We (again) have a Gronk down! Sammy Watkins is a 'must own' for your fantasy playoff push. Donte Moncrief? Meh. Colin Kaepernick is a prime example of a player that is better for fantasy roster than real life NFLrosters. And Kirk Cousins is playing his arse off for that new contract so you need to take advantage of a good situation. Week-12 Rant ON!
WAS 26 @ 31 DAL
•Of the three games aired on Thanksgiving Thursday (in the U.S. of A.), this was the match-up to watch, as far as I was concerned. Two NFC East rivals squaring off with both teams having ok-but-not-great team defenses and enough depth at the offensive skill positions to make this a very entertaining game, and it was. To be fair, it wasn't until the fourth quarter when the offensive fireworks exploded. Kirk Cousins has a career day but it just wasn't enough to get over Dak Prescott and the Cowboys who have now won their 10th straight game.
•Prescott threw for only 195 yards in this contest so he didn't exactly go off for his fantasy owners. However, he did add another 39 yards with his legs and earned two scores on the day so the day was not a loss for anyone who started him. Dak's one rushing touchdown in this contest was his fifth of the season. Zeke added another two scores on the ground for the Cowboys. He was the league's leading rusher coming into this contest and added another 97 yards rushing to his seasonal stat line.
•As mentioned, Cousins had the better individual stat line over Dak, and a most impressive day for anyone brave enough to start him. Throwing for 449 yards and three touchdowns, it was his third 400+ yard game of his career. What was even more impressive was zero interceptions on 53 pass attempts. Usually when a QB throws for that many yards on that many attempts we see some INTs noted in the box score. Not so here. DeSean Jackson (4/118/1), Jordan Reed (10/95/2), and Jamison Crowder (8/88) benefited the most from Cousins' pass happy day. The trio saw 30 of Cousins total pass attempts on the day. He spread the ball around to 10 different receivers.
•Keep an eye on the injury/practice reports for updates on Jordan Reed. The 'Skins skilled tight end was seen at one point standing on the sideline in a sling with an apparent grade-3 AC sprain (i.e., shoulder dislocation...a nasty one). How he managed to return in the second half and put up the numbers that he did is a testament to his toughness and will to win. That said, if he misses any time then fantasy GMs in need of a band-aid at the position (see: Gronk owners) should look to TE2 Vernon Davis who had 68 yards on five receptions in this game.
•After posting a week-11 performance of 137 yards and three touchdowns, fantasy owners stepped over themselves to claim 'Skins running back Rob Kelley off waivers. Unfortunately, Kelley's newfound success did not carry over into week-12. It would be easy to blame Kelley's underwhelming numbers on game flow, since his team was playing from behind in the fourth quarter and having to rely on the pass. The fact is, 37 yards on 14 carries (2.6 YPC) isn't good any way you slice it. Kelley is a middling grinder between the twenties who will get the yards blocked for him and not much else. Sure he can bust off big runs taking it to the outside. But Kelley needs to find consistent success between the 20s as a reliable chain mover before he can be viewed as a foundation back for his team and, by extension, fantasy rosters. If Kelley can manage a couple more fantasy relevant games in the 80-90 yard range, dynasty owners will be looking to target him in off-season trades as a legit RB1 going into 2017. In my opinion, he would be the perfect sell high candidate.
PIT 28 @ 7 IND
•The Steelers stroll into town for the easy win over a Luck-less Colts team. Big Ben can sometimes be an unnerving QB1 for his fantasy owners, especially on the road where he always seems to underperform. This road match-up had originally been projected as an all-out aerial assault between two of the league's more formidable passers, Luck and Roethlisberger. But then Luck entered the league's concussion protocol. As a result the Steelers were left to face Scott Tolzien who doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of his opponents. The Steelers jumped out to an early lead, scoring on their first three possessions of the game and never looked back. Such a favorable game script meant that Big Ben didn't need to throw it all that much. If you started Big Ben, you have to be happy with his 221 yards and three touchdowns on only 20 pass attempts.
•Stud wideout Antonio Brown was the recipient of all three passing touchdowns, adding 91 yards to his daily tally he made the most of his five receptions. Le'Veon Bell also had a dominant performance of his own, posting 120 yards and a score on 23 carries. Bell added another 22 yards via the air on four catches making for a solid day across fantasy formats.
•Fantasy GMs should take note of Ladarius Green. In his third game of the season, Green posted 67 yards making the most of his two receptions. He was targeted only three times, however, I suspect his role will increase each week. Eli Rodgers is strictly a slot receiver. Sammy Coates is strictly a boom/bust downfield threat with inconsistent (and oft broken) hands, and while Jesse James was a nice red zone threat to start the season neither he or the others have the combination of size, physicality and speed that Green possesses. He'll make for a high upside flex play playing for a Steelers team in need of a reliable big play receiver not named Antonio Brown.
•Colts receiver Donte Moncrief saw a season high in pass targets in this match-up, yet still managed just 45 yards and a score on six receptions. In weeks 1, and 8-11he posted 6/64/1, 4/41/1, 3/55/1, 4/37/1 respectively. I'm sensing a pattern. Like a TD-dependent WR3 kind of pattern.
49ers 24 @ 31 MIA
•In a game that many had projected as a blowout win for the Dolphins, the 49ers had different plans for their hosts and actually put up a fight in this one posting 475 yards of total offense before finally losing out to the better team. Niners quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, had a great day for fantasy posting 296 yards, three scores and one interception on 24 completions. He added another 113 yards on 10 carries, and is a much underappreciated yet very real top-10 fantasy QB.
•Dolphins running back, Jay Ajayi, saved the day for his owners by nailing a touchdown, but his 45 yards on 18 carries was very uninspiring to say the least. Fact is, Ajayi hasn't done much fantasy-wise since his back-to-back 200 yard games in the middle of the season. I haven't watched any of his film, but my guess is opposing defenses are taking advantage of the Dolphins injury riddled front line. Three starting offensive linemen sat for this game causing Ajayi to be met at the line of scrimmage on most his rushing attempts.
•Tannehill had himself a decent day for his team and for fantasy – not that anyone started him. He posted 285 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. He spread the ball around to eight different receivers including Stills (3/72/1), Parker (3/64/0), and Sims (4/53/1). If Tannehill is able to continue that level of production on a consistent basis then we should expect an uptick in Ajayi's production as opposing defenses back off in order to defend the pass. That would be an ideal situation for both players.
•Quick note on Dolphins rookie receiver Leonte Caroo. The six foot, 216 pound Caroo out of Rutgers posted his first receiving touchdown of his pro career. His role is very limited so don't go rushing off to the waiver wire to claim him. However, he makes for a nice dynasty stash with good size and even better ball tracking ability. The Dolphins could use a reliable flanker to lineup opposite Parker. Caroo could be that guy.
Rob Gronkowski, TE (NE) - After suffering a chest contusion/perforated lung in week-10, the Gronk did manage to somehow return in for this week's match-up...only to make for an early exit with another injury (or re-injury). Stay tuned.
Thomas Rawls, RB (SEA) – It was a difficult match-up for not only Rawls but for the Seahawks offense generally. Rawls rushed 12 times for just 28 yards on a limited snap count. He should be considered a mid-range RB2 for your playoff push.
Dion Lewis, RB (NE) – In his second game back since returning from injury Lewis saw six carries for 24 yards and another 34 yards on four receptions. James White actually out-targeted Lewis 9 to 7 respectively, but Lewis made the most of his touches. Still, while Lewis is the more dynamic of the two, White is in the mix for targets having a limiting effect on Lewis’ fantasy ceiling.
Sammy Watkins, WR (BUF) – Watkins’ first game back since a re-injury of his foot in week two. He hasn’t played a game in nine weeks, yet posted three catches for 80 yards. He’s a potential league winner and the time to have claimed him was two weeks ago. However, if by chance he is still available you need to claim him now.
Michael Thomas, WR (NO) - Need a WR2 for your playoff push? Thomas was targeted a team high 10 times in this contest and posted a very friendly fantasy stat line of 9/108/2. He's a very viable WR2 in PPR formats and a must own in dynasty leagues.
Quincy Enunwa, WR (NYJ) - Enunwa is another option for those Diggs, AJ Green owners or any other owners in need of WR help for their playoff push. He caught all five of his pass targets for 109 yards and a score, and as long as Fitzpatrick remains under center, Enunwa will retain a large enough market share of the Jets passing game to sustain WR3 value.
Malcolm Mitchell, WR (NE) - The rookie is progressing well in his development as a receiver at the pro level, gaining Brady's trust in a veru complex offensive system. He posted 5/42/2 in this contest and needs to be owned in dynasty leagues.