by Ray Kuhn
Here are some thoughts that I had after Week 14’s games.
- Even as a running back Cam Newton had a good fantasy day. Newton threw for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns and once again did not turn the ball over. He opened the game in the zone as he was throwing darts down the field and chewing up a lot of the clock in the first half. Plus, those passing numbers could have been better if he did not misfire on a few throws (reminding everyone that he is still a second year quarterback). He also had a few good runs earning fantasy owners some extra points, but then his 71 yard touchdown run really put his day over the top. 116 yards and a touchdown is a day you would take from just about any running back and owners got that plus a pretty good passing day from Newton. If he keeps this up and capitalizes on some of the throws he missed on, this is the type of performance that could carry you thru the fantasy playoffs because it is like starting a running back at the QB position.
- It might be time to downgrade Drew Brees a little bit. Yes he did throw for 354 yards, but it was an empty 354 yards as a lot of it came as the Saints were coming from behind and he only had 1 touchdown pass coupled with 2 interceptions. What could help Brees owners (and owners of other Saints players whose value is tied to Brees) is that they are facing Tampa Bay and their loose defense next week and the Saints did have success against them earlier in the year. Lance Moore had another week where he was a nonfactor (1 catch for 26 yards) proving that it is hard to truly rely on him. Darren Sproles was actually the star of the New Orleans offense as he found the end zone once as a receiver and once as a runner, which is something that had not been happening in the last few games. The player who really seems to be hurt by the lack of firepower in the Saints offense in Jimmy Graham. He had another average day of 5 catches and 56 yards. That isn’t horrible production for a tight end, but not for one of Graham’s talent level. While I would downgrade him a little, he still should be starting in most formats.
- Granted it was the Tampa Bay defense, but Nick Foles staked a claim not only to the Eagles starting job, but to having some fantasy value for the rest of the season. He threw for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns while also adding a rushing touchdown and not turning the ball over. While fantasy football is all about the stats, it is important to look at how the stats were earned and for Foles that is another positive this week. He led the Eagles back from a deficit and then found Jeremy Maclin as time expired for the game winning touchdown. Now I would not expect to see this type of performance from him each week, but it is good to see that he is capable of it.
- This is the game everyone was waiting for David Wilson to have. While he looked explosive in the return game and had a touchdown, not all leagues count return yardage and you cannot truly budget for that each week. What should excite fantasy owners is his 100 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Ahmad Bradshaw clearly is not 100% and with Andre Brown out for the year, there is a clear opportunity for Wilson to step up. He was given the chance this week and rose to the occasion while holding on to the football. Now that he has proven himself there is no reason why that should not continue.
- On a team with bleak prospects both in real life and in fantasy, Montell Owens stepped up with some pretty good production. He had 91 yards rushing, but what was odd is that he was only given 14 carries while Chad Henne had 43 pass attempts that were fruitless for the most part. With the Jaguars now at 2-11 you can’t expect them to really rush Maurice Jones-Drew back and make him carry the load. With Owens showing that he was able to make some things happen against a tough Jets defense he has made himself a viable option.
- While Tampa Bay’s run defense is every bit as good as their pass defense is bad, this was still a pretty rude awakening for owners of Bryce Brown. He rushed 12 times for 6 yards and then caught 2 passes for another 6 yards. This certainly was a letdown and while he should be able to at least somewhat bounce back from this, it does put into question how much you can trust him as the playoffs continue (especially with LeSean McCoy on the road to recovery).
- Kenny Britt certainly looks healthy and like he is a big part of the Titans offense. Over the last 2 weeks he is now up to 17 targets and this week he caught 8 of his 9 targets for 143 yards. This is the Britt everyone was waiting for as he now looks more like the receiver he was 2 years ago, before his injury and other trouble. For someone who likely entered the season as no better than a low end WR2, he is peaking at the right time and this could be the type of performances that are needed in the playoffs.
- When it comes to fantasy, it really does not matter if statistics are accumulated in garbage time or not. For Mike Wallace the return of Ben Roethlisberger and garbage time treated him well this week. For a few weeks things were certainly shaky for Wallace, which mirrored the Pittsburgh quarterback situation, but he bounced back in a big way catching 7 passes for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. That performance should allow Wallace owners to breathe easy as the Pittsburgh offense really was not even clicking to its full potential.
- Usually I don’t discuss a defense in this space, but man Arizona offensively is pretty offensive and Seattle’s defense is pretty good. Both of those facts should be noted for those of you streaming defenses for the rest of the season. The Seahawks shut out the Cardinals, scored 2 touchdowns, 3 sacks and 8 turnovers (4 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries). Now that is something that can impact a fantasy matchup and shows that defense cannot be ignored in fantasy football.
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 15 rankings: