Week 15 Review: Jamaal Charles Single Handedly Wins Games
by Anthony Olivetti
Dec 16, 2013 4:14 PM EST
The fantasy playoffs are a fickle beast. You might have had the best team in the regular season, but losing Rob Gronkowski or Adrian Peterson can be fatal come playoff time. The playoffs aren’t all bad though, we’ve had our fair share of performances that can make your season too. Jamaal Charles scoring five touchdowns certainly didn’t hurt his fantasy owners this week. It didn’t hurt Alex Smith owners either.
If you somehow survived you likely have just one week to go before you can hoist that trophy. But first, let’s take a look at some of this week’s fantasy standouts.
1. New faces dominate quarterback play.
This week it wasn’t Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Drew Brees that led all quarterbacks. In fact the Top Ten was filled with some surprising names.
Nick Foles continued his fantasy dominance to finish atop the quarterback rankings this week. Foles threw his second interception of the season, but it didn’t matter as he abused the Vikings defense to the tune of 428 passing yards, 41 rushing yards, and three touchdowns. It wasn’t his sharpest performance of the season, but it was more than enough (for fantasy football, not a win). Foles and the Eagles will square off against the Bears next week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a difficult matchup against the Cardinals, but he still managed to throw for over 400 yards and four scores. His performance likely only benefited the most desperate fantasy owners, but the Titans do play the Jaguars next week so he’ll be on the radar.
I mentioned Alex Smith’s (287/5/0) big day in the opening. His five touchdown passes were more the product of Jamaal Charles’ ability in space than Smith’s ability as a quarterback, even so four of his last five performances have been very good. Indianapolis should be a much tougher test come championship week.
Ryan Tannehill (312/3/0) continued his impressive play as the Dolphins pulled off the upset against the Patriots. Tannehill has now thrown for more than 300 yards in three of the last four weeks. This is the Ryan Tannehill that was so over-hyped coming into the season.
Kirk Cousins and the Redskins were mired in controversy all week. With Robert Griffin III on the sideline, Cousins shredded the woeful Falcons secondary for 381 yards and three scores. It was far from a perfect day as the second year quarterback turned it over three times. Either way, it was a great day. His value on the trade market just went up heading into the offseason.
2. Greg Jennings puts together a big day in Minnesota.
Jennings has actually had three respectable performances in a row now after being a ghost most of the year. Matt Cassel is the main reason that Jennings has been a factor of late. I still wouldn’t trust him with a championship on the line.
DeSean Jackson’s big year got a whole lot bigger on Sunday. If Chip Kelly’s offense has benefited anyone in Philadelphia it’s Jackson (and LeSean McCoy). D-Jax caught 10 passes for 195 yards and a score. Jackson already has career highs in receptions and receiving yards and there’s still two games left to be played. Whoever grabbed him as their third or fourth wide receiver got a bargain.
Dez Bryant rebounded after a slow Week 14, catching 11 passes for 153 and a score. Bryant is one of the league’s premier wide receivers, Week 14 was a fluke.
It’s now four weeks in a row that Julian Edelman dominated PPR leagues. Without Gronk in the lineup Edelman reeled in 13 balls for 139 yards and a 24-yard score. Slot counterpart Danny Amendola (10/131/0) had a monster day of his own. A lot of their success can be attributed to the Dolphins losing a pair of starting cornerbacks.
Kendall Wright apparently has no concept of the end zone. He somehow managed to catch 12 passes for 150 yards and yet still couldn’t score. Of course it isn’t really his fault, he just doesn’t factor into the Titans plans once they get in close. But still, it’s pretty amazing that a guy with as many catches as him this season has only two touchdowns to show for it.
Pierre Garcon had no problem finding the end zone on a 53-yard catch and run on Sunday. Garcon (7/129/1) now has 96 catches on the season. He should continue to draw a ton of targets heading into a Week 16 matchup with the Cowboys.
3. Jamaal Charles continues his MVP season.
Well, fantasy MVP. Charles only rushed for 20 yards on eight carries this week. That means nothing when you catch eight passes for 195 yards and a ridiculous four touchdowns (plus a fifth on the ground). Three of his four receiving touchdowns were on the same screen pass, once he got in space he was just gone. It’s the first time a non-quarterback scored five times in one game since Clinton Portis way back in 2003.
Matt Asiata stepped in for an injured Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart and looked awful. Thankfully he punched it into the end zone three times. Unfortunately, it helped just about no one.
The clear standout of this rookie running back class has to be Eddie Lacy. He continued his great rookie campaign with a 171 (total) yard day and the game-clinching score.
Another impressive rookie, Zac Stacy, had another impressive day. Stacy rushed for 133 yards a big chunk of which came on a 40-yard touchdown run. He’s in line for a ton of touches next week against Tampa Bay.
DeAngelo Williams has been permanently banned from any and all fantasy teams that I have anything to do with. That didn’t stop him from ripping off a 72-yard touchdown on a screen pass against the Jets. D-Will had 168 total yards, even so he’ll be a shaky RB2 next week against the Saints.
After sitting out with a concussion last week Rashad Jennings returned in a big way this week. Facing a tough Chiefs defense, Jennings still totaled over 100 yards and found paydirt twice. He’s the clear-cut feature back in Oakland, they get the Chargers next week.
The Cowboys lost in a heartbreaker to the Packers this week as Tony Romo (literally) threw the game away. Murray shredded the Packers for 134 yards and according to Jason Garrett should have gotten the ball on Romo’s first interception. Murray has a great matchup against the lowly Redskins next week.
4. Delanie Walker capitalizes on a juicy matchup against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have been the worst team in the league when it comes to stopping tight ends this season. Walker (8/53/1) has been far from consistent, but he’s worth a look if you need him coming off of a big day. He faces the Jaguars next, they’re almost just as bad as the Cardinals against tight ends.
Tim Wright led all tight ends this week with seven catches for 82 and a touchdown. He’ll still be a reach in most formats heading into next week.
Vernon Davis (5/79/1) nearly had a much bigger day, but Kaepernick missed him open in the end zone. He ended up catching a 52-yard bomb on the next drive. He’s one of the lone bright spots at the position this season.
Andrew Quarless (6/66/0) put up the exact same line as last week. I said it last week and I’ll say it again now: Don’t chase this into next week. Especially not with the championship on the line.
Last, but not least, Tony Gonzalez (6/62/1), Zach Ertz (6/57/1), and Jason Witten (4/71/1) had productive games on Sunday. Gonzalez has now scored in three consecutive games, you can’t sit him heading into next week. The Eagles are too crowded for Ertz to be trusted on a weekly basis, especially with the Bears next on the docket. Witten’s numbers are not what they were a year ago, not even close. Luckily he’s scoring more and now has seven touchdowns on the season, including four in the last four weeks.
Indecision kills championships. I’ve tinkered my way out of a championship before and I won’t make that mistake again. With the exception of injury substitutions and glaring matchup problems I won’t be touching my lineups at all heading into next week. The way I figure if you haven’t figured out your optimal lineup at this point, you never will.
With that said we wrap up another exciting week. The championship is so close I can taste it.