“Better late than never” is like all great clichés in that, no matter how rote it’s become after decades and decades of overuse, there remains an everlasting, undeniable truth in its meaning. Yes, it’s terribly unfortunate that thing we expected forever ago is only just now arriving, but at least it’s finally here.
Coming into Sunday, Roddy White wasn’t just late, he was nonexistent. His 209 receiving yards across eight injury-plagued games ranked 160th in the NFL. Kellen Winslow, who served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy, had more yards. Sidney Rice, who last caught a pass on October 17, had more yards. Backup Chiefs TE Sean McGrath had more yards. Robert Meachem had more yards. Everybody had more yards.
So the question after White caught 10 passes for 143 yards in Sunday’s battle of attrition with the Bills in Toronto is, is his arrival on the 2013 scene in time for anybody? For the Falcons, it was already too late by the time they were losing to Geno Smith at home in Week 5. For the vast majority of fantasy owners who contributed to White’s 30.8 ADP, it was probably too late after White returned from a month-long absence in Week 10 only to catch one pass against the Seahawks.
But for the lucky few who both spent one disappointing month after another stashing White on their bench and made the fantasy playoffs? The time is finally now. White didn’t just post good numbers Sunday, he looked the part. White consistently gained separation, successfully executed double moves and made contested catches. He played like … Roddy White.
Now he gets a Packers defense not stopping much of anything in Week 14, and a Redskins defense allowing the 13th most fantasy points to receivers in Week 15. White’s previous struggles were severe enough that one game certainly doesn’t undo all the damage for a player who was drafted to be a WR1/2. With everything on the line for those who are still alive, trusting White as more than a WR3 would be foolhardy. But he’s no longer a wing and a prayer WR3, but a WR3 with legit, tangible, tantalizing upside.
For most owners, White’s disappearing act is part of the reason their 2013 fantasy season now belongs to the sands of time. For the charmed few, however, his return comes just in time to be a high-upside wild card in a tournament that’s typically decided by high-upside wild cards. Put White’s lost start behind him, and reap the benefits of what will likely be a fast finish.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 14. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.
1. Eric Decker
One way to shake off four scoreless weeks? By scoring four touchdowns. Decker made like Marvin Jones, turning rookie CB Marcus Cooper to ash as he exploded for 8/174/4 in a career game. The huge effort erased all memory of Decker’s one-grab Week 12, and has him on pace for 84 catches, 1,295 yards and nine touchdowns. There are some caveats. Decker certainly wouldn’t have garnered so many red-zone targets had Julius Thomas not been inactive and the referee not gotten in Demaryius Thomas’ way on a potential 92-yard touchdown. An 8/174/4 day on the heels of a 1/4/0 performance also illustrates the obvious: Decker is an inconsistent option in an offense with five big-time passing-game threats. But this is still a player who’s cleared 70 yards seven times in 12 games, and has weekly WR1 upside. Decker is not someone who can be benched for the fantasy playoffs.
2. C.J. Spiller
While Roddy White was better-late-than-nevering for the Falcons, Spiller was doing the same thing on the opposing sideline. Coming off Buffalo’s bye week, Spiller gained 77 yards on his second carry, and scored a dizzying 36-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter en route to a 15/149/1 day. That comes out to a cool 9.9 yards per carry, and is 33 more yards on the ground than Spiller had gained in any game this season. This being Spiller, he also appeared to re-tweak his ankle, but that was before his score. Spiller may not be 100 percent, but he’s as healthy as he’s been in months, and in position to take advantage of a stretch-run schedule that includes dates with the Bucs (No. 14 run defense), Jags (No. 29), Dolphins (No. 25) and Pats (No. 31). Spiller may still yet salvage one of fantasy’s most frustrating years.
3. Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill not only made it back-to-back 300-yard games on Sunday, he made it back-to-back 300-yard games against good defenses. Tannehill dropped 331 yards on a unit that’s been among the best in the league at home, posting just his fifth multi-score effort of the year in the process. Tannehill benefitted from the Jets’ total ineptitude on offense — Gang Green couldn’t score any points, putting all the pressure on its defense, and removing it from Miami’s offense — but continued to develop his connection with Mike Wallace while finding each of Wallace, Brian Hartline and Charles Clay for at least seven passes. Tannehill is going to have a hard time dropping 300 on the Steelers in Pittsburgh next weekend, but is righting the ship at just the right time for a still contending Dolphins team.
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