This has been a historic year in the NFL, but nobody has been as historic as Mr. Peyton Manning. He’s been a “Weekend Winner” more often than not in this column and probably should have been even more than he was. If he were to somehow pull off a Super Bowl win as well as break the two biggest single season quarterback records ever, then we may be witnessing the greatest season by a quarterback ever, by the greatest quarterback ever.
In yet another day at the office Manning completed 32-of-51 throws for 400 yards and four touchdowns against the Texans. With just one touchdown at half and some third down woes it didn’t look like he would test Tom Brady’s touchdown record in Week 16, but he got hot in the second half and hit Eric Decker for two scores and Julius Thomas for his 51st of the season, breaking the single-season record. His 400 yards put him at 5,211 for the year, which places him third all-time behind Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He now needs just 266 yards passing to pass Drew Brees for the single season mark and with the Broncos still needing to win to keep the #1 seed he could get it by halftime against Oakland. Manning will be your unanimous MVP this year without much contemplation needed. It’s been a blast watching him pick apart NFL defenses at the ripe old age of 37 (38 in March).
LeSean McCoy did what most running backs do to the Chicago Bears and that is run through them like Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. He finished the night with 18 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns and six catches for 29 yards. He now has 2,013 total yards and has 1,476 rushing yards, with both totals leading the league. He looks to have locked up the rushing title over Jamaal Charles and gets a nice matchup against the Cowboys in Week 17 to decide the NFC East.
With Reggie Bush fumbling again, Joique Bell played ahead of him for much of the game, rushing 20 times for 91 yards and a touchdown and catching a game-high 10 passes for 63 yards. His touchdown was his eighth of the year and even though it was always difficult to know when to play him in fantasy this season, those that were forced to were often happy with the results.
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Le'Veon Bell rushed for 124 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries against the Packers on the frozen tundra of Lambeau field, well, the heated coils of Lambeau field, but that doesn’t sound as good. This was Bell’s first ever 100 yard rushing game and now in his 12 games this season he is averaging 96 total yards a week and has seven touchdowns on the season. The Steelers are amazingly still in the playoff hunt as they take on the Cleveland Browns next week.
This isn’t your grandfather’s Ryan Mathews or your self's Ryan Mathews from last year. Since Week 6 he has averaged 99 total yards a game and scored six touchdowns making him a top 10 fantasy back. Against the Raiders on Sunday he ground out 25 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown along with three catches for 20 yards. He now has 1,111 rushing yards on the season, which is his new career-high.
Eddie Lacy rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries before he had to leave the game after aggravating his ankle injury. But his performance reminded us once again what a powerful runner he is and might have propelled him into the lead for the offensive rookie of the year. Even after missing two games this season he still sits as the seventh best fantasy running back and the third best since returning from his concussion in Week 5.
Fred Jackson played through broken ribs against the Dolphins and still rushed 19 times for 111 yards and a touchdown. In a season in which he was just a fantasy afterthought he now has 237 touches for 1,170 yards and five touchdowns. For a running back who turns 33 in February that’s saying something.
Jimmy Graham caught five passes for 73 yards and a touchdown on Sunday to put him into truly elite company with 81 receptions for 1,144 yards and a whopping 15 touchdowns. He is in second place to Rob Gronkowski for the single season record for tight end touchdowns and still has a chance of tying it if he can catch two in next week's game against Tampa Bay.
DeMarco Murray rushed 22 times for 96 yards with a touchdown and added three catches for 15 yards with another touchdown, the game winner. He now has over 100 total yards in three straight games and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry on the season. His 22 rushing attempts was the first time he hit 20 since Week 3. He now has 10 total touchdowns and ranks eighth overall in fantasy points for running backs. He has been a pleasant surprise this season after missing a couple games due to injury.
Jamaal Charles totaled 144 yards and one touchdown on 18 touches in a quiet, but effective fantasy championship game. He now has 19 touchdowns on the season and leads all running backs in fantasy points by a wide margin. Peyton Manning is the league MVP without doubt, but Charles is in the running for fantasy football MVP this season.
Donald Brown rushed for 79 yards and one touchdown on ten carries and caught two passes for 31 yards and another touchdown. After Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw went down and the Colts traded for Trent Richardson it sure didn’t seem like this was going to be Donald Brown’s job come Week 16, but it is and he is running with it.
Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas have to feel privileged to play with Peyton Manning. Yes, they are all very good players in their own right, but with four top players to feed, Manning has somehow been able to give all four of them Pro Bowl numbers. This week he was able to give them a combined 24 receptions for 332 yards and four touchdowns. On the season the Texans had been giving up a total of 17 receptions for 194 yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game to all pass catchers. This team is the first in history to have four receivers catch 10 or more touchdowns. Yes, this is a passing league now, but these numbers are unreal.
Pierre Garcon caught 11 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown against the Cowboys on Sunday and did it with relative ease. They had no answer for Garcon as he hit 107 catches on the year, breaking the single-season franchise record set by Art Monk.
Andy Dalton threw for 366 yards and four touchdown passes against the Vikings pitiful pass defense. This is par for the course for Dalton who is either putting up huge numbers or having down games. If he can put it all together with this offense and defense the Bengals could be a team to reckon with.
A.J. Green was one of the beneficiaries of Dalton’s big game as he caught seven balls for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 10 touchdown receptions on the season and is on pace for almost identical numbers to last season. He is as consistent as they come.
LeGarrette Blount just won’t go away, much to the chagrin of Stevan Ridley owners, and this week he had his best game of the season as he rushed 16 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns against a good Ravens’ defense.