We’re with you every Sunday to provide the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest story lines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s Sunday Six Pack:
Can #1) Turn On Your Hartline
What seemed like a good match-up on paper never transpired on the field, for Brian Hartline or the Dolphins. A 19-0 drubbing at the hands of the Bills was on tap and for Hartline, two receptions for 53 yards on the day, not exactly a banner day. In fact, the entire Miami offense laid an egg on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill threw for 82 yards, Lamar Miller ran for eight and Mike Wallace tallied 38. In fact, this game was a non factor almost in its entirety unless you started Fred Jackson, who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown. A bad week at the worst possible time for fantasy owners.
Can #2) I Wanna Be TRich
Trent Richardson was badly outplayed by Donald Brown again on Sunday. Brown rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown and was also on the receiving end of a 33 yard screen pass in which he did all of the work ending in a score. For Richardson, who ran for 43 yards on 16 carries and added 15 more on three receptions, it was a typical performance leading to frustration again for fantasy owners. Brown has shown himself healthy and dynamic all season while Richardson has shown himself pedestrian in every sense of the word. He’s in store for an epic fall in average draft position come 2014. For Brown, he’ll be a high-upside player with a high-risk flag attached come draft season, a true mystery as to where he’ll be drafted.
Can #3) CJAllTheWayK
So much for well laid plans. Chris Johnson’s performance on Sunday wasn’t a complete loss but Shonn Greene vulched a one yard touchdown and 91 yards while Johnson added 90 yards of his own, in addition to a single reception for three yards. Much like many other high profile players during championship week, Johnson laid the equivalent of a fantasy egg. Titan quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, often mentioned in this week’s DLF Lineup Advice article for premium users threw for 181 yards and a touchdown, along with an interception. Another egg. Much like our other highlighted games, it was rotten eggs all around unless you started Nate Washington, who talled 117 yards and a touchdown on six receptions, but we hardly expect to hear that he was started more than a handful of times. For CJ2k owners, however, keep your collective chins up because it’s fully expected that he’ll be released after the season and will be with a new team in 2014. Keep an eye on Atlanta, New York and *gulp*, Oakland.
Can #4) Still Brees
There was perhaps no greater difficult decision this week for fantasy owners in championship games as Drew Brees traveled to Carolina in what appeared to be a challenging match-up. Those that follow me know that I’m a fan of starting your studs in championship games, almost to a painful degree. And again this week, I didn’t advocate sitting Brees under any circumstance unless you also have Peyton Manning at your disposal. I’d much rather lose with Brees at the helm than get cute with my lineup and see Brees produce from my bench. As it stands, Brees ended the day with a clunker for a performance, somewhat saved by 281 passing yards and a touchdown, but with two interceptions and well below expectations. If there’s any solace to be had it’s in the fact that week 16 was a poor day for most passers. Across the field, Cam Newton was on his way to his own anemic performance, passing for 181 yards, a touchdown with an interception of his own. Yuck, yuck and yuck. What a dud of a week overall.
Can #5) All He Does Is Score PPR Points
The Steelers secured a 38-31 victory but Antonio Brown couldn’t find the end zone. Brown did pull down six receptions for 105 yards for a somewhat average performance, but considering the highlighted players thus far in this article, we’ll take it. Brown is the definition of a PPR gem and his value is only pointing higher heading into the off-season. Le’Veon Bell continues to progress as a carry-the-load back, running for 124 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. For the Packers, fellow rookie Eddie Lacy showed well on the day, rushing for 84 yards and two touchdowns on 15 totes. Both young runners are showing themselves as potential RB1 candidates heading into 2014.
Can #6) Here’s Where You Can Put Your Clavicle Jokes
Say what you will about the Chargers’ Ryan Mathews but don’t call him unproductive, at least as we close out 2013. For his part, Mathews put up yet another noteworthy performance when owners needed him most, running for 99 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries while adding another 20 yards on three receptions. Earlier in the season, Mathews owners were jumping ship faster than rats from the Titanic, but we’ve seen a completely new back in the second half of 2013. Mathews has now added five touchdowns and eclipsed the 100 yard mark twice in the past five weeks … three times if you’re willing to give him credit for an additional yard in yesterday’s tilt. We hesitate to call him a RB1 heading into 2014, but as a high upside RB2, he’ll be seeing a bump in average drafted position. All eyes in the off-season will be upon Antonio Gates who, at 34 years of age before kickoff of the 2014 season, could elect to hang up the cleats. He’s still signed for another two years through 2015. We feel confident that he’ll return for one more season.
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff