In The Spotlight - Week 16 In Review
Dec 23, 2013
More articles from Matt Wilson
Week 16 Fantasy Headlines:
Game Summaries & Fantasy Commentary:
Early Sunday Afternoon Games:
Fantasy Focus – Miami Dolphins: The upstart Bills defense absolutely smothered the Dolphins, limiting them to a season-low 103 total yards and a measly six first downs. Ryan Tannehill’s streak of games with multiple touchdown passes ended at three. The second-year pro completed just 10 of 27 throws for 82 yards, which were all season lows, with zero touchdowns and zero picks. Tannehill took seven sacks and was under siege all afternoon. He left briefly in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.
The running game was just as horrible as the passing attack. The performance of Lamar Miller (3-8-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) was very close to a season worst. You can say the same for Daniel Thomas’ outing (9-6-0 rushing and 1-3-0 receiving).
Fantasy Focus – Buffalo Bills: Miami never threatened, so the Bills were content to run the football. Fred Jackson (19-111-1 rushing and 2-7-0 receiving) scored the only touchdown of the game on a nine-yard run in the second quarter, and he notched his first 100-yard effort of the season. By the way, Jackson played with broken ribs. C.J. Spiller (20-77-0 rushing and 3-26-0 receiving) received an ample number of touches, but he didn’t make any big plays as usual. Spiller has scored just once in Buffalo’s last 10 games.
Because E.J. Manuel (knee) was inactive, Thad Lewis made his fourth start of the season. The rookie struggled against a solid Miami secondary, completing 15 of 25 passes for 193 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Rookie Robert Woods (3-70-0 on five targets) was on his way to a solid outing before he was ejected in the third quarter for throwing a punch. Woods still topped the Bills in receiving yards. Scott Chandler (2-31-0 on three targets) had a quiet outing. Stevie Johnson (personal) was inactive.
Fantasy Talk: The Dolphins still are trying to clinch a playoff berth, so you can expect to see their fantasy stars play in a Week 17 home matchup against the Jets. Tannehill and the Miami passing attack should get back on track against a soft New York secondary. As for the Bills, they have a tough Week 17 road contest against the Patriots. New England needs a win to lock up a first-round bye.
Waiver Wire Prospects: None
Fantasy Focus – New Orleans Saints:
Windy and wet weather partially explains why the vaunted New Orleans offense struggled in its third straight road contest. Drew Brees (281 passing yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs) was out of sync all afternoon. He took six sacks from an inspired Panthers defense and was pressured numerous times.
Brees salvaged what could have been a dismal fantasy outing by tossing his only scoring strike of the game to Jimmy Graham (5-73-1 on 11 targets) midway through the fourth quarter. Brees has thrown just three touchdown passes against four picks in his last three road games. Graham has hit pay dirt in four of his last five contests.
Marques Colston (5-63-0 on 10 targets) saw his streak of games with at least one scoring grab snapped at two. No other New Orleans wide out or tight end caught more than three passes or amassed more than 47 receiving yards.
The Carolina defense absolutely neutralized the Saints backfield. Pierre Thomas (4-8-0 rushing and 5-7-0 receiving) amassed a season-low 15 total yards. Darren Sproles (1-2-0 rushing and 3-18-0 receiving) compiled a season-worst 20 total yards. Mark Ingram (13-83-0 rushing and 1-7-0 receiving) was surprisingly the most effective runner of the three. However, he missed close to a quarter of action because of an undisclosed injury.
Fantasy Focus – Carolina Panthers: The New Orleans defense did a very good job of containing the Panthers offense most of the afternoon. With Jonathan Stewart (torn MCL) inactive for the second straight week, DeAngelo Williams operated as Carolina’s featured runner. Williams (12-67-1 rushing and 1-0-0 receiving) racked up the bulk of his rushing yardage on a 43-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter. The Saints, however, bottled up Williams in the second half. Mike Tolbert amassed six total yards on three total touches.
Cam Newton (181 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 INT; 4-6-0 rushing) struggled with his accuracy throughout the game, and failed to make any plays with his legs for the second straight week. Newton hooked up with little-used Domenik Hixon (2-18-1 on three targets) on a game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds. Newton has tossed just one touchdown pass in each of his last three games and has amassed just 18 yards on the ground in his last two outings.
The loss of Steve Smith (knee) obviously impacted Newton and the entire Panthers offense. Smith (1-44-0 on two targets) left in the first quarter. Newton’s struggles impacted the performance of Greg Olsen (4-35-0 on seven targets), who also drew more defensive attention after Smith left the game.
The Saints need a win to lock up a playoff berth, so Drew Brees and company obviously will play as usual in a Week 17 home matchup against the Buccaneers. Brees and the vaunted New Orleans passing attack should rebound at the Superdome.
As for the Panthers, they have clinched a playoff berth. Carolina can lock up an NFC South title and a first-round bye with a Week 17 road win over the Falcons. By the way, the Panthers are still in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Bottom line – Carolina’s fantasy stars will play the entire game versus Atlanta. Keep in mind that the Falcons are still playing hard.
Waiver Wire Prospects: None
Fantasy Focus – Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings offense never had a realistic chance on the road against an elite Bengals defense. Minnesota amassed just 209 total yards. The streaky Matt Cassel reminded us why he is not franchise quarterback material. After racking up nice fantasy outings two weeks in a row, Cassel (114 passing yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs; 3-16-0 rushing with one lost fumble) disappointed with a very bad showing. His lone touchdown pass went to Jarius Wright (1-36-1 on two targets) on a nifty bootleg.
What had been a hot Matt Cassel-to-Greg Jennings connection during the last three weeks fizzled badly. Jennings (4-27-0 on six targets) racked up his worst fantasy outing since Cassel took over as the Vikings starter in Week 13. In the fourth quarter, Cordarrelle Patterson (3-8-0 on seven targets) took a handoff out of the backfield and ran 35 yards for a touchdown, which salvaged an otherwise dreary fantasy outing. Patterson toted the rock three times for 54 yards.
Adrian Peterson (11-45-0 rushing and 1-2-0 receiving) touched the ball just once in second half. The Vikings apparently decided to rest their banged-up franchise player after falling behind 28-7 in a meaningless game.
Fantasy Focus – Cincinnati Bengals: “Good Andy” showed up to lead the Bengals to 35 offensive points during this blowout victory. Andy Dalton (366 passing yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs; 1-10-0 rushing) compiled one of his best fantasy outings of 2013. Dalton has passed for multiple touchdowns in three straight contests.
A.J. Green (7-97-2 on 12 targets) caught two scoring grabs in a game for only the second time this year. Green has found the end zone at least once in three of his last four games. Jermaine Gresham (3-49-1 on three targets) hit pay dirt for the second time in three weeks. Mohamed Sanu (4-35-1 on six targets) scored for only the second time this season. Marvin Jones (6-85-0 on seven targets) was the other stat-sheet standout.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (12-24-1 rushing and 1-10-0 receiving) tallied Cincinnati’s first touchdown of the game, but the Vikings did a nice job of bottling him up. Giovani Bernard (13-20-0 rushing and 2-47-0 receiving) also didn’t find much room to operate.
Vincent Rey returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
Key Injuries: None
The Vikings will close out their season with a meaningless Week 17 home contest against a sagging Lions team that was eliminated from the playoff hunt. How hard will Minnesota play? How hard will Detroit play?
The Bengals have clinched a playoff berth, but they remain in contention for a first-round bye if the Patriots lose. Their fantasy stars tentatively are expected to play in a Week 17 home matchup against the Ravens. Don’t expect Baltimore to play poorly two weeks in a row.
Waiver Wire Prospects: None
Fantasy Focus – Denver Broncos:
The Broncos offense rebounded from a disappointing Week 15 showing. As you surely know by now, Peyton Manning (400 passing yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs) set a new NFL single-season record by tossing his 51st touchdown pass of the season, which was a 25-yard scoring strike to Julius Thomas (6-78-1 on eight targets) with a little more than four minutes left in the game.
By the way, it’s the eighth time that Manning has tossed at least four touchdown passes in a game this season. Thomas has hit pay dirt in two of his last five games.
The running game took a back seat this week. Knowshon Moreno (11-76-0 rushing and 2-26-0 receiving) ran well, but he was kept out of the end zone for the second straight week. Montee Ball toted the rock just four times for 32 yards and didn’t catch any passes.
Fantasy Focus – Houston Texans: Houston amassed just 240 total yards. Matt Schaub got the start in place of the injured Case Keenum (sprained thumb), but even the presence of the veteran Schaub (176 passing yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs; 1-5-0 rushing) couldn’t spark a Texans team that gave up on the season weeks ago. Schaub took three sacks and was erratic most of the afternoon.
Andre Johnson (4-63-0 on 13 targets) dropped what would have been a touchdown reception in the end zone. The 11th-year pro managed to top the 100-catch mark in a season for a record-tying fifth time in his career. Promising rookie Ryan Griffin (5-66-0 on five targets) led Houston in catches and receiving yards, amassing a decent stat line in PPR scoring formats. Keshawn Martin (4-35-1) hauled in Schaub’s only scoring strike of the game.
With Ben Tate (ribs) lost for the season, Dennis Johnson drew the start. However, Johnson (12-29-0 rushing and 2-1-0 receiving) played poorly and was benched in the second half for Deji Karim (8-30-0 rushing and 1-(-1)-0 receiving).
Key Injuries: None
Fantasy Talk: The Broncos have wrapped up a first-round playoff bye. Denver still needs to beat the Raiders in Week 17 to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, so everyone is operating on the assumption that Peyton Manning and company will play next week. You know the Broncos will decimate the Oakland defense.
It looks like Houston will close out 2013 with Dennis Johnson and Deji Karim playing in a fantasy unfriendly timeshare. The Texans have a meaningless Week 17 road matchup against the Titans. I wouldn’t trust any of Houston fantasy stars.
Waiver Wire Prospect: Deji Karim (flier value)
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