Week 12 is always one of the funnest weeks in the fantasy calendar. The week’s slate begins on Thanksgiving, which is one of the best football days of the year, and it is the second to last week of the regular season (for most leagues), so some games end up being de-facto playoff games.
Lions 45, Eagles 14
The highest scoring game of Turkey Day featured season-best games from Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, and the entire Lions offense as a whole. Stafford tossed 5 touchdowns, three of which went to Megatron, along with 337 yards. It was a creampuff matchup for Calvin against the Eagles, who came into the game conceding the second most fantasy points to wide receivers. Also, Calvin came into the game with the most receiving touchdowns on Thanksgiving in league history (of course, the Lions play on Thanksgiving every year). The other two scores went to reception magnets Golden Tate and Theo Riddick, who had 7 catches for 50 yards and 5 catches for 62 yards respectively. Rookie running back Ameer Abdullah had a career game, finishing with 16 carries for 63 yards, both career highs. Also out of the backfield, Joique Bell had 82 total yards and a score late in the game.
It was a brutal day all around for the Eagles. There was no bright spot in the game that those who want Chip Kelly gone will point to at the end of the season. Mark Sanchez threw for a yard short of 200 with 2 touchdowns and a fumble. Brent Celek and Jordan Matthews were the recipients of those touchdowns, with Matthews finding the end zone with three minutes to play, as the Eagles trailed 45-7. DeMarco Murray had one of his weakest games of the year, as game flow prevented the Eagles from running the ball much. Murray had 14 carries for 30 yards and no receiving yards.
Panthers 33, Cowboys 14
One of the best defenses all season long, the Panthers’ defense was the star here, with two pick 6s off of Tony Romo. Luke Kuechley had two interceptions, one of which he brought back for six. The Panthers’ offense only had to manage the lead created by its defense, so no one on Carolina’s offense shined. Cam Newton scored the team’s only offensive touchdown of the game off a rush inside in the red zone. Newton threw for 183 yards as well, 70 of which went to Greg Olsen and 73 to Jerricho Cotchery. Running back Jonathan Stewart had another heavy workload with 21 carries – the seventh straight game with at least 20 carries – though he only registered 68 rushing yards.
It was a brutal day for the Cowboys, whose opening drive resulted in a pick 6 and never really recovered. Tony Romo, in his second game back from a broken collarbone, had 11 completions to his own team and three to the other team. Romo’s miserable day resulted in 106 yards and three picks. Shadowed by Josh Norman, Dez Bryant predictably struggled, finishing with two catches for 26 yards. Meanwhile, Darren McFadden had fewer touches than usual with the game out of hand so quickly, so he only had 56 total yards.
Bears 17, Packers 13
The Bears shocked the Packers in the Thanksgiving nightcap, as the Packers continue their free fall, now having lost their last two games at Lambeau. The touchdowns came from Zach Miller and Jeremy Langford, who are making their trips to the end zone a habit. Miller has four touchdowns in his last four games, and Langford has scored in four consecutive games. In his return, Matt Forte out-touched Langford, receiving 15 rushes to Langford’s 12, but Forte wasn’t very effective with a yards per carry right around three. Alshon Jeffery had 90 of Jay Cutler’s 200 yards on the night. Jeffery is one of the best receivers in fantasy when he suits up.
The Packers’ offense has been a disappointment all year long. The only bright side was that Eddie Lacy had his second straight good game. Lacy had 82 total yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. Though he fumbled, Lacy looked better than he has all year, and he surpassed 100 yards for the second straight game, with 105 rushing yards and 34 rushing yards. It looks like he’s back to last year’s form, and he needs to be locked in your starting lineup for the rest of the year. Running back counterpart James Starks added 80 total yards.
The passing game was a massive disappointment, as it has been all year. Aaron Rodgers threw for 202 yards, a TD, and an INT. Target hog Davante Adams did his thing… you know, 10 targets, 2 catches, and 14 yards! At this point, it’s pretty clear Adams isn’t a good player and is largely responsible for Rodgers’ struggles. Randall Cobb had one of his best games of the season, though that only entails 74 yards on the night. And I’d be remiss to mention James Jones gave owners a doughnut on Thanksgiving. He is a boom or bust option.
Vikings 20, Falcons 10
There’s no running back you’d rather have right now than Adrian Peterson, who has now topped 100 yards in four of his past five games and has five TDs in his past four. He has more 100 yard games than any other running back this year. On Sunday, Peterson had 29 carries for 158 yards and 2 TDs. It was a struggle offensively though, so the rest of Minnesota’s offense floundered. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 174 yards and a pick, as no receiver caught for more than 50 yards. Rookie sensation Stefon Diggs has come back to Earth in the past month, only exceeding 50 yards once in that span. At this stage, he’s nowhere near a must-start, despite being the top target in the passing game. The Vikings have a clear identity of ground, pound, and stout defense.
You’re not still starting Matt Ryan, are you? Come on, it’s 2015! You don’t need to be starting someone who consistently folds in the red zone and is good for a few turnovers every week! Ryan had 230 yards, one TD, and two INTs. That’s good for his third single point fantasy outing this season. He’s an average fantasy backup right now. This was the sixth time this season that Ryan threw for either zero or one touchdowns. If you’re playing Ryan, either people are hoarding QBs in your league and you’re stuck, or you’re just being lazy. By extension of Ryan’s struggles, Julio Jones turned in his second worst performance of the season, finishing with 56 yards, though the Vikings are a tough matchup. Tevin Coleman, who got the start due to Devonta Freeman’s concussion, ran for 110 yards off 18 carries, but continued his fumbling ways. He lost his third fumble of the year. He also had a touchdown rescinded because of a team penalty. Through the first few minutes of the second quarter, the Falcons had only run one offensive play: a Tevin Coleman fumble.
Bengals 31, Rams 7
Much like Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green’s touchdown regression is well under way. Green had his second multi-TD game of the season, though his yardage continues to disappoint, as he finished with 61 yards and two touchdowns. There may be nothing more inevitable in football than Tyler Eifert scoring. Eifert continued his crazy scoring pace, notching his league-leading 12th touchdown, along with 40 yards. Eifert left the game with a stinger, but it’s unlikely to keep him off the field. For the fifth time this season, Andy Dalton tossed three touchdowns in a game, and he continues to be one of the most reliable quarterbacks in fantasy. Out of the backfield, Jeremy Hill continues to a solid share of touches, but he’s one of the more touchdown-dependent backs. His counterpart Gio Bernard had a miserable 10 carries for 16 yards, but he added 51 yards out of the air.
If you’re looking ahead to the playoffs, go ahead and add the Bengals defense, if they’re unowned. Aside from a tough matchup against the Steelers in week 14, they have a generous playoff schedule and have one of the safer floors in fantasy.
The Rams are a dumpster fire on offense. Teams have realized that daring Nick Foles to beat them is a bulletproof plan (See: three Foles interceptions on Sunday). That means stacking the box, and that means tough times for Todd Gurley, who had his worst game as a pro with nine carries for 19 yards. The only Rams touchdown was a handoff to Tavon Austin. Austin is too unreliable to start and he is the quintessential player whose worth depends on whether he breaks a long play or not.
Texans 24, Saints 6
Who would’ve guessed the Texans could drop 24 points on the league’s worst defense and DeAndre Hopkins would only contribute 36 yards? Everyone expected Brian Hoyer to torch the Saints, just like every other QB has this year, and Hoyer was torching the Saints early. He started the game 9/9 for 71 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints are so bad that they actually hurt Hoyer on Sunday. The game was over early in the third quarter after Alfred Blue, who had 16 rushes for 77 yards, ran in a touchdown from eight yards out, giving the Texans a 21-6 lead. Which may not seem like a lead worthy of calling the game over, but let’s remember in three of the Texans’ last four games, they have given up 6 points. For fantasy purposes, they need to be owned. They have racked up double digit points in five of their last six games. And they play the Titans in week 16. If you have the luxury of looking ahead that far, go ahead and stash them now.
For the first time in a decade, the Saints failed to score a touchdown. So, for the second straight week, the Saints have flopped. Only this time, there was not a single player on the Saints who had a solid fantasy outing. Drew Brees had his first single digit fantasy outing of the year. After a couple strong weeks recently, Brandin Cooks had his second lowest yardage output of the year with 35 yards. Willie Snead and Benjamin Watson only added 50 and 53 yards respectively, too. And especially concerning, a workhorse for much of the year, Mark Ingram has been restricted to a single digit carries in the past two weeks, due to game flow. In other words, since the Saints have faced such steep deficits, they’ve had to abandon the run game early.
Colts 25, Buccaneers 12
The Colts are now 4-0 with Matt Hasselbeck as the starter. He posted a workmanlike 315 yard, 2 touchdown game. Both scores went to T.Y. Hilton, who had a multi-TD game for the second time this year. Hilton lacks the consistency of last year, but he is the unquestioned top option in Indy and he has the upside to go off any week. Donte Moncrief also went off, topping 100 yards for the second time this season. Moncrief led the Colts in the air with 114 yards. Hilton and Moncrief were responsible for the brunt of the Colts’ output on Sunday. Heavy-footed Frank Gore struggled to 24 yards off 19 carries, while Ahmad Bradshaw failed to produce anything of note.
Despite only getting 14 carries, Doug Martin continues his renaissance year, as he racked up 97 yards. He also had a TD that was called back due to a penalty. Meanwhile, it was Vincent Jackson, not Mike Evans, who led Bucs receivers on Sunday. Jackson had four catches for the second straight game and tallied 76 yards to Evans’ 56. Evans had one horrendous drop that would have likely resulted in a touchdown. Coming into the game, Jameis Winston had a 107.1 passer rating on the road, but on Sunday he had a passer rating of 74.4, throwing for 245 yards, a TD, and pick.
Chargers 31, Jaguars 25
After bottoming out last week, the Chargers were firing on all cylinders on Sunday. Philip Rivers threw 4 TDs for the first time all year, in addition to exactly 300 yards. Antonio Gates was the recipient of two of those TDs, and with all the injuries the Chargers have sustained offensively, you would think Gates should be the go-to-guy for the rest of the year. Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman led the Chargers in receiving yards, finishing 92 and 65 yards respectively, and a touchdown a piece. Danny Woodhead submitted his second straight weak performance, which is surprising considering how well the Chargers played. He had 47 yards on the day, 39 coming out of the air. Melvin Gordon had his second best rushing game of his career, but that only amounts to 60 yards.
This game followed the ideal Jaguars game script from a fantasy perspective. With the team down, Blake Bortles chucked the rock 49 times, throwing for 329 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT. For the second time this season, the Jaguars were not led in receiving by one of the Allen Bros. Julius Thomas had 116 yards and a touchdown. Allen Robinson also scored a TD, it coming in garbage time late in the game, and totaled 56 yards. The story of the day was Allen Hurns sustaining a brutal concussion, requiring a stretcher. He was released from the hospital, so at least it’s not as bad as it could have been, but it’s a shame to see someone having a breakout season go down like that. T.J. Yeldon was having a productive day, but had fewer touches with the team trailing, and cobbled together 82 total yards.
Chiefs 30, Bills 22
Somehow, despite losing Jamaal Charles (and now, Charcanderick West), the Chiefs keep winning. They’re 6-5… How is this happening?! Spencer Ware, once the Seahawks backup fullback, filled in nicely for West, racking up 114 yards and a score. Re-emerging for his biggest game of the season, Jeremy Maclin put up 160 yards and a TD, now owning three games with more than 140 yards. Speaking of re-emerging, Travis Kelce enjoyed his biggest fantasy day since the season opener with 69 yards and a touchdown.
Also, isn’t it crazy that, for all the mockery directed at Alex Smith, there are only 11 or 12 quarterbacks with more fantasy points than him this year? He’s such a boring player, his arm is ridiculously weak, and he’s one of the most conservative players in the league, but somehow he outscores many quarterbacks. It was just the third multi-TD game from Smith, as he threw for 255 yards and 2 TDs, while also rushing for 35 yards. The Chiefs have the easiest remaining schedule in fantasy: at Oakland, San Diego, at Baltimore, Cleveland. If Smith is on your waiver wire, he’s an underrated add who could give you a 20 point outing in the playoffs.
Good luck knowing when to start Sammy Watkins. Most teams probably don’t have better options than Watkins, so it’s not like you’ll bench him, but he’s one of the more frustrating players in fantasy. Today was a happy day for Watkins owners though. He had 158 yards and 2 TDs… at half. And, for the game. Looks like he was right when he said they needed to feed him the ball more. Tyrod Taylor had his best game of the season, throwing for 291 yards and 3 TDs, while also rushing for 46 yards. LeSean McCoy has five straight games with over 100 total yards. On Sunday, he had 101 total yards and a touchdown. Though, both Taylor and McCoy lost a fumble.
Jets 38, Dolphins 20
Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall had their best games of the season on Sunday. Fitzpatrick threw for 277 yards and for the first time this year, four touchdowns. Marshall had his yardage high of the year with 131 yards, and he had a multi-TD game for the first time this year. Chris Ivory had 87 yards, 31 of which coming off a TD run that was Beast Mode-esque that highlighted his day. Do I have to even bother mentioning that Eric Decker had 62 yards and a TD? Of the 10 games he has played, he has scored 8 touchdowns.
Arguably no one had a bigger discrepancy between real life performance and fantasy performance on Sunday than Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill had a 32.1 QBR, but through an insane volume – he threw the ball 58 times – Tannehill was actually decent in fantasy, with 351 yards, 3 TDs, and a pick. Nearly half of that went to Jarvis Landry, who had his best game of the year, both in receptions and yards, finishing with 13 catches for 165 yards and a score. Rishard Matthews left the game after a tough hit, and DaVante Parker had a garbage time TD with a few seconds left.
But the main story here is: What the hell is going with Lamar Miller? And by that, I mean: What the hell is the Dolphins coaching staff doing? I thought they fired Joe Philbin. Did he hack into their Bose headphones or something? Seriously though, why would Miller ever only get 5 carries? It’s baffling. I thought Dan Campbell was competent the first couple weeks after he took over, but with Miller inexplicably getting fazed out of the offense again, I have no idea what to think, other than it is very frustrating, as a Miller owner. The Dolphins ran 61 pass plays and nine run plays on Sunday. If there is any silver lining, it is that the Dolphins fired offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor on Monday morning.
Raiders 24, Titans 21
Last week was the bad Derek Carr. Sunday was the good one. 330 yards and 3 TDs for Carr, who now has 24 TDs and 6 INTs for the year. Though he failed to reach the end zone, Amari Cooper surpassed 100 yards for the fourth time this season with 115 yards. It was actually Seth Roberts who was the star, receiving for 113 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, Michael Crabtree scored, but only had 19 yards, which is his lowest output of the season. Latavius Murray had his second heaviest workload of the season with 22 carries, but he was only able to turn that into 59 rushing yards. He had 82 total yards on the day.
There are three players worth owning in Tennessee: Marcus Mariota, Antonio Andrews, and Delanie Walker. Mariota and Walker had solid fantasy outings. Mariota tossed three touchdowns, and Walker led the Titans with 91 receiving yards. There are only a couple tight ends more reliable and consistent than Walker, who receives the lion’s share of the Titans’ targets. Andrews had a poor day on the ground with 32 yards.
Redskins 20, Giants 14
This was the game to decide first place of the league’s most pathetic division. Kirk Cousins, in his last five games, has exceeded 300 yards three times. And each of those three times, he finished with more than 22 fantasy points. In the right matchup, Cousins is a quality start. As usual, it was Jordan Reed who received the majority of the targets, and Reed had his highest yardage output of the year with 8 catches for 98 yards. Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson’s return has helped the Skins stretch the field. Jackson scored off a bomb on Sunday and has now scored in consecutive weeks. Also of note: Alfred Morris had his most carries (23) since the season opener when he had 25. Although Morris only rushed for 78 yards.
Just looking at the box score, you’d imagine Eli Manning was horrible. He had 321 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 picks. But two of his picks were not his fault, as the ball hit his receiver’s hands both times, only to pop up in the air and eventually be corralled by the defense. To be clear, Manning was not good. But his receivers did him no favors. Well, except for Odell Beckham Jr., who had the most impressive catch of the day. Beckham had 142 yards, which now gives him four straight games over 100 receiving yards. Rueben Randle was the recipient of the other Giants touchdown, with a 36 yard score.
Cardinals 19, 49ers 13
The Cardinals were the NFL’s most disappointing team on Sunday. Though it was on the road, 19 points against one of the worst teams in the league is disappointing. Carson Palmer failed to throw a TD for the first time all season, but he rushed for one in the fourth quarter, sealing the win for the Cards. He threw for 271 yards, with John Brown leading the way, bringing in 99 yards. Larry Fitzgerald had 10 catches, but that only added up 66 yards, and Fitzgerald hasn’t scored a touchdown in a month. Michael Floyd, who was questionable due to a hamstring injury, did play but his snaps were limited and only had one catch. Chris Johnson had to leave game with a knee injury, cutting short a miserable day with 12 carries for 17 yards. This is one of the most prolific offenses in the league, so one poor game is no reason to overreact.
Since taking over as the starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert actually hasn’t looked bad. He arguably outplayed Palmer on Sunday. Considering he has zero weapons around him, what he’s done is kind of impressive. Gabbert had 318 yards, a TD, and pick on Sunday. As usual, Anquan Boldin was the leading receiver with 93 yards. Out of the backfield, for those desperate at running back, Shaun Draughn totaled 86 yards. Which isn’t horrible if you’re just looking for a flex or RB2, who won’t submarine your lineup.
Seahawks 39, Steelers 30
After throwing 10 TDs in the first nine games of the year, Russell Wilson has 8 TDs in his last two. Wilson had, far and away, his best game of the year with 345 yards and 5 TDs. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse were responsible for all of those touchdowns, as Baldwin had a career day with 145 yards and 3 TDs and Kease had 47 yards and 2 TDs. It was the first time a Seahawks wide receiver had 3 TDs in a game since Joey Galloway did it 18 years ago. If you’re wondering how Jimmy Graham stayed so silent in such a high-scoring game, he got hurt. He had 75 yards before tearing his patellar tendon, ending his season. Thomas Rawls managed 81 yards and a TD, which is solid, if not a little disappointing given the Seahawks’ offensive explosion.
Ben Roethlisberger finished with 456 yards, but only one TD and two picks, before leaving the game near the end with a concussion. He had 19 passing attempts in the first quarter!
Antonio Brown Markus Wheaton exploded for 201 yards and a score to lead the way. That’s right. Wheaton had more yards than DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, and Antonio Brown combined. DeAngelo Williams contributed 117 total yards and a touchdown, while TD machine Martavis Bryant added 80 total yards and a touchdown coming on a reverse. Covered by Richard Sherman all game long, Antonio Brown struggled to 51 yards.
Broncos 30, Patriots 24
In Brock Osweiler’s second start, he handed the Patriots their first loss of the season. Osweiler mostly had to manage the game, and he did just that, throwing for 270 yards, a TD, and pick. His main beneficiary in the passing game was Emmanuel Sanders, who finished with 113 yards, while Demaryius Thomas struggled throughout. Thomas had a miserable night with 13 targets and one catch, including a couple of horrible drops. Davante Adams-esque. It was the running backs who did the heavy lifting for Denver on Sunday night. C.J. Anderson looked like the guy who people thought they were getting when they spent a first round pick on him. Anderson had by far his best game of the year with 15 carries for 113 yards and 2 TDs, the second being the game-winner in overtime. Ronnie Hillman also scored to go along with 59 yards.
Before Sunday night, the best fantasy outing for a QB against Denver was 21.5 points, coming from Andrew Luck a few weeks ago. On Sunday night, Tom Brady threw for 280 yards and 3 TDs. That’s good for 23.2 points. Rob Gronkowski led the Pats in the air with 6 catches for 88 yards and a score. But he left the game late with a knee injury. Running back, perennial fill-in guy Brandon Bolden also scored to go with 84 yards. And Scott Chandler rounded out the scoring for the Patriots.For the next few weeks, Chandler could be a great add, with Gronk sidelinedNeither LeGarrette Blount nor Brandon Lafell did much, finishing with 27 and 36 yards respectively. If Gronk misses serious time, it’ll take a miracle for the Pats’ offense to keep scoring. Even with Brady, they’ll have lost Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski. Eventually, the injuries have to catch up to them.
I was unable to post in a timely fashion last week because I was locked out of my website. For the rest of the year though, I will continue posting on Monday mornings. Thanks for reading.