Week 12 Observations

It was a good week for me, the frustrating Sunday night game notwithstanding, as I went 10-5 ATS and more or less got the fantasy outcomes I needed. I’ll take the “L” on Christian McCaffrey though – a player in whom I have zero shares and whom I mocked as a first-round pick all preseason.

Aaron Rodgers wasn’t all that sharp Sunday night, holding the ball too long at times, getting an ill-timed delay of game and missing Davante Adams on the would-be cover-sealing TD at the end of the game. Then again maybe Adams was a little slow.

Guarded by Xavier Rhodes much of the game, Adams (8-5-69-1) was mostly shut down except for a nice, short back-shoulder TD catch early. Adams’ 36-yard catch on the team’s final drive came on a play when Rhodes hurt his hamstring, and after a nine-yard catch against Rhodes’ backup, Adams couldn’t extend for the TD on third-down. As I said last week, Adams is a good but not great receiver.

Aaron Jones was solid again – 17 carries for 72 yards and a score and 5-3-21 as a receiver. He’ll be at worst a second-round pick next year if he stays healthy.

Jimmy Graham, playing with a broken thumb, went 4-2-34, but he wasn’t a major factor in the offense even when he was healthy. Equanimeous St. Brown calmly went 5-3-53, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught only one pass for three yards.

The Vikings hardly ran the ball at all until late in the game to preserve their lead. Kirk Cousins threw for 342 yards (9.0 YPA), three TDs, no picks and took two sacks. He also scrambled for 17 yards. Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook ran ineffectively on obvious running downs, splitting the work 11 to 10, respectively, though Cook also went 3-3-47-1 as a receiver.

Adam Thielen had his usual 9-8-125-1, while Stefon Diggs went 11-8-77-1. Kyle Rudolph (7-7-63) saw a lot of work in the first half.

With the Packers virtually eliminated from playoff contention at least Mike McCarthy, who punted on fourth and short from plus territory yet again, will almost certainly be canned after the season.

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Ryan Tannehill (204 yards, 8.2 YPA, two TDs, no picks, one sack, 14 rushing yards) played decently in his return, but keep in mind more than a third of his yards came on a 74-yard TD to Leonte Carroo that easily could have been picked.

Frank Gore (14-for-67) ran well yet again, and the booth was impressed enough to declare him a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. His stat accumulation and popularity will probably prove them right, but it strikes me as far from obvious that a running back with modest pass-catching skills, no Super Bowl rings, no rushing titles, only 77 career rushing TDs  and never having been considered the best back in the league during his tenure would get in. His one great season was 2006 when he averaged 5.4 YPC, ran for 1,695 yards and caught 61 passes, but it was the year LaDainian Tomlinson had 1,815 yards, 28 TDs and 23 more receiving yards that Gore on five fewer catches. Gore never cracked 1,250 yards, 5.0 YPC or 55 catches in a season since.

Kenyan Drake had only eight carries but 32 yards and a TD and went 6-5-64-1 in the passing game. He left with an arm injury late, but returned to the game.

Andrew Luck had another monster game – 343 passing yards (9.3 YPA), three TDs, two picks –  and he took his first sack in six weeks. Luck also got drilled on a four-yard reception from Jacoby Brissett, but seemed fine when he got up. Luck now has 32 TD passes in 11 games.

Marlon Mack (15 carries for 85 yards) ran well before leaving with a concussion. Nyheim Hines (9-for-28) took over for Mack late and caught two passes for 22 yards. T.Y. Hilton (10-7-125) did his usual as did Eric Ebron (7-5-45-2). Ebron is now tied with Antonio Brown and Tyreek Hill for the league lead with 11 receiving TDs and unlike Hill and Brown, also has a rushing TD.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 462 yards (8.3 YPA) but lost the game on a terrible pick near the goal line. And Roethlisberger’s YPA was largely driven by a 97-yard TD to Juju Smith-Schuster, though it was an amazing throw under pressure. Roethlisberger finished with two picks, took two sacks and rushed for 18 yards.

James Connor had a modest game – 13 carries for 53 yards, four catches for 42 yards – and lost another key fumble, this one after a long catch and run. He also got stuffed near the goal line the play before Roethlisberger threw the game-sealing pick.

Smith-Schuster (17-13-189-1) went crazy in this game and while Roethlisberger’s throw on his long TD was perfect, Smith-Schuster outran and out-shoved the chasing DB or another 50-ish yards on the play. Antonio Brown went 13-9-67 and Ryan Switzer 8-6-67.

Case Keenum played another mistake-free game with 197 yards, two TDs, no picks and only two sacks. The Broncos have now beaten the Chargers and Steelers in back to back weeks and largely hung around against the Chiefs twice and the Rams.

Phillip Lindsay went 14-110-1, but didn’t catch a pass. Lindsay has good vision and hits the hole at full speed, which is fast – 4.39 40 at his Pro Day. At 5-8, 190, he probably won’t have many double-digit carry games, but he gets the most out of the carries he gets. He’s the AFC’s Matt Breida.

Emmanuel Sanders (12-7-86-1) led the team in receiving, and no one else was close. Jeff Heuerman (3-2-44) is involved, but Matt LaCosse (4-3-34-1) caught the TD. Courtland Sutton (4-1-14) was a non-factor.

The Chargers were down 10-0 and won 45-10. Josh Rosen had 105 passing yards (5.5 YPA), one TD, one pick and two sacks, despite game-flow that should have favored passing.

David Johnson (17-for-63, 3-2-16) got his work in, but had little to show for it. Larry Fitzgerald caught a TD, but did little else, and Christian Kirk (6-4-41) led Arizona in receiving.

Philip Rivers broke the NFL record for completion percentage, going 28 for 29, but had only 259 yards (8.9 YPA.) While 8.9 YPA is good, you’d expect a lot more on 97-percent completions. Of course, Rivers wasn’t throwing deep much with a massive lead, and he had three TDs and no picks, though he took four sacks.

Melvin Gordon had 10 carries for 61 yards and two TDs before leaving with an MCL injury, putting his Week 13 status in doubt. Austin Ekeler had five carries for 35 yards and a TD in relief and went 11-10-68 as a receiver. Justin Jackson also had seven carries for 57 yards.

Keenan Allen (7-7-72-1) did his usual, while Mike Williams (4-4-25-2) made good on two red-zone looks. After a big Week 11, Antonio Gates (1-1-18) was quiet again.

Lamar Jackson threw his first TD pass and racked up 178 passing yards, but had two picks and took a sack. He also ran for 71 yards and a TD on 11 carries. Gus Edwards started in place of Alex Collins and had 118 yards on 23 carries (5.1 YPA), but didn’t catch a pass. Ty Montgomery had eight carries for 51 yards and three catches for 13. He’s passed Javorius Allen on the depth chart.

Marc Andrews caught a 74-yard pass, but no other Ravens receiver cracked 25 yards. Willie Snead didn’t receive a single target.

Derek Carr predictably did little in Baltimore. Jared Cook made a nice adjustment on a TD catch, but had only 32 yards. Doug Martin ran for 51 yards and a TD and went 4-3-21 as a receiver.

Russell Wilson had 339 passing yards (10.9 YPA), two TDs, no picks and took two sacks in a comeback win over the Panthers. Even though Doug Baldwin (7-5-39) led the team in targets, Tyler Lockett (5-5-107-1) and David Moore (5-4-103-1) continue to be the playmakers.

Chris Carson bulldozed for 55 yards and a TD on 16 carries and actually landed on his feet and kept running after being catapulted into the air for a 360 on a hit. Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny saw only four carries each.

Christian McCaffrey had a monster game – 17 carries for 125 yards and a score and an 11-11-112-1 line as a receiver. Maybe Ron Rivera wasn’t joking after all when he said 25-30 touches. McCaffrey is a top-10 overall fantasy player now, and you can make a case for top-five.

With Devin Funchess out, D.J. Moore (9-8-91) was the team’s top wideout, and beyond him and McCaffrey it was a wasteland.

Cam Newton had his usual big fantasy game – 256 passing yards (8.5 YPA), two passing TDs, one pick, no sacks and 63 rushing yards.

The Nick Mullens era won’t be a long one. Against arguably the league’s worst defense, he managed only 221 yards (6.9 YPA) with one TD, two picks and four sacks. In his defense, he was without his top two WR.

With Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin out, Dante Pettis got the start and went 7-4-77-1, while George Kittle (12-6-48) was held in check. Matt Breida (NFC’s Philip Lindsay) went 14 for 106 and caught three passes for 34 yards.

Jameis Winston played under control with 312 passing yards, two TDs, no picks and only one sack. He also rushed for 24 yards. Peyton Barber led the team with 47 yards and a TD on 18 carries, while Jacquizz Rodgers was more efficient – 31 yards on five carries.

Mike Evans (8-6-116) led the way, Adam Humphries (6-6-54-1) continues to be relevant and Chris Godwin (4-4-42) chipped in. With O.J. Howard on IR, Cameron Brate (4-3-26-1) got the start and the TD. DeSean Jackson had only three catches for 19 yards on eight targets. For whatever reason he doesn’t seem to sync well with Winston.

The Giants were up 19-3 in the first half before Eli Manning threw a senseless pick in field-goal range, and Pat Schumur stopped using Saquon Barkley en route to the loss. Manning was actually sharp early, leading his receivers on short passes and throwing a perfect ball to Odell Beckham down the sideline. But it was only a matter of time, and Manning did virtually nothing in the second half except overthrow Beckham on a pass in the end zone (Beckham was held, but the flag wasn’t thrown.) Manning finished with 297 yards (8.0 YPA), one TD, one pick and two sacks.

Barkley was a force out of the gate, but the Giants went away from him in the second half, and their offense disappeared. Barkley’s lack of second-half use was so inexplicable, I assumed he might be hurt, but apparently that wasn’t the case. He still finished with 101 yards and a TD on 13 carries and went 8-7-41-1 as a receiver.

Beckham (9-5-85) led the team in receiving, while Sterling Shepard (6-4-37)  was quiet. Rhett Ellison (6-4-77) saw extra work when Evan Engram was scratched in pregame warmups with a hamstring injury.

Carson Wentz (236 yards, 8.4 YPA, one TD, no picks, three sacks) played passably, but there’s something wrong with the Eagles offense. They never take shots down the field, instead opting for short passes to Zach Ertz (8-7-91-1) and Golden Tate (8-4-30.) Alshon Jeffery (3-3-39) was not a major factor, either. With the win the Eagles are back in contention in the NFC East, but they don’t look like a team with any upside.

Josh Adams had 22 carries for 84 yards and a score, and that’s not counting a long TD that was called back on the hold (though the hold arguably sprung him in the first place.) Corey Clement (five carries for 45 yards and two catches for 31 yards) was more efficient.

Tom Brady (283 yards, 9.1 YPA, two TDs, no picks and no sacks) played a clean game. Julian Edelman (5-4-84-1) and Josh Gordon (5-5-70) led the way, while Rob Gronkowski (7-3-56-1) showed he was healthier on a 34-yard TD catch in traffic.

Sony Michel had 21 carries for 133 yards and a TD, while catching two passes for 12 yards. James White had nine carries for 73 yards, but only one catch for five.

The Jets players are mostly not worth writing about except for Quincy Enunwa (4-4-73) showing he was healthy again, Jermaine Kearse (12-6-66-1) and tight end Chris Herndon (8-7-57) who has been quietly productive the last several games.

Baker Mayfield had another strong game – 9.9 YPA, four TDs, no picks, no sacks. He spread the ball around to David Njoku (5-5-63-1), Antonio Callaway (5-4-62-1), Nick Chubb (3-3-44-1) and Jarvis Landry (5-3-30). Duke Johnson was a non-factor, but Chubb also went 28-84-1 on the ground and has taken over as the team’s dominant workhorse.

The Bengals have established themselves as one of the league’s doormats of late, and I’m not sure it matters much whether Andy Dalton’s thumb injury keeps him out. His backup Jeff Driskel (5.3 YPA) wasn’t especially inspiring, either. Joe Mixon (14 for 89 on the ground, 7-7-66 through the air) and Tyler Boyd (8-7-85-1) were the only bright spots.

Josh Allen returned for the Bills and played well – 8.4 YPA, one TD, no picks and no sacks against a strong Jaguars pass defense. He also ran for 99 yards and a score. It’s unclear whether he’s a long-term solution, but his running ability gives him upside for fantasy.

LeSean McCoy had 17 carries for only 46 yards one catch for seven yards. Robert Foster (3-2-94-1) led the team in receiving, thanks to a 75-yard TD, while no one else had more than 32 yards receiving.

Leonard Fournette (18 carries for 95 yards and two TDs, three catches for 13 yards) was on his way to a gigantic day before being ejected early in the third quarter for his role in a scuffle. He’s one of the league’s workload kings and should be a valuable asset down the stretch if he’s not suspended.

Blake Bortles had his usual terrible game, the quantification of which isn’t worth the effort to type. Suffice it to say Dede Westbrook led all Jaguars receivers with 44 yards, though he did score a TD.