Chris Wesseling

The Morning After

print article archives RSS

Tight Connections

Monday, November 22, 2010


With apologies to Bob Dylan, the fantasy story of Week 11 was the tight connection between the league's premier field generals and their go-to receivers.

The Packers and Vikings entered the week as tightly matched as any two franchises of the past 50 years. Squaring off in their 100th contest Sunday, Green Bay's victory gave them a slim 51-48-1 edge in the series. The 28-point win was the Packers' second-largest margin of victory since the Vikings entered the league (Vince Lombardi won 42-13 at Minnesota in 1964).

As Brett Favre prepares to exit stage left (stage right, even), it's fitting that Green Bay successor Aaron Rodgers ushered the legend out of the national spotlight with 301 yards and four TDs. Rodgers "worked the Vikings defense like a speedbag" on just 31 attempts, hooking up with top receiver Greg Jennings for three of the scores and 152 yards.

After a slow start, Jennings is now eighth in wide receiver fantasy points and fourth in points per over the past five weeks. Rodgers used the performance to vault to first place in quarterback fantasy points on the season, though Philip Rivers is sure to have an answer Monday night. Rodgers-to-Jennings was just one of more than a half-dozen tight connections clicking on Sunday.

Ryan Fitzpatrick to Steve Johnson - The Bills outscored the Bengals 35-0 in the second half after trailing 31-14 at halftime. In so doing, they became the first team ever to win by at least 17 points after trailing by at least 17 at the half. The Bungles became the first team since at least 1950 to lose by 13 or more points after leading by 17 or more points at halftime. Unfortunately for Bengals fans turning to their annual bout with apathy, blowing leads is par for the course in Mike Brown's 20 years as owner.

Fitzpatrick, two years from his original stint in Cincinnati, exploded for 316 yards and four TDs against a Bengals secondary that lost three of four starters by halftime. Fitzpatrick now has two career four-touchdown efforts, both this year, becoming the first Bills quarterback to do since Jim Kelly posted three four-touchdown games in 1994.

Johnson entered the game overshadowed by the Bengals' spotlight-adoring tag-team of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Outplaying both veterans, the Bills' new No. 1 receiver dropped a 8/137/3 line on his counterparts. Even better, he upstaged the antics of "Batman and Robin" on his first score, pulling up his jersey to reveal a "Why So Serious?" T-shirt as a tribute to The Joker. The Bills have now beaten the Bengals 10 consecutive times, including five straight in Cincinnati.

Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes - The Jets have won three straight games, and all three game-winning scores have come with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. They're one of just three teams since 1983 (joining the 1998 Cardinals and 2006 Titans) to pull off the feat in three straight games. While hauling in seven receptions for 126 yards and two TDs, Holmes joined former Bears safety Mike Brown as the only players since 1983 with a game-winning touchdown in the final 10 seconds of back-to-back games. Perhaps more impressively, he's made a difference-making play in four of five comeback wins since returning from suspension.

Sanchez went the first 22 games of his career without a 300-yard game. He's now done it twice in three weeks, throwing in 299 yards in the third game. His passer rating is 20 points higher right now than it was last year at this time, and he's graduating from "caretaker to legitimate passing threat."

Matt Cassel to Dwayne Bowe - Alright, I admit it. I screwed the pooch with advice to sell high on Dwayne Bowe (six receptions, 109 yards, 2 TDs). Sporting impressive after-the-catch ability and borderline unstoppable physicality in the red zone, Bowe has now exploited bottom-of-the-barrel pass defenses for 10 TDs over the past six games. With a score in all six, he's passed AFL legends Otis Taylor and Chris Burford for the franchise record. Cassel's impressive TD-to-INT ratio is now up to 17:2 in the last eight games. The Chiefs, one of the NFL's dominant home teams in the 1990s, have their first 5-0 start at Arrowhead Stadium since 2003.

Jon Kitna to Dez Bryant - Kitna's 147 passing yards don't jump off the screen, but his 29 standard-scoring fantasy points do. SI.com's Don Banks calls Bryant (3-8, 1 TD) "simply the most dynamic play-making receiver to hit the league since Randy Moss in 1998." After sliding in the draft due to nebulous reports of tardiness at Oklahoma State, the explosive rookie now has six scores in his last six games. Miles Austin has taken a backseat to Bryant of late, but he chipped in two short TDs while counting the hours until Tony Romo's return.

Drew Brees to Marques Colston - In just his fifth season in New Orleans, Brees (382 yards, 4 TDs) set the franchise record for completions, passing Archie Manning. Though Brees distributed the ball to a wide variety of outlets, as usual, Colston (8 receptions, 113 yards, 2 TDs) has resurfaced as the clear top dog. With an average line of 8/91/1, Colston is a top-10 fantasy receiver over the past five weeks.

Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace - Shaking off Richard Seymour's jack to the mouth, Big Ben accomplished a first for his career: three passing TDs plus a rushing score. Roethlisberger is averaging 331 passing yards, 34 rushing yards, and 3.5 TDs over the past two weeks. Wallace (3/116/1) has emerged as the Steelers' clear No. 1 receiver, rivaling DeSean Jackson as the most dangerous deep threat in the league. His seven touchdowns of over 20 yards are tops in the NFL.

Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne - When Manning (396 yards, 4 TDs) found Wayne (8 receptions, 107 yards, 1 TD) on an 11-yard touchdown pass, the Indy duo tied Jim Kelly and Andre Reed for the fourth-most touchdowns (65) by a QB-WR combo in NFL history. Manning (63) passed Dan Marino and now trails only Brett Favre (72) in career games with at least three touchdowns passes.

Bell Cows

Maurice Jones-Drew - Mo-Jo's 133 rushing yards and 87 receiving yards were surprisingly good for a career-high 220 yards from scrimmage. I've seen his game-changing 75-yard screen play attributed to poor tackling, but Jones-Drew showed impressive "vision, strength, and speed" as well. After starting slowly, MJD has topped 100 rushing yards in three straight games. He's risen to seventh in fantasy points among running backs, and it certainly hasn't gone unnoticed that his Week 14-16 schedule sets up nicely for a fantasy championship run.

Arian Foster - Against a Jets defense that entered the week surrendering the 32nd-most fantasy points to opposing backs, Foster totaled 143 yards and two TDs on 28 touches. As matchup-proof as running backs get, Foster's 21.6 standard-scoring fantasy points per week are a full four points more than second-place Adrian Peterson's 17.6. The former undrafted free agent is on pace for 309 carries, 1,603 rushing yards, 62 receptions, 605 receiving yards, and 21 TDs. There's not a back in the league playing better this year.

Mike Goodson - The entire fantasy football world whiffed on this one. It turns out that it didn't matter who the Panthers pulled out of mothballs to quarterback against the artist formerly known as the Ravens' smashmouth unit. At one point in the second half Sunday, Goodson literally was the Panthers offense. He was sitting at 101 yards from scrimmage, which was identical to Carolina's 101 yards of total offense. Goodson has shown surprising power and explosiveness in the Panthers' first two 100-yard performances of the season, and it's fair to wonder if he'll retain the starting job the rest of the way. At the very least, his emergence would seem to close the door on a possible return of free agent DeAngelo Williams in 2011.

Fred Jackson - The good news is that C.J. Spiller's hamstring injury has catapulted F-Jax into rock-solid RB2 territory with an average line of 28/150/2 the past two weeks. Scoring in all three matchups, Jackson is also the No. 3 fantasy back over the past three weeks. The bad news is that the Steelers, fresh off a shut-down performance (10 carries, 14 yards) against a Pro Bowl caliber Darren McFadden, are coming to town for Week 12.


continue story »
Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling


Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    NFL Draft: Bortles at No. 1?

    NFL Draft: Bortles at No. 1?
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Panthers

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Panthers
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Saints

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Saints
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Falcons

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Falcons
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Bucs

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Bucs
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Colts

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Colts
  •  
    Draft: Overrated/Underrated

    Draft: Overrated/Underrated
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Titans

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Titans