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Week 13 Review: Monster Games Take Us To The Playoffs

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Josh Gordon became the first player in NFL history to have 200 receiving yards in back to back games Sunday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Josh Gordon became the first player in NFL history to have 200 receiving yards in back to back games Sunday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Week 13 is bittersweet. On the one hand you’re battling for a playoff spot with the best part of the fantasy season on its way. On the other, seasons are drawing to an end. For a lot of us, this was a make or break week. Win and we’re in. Lose and we can kiss our season goodbye.

The penultimate week of most our regular seasons did not disappoint. Monster performances were turned it at every position. Even the Thanksgiving day games put up huge numbers for some of us. From Calvin Johnson (6/101/1) to DeMarco Murray (63/3, plus five catches for 39 yards) to Matthew Stafford (330/3/2) it was a Thursday full of unusually big performances.

Then Sunday rolled around, and players stepped it up across the board. Let’s take a look at some of the top performances of Week 13, and some of the most ridiculous performances of the entire season.

1. Peyton Manning continues his historic season as the Broncos improve to 10-2.

Manning went for over 400 yards and added another five scores, bringing his total to 41 for the season. He also surpassed 4,000 yards in a season for the 13th time in his 15 year career. Now the only question is can he keep it together down the stretch in cold weather games? Or will your workhorse tank any chance at postseason glory?

Cam Newton continued his strong play, going 263 through the air, 68 on the ground, and three total scores. He has a pair of tough matchups on the horizon as the Panthers square of the New Orleans in two of the next three games. Don’t discount the New York Jets defense either. They’ve been prone to big meltdowns but you never know when that shutdown defense is going to show up.

Nick Foles threw for 237/3/0. He now has 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions on the season. Only Peyton Manning has started a season with more touchdowns before throwing an interception in NFL history. He started the 2013 campaign with 20 before throwing his first pick.

Alex Smith has now thrown for 290 yards or more in back to back weeks, a rare feat for the “game manager”. His 293/2/1 was good enough for fourth best at the QB position this week, when you factor in his 46 rushing yards.

It was a big week around the NFL for signal-callers. Brandon Weeden, Ryan Tannehill, Josh McCown, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, and Carson Palmer all topped the 300-yard mark this week. Their success was either due to, or directly led to, the monster performances we saw at the wide receiver position, which is up next.

2. A trio of wide receivers absolutely go off

I can’t single out any one of these three because all three had such massive days.

Eric Decker caught eight passes for 174 yards and FOUR touchdowns. After being overshadowed by Denver’s other offensive weapons since a big day against Indianapolis way back in Week 7, Decker was Peyton’s clear favorite this week. Decker managed to get behind defenders for several deep completions on his way to this monster day.

Alshon Jeffery may not have scored four times but he did catch 12 passes for 249 yards and two scores of his own. Not too shabby. Jeffery has the talent, and in his second season it’s translating to the field. Jeffery is no one-hit wonder, he’s that good.

Not to be outdone, Josh Gordon put up a 10/261/2 line. The biggest play of the day was Gordon’s 95-yard catch and run late in the fourth quarter. Gordon went for 239 last week, making this the first time in NFL history that anyone has had over 200 yards receiving in back to back weeks. Despite being suspended for the first two games of the season Gordon may finish in the Top Five for the year, and possibly as high as second behind only Calvin Johnson. He’s a special talent if he can keep his nose clean off the field.

Brian Hartline (9/127/1) had a big game. He hasn’t been spectacular this season, but he has been serviceable as a WR3 in PPR leagues. If only he found his way into the end zone more often.

Roddy White (10/143/0) had his first good game of the season. The Falcons have now won three games on the season. Those three games being the only times they broke 30 points this year. If his injuries are truly behind him he should be a major asset heading into the fantasy playoffs, even if the Falcons are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

3. Ben Tate shines as Houston’s offense comes alive

I had a tough decision this week. As a proud Arian Foster owner (in a keeper league) I astutely picked Ben Tate much earlier than I should have in this year’s draft. I also decided that Donald Brown was worth a roster spot a few weeks back. When Brown was announced as the starter earlier today, I didn’t know what to do. Tate had been disappointing since taking over, and I figured they’d be playing from behind, not running the ball much. At 12:59 I decided to pull the trigger and insert Brown into the lineup. Thank God the clock struck 1:00 before I hit submit and lineups locked. I would’ve been kicking myself. I don’t care what anyone says, drafting a handcuff isn’t just smart it’s necessary.

In the end Tate rushed for over 100 yards and found the end zone three times. He trailed only DeMarco Murray in fantasy productivity in PPR leagues this week.

Reggie Bush totaled 182 yards, five catches and a score this week. He won’t have 90 catches when it’s all said and done (like some predicted), but he will have had a very productive first season in Detroit. Well worth the third round pick you spent to get him.

For the second week in a row Adrian Peterson and the Vikings found themselves in an overtime game. For the second week in a row it looked like it was going to end so many times only to be extended a little longer. All that extra time led to AD’s best rushing day of the year as he racked up 211 yards in the victory.

The high scoring affair in Toronto benefitted both of Buffalo’s talented running backs. Fred Jackson scored on the ground and through the air. On 16 touches he managed 23.8 points in PPR formats. C.J. Spiller was no less impressive as he finally broke out, rushing for 149 yards and a score.

Matt Forte (120) and Montee Ball (117) both broke the century mark while failing to find paydirt. For Ball, it was his best day of his rookie season, even when considering his two touchdown day against Kansas City a couple of weeks ago. For Forte it was business as usual, he continues to be one of the top backs on a weekly basis.

4. Tight Ends feature prominently in Philly’s passing attack in the red zone

Both Zach Ertz (5/68/2) and Brent Celek (4/29/1) scored as the Eagles topped the Cardinals. The Cards are one of the worst squads at stopping tight ends, so it was a no brainer for Chip Kelly to get his guys involved. Neither are particularly safe plays moving forward.

Rob Gronkowski scored early and has now scored in four straight games. Gronk led all tight ends with 6/127/1. Besides one quiet week against Miami, Gronkowski has been his usual self since returning to the lineup in Week 7. For those of us who waited patiently for his return, it’s been paying dividends and should continue to as the season comes to a close.

Vernon Davis caught four for 82 and a score. He was only targeted five times, but he made the most of what he got, hurdling a Rams defender on his way to the end zone. He’s now scored in four of the last five games. He’ll continue to be a Top Five tight end in the playoffs.

Tight ends have been generally quiet all season. The majority of their points have come from scoring touchdowns (duh). My point is they aren’t getting a ton of targets, most are entirely dependent on the score. This week was no exception with 13 touchdowns being scored by the big fellas.

For most of us, the meat of the season is behind us. It’s now a make or break sprint to the finish. One slip up, one Nate Burleson goose egg, and we’re done. With our season’s hanging in the balance, it’s tough not to fiddle with your lineup, unless absolutely necessary resist the temptation. Stick with the guys who got you here.

It’s been a season full of the highest highs, and the lowest lows. This week was certainly right up there with the highest of highs, unless you were on the receiving end of one of those absurd wideout performances. For so many of us the nail-biting isn’t over yet. There’s still a marquee Monday Night matchup between the Saints and the Seahawks left to decide our fates.