We saw enormous days from a number of Wide Receivers across the league and while Alshon Jeffery‘s outing was equally impressive, and Eric Decker‘s four touchdowns are more than all but 25 receivers have for the entire season, I want to focus in on Josh Gordon for a minute. Gordon had topped 100 yards and scored a TD 18 minutes into the game against Jacksonville. He wound up as the first player to go for over 200 yards in consecutive games, including what looked to be a game winning 95 yard touchdown late in the second half. Given the QB situation in Cleveland it is actually quite amazing that Gordon has been able to put together the season he has (and, given the fact that he missed the opening two games). Brandon Weeden, meanwhile, built a decent statistical game on the back of Gordon but didn’t move the ball with anyone else, and, committed three turnovers which is fairly typical. Still, Gordon’s mere presence makes whoever is starting at QB a top 20 option in any given week… worth noting in 2 QB leagues or, in late season situations where your starter may be sitting out. On that note, Weeden suffered a concussion so it is unclear whether he, Jason Campbell, or the ghost of Bernie Kosar will be throwing the balls to Gordon in Week 14 but for the receiver’s value, it hardly matters.
Coming into the week, Gordon’s 18.3 yards per reception were the most of any receiver with more than 50 receptions and this week he exceeded that by a considerable amount – catching 10 balls for 261 yards today (and scoring twice). Looking ahead to 2014 he is a lock for a spot among the WR top 10 and an argument could be made to take him in the Dez Bryant range. Gordon sits at 1249 yards through 10 games played in 2013. In the short term, things look good to close the season as well. With a matchup against a New England secondary that is dealing with injuries to a number of key personnel on tap in Week 14 and a presumption that Cleveland will need to throw the ball to stay competitive he could be in for another 14 target game – and given his average per catch, a 100 yard projection feels like the floor. Beyond that, Gordon draws the Jets and Bears and could easily be fantasy’s best receiver in the fantasy playoffs. The short answer then, is that both the short and long term prognosis on Gordon is good. Enjoy the ride while you can, owners.
- Carson Palmer, after committing just one turnover since Arizona’s Week 9 bye lost a fumble on the opening series and followed it with an interception. There were some strong takeaways for the Cardinals, though. Palmer finished with three scores and 300 yards to go with his three turnovers and both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald were productive (the third straight game where Fitz had a touchdown). Rashard Mendenhall ran well enough, too, in Andre Ellington’s absence, you just didn’t notice because he didn’t get in the endzone.
- Rob Gronkowski caught a TD for his fourth straight game, and this one was impressive. Brady had all day to throw and unleashed a rocket, but, Gronkowski had to go very low to make the catch, scooping it off the ground, and rolling into the endzone. Both Gronk and Brady had strong fantasy outings, but beyond that there weren’t a lot of useable pass catchers for New England.
- In a game where the workloads of running backs on both sides were hotly debated, Brandon Bolden drew the start but his use was limited after a few ineffective runs early. Ben Tate, meanwhile, had all the work and ran hard against New England. The defense didn’t seem all that interested in stopping him, mind you, leaving wide open holes on a number of runs but Tate’s 22-102-3 line was a suitable response to a rough outing in Week 12.
- Don’t look now, but, Joe Haden has given up touchdowns and strong fantasy games to receivers in each of the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Ace Sanders – and I’m ok being the only guy trumpeting him – had another eight catches and 67 yards. These aren’t overwhelming numbers, but, particularly in a PPR league he’s got some utility down the stretch. Today’s totals came with Mike Brown in the lineup. In other Jaguars news, Maurice Jones-Drew ran fairly well again and threw for a touchdown this week, maintaining fantasy relevance. The Jags close with Houston, Buffalo and Tennessee, so, there s upside there for MJD (and maybe another couple of wins for the Jaguars). One surprise on his line, he caught just two balls on eight targets – I didn’t see any of the game, outside of the highlights, so it is hard to know what caused the missed connections but you rarely see a back with a 2/8 line.
- Cordarrelle Patterson scored a touchdown as a rusher – he was lined up in the I-formation, too. After the 34 yard scamper on which he evaded multiple tacklers he was either was psyched out by the ref on a high five or pulled the hand away himself.
- Jonathan Stewart failed to capitalize on a backfield that did not include DeAngelo Williams this week, carrying 14 times for 39 yards and allowing Cam Newton to yet again lead the team in rushing yards. Despite having two interceptions, Cam had a nice day, which is coming to be expected. On the other side, for the first time in his career, Mike Glennon failed to throw a TD. I’m still high enough on Glennon to close the season, though.
- Adrian Peterson, obnoxiously, topped 30 carries for the second consecutive game and ran all over the Bears. His fantasy day wasn’t all that it could be as he was held out of the endzone, but, 211 yards rushing were pretty much his floor this week. Peterson will continue to be Peterson, and the groin is clearly of no concern – but, again, I’m more concerned about the Bears. DeMarco Murray gets the Bears coming off his three touchdown outing and ten days rest.
- Andre Johnson owners will be happy with the result of this week’s game against New England. Case Keenum threw to Johnson on all routes and in all coverages. He forced a number of balls his way in double and triple coverages – bad news for real life, likely, but great news from a fantasy perspective.
- Alshon Jeffery displayed great speed getting open downfield on his 80 yard touchdown to start the second half. More impressive, he was pretty heavily interfered with on the entire route and stayed well ahead of the coverage. Jeffery, on his second touchdown, made an amazing catch over Chris Cook and hanging onto the ball going to the ground. Brandon Marshall was relegated to playing a very second fiddle this week, but, while I’d bring Jeffery up toward him in my weekly rankings, I still see Marshall as the biggest threat there from a fantasy perspective.
- Zach Ertz and Brent Celek both had strong TE games, which was somewhat projectable given that Arizona yields TDs to TEs at the highest rate in the league. The matchup could be a bit wasted on St. Louis, Tennessee and Seattle but if you’re looking for a streaming tight end to close the season, there are worse places to look. The three TDs Nick Foles today were distributed amongst the Tight Ends. He had about as good a game as one could expect against Arizona who has been tough on QBs this season. Limiting them to just 15.47 FPPG coming in, on average. In doing so, Foles topped 300 yards and avoided an interception while running his streak of TDs without a pick to start the season to a tie for the most in league history.
- Both Steven Jackson and Roddy White returned from the fantasy-dead this week. With two touchdowns and 84 yards Jackson was very fantasy relevant for the Falcons, and he has now scored in back to back weeks. Atlanta faces the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins in successive weeks, so, he could stay relevant at the outset of your fantasy playoffs. Steer clear in Week 16 against San Francisco, but, lets enjoy the run while it is happening. With White, his 143 yards and 10 catches are by far a season high. He was open, often, and Matt Ryan connected with him on a number of different routes.
- CJ Spiller’s touchdown came on a nice run where he switched directions multiple times. He looked much fresher after a week off to rest his ankle. With that said, he came off hobbling during the first half and still, clearly, isn’t 100%. Also, Fred Jackson had a big game against the Falcons as well – their run defense is in rough shape – so, his result can’t be expected from week to week. He held a slight edge in touches over Jackson this week, so, let’s monitor the practice reports this week and be ready to move with Spiller if it seems like he is in the clear. Jackson remains relevant as well, though. With the Bucs, Jags and Dolphins on slate for the rest of the fantasy season the closing slate is very generous to RBs.
- Peyton Manning’s second interception against Kansas City was a terrible throw. I don’t think anyone made contact with him, and, it came out like a lame duck, wobbly and waiting to be intercepted. Of course, that was just about the only lowlight. Manning would go on to throw for 403 yards with five touchdowns including perhaps the most ridiculous of all the ridiculously large days, with a 4 TD outing from Eric Decker. Wes Welker, meanwhile, had very little production and hasn’t done a whole lot in recent weeks… this is the first time since Week 7 that Decker has seen more targets than Welker, though, so, I’m not overreacting on either side.
- Montee Ball ran well for Denver, with 13 carries for 117 yards, while Knowshon Moreno struggled as a rusher. Moreno had one of the post-play highlights of the day, mind you, and posted 13.2 fantasy points as a receiver but Ball’s performance should be enough to earn him a split of the workload down the stretch as the Broncos aim to keep Moreno fresh. There is flex appeal here.
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- The good news about the mess with the Jets in New York is that you only have to give consideration to one player there for the rest of the season. Chris Ivory is worth a look in the right matchup, otherwise, it’s a wasteland. For Miami, Mike Wallace followed up his best outing of the season with another 82 yards and a score. Lamar Miller averaged under 3.5 yards per carry but his 85 total yards were more than I would have anticipated against New York and his 23 touches in the post-Daniel-Thomas era bode well for the final few weeks – as does the fact that he managed to have 2TDs ruled on the field against this stout defense, though both came back via penalty and review.
- Early on, the decision to go with Donald Brown at tailback over Trent Richardson didn’t seem to be having much of an impact, but, in the end the gap in production between the two was significant. Brown broke through with a late touchdown up the middle, and finished with 64 total yards on 16 touches compared to just five for Richardson. The latter is droppable in most leagues. Otherwise on the Indy offense it was underwhelming. Tennessee represents a tough passing matchup but I don’t think there is much use for any of these guys down the stretch.
- Kendall Wright went right back to his typical line with six catches for 77 yards. The low floor there is great.
- Zac Stacy: 17 carries, 72 yards. Benny Cunningham: 2 carries, 16 yards. So, there goes all that excitement about Cunningham that was manufactured in the wake of a Stacy injury and a matchup with Chicago.
- The Rams worked hard to get Tavon Austin involved, giving him seven targets, one rush and one pass attempt but his 35 total yards was disappointing for anyone who used him this week. This type of low-floor performance makes the high ceiling tough to chase every week, but again, the commitment to keeping him involved should be viewed as a positive.
- Ladarius Green only caught two of his six targets (while Antonio Gates had nine) but with 45 yards and a score he has been over 8 fantasy points in each of the last three weeks.
- It was very encouraging to see Michael Crabtree catch a long gainer against St. Louis. It was also clear on that 60 yard run that he has a ways to go to recover his burst, but, he does give the San Francisco offense a boost. For now, I view Crabtree as a player who helps the value of others around him more than has weekly starter value himself but if I hear good things about his conditioning, response to playing time, etc. then I can be convinced to get him in the WR3 conversation for Week 14.
- Frank Gore’s touchdown obscures a poor day running the football. He lost a fumble, for one, and carried 15 times for 42 yards against a St. Louis run defense that is the 4th most generous on the season, and was averaging more than 27 points per game yielded to the position over the last four weeks. Gore is 30 years old, is on pace for 250 carries this season, and hasn’t topped 100 yards rushing since October 13th, including being held under 50 for back to back weeks. He’s still the unquestioned lead back and has eight scores on the season, so, you’re starting Gore from here on out but the trend is concerning nonetheless.
- Dwayne Bowe had a first half TD called back on a formation penalty and finished with 57 yards receiving on three catches. He was targeted in the endzone at the end of the game as well. The short answer… as Kansas City continues to struggle on defense, Bowe stays relevant.