Baltimore 38, Denver 35
This game was an instant classic from the beginning with more twists and turns than the Tilt-O-Whirl at the county fair.
Although Joe Flacco may not be an elite fantasy QB1, he certainly played at an elite level with all the chips on the table. Standing tall in the face of pressure, Flacco repeatedly attacked shutdown cornerback Champ Bailey connecting with Torrey Smith for touchdowns of 59 and 32 yards. He then pushed the game into overtime with a 70-yard strike to Jacoby Jones.
With complimentary running back Bernard Peirce aggravating a knee injury, Ray Rice came through in the clutch for his team. Handed the rock 30 times, Rice gouged the Broncos defensive line for 131 yards and a touchdown. Just goes to show what Rice can do when Baltimore makes the commitment.
It’s a shame that someone had to lose this game, but the Baltimore defense earned it, limiting Peyton Manning to short and intermediate passes all game long. Unable to drive the football, many will speculate that cold weather (13 degrees at kickoff) combined with lingering nerve damage were the culprit. Either way, Manning has continually proved that he is still amongst the top fantasy gun slingers, and should retain such status until he proves otherwise.
After becoming the lead pony in Denver’s backfield Knowshon Moreno, has been a solid fantasy producer. Unfortunately, Moreno was forced to exit this game with an apparent knee injury. Although the injury doesn’t appear serious, it’s a reminder that Moreno is a red flag injury risk entering 2013.
San Francisco 45, Green Bay 31
Colin Kaepernick is growing before our very own eyes…becoming the epitome of the new style of NFL quarterback. A dual threat on every play, the second year quarterback proved it once again, racking up 263 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and a record breaking 181 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Although hard to speculate his average draft position next season, he is developing into a nice mid QB1.
After a roaring start to this game, Frank Gore was seen a bit gimpy coming off the field in the second quarter. This was confirmed as LaMichael James carried the load for much of the second half until Gore reemerged in the late third quarter for big gains capped off by a short yardage touchdown. Normally a steady rotation hurts the running back position, but the Niners high volume run offense supplies enough opportunity that Gore will retain his status as a solid RB2.
As Kaepernick lit Candlestick on fire, Aaron Rodgers became a pedestrian, watching much of this game from the sidelines. After the game, Rodgers reminded us that the Packers will undergo a radical transformation during the offseason with the impending free agency of Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver. This will only drive up the fantasy value of James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
DuJuan Harris has propelled himself into the fantasy spotlight the past two weeks. In this game, Harris was putting up solid numbers collecting 53 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. As the Packers fell behind they were forced to scrap the run. Although Harris could emerge as the Packers lead back next season, be mindful that coach McCarthy is a notorious proponent of the RBBC.