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East Coast Offense: A Tale of Two Weeks

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

A Tale of Two Weeks

After starting Beanie Wells over David Wilson in Week 14 (a move that left me on the verge of defenestration), I started Wilson over Wells in Week 15. While you'd think that would have pushed off the ledge, so to speak, it actually brought me some relief. You see, I was not crazy to have started Wells after all.

Of course this kind of thing happens all the time in fantasy football, but the transition from the quarterfinals to the semis in most leagues was particularly drastic this year. Here are the top-25 non-PPR scorers from Week 14 and what they did a week later:

Rank Player Team Pos Week 14 Week 15
1 Cam Newton CAR QB 37.08 17.94
2 Nick Foles PHI QB 31.94 11.78
3 Marshawn Lynch SEA RB 30.8 18.7
4 Adrian Peterson MIN RB 29 27.2
5 Tom Brady NEP QB 28.44 28.82
6 David Wilson NYG RB 28 6.6
7 Ben Roethlisberger PIT QB 26.5 21.76
8 Eli Manning NYG QB 26.06 6.44
9 Mike Wallace PIT WR 23.2 9.5
10 Knowshon Moreno DEN RB 22.7 18.6
11 Jamaal Charles KCC RB 22.5 2.8
12 Brandon Marshall CHI WR 22 11.6
13 Matt Ryan ATL QB 21.68 22.7
14 Matthew Stafford DET QB 21.46 9.84
15 Danario Alexander SDC WR 20.8 0
16 Darren Sproles NOS RB 20.4 10.3
17 Philip Rivers SDC QB 20.3 9.24
18 Joe Flacco BAL QB 20.18 17.96
19 Anquan Boldin BAL WR 19.8 0
20 Ray Rice BAL RB 19.6 4.1
21 Jake Locker TEN QB 19.58 16.26
22 Doug Martin TBB RB 19.2 3.5
23 Vincent Jackson TBB WR 19.1 8.1
24 Carson Palmer OAK QB 18.82 7.68
25 Colin Kaepernick SFO QB 18.7 27.44
26 Alfred Morris WAS RB 18.2 21.3
27 Victor Cruz NYG WR 18.1 1.5
28 Drew Brees NOS QB 18.06 29.38
29 Aaron Hernandez NEP TE 17.8 15.2
30 Roddy White ATL WR 17.7 1.6

If you had Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, Knowshon Moreno, Alfred Morris or Aaron Hernandez, congratulations you got reliable production for both rounds. Otherwise, the contrast was stark. Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin, Eli Manning, Danario Alexander and Victor Cruz especially were killers.

Granted there's variance every week in fantasy football, but no-shows from reliable star players in the biggest games is tough. You painstakingly drafted and managed a top team all year only to have the ragtag bunch of Eric Decker, Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree and Dennis Pitta send you packing. No one said there was justice in fantasy football.

NFL Rules That Should Be Changed

Let's set aside the obvious ones like making a bad call count if the coach throws a challenge flag after a scoring play or turnover and the bizarre criteria for what constitutes a catch. Here a few more suggestions:

All penalty calls should be reviewable, especially holding and pass interference which often change the outcome of games.

You should be able to challenge a non-call, e.g., PI, holding.

You should have an infinite number of correct challenges. It's unfair that you lose the ability to challenge a call when the refs screw you and force you into a quick decision to throw a flag that could cost you a timeout. You get only two wrong challenges.

Refs should get demoted if a certain number of their calls are missed or overturned.

Refs and the upstairs booth have 90 seconds from the time the challenge flag is thrown to come up with a verdict.

Penalties near the goal line need to have more teeth than "half the distance to the goal." If you commit a 10-yard penalty on your six-yard line, you go to your own one.

Fumbles are no longer turnovers. If a player fumbles, it's a dead ball at the spot where he fumbled it, just as if he were tackled. That would eliminate so much of the random junk that determines games. Do we really want ball security to be an important skill? Or would we rather the guy just hold the ball in whatever way best enables him to be a good rusher?

Eliminate the 12-men-on-the-field penalty if a player is running off when the ball is snapped. (And announcers who talk about how brilliant Peyton Manning is for taking advantage of a cheap technicality must be fired).

Eliminate penalties that clearly don't affect the outcome of a play, e.g., holding long after the runner has already run past. (Like no PI on an uncatchable ball).

I'm sure there are about 20 more I'll think of during this weekend's games.

Stats To Which I'd Like to Have Access

Maybe someone has these stats, but if so, I've never seen them:

Snap +/-: Are the Ravens really better on a per-play basis when Ray Lewis is on the field? It would be great to see their yards-per-play allowed and play success rates against when he's in and out of the lineup.

Average yards gained before tackle: It's great when a player gets 140 tackles, but how far in front of the line of scrimmage is he making them? A player who gets to the ball-carrier further up the field is obviously doing a better job.

Quarterback velocity: Jon Gruden mentioned that Kaepernick threw 94 mph as a pitcher, and his pass on a play was 65 mph, faster than most QBs. Why not chart QB average velocity, and also the angle (trajectory) of each throw.

Route-running speed: We know people's combine times, but how quickly does Calvin Johnson run a 10-yard out? Faster than Brandon Lloyd? It would be good to know.

Things to Take Away from Week 15

The Eagles-Bengals game was great for a half and then fell prey to the junk turnovers and touchdowns that hijack the destinies of so many once promising contests. Both defenses looked pretty good before the game became a joke, for what that's worth.

Arian Foster finally had a good day on the ground (6.1 YPC) , but didn't score a TD. J.J. Watt is an absolute monster, and he'll get the Colts again in Indy in two weeks.

Knowshon Moreno, Eric Decker and Dennis Pitta were the only useful players in BAL-DEN. Ray Rice, Demaryius Thomas, Peyton Manning and Torrey Smith were worthless.

Between his play down the stretch against the Ravens and his 329-yard 8.9-YPA, 2-TD/1-INT performance in Cleveland, Kirk Cousins looks like yet another quality quarterback in easily the best rookie QB class ever. Of course, Cousins could channel Joe Montana for two weeks, and he'd still never supplant RGIII, the greatest rookie of all-time.

Trent Richardson sure looks good getting 2.5 YPC. Is it the blocking, or does he lack vision or have some other flaw of which I'm not aware?

Five Redskins receivers had 47 or more yards. None had more than 65.

Adrian Peterson had another 212 yards, putting him at 1,812 on the year, a pace for 2,070 over 16 games. He needs to average 147 yards over his last two games to break Eric Dickerson's record of 2105.

I really thought over 0.5 for the combined point totals of the Bucs, Giants and Chiefs was a lock. Seriously, how did the Saints OR Raiders, allowing 29 and 31 points per game, (30th and 32nd, respectively) shut an opponent out?

The O/U in the Saints-Bucs was 53.5, so it figured to be a good fantasy game. But like the Thursday night NO-ATL game, it was a disappointment for many of its skill players including Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Josh Freeman and even Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston from the team that scored 41.

The Falcons put on a clinic in execution against the Giants, converting on what seemed like every big down and thwarting the Giants three times on fourth and short. It's hard to lose 34-0 when the opposing team has just two plays of 20 or more yards and none for more than 40, but that's how big the disparity was on those key plays. (The Giants incidentally had four plays of 20-plus).

Aaron Rodgers played well, and it's amazing that James Jones leads the NFL with 12 receiving TDs, but the end of this game was bizarre. First off, Mason Crosby can't make a field goal to save his life, so it's shocking that the Packers tried one up 11 on 4th-and-1 from the Bears 24. Second, it's insane that up 11, the Packers tried a backward lateral pass on a punt return. Third, once the Bears were back in the game thanks to those gifts, the refs re-gifted the game back to the Packers calling a horrible late hit on Julius Peppers that extended a drive, called a terrible offensive PI on Alshon Jeffery that stalled a drive and then didn't call an obvious PI against Jeffery by Sam Shields. Finally, on the last desperation drive, Jay Cutler took a sack with about 30 seconds left and made such a half-assed attempt to get off a final play, it seemed like he had simply had enough.

The Seahawks scored 50-plus for the second straight game. (The 2007 Patriots who went 16-0 and set the record for points scored in a season, only scored 50-plus twice, and it was over a three-game span.) It's too bad the Bills didn't provide much resistance on offense because Russell Wilson might have had an all-time fantasy day. As it stands, he had 41 points in standard leagues despite handing the ball off for most of the second half.

It brings me great joy to announce I got the Chargers right this week, fading them at home against the Panthers. It was the third time all year. Unfortunately, I lost my Mike Tolbert under 3.5 rushing TDs bet to Kevin Payne during that game.

I knew the Cardinals would come to play after last week's embarrassment, but I had them scoring somewhere between 0 and 37 points. A lot of people streamed Detroit's defense in this game and had to be sorely disappointed when Matthew Stafford staked the Cardinals to a lead that allowed them to take virtually no chances.

When the 32nd-ranked defense shuts you out, it's time to consider some changes on offense. I also lost another bet Jon Baldwin (4 targets, zero catches) vs. Kris Durham (5 targets, 1 catch, 14 yards) to Payne, though I should have stipulated that there's no bet unless either guy gets at least 50 yards or a TD.

Sebastian Janikowski is the best kicker in NFL history. Of course, many who had him (including me) got bounced last week when he scored just one point.

The Steelers-Cowboys was the only remotely good game before Sunday night, and unfortunately I made Pittsburgh my best bet and took them in Survivor as a pot odds play, fading Miami and Detroit. (In the end, I should have gone Seattle, but I didn't trust them on the road). Mike Tomlin rarely loses back to back games, and Dallas almost always chokes in big spots. But to the Cowboys credit, they held it together, and it was the Steelers that made the key mistakes the Antonio Brown fumble, Brown letting the 42-yard punt bounce and roll to 59 yards and of course Roethlisberger's game-sealing pick.

It's amazing the Niners let the Patriots tie the game and still buckled down and got the win in Foxborough on the easiest go-ahead drive in the history of the NFL.

The Jets-Titans Monday night match-up figured to be a dud, and it sure was. Nice work by Mark Sanchez in the mockumentary, though.

Things to Look for in Week 16

The Steelers coming off consecutive losses facing the Bengals in an elimination game.

The suddenly tied-for-first Cowboys home against the Saints.

The Giants with their backs to the wall in Baltimore.

Fresh off their huge win in New England, the Niners head to an equally tough venue in Seattle.

Beating the Book

Falcons -3.5 at Lions

I can't think of a better time to buy the Lions low off an implosion in Arizona and sell the Falcons high after a big win against the Giants. Take Detroit who keeps it close and possibly wins outright. Back the Lions.

Lions 27 20

Last week we lost with the Steelers to put us at 6-9 on the season in this forum and 106-113-5 overall. Last year we went 10-7 in this forum and 124-125 overall. Over the last five years we've gone 50-34 in this space. You can read the full Week 16 column here.

Surviving Week 16

Last week, we lost with the Steelers a pot odds play given the large numbers of players on the Dolphins and Lions. I don't regret fading those two, but the right call was the Seahawks in that case. In any event, let's take a look at this week's slate:

Team Opponent %Taken Vegas ML** Vegas Odds
PANTHERS Raiders 43.70% 387 79.47
Colts CHIEFS 17.70% 260 72.22
Patriots JAGUARS 12.10% 1075 91.49
BRONCOS Browns 9.80% 700 87.5
PACKERS Titans 5.30% 775 88.57
Redskins EAGLES 3.80% 225 69.23
Bears CARDINALS 2.00% 220 68.75
BUCCANEERS Rams 1.70% 155 60.78
DOLPHINS Bills 1.00% 195 66.10
Falcons LIONS 0.90% 192 65.75
STEELERS Bengals 0.80% 193 65.87
TEXANS Vikings 0.60% 350 77.78
Home Team in CAPS
* according to
** average of the two moneylines

Carolina jumps out as the big favorite among teams that are still available to most people. The question is whether to fade them for the less popular Colts, Redskins, Bears, Dolphins or Steelers. (I'm assuming no one has the Pats, Packers, Broncos or Texans available).

According to Vegas, the right play would be a close call between the Colts and Redskins, given that 18 percent are on Indy. I'd probably go with Washington in a must-win game with RGIII likely back. That said, I expect the Panthers to roll against the Raiders, so I might play it safe and go with them anyway. Call it Panthers, then Redskins, then Colts. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind when the full article comes out Thursday night.

Follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Liss.