Week 17 usually has a bevy of non-star names at the top of the fantasy points list, but for the most part this week proved to be a good one for football fans and fantasy players alike. Let’s take a look at this week’s fantasy studs.
Matt Forte rushed 22 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns while also catching four passes for 47 yards and an additional touchdown. He came very close to pushing the Bears into the playoffs, but it wasn’t meant to be. Forte flourished under new head coach Marc Trestman’s offense and totaled his best season on record. Each of his 1,339 rushing yards, 594 receiving yards, 1,933 yards from scrimmage and 74 receptions were all new career highs. And his 10 total touchdowns were his most since 2008.
Drew Brees completed 24-of-31 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for another touchdown as New Orleans dismantled Tampa Bay 42-17. He had four first half touchdown passes to Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Robert Meachem and Kenny Stills in his typical spread the wealth fashion. When Brees is on point only Peyton Manning and the Broncos can rival this offense, but they have had trouble taking their show on the road this season and that’s where they’ll have to do their work to advance in the playoffs.
Peyton Manning completed 25-of-28 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns as the Broncos crushed the Raiders 34-14. Of course these numbers would be career highs for many quarterbacks in a full game, but Manning put them up in just two quarters as he took a 31-0 lead into half along with the record for most passing yards in a season with 5,477 and most touchdowns with 55. There is no doubt that this was the greatest statistical season of all time by a quarterback and it came from a 37 year old quarterback who had to have multiple neck surgeries. You can say all you want about his supporting cast, which is great, but for my money Manning is the best quarterback this league has ever seen.
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I have watched LeGarrette Blount play many times and have never been all that impressed except when he runs over a couple guys, but he continues to go out there and get the job done and against the Bills he got the job done plus some. He rushed 24 times for 189 yards and two touchdowns and added 145 yards on two kick returns. He finishes the regular season with 772 yards, seven touchdowns and 5.04 yards per carry. You can’t trust him long term, especially in Bill Belichick’s offense, but it looks like he’ll be a big part of their playoff run this season.
The resurrection of Aaron Rodgers was a boon to Jordy Nelson who caught 10 passes for 161 yards in the Packers win over the Bears. The big afternoon proved to be his high for receptions and yards this season and pushed him to 85 grabs for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns. Both the yards and catches are new career highs. He has played well against the 49ers and will need to again to move on in the playoffs.
Jerrel Jernigan’s stock has skyrocketed over the last three games and hit its pinnacle as he caught six passes for 90 yards with a touchdown and added two rushes for 57 yards with another touchdown. He has proven his value in these last few games and with Hakeem Nicks gone after this season the Giants should do their best to get him on the field next year.
Randall Cobb caught two passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns on two targets in his first game back from an 11-week absence. His second touchdown came on 4th and long with 0:38 seconds remaining and was the game winner. That’s a nice way to announce you are back.
Dez Bryant caught eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ playoff crushing defeat Sunday night. Kyle Orton left some plays on the field by missing Bryant, but it was a productive game for the talented receiver. He finishes the 2013 season with 93 catches for a career-high 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns. Though his consistency left a little to be desired, he finished as the seventh best fantasy receiver. He continues to improve each season and with his ability his ceiling still hasn’t been reached.
LeSean McCoy ends the season as the holder of the 2013 rushing title at 1,607 yards and he also led the NFL with 2,146 all-purpose yards. He had 27 carries for 131 yards and one catch for a three-yard touchdown in Sunday night's play-in game win over the Cowboys to help his team into the playoffs. He led the league in carries with 314, but held up well in Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense. He now gets a chance to do his thing in the playoffs.
Your number one fantasy tight end was never in doubt this season. Jimmy Graham was a force all year even with foot issues and he finished off the season with five receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown in a win over Tampa Bays. He caught an amazing 16 touchdowns and 1,215 yards on 86 catches. The touchdowns come just one short of tying Rob Gronkowski’s tight end record of 17. With Gronk unable to stay healthy, Graham is starting to run away with best tight end in the league honors.
The idea that Peyton Manning had too many mouths to feed for all his pass catchers to hold fantasy value was shut down early in the season, but Demaryius Thomas was the biggest beneficiary overall. In the first half of Sunday’s game against the Raiders he caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns on just six targets. Thomas finished the season with 92 catches, 1,430 yards, and 14 touchdowns and just one fantasy point behind Josh Gordon to be the second best fantasy wide receiver this year while Eric Decker ranked eighth and Wes Welker ranked 21st despite missing close to four games of playing time. This offense also produced the third best fantasy tight end in Julius Thomas (who also missed some time) and also Knowshon Moreno, the fifth best fantasy running back. It’s hard to believe a season like this can ever happen again.
The rookie Cordarrelle Patterson caught two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown and rushed twice for 54 yards and a second touchdown in the Vikings 14-13 win over the Lions. His ability has never been in question and we saw it on display multiple times this year. He will need to work hard on his route running this off season so he can get the ball more often and use those insane skills consistently.
Carson Palmer faced a tough first half of the season, but things got a bit easier for him and the Cardinals’ offense, which led to them playing better in the tough matchups like they did against the Seahawks last week and against the 49ers on Sunday. Palmer went 28-of-49 for 407 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against the 49ers tough defense and proved there is still some git in his giddy-up. He’s never going to be elite, but in Bruce Arians’ offense with Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, he should have a little life left.
Ryan Mathews rushed 24 times for 144 yards and caught two passes for 11 yards as the Chargers managed to beat Kansas City’s JV team in overtime. He battled nagging injuries during the game, but still put up big numbers, much like he did most of the season. He finished the regular season with career highs in carries (285) and rushing yards (1,255), gaining 99 or more rushing yards in seven of his last 11 games. He’s a good player that will continue to carry risk. So much will depend on if you can get him at value in drafts next year based on his injury history.
Anquan Boldin caught nine passes for 145 yards with one touchdown against the Cardinals on Sunday and finished the season with 85 catches for 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns. He once again came up big in an important game and it’s hard to believe he won’t be an integral factor in the 49ers playoff hopes this season.
T.Y. Hilton has been in a pretty deep slump of late, but had career highs in receptions and yards against the Jaguars to finish out the season. He had 11 catches for 155 yards, but missed out on a touchdown by inches. It has now been eight weeks since his last touchdown. Hilton totaled just five touchdowns all season and they came in just two games. After Reggie Wayne went down for the season he put up a huge three-touchdown game against Houston and raised the hopes of all his fantasy owners for an epic season-ending display, but alas no. He has the ability to do great things, but the Colts need to find another receiver to replace Reggie Wayne for that offense to reach its full potential.
Golden Tate went for 129 yards and a touchdown on eight catches against the Rams on Sunday. He’s been up and down all season and his future as a top receiver is in doubt, but he has playmaking ability to be sure.
The Texans’ fifth-string running back Jonathan Grimes rushed 16 times for 50 yards and one touchdown and also led the team in receiving with six receptions for 76 yards. These are the kinds of games you expect in Week 17 of the fantasy football season.