Week 12 Fantasy Blitzkrieg
Back after a one week absence due to my wedding. Every week during the season, I will throw out some quick observations of the previous NFL week. With the invention of the DVR and Directv’s ”Quick Bits”, I am able to watch almost every snap of every game and give you a lightning “blitz” war “krieg” to bring to your fantasy league for domination. Bring on the games!
The Lions met the Packers for the first Thanksgiving game. The 27-15 score doesn’t tell the entire story. Green Bay led 24-0 at the end of the 3rd quarter and let off the gas in the 4th quarter. Matt Stafford’s performance of 32 completions from 45 attempts, 276 yards passing and 1 TD, look good once you remove the 3 interceptions he threw. Kevin Smith ran well until he suffered an ankle injury (10 touches for 57 yards) and Maurice Morris took over after the injury with 120 total yards, including 9 receptions. The injury to Smith doesn’t sound very serious at this time, but please continue to hold onto Morris with Jahvid Best now on the IR. Calvin Johnson had a garbage time TD catch with less than 12 seconds on the clock and only caught 50% of his targets. Rookie Titus Young had a 13 yard reception and a two point conversion catch, while Nate Burleson added 50 yards on 6 touches. It is fair to say we all expected more against a poor Green Bay secondary. The Packers offense, however, was in control the entire game. Aaron Rodgers threw for a 66% completion rate for 307 yards and 2 TDs. He didn’t see much pressure even though the Packers running game stunk once again with 54 yards between 4 running backs. Greg Jennings caught his 5 targets for 74 yards including a 3 yard TD and James Jones took another big play (65 yarder) all the way to the house to finish with 94 yards on 3 catches. Rodgers spent most of his time dinking and dunking down the field. Ndamukong Suh was thrown out of the game for stepping on an offensive linemen so plan for a replacement if you own him.
The second turkey game was a little more exciting as it went down to the last-minute as the Cowboys squeezed out a 20 to 19 victory against the Dolphins. Replacement kicker, Shayne Graham, made 4 of 5 field goals to lead the Dolphins in scoring. Miami came close to the end zone many times, but only got there with a 35 yard TD catch by Brandon Marshall from Matt Moore (19 for 32, 288 yards). Marshall had a good day with 5 catches for 103 yards and Brian Hartline reappeared from the fantasy abyss with 4 for 77 yards on 5 targets. Reggie Bush had 96 total yards on 19 touches. LB Kevin Burnett had a season high 11 solo tackles with an assisted tackle for Miami. Tony Romo overcame 2 early interceptions to finish with almost a 65% completion rate, 226 yards, and 2 TD passes to Laurent Robinson. Robinson led the Cowboys with 7 receptions for 79 yards. These two were on the same page and found openings throughout the game. DeMarco Murray added 128 yards on 26 touches to keep the Dolphins defense honest.
The Harbaugh vs Harbaugh matchup was something to see on NFLN. This was the best defensive game of the day or was that the ugliest? The Ravens sacked poor Alex Smith 9 times with 3 of those sacks going to Terrell Suggs. Smith had another junk day for the 49ers with 140 yards and an interception. Frank Gore had 48 yards combined on 15 touches; I think that tells the story that the Ravens got after the 49ers. Michael Crabtree had 6 receptions for 54 yards on 9 targets and he was their best receiver by far. Joe Flacco threw one less pass for the same number of completions of his counterpart (15) for 161 yards and a TD to Dennis Pitta. Anquan Boldin had 4 catches for 63 yards and was the only piece of the puzzle that was stretching the field. Ray Rice had a relatively quiet game with 83 total yards on 24 touches against a very good 49ers defense. Look for a big bounce back game for the Ravens vs. the Browns next week.
The AFC South matchup between the Texans and Jaguars was a hard-fought game that was closer than most thought. Blaine Gabbert looked good for a quarter and then derailed as he finished the 3rd quarter by completing 45% of his passes for 136 yards and an interception. Journeyman Luke McCown entered the game near the 4th quarter to spark the Jags offense. MJD did everything he could once again as he finished with 99 yards on the ground and caught 4 passes for 67 yards. He only got one goal line carry and had two long receptions. If you just look at the box score, Marcedes Lewis may appear by the numbers, 4 receptions for 47 yards, to have a good game. Truth is Lewis had 12 targets with two of them in the end zone; he dropped one of those and lost track of the other ball in the end zone. Quarterback was an issue for the Texans as well as Matt Leinart was injured in the 2nd quarter and replaced by rookie T.J. Yates. Yates looked like a gamer in his first series as it appeared he was reacting to the defense without thinking. In the second half, he struggled with what the Jags defense was doing. Arian Foster had a quiet game with 65 yards rushing and a TD with 7 catches for 24 yards. Joel Dreessen had a 20 yard TD from Leinart, his only catch. Andre Johnson had a quiet début after 8 weeks off with 2 receptions for 22 yards. I would be a bit concerned with inexperienced Yates as the offensive signal caller when using all Texans.
The Eagles/Patriots game may look like it would be closer when you see the passing stats of Vince Young (400 yards passing, 40 yards rushing). Young looked fantastic on his first few drives and then ended up playing catch up for the rest of the game. He did only have a TD and a threw one pick. DeSean Jackson had a decent first half with 4 catches for 73 yards, but bobbled at least 4 of his 10 targets. Jason Avant was Young’s go-to guy in the second half with 8 receptions for 110 yards and the touchdown catch. Both Riley Cooper (3-71 yards) and Brent Celek (5-75 yards) kept the sticks moving for Philly. LeSean McCoy had another Clark Kent type day with 61 total yards on 14 touches with a goal line TD. The Pats did a good job of mixing the run and pass early as BJGE had 44 rushing yards and 2 goal line TDs. The other New England running backs all got a chance to touch the ball, but were not very effective. Tom Brady had another outstanding day by throwing for a 71% completion rate, 361 yards, and 3 TDs. He added 28 yards rushing and only completed passes to four players. After a little lull in the action in the last few weeks, Wes Welker was the go-to guy with 8 receptions for 115 yards and 2 TDs. On his first TD, Welker split the safeties and ran to daylight for 41 yards. Deion Branch stretched the field with 125 yards on 6 catches. Rob Gronkowski was used early on, but seemed to take the 2nd/3rd quarters off to finish with 4 receptions for 59 yards and a TD. Aaron Hernandez filled in for the lack of running game in the 2nd/3rd quarters with 6 catches for 62 yards.
The Falcons game against the Vikings played out like most of us thought. The Vikings got behind 14 points early and the Falcons let them come back a little. Replacement running back, Toby Gerhart, had 63 yards and a TD on 19 touches. He looked decent against a very good run defense, but that was more his offensive line than his talent. Christian Ponder kept on grinding as he completed 68% of his passes for 186 yards and a single TD to Percy Harvin. Harvin overcame bad ribs to rush for 11 yards on 5 carries and was the Viking’s leading receiver by catching all 8 of his targets for 95 yards. He also almost had a kickoff return TD late in the game (4 yards short). The Falcons were firing on all cylinders as Matt Ryan completed 79% of his passes, threw for 262 yards and 3 TDs. Michael Turner had issues with the Minnesota defense limiting him to 60 yards on 19 carries. Rookies Jaquizz Rodgers (5 touches for 31 yards) and Julio Jones (1 target) struggled, with Jones’ case being more about his hamstring. Harry Douglas showed explosion on his shallow crossing route he took to pay dirt and Tony Gonzalez found the fountain of youth catching all 9 of his targets for 69 yards. Roddy White had an outstanding day catching 10 passes for 120 yards and scored a tippy toed TD on 13 targets.
The Sunday Night in America game, the Steelers vs. the Chiefs, was a sloppy mess. I’m not talking field conditions, but the actual play. Tyler Palko looked like he should still be on the Steelers practice squad with 167 yards in the air and 3 interceptions. The last pick sealed the game for Pittsburgh. Dwayne Bowe had the best offensive game for the Chiefs with 7 catches for 69 yards on 11 targets. He missed a couple that could have resulted in TDs and didn’t fight for the ball on Palko’s last interception. The Chiefs running game was brutal averaging 2.64 ypc. Jonathan Baldwin caught 2 for 26 yards and Steve Breaston added 44 yards on 4 receptions. The Steelers offense misfired often as Mike Wallace missed 2 TD passes. Wallace only had 2 for 17 yards on 6 targets. Antonio Brown had 4 catches for 81 yards to lead his team. Ben Roethlisberger only threw for 193 yards, 67% completion rate, a TD to rookie TE Weslye Saunders, and an interception. Rashard Mendenhall had 67 total yards on 19 touches, and looked explosive a few times. Backup RB Mewelde Moore had a crucial fumble in the red zone early in the game. The Steelers defense may have some issues going forward as Troy Polamalu may be out for a while with concussion type symptoms.
The “Battle for Ohio” was one of the tightest games played this past Sunday with the Bengals edging the Browns. It all started with Colt McCoy who only completed 47% of his passes for 151 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 interception. McCoy looked lost at times, but also dealt with the unsure hands of Greg Little. Little caught 5 passes for 57 yards and a TD, but passes were bouncing off his shoulder pads and hands as 8 of his targets fell to the ground. Slot receiver Jordan Norwood looked great catching 4 passes for 69 yards and McCoy’s other TD. Peyton Hillis showed his old burst at times on 19 carries for 65 yards, but looked slow on other touches. Rookie DE Jabaal Sheard had a great game with 4 tackles (2 of them for loss), 1 forced fumble, and 1 sack. The Bengals got great production from Cedric Benson who had 25 touches for 130 yards and a touchdown. He gashed the Browns and made everyone that tried to arm tackle him pay. Andy Dalton looked poised going 21 of 31 for 270 yards and threw a single TD pass to Jermaine Gresham. Gresham was a great safety value, fighting for the ball, and did a great job shielding the defender on his TD catch. AJ Green only had 3 catches, but made them count for 110 yards. He was great at stretching the field and making plays with Joe Haden in his hip pocket.
The Panthers and Colts had an exciting game and if not for two interceptions thrown by Curtis Painter in the end zone, the Colts might have gotten off the snide. Painter had a day that didn’t make you forget about Peyton Manning by throwing 52% completion rate, 226 yards, and a TD to Reggie Wayne. Wayne had his best statistical day with 5 receptions for 122 yards and 1 TD on 7 targets. Keep in mind for both teams that their respective defenses stink and this game could be an aberration. Donald Brown came off the scrap heap to turn 15 touches in 97 yards and a TD. He is trying to cement himself a starting job with someone next year. The Panthers knew exactly where to hit the Colts, on the ground. Jonathan Stewart, the battering ram, had 13 touches for 82 yards and ran angrily. His counterpart, DeAngelo Williams, showed explosion and glided to 69 yards and 2 TDs on 15 carries. Cam Newton had a relatively quiet day by completing 74% of his passes for 208 yards and ran the ball nine times for 53 yards and a TD run that he sashayed through the defense. Steve Smith once again was the leading receiver with 68 yards, but only managed to catch 3 out of Cam’s 7 targets.
This was a tight battle in the AFC West, the slumping Chargers vs. the Broncos, that went to OT. I don’t care what the Chargers’ front office says, there is something wrong with Phillip Rivers. He completed 53% of his passes for 188 yards and threw a TD to Antonio Gates. Gates had 6 catches for 49 yards on 10 targets, but seemed to lack explosion. Ryan Matthews was gliding in and out of holes while finishing with 142 yards on 23 touches. Matthews was the superior back to Mike Tolbert this week. Vincent Jackson had a very quiet 2 receptions for 25 yards with Champ Bailey on him some of the time; the same cannot be said of the coverage on Vincent Brown who caught 3 for 50 yards on 10 targets. Brown had issues tracking the ball and lacked body control to make plays on the ball. Elvis Dummervil got to Rivers twice for sacks and rookie sensation Von Miller had 6 solo tackles, 2 assists, a sack, and a pass defended. Willis McGahee ran well with 117 yards on 23 carries. Tim Tebow continued his ascension to fantasy stardom by completing 50% of his passes for 143 yards and a TD pass to Eric Decker. Tebow also added 67 yards on the ground, while Decker caught 3 of his 6 targets for 65 yards. Decker should have made two more spectacular catches to have a better day.
If you like offenses, the Monday Night Football game was a pleasure to watch with 73 points scored. Even though Eli Manning’s team lost the game, he finished with 406 yards, a 70% completion rate, 2 TD passes to Victor Cruz, and an interception. Cruz got behind the defense for a 72 yard scoring bomb and was the most productive Giants receiver with 157 yards on 9 catches. Hakeem Nicks almost broke two long TD plays, but was denied each time. He did finish with 87 yards on 7 receptions and left briefly with rib issues so expect another week with little practicing. Brandon Jacobs appeared to have lost another step with his 13 carries for 46 yards and a TD performance. Once again, Drew Brees played the fantasy superstar role by throwing for 363 yards, 4 TD passes, and ran in a TD. Two of those TD passes went to Lance Moore who finished with 5 catches for 54 yards. He was wide open early and was the #2 receiving option behind Jimmy Graham. Graham was the recipient of the other 2 Brees TD passes. He finished with 5 receptions for 84 yards and took a big forearm shot to the head while being bent backwards. Marques Colston had a quiet game save for one series, but still managed to finish with 78 yards on 3 catches. Mark Ingram had his best game to date with 94 combined yards on 15 touches. He was the hammer for the Saints offense and finished with a 35 yard TD run. Pierre Thomas, looking great in space, provided 110 yards on 11 touches and added a 12 yard TD that no Giant came close to touching him.