by Ray Kuhn
Here are some thoughts that I had after Week 12’s games.
- Even before Eli Manning admitted that his stamina and arm strength was down going into the bye week, Manning and the Giants offense as a whole looked a lot better against the Packers. The Giants running game did the best they had in a month and the offensive line looked fresher as well. The real star of the game was Manning. Yes you would have liked to see him go better than 16 for 30 passing, and he missed on a few potential big plays as well. However after 3 games with no touchdown passes and only one touchdown in each of the two games prior it is safe to assume that most fantasy owners were pleased with Manning’s 3 touchdown passes. Were the game not a blowout perhaps his numbers would have been better, but this was exactly the positive momentum the Giants needed to build on coming out of the bye week and down the stretch of the season.
- Maybe the biggest beneficiary of Manning’s performance was Hakeem Nicks, who had 5 catches for 77 yards and his second touchdown of the season. Granted some the trouble with Nicks this season has been his own injury woes, but this is a good sign for Nicks the rest of the way. If Manning was sharper, Nicks would have had a lot more to show for his 13 targets.
- Across the field Aaron Rodgers continued his recent stretch of outings that left fantasy owners wanting something more. His long touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson was the lone highlight of the night when, at the time, it looked like it would be the beginning of a standout performance. The Giants 5 sacks and the less than impressive play from Green Bay’s offensive line clearly did not help Rodgers case as he was never able to get going. For the rest of the season I would not expect to see the line playing that much better, but the Giants were a dangerous opponent for the Packers and Rodgers suffered for it. It is no reason to consider benching him going forward.
- It seemed to be the popular opinion that Peyton Manning in the second half of the season would be unstoppable. Unless the definition of unstoppable has been changed to encompass 285 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, that was not the case against the Chiefs. This is not to suggest that Manning is still not an elite quarterback, but it is not 4 years ago either. Aside from a few seasons and stretches Manning in his prime was never truly a player that put up crazy statistical performances, and it would be foolish to expect that now.
- Even though the Bears won, it was not a good day for Matt Forte. Prior to his departure with an ankle injury he had only gained 42 yards on 14 carries and he had a fumble, while Michael Bush had 60 yards rushing on 21 carries and found the end zone twice. Aside from the injury, this has not been a good year for Forte. He has 3 rushing touchdowns on the season compared to 5 from Bush and he only has 683 yards rushing and has not been a receiving threat either (27 catches for 184 yards). Obviously if Forte has to miss a game due to the injury that is a nice bump to Bush’s value, but regardless this could the opening Bush needs to start to take more of the carries away from Forte since even if he plays, he most likely will not be 100%.
- I would not interpret Benjarvis Green-Ellis’ second consecutive game of over 100 yards rushing as more than it is. Last week against the Chiefs he only averaged 4 yards a carry and had 101 yards rushing while this week against the Raiders he did gain 129 yards with an average of 6.8 yards per carry. He found the end zone in each of these 2 games against subpar opponents and essentially demonstrated his ceiling with his best two games of the season. Green-Ellis has 5 touchdowns on the season and is not a receiving threat either, nor is he as good as the Raiders made him look. He has shown flashes like this previously but he has never been able to sustain this level of performance, so don’t expect him to start doing so now.
- Ben Roethlisberger needs to get back yesterday. Charlie Batch did not have a good day, and looked downright awful at times. He only managed to throw for 199 yards, did not find the end zone and found the opposition 3 times. Not only did this render Mike Wallace useless, but the Steelers running backs might have looked worse as there were fumbles galore. There was also no room to run and the Steelers play calling was odd at times in an ill fated attempt to compensate for Batch.
- Sunday was a big letdown for those that added and started Ronnie Hillman. The injury to Willis McGahee actually led to less work for the rookie running back, which was odd. Although Knowshon Moreno did not have a horrible game (20 carries for 85 yards and 4 catches 26 yards), he did nothing to standout either. Unless something changes, it is looking like their might not be much value to be found in the Denver backfield.
- Against a tough defense in Seattle Reggie Bush finally got his act together after a few tough weeks. Bush carried the ball 14 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. That is exactly the rushing performance owners have come to expect from Bush. What was troubling was Bush’s 1 catch for a 5 yard loss. It seems to now be just about an equal timeshare with Daniel Thomas which should be fine for Bush owners, but the passing game is where Bush has his value. On the bright side this week Thomas also only had 1 catch, but the Dolphins backfield is a weird situation to watch.
- Have the Jaguars found a quarterback in Chad Henne? Not surprisingly he did not match his performance against Houston from the week prior but 261 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception is not a horrible day. More importantly Cecil Shorts is developing into a legit receiver and Justin Blackmon seems to be delivering on the promise he had at the start of the season. Blackmon followed up his 236 yard game with 5 catches, 62 yards and a touchdown against the Titans. He is a player to watch for the rest of the season and going into next season.
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 13 rankings: