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Houston 34, Detroit 31
After becoming a stalwart in fantasy leagues, the Houston DST has been on a downhill slide of late with gaping holes in pass coverage perpetuated by piss poor tackling. One week after getting torched by Jaguars' second string quarterback Chad Henne, the Texans pass defense - minus shutdown cornerback Jonathan Joseph - were abused all game long by Matthew Stafford. Losing OLB Brooks Reed for 2-4 weeks with a groin injury, the Texans DST is still considered start-worthy, but no longer amongst the elite fantasy options. At minimum, we should begin making alternate plans for Week 14 with the Patriots on the schedule.
As the Lions continued to rack up points, the Texans passing offense was forced to keep pace as evident by Matt Schaub’s 315 yards and one touchdown along with Andre Johnson’s 188 yards. I still view Schaub as a lower QB1 in games the Texans can dominate, but after a slow start to the season Andre Johnson has resumed his role as a WR1.
Recently injured Owen Daniels was seen rotating in and out of the game which resulted in a subpar four receptions for 20 yards. Fortunately for fantasy owners, Daniels snuck under the defense for a nine yard touchdown. Despite a reduced role over the past two games, Daniels red zone presence makes him a TE1 option.
Matthew Stafford and the Lions passing game went ballistic on the Jonathan Joseph-less Texans pass defense, compiling 441 yards and two touchdowns. As always the primary beneficiary was Calvin Johnson racking up 140 yards and one touchdown. However, the most intriguing player to fantasy owners was the insertion of rookie Ryan Broyles into the starting lineup. After the mid-week benching of Titus Young, Broyles played a major role Thursday resulting in six receptions on 12 targets for 126 yards. We should also note Calvin Johnson’s postgame comments suggesting the continued use of Broyles as the Lions number two wide receiver. Broyles may or may not be available in your league, but if he’s on the waiver wire run out and grab him immediately. As for Young owners, that’s your decision to make, but I’ve already dropped him.
Mikel Leshoure has been a real boost of late punching in his fourth touchdown in as many games. Now the clear cut lead back in Detroit, Leshoure is solid high end RB2 moving forward.
Washington 38, Dallas 31
The Redskins delivered a strong dose of reality to the Cowboys third ranked fantasy pass defense as Robert Griffin III shot more holes in the secondary than an Alabama road sign. Griffin ended the day with 311 yards and four touchdowns – boo yah!
On the receiving end of Griffin’s performance was the reemergence of Pierre Garcon. After missing six games with an unknown foot ailment, the “French Waiter” amassed 93 yards highlighted by dump pass turned into a 59-yard touchdown slicing through the Cowboys secondary. Leading the team in targets, it would appear Garcon has resumed his rightful role as the Skins No. 1 wide receiver, making him a solid WR2, just in time for the holidays.
I’ve been shying away from recommending Santana Moss over the past couple of weeks, but his recent production is undeniable. Scoring his sixth touchdown in seven games means Moss warrants starter consideration every week. Be reminded, if he doesn’t find pay dirt his yardage alone will not save your day. I see Moss as a risky WR3.
Those concerned over Alfred Morris’ mini-slump can back away from the ledge. Racking up 24 touches for 113 yards and one touchdown, this game serves as a reminder that he is the real deal as a high end RB2 or better.
Typical Cowboys. Show a complete lack of urgency in the first half, fall way behind, then play catch-up for the remainder of the game. The Cowboys loss is fantasy owner’s gain as Tony Romo lifted off with 441 yards and three touchdowns. Yet another player who started the season at a snail’s pace, Romo has reestablished himself as a mid QB1, just watch out for that Week 15 matchup vs. Pittsburgh.
Felix Jones has been a pleasant surprise since taking over for the injured DeMarco Murray surpassing 10 fantasy points in five of the seven games he started. So long as Jones keeps carrying the load, he’s proven to be worthy of consideration as an RB2 in our starting lineups.
Miles Austin missed most of the game after suffering an apparent hip injury. The team has yet to reveal the severity, but exiting the game early indicates a prolonged absence as we need to start making preparations now. If you’re wondering, it was Cole Beasley stepping into the Dallas passing game with 15 targets. Even if Austin was to miss action, Beasley would only have high end WR4 value while wrestling for targets behind Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.
New England 49, New York 19
For the second straight week the Patriots absolutely dominated their opponents in all phases of the game scoring five touchdowns in the second quarter alone (21 points over a 60 second span). Two such touchdowns came from the Pats DST giving them four in the past two games. A much improved unit over the past three weeks, it’s time to add the Patriots DST for the stretch run.
With the injury to Rob Gronkowski, and downed production from Brandon Lloyd, it was Julian Edelman who was forced into an increased role. Edelman was seen rotating into the game, but once he and Brady finally hooked up it went for a 59-yard touchdown. However, in the second half Edelman would suffer a nasty concussion, knocking him unconscious, forcing him to leave the game. Already added in most leagues, his status will be in serious doubt as we prepare for Week 13, especially considering the secrecy of the Patriots' injury reports. I would prepare as if Edelman will not be ready for next week’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
The other player of note was the return of tight end Aaron Hernandez. The good news for fantasy owners was Hernandez playing 75 percent of the team’s snaps, while exiting the game without further injury. The downside was that an easy touchdown grab was negated by an unnecessary pass interference (ugh!). He has officially returned to TE1 status, and should make for a valuable piece during the stretch run.
The Jest must have been suffering from a tryptophan overdose playing more like a team on the NFL bloopers and follies. Funniest thing I’ve witnessed all season was Mark Sanchez running straight into the backside end of his center, fumbling the football for a Patriots' scoop-and-score, as Sanchez lay on the ground woozy. Even Fireman Ed left the game early.
As with every game on Turkey Day, when a team falls far behind their offense is forced into a one dimensional attack. As a result, Jeremy Kerley was targeted 10 times, hauling in seven passes for 86 yards. Averaging just over six fantasy points per game, Kerley is not an every week starter.
The new RBBC that has sprouted up in New York continues to persist. The routine is the same; Shonn Greene is the incumbent starter taking the first snaps of the game and actually running with a power and burst I’ve never seen before. Bilal Powell continues to rotate while becoming the preferred ball carrier when the Jets get into the red zone. It's hard to trust any Jets running back under the current circumstances.
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