Week 15 Fantasy Headlines:
R. White, Cruz, Rice, Martin & Other Studs Disappoint A. Peterson Marches Closer to 2K Yards M. Ryan & J. Jones Help Falcons Blank Big Blue Cousins Lifts Redskins With a 300-Yard Game Kaepernick Burns Patriots With 4 TD Passes Freeman, Martin and Bucs Offense Bomb Big Time R. Wilson Runs For Three Scores Another 50-Point Outing For the Seahawks Lions Crash & Burn Against the Cardinals A. Rodgers Bounces Back; Bombs the Bears Chiefs Fail To Score On NFL's Worst Defense Another 100-Yard Game for K. Moreno
Game Summaries & Fantasy Commentary:
Thursday Night Game:
Fantasy Focus -- Cincinnati Bengals: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (25-106-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving), who notched his fourth 100-yard rushing game in the last five weeks, was the lone bright spot on a Cincinnati offense that looked out of synch most of the evening.
Andy Dalton (13/27 for 127-1-0 passing and 8-18-1 rushing) failed to exploit a sagging Philadelphia Eagles secondary, struggling with his accuracy and looking tentative at times. Dalton also was sacked six times by an Eagles defense that gave us a long-overdue display of its true pass-rushing prowess. The "Red Rifle" salvaged his lackluster fantasy outing with a rushing touchdown.
A.J. Green (6-57-1 on 10 targets) caught Dalton's only scoring strike of the evening -- it was Green's first end-zone visit since Week 11 -- and the two just missed hooking up again on a potential touchdown grab. By the way, Green was the only Bengals receiver to catch a pass. Jermaine Gresham (6-63-0 on nine targets) topped the team in receiving yards. He and Dalton also just missed hooking up on a touchdown reception; Gresham made the catch in the end zone late in the game but couldn't get both feet down in bounds. Andrew Hawkins was targeted just one time while Marvin Jones received four looks.
On defense, Cincinnati allowed 13 offensive points, amassed one sack, one interception and four recovered fumbles (one was returned 25 yards for a touchdown by Wallace Gilberry).
Fantasy Tip: I suspect some of the struggling Cincinnati fantasy stars were looking past the Eagles to their big Week 16 AFC North showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Unfortunately, that matchup against the Steelers looks like a tough one for Dalton, Green, Green-Ellis and Gresham. When the two teams squared off back in Week 7, the Steelers easily contained all four players. Think long and hard about whether you want to use any of them as starters on your playoff fantasy team.
Fantasy Focus -- Philadelphia Eagles: If Bryce Brown (16-34-0 rushing and 1-11-0 receiving) didn't sink your playoff fantasy team with his bad outing two weeks ago, he probably did it with this stinker. Nope, Brown didn't fumble in this game, but the rookie was too eager to bounce his runs outside when things didn't open up immediately between the tackles.
Coming off a monster game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14, Nick Foles (16/33 for 182-1-1 passing and 2-5-0 receiving with one lost fumble) crashed back down to Earth with a weak outing against a rock-solid Cincinnati Bengals secondary. Foles struggled in the second half, completing just four of his nine passes for 37 yards and tossing his lone interception of the game.
Jeremy Maclin (4-73-0 on nine targets with one lost fumble) topped all Eagles receivers, but Riley Cooper (3-20-1 on seven targets) hauled in Foles' only touchdown pass of the game, which also was Cooper's second trip to the end zone in the last three weeks. Brent Celek (concussion) was inactive. Clay Harbor (3-30-0 on six targets with one lost fumble), who filled in for Celek, struggled with back spasms and had a quiet game. Waiver-wire darling Jason Avant (3-44-0 on four targets) had a quiet game.
Fantasy Tip: LeSean McCoy (concussion) needs to be cleared to practice by an independent neurologist. If he receives the green light, McCoy could practice as early as Monday, December 18. If McCoy practices and remains symptom free, he likely would get the start in Week 16. Although Michael Vick (concussion) has received full medical clearance to play, he is not expected to start again this season. Aside from McCoy, starting any Eagles players on your fantasy playoff team is a roll of the dice. Foles is showing some development, but he still is having some growing pains. Is he the future in Philadelphia? We'll see.
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Early Sunday Afternoon Games:
NEW YORK GIANTS
Fantasy Focus -- New York Giants: When was the last time somebody shut out the Giants? It happened during the playoffs in 2005 and happened during the regular season in 1996. New York had rolled up 52 points during an emotional Week 15 win over the New Orleans Saints and had a letdown on the road against a Falcons team that was determined to make a statement. And Atlanta was looking for revenge following an embarrassing 2011 playoff loss to Big Blue.
Although Eli Manning (13/25 for 161-0-2 passing) was sacked just once, he was under heavy pressure all game long. Statistically, this outing was Manning's worst of the season and his lousiest showing in close to five years. Victor Cruz (3-15-0 on five targets) also racked up his worst game of 2012, and Hakeem Nicks (3-40-0 on seven targets) just missed hooking up with Manning on at least one potential touchdown pass. Martellus Bennett (1-15-0 on two targets) was a non-factor. Domenik Hixon (5-80-0 on six targets) led all Giants in receiving.
With Ahmad Bradshaw (knee) inactive, rookie David Wilson (12-55-0 rushing and 1-11-0 receiving) received a bulk of the carries. He looked good early, breaking off a 25-yard run. However, Wilson lost some carries to Kregg Lumpkin (9-42-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving with one lost fumble). In addition, the Giants fell behind and had to abandon the run, which obviously didn't help Wilson's cause.
Fantasy Tip: The defending Super Bowl champions remain in the thick of the NFC East race with the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, so don't write off the Giants fantasy stars. They should bounce back next week against a struggling Baltimore Ravens defense.
Fantasy Focus -- Atlanta Falcons: An efficient Matt Ryan (23/28 for 270-3-0 passing and 1-(-1)-0 rushing) picked apart the New York Giants defense, doing his most damage in the second half with two scoring strikes to Julio Jones (6-74-2 on six targets and 1-18-0 rushing). This outing was Ryan's first with three touchdown tosses since Week 10, and Jones scored at the Georgia Dome for the first time this season. The ageless Tony Gonzalez (6-49-1 on seven targets) hauled in his second touchdown pass in the last three weeks. What happened to Roddy White? White (2-16-0 on five targets) wasn't targeted heavily. If he knee was an issue, the Falcons weren't going to admit it. Harry Douglas (3-83-0 on three targets) topped Atlanta in receiving yards.
Leading the Falcons' committee backfield, Michael Turner (16-52-1 rushing and 1-9-0 receiving) scored in his fifth straight game. He came close to adding another score but was stuffed at the goal line. Jacquizz Rodgers (11-25-0 rushing and 1-14-0 receiving) didn't have much success on the ground, but he received double-digit total touches for the fifth straight week. Jason Snelling (6-39-0 rushing and 3-14-0 receiving) amassed a season-best 39 rushing yards.
Fantasy Tip: If you moved on in your playoffs with White on your team, you got lucky -- his lousy outing torpedoed quite a few other teams. I suspect his knee is worse than the Falcons are telling us. If you're a White owner, keep an eye on the practice reports throughout the week. If you're loaded at receiver, seriously consider sitting him in Week 16. The Falcons are still trying to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs, so expect a full effort next week against a sagging Detroit Lions team.
Fantasy Focus -- Denver Broncos: The Denver defense easily dominated an inept Baltimore Ravens offense, which is partly why Peyton Manning (17/28 for 204-1-0) compiled his least-productive outing of the season. Manning just missed hooking up with Demaryius Thomas (4-13-0 on nine targets) on two potential long touchdown passes, so both players could have enjoyed better outings. By the way, this was Thomas' worst game of 2012. Eric Decker (8-133-1 on 11 targets) hauled in Manning's only scoring strike of the game. This was just Decker's second 100-yard game of the season, and he has caught eight balls in two straight games. After scoring last week, Joel Dreessen (2-36-0 on three targets) was a non-factor.
The surprisingly productive Knowshon Moreno-led rushing attack continues to pull its weight. Moreno (22-118-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) amassed 100-plus rushing yards and one rushing touchdown for the second straight week. Jacob Hester (7-20-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) was lined up as a fullback when he scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Ronnie Hillman (14-29-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) played sparingly behind Moreno when the game was still competitive.
On defense, Denver compiled three sacks, one recovered fumble and one interception, which was a 98-yard pick-six by Chris Harris in the second quarter.
Fantasy Tip: The Broncos draw a very favorable Week 16 home matchup against the Cleveland Browns. If your team advanced despite Manning's dud outing, he should make it up to you next week. Moreno and his fresh legs should rack up another 100-yard game.
Fantasy Focus -- Baltimore Ravens: The debut of new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was a disaster; the Ravens offense looked...