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Decker, Baldwin capitalize in Week 16
As we (the fantasy nation) pause momentarily to attend to the holiday festivities, I wish you great joy, a mountain of gifts and hopefully ample opportunities to do some “peacocking” following Sunday’s action. All year, I preach about next games and caution against strutting and boasting and patting yourself on the back too much. Following the Sunday night matchup between the Seahawks and 49ers, that moratorium was lifted.
Post those box scores on Facebook and Twitter. Make a Griswoldian light display for your league’s members to see as they come to your holiday party. Send the text messages and revel in the moment.
If you were defeated in the finale, then you’ve already started running numbers and assembling spreadsheets, tweaking algorithms and formulae for 2013.
The game doesn’t sleep, and neither should you.
There are some leagues that are still playing out Week 17. We’ll pause for Christmas before putting the schedule under the microscope with the content and chats that you’ve come to expect. We’ll be monitoring practice notes regarding injuries, the ceremonial shutdown efforts of teams entrenched in the playoffs and those looking ahead to 2013.
Thank you for being part of the action in 2012 and making FOXSports.com part of your prep work each and every week. I appreciate your support, derision and feedback. I’ll see you on the road for training camp.
For now, I put the games of Week 16 back in the spotlight and focus on those achieving red zone brilliance.
Red Zone Rushes
Shonn Greene leads the list of red zone heroes for Week 16. Greene logged five red zone carries, producing five total yards and two touchdowns. He earned 38 rushing yards on 14 attempts, but added to his fantasy day with two receptions for 42 yards.
News came down late that Alex Green had not been cleared for the Packers against Tennessee, leaving gambling fantasy owners the option of starting Ryan Grant. Grant delivered a championship-worthy performance with 25 yards on four red zone carries, including two touchdown plunges. He generated 114 total yards on 21 touches (80 rushing yards) in the Packers’ annihilation of the Titans.
Matt Forte scored a red zone touchdown (four yards) for the Bears before leaving Sunday’s win at Arizona because of an ankle injury. Forte rushed for 88 yards in the game before his departure, including eight yards on two red zone carries. He’s tied for 20th in red zone carries (21), delivering 77 yards and four touchdowns.
Knowshon Moreno owners watched Jacob Hester vulture a touchdown run for the second straight week. Hester carried the ball twice in the red zone, rushing for two yards. Moreno produced eight yards on his three red zone carries.
Steven Jackson found the end zone once again as part of the Rams’ road win over the fading Buccaneers. Jackson posted two red zone carries for six yards, including a five-yard touchdown run. He finished the game with 81 yards on 19 carries. Jackson needs 10 yards in the season finale to reach 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season.
Marshawn Lynch rumbled over 100 yards against the 49ers on Sunday night (111), his 10th game with at least 98 rushing yards this season. However, the 49ers did present a challenge in the red zone, limiting Lynch to 14 yards on eight red zone attempts.
Red Zone Pass Attempts
Fantasy owners that trusted Joe Flacco based on the matchup against the struggling New York secondary were rewarded with a huge game. Flacco passed for 309 yards with two touchdowns and added a touchdown run early in the game. He produced his third straight multi-touchdown game, and this time led the Ravens to a win. Flacco tied for the most Week 16 red zone pass attempts with nine. He completed four of those throws for 17 yards, including a touchdown.
Josh Freeman tied Flacco for the lead in red zone attempts on Sunday, but he couldn’t crack the St. Louis defense. Freeman completed four attempts for 30 yards and was sacked once. Freeman completed 30-of-54 attempts for 372 yards with one touchdown (Mike Williams) and four interceptions. He added 18 rushing yards to offset some of the turnover damage. Freeman has thrown eight interceptions with a single touchdown throw in the past two weeks.
Drew Brees completed four of his eight red zone attempts in a thrilling overtime win over the Cowboys. He passed for 30 yards, including three touchdowns. Brees passed for 446 yards, putting him 229 yards from 5,000 for the season. Would you believe that Brees has thrown 89 red zone passes this season? He’s thrown 28 red zone touchdowns without an interception.
I can’t talk red zone efficiency without discussing Russell Wilson’s utter domination of the San Francisco defense on Sunday night. Wilson completed 5-of-6 red zone attempts for 36 yards, including four touchdown throws. The rookie from Wisconsin has made a huge statement down the stretch, producing multiple touchdowns in 7-of-8 games to propel the Seahawks into the playoffs.
Red Zone Targets
I could have posted about Reggie Bush’s huge day in the rushing department, but I’ll celebrate his two red zone touchdown receptions here. Bush caught both of his red zone targets from Ryan Tannehill for 29 yards. He also rushed for four yards on three red zone attempts, adding a rushing touchdown in the Dolphins’ easy win. Bush finished the game with 107 total yards on 23 touches.
Justin Blackmon tied Vincent Jackson for the Week 16 red zone target lead with four. Blackmon caught two of Chad Henne’s passes for eight yards, including a three-yard touchdown early in the close loss to New England.
Dwayne Harris saw significant action in the red zone during the Cowboys’ overtime loss to New Orleans. Harris was targeted in the red zone three times, and caught a huge 16-yard touchdown pass as the Cowboys charged back in the fourth quarter.
Doug Baldwin caught both of his red zone targets from Russell Wilson, producing 10 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the blowout win over the 49ers. Baldwin entered the game with 23 receptions and a single touchdown reception in 2012. He caught 4-of-6 targets for 53 yards on Sunday night.
Eric Decker was the recipient of both of Peyton Manning’s red zone touchdown throws. Decker caught both of his red zone targets for 18 yards. He finished the game with 65 receptions on six receptions (six targets), leaving him 12 yards from the 1,000-yard mark for the season with Kansas City on tap for the finale.
Finally, Mike McCarthy loves your fantasy football team. With a 34-0 lead over the Titans, Aaron Rodgers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to James Jones. Jones scored his 10th red zone touchdown of the year, and finished the game with seven receptions for 100 yards. He caught 2-of-3 red zone targets on Sunday for 18 yards.
Random Stat Pulls
I shan’t delve into too deep a discussion of Calvin Johnson’s record. I understand that fantasy owners still cast an angry eye at his low touchdown total (five), but it’s awfully difficult to look past his string of eight consecutive 100-yard games. He’ll face one of only three defenses to keep him under 60 receiving yards this season (34) when the Bears visit Detroit in Week 17. Remember, Johnson dropped an early deep pass that could have gone the distance in a lackluster 13-7 loss to Chicago on the Monday night stage in Week 7. He needs 108 receiving yards to reach 2,000.
Antonio Gates scored for the second consecutive week in the Chargers’ road win over the Jets. He’s caught multiple passes in all but one game this season, but has eclipsed 50 receiving yards just three times. Gates finished Sunday’s win with 44 yards on two receptions (three targets).
Arian Foster left Sunday’s loss to Minnesota because of an irregular heartbeat. We wish him a speedy recovery. Early Monday, it was reported that Foster would likely be available for Sunday’s finale against the Colts. That’s great news for the Texans and fantasy owners, but I’m more concerned that no rash decisions are made. We’ll keep an eye on this story as it develops. Foster has amassed 29 total yards on 12 touches with a lost fumble before departing Sunday’s game. Check the wire for Justin Forsett and Ben Tate as insurance.
The Buccaneers failed in another home tilt to the surprising Rams (7-7-1). Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson both eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark in defeat. Williams posted seven receptions on 17 targets for 132 yards with a touchdown catch. He’s posted 931 receiving yards and eight touchdowns running opposite Jackson this season.
A.J. Green caught 10-of-18 targets for 116 yards in the Bengals’ upset road win over Pittsburgh, including a huge catch along the sideline that set up Josh Brown’s game-winning field goal. I would be remiss if I failed to note that Green has scored a single touchdown in his past five games.
Teammate BenJarvus Green-Ellis struggled mightily against the stout Pittsburgh run defense. Green-Ellis produced 14 yards on 15 carries. That is not a misprint.
Brandon Marshall and the Bears saw the defense come alive with two touchdowns in Arizona. Marshall still lifted the Chicago offense with six receptions for 68 yards, including a touchdown. He’s scored 11 times this season with over 1,400 receiving yards despite the absence of a reliable second option in the passing game.
Marques Colston caught 10-of-13 passes for 153 yards, and had tight end Jimmy Graham save the day by recovering a fumble. Garrett Hartley kicked the game-winning field goal following that play. Would you believe that it was Colston’s first 100-yard game since Week 5?
Dez Bryant continued his second-half dominance with an eye-popping performance. Bryant delivered nine receptions for 224 yards and two touchdown grabs in the narrow defeat. The third-year star from Oklahoma State has scored in seven consecutive games, and needs 12 receptions to join teammate Jason Witten in the “100-catch club” for 2012. The Cowboys face the Redskins in the regular season finale on Sunday night.
Ray Rice carried fantasy owners to championship glory in what appeared to be a tough spot against the Giants (top-10 in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs entering Sunday). Rice amassed 107 rushing yards on 24 attempts, adding 51 receiving yards with a touchdown on six receptions.
The San Diego defense sacked Greg McElroy 11 times on Sunday. This week, they’ll face either Matt Leinart or Terrelle Pryor at home.
Chris Johnson gave you 41 total yards on 13 touches (28 rushing yards) in the Titans’ weak performance in Green Bay. Johnson has rushed for nearly 1,200 yards this season, but has failed to top 30 rushing yards on five occasions (seven games with fewer than 60 rushing yards).
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