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Fantasy Football: Week 14 Recap

You could make a case for Week 14 as the most exciting week of the 2017 regular season. We had our first blizzard game, the Browns nearly had a win, and some guy called Trey Burton led all tight ends in fantasy points (24.1). Seriously, though, this was a big week for owners, and quite an unpredictable one. There were some big breakout performers that we’d kinda forgotten about, and a few big names that were a real Debbie downer. Here’s your recap:

Thumbs Up

  • Can the Cowboys actually salvage this thing? They might actually have a shot if Dak Prescott has anything to say about it. He led all quarterbacks from the 1PM games with 26.6 points, and for the fourth time this year, he threw for three touchdowns. Prescott also helped Rod Smith owners out immensely, finding the second string running back on a nice slant pass over the middle. Smith took it 81 yards to the house, tallying a handy position-leading 33 points.
  • It’s a shame Jamaal Williams didn’t receive more of a chance earlier in the year because we could be looking at a potential Rookie of the Year favorite right now. The Packers star was brilliant once again on Sunday, putting up 118 scrimmage yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s really found some chemistry with quarterback Brett Hundley, who looks his way often on screen passes. Williams is still available in around 20% of leagues, but he’s certainly shaping up to be a sleeper ahead of 2018.
  • Surprised to hear Frank Gore hadn’t cracked 100 rushing yards prior to Sunday? It’s been a pretty steady year for the veteran, but this is the kind of week faithful owners knew he was capable of. In heavy snow against a ragged Bills defense, Gore rushed for 130 yards during the Colts’ overtime loss, and although he failed to find the end zone, he still ranked 12th among all running backs with a tidy 15 points.
  • Guess we can’t write off the Panthers just yet. Cam Newton made the magic happen against the Vikings on Sunday, redeeming himself from a late fourth-quarter interception that allowed Minnesota to tie the game 24-24. It appeared we were heading for overtime at one stage, but Cam decided to peel off a 61-yard scramble and run to take the Panthers down to the 10-yard line. It’s the kind of effort the Panthers needed from Newton, especially after he had another so-so day in the air, passing for just 137 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Bills/Colts game had draw written all over it, at least until LeSean McCoy decided to throw in his two cents. A simple inside run proved to be the game-winner for Buffalo, after McCoy broke two tackles on his way to the end zone. That touchdown plus 156 yards gave owners 21.6 points, McCoy’s fourth-highest total this season.
  • It’s scary to think just how dominant this Packers offense could be (again) with Aaron Rodgers potentially returning next week. In the meantime, give Brett Hundley some credit, as he showed some real poise on Sunday, even if it was against the Browns. Not once but twice, he found Davante Adams for touchdowns, one of which was a gutsy Rodgers-like call to throw on third down with just 20 seconds remaining in the game. While Hundley helped out the small percentage of fantasy owners that own him, Adams’ 30.4 points certainly did, and we really have to start considering him as an early second-round option next year.
  • When Case Keenum found Adam Thielen for a 52-yard touchdown with under six minutes to go, you really felt like the Vikings could pull this comeback off. Of course, that wasn’t the case, but Thielen’s 105-yard, one-touchdown day was enough of a win for owners, walking away with 22.5 points. Sunday marked the fourth time this season Thielen has put up 100 yards or more, and the fifth time he’s put up 20 PPR points or more.
  • Jonathan Stewart has accomplished a lot in his nine-year career, but three rushing touchdowns he had not. At least that was the case up until Sunday. Stewart put up 103 yards during the Panthers’ win, including the game-clinching touchdown on a leap across the goal line on third-and-two. As great as all of that was, though, it’s still crazy to think three touchdowns was good for only 28.3 fantasy points and the fourth-highest total amongst running backs this week.
  • And here’s Jordan Howard bouncing back again! After two straight weeks of misery, Howard’s 147-yard, two-touchdown effort gifted owners 28.5 points, his second highest total of the year. It might be wise to cool your expectations, though. With games against the Lions, Browns, and Vikings left, it could be an up-and-down end to the season.
  • What do we have here? Jimmy Garoppolo with more fantasy points than Newton, Jared Goff, and Kirk Cousins? It happened, and so did his first 300+ yard passing game in the NFL. The 49ers’ new starter finished with 15.1 fantasy points this week, even though he’s owned in just 22.9% of leagues. He’s still a ways away from being seriously fantasy relevant, but Garoppolo has really sparked other members of the 49ers offense, including Carlos Hyde.
  • The Raiders run defense had allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns coming into Sunday, so it looked like it could be a tough day for Kareem Hunt and Co. After establishing the ground game early, however, Hunt surprised with 116 yards and his first rushing touchdown since Week 3. After a solid month of mediocre performances, Hunt was once again among the Top 10 running backs this week, finishing with 22.8 points.
  • Rounding out Week 14’s gold star nominees is, of course, Ben Roethlisberger. Are we seriously looking at an MVP candidate? He threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns, while also completing 44 of his 66 passes! Just keep in mind this was a quarterback a lot of people wrote off at the start of the season because he’s “too old.” If you drafted him late, you have to be laughing yourself to sleep.

Thumbs Down

  • The Vikings’ running game totaled 100 yards against the Panthers, and for those of you who have become accustomed to seeing Latavius Murray go nuts, you would’ve been sorely disappointed in his 4.0 point effort.
  • Did the Bengals really just quit? Or were the Bears just better? Either way, the Bengals seemed to quit on Andy Dalton late in the fourth quarter, benching him in favor of A.J. McCarron. It cost owners some potential garbage time stats, but really, if you were unfortunate enough to start Dalton this week, his 7.6 fantasy points probably cost you your matchup anyway.
  • You hate to think where the Texans would be right now without DeAndre Hopkins. He was once again magnificent against the 49ers, but in reality, he had to be with Houston’s run game going extinct. For the sixth time this season, Lamar Miller managed between 50-60 yards. He’s still yet to crack the 100-yard mark this season. Against a Niners defense that has allowed the fourth-most rushing yards per game (123.9), you had every right to expect a lot more.
  • It was always going to be an uphill battle for the Raiders, but Derek Carr made life almost impossible on Sunday. Oakland was embarassed by the Chiefs, and so were owners who sat by and watched him throw for 211 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Carr finished with 10.4 fantasy points, his lowest total since Week 6 against the Chargers.
  • How do you solve a problem like Mike Evans? No, seriously, I’d like to know. For the fourth time this season, he posted 50 yards or fewer, and he finished with his second lowest points total of the year (4.5). Evans is an easy candidate for the most frustrating player of the year, and with Jameis Winston targeting him only five times all game, it certainly doesn’t help matters.
  • Looks like it really could be a lost season for Greg Olsen now. Plenty of owners pounced on him off the waiver wire upon his return from a broken foot, but so far he’s rewarded us with only 7.8 fantasy points accumulated across the four games he’s played in. It doesn’t help when Newton continues to look ordinary in the passing game, but it’s a tough pill to swallow for one of the most consistent tight ends across the last 10 years.
  • Does Kirk Cousins deserve a mulligan? It’s the first time this season he’s posted 10.0 fantasy points or fewer, and against a ferocious Chargers pass rush, it’s probably no surprise to see him post 151 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
  • Wait, wasn’t Marcus Mariota supposed to be an elite sleeper this season? Over the last three weeks, he’s thrown just 493 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, and Sunday’s schmozzle against the Cardinals was perhaps the final nail in the coffin. Tennessee still has a chance at the playoffs, but with a serious lack of receivers, it’s hard to see them making much noise. Mariota finished with a season-low 3.5 fantasy points, and if you’re still starting him, it’s hard to see your fantasy team making much noise, either.
  • Back to under-performing tight ends for a second. Charles Clay has certainly gone by the wayside. Factor in the weather, if you will, but his 3.1 fantasy points were the lowest he’s posted so far this season. It doesn’t help when Joe Webb throws up intended targets to be intercepted by the other team, but Clay’s value is certainly diminishing week by week.

On the Shelf

  • Heartbreaking loss not only for fantasy owners, but Eagles fans in general. No one likes to see a superstar like Carson Wentz go down, and since all signs are pointing towards an ACL tear, his season looks to be over.
  • Guess it was too good to be true after all. Josh McCown exited the game in the second half with what was later revealed to be a broken hand. It’s likely McCown’s season could be over, and judging by how emotional he was during the postgame press conference, the 38-year-old’s career might be, too.
  • Looks like Marcus Mariota does have an excuse for Sunday’s sloppy effort against Arizona: Head coach Mike Mularkey announced after the game that his quarterback played on despite suffering a knee injury.
  • Sticking with quarterbacks, Nathan Peterman and Tom Savage both left their respective games on Sunday to be evaluated for a head injury. There’s still no word on the severity.

Surprise, Surprise

The Lions’ running back situation looked firmly in the hands of Ameer Abdullah, as the 24-year old has dominated weekly rankings ahead of Theo Riddick. On Sunday, though, Riddick was given a golden opportunity to prove just how athletic he is, as Abdullah sat on the sidelines due to what was described as a “coach’s decision.” Not to fear, Riddick went to work, coming just a half point shy of a career high in fantasy points, posting 27.3 during the Lions’ close win over the Bucs. It looks like Riddick will factor in heavily on short-yardage situations, and although he’s rushed for just three touchdowns all season (two coming on Sunday), he’s in line for some serious work on the goal line moving forward.

Mr. Irrelevant

The Seahawks always faced a tough test matching up with the top-ranked pass defense in the league, but not a single catch for Jimmy Graham? Now that’s impossible! Russell Wilson threw his way only twice against the Jaguars, as Graham posted his first shutout since 2014. As far as tight ends go, Graham can be hit and miss at times, but at least you often know what you’re getting with him. Prior to Sunday, he’d posted 10 fantasy points or more across 10 straight games.

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