First Response: Stalled out in Indy
There were signs that the Colts would pull the rug out from under Fantasy owners in Week 16, and unfortunately they came to fruition. Our Jamey Eisenberg touches on that and more in his latest edition of First Response.
The Colts run at a perfect season ended Sunday with a 29-15 loss against the Jets, and their play in Week 16 likely ruined many Fantasy championship games. As anticipated, the Colts decided to rest their starters.
There was a large sigh across the Fantasy community with 5:36 remaining in the third quarter when Peyton Manning and the rest of the Colts stars came out of the game with a 15-10 lead. At that point, if you were relying on the Colts, your season probably ended.
Joseph Addai was the only regular Fantasy option to play well with six carries for 40 yards and a touchdown. But Manning, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark were disappointments.
Manning finished with 192 passing yards and no touchdowns, which was only his second game this year without a touchdown pass (Week 8 against San Francisco). He was started in 95 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com.
Wayne, who we listed as a "Bust Alert" in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em in part because of his matchup with Darrelle Revis , finished with three catches for 33 yards. He was started in 84 percent of leagues. And Clark had four catches for 57 yards. He was started in 98 percent of leagues.
There were signs that this could happen, including when the Colts kept Pierre Garcon (hand) out to protect his injury. The Colts had nothing to play for in this game besides a shot at perfection since the No. 1 seed in the AFC was locked up, and they were facing an aggressive defense in the Jets.
Then on Saturday, the Colts promoted quarterback Drew Willy from the practice squad to carry three quarterbacks on the active roster with Manning and backup Curtis Painter . That was an indication they were going to give Painter some playing time and wanted Willy as a backup in case Painter got hurt. You had to assume Manning wouldn't play a full game, which we said in his player update.
Now, some Fantasy owners probably didn't have the option of benching Manning, Wayne or Clark. For example, I had Manning in a playoff game, and my only backup quarterback was Jason Campbell . I felt more comfortable with the idea Manning would play better in a half than Campbell would in a full game.
Those were decisions many owners had to make in Week 16. And based on the start percentage, most of you stuck with the Colts.
It's unfortunate that coach Jim Caldwell didn't give a definitive statement that the Colts would choose to rest their stars, but that doesn't typically happen in the NFL. And hopefully if you did start the Colts you had other players on your team to carry you through this week in the Fantasy playoffs.
We know now the Colts will rest their stars in Week 17 at Buffalo, so look for Donald Brown , Austin Collie , Hank Baskett and Tom Santi to be possible sleepers against the Bills. And if your Fantasy championship is the final week of the season, keep Manning, Addai, Wayne and Clark on your bench.
They are not going to help you any more this season. The Colts are no longer perfect.
Let's take a look around at the rest of the Week 16 action.
Start of the Week review: Beanie Wells got off to a slow start against St. Louis, but he scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give him a solid stat line. Wells finished with 17 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 25 yards, giving him 14 Fantasy points in a standard-scoring league. He split carries with Tim Hightower , who had 10 carries for 32 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 3 yards, but Wells had the better game. Wells now has three touchdowns in his past three games and is ending his rookie season on a high note. He has a tough matchup in Week 17 against Green Bay, but Wells should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy option against the Packers based on his recent play.
Sit of the Week review: Calvin Johnson played well at San Francisco with seven catches for 96 yards and two carries for 32 yards. But he lost two fumbles and finished with eight Fantasy points in a standard-scoring league. Still, that was better than expected considering his poor quarterback play with Drew Stanton starting and throwing three interceptions before being replaced by Daunte Culpepper . Johnson's outlook will improve in Week 17 against Chicago, but we can't wait for 2010 after he has a full offseason of work with franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford , who was put on injured reserve with knee and shoulder injuries. That duo has a chance to be special as Stafford improves heading into his second year.
Insane stat line of the day: We expected Jonathan Stewart to play well once DeAngelo Williams (ankle) was ruled out at the Giants, but his performance was outstanding. Stewart had 28 carries for a team-record 206 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 16 yards. The Giants have struggled in run defense, especially giving up touchdowns, but it was a shock to see Stewart gash the defense for that many yards in New York. Stewart has posted two tremendous games in a row after running for 109 yards and a touchdown in Week 15 against Minnesota, and he could be a star in Week 17 against New Orleans if Williams is out again.
Out-of-nowhere stat line of the day: Arian Foster was a week too late. We thought Foster would be a star in Week 15 against St. Louis but instead a costly fumble ruined his day against the Rams. His outlook was unclear at Miami since Ryan Moats and Chris Brown were expected to be part of the rotation, but Foster stepped up with a big game to help keep the Texans in playoff contention. He had 19 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown and outplayed Moats (eight carries for 23 yards and four catches for 39 yards) and Brown (two carries for 9 yards and one catch for 1 yard). He has a tougher matchup in Week 17 against New England, but Foster could be worth a look in deeper leagues based on this performance. That is if you're ready to trust him again. Jabar Gaffney gets credit here also for his two touchdowns at Philadelphia.
Guy we were way right about: Jerome Harrison did well in his encore performance. He dominated Oakland one week after running all over Kansas City for 286 yards and three touchdowns. Harrison had 39 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown with a lost fumble against the Raiders. As we said throughout the week, where was this all year? Fantasy owners were robbed the chance of using Harrison because the Browns stuck with Jamal Lewis instead of giving Harrison a chance. He should finish the season on a positive note with a favorable matchup in Week 17 against Jacksonville, and it's safe to start Harrison as a No. 2 Fantasy running back.
Guy we were way wrong about: Vince Young had been on an outstanding run prior to Friday's game against San Diego with three games of at least 20 Fantasy points in his past four outings. But Young was miserable against the Chargers as the Titans got eliminated from playoff contention. Young was 8 of 21 passing for 89 yards and two interceptions with six carries for 40 yards and a touchdown. He also lost a fumble. It was Young's worst game since taking over as a starter in Week 8, but he should rebound in Week 17 at Seattle and is worth using as a starting Fantasy option in deeper leagues.
Overachieving defense of the week: We expected San Francisco (vs. DET), Arizona (vs. STL), Cleveland (vs. OAK) and Atlanta (vs. BUF) to play well with favorable matchups against backup quarterbacks, and all four defenses did a solid job. But Carolina going into New York and shutting down the Giants was a surprise. The Panthers had two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and four sacks in a 41-9 victory, and their secondary continues to shine. Already this year the Panthers have held Drew Brees , Tom Brady , Brett Favre and Eli Manning to one touchdown or less with an interception in each game. The Panthers face Brees again in Week 17, so don't be surprised if Brees has another tough outing.
Underachieving defense of the week: Speaking of the Panthers, they made the Giants look like a junior varsity team in their last game at Giants Stadium. Matt Moore threw three touchdown passes along with Stewart's big game, and the Giants had only one sack with no turnovers. Osi Umenyiora is threatening to quit the team, and the defense appears to have finally broken after playing through a plethora of injuries all year. It doesn't look good for defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, who has struggled to replace the departed Steve Spagnuolo, and this performance has likely cost the Giants a shot at the playoffs.
Names to add to your scout team ...
, running back, Houston (97 rushing yards and a
touchdown at Miami)
Lex Hilliard , running back, Miami (12 rushing yards and a touchdown and 74 receiving yards and a touchdown against Houston
Brandon Jackson , running back, Green Bay (20 rushing yards and two touchdowns and 19 receiving yards and one touchdown against Seattle)
Mike Tolbert , running back, San Diego (60 rushing yards, 11 receiving yards at Tennessee)
Jabar Gaffney , wide receiver, Denver (69 receiving yards and two touchdowns at Philadelphia)
Injury alerts ...
, shoulder, considered questionable for Week 17
Pierre Thomas , ribs, considered questionable for Week 17 at Carolina
Brandon Jacobs , knee, considered questionable for Week 17 at Minnesota
Steve Smith , broken forearm, out for Week 17 against New Orleans
Torry Holt , finger, considered questionable for Week 17 at Cleveland
Tony Gonzalez , calf, considered questionable for Week 17 at Tampa Bay
Marcedes Lewis , head, considered questionable for Week 17 at Cleveland
The last word: Dave Richard and I are already looking ahead to 2010, and we recently ran our projected Top 12 picks in a story I did on Chris Johnson .
This week, we ran our projected list of the Top 12 wide receivers for 2010 in a story I did on Andre Johnson .
We know you love that Fantasy Football fix even when the games end, so keep checking here as we start to breakdown the offseason and get you ready for 2010 with keeper suggestions and draft prep. Just because the regular season is over that doesn't mean our work is done.
What stood out to you this week? How did your Fantasy teams do? Drop us a line and tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put Attn: Week 16 in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state and we'll respond to as many as e-mails we can.
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