Green Bay Packers @ Baltimore Ravens
Tyler Huntley led all fantasy QBs in scoring this week, while Aaron Rodgers wasn't far behind him Sunday as both QBs turned in big performances during this 31-30 thriller. It was hardly unexpected to see Rodgers rip apart (13.8 CPOE) a Baltimore secondary missing everyone, but Huntley was also incredibly sharp while running for 70+ yards and two scores. Huntley scored 35.9 fantasy points; Lamar Jackson hadn’t reached 18 fantasy points in a game since Week 9. Rodgers continued to show improved trust in Marquez Valdes-Scantling (who tied with Davante Adams for the team-high in targets) while also somehow being able to play through a brutal roughing the passer penalty.
In all seriousness, Rodgers remains firmly in the MVP race.
It was no shock to see Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon struggle to run against the Ravens' extreme pass-funnel defense, but the three combined targets were the real bummer. Still, both backs scored touchdowns anyway and are worth starting in home matchups over the next two weeks.
I’m good with John Harbaugh losing his second game in three weeks while going for two at the end, especially considering the arbitrary coin toss in OT and the unlikelihood of stopping Rodgers, but one could argue it made less sense given the Ravens have DVOA’s No. 1 ranked special teams and Green Bay’s ranks dead last. Or that Baltimore should've gone for two after its previous touchdown.
Mark Andrews has racked up 21 catches (24 targets) for 251 yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks, as his fantasy managers are weirdly rooting for Jackson to take his sweet time returning from his ankle injury.
Carolina Panthers @ Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen didn’t run as much as usual while playing through his foot injury but tossed three touchdowns (two to Gabriel Davis), while Devin Singletary took over Buffalo’s backfield. Singletary gets a tough matchup in New England next but suddenly looks like a strong fantasy start in championship week (Atl), especially if Allen remains slowed … Cam Newton finished in the fourth percentile in CPOE but was Sunday’s third highest-scoring fantasy QB anyway despite facing a Bills defense that entered allowing the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. He dominated the team’s rushing work, while P.J. Walker didn’t see a snap. Newton has lost 12 straight starts with the Panthers, but the ability to run is all that matters with fantasy QBs.
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
The Jets ran a nice play to pick up a long third down, while Tua Tagovailoa was lucky he didn’t throw a couple more interceptions to go along with his pick-six … Zach Wilson struggled mightily yet again, while the Jets continue to be an absolute gift to opposing backs, somehow allowing Duke Johnson to finish as fantasy’s RB1 this week despite running behind a bad offensive line and having played six total snaps on the season.
Get ready for James Robinson DFS chalk for the second straight week (home against NYJ).
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
A healthy Dallas defense looks scary, while Dak Prescott continues to look not quite right. At least the QB gets a couple of home games over the rest of the fantasy playoffs … Saquon Barkley had a nice one-handed catch but also lost his first career fumble (791 total touches). Multiple times the announcing crew mistook Barkley for Devontae Booker, which sums up Barkley’s season well … Sterling Shepard suffered a serious Achilles injury, as Giants wide receiver continues to be one of the most hazardous jobs right now … I expected so much more from CeeDee Lamb this year … Jake Fromm looked like Peyton Manning compared to Mike Glennon, and it remains unclear why it took so long to switch (other than tanking).
Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee Harris somehow turned 17 opportunities into just 26 yards from scrimmage, but Pittsburgh kept its playoff hopes alive by holding Tennessee to just three points over the final three quarters … Facing a Titans defense that entered allowing the second-most fantasy points to receivers, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool somehow combined for just five catches and 50 scoreless yards … D’Onta Foreman had his foot taped multiple times but otherwise looked good while helping the Titans run for more than 200 yards in the loss … The Julio Jones addition hasn’t worked out as hoped.
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
While the point spread comically moved a couple of points in Jacksonville’s favor after Urban Meyer was fired, it was the usual result for the Jaguars on Sunday. Davis Mills outplayed Trevor Lawrence and helped Brandin Cooks become Sunday’s highest-scoring fantasy receiver … Coming off two games in which he totaled fewer than 40 yards, James Robinson became Sunday’s (the season’s?) biggest DFS chalk as expected (and understandably so given the rest of the RBs on the slate, the opponent and the Meyer bounce); he was perfectly fine finishing as a top-five PPR RB while not exactly “smashing.”
Those who walked down narrative street with Marvin Jones (raises hand) as well didn’t experience a similarly favorable outcome … Houston doesn’t usually have a bad pass defense but was missing many players with COVID and struggles to pressure the passer, so it’s extremely disconcerting to see Lawrence perform like this (-7.8 CPOE) at home and with no Meyer … The Texans had a nice kick return for a touchdown.
Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions
Trying to become the first team in NFL history to win all eight of their road games by double-digits, the Cardinals instead became the first team all season not to score a touchdown during a red-zone possession against Detroit; they did it (or rather, didn't do it) four times Sunday.
The truth, dear readers, is that I write this with a heavy heart and still going through all stages of grief after my $6M Survivor dream (was one of 23 left) came to an end, thanks to an Arizona team I’ve been fading all season. I knew I was in trouble when I saw Gus Johnson was announcing. The Cardinals came out flat, while the Lions continue to show up, even attempting an early onside kick and continually going for it on fourth downs. Meanwhile, Kliff Kingsbury routinely kicked short field goals in obvious go-for-it situations.
Kyler Murray struggled badly (-10.5 CPOE), although Christian Kirk still benefitted from DeAndre Hopkins’ absence. All three of Kirk, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds finished as top-10 scoring PPR receivers Sunday (and Craig Reynolds was a top-10 RB). St. Brown is loving life out of the slot and should be considered a legitimate top-15 PPR WR down the stretch.
Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo continues to play better for the 49ers (10.2 YPA) than he does for fantasy managers, as he attempted just 23 passes during Sunday’s easy win. Deebo Samuel once again scored rushing (tying the record for the most ever by a WR) but failed to see more than five targets in the fifth straight game, and Kyle Shanahan was playing with fire giving him carries with SF ahead 31-13 late … George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk weren’t needed this week, when Jeff Wilson finished as fantasy’s No. 3 RB. Elijah Mitchell (knee) sounds highly unlikely to play Thursday night, making Wilson a flex option again … The Falcons were stopped inside SF’s 10-yard line three separate times, with Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts both just barely missing TDs. Meanwhile, Russell Gage looked like Randy Moss while pulling down this touchdown.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos
Drew Lock quickly threw a TD pass to Tim Patrick after replacing an injured Teddy Bridgewater. Joe Burrow immediately responded by tossing his NFL-high 12th TD pass of 30+ yards this season ... While there was an entertaining play involving two turnovers, this game was a major fantasy disappointment; Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase and Jerry Jeudy somehow combined for just three catches for 26 yards. Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon and Joe Mixon were all outscored by the aforementioned Craig Reynolds, with Mixon eventually leaving injured. Expect a big bounce back from Cincinnati’s passing attack against a decimated Ravens secondary next week.
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette all left with injuries during a truly disastrous loss by Tampa Bay. Tom Brady ranks as the QB24 this week (12 games), with only one starter (Mike Glennon) scoring fewer points and Drew Lock scoring more off the bench. Brady entered with the second-most consecutive starts (255) in NFL history without being shut out, and no team leading the league in scoring had ever been blanked at home (where the Bucs had been averaging 37.5 points) this late in the season. Those who held onto Antonio Brown may be looking at a real difference-maker over the final two weeks of the fantasy playoffs with Godwin's season over.
The same could be said about Ronald Jones if Fournette misses time; it would be fitting if Jones is a consensus top-five RB in championship week while facing the Jets.
The Saints won by more than a touchdown despite entering as 11-point underdogs with Alvin Kamara totaling just 31 scoreless yards, as the NFL often doesn’t make a ton of sense.