What We Learned: Week 16
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
1. Niners top Saints despite Brees huge day
1,012 yards, twelve total touchdowns, 94 combined points and it all came down to the final three seconds. Now that's what I call a football game.
In what could go down as the game of the year, QB 'Sit of the Week' Drew Brees came out firing, tossing two 25+ yard TD's to TE 'Sit of the Week' Jared Cook in the first quarter. So much for that, right? (Could go down as my worst call ever... Stay tuned) After Brees tossed yet another TD three seconds in to the second quarter, and the Saints got off to a 20-7 lead, it looked like it was curtains for the San Francisco. But the Niners would not go quietly into the night.
Jimmy Garoppolo answered Brees with a 75-yard TD toss to Emmanuel Sanders less than 15 seconds later. San Francisco outscored New Orleans 14-7 for the rest of the quarter, thanks to two Raheem Mostert TD's. They entered the locker room at halftime with a 28-27 lead thanks to an early failed 2-pt conversion by the Saints.
Emmanuel Sanders finished with 157 yards and a TD on seven catches. He also threw one pass for a 35-yard TD. Raheem Mostert finished with 109 total yards, a rushing and a receiving TD on just 12 touches. Deebo Samuel finished with 109 total yards on seven touches. Kendrick Bourne caught two TD's on three catches. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for a massive 349 yards and four TD's. But make no mistake, George Kittle was the 49ers MVP of this game.
The third quarter began with another lead change as Wil Lutz (fantasy football's highest scoring kicker) converted from 55 yards out. But as the Niners drove back down the field, it was Kittle who powered his way in to the end-zone to reclaim their lead. But it wasn't a lead they would hold for very long.
The Saints rallied to score two fourth quarter TD's (both Brees passing TD's) to put them up 46-45. With less than a minute left, on fourth and two, when they needed it most, Kittle delivered.
The former Iowa TE picked up 39 yards on a short dump-off, and while dragging four defenders with him, drew a face-mask penalty which added an extra 15 yards on to the play. By sheer force of will, and a bit of luck, Kittle set them up just 30 yards away from the game-winning field goal. A field goal that 49ers kicker Robbie Gould ended up nailing.
So despite a monstrous performance from Brees (349 yards, six total TD's, no turnovers, 40 fantasy points), Michael Thomas (11 catches, 134 yards, one TD, 30.4 fantasy points), Jared Cook (64 yards, two TD's, and 20.4 fantasy points on his first two catches before exiting with a concussion), the Saints could not pull off a victory.
The two missed two-point conversions proved to be fatal for New Orleans as they fell 46-48. If this game had been tied and gone to overtime, I firmly believe whoever got the ball first would have won. But I guess we'll never know since the game of the year ended in the final seconds of regulation time.
It was puzzling though, that in a game that was so heavily offensive (Saints and 49ers D/ST, the number two and number five scoring fantasy D/ST's, combined for -14 points) Alvin Kamara was held to pedestrian totals (17 touches, 43 total yards, season-low 6.3 fantasy points).
It adds to the disappointing slide Kamara has been on, well, most of the season. He has not found the end-zone since he did so on the ground and through the air against Seattle in week three. He has not had over 50 receiving yards in any game since then. He has just one game with over 20 PPR points since then as well. He has not rushed for more than 75 yards since week one. After being selected as a consensus top-three RB this season, Kamara sits as just RB11 after putting up his latest dud in week 14.
The Saints will look to continue their offensive success, hopefully translating it to a win (and some fantasy points for Kamara) in week 15 against the Colts. Meanwhile, the Niners are riding high, on their way to a first-round bye after the formerly division-leading Seahawks fell to the Rams on SNF. Next up for SanFran is a matchup with the suddenly resurgent Atlanta Falcons. Whatever the case, it will be nearly impossible for both teams to put forth a more entertaining game than they did in week 14.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle scores a touchdown in front of New Orleans Saints linebacker Craig Robertson during Sunday’s game. (Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images)
2. Jets prevail in a battle of the field goals
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we had the pleasure of watching a field goal-off between the Jets and Dolphins in week 14.
It was a game that saw ten total field goals find their way through the uprights. The second half featured a scintillating six field goals and zero TD's.
Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders actually set the franchise record for most field goals made in a single game in this one. The Dolphins scored 21 points in week 14, but it wasn't thanks to three TD's. Instead, they got there with seven mothaf@#$in' field goals. An absolute spectacle to behold.
This week, Sanders finished with more fantasy points (23) than Todd Gurley, Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson, Lamar Jackson, Dalvin Cook, George Kittle, and Patrick Mahomes, to name a few.
But in the end, it was the Jets who prevailed thanks to some field goal heroics of their own. The Jets put two TD's on the board in the second quarter, so despite being out field-goaled 7-3 by Miami, New York ended up with a 22-21 victory thanks to a last-second 44-yarder by 'Kickin' Sam Ficken. I personally couldn't think of a more fitting finish to such a brilliantly exciting football game. (If you haven't picked up on the sarcasm by now, allow me to make it obvious...)
3. Joe Mixon finally breaks out
In week 14, Joe Mixon finished with 186 total yards and one TD on 26 touches for a season-high 27.6 fantasy points. All I can say is: it's about damn time.
But I guess this isn't completely out of nowhere. Since his week nine bye, Mixon has been on a bit of a tear, averaging 17.4 PPG over the last five weeks. It doesn't sound like much, but it is a vast improvement compared to the 10 PPG he averaged in weeks 1-8.
After recording zero 100+ yard rushing games and zero rushing TD's weeks 1-8, Mixon has now finished with 100+ yards rushing twice, and has scored three rushing TD's in his last five games.
This uptick in production can likely be attributed to an increase in volume. Before his bye week, Mixon averaged just 15 touches per game. Since then, he averages 23 per game. The results speak for themselves. When he gets the touches, he produces.
Next up is a scary week 15 matchup with the Patriots where Mixon will no doubt be the focal point of New Englands defensive game plan. After that? Miami and Cleveland... again.
If you stuck with Mixon, your patience is about to be rewarded. If you were savvy enough to trade for him for cheap while he was in a slump, kudos to you.
4. Is Drew Lock a thing?
Drew Lock in the first half against the Texans, week 14: 16-19, 235 yards, three TD's.
Tom Brady in the first half against the Texans, week 13: 7-19, 82 yards, one INT.
Soooo... Drew Lock is better than Tom Brady, right? Well... Maybe not yet. But Lock certainly made a case for himself as Denver's franchise QB on Sunday as the Broncos got off to a 38-3 start against Houston, a team that had most recently defeated the New England Patriots.
Lock finished 22-27 with 309 yards and three TD's. He didn't do a whole lot in the second half because he didn't really need to. Instead, the Broncos worked the clock for the entire second half in order to secure their victory.
Courtland Sutton underwhelmed in an easy matchup after going off the week before. He led the team in receptions (5) but finished with just 34 yards. Noah Fant, however, despite catching just one pass for seven yards in Lock's debut, finished with 113 yards and a TD on four catches in week 14. It was Fant's second game with over 100 yards since Flacco was shut down in week eight, and his third game with a TD this season.
If Fant were ever to receive consistent volume, I'd consider him as a top-ten fantasy TE. I believe he has that type of speed/play-making ability. But playing with three QB's this season he has received more than five targets in a game just twice.
What I'm trying to say is, Lock appears to be trustworthy in fantasy if the matchup is right. Fant, on the other hand, I'd say pump the breaks. At least for now.
5. Chargers offense delivers in blowout win
In week 14, nearly every player on the Chargers offense came through. Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Hunter Henry, and Mike Williams found the endzone. Phillip Rivers finished with a season-high 24.6 fantasy points and exited the game before the fourth quarter had begun. The only player that seemed to be left out? Keenan Allen.
Allen led the team with five receptions in week 14, and finished with 83 yards. But in a game where the Chargers put up 45 points, Allen accounted for zero TD's. Mike Williams caught his first TD of the season (finally). Derek Watt scored a goal-line TD. Heck, even Tyrod Taylor threw a TD. So what gives?
In all likelihood, it was a product of game script and nothing more. Still, with three consecutive games of over 16 fantasy points, expectations for Allen were high in what's been a disappointing season overall.
But the real story of this one wasn't Allen's lack of scoring, but rather Ekeler's insane efficiency.
In week 14, Ekeler finished with 101 rushing yards on eight carries as well as 112 yards and a TD on four catches (31.3 fantasy points). In other words, 213 total yards on 12 touches. That's 17.7 yards per touch, which is just unbelievable. Ekeler has gone 128 targets without dropping a pass this season. He is on pace to become just the fourth RB to finish with over 1,000 receiving yards in the modern era of the NFL (nugget courtesy of Field Yates).
Anyone who has had the pleasure of owning Ekeler this year knows he was a tremendous value, with an ADP of 48 overall (round five). Melvin Gordon owners, however might not feel as loving of Ekeler as Gordon is averaging 7.5 points per game less than he did last season. Whatever the case, if you own anybody on the Chargers offense, you left week 14 feeling satisfied.
6. Julio/Mahomes/Wilson continue to slide
You've heard me mention how Kamara has been in a bit of a slump, but he isn't the only fantasy star that maintained their recent downward trend in week 14.
Russell Wilson, after averaging 24.1 points per game weeks 1-10, is averaging just 12.3 in his last three, including two games with 10.6 or less. He has failed to top 245 passing yards or score more than two TD's in a game since week nine. Since then he has a TD:INT ratio of 4:4. Since beginning the season as an MVP frontrunner, Wilson's pace has slowed down significantly.
Patrick Mahomes, another player who was at one point leading the race for MVP, has also seen his pace decline. After throwing for over 300 yards in each of his first five games this season, he has done so just once since then. He has failed to throw for multiple TD's, and is averaging just 213 passing YPG/16.2 fantasy PPG over his last three games.
Julio Jones, a player I once had listed next to Mahomes as players too obvious to be listed in any weekly Starts/Sits, has been very quiet recently as well. He has no less than 66 yards in his last four, which is impressive, but it's not exactly translating to fantasy points. Since his week nine bye, Julio is averaging 12.2 fantasy PPG. He's fallen all the way down to WR15 on the season.
It's anyones guess as to why these stars have not been performing like we are used to them performing. For Mahomes and Wilson, it's hard to predict when/if they turn it around in time. For Julio, a brighter future may be ahead sooner rather than later.
Falcons second-year star WR Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the rest of the season. In recent weeks, it has been the Ridley Show (averaging 21.5 fantasy PPG over the last four weeks). With Ridley out, I expect Julio to pick up the slack and then some. It has been a while since Jones has erupted. Too long, if you ask me. The way I see it, It's only a matter of time.
7. Ravens trump Bills as Lamar Jackson closes in on QB rushing record
The Ravens D/ST proved their worth yet again, scoring 11 points in a tough matchup with the Bills. They now have double-digit fantasy points in six of their last seven games. They held QB Josh Allen to his second-lowest fantasy total of the season (10.6). The Ravens are the first team to hold Allen under 50 rushing yards or without a rushing score since week eight.
Baltimore is the now only team to hold Bills WR John Brown to less than 9.5 PPR points this season.
Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary, however, seemed to avoid suffering from this tough matchup as he picked up 118 total yards on 23 touches (17.8 fantasy points). Instead, Mark Ingram was the RB who found it difficult to score points in this week 14 battle of AFC contenders. Ingram finished with 79 yards on 18 touches (just 10.9 PPR points).
Lamar Jackson had a modest fantasy day (by his standards) throwing for three TD's but just 145 yards. He also rushed for 40 yards and finished with his second-lowest scoring game of the season, 19.8 points. Yes, you read that correctly. Jackson has a single game with less than 19.8 points this year. That's how exceptional he's been.
His 40 yards on the ground were enough for him to break the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. He is the first QB since Michael Vick to do so. Barring some sort of injury or complete drop-off of production, Jackson will break the single-season rushing record for a QB (1,039 yards) held by Michael Vick. My guess is, he gets it done next week.
8. AJ Brown has career-game against Raiders
Ryan Tannehill and the Titans continue to blaze through the competition. Since Tannehill took over as the starter in Tennessee, they are 6-1. But the fact that the former college WR finished 21-27 for 391 yards, three TD's and 27.5 fantasy points wasn't the real story here. It was rookie WR AJ Brown.
The explosive rookie's big-play ability was on full display yet again in week 14 as he took an early second quarter pass from Tannehill 91 yards to the house. Brown finished with 151 yards and two TD's on just five catches (33.6 points). He also took one carry for 13 yards. Emmanuel Sanders was the only WR to outscore Brown in week 14.
I personally believe in his talent, and I think he can be special. Despite having just two games with five or more catches this season, Brown now has four games with over 93 yards. That's pretty ridiculous. The only problem with that is he's not receiving consistent enough volume for me to have confidence starting him each week. By the grace of the fantasy gods I was forced to start him this week in a deeper league, and it payed off. But I don't see him achieving these numbers consistently unless he is more involved in the Titans game-plan going forward.
Even after that humongous week 14 performance, he is averaging just 4.6 targets per game. He has received no more than eight targets in any game. Although he has prevailed a few times this season, you'll basically be rolling the dice on wether or not he scores a huge TD if you decide to start him.
I may have to roll him out again in week 15 but that doesn't mean I have to be confident about it. Like anyone else who uses him in fantasy, I will be banking on a huge play.
9. Derrick Henry making a case as NFL's best RB
It wasn't all Tannehill and AJ Brown in the Titans 42-21 win over the Raiders. Derrick Henry, once again, dominated on the ground.
Henry finished with 109 yards and two TD's on 19 touches (23.9 fantasy points). It was his fourth game in a row with over 100 rushing yards. It was his fifth game in a row with over 23 fantasy points. It was the fourth time in his last five games that he finished with multiple TD's.
The only RB that has played as dominantly as Henry has in his last five games this season that comes to mind is Christian McCaffery. Last season, nobody scored more points during the fantasy playoffs than Derrick Henry. Already off to a 23.9-point start, he looks like he is ready to do the same this year.
In a year where McCaffery and Dalvin Cook have paced the position in points, don't sleep on Henry to finish as a top-two scorer.
10. Cousins/Cook/Rudolph underwhelm in easy matchup with Lions
In what looked like a dream matchup with the Lions atrocious excuse for a defense, the Vikings came up short... At least in fantasy, Last time these two teams mets this season there was a combined 72 points scored. Kirk Cousins tossed four TD's and dropped a season-high 29.4 points, Kyle Rudolph benefitted, catching five passes for 51 yards and a TD, while Dalvin Cook went off for 152 total yards and two TD's. This time, it was a different story.
The Vikings won, but the final score ended just 20-7. QB 'Start of the Week' Cousins threw just one TD in the contest and finished with 13.6 fantasy points, his lowest total since week eight. Rudolph finished with just two catches for 11 yards (3.1 fantasy points, his lowest fantasy total since week five) and failed to find the end-zone for the first time in his last five games. This time around, Cook finished with just 85 yards and a TD on 20 touches (15.5 fantasy points).
It was not the game most fantasy managers anticipated from these Minnesota studs, especially in the first round of the fantasy playoffs, but I wouldn't take is as a warning of things to come. The Vikings should have more competitive games going forward where they will be forced to score to keep up (week 15 vs Chargers, week 16 vs Packers). Instead, I expect this game was nothing but a blip on the radar for Minnesota's offense... At least, I hope it was.
1. Lamar Jackson breaks another record
On Sunday, not only did Lamar Jackson earn his tenth win of the season against the previously top-ranked 49ers, helping the Ravens claim the top spot in the power rankings, he also broke yet another NFL record.
In week 13, Jackson became the first player to record four double-triples in a season. That's four games where he finished with over 100 yards (triple digits) in two stat categories. In classic fashion, Jackson got it done by rushing and passing. He finished with 101 yards on the ground and 105 yards through the air. He also recorded his seventh rushing and 25th passing TD of the season.
Jackson's previous three double-triples came in week two against Arizona (272 passing, 120 rushing... Also a record for first player to throw for 250+ and rush for 120+ in a single game), week six against Cincinatti (236 passing, 152 rushing... Probably another record), and week seven against Seattle (143 passing, 116 rushing).
As the accolades continue to pile up, we must make sure we don't take Jackson for granted. We are witnessing, perhaps the greatest single season by a QB, or any player for that matter, in NFL history.
Of course Jackson was already an elite rusher, but there were questions about his ability as a passer entering this season. Now that he is leading the league with 25 touchdown passes, only one question remains. How high can Lamar Jackson really fly?
Jackson scoots his way in to the end-zone with ease against the 49ers top ranked defense. Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
2. Is Raheem Mostert the 49ers RB1?
RB 'Sit of the Week' Tevin Coleman went for just 15 yards on six touches in Sunday's matchup with the Ravens. It's no surprise Coleman has been trending down recently, but the opposite has been the case for his teammate Raheem Mostert.
If you scroll back far enough, to the top-10 takeaways I wrote after week two, you'll see I had a section titled, "The 49ers backfield is an enigma". In that very segment, I included my sentiment that I wasn't convinced Mostert wasn't the 49ers best back. Although he hadn't seen much action in his first six years in the league, I have seen flashes of some major talent these past two years. He finally got an opportunity to put it on full display in week 13.
Mostert received a career-high 19 carries against the Ravens, and it paid dividends. He finished with 146 yards rushing, and added two catches for eight yards. His 7.7 YPC on the day was impressive, but what's more impressive is that Mostert boasts a career average of 6.3 YPC on 133 career carries. It's fair to wonder, why doesn't this guy get the ball this often every game?
Mostert averages just 6.6 carries per game over the past two seasons. Every time he has received 10 or more carries in his career, he has finished with 79 rushing yards or more.
So, has Kyle Shanahan finally figured out that Mostert can be their workhorse? Does this mean he'll be the 49ers lead back from here on out?Unfortunately, I doubt it.
Matt Breida will soon return from injury and his presence will certainly murk the backfield situation up. Despite his recent lack of efficiency, Tevin Coleman will surely be forcefully integrated as well. Add in a little Jeff Wilson Jr. around the goal line and you're looking at the same enigma of a backfield I warned you about earlier this season.
I know how it looks, and I certainly wouldn't blame you for rolling out Mostert next week. The numbers speak for themselves. Heck, if it was me coaching the 49ers, I would be giving him 20 carries every game. But I'm not the head coach, so I have to watch the roll coaster ride of the 49ers backfield continue, just like everyone else.
3. Eagles fall apart in upset loss to Dolphins
So apparently, the Eagles defense is good against good teams (no more than 17 points allowed to Buffalo, Seattle, or New England in weeks 8-12), but they are bad against bad teams (surrendered 37 to Miami Dolphins, more than they allowed to their previous two opponents, the Patriots and the Seahawks, combined).
It didn't matter that Wentz had his best game since week one (310 yards, three TD's), Alshon Jeffery had his best game of the season (nine catches, 137 yards, one TD) and Miles Sanders proved to be effective in a feature back role (22 touches for 105 total yards and one TD), because the Eagles defense couldn't stop, well, anyone.
Despite entering halftime with a 21-14 lead, the Eagles were outscored in the second half, 23-10. This was thanks mostly to the fact the Eagles secondary had Devante Parker looking like Randy Moss out there (seven catches, 159 yards, two TD's). But it wasn't just Parker, they also allowed a kicker to catch a TD pass from a punter... Yes, you read that correctly. It's the first time any defense has allowed such a thing to happen in NFL history.
On a side note: Devante Parker should be locked-in to all lineups until further notice.
Despite the Eagles entering this week ranked number one against TE's over the last four weeks, Mike Gesicki was able to put forth his best all-around performance of the season with five catches for 79 yards and a TD. It was just Gesicki's second game with more than four catches, his second game with more than 51 yards, and just the second time he found the endzone this season. Meanwhile, top-five TE Zach Ertz was held to 24 yards on three catches against a Miami team surrendering the 12th-most points to his position, but don't get me started on that.
The only area the Eagles could find success defensively was against the run. They allowed a total of 58 rushing yards to the Dolphins as a team.
Just to be clear, the Eagles entered this week allowing the second-least points to QB's, the fifth-least points to WR's an THE least points to tight ends, while allowing the tenth-most points to RB's over the past four weeks. One game against the Dolphins, and they completely reverted the exact opposite. They went back to what we knew them as before, a team that could not cover a pass to save their lives, but could effectively stop the run game.
Let's take a look inside the mind of the Eagles defense:
"Second-least points allowed to QB's? Better correct that by allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to drop 28.3 fantasy points. Fifth-least points to WR's? That doesn't sound like us... Might as well give Devante Parker 36.4 PPR points. THE least points allowed to TE's? I know! Let's allow Mike Gesicki to have the most complete game of his career! As long as we can get back to only stopping the run... and nothing else. Then we'll be the Eagles again. That'll do it."
Although the Eagles defense HAD been playing really good football, and the Dolphins were (and still are) giving up the second-most points to fantasy D/ST's this season, the D/ST 'Start of the Week' for week 13 finished with negative one fantasy points.
You could not have imagined this game being more of a disaster for Philadelphia than it was. Oddly enough however, they can still win their division. Not that they deserve to, but they can. In weeks 14-17 the Eagles have four straight division matchups. Assuming they can put this embarrassing loss to Miami behind them, they just might make it in to the 2019 post-season.
4. Bengals get their first win against the enigmatic Jets
Speaking of embarrassing losses that make no sense, how bout them Jets?
New York came in to their week 13 tilt against the Bengals red-hot. They entered week 13 with three straight games of 34 points scored. Their D/ST finished with double-digit fantasy points in three straight as well. They found themselves matched up with the 32nd ranked, 0-11 Cincinatti Bengals. The way the Jets have been playing, no way they'd lose their easiest game of the season... Right?
If being a Jets fan for the last 15 years or so has taught me anything, it's that you can never underestimate their ability to lose a game.
QB 'Start of the Week' Sam Darnold, despite scoring nine total TD's in his last three games, failed to find the end-zone as the Jets mustered just six points against a Bengals team giving up the seventh-most points to opposing offenses this season.
As a team, the Jets failed to generate 300 yards of offense against a 31st ranked Bengals defense allowing the second-most yards to opposing teams this season.
Their D/ST, despite averaging 15.3 fantasy points over their last three games, finished with just three points against a team allowing an average of 11.0 to fantasy D/ST's this year.
But hey, the Jets gave the Dolphins their first win of the year. It's only right they give the Bengals their first win too. After all, we can't have other teams out there thinking they're worse than us...
I could sit here and blame Gase, Darnold, the Jets non-existent pass rush, the fact Le'Veon Bell has yet to rush for 100 yards this season, or the fact the secondary couldn't cover a hot pocket with a tarp. But I'd rather just put a bag over my head and root for an NFC team for the rest of the year... Now seems like a good time to hop on the Saints bandwagon.
5. Derrius Guice and AP average a combined 9.9 YPC in win over Panthers
We knew the Panthers run defense was bad, but in week 13, they took things to an entirely new level.
Carolina struggled to contain the Redskins (THE lowest scoring team in football) allowing them to finish with 29 points... It was their highest scoring game of the season.
It sounds like a joke, considering rookie QB Dwayne Haskins has looked like the least effective QB I've ever seen play for this long in the NFL. In fact, If you remove a 119-yard, 2 TD garbage-time fourth quarter against the Jets, Haskins averages just 32 passing yards per quarter this season. If you remove that quarter, Haskins has six interceptions, and zero TD's in 2019. Fortunately for the Skins, they were playing a team that is so bad against the run, they hardly needed to let Haskins throw.
The Panthers weakness as the worst run defense in the league was fully exposed on Sunday as AP and Derrius Guice imposed their will all afternoon. The duo finished with a combined 223 yards and three TD's on 23 carries (9.9 YPC).
Guice has looked explosive in limited action this season, and AP is, well, AP. But I'm willing to bet even David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen (possibly the least efficient backfield duo in the NFL) could have had this much success against the Panthers.
Carolina is currently surrendering a league-high 5.3 YPC this season. They've also allowed a league-high 22 rushing TD's... They still have Luke Kuechly, right? Okay, just checking.
6. Ronald Jones face-plants in easy matchup against the Jags
As long as we're on the subject of bad run defenses... The Jaguars are second only to the Panthers this season in average YPC (5.1) and rushing TD's allowed (17).
The week before, Derrick Henry lit them up, finishing with 159 yards and two TD's on just 19 carries. That same week, Ronald Jones led the Buccaneers backfield in snaps and touches, averaging 4.4 yards per touch, scoring a short TD and delivering 15.7 fantasy points. So naturally, given the matchup, it made sense for Jones to break out here.
Matthew Berry included Jones on the 'Love' list. Heck, even IBM Watson was high on Jones this week in what should have been a dream matchup with Jacksonville. But then again, the NFL didn't seem to be in the habit of making much sense this week, did it?
Jones finished the game with eight carries for just six yards (0.6 fantasy points). Instead, it was practice-squad caliber RB Peyton Barber who the Bucs rode in this one. Jones owners watched in horror as Barber galloped his way to two TD's and a two-point conversion before the half.
As perplexing as it was watching Barber (who has been less efficient than Jones all season) receive the majority of the workload, watching third-string RB Dare Ogunbowale touch the ball in the red-zone before Ro-Jo did was even equally confusing and slightly more infuriating.
If you played Jones and want to be angered even further, I'll share with you this nugget: After Barber scored from 15 yards out on his first carry, he picked up 29 yards on his next 16 carries (1.8 YPC)... So, there's that.
I just personally don't understand why they'd feature Barber (a player that has a career average of 3.7 YPC, is averaging 3.2 this season and finished with just 871 rush yards in 16 games as the Bucs RB1 last year) rather than allow their young, explosive and well-rounded second year RB to flourish as a lead back.
It's clear Bruce Arians doesn't care about your fantasy team, and likely never will. But it doesn't take a genius to see that Ronald Jones is by far the best running back the Buccaneers have. Maybe someone should tell that to Bruce.
7. Rams offense returns to form
In week 13, the Rams offense looked like the 2018 version of themselves.
Things have been disappointing in LA this season. The juggernaut Rams that made their way to the SuperBowl last season, averaging 32.9 points per game, have been nowhere to be found at times this season. Last year, Todd Gurley earned the title of fantasy football MVP after he accumulated 1,800+ yards and scored 21 total TD's. This year, Gurley will be lucky to crack 1,000 total yards. Robert Woods who was by far the Rams most consistent pass catcher last season, has finished with less then 10.0 PPR points in five of his 12 games this season after doing so just once in 2018. Jared Goff finished with 32 touchdown passes last season. Through 12 games this year, he doesn't even have half of that.
But in week 13, the Rams returned to form. All it took was a matchup with the 32nd ranked Cardinals defense.
Goff looked sharp, throwing for a monstrous 424 yards and two TD's as he finished with a season-high 25 fantasy points. WR 'Start of the Week' Robert Woods led the way, catching a ridiculous 13 passes for 172 yards (30.2 PPR points). Todd Gurley also looked like his former self, finishing with 115 yards and a TD on 20 touches. His day would have been even bigger if he hadn't had a vintage 20-yard Gurley TD called back because of holding. Even Cooper Kupp, formerly fantasy football's highest scoring WR, finished with over 18 PPR points and scored a TD for the first time since week eight. The question is, can you trust the Rams to keep it up?
Unfortunately, they can't play the Cardinals every week, but they will face them once more by the end of the season. But before that they have matchups with Dallas and San Francisco. Sure, they looked elite in week 13. But, given the up and down nature of their season, I'm not ready to bestow weekly elite status upon them just yet.
8. Courtland Sutton is QB-proof
Courtland Sutton has now caught passes from three different QB's. Each time it has looked worse on paper, but not to Sutton.
He goes from Joe Flacco, a former SuperBowl winning QB (who Sutton averaged 14.7 PPR points per game with), to Brandon Allen, a player that has been in the league for four years but has never played a regular season snap. His first two games with Allen, Sutton averaged 18 points per game.
Allen was benched after an abysmal showing in week 12, opening the door up for rookie QB Drew Lock. One would assume a rookie QB playing against a top-four team in terms of yards allowed, would struggle to find the endzone. Yet, that was not the case as Lock tossed two wildly impressive TD's to Sutton in the first half of this week 13 AFC West matchup.
Sutton finished with 23.4 PPR points, his second highest total this season. It is a small sample size, but could it be that Sutton has found his favorite tosser of the rock yet? He only caught four passes in week 13, but out of the five times he's caught four passes or less this season, he has finished with less than 8.0 PPR points just once.
Whatever the case is, Sutton has earned WR2 status, regardless of his QB. In the fantasy playoffs, he will face Houston, Detroit and Oakland, all bottom-15 defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to WR's this season.
9. Phillip Rivers can't catch a break
Not to be insensitive, but Philip Rivers couldn't catch a break if it was raining breaks and he had a catchers mitt the size of Manhattan... Since 2015, Rivers and the Chargers have lost 32 games by one possession, by far the most by any player or team. The worst part about it? Most of the time, it's not even Philliam's fault.
It seems like more often than not, the Chargers have to drive their way down the field in the final two minutes of the game. Rivers has led more would-be comebacks than I can count in these situations. But despite tying the game or taking the lead most of these times, the Chargers still find a way to lose, whether it be on defense, special teams, or by being on the wrong end of a costly penalty. Rarely, if ever, is it directly Rivers's fault.
Although they lost yet another close one, this game wasn't a total waste. There were some important fantasy takeaways, especially for the Chargers offense.
For the first time this season, Keenan Allen has back to back games with at least six catches, 68 yards and a TD. It is the first time he has recorded at least six catches and 68 yards three weeks in a row since his dominant stretch in weeks 1-3. Over his last three games, Allen is averaging 18.8 fantasy PPG. He is heating up at the perfect time as we approach the fantasy football playoffs.
But it's not just Allen who is trending up. Melvin Gordon delivered another workhorse performance in week 13, racking up 110 total yards on 22 touches. Gordon earned 99 yards on 20 carries, looking like his former matchup-proof self against a tough Broncos run defense. Gordon is now averaging 17.8 fantasy PPG over his last four games, and perhaps most importantly, is proving he and Austin Ekeler can co-exist. Next up they will face a Jaguars defense giving up the second-most yards per carry (5.1) and the second-most rushing TD's (17) this season.
Although the Chargers can't seem to win any games for themselves in real life, their players can certainly win you some in fantasy in the coming weeks...
10. The Stache returns
The Jaguars gave the people what they wanted in week 13, benching Nick Foles for Gardner Minshew to begin the second half.
Jags fans likely would have appreciated this decision being made earlier, as Foles had already turned the ball over three times and the Bucs had built up a 25-0 lead by halftime, but they appreciated it nonetheless.
Minshew could not complete the comeback attempt against Tampa, but with him at the reigns, the Jags outscored the Buccaneers 11-3 in the second half. It's wasn't much, but it was honest work.
One could understand the Jags decision to start a healthy Foles. After all, they just paid him big money to be their guy. But after watching the two play this season, it's clear the Stache gives them the best chance to win.
As a starter, Minshew was just 4-4, but the Jaguars lost by seven points or less in three of those four losses. When Foles starts, the Jaguars are 0-4 and it's not even close.
Since he returned, the Jaguars average 14.6 points per game with Foles, a full 6.8 points less than the 21.4 they averaged with Minshew under center.
To the joy of all NFL fans, Minshew already has been named the starter for week 14 against the Chargers. And if the Jaguars are smart, this time they'll keep him there.
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
The Playbook by CommishFFP
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for pro football/fantasy sports and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
We hope you enjoy.