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In The Spotlight – Week 14 In Review

Week 14 Fantasy Headlines:

  • Cold & Snowy Weather Impacts Fantasy Scoring In Some Games
  • “Struggling” Andrew Luck Surprises with 326 Yards Passing & 4 TDs
  • LeSean McCoy: 29 Carries, 217 Yards Rushing & 2 TDs
  • Peyton Manning Ices the Titans with 397 Yards Passing & 4 TDs
  • Drew Brees Carves Up Panthers with 313 Yards Passing & 4 TDs
  • Josh Gordon Torches the Patriots with 7 Catches, 151 Yards & 1 TD
  • Adrian Peterson Sprains His Right Foot
  • Rob Gronkowski Suffers a Possible Torn ACL
  • Andre Johnson: 13 Catches for 154 Yards Receiving
  • Jordan Cameron: 9 Catches, 121 Yards Receiving & 1 TD
  • Jamal Charles: 159 Total Yards & 2 TDs
  • Matt Prater’s 64-Yard Field Goal Sets New NFL Record
  • Dennis Pitta: 6 Catches, 48 Yards Receiving & 1 TD in 2013 Debut

Game Summaries & Fantasy Commentary:

Thursday Night Game:









Fantasy Focus – Houston Texans:
Case Keenum (16/29 for 159 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT) led Houston to 10 points, displaying a level of play that was a notch or two below competent. The Texans offense was sputtering hopelessly in the third quarter when he was replaced by Matt Schaub (17/29 for 198 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT). He immediately sparked the team with a 76-yard touchdown drive, but Schaub’s play tailed off somewhat in the fourth quarter.

Andre Johnson amassed a season-high 13 catches for 154 yards on 21 targets. Garrett Graham (8-73-1 on a season-high 14 targets) was productive in a favorable matchup for a change. He caught a touchdown pass from Schaub. Keshawn Martin (4-28-1 on six targets) hauled in his scoring grab from Keenum. DeAndre Hopkins (3-76-0 on seven targets) couldn’t get both feet down on what would have been a sure touchdown reception.

Jacksonville’s improving run defense bottled up Ben Tate (14-53-0 rushing and 2-3-0 receiving) most of the evening. Dennis Johnson touched the ball just four times, amassing 14 total yards.

Fantasy Focus – Jacksonville Jaguars:
Although Maurice Jones-Drew (14-103-0 rushing and 2-20-0 receiving) didn’t find the end zone, he racked up a rock-solid fantasy outing before exiting midway through the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. Jordan Todman (7-14-0 rushing and 1-21-1 receiving) filled in for Jones-Drew. However, Todman missed a few series because of leg cramps. He caught a touchdown pass from Ace Sanders (3-26-0 on six targets) on a gimmick play.

Although Chad Henne (12/27 for 117 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT) tossed two touchdown passes in a game for the second straight week, his overall performance was disappointing. The sixth-year pro was erratic, and he just missed hooking up with Cecil Shorts (2-13-1 on six targets) on what would have been a 59-yard scoring play. Shorts salvaged his otherwise disappointing fantasy outing with his second touchdown grab in two weeks. Marcedes Lewis (2-42-1 on four targets) hit pay dirt for the second straight game.

Key Injury:
Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring)

Fantasy Talk:
Case Keenum is expected to start Houston’s last three games of the season. By the way, Andre Johnson had amassed five catches for 59 yards against the Jaguars before Keenum was benched. With the second-year passer under center, downgrade Johnson to fantasy WR2 status.

If you’re thinking about chasing Garrett Graham’s numbers, keep in mind that this risky fantasy TE2 isn’t always productive in favorable matchups. Graham and the entire Texans offense draws a nice Week 15 matchup against a struggling Colts defense.

In the last month or so, Maurice Jones-Drew has been running a lot better than he did during the first half of the season, which is why MJD’s hamstring injury is a crying shame for fantasy owners. Jones-Drew has vowed to play in Week 15 against the Bills, which is a favorable matchup. Will he be effective? Good question. If he suits up, Jones-Drew looks like a risky play.

Jordan Todman has a better burst than Jones-Drew, but Todman was ineffective while playing in relief. If he starts in place of Jones-Drew, consider Todman a weak flex option.

Waiver Wire Prospect:
Jordan Todman


Early Sunday Afternoon Games:








Fantasy Focus – Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings scored all three of their offensive touchdowns during a wild fourth quarter (both teams combined for 42 points). Despite the snowy conditions, Matt Cassel (17/38 for 265 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs) played solidly, overall, in place of the injured Christian Ponder (concussion).

Cassel’s first scoring strike went to Jerome Simpson (4-48-1 on eight targets). In the fourth quarter, rookie Cordarrelle Patterson (5-141-1 on seven targets) hauled in a 79-yard touchdown pass from Cassel that looked like the game-winning score at the time. Greg Jennings (5-53-0 on 10 targets, one two-point conversion) had a quiet outing. John Carlson (2-19-0 on four targets) left the game early with a concussion.

Adrian Peterson (7-13-0 rushing and 1-4-0 receiving) struggled against a stout Ravens run defense before he left in the second quarter with a sprained foot. Filling in for the injured Peterson, Toby Gerhart (15-89-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) rushed for 89 yards, which was two yards shy of his season-best total, and found the end zone on a 41-yard run. No, he did not fumble in the first quarter. Replay blew it.

Fantasy Focus – Baltimore Ravens:
Joe Flacco (28/50 for 245 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INTs) didn’t have one of his better days throwing the football, but he hit enough key passes (two of Flacco’s scoring strikes came in the fourth quarter) to help Baltimore pull out a win in the closing seconds. Flacco had a fourth interception nullified by a penalty.

He obviously benefitted from the return of Dennis Pitta (hip surgery), who made his 2013 debut. Pitta hauled in six passes for 48 yards and made a nice diving touchdown reception. Marlon Brown (7-92-1 on 11 targets) racked up season highs in catches and receiving yards, and Brown caught the game-winning scoring pass with four ticks left on the clock. Ed Dickson (2-8-1) caught Flacco’s other touchdown pass.

Statistically, Ray Rice (17-67-0 rushing and 5-42-0 receiving) enjoyed his third-best rushing game of the season. Rice seemed to run with a lot less stiffness than usual.

Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown.

Key Injuries:
Adrian Peterson (sprained foot), John Carlson (concussion)

Fantasy Talk:
If you own Peterson and your fantasy team has advanced in the playoffs, I suspect you’ll have to fight on without him. It’s hard to see the Vikings rushing their franchise player back into action with nothing at stake. Hopefully, you have Toby Gerhart available.

The Minnesota passing attack looks competent with Matt Cassel under center, but I wouldn’t risk starting any Vikings receivers on a playoff team – unless you’re desperate.

With Dennis Pitta back in the mix, Dallas Clark was a healthy inactive. You, obviously, can drop him. Although somebody in your league probably scooped up Pitta a while ago, check to see whether he is available.

Waiver Wire Prospect:
Toby Gerhart, Dennis Pitta, Marlon Brown









Fantasy Focus – Indianapolis Colts:
The struggling Andrew Luck (29/46 for 326 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs) stunned fantasy owners with his best outing of the season. With T.Y. Hilton (2-7-0 on five targets) drawing non-stop attention from Cincinnati all afternoon, LaVon Brazill (3-53-2 on four targets) and Da’Rick Rogers (6-107-2 on nine targets) carried the load in the passing game. Brazill’s touchdown grabs were his first two of the season, and Rogers saw his first action of 2013. Coby Fleener (5-31-0 on nine targets) has racked up three disappointing fantasy outings in a row.

Luck topped the team in rushing with 32 yards on two carries, which obviously says a lot about the sad state of the Colts’ running game. Donald Brown (4-11-0 rushing and 4-18-0 receiving) disappointed in his second consecutive start. Trent Richardson (6-20-0 rushing and 5-68-0 receiving) compiled one of his better fantasy outings in a Colts’ uniform thanks to some touches in the passing game.

Fantasy Focus – Cincinnati Bengals:
Just about all of Cincinnati’s fantasy stars enjoyed great outings and found the end zone against a very leaky Indianapolis defense. Andy Dalton (24/35 for 275 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs) tossed at least three touchdown passes in a game for only the fifth time this season. He also chipped in 11 rushing yards and one touchdown on five carries.

A.J. Green (6-72-1 on eight targets) hit pay dirt for the second week in a row. Marvin Jones (3-60-1 on four targets) found the end zone for the first time since Week 8. Jermaine Gresham (5-41-1 on five targets) found the end zone for the third time in the last four weeks. Tyler Eifert (3-20-0 on four targets) hasn’t scored since Week 7.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (17-48-2 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) scored on two one-yard runs. However, some have been arguing that one of his scoring plunges should not have counted. Giovani Bernard (12-99-0 rushing and 4-49-0 receiving) came up short of racking up his first 100-yard rushing game. Bernard hasn’t scored since Week 10.

Key Injuries:

Fantasy Talk:
It looks like Andrew Luck is back. Coming into this contest, Luck had tossed just two touchdown passes in his last four games, so the four scoring strikes was a huge surprise. The beleaguered Colts’ offensive line didn’t allow a sack to the ferocious Bengals defense, which was just as big a shock.

Indianapolis apparently has demoted the disappointing Darrius Heyward-Bey (2-23-0 on four targets). Heyward-Bey was operating as the No. 4 receiver behind LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers. Since Brazill is a second-year guy, he looks like a safer waiver wire pickup than the rookie Rogers.

Don’t chase Trent Richardson’s fluky 68 receiving yards. He is way too risky to trust in the lineup of any fantasy playoff team. Make the struggling T.Y. Hilton earn his way off your bench.

Don’t read too much into BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ scoring streak, because it’s the product of soft matchups. He remains a touchdown-dependent flex option.

Waiver Wire Prospect:
LaVon Brazill








Fantasy Focus – Cleveland Browns:
The switch from Brandon Weeden (concussion – inactive) to Jason Campbell (29/44 for 391 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs; 2-27-0 rushing) didn’t ground the high-flying Cleveland passing attack. Campbell looked sharp in his return from a concussion (he sat out Week 13), and he nearly helped pulled off what would have been a huge upset.

Josh Gordon (7-151-1 on 10 targets; 1-34-0 rushing) has been absolutely lethal. The second-year pro racked up his fourth straight game with at least 100 receiving yards and one touchdown grab. Gordon currently has 1,400 receiving yards, which is a new Browns’ single-season record.

Jordan Cameron (9-121-1 on nine targets) compiled a great fantasy outing, racking up his second career 100-yard game. Cameron also hit pay dirt for the first time since Week 7. Gary Barnidge (2-49-1) hauled in a Campbell scoring pass.

Willis McGahee (14-33-0 rushing and 1-0-0 receiving) topped all Cleveland tailbacks in rushing.

Fantasy Focus – New England Patriots:
The Patriots started slowly and trailed for just about the entire game, which explains why Tom Brady (32/52 for 418 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INTs) racked up a season high in passing yards. Brady had to lead a comeback without favorite target Rob Gronkowski (2-32-0 on five targets), who left in the third quarter with what is believed to be a torn right ACL.

Brady completed passes to 10 different receivers. Shane Vereen topped New England with 12 catches for 153 yards on 17 targets. Julian Edelman (6-64-1 on nine targets) amassed most of his stats in the second half, and he scored in a game for the second time in three weeks. Danny Amendola (4-36-1 on eight targets) hit pay dirt for the first time since Week 8.

The Patriots rushing attack remains an unpredictable fantasy hodgepodge. LeGarrette Blount (8-42-0 rushing and 1-32-0 receiving) got the start over Stevan Ridley (8-35-0 rushing and 1-2-0 receiving). Brandon Bolden was a healthy inactive.

Key Injury:
Rob Gronkowski (knee – possible ACL tear)

Fantasy Talk:
The Browns prefer Jason Campbell over Brandon Weeden. Unless Campbell goes down with an injury, Campbell should continue to start for the rest of the season. Campbell, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron look like great plays at home in Week 15 against the struggling Bears defense.

Shane Vereen scored on a six-yard run (he rushed three times for nine yards altogether), which strongly suggests that he is more trusted in goal-line situations than Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount at the moment. Assuming Rob Gronkowski (knee) will miss the rest of 2013, look for Brady to lean on Vereen even more. Danny Amendola also looks like a safer play as a flex.

Waiver Wire Prospects:
Jason Campbell, Julian Edelman

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