a nice 131 yardsa on 5 catches and a TD.
Not so much: Larry Fitzgerald-didn’t have a huge game catching only 3 passes for 65 yards but did catch the pass that set up the game-winning FG, but in fantasy games you don’t get points for that… Beanie Wells-Wells was apparently set up for a huge game but only got 51 yards and a TD on the ground adding a catch for 10 yards. Double digit points in most scoring systems, but not enough to take you to the finals most likely…
Philadelphia 45, New York Jets 19
Clutch: LeSean McCoy-He tore up the Jets run defense which had been solid in previous games as he took his 18 carries for 102 yards and 3 TDs. He’s definitely in the running for the #1 overall pick next year after a steller season…Michael Vick-Vick had a nice game as he led the Eagles to a huge win that keeps their slim playoff hopes alive. He threw for 274 yards, a TD, and an INT while running for an extra 32 and a TD. This is the kind of game that made him a #1 overall option at the beginning of the year. His owners are just sad these games have been few and far between… Brent Celek- Celek came out of nowhere to have 5 catches for 156 yards and a TD. He’s on the starting TE radar next week against the Cowboys…
Not so much: DeSean Jackson-D-Jax was shadowed by Darrelle Revis but could only get 3 catches for 57 yards. Like the rest of his season, it was a disappointing showing from Jackson…Mark Sanchez-Sanchez struggled today and appeared to hold the ball to long. He ended up with 150 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs. He’s not a good QB1 option headed into next week’s game agains the Giants to be sure… Shonn Greene-Greene rushed for 73 yards and had 1 catch for 0 yards against an Eagles D that had been getting torn up. Greene is an RB2 heading forward but not much more than that…
Detroit 28, Oakland 27
Clutch: Calvin Johnson-Megatron demolished Oakland yesterday with 9 catches, 214 yards and 2 TDs including the game-winner. He disappeared in the middle of the season but is a definite WR1 heading into next year…Matthew Stafford-Stafford continued his breakout campaign by throwing for 391 yards and 4 TDs. It did take him 52 attempts to get it done, but the big numbers are what fantasy owners look for in a #1 QB…Darius Heyward-Bey: DHB tore up the Lions for 155 yards on 8 catches and a TD, as well as a fumble. He’s the #1 receiver right now for Oakland and as long as he stays healthy he’s a WR2…
Not so much: Kevin Smith-Smith got limited touches (15 carries) and could only get 43 yards against the Raiders D. He didn’t re-injure himself, but lower your expectations until he can practice more during the week. Other than Smith almost everyone has pretty solid numbers in this entertaining shootout.
San Diego 34, Baltimore 14
Clutch: Ryan Mathews-Mathews ran for 90 yards and added 19 more receiving while scoring 2 TDs to lead the Chargers over the Ravens. Even the vaunted Ravens D couldn’t slow down Mathews today, he’s a sure-fire RB1 when the Bolts offense is rolling like it is now and should be played with confidence against the Lions next week…Philip Rivers-Rivers was on his game as well as he threw for 270 yards and 1 TD without turning the ball over. Rivers owners would’ve love more TDs but those should come next week agains the Lions.
Not so much: Antonio Gates-wasn’t the focus of the Chargers gameplan as they stretched the field deep against the Ravens corners. Gates only managed 2 catches for 31 yards… Anquan Boldin-Boldin could only catch 2 passes for 51 yards today as Torrey Smith and Ray Rice were the main focuses of the Ravens passing game.
Willis McGahee-Broncos-RB: left with a “leg injury” although he did return later. He’s got a sweet matchup against the Bills so if you own him follow to see if he’ll be in or out for next week.
Johnny Know-Bears-WR: Knox’s injury was straight-up grisly as he got bent in half. He’ll have surgery tomorrow to stabilize his vertebrae. He’s out for the year, but his long-term prognosis is good.
Jake Ballard-Giants-TE: Sprained his knee and will undergo testing Monday to see the extent of the damage.
Dolone Carter-Colts-RB: Left with a forearm injury and did not return.
Stevie Johnson-Bills-WR: left late with a aggravation of a minor groin strain and is expected to be able to play through it nex week.
Mike Williams-WR: fractured his ankle and he’s out for the season
Kyle Orton-Chiefs-QB: In his first game back all he did was throw for 299 yards and beat a previously undefeated Packers team. There were no TD’s for him in this one, but he gets Oakland next week before returning to Denver for the finale. He’ll close out decently and is worth a look at a QB2.
Andre Roberts-Cardinals-WR: Roberts led the Cards with 10 targets and converted 6 for 60 yards and a TD. Roberts is becoming a larger and larger part of the Cardinals offense and complements Fitzgerald very well.
Kahlil Bell-Bears-RB: Bell broke out today for 108 all purpose yards while leading the Bears in receiveing, rushing, and TDs (he scored their only one). If you’re in a 2-week final and desperate for a RB or flex, his matchups (Packers, Vikings) make him an intriguing option. His long-term outlook of course is blocked by Matt Forte, but short term he’s an interesting guy to know.
Greg Little-Browns-WR:It was one of the most unlikely of heroes for the Browns yesterday, Greg Little caught 5 for 131 and a TD while being targeted a team high 9 targets. If Seneca Wallace plays again, he could be in for another big game next week against Baltimore
Brent Celek-Eagles-TE: As the Eagles head to Texas, Celek will try to follow up his huge game today with another nice now. He’s the first TE pickup option that might be available on Waiver Wire.
Todd Heap-Cardinals-TE: Old-friend Todd Heap hadn’t had a catch in 3 weeks and isn’t a good option going forward, but if you’re situation is an emergency and you’ve got only the players on the waiver wire his 7 catches for 69 yards shows enough upside to make him best available in most leagues.
Lavelle Hawkins-Titans-WR: Hawkins had 8 catchs for 88 yards and gets the Jags next week. Especially if Jake Locker starts, he’ll make an intriguing option at WR3 or flex. He’s high-risk high-reward, but if you’re desperate that’s all you can ask for sometimes.