|Jamaal Charles got to know the end zone very well on Sunday. (GETTY)|
Thursday night seems like a long time ago, but for many fantasy owners it was the beginning of a bad, bad week. The elite group of fantasy points hit men known as the Denver Broncos fell on their face Thursday night at home against the San Diego Chargers. As the clock ticked down on the first game for virtually everyone in the fantasy playoffs, Peyton Manning had tallied 18.56 fantasy points. The second highest fantasy point scorer for Denver was the 1% owned Andre Caldwell at 17.90 points. As for all those other elite fantasy options the Broncos trot out on the field on a weekly basis their point totals went as follows:
Knowshon Moreno: 5.50
Julius Thomas: 4.90
Montee Ball: 4.80
Demariyus Thomas: 4.50
Eric Decker: 4.20
And, I'm all like ...
Sure, FAABulous Week 15 pick Ryan Mathews had a great game, but that's not what I signed up for when I put my life in the hands of a random assortment of football players back in August! How can a squadron of world beaters like the Broncos lay such a goose egg right when it matters? Well, that's fantasy football. As frustrating and annoying as that game was to watch, Sunday had a lot more surprises in store for us.
Here's a quick overview of what happened on Sunday.
The best scoring quarterbacks of the week were Nick Foles (fine), Ryan Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith, Matt Cassel, Matt Flynn, Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees, EJ Manuel, and Jay Cutler.
The best RUNNER was Matt Asiata who had a meaty 1.7 YPC but of course scored 3 TD's.
The best receiver was a running back.
The best tight end on the planet had his fantasy output doubled by Clay Harbor ... and if you started Jeff Cumberland, Mychal Rivera, or Cory Harkey you would have more than tripled Jimmy Graham's production!
Two kickers scored more than 20 points.
And finally, two defenses let up 31 points or more, but still got 19.00 fantasy points.
It was an insane weekend. The silver lining in all of that mess was that it wasn't likely you were facing many of those quarterbacks and Asiata was still on waivers by the time he was stumbling into the paint for his 3rd TD of the game. The one player that truly made or broke your fantasy dreams was Jamaal Charles.
Charles etched his name into the record books on Sunday and left an indelible mark on fantasy football forever after his 51.50 fantasy point effort. In a laughable display of Raider defense, Charles was able to break three huge screen passes (49, 39, 71) along with another 16-yard catch and 1-yard run for 215 total yards and 5 TD's.
If you were facing a Charles led team, you probably felt like ...
Yes, it was a historic performance not only in numbers, but in time of the year. To do this in a decided fantasy football playoff week is amazing. ESPN's Tristan H. Cockcroft summarizes everything beautifully here.
Obviously after a game like this, Charles is going to be at the forefront of a lot of talk. Fantasy MVP, next year's No. 1 overall fantasy pick, real life NFL MVP, and so on. But I wanted to take a moment to reflect on Charles' performance on Sunday not as him throwing his hat into the fantasy MVP ring, but as an exclamation point to a fantastic year that should end on a high note this Sunday against a lowly Colts defense.
Charles has been the most consistent fantasy star this year. He was my #5 ranked RB coming into the season, which was probably a little higher than the average ranking. ESPN has his ADP entering into the year at #6. Next year, he's assuredly a Top 3 pick, but his career at this point has been anything but consistent. He was bound for super stardom before he tore his ACL in Week 2 of the 2011 season, and last year in Kansas City, then head coach Romeo Crennel wanted to limit his touches so he didn't get hurt again. After all, that's how to prevent ACL tears, right?
Well, as I mentioned in my running back rankings, the two wild cards this year were LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. Namely because they were both getting new offensive minded coaches. It's pretty clear that they were picking up what Andy Reid was throwing down in Kansas City; same goes for Reid's replacement in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly. Using Charles was the best thing for him. Not just driving him between the tackles, but implementing Reid's trademark screen passing game. Getting him open in space so he can avoid getting roughed up every time he gets the ball, oh, and you might want to take a note Romeo, but utilizing one of Charles' elite skills.
This is the kind of Jamaal Charles we should see on the football field, and he is cashing in on his immense talent. The 26-year-old still has more room to grow, and while he'll always be remembered fondly by his 2013 fantasy owners, there are some years ahead he can spread to joy to others in 2014 and beyond.
For many people, this is the championship week, and likely the last week I'll do previews, so best of luck with everything. It's been a crazy fantasy year, but I will be back with my year end wrap-up for FAABulous looking at my hits and misses.
|Delanie Walker is a weapon in the suddenly aggressive Titans' pass game. (rantsports.com)|
QB - Nick Foles, PHI v +Chicago Bears, Colin Kaepernick, SF v +Atlanta Falcons
More Nick Foles. You know what to do with him. Kaepernick on the other hand has probably been the most disappointing QB this year. Whether it's Jim Harbaugh's decision to stop running Kaep that much or it's just a learning curve, the 2nd year starter has not lived up to expectations. The 49ers have shown some signs of life and getting Michael Crabtree back has helped, so there is an opportunity for a big game against the defeated Falcons.
If you're desperate: Andy Dalton, CIN v +Minnesota Vikings, Jay Cutler, CHI @ +Philadelphia Eagles
These look good on paper, but when it comes to Andy Dalton and Jay Cutler you just never know. I'm rather surprised that many people are looking past Cutler's fleas after one decent performance back from his injury. The Eagles had their toast buttered by Matt Cassel last week, but you have to imagine their performance will more resemble how the team has played in previous weeks - Dallas victory or not - on Sunday night. But I get it with Cutler. If the Eagles push the pace, then that's more opportunities for Cutler to launch it to the best WR tandem in football, but that also increases his opportunities to make a mistake. Cutler's season high for fantasy points is 23.02. Tread lightly.
RB - Jamaal Charles, KC v +Indianapolis Colts, Matt Forte, CHI @ +Philadelphia Eagles
Yep, that's right don't bench Jamaal Charles. You're welcome. Overall though this is a hat tip to two of the most consistent fantasy players this year. In head to head match ups, there is no denying the comfort of not having any bum performances by your top tailback.
If you're desperate: Reggie Bush, DET v +New York Giants, Ben Tate, HOU v +Denver Broncos
It's hard to trust Matt Stafford after watching that game last week. He looked atrocious, and he certainly cost some of his owners a playoff win. Bush was able to battle back from a calf injury to look explosive and productive. Stafford will always air it out to Calvin, but it would make sense for the Lions to try to keep his errors in check by relying heavlily on Bush.
The Texans season was over a dozen weeks ago. What a train wreck. However, let's keep in mind that Mr. Ben Tate has put together a great season filling in for Adrian Foster as well as playing for that fat contract he's looking to land in the off-season. All systems are a go for Tate to get carries even if the Texans are down 100.
UPDATE: I don't normally do this, but Ben Tate broke another rib and hours ago was put on IR. Dennis Johnson is the Texan to add, but I'll toss some love towards Fred Jackson, BUF @ +Miami Dolphins
If you're desperate, grab Dennis Johnson MT @sportywineguy Ben Tate has another cracked rib so he's going on injured reserve.
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) December 18, 2013
WR - Chicago Bears receivers, Demaryius Thomas, DEN v +Houston Texans, Julian Edelman, NE v +Baltimore Ravens, Antonio Brown, PIT v GB
Alshon, always and forever.
People are worried that the Broncos will be up 70 and halftime and rest everyone. Well, guess what? If they score 70 by halftime, someone still catches those touchdowns. This feels like a Demaryius game. He had a clunker last week, but before that consistently has gotten to either 100 yards, a TD or both. He's a safe play even if Wes Welker is back.
Let's also hail Mini-tron, Julian Edelman. I was a tentative believer in him early on, but he's really come along as a Tom Brady favorite. Sure, it took his star tight end to get injured yet again, his top RB to be benched, and Danny Amendola to be completely untrustworthy to happen, but still.
And Antonio Brown continues to be the most underappreicated offensive player in football.
If you're desperate: Riley Cooper, PHI v CHI, Kendall Wright, TEN @ +Jacksonville Jaguars
People are gaga about the Bears' offensive possibilities, but the Eagles' offense is pretty good too. Cooper is due.
Fear Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Titans. It's almost like they can't wait to cut Chris Johnson when the year is over.
TE - Julius Thomas, DEN v +Houston Texans, Delanie Walker, TEN @ +Jacksonville Jaguars
Thomas hasn't been his usual self since his injury, but after two games back in action I think he's ready to go. The Broncos are looking to make a statement and they're not going to be happy or tentative heading to Houston. TD's galore.
Delanie Walker is a fave of mine this year. I loved him last week as a TE play, and with Jordan Cameron getting diagnosed with a concussion on Monday, I like Walker even more.
If you're desperate: Zach Miller, SEA v +Arizona Cardinals, Tyler Eifert, CIN v +Minnesota Vikings
Miller has not come through for me, but I'm not one to quit on a guy so fast. The Cardinals have a solid defense, and I'm not sure how much damage the Seahawks receivers can do against Patrick Peterson's group. I would expect Miller to be one of the more available options for Russell Wilson.
Eifert might be sliding into starting TE duties against Minnesota, and that's a great thing.
K - Phil Dawson, SF v +Atlanta Falcons, Alex Henery, PHI v CHI
DEF - Kansas City v +Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions v +New York Giants