Welcome back loyal 5thDownFantasy readers! With Week 13 officially in the books we’re now entering the most magical time of the year both for the holidays and fantasy football owners. The fantasy football playoffs will kick-off in Week 14 in most leagues (unless you’re a weirdo and still play until Week 17), and you’ll need to know who the rising stars are across the league. This week we saw two OOP (Out of Position) players upstage their quarterbacks, the continued ascension of an un-drafted superstar in the Rockies and a collapse heard around the league. With that in mind let’s dive into a pivotal Week 13 edition of the weekly recap:
PHILLIP LINDSAY (Denver Broncos)
Move over James Conner, because you may just have some real competition for the “Best waiver wire pickup of the year” award. Phillip Lindsay made his debut on my weekly recap last week and was so undeniably great that I had to give him a return appearance in Week 13’s write up. It continues to be more unbelievable seemingly by the week that all 32 teams passed on this guy at the draft. He asked for Terrell Davis’ blessing to rock the legends number (30) during his rookie campaign, and he’s been doing the Hall of Famer’s digits proud at Mile High all year.
Lindsay was a force of nature on Sunday against the Bengals league worst run defense, shredding Cincinnati for 20 Touches/158 Yds/2 TDs. His 32 fantasy points are a career high for the young RB and mark Lindsay’s 3rd straight double-digit performance (20+ points in all games since the Week 10 bye). The undrafted rookie wonder is a fantasy stud and arguably the hottest back in the game right now, ride this hot streak to further fantasy glory.
CURTIS SAMUEL (Carolina Panthers)
When are fantasy owners going to put some respect on my man Curtis Samuels name? I asked this on 5thDownFantasy’s twitter earlier this week and I’m hoping to get some real answers after yet another fine performance this Sunday. Even with the Panthers falling short of the Bucs on the day, Samuel still snagged 6 Receptions on a career high ELEVEN targets for 88 yards on the day. His 10-point total marked his third straight double-digit performance and his fourth in the past five contests.
Samuel has steadily been gaining ground in the Panthers target share every week and he’s gifted fantasy owners with TD’s in 3 of his last 5 games. With Greg Olsen now officially out for the remainder of the season it stands to reason that Samuels presence in the offense will only continue to grow as we head into the fantasy playoffs. If he’s still available in your league I highly recommend snagging him as a bench/high quality FLEX option.
TODD GURLEY (Los Angeles Rams)
What can I say about Todd Gurley that hasn’t already been said this season? His 18 Touchdowns (15 Rushing/3 Receiving) have pushed an already loaded Rams offense to a 2nd straight NFC West title and he’s likely the primary reason why many fantasy owners are in the playoffs right now. I wrote earlier in the year that Gurley was my pick for league MVP, and he’s still very much in contention for that honor (along with his teammate Aaron Donald), but Gurley is also the front runner for this year’s fantasy MVP award.
Regardless of your format, scoring metric, etc., Gurley has been less of a player and more of a force of nature this season. He’s single handedly won fantasy matchups on a weekly basis, and with double digit totals in 11 of 12 weeks he’s the most trustworthy fantasy asset to own heading into the playoffs. I know he has Chicago and Philly to get through first but he’s more than earned your trust that he can get it done in any/all matchups. Ride the fantasy MVP and you’ll likely find yourself hoisting some fantasy gold at seasons end.
ODELL BECKHAM JR (New York Giants)
Love him or hate him you gotta give it up to OBJ when it comes to pure talent. The Giants top wide-out threw a touchdown earlier this year that had myself (among others) wondering if he could push Eli for the New York QB job. We laughed, we thought it was a fun trick play, and then he did it again this week. Beckham is now 2/2 on the year with 2 TD’s, a 100% scoring rate when letting the ball fly down the field. The guy is a human highlight reel being held back by a milquetoast offense that doesn’t take risks or take advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses, but on Sunday afternoon he rose above that mediocrity to push the G-Men to overtime.
With prime draft position on the line, the Giants have no business winning a football game the rest of the season, let along beating a genuine playoff contender like the Chicago Bears, and yet they did it anyway. They have their wild haired superstar to thank for that. From a fantasy standpoint Beckham has now registered double digit totals in 5 of his last 6 contests dating back to Week 8 and has found the end zone 4 times in that span. He’s heating up at just the right time for fantasy owners, as he’ll have juicy match-ups against a defeated Washington team, Tennessee and the Colts in the fantasy championship weeks.
TARIK COHEN (Chicago Bears)
While we’re on the subject of non QB’s upstaging their starting signal callers, let’s discuss the growing Chi-Town legend; Tarik Cohen. When he’s not busy making Jordan Howard an afterthought in the Bears backfield, Cohen is trying his hand at being Mitch Trubisky’s back-up under center. The Bears RB channeled OBJ and tossed his 2nd touchdown of the season in a Chicago version of the “Philly Special” and cemented himself as one of the key pieces to Chicago’s offense as they charge towards their first NFC North title since 2010.
The most staggering part of Cohen’s performance this past Sunday was his target share (14). This game marked just the 2nd time all year that Cohen had been double digit targets, and he made the most of those opportunities, catching 12 of the 14 balls thrown his way and going for 156 receiving yards through the air. Cohen is the kind of a versatile talent that makes this Bears offense dangerous regardless of who’s under center, and he becomes even more dangerous when Trubisky is throwing the ball. Opposing defenses have to account for both Trubisky’s mobility AND the possibility that Cohen could get the ball flipped his way for a big gain. He’s the Darren Sproles of the Bears offense, and any Saints/Eagles fan will tell you that’s just about the highest compliment an undersized back can receive.
ADAM HUMPHRIES (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Here’s another guy that’s flown under the radar in most fantasy leagues. Adam Humphries falls squarely into the same category as Curtis Samuel did earlier in this write up. He’s consistently proven that he’s a reliable fantasy WR2 since Week 9 and yet his ownership rate in Yahoo fantasy leagues remains at only 51%. Humphries fantasy totals since Week 9 have been as consistent as you’ll find anywhere (20/5/12/11/12), scoring double digit points in 3 straight weeks (4 of his last 5 contests), and continuing to gain trust within the Bucs offense.
Tampa Bay may not be a great team at any one particular position (Mike Evans being a lone exception), but they do know how to put up yards on teams and score some points on a weekly basis.
This past Sunday was no exception as they shocked the Panthers at home and showed they’re more than capable of playing spoiler down the stretch. Humphries played a big role in the action on Sunday as he caught 7 Rec/61 Yds/TD on 9 targets from Jameis Winston. The touchdown marks the third straight week that Humphries has found the end zone, and the 9 targets continue a steady growth in the Bucs offensive game plan that he’s been enjoying. Humphries is more than likely still available on your waiver wire right now, and I recommend putting in a claim for him. Even with tougher matchups ahead against Baltimore/Dallas I think Humphries volume will produce FLEX/WR2 level production
JUSTIN JACKSON (Los Angeles Chargers)
When Melvin Gordon went down with a sprained MCL last week I (like most other fantasy owners) immediately plugged Austin Ekeler into my Week 13 line-up and figured I had the lead back for the Chargers. I was very wrong in that assumption, and Justin Jackson was more than happy to inform me of that on Sunday Night Football. The 7th round draft pick from this past year’s NFL Draft had his breakout game at the expense of the Steelers defense (and Ekeler owners) on Sunday night. Jackson tore through the Pittsburgh defense for 63 yards on 8 carries and scored a vital touchdown that spurred on the Chargers incredible 16-point comeback in the 2nd half.
The difference between Ekeler and Jackson under center was night and day, Ekeler struggled the entire first half for a measly 1.6 YPC while Jackson exploded for chunks of yardage nearly every time his number was called. With the Chargers saying that Melvin Gordon could be back as early as this week it’s fair to cap the hype surrounding Jackson, but if Gordon misses again this week then Jackson immediately becomes a top 10 option against the Bengals terrible run defense. Keep Ekeler rostered in PPR leagues because he’s still going to be the teams primary pass catching back, but Jackson should shoulder most of the load on the ground moving forward until Gordon returns.
RUSSELL WILSON (Seattle Seahawks)
Well, it’s about that time again everybody. I wrote a few weeks back about Russell Wilson’s dark horse candidacy for league MVP, and since the time of that writing he’s kicked the Seattle Seahawks into overdrive. Seattle has morphed from a team on the brink of complete collapse on multiple levels into a legitimate favorite to make noise in the playoffs as a wild card team. They have an improved offensive line, running game and clutch play by Wilson to thank for that good fortune. Any fantasy owner worth their salt can tell you that when the weather starts getting colder, Wilson becomes a totally different player.
Historically, Wilson has been one of the best 2nd half fantasy quarterbacks throughout his entire career in Seattle, and he’s been delivering more of the same in 2018, scoring 20 or more fantasy points in 6 of his last 7 starts. Since the Seahawks Week 7 bye Wilson has thrown for a TD:INT ratio of 16:1 and thrown 2 or more touchdowns in every single contest. That kind of consistent, efficient dominance has generally been reserved for only two other men this season: Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes. Both of those men have rightfully been connected to the MVP award by everyone and their mother this season, and I believe it’s time we put Wilson in that category.
JOSH ALLEN (Buffalo Bills)
There’s something about the Bills that I like. For years I figured it was just the drunken, overzealous mystique of the Bills Mafia, with their hard drinking, power-bombing tailgate parties. They remind me so much of Philly fans that it almost feels like I’ve been to their tailgates my whole life. They’ve had a rough life, but they take it in stride and believe in their team even when there isn’t a single reason for them to keep doing so. I respect Bills fans, and so I want to give them something nice in this week’s recap write up and gush a little bit about their new QB.
Allen is a really fun player to watch on a weekly basis, he has the pure arm talent to make any throw on the field, and he’s scored more rushing TDs this season than LeSean McCoy. This makes Allen both the Bills QB AND starting RB in my mind, and he’s performed both roles admirably despite having an intramural flag football squad around him in support. Despite all of this Allen has put up two straight weeks of top 5 QB fantasy production (26/35 Points), and he’s done it all in relative secrecy due to the team he plays for. While the national media was busy fawning over Lamar Jackson’s mobility in Baltimore, Allen was busy rushing for 234 yards on 22 attempts over the past 2 weeks. That’s only 31 yards less than Jackson’s had over the past 3 weeks and Jackson needed 32 more attempts to reach that total!
I’m not saying Allen is a BETTER rushing QB than Lamar Jackson as Jackson clearly has the higher ceiling for that role, but I am saying that the Bills rookie QB should be getting some more praise for what he’s been able to do in Buffalo this year. Allen has produced above expectations on a bad team for both Bills fans and fantasy owners alike, and I respect that.
MY TAKEAWAY FROM WEEK 13
The Green Bay Packers are going through their Andy Reid-Eagles period right now.
When the news broke on Sunday night that the Packers had formally moved on from Mike McCarthy I immediately had a mixture of opinions on the subject. I thought that they should have waited until the end of the season out of respect for what McCarthy had brought the team. I was also reminded of something similar that had happened in Philadelphia not too long ago. I was reminded of the final years of Andy Reid with the Eagles, the back to back losing seasons, the star QB, and the vocal uproar for dismissal despite historically great results. The script was virtually identical (with the caveat being McCarthy’s super bowl victory).
Packers fans were first introduced to McCarthy back in 2006 when the first-year head coach led the Pack to a middling 8-8 record before rebounding to 13-3 in his 2nd year, earning him the NFL Coach of the Year honor. The Pack then dipped down to 6-10 with the loss of Brett Favre and initial adjustments to new QB Aaron Rodgers causing some growing pains. Once those pains were worked out the tandem of Rodgers/McCarthy went on to enjoy 8 straight seasons with a winning record and a Super Bowl victory in 2010.
However, it’s that single super bowl that makes me believe in the Andy Reid comparison more than anything else. The Packers are a proud team with a legendary lineage, and to only win one super bowl during that 8 year stretch likely left a bad taste in the mouths of both fans and ownership (basically the same thing in Green Bay). The Pack enjoyed regular season success but couldn’t get over the hump when it mattered in the playoffs, only appearing in one Super Bowl during that 8 year stretch and falling short in 7 other attempts. In this way the McCarthy Packers mirrored the early 2000’s Philadelphia Eagles.
Andy Reid’s Philly squad enjoyed a stretch of success from 2000-2004 during which they won 11 or more games every year, won their division and fell short of expectations in the playoffs each time. As beloved franchise players aged and faded away into retirement the Philly faithful realized that Reid had missed their Super Bowl window and turned on the most successful coach in franchise history as his final two seasons saw the team plummet to a combined 12-20 record.
Fast forward to modern day and the same exact thing is now happening to Mike McCarthy. With the Pack currently sitting at 4-7-1 with a 2nd straight season without a playoff berth seemingly locked up, Packers management had finally seen enough. It was a firing of attrition over anything else. The two parties had been around each other for far too long and the lack of consistent success in the playoffs had caused them to lose that loving feeling.
Even by Green Bay’s legendary standards McCarthy’s been one of the most successful coaches in franchise history (regular season record of 125-77-2), but he was undone by a less than stellar playoff record (10-8) and a feeling that his Packers teams underwhelmed despite winning a Super Bowl. Both Reid and McCarthy will be remembered as two of the greatest regular season coaches of their generation, but to the fanbases in Philadelphia and Green Bay there will always be the caveat that they could have and should have done more with what they had.