This was a rough week in fantasy. A list of some of the guys who flopped this week: Gronk, Devonta (injury), Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, T.Y. Hilton, Chris Ivory, everyone on the Chargers, Lamar Miller (it’s not his fault!), and Charcanderick West (injury). The scores were probably lower in most leagues this week, so let’s see what went wrong.
Jaguars 19, Titans 13
An underwhelming game all around. The Jaguars have been a remarkably consistent fantasy situation this season, but as is often the case, the Thursday night game was sloppy. Blake Bortles had his second straight subpar game, throwing for 242 yards and a touchdown, along with two turnovers. His rest of season schedule is promising enough that he should remain locked in your starting lineup. The Allen Bros – aren’t they great? – curiously saw few targets in the first half. Allen Robinson had 113 yards, but his counterpart Allen Hurns, perhaps limited by his abdomen injury, was held to his worst game of the season with three catches for 19 yards. Hurns only received four targets, which is tied for the least he has gotten all year. The lone score went to Julius Thomas, who could see an uptick in red zone usage, if Hurns’ time on the field is more limited as he plays through injury. Out of the backfield, T.J. Yeldon had 82 total yards. He is nothing if not consistent, and he is reliable to get about 20 touches every game.
Considering the Titans put up a mere 13 points, it’s surprising that there were three usable fantasy performances. Marcus Mariota rushed for a TD and threw for 231 yards. Good for 18 fantasy points. His main target…. Actually his only target, Delanie Walker, had his highest yardage of the year with 109 yards. Because of how weak Tennessee’s receivers are, Walker is one of the more reliable tight ends in fantasy. He is not in the Gronk, Eifert, Olsen, Barnidge tier, but he may be the next best. Yes, better than Kelce. Maybe not more talented than Kelce, but Walker is more consistent. He has seven games over 50 yards this year, and Kelce has just five. The last real contributor to the Titans’ bumbling offense is rookie running back Antonio Andrews, whose high usage keeps him flex-able most weeks.
Colts 24, Falcons 21
After beginning the game with four possessions consisting of an interception, fumble, and two punts, the Colts were able to get on track offensively, despite Tim Hasselbeck starting in Andrew Luck’s absence. Hasselbeck threw for 213 yards and two TDs, both of which went to Ahmad Bradshaw, who finished with 52 total yards, as Frank Gore suffered a quad contusion. Gore sustained the injury in the first quarter, but returned to the game later, so the extent of the injury is unclear. He had 34 yards and a fumble. T.Y. Hilton, whose Twitter suggests he’s not satisfied with his role (he retweeted this), had a measly two catches for 21 yards. With Luck hurt, Hilton’s production plummets. Unless you’re loaded at wide receiver, he’ll probably remain in your starting lineup, but expectations should be tempered. And the same goes for Donte Moncrief, who had 41 yards and whose play has tapered off in the past month.
The one player who gets a boost with Hasselbeck throwing ball is Colby Fleener. He only caught for 45 yards, but he sees more targets with Hasselbeck. For Fleener, it’s worth noting he caught the game-sealing interception off a Matt Ryan Hail Mary, though he didn’t receive credit on ESPN.
At this point, we know better than to feel let down by Matt Ryan. Ryan threw three interceptions – the last one on a Hail Mary – along with, for the first time all year, three TDs. Just for perspective, Ryan now has 15 TDs and 10 INTs. That’s the same ratio that Kirk Cousins has. But the main takeaway is not Ryan’s mediocrity. It is superstar RB Devonta Freeman leaving the game in the first quarter with a concussion. Filling for him, rookie Tevin Coleman continued his fumbling ways, putting a minus two cherry on top off an already mediocre 17 carry 48 yard performance. He is still a valuable handcuff to own, if he is sitting on your waiver wire. Despite not finding the end zone, Julio Jones had 160 yards, now having topped 100 yards in three consecutive games. No owner wants to see a player get hurt, especially a player of Freeman’s stature, but his (potential) absence would undoubtedly mean more happy dances for Jones owners. Jones is on pace to finish just shy of the single season receiving record.
Ravens 16, Rams 13
The radioactive situation in Baltimore got even bleaker on Sunday. Justin Forsett broke his arm near the beginning of the game and Joe Flacco tore his ACL near the end of the game. If you can still name the remaining players in this offense, you’re better than most owners. Javorius “Buck” Allen is running back in Baltimore for the rest of the year, and he had an inefficient 67 yards off 22 carries, though he did catch for 48 yards as well. Still worth an add in all leagues at this point in the season. Kamar Aiken, now the top Ravens wideout, scored a touchdown and totaled 50 yards, while tight end Crockett Gilmore led the way with 101 yards. Wait, how’d the Ravens win this game again?
Well, because the Rams have one of the most inept offenses in the NFL. With the benching of Nick Foles, Case Keenum got the start and was absolutely average. He completed 12 passes and threw for 136 yards, while adding a touchdown and the concussion of the week. Scarier than the concussion was the fact that Keenum stayed in the game, only to fumble on the next play, allowing the Ravens to get into field goal range and win the game.
The Rams’ offense is bad enough that teams can just stack the box against Todd Gurley, without having to worry about anyone else beating them. Gurley lost his first fumble of the season on Sunday, and in the past three weeks, has failed to eclipse four yards per carry. It is no reason to panic on Gurley, but three of his last five games are against tough defenses and the offense around him is crumbling. Though at this point, any suggestion to temper your expectations for Gurley is met with outright denial. The last fantasy option in St. Louis, Tavon Austin, had 5 receiving yards against Baltimore’s defense that came into the game conceding the most points to fantasy WRs. That’s 25 total receiving yards in his last three games.
Panthers 44, Redskins 16
With the way Cam Newton is playing, Ron Rivera is going to be doing a lot more dabbing. And so will those who have Cam in fantasy. After his 5 TD outburst against the Redskins, Cam is going to be the #2 QB behind Tom Brady. Jonathan Stewart is enjoying insanely high usage this season, and there are only a handful of RBs more dependable down the home stretch. Greg Olsen was on the receiving end of one of Cam’s 5 TDs on Sunday. That gives Olsen, who finished with 54 yards, 4 touchdowns in his last six games. One interesting development for much deeper leagues is rookie Devin Funchess, who is averaging nearly 59 yards in his last three games and has scored twice in that time frame.
What a difference playing against the Saints is from playing the Panthers. Against the Saints, Kirk Cousins had a perfect passer rating. Against the Panthers, Cousins reverted back to his usual form with three turnovers accompanying 207 yards and a TD. Finally healthy and always a boom or bust player, DeSean Jackson had 87 yards and a TD, with the score coming off a 56 yard bomb in the opening quarter. One of this year’s top tight ends, Jordan Reed sprained his MCL on Sunday. Though he returned to the game, any injury is alarming with Reed, whose young career has been plagued by injuries. Reed finished with 46 yards and a fumble. The run game was nonexistent, as no one ran for more than 10 yards and Matt Jones had yet another fumble.
Broncos 17, Bears 15
There was nothing spectacular about Brock Osweiler’s debut, but he was efficient and he ran the offense better than Peyton Manning has this season. Osweiler was 20 for 27 with 250 yards and 2 TDs. The first score was a 48 yard pass to Demaryius Thomas, who did almost all of the work, running for 35 or 40 of the yards on the play. It was Thomas’ second touchdown of the season, and you would expect him to continue to regress over the second half of the season, scoring more than he did in the first eight games. Both tight ends, Owen Daniels and Vernon Davis, led the way for the Broncos, catching for 69 and 68 yards respectively. Though it was Cody Latimer, filling in for an injured Emmanuel Sanders, who reeled in the second touchdown for the Broncos, which came in the fourth quarter and proved to be the game-deciding points.
Ronnie Hillman seems to firmly have the upper hand in Denver’s backfield, as he out-touched C.J. Anderson 21 to 12. Hillman had a chance to score from two yards out, but he tripped over Osweiler’s foot on the handoff. Hillman still managed 102 yards, while Anderson added 59.
Without Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery, the short-handed Bears struggled. They relied heavily on Marquess Wilson, who tallied 102 yards, while the last two week’s sensation Jeremy Langford floundered. Langford had 42 total yards and a touchdown. Kadeem Carey out-rushed Langford, as Carey finished with 32 yards, despite leaving the game early with a concussion. With the offense in flux, it was no wonder that Jay Cutler had his worst start of the season, unable to throw a touchdown for the first time all season.
Lions 18, Raiders 13
This was supposed to be one of the higher scoring games of the day, but neither starting quarterback threw a touchdown. Matt Stafford had a solid outing, nonetheless, because of 30 rushing yards and a rushing TD. For his fourth straight game, Calvin Johnson finished with yardage in the 80s. His lack of scores is frustrating, as is him only having one game over 100 yards, but he sees a high volume of targets and he has a safe floor. He is another player who you would expect to regress and find the end zone more in the last six games. Golden Tate led the Lions in receptions with 8 catches for 73 yards. And PPR monster Theo Riddick had 72 receiving yards. Considering how poor the Raiders are against tight ends, Eric Ebron’s doughnut is an especially poor performance. Continuing a year-long trend, the Lions’ run game was virtually nonexistent. Leading the way on the ground was Ameer Abdullah with 44 yards off of 12 carries. Even though the Lions have struggled all season long, their schedule, especially in the fantasy playoffs is appetizing with matchups against the 49ers and Saints.
The Raiders busted lots of lineups this weekend. Derek Carr failed to throw a TD for the first time since the season opener, and he had his lowest yardage total since week 1 as well, finishing with 13 completions for 169 yards. By extension, both of his top targets struggled. Amari Cooper had his worst game as a pro with a single catch for four yards. Michael Crabtree did better than that – he couldn’t do much worse, after all – but only totaled 50 yards. On the ground, if not for a TD, Latavius Murray would have had a throwaway game as well, with 13 carries for 28 yards. That is Murray’s lowest output of the season. The Raiders have, at times, been among the most productive offenses, but they’ve been inconsistent in the past month.
Texans 24, Jets 17
Filling in for the injured Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates knew exactly what to do: chuck it deep to DeAndre Hopkins. Yates threw for 229 yards, 2 TDs, and no INTs, with both touchdowns and 118 of those yards going to Hopkins. Nuk had his way with Darrelle Revis most of the day, and then Revis left the game towards the end of the third quarter with a concussion. The other touchdown came on a trick play, as Yates threw a screen pass to wide receiver Cecil Shorts, who then threw a diagonal pass across the field to running back Alfred Blue for the score. Other than that, Blue was pedestrian out of the backfield, mustering just 58 yards on 21 carries.To go with the touchdown throw (!!), Shorts also caught for 51 yards, while Nate Washington had his poorest game (while healthy) of the season with 13 yards.
For the past month, the Jets have been trending down. After leading the team in receiving in the team’s first five games, Brandon Marshall’s production has taken a dip, as Eric Decker has led the team in receiving in four of the team’s past five games. Decker has also received more targets than Marshall in four of their last five games. On Sunday, Decker had 81 yards, while Marshall contributed 47 yards and a TD. Chris Ivory was severely out-snapped by Bilal Powell on Sunday, and just once in the last five weeks has Ivory topped 50 rushing yards. Game flow was not in his favor, but he’s fizzling out when it matters most. Lastly, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a subpar day passing the ball, with 216 yards, a TD, and two picks. But a rushing score kept him firmly in the teens, which is standard for him.
Dallas 24, Miami 14
Though far from perfect, Tony Romo’s return rejuvenated the Cowboys, whose offense looked so sluggish without him for the past seven weeks. Romo had 227 yards and a pair of TDs and INTs. Dez Bryant had 45 yards on Sunday, which is the same total he had last week, except this week he found end zone. It was Terrance Williams who led the Cowboys in the air, with 79 yards and a score. Jason Witten only had two catches on the day, but you would expect his production to increase with his and Romo’s chemistry. Darren McFadden saw a monster workload with 29 carries for 129 yards, to go with 20 receiving yards. As long as he is healthy, he is a strong starter. He has a tough remaining schedule, but Romo’s return helps offset the schedule.
Game flow really hurt Lamar Miller on Sunday. The Dolphins ran 23 fewer offensive plays than is the league average, as the Cowboys ate up the clock with Mcfadden. Miller had a ‘Philbin Lamar Miller’ game with 7 carries for 44 yards. Miller was hyper-efficient in his few touches. Jarvis Landry had 4 catches for 66 yards, while Rishard Matthews slogged through his worst game of the year with one measly catch for 15 yards. Continuing the trend of ‘worsts,’ Ryan Tannehill had his worst yardage game of the year with 188 yards to go with 2 touchdowns and an interception.
Buccaneers 45, Eagles 17
Coming into the game, the Eagles were conceding the 6th fewest fantasy points to running backs. Someone forgot to tell Doug Martin that. He gashed the Eagles for 235 yards, though somehow he failed to score, despite all those yards. Doug Martin owners probably had this reaction as they read that last sentence. That makes Martin the league’s second leading rusher through 11 weeks. Even more impressive than Martin’s 200+ day was Jameis Winston throwing 5 touchdowns and having zero turnovers. If you exclude last week’s game, Winston has not thrown a pick since week 4. Winston didn’t torch the Eagles by just throwing to Mike Evans though. Five different players scored! Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson both had four catches and a score, the former with 63 yards and the latter with 56 yards. Charles Sims also added a score to go with 69 total yards.
The Eagles were one of the more disappointing teams on Sunday. Mark Sanchez does what he does best (err, worst?): turn the ball over. He did so three times. He also had 261 yards and two touchdowns, though neither one went to a highly owned fantasy player. For what it’s worth, the TDs went to Darren Sproles and Josh Huff. One player worth considering is Brent Celek, who has a strong connection with Sanchez and had 134 yards last week and 79 yards this week. Jordan Matthews continued his extraordinarily disappointing year. Four catches for 13 yards. Ouch. Meanwhile, DeMarco Murray was somewhat hindered by game flow, only getting 13 rushes, and 91 total yards.
Chiefs 33, Chargers 3
Raise your hand if you saw this score coming. OK, now raise your hand if you thought the Chiefs could score 33 points with zero touchdowns from Charcanderick West, Jeremy Maclin, and Travis Kelce. Because that’s exactly what happened. West busted a 47 yard reception, but would leave the game with a hamstring injury, opening the door for Spencer Ware to come in. Ware exploded for 96 yards and two TDs off only 11 carries. No one else did anything of consequence offensively for the Chiefs. Maclin 29 yards, Kelce had 46, and Alex Smith was touchdown-less. Though Chiefs finished with 19 points. In the Chiefs’ last 5 games, here is their defense’s point total: 10, 7, 11, 15, 20, and 19. And their schedule is soft from here on out. If they’re somehow available on your wire, they’re a great stash for the playoffs.
The Chargers were the most disappointing team on Sunday. Yes, I know, their offense is decimated by injury. But Rivers and Woodhead had still put up solid numbers through it all. That was, until Sunday. Philip Rivers had 178 yards and a pick and Danny Woodhead, usually immune to game flow, had 15 total yards. To round out the offense, Melvin Gordon had 37 yards, Stevie Johnson had 54, and Antonio Gates only had one catch. Not a single player on the Chargers gave a solid fantasy start.
Packers 30, Vikings 13
The Vikings have one of the tougher defenses in the league, but the Packers had a well-rounded, balanced attack for one of the first times all year. Eddie Lacy, yes, you heard right, eclipsed 100 yards for the first time all year, while James Starks only had 8 carries. This is a major development. For anyone who was patient with Lacy through all the fat jokes, fumbles, and unusable fantasy games, there may finally be light at the end of the tunnel. James Jones topped 100 yards for the first time in two months, in addition to scoring a touchdown. The rest of the Packers offense is struggling though. Aaron Rodgers still accumulated 19 fantasy points, but we are used to seeing him throw for more than 212 yards. Randall Cobb has been over 60 yards once in the last seven games, and if not for a TD on Sunday, he would’ve been a horrible start. He added just 24 yards. And popular breakout candidate Davante Adams, after getting 11 and 21 targets in the last two games, only received four.
In his worst game since the opener, Adrian Peterson rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown, while Teddy Bridgewater had his second best passing day of the season. Bridgewater, who completed 25 of 37 passes for 296 yards (he also ran for 43 yards) and a touchdown, found tight end Kyle Rudolph on a 47 yard score. Bridgewater’s favorite target Stefon Diggs bounced back from a few off weeks with 6 catches for 66 yards. Diggs’ upside will be limited, as the Vikings pound the ball with AP most of the game.
Seahawks 29, 49ers 13
When Thomas Rawls gets carries, he is a must-start. On Sunday, in Marshawn Lynch’s absence, as Lynch supposedly has a sports hernia, Rawls exploded for 255 total yards and 2 TDs. Russell Wilson had his best game of the season, throwing 3 TDs for the first time all year, and finishing with 260 passing yards, which is his second highest total of the season. He also added 30 rushing yards. However, as we should know by now, just because Wilson plays well doesn’t mean Jimmy Graham does too. Graham was mostly invisible and had a few catches for 39 yards. But it was the rookie Tyler Lockett who did the most damage out of the air, scoring twice to go with 48 yards.
The 49ers are a total mess and ideally, you own none of their players. Blaine Gabbert surprisingly had no turnovers against the Seahawks, throwing for 264 yards and a TD. The only other player worth glossing over is Anquan Boldin, who returned to the lineup and led the team in receiving with 93 yards.
Cardinals 34, Bengals 31
There may not be a quarterback you’d rather have for the rest of the year than Carson Palmer, who despite a couple of interceptions, was masterful with 317 yards and 4 touchdowns. Much of that went to J.J. Nelson, who tripled his season output with 142 yards a score, as Michael Floyd missed the game due to injury. Somehow, Larry Fitzgerald was not on the receiving end on any of the four touchdowns, but he still contributed 90 yards. John Brown, David Johnson, and Darren Fells rounded out the scoring, though none of them had great yardage, Brown leading the way with 43. Chris Johnson was mediocre, managing 63 yards off 18 carries, while Andre Ellington continues to be MIA.
For all of the “Primetime Andy” talk about how Andy Dalton shuts down in primetime games, Dalton didn’t put up a stinker on Sunday night. He threw for 315 yards and tossed two touchdowns to tight end Tyler Eifert, who now leads the league in touchdowns. A.J. Green continues his disappointing year, only really having two great fantasy games this season. He had 79 yards, as Gio Bernard led the Bengals in receiving with 79 yards. Meanwhile, Jeremy Hill had 13 carries for 45 yards and two touchdowns. He’s essentially LeGarrette Blount right now, and there is nothing wrong with that if you are looking for a second starting running back.
Patriots 20, Bills 13
On Monday night, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense looked surprising mortal, as Brady failed to throw for at least 2 touchdowns for the first time all year. His lone TD went to James White on a route out of the backfield. By extension, Rob Gronkowski also had his worst game of the year and only caught two balls for 37 yards. The Pats’ offensive line struggled and they never got the run game going, as LeGarrette Blount had 16 carries for 56 yards. It was Danny Amendola leading the way in the air with nine catches for 117 yards, but he left the game with a knee injury. That should mean even more opportunities for Brandon Lafell, who had four catches for 66 yards.
In four straight games now, LeSean McCoy has finished with over 100 total yards. On Monday night, he had 123 total yards and a touchdown – the only touchdown of the day for the Bills. Everyone else on the offense struggled. Chris Hogan, believe it or not, was the leading receiver with 95 yards. That means Sammy Watkins and Charles Clay struggled. Clay is a TE2 at this point and Watkins is one of the less reliable receivers in fantasy.