Week 13 Observations

What a disastrous week of fantasy football. It started with the news Leonard Fournette was suspended, then Thursday night the Saints scored only 10 points with Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara doing next to nothing. Saturday, there was the Kareem Hunt news – that completely healthy first-round pick you had who was facing the Raiders this week? Yeah, he’s out of football now. On Sunday, A.J. Green, Greg Olsen and possibly James Conner were lost for the fantasy playoffs too. Of course, “disastrous” is a matter of perspective – if you had none of those players on your teams, your chances just got a lot better.

I won’t lie. I had a great week. Heading into Monday night I’m 12-3 against the spread and hoping this tweet ages well with a Redskins cover. Fantasy-wise it was a mixed bag, and I’ll know more after the Monday night game. There’s one league where I might get bounced from the playoffs if Adrian Peterson and Carson Wentz don’t get me 40-odd points.

The Chargers looked dead to rights down 23-7 at the half with Ben Roethlisberger having years to throw and Philip Rivers under constant pressure. But the Chargers got a stop to start the half, Justin Jackson got it going on the ground, and the entire game flipped. So bizarre to see such an abrupt turnaround against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. In fact they had never blown a 14-point home lead in franchise history.

If Conner (high ankle sprain) is out, rookie Jaylen Samuels (who qualifies at TE on Yahoo) is likely to start in his place. Le’Veon Bell’s absence might burn the Steelers yet.

Antonio Brown (13-10-154-1) torched Casey Hayward all game. The elite receivers can’t be single covered.

Keenan Allen (19-14-148-1) was less efficient, but he caught almost everything thrown his way and converted a least a couple huge third downs.

Justin Jackson (8-63-1 on the ground, 19 receiving yards) looked more like the early-down back who can fill Melvin Gordon’s shoes than Austin Ekeler.

Nick Mullens (414 yards, 8.6 YPA) showed signs of life. He’ll keep the job for at least another week, I’d have to imagine.  Matt Breida hurt his ankle during pregame warmups, and someone named Jeff Wilson, Jr. went 9-8-73 as a receiver and 15-for-61 on the ground, though he lost a fumble.

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Second-round pick Dante Pettis (7-5-129-2) is having a late-season breakout. The 49ers will have some upside with Breida, Jimmy Garoppolo, Pettis, George Kittle and Marquise Goodwin next year.

Russell Wilson attempted only 17 passes (10.2 YPA), four of which went for TDs. Why throw it when Chris Carson (13-for-69) and Rashaad Penny (7-65-1) are having such an easy time of it on the ground?

One of my few ATS losses was on the Vikings. It’s so rarely profitable to bet against the Patriots.

I get that the Patriots scheme to take away the other team’s best weapon, but it was bizarre that the Vikings were down 14 and attempting so many passes well short of the sticks. Why even schedule the game if you’re not willing to try?

Kirk Cousins (4.6 YPA), two picks was terrible. Adam Thielen (10-5-28-1) scored, but was woefully inefficient. Dalvin Cook was productive as a runner (9-for-84), but 10-8-22 as a receiver.

James Develin scored two short TDs, killing value for most of New England’s offense. James White (9-7-92) led the team in receiving, and Josh Gordon (3-3-58-1) scored the TD. Tom Brady (311 yards, 9.1 YPA) played well against a good defense, aside from a senseless late pick.

The Raiders lost three fumbles and still lost by only seven points to the Chiefs. They were helped by some Tyreek Hill drops on long bombs and Patrick Mahomes missing some open receivers though.

• Mahomes continued his assault on the record books with another four TDs, no picks, 295 yards passing and 55 rushing yards. He now has 41 TDs in 12 games, a 55-TD pace.

Hill had no focus during the game. It was as though he had survivor guilt after seeing Hunt get cut, realizing had the timing been different, it might have been him.

Travis Kelce went 13-12-168-2 and almost had a third TD but was touched with his knee down a split second before running the ball in for a third score.

Spencer Ware did not do a great Hunt imitation with only 47 yards on 14 carries and one catch for five yards. Even if the Chiefs get the top seed in the AFC, I’d be surprised if they make it to the Super Bowl without Hunt. A great running back is as important to the defense as he is to the offense, the guy who helps chew clock and sustain drives, giving the unit a rest. You don’t need him when the offense is rolling in good conditions, but in adverse ones, or when you’re out of sync, a back like Hunt, who can break tackles and make plays as a receiver, is especially valuable. Damian Williams (5-for-38, two catches) is probably not the solution, either.

Derek Carr (285 yards, 7.5 YPA, three TDs, no picks) played well, and it’s looking more likely Jon Gruden sticks with him after this season. It’s not insane as a short-term band-aid if there were no game-changing QBs early in the draft, but Carr is well below the threshold for a long-term solution.

Jalen Richard fumbled, but went six for 95 on the ground and 4-3-31 through the air. He might be a star in a good offense. Jared Cook (8-7-100-1) led the team in receiving, while Jordy Nelson (11-10-97) caught a bunch of short passes.

The Jets blew a big lead, but they only had the lead due to a pick six and long field goals. Marcus Mariota spread the ball around in the comeback and put up decent stats. I wouldn’t read much into it.

Antonio Callaway had one of the more bizarre (and frustrating if, like me, you started him) sequences in recent memory. He caught a 80-ish yard TD pass that was called back by a hold, then a few plays later broke free on 71-yard catch, only to fumble it inside the five.

Baker Mayfield had a bad first half, but finished with 397 yards, 9.1 YPA and a TD to Rishard Higgins. Jarvis Landry (9-6-103) and Callaway (6-3-84) led the team, while the laugh was on David Njoku (6-3-8) owners. Nick Chubb (72 YFS) had a quiet game.

• Deshaun Watson game-managed his way to the team’s ninth straight win. Lamar Miller had 100 yards, DeAndre Hopkins went 12-7-91 and Ka’imi Fairbairn hit all five of his field-goal attempts.

The Jaguars shut out the high-flying Colts, showing good things happen when you bench your turnover-prone QB. In retrospect, what an ill-fit a mistake-prone player like Blake Bortles was for a team that needed an Alex Smith-like game manager.

Andrew Luck (4.8 YPA), one pick, three sacks did nothing, Eric Ebron (16-10-81) lost a fumble and T.Y. Hilton (13-8-77) wasn’t his usual efficient self. On the Jaguars side T.J. Yeldon (8-7-49) led the team with 65 YFS.

The Panthers are now 6-6 and would be 5-7 but for Graham Gano’s 61-yard last-second field goal over the Giants. Looking like a Bucs’ quarterback, Cam Newton threw four picks and took four sacks, while Jameis Winston played a clean game (no picks) and led the team with a Newton-esque 48 yards.

Christian McCaffrey went 10-for-106 on the ground and 10-9-55-1 through the air, making me look more foolish by the week for mocking him as a first-round pick. Curtis Samuel (11-6-88) led the team in receiving, while backup TE Ian Thomas (5-5-46) had a significant role after Greg Olsen’s season-ending foot injury. D.J. Moore chipped in with 65 YFS.

Chris Godwin (6-5-101-1) and Adam Humphries (9-7-61-1) led the Bucs, while Mike Evans (6-4-48) was an afterthought.

The Giants game was entertaining at least. Eli Manning (4.9 YPA) was bad again, throwing behind receivers, taking three sacks and throwing a pick directly to a Bears DBs. But he made a great throw in overtime that would have won the game, had Sterling Shepard held onto it, and he delivered a few short strikes on key third downs. Either way, it’s long past time the Giants auditioned Kyle Lauletta who was active for the first time all year as the team’s backup.

Saquon Barkley left briefly with a minor shoulder injury, but finished with 24 carries for 125 yards and three catches for 21 more yards. This absurd run, setting up a field-goal at the end of the first half, was a key play in the game, as was his first carry in overtime.

Odell Beckham threw a 49-yard TD pass on a gadget play. He actually looked like he was about to run the ball, but kept his eyes downfield and tossed it when he saw a wide-open receiver. He also went 9-3-35-1 in the passing game and made some key blocks for Barkley.

Chase Daniel isn’t good, but led the Bears back into the game with the help of an onside kick by repeatedly targeting Tarik Cohen (14-12-156), who also had 30 yards rushing and a short-TD throw of his own. Daniel kept fumbling snaps in overtime, though, eventually doing the Bears in. Allen Robinson went 9-5-79 including a huge catch over a defender’s helmet to keep the Bears in the game.

Aldrick Rosas is a poor man’s Justin Tucker, nailing three more field goals including the game-winner and a 57-yarder at the end of the first half.

Josh Allen had a monster day with 135 rushing yards, 231 passing yards, two TDs and two picks. Given rushing yards count as at least double in most scoring systems, that’s like passing for 501 yards.

I had Zay Jones (9-4-67-2) on a couple benches. Last week, with Allen at QB, he put up a 1-0-0 line when I had him active. In fantasy, it’s not only how much a player produces, but also that he produces when you were likely to use him.

I don’t understand how the Dolphins ever score points or win games. Everything they do seems like a fluke.

I made the Packers 13.5-point favorites over the Cardinals at home and wanted to take them, but had to switch when I saw the line was 14. So crazy a team with a negative point differential was a double-digit favorite over anyone.

Aaron Rodgers got only 4.7 YPA, David Johnson yielded both TDs to Chase Edmonds and Aaron Jones had only 3.3 YPC. Davante Adams (13-8-93-1) got his. He’s not as good as he thinks in real life, but he’s an elite fantasy receiver. Jimmy Graham (11-8-50) wasn’t efficient, but at least he showed he could play through his thumb injury.

Mike McCarthy was fired after the game, a move that was five years overdue. While his interim replacement, Joe Philbin, is hardly splitting the atom, I’d bet on a huge game from Aaron Rodgers and the receiving the corps against the Falcons next week.

Todd Gurley tried to give away another TD at the end of Sunday’s game – when you have 19, it seems like they grow on trees – but mercifully for Rams bettors (and Gurley owners) like me he punched it in a couple plays later. He finished with 132 yards and two TDs on the ground with 5-3-33 in the passing game.

Jared Goff played the role of game manager. Robert Woods (9-5-67-1) led the way and scored.

Levine Toilolo (6-4-90) led the Lions in receiving. It’s been a bad year for Matthew Stafford.

A.J. Green aggravated his toe injury and could be done for the year. Tyler Boyd (8-6-97) and Joe Mixon (95 YFS) are useful at least.

Case Keenum’s mistake-free caretaking continues to serve the Broncos, especially with Phillip Lindsay (19-157-2) running wild.

Despite leaving for a few minutes to get checked for a concussion, Lamar Jackson had another serviceable fantasy output with 75 yards and a score on the ground and 125 passing yards. He took two sacks and lost a fumble, though. Joe Flacco could be back next week against the Chiefs, but apparently John Harbaugh hasn’t yet decided which QB would start.

Gus Edwards had another 21 carries for 82 yards, while Kenneth Dixon had eight carries for 37 and Ty Montgomery three for 13.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense got throttled. Julio Jones (8-2-18) might have had his least efficient game as a pro.