The 3M Report: Week 14

Matt Price

Welcome to the week 14 edition of the 3M report; a look back on all the magic, mayhem, and mishaps of the first week of the fantasy playoffs.

We were set up for an excellent primetime slate this week and it started with the best Thursday matchup of the season. The Raiders traveled to Arrowhead for a huge game against the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. This was the coldest football game of Derek Carr’s career and it showed up in his play with a dreadful 41.1% completion percentage. He managed just 117 yards on 41 pass attempts. The Oakland offense has started slow all season but has always been able to turn it on in the second half as they did last week against Carolina. The defense held Kansas City to zero points in the second half, but the offense was never able to get going. Amari Cooper let down his team and his fantasy owners when he lost the ball in the air on what would have been a 72-yard touchdown. There were rumors all weekend that the ball may have hit the skycam cable which caused the ball to “move” in the air, but the NFL refuted these claims. Latavius Murray is back to being the Oakland bell cow and he was the only skill player on the offense performing. Murray picked up a touchdown and 103 yards on his 22 carries.

[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]

Alex Smith did enough in the first half to get the win. Smith uncharacteristically completed three 30+ yard passes to Travis Kelce, Chris Conley, and Tyreek Hill and led his team to 21 points in the second quarter. I was excited to play Spencer Ware this week but he disappointed again, and doesn’t look the same since suffering a concussion in week seven. The first two months of the season he averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Since then that has dropped to 3.3. Kelce, on the other hand, has been the best tight end in football over the last month. He posted his fourth straight 100-yard game on Thursday, tying Tony Gonzalez for the franchise record. The only other tight end in NFL history with such a streak is Jimmy Graham who has done it twice. KC takes this one 21-13 and move into the second seed in the AFC. Oakland falls to the fifth seed.

When I fired up the Redzone channel this morning the first sight I saw were the snow flurries in Buffalo. There’s something beautiful about snow falling during a football game. The white flakes falling down, the visible exhales of the linemen, and the calm just before the ball is snapped. There’s nothing like a football game in the snow. On the Steelers first drive of the game, Ben Roethlisberger was picked off in the red zone. Buffalo couldn’t capitalize and the Steelers once again marched down the field, this time getting Le’Veon Bell into the end zone. In the second quarter, Bell got another one. How about the third quarter? Yep, another touchdown for Le’veon. He finished with 298 total yards and three touchdowns. If there if there is a fantasy team that lost in week 14 with Bell in their lineup I would love to hear about it. Big Ben went the other way. He threw zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

Sammy Watkins is healthier than he’s been all season and got a touchdown this week on a short dig route in the middle of the end zone. I only have one share but am excited to roll him out next week against Cleveland.  The strangest part of this game occurred during halftime. The grounds crew plowed the field and in the snow removal process they pulled up the rubber pellets that hold the grass in place. As soon as they got the pellets cleaned up, it started snowing again and immediately began to accumulate. You can’t fight mother nature.

Fantasy owners who were patient with Tyler Eifert early in the season and were in the playoffs in week 14 were greatly rewarded with two touchdowns in the first half against Cleveland in a game the Bengals were up 20-0 at halftime. Jeremy Hill was an easy start this week as well and he delivered with 111 yards and a touchdown on the ground. If you were looking for answers among the Cincinnati wide receivers this week, hopefully, you went with the rookie Tyler Boyd over the veteran Brandon LaFell. Boyd led the team with 49 receiving yards and added another 40 on the ground. Cleveland saw the return of Robert Griffin who completed 43% of his passes for just 104 yards and an interception. He did get a rushing touchdown in the third quarter on a 1-yard sneak but was largely ineffective in his first start since getting hurt in week one. Isaiah Crowell was the only productive offensive player for the Browns on Sunday. He had 113 yards on just ten carries. Crowell is one of my favorite buy-lows heading into 2017. He is only 23 years old and will be a restricted free agent in 2017 with his prime still ahead of him.rudolph

It was a thrilling kicker battle in Jacksonville as the Vikings and Jaguars went into halftime knotted up at 9-9. Purple slug Matt Asiata scored from one-yard out to give the Vikings an 18-16 lead in the fourth quarter. He actually had three scoring opportunities but was stuffed on a fourth and goal in the second quarter and fumbled on the goal line in the fourth quarter. Kyle Rudolph sealed the game on a three-yard touchdown from Sam Bradford with just 2:13 left to play. Blake Bortles was his usual brutal self. He somehow managed to not throw a pick six in this one or any interceptions at all for that matter but he wasn’t able to get his team into the end zone until late in the third quarter. His toss to Bryan Walters put the Jaguars up 16-12, but that was the last points they would score as they watched the Vikings put another 13 points on the board for a 25-16 win. If you went back to the Allen Robinson well, I apologize on his behalf for the one catch for 17 yards on three targets. *THREE* targets. Fantasy football is fun.

The Chargers had a rough day in Carolina. Just three yards short of his first 1,000 yard season, Melvin Gordon was carted off the field midway through the first quarter with a hip injury. Rookie Joey Bosa left the game in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. San Diego was down 23-0 but with 1:03 left in the first half Philip Rivers found rookie tight end Hunter Henry for a nine-yard score. The Panthers defense forced five turnovers on the day and that was really the difference in this ball game. Cam Newton was largely ineffective, completing an appalling 37% of his passes.

The Titans put up zero points in the second half while surrendering 10, but fortunately for them, Demarco Murray started hot and helped his team to a 13-0 lead before halftime. Murray was really the only thing working for the Titans. He rushed for 92 yards which was four more than Marcus Mariota threw for. In his worst game of the season, Mariota completed just 30% of his passes on the day. All of his receiving weapons, including Delanie Walker, suffered as a result. Trevor Siemian threw the ball 51 times for 334 yards and created fantasy stars out of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but the 10 points he put on the board in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough. The Titans hung on for the 13-10 win on an A.J. Derby fumble with 53 seconds left in the game. Siemian might have had a comeback win in him today if not for Derby’s turnover.

DeSean Jackson had one of his patented 80-yard touchdown receptions in a revenge game against the Eagles and Washington was able to hang on for the 27-22 victory. Jackson’s touchdown was an impressive over-the-shoulder catch where he had to adjust and then spin away from Leodis McKelvin. Later in the game, McKelvin picked off Kirk Cousins and returned it for a touchdown, but Jackson got the better of him on that play. With one minute to go, Carson Wentz was driving and had his team down to the Washington 14-yard line, when Ryan Kerrigan got into the backfield and sacked Wentz, forcing a fumble which ended the game.

Zach Ertz had a monster fantasy day with ten catches for 112 yards on 13 targets but may have cost his team the game when he negated a 72-yard Darren Sproles return touchdown with an illegal block penalty. Speaking of Sproles; he took one of the most violent hits I’ve seen this season when he was fielding a punt in the fourth quarter and was destroyed by Deshazor Everett. Sproles took several minutes to get up off the field and was immediately taken in for a head injury evaluation.

Oh, how the Cardinals have fallen. Carson Palmer looks completely done and it hurt all of his fantasy options today as Arizona fell to Miami 26-23 and are essentially out of the playoff conversation for 2016. Even with the Cardinals playing poorly we have still been able to rely on Larry Fitzgerald. Not this week. He got you (and me) three catches for 12 yards. David Johnson didn’t get in the end zone but kept you afloat in PPR leagues with 121 total yards, 41 of those on five receptions. I know it was raining hard today but this pass from Ryan Tannehill is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. He did throw for three touchdowns on the day but Tannehill left the game late in the third quarter when Calais Campbell hit him low. Tannehill’s 2016 season appears to have ended with an ACL injury. Good Luck with Matt Moore the rest of the way.

boldinThe Lions move to 9-4 on the season with a fourth-quarter comeback 20-17 victory over the Chicago Bears. Marvin Jones woke up from his ten-week hibernation with four for 67, his highest yardage total since week four. Matthew Stafford came out of this game with a badly dislocated middle finger that will require him to wear a special splint or glove during next week’s game. His rushing touchdown with 3:17 left gave the Lions the go-ahead score. Matt Barkley brought his team within field goal range twice on the final drive, but both completions that could have led to overtime were negated by penalties. The coolest moment of this game was when Anquan Boldin caught his 1,063rd reception, moving him past Andre Johnson and into tenth all-time.

The terrible Houston Texans led by the terrible Brock Osweiler hung on for a 22-17 victory over the apparently more terrible Indianapolis Colts. The win will go a long way in determining the winner of the terrible AFC South. Lamar Miller showed up with a 100-yard game and a touchdown as the only bright spot on offense. Former number one overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney put three hits on Andrew Luck today with one sack. T.Y. Hilton was huge with nine receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown but Moncrief got you zero catches on four targets. Luck was picked off twice but had his team moving on the final drive. He tried to force a screen pass on fourth and one to Robert Turbin but the blitz caused an errant throw and ended the game for the Colts offense.

Three of the Sunday afternoon games featured teams that still had something to play for and two of those were blowouts. At home in Lambeau Field, the Packers dismantled the Seattle Seahawks 38-10. Aaron Rodgers was ultra-efficient with a 78% completion percentage to go with 246 yards and three touchdowns. Green Bay started quickly. With just 90 seconds off the clock, Davante Adams pulled in a 66-yard touchdown. Jordy Nelson gave his owners two touchdowns as the Packers built a 21-3 lead at halftime. His second one put the Packers up 28-3 going into the fourth quarter. Ty Montgomery was back as the lead back and scored a rushing touchdown but Christine Michael was involved as well. Thomas Rawls ran well but was marginalized quickly in a blowout game. Russell Wilson tried to bring his team back but ended up with five interceptions in his worst game as a pro. Two of those picks were on his receivers on tipped passes, but three of them were definitely on Wilson. Tanner McEvoy caught Wilson’s lone touchdown pass.

Atlanta needs to win every game they can with Tampa Bay breathing down their necks. They took care of business today in Los Angeles in a 42-14 rout of the Rams. Without his top two receivers, Matt Ryan had to rely on guys like Taylor Gabriel, Justin Hardy, Nick Williams and Aldrick Robinson in the passing game. He made it work tossing three touchdowns to three different receivers. The only Falcons player that put up a disappointing stat line today was Devonta Freeman who ran just six times for six yards and caught two passes for only 12 yards. The Atlanta defense did most of the heavy lifting today, forcing five turnovers, including a pick-six by Deion Jones. Jared Goff was not good and doesn’t seem anywhere near ready to be an NFL quarterback. Todd Gurley owners still rolling him out were rewarded with 61 yards and a touchdown. That’s about all you can hope for these days from him. Kenny Britt had another solid day as well with seven for 82.

Drew Brees threw three more interceptions on Sunday in Tampa Bay, bringing his TD:INT ratio to 0:6 for the last two weeks. It’s no coincidence that the Saints have also lost their last two games, this time falling 16-11 to the Buccaneers who move to 8-5 and are now tied with the Falcons for the NFC South division lead. Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks both had decent fantasy lines but nothing else worked for New Orleans against the hottest defense in the NFC. They have now shut down Drew Brees and Russell Wilson in back to back home games. Mike Evans came up small for the second game in a row, sending many fantasy teams home for the season. Doug Martin got the volume but only managed 66 yards on 23 carries. He did get into the end zone to save his fantasy day. Despite the poor performance, Drew Brees surpassed 4,000 yards passing on the season, giving him 11 consecutive 4,000-yard seasons with the New Orleans Saints. The closest active quarterback with a chance to surpass Brees’ record is Matt Ryan who has five straight 4,000-yard seasons.

And we wrap up the day with an NFC East showdown. Oh. Wait. I guess we have to talk about the Jets at Niners, don’t we? Do we? Ok fine, let’s make this quick. Did you start Matt Forte in a great matchup against the worst run defense in the league like I did? Did you tilt your pants off when he exited the game early in the first quarter with a knee injury? Did you tilt the rest of your clothing off as you watched Bilal Powell explode for 35 points on your bench? Why do I play this game again? Brandon Marshall put up a sweet three for 33 so that’s fun. If you started Carlos Hyde you were pretty stoked, though. Hyde ran for 193 yards on only 17 carries and caught a touchdown pass on his only reception. We talked about the Jets and the Niners. Are you happy now? Me either.

After the late games finished I was up 2.05 points in one league against a team with only Cole Beasley left to play. I nearly made it to halftime but with 23 seconds left in the half, he caught one for 13 yards. On the very next play, he caught another for seven yards. So much for that team. Thanks for everything Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, Stefon Diggs, Spencer Ware, and Thomas Rawls. Not one of you could score a touchdown or get 100 yards today? Thanks, for the help fellas.

OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH SUNDAY NIGHT! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh shut up is what I say. How do we not have a better song for Sunday Night Football? Am I the only one who has taken to answering phone calls from friends by belting out an “OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHH SUNDAY NIGHT!” bomb? Give it a shot. It’s good fun for all. Especially you.

I’ve been looking forward to the Cowboys and Giants on Sunday Night Football all week. I love that the NFC east is competitive and fun to watch again. The Cowboys got out to a 7-0 lead early on a Terrance Williams touchdown over the only team to beat them this season. Ezekiel Elliot helped carry the Cowboys into halftime with a lead on 86 first half yards. Odell Beckham dropped what would have been a long touchdown to tie it up but it bounced off his hands instead and kept the Giants scoreless in the first half. OBJ made up for it the third quarter when he took a six-yard slant 61 yards to the house to put the Giants up 10-7. With the Cowboys driving in the fourth quarter, Dez Bryant caught his first pass of the game and promptly fumbled. The Giants weren’t able to run out the clock on the following drive but they were able to pin the Cowboys at their own two-yard line with only 1:06 to play. Three Dak Prescott incompletions later and the Giants completed their sweep of the 11-2 Dallas Cowboys.

What a week of football! It was a disappointing one for a few of my strongest teams but I still have a half dozen or so still in the running. I hope you guys get to play a couple more weeks too. Good luck to everyone in week 15 and I’ll see you next week.


matt price