Cowboys v. Lions: Wait, Matt Stafford throws for under 300 yards? Blasphemy! He still did alright (240, 2 TDs), with both touchdown passes coming late during Detroit’s comeback. Both – shock of all shocks – were hauled in by Calvin Johnson who caught 8 passes for 96 yards. CJ now has 8 of those on the year, amazing. No other Lion made any real impact. On Dallas’ side, Tony Romo was again gritty and gutty, but added great fantasy stats this time (331, 3 TDs). Laurent Robinson – getting a start in place of Miles Austin – led the ‘Boys in receiving (7 for 116), while Jason Witten (8 for 96, TD), and Dez Bryant (3 for 37, 2 TDs) made their fantasy owners happy.
Steelers v. Texans: Andre Johnson owners got a scare when he left the game after a no-contact injury; the verdict is not good – strained hammy – but it looked like it could have been a much worse knee issue at the time. As a result, Houston’s passing game had only 1 bright spot: Owen Daniels (5 for 69, TD). But Arian Foster surprised everyone by rushing for 155 and a TD against the supposedly vaunted Pittsburgh D. It really was Houston’s D that was the story, and this game should have been a blowout had the Texans not committed several bad penalties which negated defensive touches. No one on the Steelers had a worthwhile fantasy day, and Rashard Mendenhall rushed for the only TD. His owners (which include me) might be in trouble, as the carries were split 9/6/4 between him, Isaac Redman, and Mewelde Moore. Yikes. Oh, and Big Ben injured his foot, but it looks to only be a sprain.
Panthers v. Bears: Cam Newton returned to the high yardage club this week (374, TD), and also rushed for 2 scores on 35 yards. This kid has gone from basement dwelling QB 3 to borderline QB 1 in 4 weeks. Kudos if you got in early. Steve Smith continued the comeback season (8 for 181), while Greg Olsen caught the lone TD pass against his old team (5 for 51). DeAngelo Williams actually was not a total zero this week (82 yards), but he basically split carries with Jonathan Stewart. For Chicago, the passing game was unspeakably bad, but Matt Forte was elite on the ground (205, 1 TD). If he can balance out his ground/air abilities going forward, he’s a top 5 back easy.
Vikings v. Chiefs: Matt Cassel was useful (260, TD)! Matt Cassel was useful! It’s a miracle! Dwayne Bowe had a second straight game with a TD (5 for 107, TD), and Steve Breaston made a fantasy cameo (4 for 91). Donovan McNabb was also decent (202, 2 TD), while AP let down owners expecting big things (80 rushing).
Bills v. Bengals: Buffalo’s magical undefeated season came to an end, as did their fantasy dominance. Only Fred Jackson had a good day (98 total, TD). For Cincy, Andy Dalton held his own (298, 2 TDs – 1 passing 1 rushing), A.J. Green continues to impress (4 for 118), Jermaine Gresham had a TE 1 day (4 for 70, TD), and Cedric Benson had a 104 yard day.
Titans v. Browns: Matt Hasselbeck only completed 10 of 20 passes, but fantasy owners who took a chance on him don’t care (220, 3 TDs). Jared Cook (2 for 93) was the only receiver who had more than 12 yards and one of those TDs. Chris Johnson rushed for over 100 for the first time this year, to the relief of his nervous owners – 101 to be exact. For Cleveland, Colt McCoy had to toss 61 passes playing from behind all day (350, TD), which made the running game irrelevant. Ben Watson caught the touchdown (6 for 48), but the yards were spread out to 11 different receivers.
Redskins v. Rams: Welcome to 2011 Ryan Torain. The Redskin RB flavor of the week was a beast and I’m sure a big waiver add this week (135 rushing, TD), just temper your expectations given his injury history/Mike Shanahan’s fickle back use. Steven Jackson returned to a full workload and had a TD catch to go with 64 total yards; its progress. Santana Moss also caught a TD, but everyone else was better off on your bench – including my deep league waiver pick/miss, Brandon Gibson.
49ers v. Eagles: Maybe when Vince Young said Philly has a ‘Dream Team,’ he meant Fantasy-wise, ’cause so far so good there. Vick had crazy passing yardage (416) to go with 2 TD passes and 75 yards rushing. DeSean Jackson reaped the benefits of Vick’s arm (6 for 171), as did Jeremy Maclin (7 for 74, TD), Clay Harbor (3 for 55, TD), and LeSean McCoy (6 for 34, TD). For San Fran, Frank Gore broke out at an opportune time (127 rushing, TD), and Alex Smith had one of his best fantasy – and reality – days (291, 2 TDs). Josh Morgan (3 for 65) and Vernon Davis (4 for 45) caught the TDs.
Saints v. Jaguars: Not much to report here. Brees had his yards (351) but only 1 TD pass. Darren Sproles had another great all-purpose game (131 combined yards) and is quietly making a case for being an RB2. Jimmy Graham was the leading receiver with a giant day (10 for 132, TD) – quite the TE value – Mike Thomas had a WR 3 type day (5 for 73) and MJD had 84 rushing; Zach Miller caught Blaine Gabbert’s only TD pass.
Falcons v. Seahawks: Lots o’ fantasy fun here, and it wasn’t all Atlanta. Matt Ryan (291, TD) got outproduced by – get ready – Tarvaris Jackson (319, 3 TDs). Michael Turner collected a couple TD runs (70 rushing), and Marshawn Lynch had a TD run to salvage his pathetic rushing day. Julio Jones led Atl with 11 catches for 127 yards, Gonzo was solid again (7 for 56, TD), while an ailing Roddy White still had an ok day (6 for 78). For Seattle receivers, Doug Baldwin (5 for 84), Sidney Rice (3 for 79, TD), Mike Williams (3 for 36, TD), and Ben Obomanu (3 for 25, TD) were worthy plays; though if you started Williams or Obomanu, you either are very desperate or clairvoyant.
Giants v. Cardinals: This one had a bunch of fantasy duds until the 4th quarter, minus Beanie Wells, who had a career game (138 rushing, 3 TDs). In the 4th, the Giants woke up and Eli Manning (321, 2 TDs), Hakeem Nicks (1o for 162, TD), Victor ‘I’m down! I’m down!’ Cruz (6 for 98), and Jake Ballard (3 for 33, TD) all got in on the party. Bradshaw and Jacobs each had a TD run, and Larry Fitz had triple digit yardage (8 for 102).
Patriots v. Raiders: As (un)expected, Jason Campbell (344, TD) threw for more yards than Tom Brady (226, 2 TDs), Stevan Ridley (97 rushing, TD) outpaced BJGE (75 rushing, TD) and DMC (75 rushing, 48 receiving), and Darius Heyward-Bey led Oakland in receiving (4 for 115). Denarius Moore had little yardage (19), but did catch a TD, and Wes Welker again did his best Randy Moss ’07 impression (9 for 158, TD).
Denver v. Green Bay: Anyone who wants to end the MVP voting right now after Aaron Rodgers’ latest masterpiece won’t hear me complain (408 passing, 4 TDs, 36 rushing, 2 TDs), but I’m sure James Starks owners have some gripes. Greg Jennings (7 for 103, TD ), Jordy Nelson (5 for 91, TD), Randall Cobb (2 for 75), James Jones (3 for 48, TD) and Donald Driver (3 for 20, TD) were the happy GB receivers. For Denver, Kyle Orton had a great day (273, 3 TDs), Eric Decker continued his breakout season (5 for 56, 2 TDs), Brandon Lloyd made his 2011 debut into elitedom (8 for 136), and Willis McGahee went over 100 (103). Daniel Fells caught the other Orton TD pass.
Chargers v. Dolphins: Really nothing to report here from Miami’s side of the ledger, other than Matt Moore replacing Chad Henne as the starting QB and Lex Hilliard vulturing a TD run. Prett-ay, Prett-ay sad offense right there. San Diego got its usual 300 yard game from Rivers (307, TD), 100 yard game from Vincent Jackson (108, TD), and 100+ total yard performance from Ryan Mathews (149). Mike Tolbert had a TD run and 51 yards receiving, so he still has fantasy relevance, but this is looking more and more like Mathews’ backfield. Antonio Gates sat this one out with recurring foot issues.
Jets v. Ravens: Not too shocking to see the defenses/special teams dominating this one. 1 offensive TD was scored, that run in by Ray Rice (130 total yards). Otherwise, hope you owned both NYJ/BAL Defenses. Sanchez and Flacco were a combined 21 for 66 with 2 INTs and 4 lost fumbles, which is all you need to know about how bad they were.
Colts v. Bucs: Much closer than some expected, and a much better Curtis Painter effort in this one (281, 2 TDs, though only13 of 30 completions). Pierre Garcon caught two balls for 146 yards and 2 TDs – talk about efficiency – but no one else on the Colts did anything of note; Reggie Wayne is officially an afterthought fantasy-wise, what a waste of talent. For TB, Josh Freeman had a very good game (287, 2 TDs, 1 of them rushing), LeGarrette Blount ran wild (127, 1 TD), and Preston Parker caught the TD pass (5 for 70).