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What Did We Learn – Week 14

Knowshon Moreno is becoming a dependable backfield option. Sometimes, it takes good players a few years, and some luck, to start making an impact. In Moreno’s case, he had basically been left for dead, buried on a depth chart behind a workhorse and then several younger backs. But when you combine a Willis McGahee injury with those young backs not knowing how to protect a Hall of Fame quarterback with recent injury problems, and all of a sudden, that guy on the scout team starts to look good. On Thursday night, Moreno ran 32 times for 119 yards and a score, with another 48 yards on four catches. With Peyton Manning at the controls, there will plenty of running lanes for Moreno, and I think he could end up making a difference for the lucky fantasy players that grabbed him.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is providing a late season lift. Green-Ellis played well, posting 89 yards rushing on just twelve carries in Sunday’s loss to Cowboys. The Law Firm had been fairly unimpressive most of the season, underwhelming as he’d amassed just 537 yards and three touchdowns through the Bengals first nine games. But in his last four games, he’s now put up 437 yards and two scores. Despite Sunday’s loss, the Bengals offense has discovered a balanced attack that features Green-Ellis on the ground and the Dalton-Green combo through the air. I like Green-Ellis as a dependable, productive RB2 going forward.

A healthy Jake Locker means a dangerous Kenny Britt. Locker missed several weeks with a dislocated non-throwing shoulder. Matt Hasselbeck did as best he could, but he doesn’t have the same skill set or arm strength as the second-year signal caller. Locker is now healthy, and while the Titans aren’t winning games, Britt’s fantasy outlook is much improved. In Weeks 12 and 13, Britt caught two and three passes, respectively, but he also scored in each game. In Week 14 against Indianapolis, Britt didn’t score, but he did catch eight of nine targets for 143 yards. A receiver that has been largely forgotten this season, he’s certainly making a case to be remembered next season.

Adrian Peterson could run for 2,000 yards this season. Peterson was the story for the Vikings once again, running for a ho-hum 154 yards on 31 carries and adding two catches for 16 yards. In short, Peterson amazes me. After starting off fine, Christian Ponder has been abysmal this season, topping 270 yards just once and falling short of the 100-yard mark three times. With teams stacked up against the run, Peterson has racked up 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games. He needs just 133 per game over the next three, and he’s averaging 157 over his last seven. Imagine what he could do with a reasonable quarterback. Peterson will continue to put up gaudy numbers, and should return to being the top back in fantasy leagues next preseason.

Philip Rivers showed flashes of his old self. This season has been one to forget for the Chargers, especially Philip Rivers. But on Sunday, in the most unlikeliest of scenarios, Rivers put together one of his best outings of the year against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their top-ranked pass defense. When the dust had settled, the Chargers had gone to the Steel City and walked out with a win, and Rivers had thrown for 200 yards and three touchdowns. He spread the ball around, but still looked to his new best friend Danario Alexander, who caught two of those touchdowns. I like Rivers and the Chargers to keep rolling when they host the Panthers next week.

Mike Wallace is glad to have Big Ben back. Wallace has put up respectable numbers this season, but in the weeks that Ben Roethlisberger was out of the lineup, teams didn’t have to worry as much about his speed and deep threat ability. In those three games, he caught 10 passes for 77 yards with no touchdowns. Roethlisberger returned on Sunday, and Wallace caught seven balls for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Wallace will continue to produce as long as Big Ben is healthy, and I’m looking for a bounceback win for the Steelers against the Cowboys in Week 15.

Montell Owens is a running back for the Jaguars. Did you know that a few weeks ago? With Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings, and Jalen Parmele all out, it was Owens’ turn to carry the load in the Jaguars’ backfield. He carried the ball 14 times for 91 yards, including a nice 32-yard touchdown run. I don’t think we’ll be confusing him with Jim Brown or anything, but he can certainly be your flex if you’re looking for another option.

The Jets backfield still has value. Typically, I do not endorse any member of the Jets offense. I think Mark Sanchez is un-good. Like really un-good. However, even with the struggles of the offense, their running game has remained solid, which should come as no surprise when considering their offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano. Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell had almost identical stat lines, with Greene running for 77 yards and a score on 20 carries, while Powell ran 19 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. Even though the Jets have been pretty bad this season, they’re now 6-7, and play Tennessee, San Diego, and Buffalo in their remaining games. Those are not just winnable games, but also games that may showcase their suddenly potent running attack, with Greene and Powell at the center.

David Wilson is close to taking over in the Giants backfield. We’ve seen this before in New York, with one back getting long in the tooth, while another bursts onto the scene. Wilson has been given a few opportunities this season, seeming to “drop the ball” each time. In Week 14 against the Saints, the rookie back ran 13 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on a 97-yard kickoff return. Wilson may be the final piece that the Giants need to make yet another deep playoff run, and with Ahmad Bradshaw’s ongoing injury troubles, it may be time to see what the kid can do down the stretch.

No Cardinal should start for the rest of the season. I don’t know that I have to defend this one too much. As recently as this Sunday morning, I might have put up an argument for Larry Fitzgerald or even Beanie Wells. But after losing 58-0 on Sunday, I can’t recommend starting any member of this team until given a reason. With Ryan Lindley and John Skelton lowering the bar to levels previously unmeasured, how can you start Fitzgerald? He caught one pass for two yards on 11 targets. Seriously. Wells ran six times for 18 yards before the Cardinals were forced to abandon the run. At this point, I think you have to leave them on the bench until they give you some reason to do otherwise.

Good luck in the playoffs.

Drew Magyar is a staff writer and can be reached at “What Did We Learn” will be posted each Tuesday morning during the season, and “Rock and a Hard Place” will be posted each Friday morning.

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