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Week 14 Fantasy Headlines:
Game Summaries & Fantasy Commentary:
Thursday Night Game:
Fantasy Focus – Denver Broncos: The surprising Knowshon Moreno (32-119-1 rushing and 4-48-0 receiving) continues to impress. His 32 carries against the Raiders was a career high, and the fourth-year pro amassed a career-best 69 yards after contact. Since taking over as the starter for injured Willis McGahee three weeks ago, Moreno has averaged 120.3 total yards per game. During Moreno’s time as the starting tailback, Ronnie Hillman (4-24-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) has touched the ball just 12 total times, and Lance Ball has touched the ball just two total times.
Precision passing attacks like Denver’s continue to struggle in Thursday night games because of the short week of rest. Peyton Manning (26/36 for 310-1-1) failed to toss multiple touchdown passes in a game for just the third time this season, and he should have racked up at least three scoring strikes against the porous Oakland Raiders secondary. Although Eric Decker (8-88-0 on nine targets) didn’t score, he enjoyed his most productive game since Week 9. Demaryius Thomas (5-83-0 on seven targets) saw his streak of three straight games with at least one touchdown grab snapped. After teasing fantasy owners with two strong outings, Jacob Tamme (2-24-0 on five targets) returned to TE2 status with Manning abruptly leaning on Joel Dreessen (5-30-1 on five targets) again. Brandon Stokley played but wasn’t targeted.
Fantasy Tip: In case you missed the game, Thomas left with a shoulder injury but returned. Although the injury is not considered serious – that’s what the Broncos claim – you’ll obviously have to keep an eye on his playing status. Tamme and Dreessen are still too unpredictable to trust.
Fantasy Focus – Oakland Raiders: After missing four contests with a high ankle sprain, Darren McFadden made his return. McFadden (11-52-0 rushing and 2-12-1 receiving) scored Oakland’s only touchdown of the game. Although McFadden looked a bit rusty, he ran well overall. Marcel Reece (4-10-0 rushing and 1-5-0 receiving) was a non-factor. The Raiders fell behind and had to abandon their running game.
In the passing department, Carson Palmer (19/30 for 273-2-1 passing) polished up his final stat line with some garbage-time production, and he committed two costly turnovers. The first came on a bad pass intended for Brandon Myers at the goal line. Palmer also lost a fumble at his own two-yard line to set up Knowshon Moreno’s touchdown run. Getting back to Myers (1-7-0 on two targets), he obviously disappointed fantasy owners with his worst showing since Week 4. Myers inexplicably had some extra blocking duties against a defense that has struggled all year against tight ends. In addition, Palmer was leaning heavily on Darrius Heyward-Bey (5-82-1 on six targets) and rookie Rod Streater (4-100-0 on seven targets). Denarius Moore (4-43-0 on six targets) hasn’t hauled in more than four passes in a contest since Week 8.
Fantasy Tip: McFadden, as you may know, tweaked an ankle, but the injury is not considered serious. In case you’ve forgotten, struggling big-play threat Moore was benched two weeks ago, which is why he remains a risky WR2 play going forward. There are whispers that Oakland may bench Palmer to give Terrelle Pryor more playing time. If you own any Raiders receivers, keep this in the back of your mind.
Early Sunday Afternoon Games:
Fantasy Focus – St. Louis Rams: Danny Amendola (heel) was inactive for the second straight week. Struggling with his accuracy and facing heavy pressure all game long, Sam Bradford (19/39 for 209-1-1 passing and 4-13-0 rushing) racked up some unremarkable fantasy numbers. However, he was sacked just once. Bradford led St. Louis’ game-winning scoring drive that culminated with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson (6-100-1 on nine targets) with 48 seconds left. Chris Givens (3-25-0 on 10 targets), who faced extra defensive attention most of the game, hauled in a two-point conversion reception on the next play. Steven Jackson (19-64-1 rushing and 1-9-0 receiving) made just his third house call of the season, but his streak of games with 110-plus total yards was snapped at two.
Fantasy Tip: The 100-yard outing was Gibson’s first of the season, but don’t chase his numbers. Gibson has been notoriously inconsistent throughout his career. If Amendola returns next week, Gibson still would take a back seat to him and Givens. By the way, Givens will return to high-risk-high-reward deep threat role when Amendola is healthy enough to play again.
Fantasy Focus – Buffalo Bills: Head coach Chan Gailey’s running back rotation continues to frustrate fantasy owners and defy common sense. Although Buffalo led most of the time during a contest played in rainy, chilly conditions, C.J. Spiller (7-37-0 rushing and 1-15-0 receiving), who is obviously the Bills’ most explosive weapon, touched the ball just eight total times. Spiller also amassed more total yardage than Fred Jackson (9-14-0 rushing and 5-16-0 receiving with one lost fumble) and never touched the ball in red zone. He left the game with an ankle injury.
Game-manager Ryan Fitzpatrick (25/33 for 247-1-1 passing and 3-5-0 rushing) rarely went deep; most of his passes were of the dink-and-dunk variety. Fitzpatrick’s lone interception was on the final play of the game, and he was sacked four times. Steve Johnson (6-71-0 on eight targets) has caught six passes in four of his last five games played, but he has scored just once during that stretch. Scott Chandler (5-71-0 on five targets) compiled season highs in catches (tie) and receiving yards. Backup tight end Lee Smith (1-2-1 on one target) hauled in Fitzpatrick’s only touchdown pass of the game.
Fantasy Tip: Jackson’s injury apparently is serious. If he doesn’t play next week, Spiller obviously should receive a heavy workload. Don’t chase the numbers from Chandler’s fluky outing.
Fantasy Focus – Atlanta Falcons: An inspired Carolina Panthers defense pitched a shutout until late in the third quarter. The Panthers offense also slowed down the Falcons offense by playing keep away, holding the ball for 35:47. Matt Ryan (34/49 for 342-2-1) didn’t truly get into sync until Atlanta went no-huddle in the second half. The struggling Ryan tossed multiple scoring strikes for the first time since Week 10, and he was sacked just twice. As expected, Roddy White (9-117-1 on 11 targets) rebounded from his dismal Week 13 showing with a season-high nine grabs, finding the end zone for the first time in nearly two months. Julio Jones (5-66-1 on 11 targets) scored for the second time in the last three weeks, but he had two notable drops. Jones didn’t make many big plays, and his scoring grab came on a screen pass near the goal line. Tony Gonzalez (8-61-0 on nine targets) caught mainly short passes and check downs.
The Atlanta rushing attack continues to wither on the vine. Michael Turner (7-14-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) scored in his fourth straight game, but compiled a season-low 14 rushing yards. Jacquizz Rodgers (4-21-0 rushing and 6-43-0 receiving) outrushed Turner for the third time this season, but his rushing statistics are nothing to brag about. Most of Rodgers’ catches came on check down throws.
Fantasy Tip: You probably agonized about whether to start the slumping Ryan this week, and I hope you made the right call. In Week 15, the Falcons triggerman will face the New York Giants. Big Blue held Ryan to 199 passing yards with no touchdown passes in the playoffs last year. Is Ryan a safe play? After watching the Giants defense contain pocket passers Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in the last three weeks, I have my doubts right now.
Fantasy Focus – Carolina Panthers: Brandon LaFell (toe) and Jonathan Stewart (ankle) were both inactive. One has to wonder if the Panthers would be in playoff contention if Cam Newton had played this well earlier in the season. Newton (23/35 for 287-2-0 passing and 9-116-1 rushing) channeled his rookie-season self, compiling his third straight fantastic fantasy outing. The second-year pro scored on a 72-yard run on his way to amassing a career-best 116 rushing yards. Newton’s chemistry with go-to receiver Steve Smith (7-109-0 on 12 targets) has been vastly improved. During the last two weeks, Smith has notched two 100-yard games and scored once. Greg Olsen (4-55-1 on five targets) has caught a touchdown pass in two straight outings. Louis Murphy (5-36-0 on nine targets) got the start in place of LaFell but had a quiet game.
Despite receiving a season-high number of carries, DeAngelo Williams (17-56-0 rushing and 2-56-1 receiving) racked up some unremarkable rushing numbers, but he scored on a 53-yard touchdown reception. The score was Williams’ fourth house call of the season. Mike Tolbert (5-20-0 rushing and 3-18-0 receiving) was a non-factor.
Fantasy Tip: No earth-shattering fantasy developments with the Panthers this week. If you made it to your fantasy playoffs with Newton as your quarterback, he is repaying you for enduring his early-season struggles. Newton’s next two matchups are favorable.
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