The holidays tend to be stressful for a lot of people. They are supposed to be the times we cherish and look forward to, but in reality the planning and logistics can lead many people to lose their cool. Now imagine throwing in a must-win fantasy football match up into the mix. Your grandmother is asking you to pass the cranberry sauce and you're screaming at the television as Calvin Johnson, once again, gets tackled at the 1-yard line.
Before we start stuffing our turkey let's take a look back at week 12 in the NFL.
The Detroit Lions have had a lot of trouble covering receivers lately and this week was no different. The only surprise was that it was Tiquan Underwood who burned them for three receptions for 108 yards and two TDs instead of Vincent Jackson. Underwood and Tim Wright were both nice matchup plays in deep leagues last week and they both paid off. The other good thing to come out of that game for fantasy owners and for Tampa fans is that Mike Glennon continues to play mistake-free football.
The San Diego Chargers pulled off a huge upset this past Sunday and their quarterback, Phillip Rivers, once again proved that he is back to being one of the top ten quarterbacks in the league. Rivers was firmly planted on fantasy benches as he was facing a tough Kansas City defense in Kansas City, but put up the best passing numbers of the week of any quarterback in the league. He threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns helping him to become the fourth overall fantasy quarterback through week 12.
The Tennessee Titans were able to carve up the Oakland Raiders secondary this past Sunday, but it wasn't just Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker doing the damage. Ryan Fitzpatrick found rookie Justin Hunter six times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Hunter looked to be buried on the depth chart to start the year, but has worked his way into a significant role in their offense. His emergence has helped seal the fate of former Rutgers star Kenny Britt.
The last surprise really came out of no where. Everyone in the fantasy world was excited for the Denver Broncos to go into Foxboro and play the New England Patriots on Sunday night. Fantasy numbers were going to be ringing up faster than a cash register at Walmart on Black Friday. While everyone was hoping Danny Amendola would do his best Wes Welker impersonation, it was the old Wes Welker fill-in, Julian Edelman doing his spot on impression. Edelman caught nine balls for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
One of the biggest busts of the weekend was Victor Cruz. The absence of Hakeem Nicks and the strong wind gusts had a lot to do with Cruz's sub-par numbers. The fumble on his first reception of the game didn't help him either. Some reason for hope was provided by 4for4.com's John Paulsen.
Victor Cruz has had three sub 40-yard games this season. He has followed up the previous two with 10-164-1 and 8-110.— John Paulsen (@4for4_John) November 26, 2013
Another receiver who had his worst game of the season was Andre Johnson. Johnson caught just two balls for 36 yards as the Texans lost to the Jaguars. Johnson has become more openly frustrated with what's happening in Houston and I'm a little scared that he's letting it affect his play. Johnson gets the very physical Aqib Talib this week when he faces the New England Patriots. If Talib does as good a job on Johnson as he did on Demaryius Thomas last week then Johnson could be in for a tough day.
Andrew Luck had one of his worst games as a professional this past weekend. He barely reached a 50 percent completion percentage by going 20 for 39 and only managed 163 yards through the air against a very tough Arizona Cardinals defense. The Colts have become so one-dimensional that it is now affecting Luck and his receivers. The lack of a running game has defenses teeing off on passing downs. Coby Fleener continues to play at a tight end 1 level and should be considered a fantasy starter from here on out.
My biggest disappointment has to be Robert Griffin III. Whether it's his knee holding him up or just a case of him regressing we can no longer keep him in a borderline QB1 category. I really am at a loss for words when it comes to Griffin. I blame it on Adrian Peterson's performance last year coming off of ACL surgery.
Looking ahead to Thanksgiving Day and the rest of week 13.
I was so looking forward to watching Aaron Rodgers carve up the Lion's secondary this Thanksgiving, but alas, that won't be the case. Rodgers isn't cleared for contact and it looks like Matt Flynn may get the start. Flynn looked pretty good in relief this past weekend and should be able to put up good numbers against a bad Detroit secondary. One thing Detroit has been doing well is stopping the run and that means Eddie Lacy won't be able to build on the momentum of his performance against the Vikings. I still have Lacy as a high end RB2 this week, but he very easily could be an RB1 if he gets in the end zone.
Looking at the other side of the ball Matthew Stafford has quietly been the third-best quarterback in fantasy football this season and is just now getting back a receiver that is actually fantasy relevant as a counterpart to the amazing Calvin Johnson. Nate Burleson had a very nice game coming back from his broken arm and looks like he could settle in as a nice flex play the rest of the season in PPR leagues.
The Giants ran the ball down the Cowboys throats and I expect the Raiders to pick up where the Giants left off. Rashad Jennings has been extremely good since he took over for the injured Darren McFadden and could be a middle of the pack RB1 this Thursday. Rod Streater has been playing well since Matt McGloin took over at quarterback and should be a low end WR3 going forward with McGloin at the helm. In the same game Tony Romo has a tremendous match up and should be able to feature Dez Bryant against a shaky Raiders' secondary.
The Pittsburgh Baltimore night game has slug-fest written all over it. Antonio Brown is on a tear right now for the Pittsburgh Steelers and should be able to handle an improving Ravens' secondary. Le'Veon Bell has been very solid as RB2 in both standard and PPR formats, but could be facing one of his tougher tests as Baltimore tends to play tough at home. Ben Roethlisberger has been playing at a very high level and should receiver consideration from fantasy owners as a possible replacement for their struggling QB1. On the other side of the ball Ray Rice and the Ravens offensive line continue to struggle running the ball. They have struggled so badly that the Ravens have turned to back up QB Tyrod Taylor to kick start their running game. Joe Flacco didn't look very happy lining up at wide receiver, but the Raven need to do whatever it takes to move the ball. Torrey Smith continues to get better as wide receiver and should be nice WR2 for the rest of the season. Hopefully the Ravens will get Dennis Pitta back soon to help open things up for everyone.
One of my favorite match ups this weekend is the bears against the Vikings. Josh McCown has been able to put up very good numbers since taking over for the injured Jay Cutler and this week he has a tremendous match up to exploit. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte have all been able to keep up their production with McCown pulling the trigger. On the other side of the ball Adrian Peterson gets to face a Chicago Bears defense that has been an absolute ATM to fantasy running backs. Zac Stacy would have put up 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns last week if he didn't leave the game concussed in the second quarter. Peterson owes the Bears some payback after struggling with his footing in their earlier match up this season.
Zac Stacy owners should pick up Benny Cunningham just in case he doesn't get cleared for this week. Nate Burleson should be a very high priority for wide receiver needy teams. Michael Crabtree should be owned in all leagues as he was just put on the active roster for the 49ers. The 49ers don't put the ball in the air all that often so don't expect big dividends right away.
***I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone reading this post a very happy holiday.***
Feel free to ask me any start/sit or trade questions on Twitter @Coachesser or by messaging me on Facebook by liking Coachesser’s Playbook. You can also read my articles at www.coachesser.com and listen to the definitive fantasy football podcast on Itunes or Stitcher Radio by subscribing to the Trick Plays podcast hosted by Micah James (@FFMagicMan) and myself.