Not all of Sunday’s games were noteworthy, but one game stood
out above the rest. We’ll start there and continue with other
unexpected happenings on this final weekend prior to fantasy playoffs
beginning for most leagues. Ready, set, Buzz!…
Josh McCown and Alex Smith combined for
7 TDs and finished as the top 2 fantasy QBs in Week 13.
Offensive Assault Team One: New York
Just the thought of this headline back in August would have been
considered absurd as it was predicted by many that the Jets would
have one of the worst offenses in NFL history. After all, how can
a team be expected to do much with veteran Josh McCown at QB and
Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse anchoring the receiving corps?
Fast forward to Sunday. Josh McCown threw for over 300 yards for
a second week in a row and while his TD passes dropped from 3 to
1, he ran for two scores. Robby Anderson caught a season-high 8
passes for over 100 yards (third time this season), while Kearse
topped Anderson in both categories. Throw in 141 combined yards
and two TDs from the duo of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell and it was
a great day for nearly all Jet skill position players. Yes, the
Chiefs defense is bad, but you can’t deny how well this team
is moving the ball. Week 14’s game in Denver could be rough,
but the Jets’ division rivals from Miami gashed the Broncos
pretty good this week. Sometimes, offenses emerge out of nowhere.
Someone deserves some serious credit in New York for making this
And From the Same Game…Team Two: Kansas
The Chiefs did everything right offensively…and still lost
on Sunday. Those who watch them on a regular basis (when you live
in Oklahoma, it’s a weekly venture) have been clamoring for
them to throw the ball downfield again. They did. Alex Smith had
one of his best games of his career throwing for nearly 400 yards
to go along with 4 TDs. He even had a 70-yard run to boot! Travis Kelce finished as the top fantasy TE of the week, although the majority
of his points came in the first quarter. When the Jets adjusted
to try to eliminate him, Tyreek Hill torched them for nearly 200
yards of output and two scores. The Jets-Chiefs game was full of
fireworks and underscored just how much the Chiefs may need to do
offensively down the stretch to overcome awful defense. Kelce and
Hill are a match-up nightmare for all opponents and with Andy Reid
no longer calling the offensive plays, look for that to be the focal
point of the offense in the coming weeks. Sorry Kareem Hunt owners.
I’m afraid your fast-starting boat has officially sailed.
Week 13’s Star RBs Were Who???
With David Johnson out since Week 1, Ezekiel Elliott suspended for
six games, and Le’Veon Bell not receiving touches near the
goal line anymore, the world of fantasy football remains ripe for
unusual heroes taking charge at the RB position. Consider this list
of Week 13’s top ten performers: Kenyan Drake, Rex Burkhead,
Alex Collins, Alfred Morris, Jamaal Williams, Derrick Henry, and
Peyton Barber. Only the uber-reliable Saints RB duo (more on them
to come), Le'Veon Bell, and Beast Mode made the list as expected
with Raiders forced to run this week with both starting wide receivers
out. All of the above players will have value in the fantasy playoffs
with Drake emerging as the biggest workhorse of the bunch and Collins
and Burkhead most likely to finding the end zone. And, while Alfred Morris doesn’t catch many passes and Aaron Jones’s return
could cut into Jamaal Williams’ workload, don’t sleep
on either of those players moving forward. Plenty of undrafted RBs
have emerged in late November/ early December. Guess the Zero-RB
guys are smiling once again…that is, as long as you found
the right guy to plug in along the way.
Peculiar Patriot Progression
Speaking of Rex Burkhead and his continued fantasy binge, the Patriots
in general are morphing into a running team more and more each week.
With the defense playing light years better than it did in September,
the onus is no longer on Tom Brady (zero touchdown passes on Sunday)
to match opponents stride for stride. Instead, Dion Lewis, Burkhead,
and James White are doing their fair share in an offense that ran
the ball 35 times on Sunday vs. only 30 passes. It’s not that
Brady can’t still be a fantasy force, it’s that he doesn’t
always have to be in order for New England to win. Rob Gronkowksi
is staring at a suspension next weekend, so cheer up if you’re
a Brandin Cooks owner who was in the doldrums just two days ago.
Also, expect all sorts of production in the passing game vs. Pittsburgh
in two weeks. That could be a defining game not only for the AFC
playoffs, but also fantasy playoff games everywhere. So, consider
what’s going on right now and understand the tides could shift.
Back to Earth: The Minnesota Effect
Any good recap article worth two cents last weekend took some time
to pat Julio Jones on the back after his dynamic outing vs. Tampa
Bay. This week, Jones was held to 2 catches and under 30 yards leaving
many Julio investors confused yet again. So, what happened? The
Vikings happened. Whoever Xavier Rhodes covers disappears the way
Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman used to make WRs disappear in
their primes. Minnesota in general creates less than average performances
from the skill position players and that means Cam Newton owners
should beware in Week 14 and certainly A.J. Green owners take notice
the following week. Certainly, Marvin Jones broke through on Thanksgiving
Day to offer some hope to those opposing the Vikings, but consider
that the exception rather than the rule. Julio will bounce back
strong this Thursday night while the Panthers will struggle on Sunday
in all aspects of offense. That’s our take, at least.
Buzz Good, Buzz Bad
Writing a fantasy football article involves telling readers what
you think will happen. Last week’s two most famous prognosticating
quotes went like this: “In Week 13, look for Jordan Howard
to run wild vs. San Francisco”. Ummm…and the second
was “Don’t give up on the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill;
we bet he’ll be much involved in the week to come”.
One piece of advice was golden; the other, rotten. We’d like
to think that most of predicting we do here at the Buzz turns into
something positive for you. Tyreek made us look good this week while
Howard and whoever decided to only give him the ball 13 times on
Sunday didn’t. It’s why this hobby attracts so many
people - it’s far from an exact science, even for those who
look at it from every angle week in and week out.
Change at QB Equals Production at TE
Last week, we also noted that Cameron Brate was being “phased
out” of the offense in Tampa Bay. It turns out he was just
being ignored by Ryan Fitzpatrick. With Jameis Winston back in the
fold, Brate returned to prominence with not one, but two TD receptions.
In a similar turn of events, rookie TE Evan Engram turned in his
best game of the season after 4 catches and 27 yards in Weeks 11
and 12 combined. One could argue that having Sterling Shepard back
this past weekend made all the difference for Engram and it probably
did. But, Geno Smith looked to him early and often as his most trusted
target and no matter who is quarterback in New York moving forward,
Engram is a must-start for fantasy playoffs. Brate, while more TD-dependent,
just might be too.
Are Two Top-Five RBs on the Same Team Possible?
Mark this down as something I thought I would never ask for as long
as I played fantasy football. Sure, there have been great RB duos
from the same team over the years and we’ve reached back and
reminded you of a few of those in weeks past. But, with Mark Ingram
getting back on track on Sunday (122 total yards, 1 TD), it now
appears that both he and potential fantasy football MVP Alvin Kamara
will both rank in the top five at that position by season’s
end. It is the most unimagined of plot twists this season and it
will be fun to watch to see if it actually unfolds. Thursday night’s
game vs. Atlanta will feature both in a whole lot of playoff lineups
across that nation. Good stuff.
Welcome Back Flash Gordon
The words “encouraging” and “Cleveland”
don’t really go together when it comes to football and the
Browns, but it’s worth noting that Josh Gordon looked decent
on Sunday in his first game in the NFL since 2014. Gordon caught
4 passes for 85 yards and was targeted no less than 11 times. Why
does it matter? Because if Gordon is available in your league and
it’s of the dynasty/keeper variety, a cheap stash at this
point makes some sense. Gordon could fall flat on his face again
as early as this week, but don’t forget that he was fantasy
football’s best WR in 2013, even on a horrible team. Those
counting on Corey Coleman in the fantasy playoffs this year, might
want to leave him on the bench until further notice.
The Antonio Brown Gamble
Finally, hats off to everyone who held out and started Antonio Brown
on Monday night. It's very difficult to try to figure out what to
do when a player is considered 50/50 for the Monday night match-up.
Brown did what he normally does- 100+ yards and a TD. But, I would
imagine a few people opted to pull him out of the lineup in fear
of the dreaded goose egg. For the playoffs, remember to hedge your
bets on Sunday and Monday nights with another player playing in
those games should a similar situation arise.
We'll be in playoff mode next Tuesday. Until then…