Have you survived, or did the flame get extinguished?
I’ll begin this week’s run toward championship week with a nod to the Week 15 fantasy resurrection of one of our past fantasy heroes.
Ray Rice exploded for 233 total yards on 36 touches with two touchdowns, including a beautiful 17-yard touchdown reception from Joe Flacco. Rice finished the Week 15 win over New Orleans with 153 rushing yards on 31 carries while adding 80 receiving yards on five receptions.
He’d scored once in the Ravens’ previous eight games. Still, I know you want more touchdowns, but Rice is on pace to fall just short of his huge total yardage mark of 2009.
I’m curious to see the final numbers, but some fantasy owners threw up the proverbial “Hail Mary” and inserted Tim Tebow into their lineups this weekend. They celebrated his early 40-yard touchdown sprint and then had to be impressed by his 33-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Lloyd (four receptions for 79 yards).
Tebow passed for 138 yards (8-of-16), but rumbled for 78 yards on eight runs. Don’t fight it. He’s a mighty intriguing option for Week 16 against the Texans.
The Redskins also turned to a new quarterback in Week 15, putting Rex Grossman under center for a divisional matchup against the Cowboys. He didn’t play particularly well early, but finished with a flurry to leave fans and fantasy owners perplexed.
Grossman passed for 322 yards with four touchdowns, two two-point conversions, five sacks and two interceptions. Grossman and the Redskins have a good matchup against the Jacksonville secondary on tap.
Santana Moss shone for the second straight week in the fantasy playoffs. He caught eight passes for 72 yards and scored twice in the thriller against Dallas (he ALWAYS plays well against Dallas). Moss has caught five or more passes in 11 games this season.
Chris Cooley scored for the first time since Week 4 against the Cowboys. He caught five passes for 62 yards and also nabbed a two-point conversion.
Deep threat Anthony Armstrong caught five passes for 100 yards, a nice rebound from a tepid Week 14 performance.
Ryan Torain didn’t gain much traction on the ground because of the early deficit, but he made his mark on this game by catching Grossman’s first touchdown pass. Torain caught five passes for 48 yards and rushed for 53 more. He’s reached 100 total yards in each of the last four games that he’s completed.
I suspected that we might see a decent fantasy point total out of Matt Flynn Sunday night against the Patriots. I just didn’t believe that he’d achieve such numbers while playing with a lead. Flynn and the Packers ultimately succumbed to the Patriots, but there was a lot of good to be seen in his 251-yard, three-touchdown performance. He absorbed five sacks and turned the ball over twice, including an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
– Third receiver James Jones caught a beautiful throw over the top and sprinted for a 66-yard touchdown. Jones caught five passes for 95 yards.
– Greg Jennings amassed only 30 receiving yards on four receptions, but he snatched an 11-yard pass out of the end zone to help extend the Green Bay lead to 17-7.
– John Kuhn caught Flynn’s third touchdown pass. He finished with 48 total yards on nine touches. –
Brandon Jackson rushed 22 times for 99 yards, his best rushing effort since Week 5. Jackson needs to earn 39 total yards in the next two weeks to reach 1,000 for the season (he enters Week 16 with 645 rushing yards and 316 receiving yards).
Tom Brady didn’t light up the scoreboard against the Packers. Those who needed a monster game to get through to the championship round didn’t get it (163 yards). So, he ends up in fantasy limbo this week. Brady did connect with rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez for two touchdown strikes in the comeback win. Hernandez caught four passes for 31 yards.
I’m still wondering how Jamaal Charles got caught at the tail-end of his 80-yard sprint against the Rams. Still, he rebounded nicely from the Week 14 shutdown by the Chargers to contribute 126 rushing yards, a touchdown and 27 receiving yards (three receptions).
It was Charles’ third 100-yard game in the past four weeks and brought his season total to 1,303 yards (6.4 yards per carry). He needs 282 total yards against the Titans and Raiders to reach 2,000 for the season.
Thomas Jones scored for the sixth time this season and helped to kill clock in the 27-13 victory over St. Louis. He carried the ball 22 times for 62 yard, adding one reception for 16 yards. Congratulations are also in order for Jones, who reached the 10,000-yard mark for his career in the victory. He needs 172 rushing yards in the final two weeks to reach 1,000 for this season.
Steven Jackson amassed 104 total yards (67 rushing and 37 receiving on five receptions) and scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season in the Week 15 loss to Kansas City. He’s scored in three of the Rams’ past six games and has now logged 1,148 rushing yards this season, his third best rushing total during his fantastic six-year run of 1,000-yard seasons.
Jonathan Stewart didn’t find the end zone, but he rushed for 137 yards in the Week 15 win over Arizona. I know that he lost a fumble in this game. I can’t dismiss the big yardage total from a player started at the RB2 position this week.
Larry Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 125 yards against the Panthers. It was Fitzgerald’s second 100-yard game of the season. Despite the myriad issues in Arizona this season, Fitzgerald needs just 14 receiving yards in the final two weeks to reach 1,000.
Michael Vick turned in one of the most ridiculous halves in fantasy history. At halftime, Vick was hovering around zero points depending on your scoring system. He finished with 40 or more on the strength of his four total touchdowns (three passing and one rushing). Vick passed for 242 yards while rushing for 130 more.
Vick has now accounted for 28 total touchdowns (eight rushing) against six turnovers (nine fumbles, but only one lost).
Jeremy Maclin was Vick’s top target on Sunday, registering seven receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns. He’s now caught 10 touchdowns this season and needs 110 receiving yards to reach 1,000. Maclin has caught four or more passes in 11 games this season.
Brent Celek took advantage of a mismatch in space and rumbled for a 65-yard touchdown to stun the Giants’ faithful. He caught two passes for 72 yards in the dramatic comeback victory. Unfortunately, fantasy owners had to leave Celek on the bench after he’d been shut out in Week 14.
Eli Manning posted a huge game against the Philadelphia secondary. Manning completed 23-of-39 attempts for 289 yards with four touchdowns and one interception (two sacks). It was his 10th multi-touchdown effort of the season. He’s averaging 247 passing yards per game.
Hakeem Nicks didn’t post a huge game against Philadelphia, but he joined Maclin in the 10-touchdown club with his grab in this crushing loss. Nicks finished with six receptions for 63 yards, his ninth game with at least five receptions this season. He needs 41 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the season.
Mario Manningham logged eight receptions for 113 yards with two touchdowns and a lost fumble against the Eagles. Manningham has caught three or more passes in 10 games this season.
Kevin Boss also continued his red zone dominance with another touchdown grab against the Eagles. He caught three passes for 59 yard and scored for the fifth time in his past seven games.
Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams rebounded nicely from last week’s shutdown at the hands of DeAngelo Hall. Williams caught six passes for 96 yards against the Lions and scored his eighth touchdown of the season. He’s caught four or more passes in 10 games.
LeGarrette Blount earned his second 100-yard game in the past three weeks with a strong 110-yard effort against the Lions. Blount sprinted 39 yards for an early touchdown, his sixth of the year. The rookie out of Oregon has rushed for at least 82 yards in four of the past six weeks.
Maurice Morris took the reins as the lead back for the Lions against the Buccaneers in Week 15 and generated 109 yards on 15 carries. He scored his third touchdown of the year, adding three receptions for 10 yards. Jahvid Best’s continued struggles because of a turf toe injury put Morris on the radar for a bigger workload in the final two weeks.
Calvin Johnson caught a single pass in Week 14 for 44 yards. He rebounded nicely with a tremendous 10-reception, 152-yard performance against the Aquib Talib-less Buccaneers. He matched a season-high mark with his 10 receptions and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season in this contest.
Did you start Cedric Benson or did you issue a vote of “no confidence” in the Cincinnati offense? Benson earned a season-high 150 yards on 31 carries and scored for the fourth time in his past five weeks. He topped 1,000 rushing yards for the season with this effort, his third 100-yard game of the season. Fantasy owners might think twice about starting him this week with the Chargers on tap.
Colt McCoy returned to the Cleveland lineup and posted a strong effort in the loss to Cincinnati. McCoy completed 19-of-25 attempts for 243 yards with two touchdowns and four sacks (zero turnovers). Brian Robiskie (five receptions and 82 yards) and Robert Royal scored for the Browns.
Ben Watson didn’t find the end zone, but I’ll give him a nod here for his seven-reception, 92-yard performance.
Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has me sold. Build the offense around him for 2011 and keep C.J. Spiller in a box to have him healthy and ready for the opener. Fitzpatrick passed for 223 yards with two touchdowns and one interception with 19 rushing yards and two sacks against the Dolphins. He’s now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 15 straight games.
Bu Stevie Johnson broke out of a three-game funk and returned to the end zone against Miami. He caught six passes for 69 yards and scored his 10th touchdown of the year. Johnson needs 57 receiving yards in the next two weeks to reach 1,000 for the season.
Brandon Marshall snagged a season-high 11 receptions for 106 yards and scored his third touchdown in the narrow loss to Buffalo. It was Marshall’s third 100-yard game of the season and just his fifth with at least 60 receiving yards.
Jon Kitna was another plug-in hero for fantasy owners in Week 15. He passed for 305 yards (25-of-37) with two touchdowns, his fifth multi-touchdown effort of the season. Kitna added 11 rushing yards and was sacked twice. He did not commit a turnover in this game.
Jason Witten caught 10 passes against Washington, his third 10-reception effort of the season, for 140 yards. He also scored his seventh touchdown of the season to match his previous career-high mark. Witten has scored in three straight games (four during this streak).
Miles Austin caught just three passes for 38 yards, but he did score for the sixth time this season. Alas, it was also his fifth straight game with fewer than 50 receiving yards.
Felix Jones didn’t find the end zone, but he did make the most of his touches. Jones carried the ball 12 times for 70 yards and added two receptions for 47 yards. The gadget play that sprung Jones for a 32-yard reception was a well-conceived and executed play. Jones has logged at least 83 total yards in the past six weeks.
Tashard Choice scored for the third time in the past four weeks and generated 84 total yards on 19 touches (53 rushing).
Peyton Manning passed for 229 yards (29-of-39) with two touchdowns in the 34-24 win over Jacksonville. He earned his 11th multi-touchdown game of the season and did not commit a turnover for the second straight game. Manning needs to pass for 301 yards in the final two games combined to set a new career high.
Austin Collie caught both of Manning’s touchdown passes and had Indianapolis fans and fantasy owners excited about the close of the season. Collie caught eight passes for 87 yards before departing with another concussion.
Donald Brown also shone brightly in the Colts’ win over Jacksonville. Brown rushed for 129 yards on 14 carries, including a 49-yard sprint to the end zone for his first touchdown since Week 2. He’s now logged 33 touches in the past two weeks and has exhibited the burst that made him a top pick out of Connecticut.
David Garrard delivered a strong performance against the Colts, completing 24-of-38 attempts for 294 yards with two touchdowns and one interception (one sack). He’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in four of his past six games and has quietly tallied 22 passing touchdowns this season.
Mike Sims-Walker isn’t lighting up the yardage column, but he sets up nicely for Garrard in the red zone. Sims-Walker caught both of Garrard’s touchdown throws to bring his season total to seven. He caught four passes for 42 yards, his fifth game with at least four receptions this season.
Drew Brees passed for 267 yards with three touchdowns and one interception (three sacks) in Week 15 against Baltimore. Brees has thrown multiple touchdowns in 11 games this season. Alas, he’s also thrown at least one interception in 10 consecutive games (19 overall).
Rookie tight end Jimmy Graham matched a career-high with five receptions against the Ravens. He caught two of Brees’ touchdowns strikes and finished with 29 receiving yards.
Lance Moore scored his eighth touchdown of the season with a tremendous effort in the end zone. He only caught two passes for 26 yards, but this was a phenomenal grab.
Joe Flacco completed only 10 passes on Sunday for 172 yards, but he did toss two touchdowns with three sacks. Flacco has thrown multiple touchdown passes in eight games this season.
Kerry Collins served as a solid fantasy fill-in for Week 15 with 237 passing yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception and was sacked three times. Collins connected with Nate Washington and Justin Gage on his touchdown strikes and completed six passes to Kenny Britt for 128 yards.
Chris Johnson gave his fantasy owners another strong playoff effort in the Week 15 win over Houston. Johnson rushed for 130 yards, his eighth 100-yard game of the season, and scored his 11th rushing touchdown.
Matt Schaub passed for 325 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in another failed comeback effort by the Texans. He’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in five of the past six games.
Andre Johnson only tallied 58 receiving yards on six receptions during Sunday’s loss to Tennessee, but he scored his eighth touchdown. He’s averaged 6.6 receptions and 93.5 receiving yards per game this season.
Matt Ryan shook off a slow start to produce a huge game for fantasy owners and led the Falcons to a resounding 34-18 road win. Ryan passed for only 174 yards, but tossed three touchdown passes to bring his season total to 25. He hasn’t been shut out since the season opener against Pittsburgh.
Roddy White returned to the end zone for the first time since Week 10 against the Seahawks. White caught seven passed for 65 yards, his ninth game with at least seven receptions this season. He’s averaging 91.8 yards per game.
“Super sleeper” Michael Jenkins delivered a touchdown reception from Ryan as well. Jenkins caught three passes for 48 yards and scored for the second time in the past three weeks.
Marshawn Lynch didn’t log a huge effort against the Falcons, but he took advantage of his goal-line opportunity and scored for the fourth time in the past three weeks. Lynch added one reception for 17 yards.
Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 100 yards with a touchdown on 17 carries against the Jets on Sunday. It was his 10th touchdown run of the season and fourth 100-yard effort of the season.
Mike Wallace caught seven passes for 102 yards against the Jets, his fifth 100-yard game of the season. Wallace has caught three or more passes in 10 games this season. The second-year receiver has now topped 1,000 yards (1,048).
Braylon Edwards emerged as the receiving star for the Jets on Sunday. Edwards caught eight passes for 100 yards, taking advantage of the extra attention afforded teammate and former Steelers star Santonio Holmes.
Finally, I need to doff the proverbial cap to Oakland running back Darren McFadden. McFadden rushed 20 times for 119 yards against the Broncos. He added four receptions for 39 yards and lost a fumble.
I’ll celebrate the high yardage mark, though Michael Bush earned the goal-line love (he scored twice). McFadden’s big rushing effort propelled him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season (1,112).
I’ll ask the question you fear. Where does McFadden stack up on your early 2011 draft board?