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Week 16 Fantasy Headlines:
Game Summaries & Fantasy Commentary:
Saturday Night Game:
Fantasy Focus – Atlanta Falcons: Were you among the shrewd Roddy White owners who shook off his bad Week 15 outing and all the gloom-and-doom talk about his bum knee and started the eighth-year pro? Merry Christmas! Roddy White (8-153-2 on 10 targets) led all Atlanta receivers with his second-best outing of the season. Julio Jones (7-71-1 on 11 targets) scored in his seventh road game with an impressive end-zone grab. However, Tony Gonzalez (1-9-0 on two targets) burned his owners with his worst game of the season. Gonzalez obviously took a back seat to the White/Jones tandem in this contest. Despite facing tons of pressure in the second half from the Detroit Lions front seven, an efficient Matt Ryan (25/32 for 279-4-0; sacked just once) treated his owners to a season-best four touchdown passes. By the way, backup tight end Michael Turner hauled in Ryan’s fourth scoring strike of the game.
Michael Turner (13-41-0 rushing and 4-16-0 receiving) never got on track against an aggressive Lions defense that keyed on him regularly. His streak of five straight games with a touchdown ended. Even though Turner was struggling, Jacquizz Rodgers (6-14-0 rushing and 1-11-0 receiving) received his lowest number of touches since Week 10.
Fantasy Tip: Since the Falcons have clinched the No. 1 NFC playoff seed, they have nothing at stake in their Week 17 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If your league unwisely holds its fantasy bowl next week, don’t expect to see Atlanta’s offensive stars – particularly White – play the entire game.
Fantasy Focus – Detroit Lions: Thanks to Matthew Stafford (37/56 for 443-0-1 passing and 1-2-0 rushing) looking his way early and often, Calvin Johnson (11-225-0 on 16 targets), Johnson shattered Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s 17-year-old record of 1,848 receiving yards in a season. “Megatron” currently has 1,892 receiving yards, and he has a good shot to top the 2,000 mark next week. So much for the Madden curse. Stafford pulled off the rare feat of passing for more than 400 yards with no touchdown passes, which is yet another reminder of Detroit’s struggles in the zone. However, Stafford completed passes to 10 different receivers, including Tony Scheffler (4-41-0 on six targets) and Will Heller (4-34-0 on seven targets).
Mikel Leshoure (15-46-1 rushing and 3-20-0 receiving) scored the Lions’ only touchdown of the game. However, he averaged just 3.1 yards per carry and became a non-factor when Detroit fell behind. During the last two weeks, Joique Bell (4-10-0 rushing and 9-73-0 receiving) has lost touches in the rushing department, but he has been involved in the passing attack.
Fantasy Tip: The Lions host the Chicago Bears in Week 17. Although Detroit has little at stake – they’re out of the playoff race and Johnson has his record – Stafford and company probably will play hard in front of the home fans. Right now it’s a question mark whether the game will be meaningful for Chicago.
Early Sunday Afternoon Games:
Fantasy Focus – Oakland Raiders: Carson Palmer (3/3 for 31-0-0) was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with injured ribs after taking a nasty hit in the back, crippling an already anemic Raiders offense. Backup Matt Leinart (16/32 for 115-0-1 passing) was unable to move the offense, settling for check-down passes most of the afternoon. Darrius Heyward-Bey (2-31-0 on six targets) led the team in receiving yards. Denarius Moore (3-12-0 on seven targets) and Brandon Myers (3-10-0 on four targets), as you probably suspected, also had quiet games. Myers has been a huge disappointment to fantasy owners in recent weeks, amassing less than 20 receiving yards in three straight games.
The Carolina Panthers defense bottled up Darren McFadden (17-33-0 rushing and 3-15-0 receiving) and Mike Goodson (4-12-0 rushing and 1-8-0 receiving). Marcel Reece (0-0-0 rushing and 4-18-0 receiving) topped all Raiders with four catches.
Fantasy Tip: Palmer looks like a long shot to play in Week 17 against the San Diego Chargers, which obviously makes all other so-called Raiders fantasy stars weak plays at best.
Fantasy Focus – Carolina Panthers: The Oakland Raiders offense didn’t put up a fight, so Cam Newton (18/29 for 170-1-1 passing and 12-60-1 rushing) didn’t need a “Superman” effort for his team to win. By the way, he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second half for bumping a referee. Newton was lucky that he wasn’t ejected. Steve Smith (4-45-1 on eight targets) hauled in Newton’s lone touchdown pass. Smith has either caught a touchdown pass or amassed 100-plus yards in four straight games. Greg Olsen (6-53-0 on seven targets) led the team in catches and receiving yards.
Fantasy Tip: In Week 17, Newton and company will hit the road to face the New Orleans Saints. Although both teams are out of the playoff hunt, they’re still playing hard. Newton, Smith and Olsen are all expected to play the entire game.
Fantasy Focus – New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees (37/53 for 446-3-0 passing and 1-(-1)-0 rushing) tied his season high in passing yards while completing passes to seven different receivers. Marques Colston (10-153-0 on 13 targets) topped all New Orleans receivers in this contest with his first 100-yard game since Week 5. Jimmy Graham (7-88-0 on 11 targets) logged a solid outing, but he hasn’t scored in five consecutive outings. Lance Moore (4-30-1 on five targets) has caught a touchdown pass in two straight games.
Brees targeted his running backs in the passing game more than usual. Darren Sproles (9-48-0 rushing and 7-104-0 receiving) amassed a season-best 152 total yards. Little-used Pierre Thomas (7-16-0 rushing and 7-61-1 receiving) compiled a season high in receiving yards while hauling in his first touchdown grab of 2012. Mark Ingram (21-53-1 rushing and 1-7-0 receiving) did little as a receiver, but he scored for the third time in the last four weeks. By the way, Brees seems more efficient when the Saints running game is productive and keeping defenses honest.
Fantasy Tip: Although the Saints will miss the playoffs, they’re still playing hard. New Orleans will host the Carolina Panthers in Week 17 at the Superdome. All the Saints fantasy stars are expected to start and play the entire game.
Fantasy Focus – Dallas Cowboys: DeMarco Murray (11-40-0 rushing and 4-51-0 receiving) tied a season-low in carries in a very pass-happy game. Murray also lost a fumble on Dallas’ five-yard line in the fourth quarter that led to a New Orleans Saints score.
Tony Romo (26/43 for 416-4-0 passing and 0-0-0 rushing) carried the offense on his back with his fourth 400-yard game of the season. During the last month, Romo has tossed 10 touchdown passes against just one interception. Despite playing with a broken finger, Dez Bryant (9-224-2 on 12 targets) was just about unstoppable. He racked up the biggest outing of his career, which included a career-high 224 receiving yards. Bryant could have amassed bigger numbers if the Cowboys had gone to him more in the second half. Miles Austin (4-45-1 on eight targets) scored but dropped a few passes. Dwayne Harris (1-16-1 on three targets) also hauled in a scoring grab. Although Jason Witten (6-60-0 on eight targets) didn’t score, he broke Tony Gonzalez’s record of 102 catches by a tight end in a season.
Fantasy Tip: The Cowboys fantasy stars have a meaningful game next week. Despite the loss, Dallas is still alive for an NFC East division title and a playoff berth. It’s all on the line in Week 17 when the Cowboys play their final road game of the regular season against the upstart Washington Redskins.
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