Well, if you faced Jamaal Charles today, good luck in your third-place game. I fortunately only faced him in one of four semifinals, and actually still could’ve won had I not overthought my defense and played Carolina at home against the Jets instead of Seattle on the road against the Giants. Definitely kicking myself for that one. Not much I can say about Charles that hasn’t been said already. He’ll likely be the consensus No. 1 in fantasy drafts next year.
It wasn’t quite Week 14 in terms of surprises, but it was damn close. The Vikings putting up 48 points thanks to a trio of Matt Asiata touches probably paces the crazy parade. Asiata didn’t do much in the yards-per-carry column, but that doesn’t mean much when you’re in the end zone thrice.
Trent Richardson shook off a season of irrelevance to replace the injured Donald Brown and post a fantasy helper, though you better have been in an extremely deep league to be playing Richardson in a semifinal. Or in an AFC-only league or something. The only bigger surprise would have to be Griff Whalen catching the other touchdown from Andrew Luck. No TY Hilton, no Da’Rick Rodgers, no Coby Fleener. Nope, Griff Whalen.
Jimmy Graham picked a not-so-fine time for his second-worst performance of the season, surprising first because it came against a Rams team that had allowed TE touchdowns in two of their last three and 62 or more yards to the position in each of those games, and second because the Saints were getting crushed all game so Drew Brees fireworks should’ve been a given. Kudos to St. Louis for stepping up.
Jay Cutler did have some rust in his first game in a month, throwing a couple of early picks against Cleveland. But the Bears passing game continued its recent dominance and looks primed to put up excellent championship week digits with a meeting against Philly in Week 16.
Rashad Jennings was overshadowed by Charles in Kansas City’s huge victory – which included a monster day from Alex Smith thanks to Charles’ catch-and-go skills – but Jennings was solid in his own right. In fact, he’s probably earned himself a starting job next season, either with the Raiders or another team. Oakland’s no juggernaut, but considering what he’s been able to do with the Raiders, I wouldn’t mind seeing him stay in the black hole.
The Arizona running backs both had excellent games against the terrible Titans run defense. Shame on me for starting Chris Ogbonnaya over Andre Ellington in one league and Jordan Todman over him in another. The Todman one was basically a wash, but should’ve had the guys to go with Ellington despite Rashard Mendenall predictably sniping goal-line looks – scoring twice in this one. But if you rode Mendy or Ellington to a championship game, look elsewhere for help next week. They play at Seattle.
Oh yeah, that reminds me. I’m done with the Cleveland backfield. Edwin Baker? Really?
Kirk Cousins was able to take advantage of a good matchup despite playing on the road in his first start of the season, throwing for three touchdowns and nearly 400 yards to go with a pair of interceptions. Pierre Garcon was finally able to do something with his targets without Robert Griffin III misfiring all day, and Garcon should be usable next week as well.
In the same game, the old-timers Steven Jackson and Tony Gonzalez both provided the stuff semifinal victories are made of, despite Jackson managing a paltry 2.5 yards per carry. You’ll probably need to find help elsewhere next week, though, with Atlanta traveling to San Francisco. The good news for Gonzo is that the 49ers have allowed decent yardage AND a touchdown to tight ends each of the last two weeks.
LeSean McCoy followed up a career game against a tough Detroit defense last week with a complete dud against a bad Vikings defense. He did run for 4.8 yards per carry, but inexplicably got just eight carries while Nick Foles threw the ball 48 times. Minnesota’s secondary certainly is inviting, but the Eagles could’ve been more balanced and just as successful on offense.
It took awhile to get going, but Matt Flynn actually turned in a decent fantasy game today, though it should hardly count when coming against the awful Cowboys secondary. Pretty much if you started a Packer he did well for you—even James Starks, who scored a receiving touchdown. Meanwhile, Dallas insisted on passing the ball – a whopping 48 times – despite DeMarco Murray earning 7.4 yards per carry. Murray only ran 18 times. Knock Romo down to 40 passes and up Murray to 26 carries, and you’ve probably got a Cowboys victory. At least Romo had a decent fantasy day despite two picks, and Dez Bryant had a huge day after a handful of mediocre outings.
And finally, if you needed another reason to be wary of playing Chris Ivory, how about defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson sniping goal line looks? Surprisingly it was DeAngelo Williams who was the running back of choice in this one against a stingy Jets run defense, and Mike Tolbert even tumbled into the end zone as well. They’ve actually been useful more often than not when Jonathan Stewart’s been sidelined, yet both are still tough to trust. Not as tough as Ivory, though…