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Ryan McDowell

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Dose: Week 17 Review

Monday, December 31, 2018


Falcons- 34

Buccaneers- 32

 

These two NFC South teams have been a hotbed of production for fantasy players but a disappointment on the field and in the standings. Both the Falcons and Buccaneers had clinched a losing record well before this meaningless game and the lack of defense that was on display Sunday was one reason why. Tampa Bay finished the season with the top passing offense in the league and QB Jameis Winston drew a vote of confidence prior to the game as a report suggested he would be the team’s starter in 2019. That could be in question now because following the Tampa Bay loss, HC Dirk Koetter was quickly fired, ending his three-year run as the team’s head coach. 

 

This was a game of runs as the Bucs scored the first 17 points of the game before the Falcons built a 31-20 fourth-quarter lead. Winston brought his team back and took the lead before the Falcons answered and got a field goal as time expired to steal the win.

 

Winston finished with 345 yards and four touchdowns, while RB Peyton Barber rushed for 66 scoreless yards. With veteran WR DeSean Jackson missing the game, that led to a huge day for second-year WR Chris Godwin, who caught six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Buccaneers top WR Mike Evans nearly matched Godwin’s stat line with his 6/106/2. 

 

Atlanta QB Matt Ryan had a monster day. Not only did he throw for 378 yards and two touchdowns, but he also caught his first career pass, which went for a touchdown. WR Julio Jones caught nine passes for 138 yards and a score while WR Calvin Ridley posted a 5/32/1 line, catching his 10th touchdown of the year. RB Tevin Coleman totaled 54 yards and a touchdown in what is likely his final game with the Falcons.

 

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Bills- 42

Dolphins- 17

 

This was another game matching divisional foes with nothing of substance to play for. While the Dolphins were trending down in the second half of the season and HC Adam Gase is reportedly on the hot seat, the Bills have shown signs of life as rookie QB Josh Allen has surprised the league with his leadership and rushing ability. The Bills built a 14-0 first-quarter lead and although the Dolphins matched their two touchdowns to tie the game at the half, Buffalo outscored the Dolphins 28-3 after the break to run away with the game, winning their fourth in the past seven games. 

 

Allen has had some amazing performances, mostly thanks to his rushing skills, since returning from an elbow injury. This was his best though. Not only did Allen lead the team with 95 rushing yards and two touchdowns, but he also passed for 224 yards and a career-high three scores. Veteran RB LeSean McCoy was once again ineffective, rushing for only 26 yards on 10 carries. The Bills young WR duo of Zay Jones (6/93/2) and Robert Foster (4/21/1) continued to play well, showing they’ll be an important part of the team’s 2019 plans.

Gase is not the only Dolphins rumored to be on the way out as Miami is reportedly unwilling to pay the lofty 2019 salary of QB Ryan Tannehill. Regardless, the longtime starter played the entire game, passing for 147 scoreless yards and throwing two interceptions. RB Kenyan Drake drew 16 touches and totaled 95 yards, while rookie RB Kalen Ballage rushed for 47 yards. No wide receiver had more than 27 receiving yards. 

 

 

Panthers- 33

Saints- 14

 

The Saints were one of the few teams that entered Week 17 with a playoff spot locked up and their seed already decided. Having clinched the NFC’s top spot, the Saints rested many key players, including QB Drew Brees and RB Alvin Kamara. The Saints essentially didn’t care about the outcome of this game and it showed. Carolina, losers of seven straight entering this game and starting their third-string undrafted rookie QB Kyle Allen, built a 30-0 lead before the Saints put points on the board in the fourth quarter. 

 

Albeit against a mix of starters and reserves, Allen was quite impressive, passing for 228 yards and two touchdowns and running for another score. Superstar RB Christian McCaffrey amassed a quick 40 yards on five touches and hardly saw the field again after the first drive. Veteran backup RB Cameron Artis-Payne led the team with 56 rushing yards and a touchdown while rookie WR D.J. Moore caught four passes for 81 yards. WR Curtis Samuel chipped in a 2/72/1 line while rookie TE Ian Thomas added 61 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. WR Devin Funchess, in likely his last game as a Panther, was a healthy scratch. 

 

With Brees sitting, backup QB Teddy Bridgewater got a chance to start a game for the first time since 2015 before he suffered the leg injury that threatened his career. Set to enter free agency following the season, this was viewed as a chance for Bridgewater to showcase his game but that didn’t go as planned. The former Vikings QB finished with 118 passing yards and a touchdown. His market this offseason might not be what he had hoped. Backup RB Dwayne Washington rushed for 106 yards on 11 carries while rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith’s 30 yards and a touchdown was enough to lead the New Orleans pass catchers. WR Michael Thomas (5/29) played into the fourth quarter as he looked to set the team record for single-season receiving yards, which he finally did near the end of the game. Thomas finishes the regular season with 1,405 yards, breaking the record formerly held by WR Joe Horn

 

Cowboys- 36

Giants- 35

 

This was truly one of the more confusing games of the day. Maybe of the season. Along with the Saints, the Cowboys entered the week as the only other team to be locked into a playoff position. Dallas was the fourth seed, having clinched the NFC East and had no opportunity to move up, win or lose. When RB Ezekiel Elliott was named among the Cowboys’ inactives prior to the game, it appeared as if the Cowboys would be resting their key players. They didn’t. QB Dak Prescott, WR Amari Cooper and the rest of the Dallas key contributors played the entire game and still barely beat a Giants team that won five games all year. From the New York perspective, despite multiple reports suggesting veteran QB Eli Manning would return as the team’s starter next season, you have to start planning for the future. In this game, that should’ve meant giving rookie QB Kyle Lauletta the start. Or the second-half. Or a series. Nope, nada. Lauletta didn’t see the field as Manning passed for 301 yards and two scores. Also, as the announcers pointed out several times, Manning used some pre-game time to take pictures with his family on the field, which they suggested could mean he is considering retirement. 

 

Apart from all of that confusion, the game was enjoyable, high-scoring and back and forth. The two teams combined for 32 fourth-quarter points and three lead changes, culminating with a diving touchdown catch by WR Cole Beasley that was originally ruled incomplete before it was reversed via replay. Prescott passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those scores went to TE Blake Jarwin, who entered the game with no career touchdowns. He finished with seven catches for 119 yards. Beasley posted a 6/94/1 line, while Cooper had another quiet game, catching only five of his team-high 11 targets for 31 yards. RB Rod Smith started in place of Elliott and totaled 49 yards and a touchdown. 

 

This game capped off a tremendous rookie season for RB Saquon Barkley, who became the third rookie running back in league history to eclipse 2,000 yards from scrimmage. He also broke RB Reggie Bush’s record for receptions by a rookie with 91. Barkley totaled 142 yards and a touchdown, which he scored on a dramatic leap from the three-yard line. TE Evan Engram had a nice game, as he does when WR Odell Beckham is out of the lineup, finishing with 81 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.

 

Patriots- 38

Jets- 3

 

The Patriots needed to win this rivalry game to lock themselves into the second seed in the AFC and ensure themselves a first-round bye. They left no doubt from the start of the game. This game was never close as the Patriots built a 21-3 halftime lead and piled on after the break. The Jets and rookie QB Sam Darnold were missing multiple pass catchers on offense and it showed. After a string of solid games from the rookie, he took a step back in the finale. 

 

Patriots QB Tom Brady passed for 250 yards and four scores, spreading the ball around as usual. WR Julian Edelman led the team with 69 yards and a touchdown on five grabs while WR Chris Hogan (6/64) and WR Phillip Dorsett (5/34/1) were solid contributors. TE Rob Gronkowski flopped once again, managing 24 yards on two receptions. RB James White totaled 69 yards and a touchdown and rookie RB Sony Michel rushed for 50 scoreless yards to lead the Pats.

 

The Jets had very little offense from this game to be encouraged about as they enter the offseason. Darnold passed for 167 scoreless yards while RB Robby Anderson caught three passes for 24 yards. RB Elijah McGuire had been playing well but got stuck with just 65 yards on 20 touches. 

 

While the Patriots move on to the playoffs, the Jets are also ready to move on. Soon after the conclusion of the game, the team announced they had parted ways with their head coach of the past four years Todd Bowles

 

Texans- 20

Jaguars- 3

 

This is yet another game that was over before it started. The Texans had a slight chance to earn a first-round bye but needed the Patriots to lose. With that out of the question rather quickly, Houston cruised to an easy win after building a 17-3 halftime lead. The story of this game came afterward, but more on that in a moment.

 

Texans QB Deshaun Watson passed for 234 yards and led the team in rushing with 66 yards and a touchdown. Houston also had veteran RB Lamar Miller back in the lineup after missing last week. He rushed for 56 yards and a score. WR DeAndre Hopkins set new career-highs for the season thanks in part to his 147 yards and 12 receptions in this game. 

 

The Jaguars went back to QB Blake Bortles, who reminded everyone why he was benched in the first place, passing for just 107 scoreless yards. Bortles also sadly led the team in rushing with 15 yards. Some news following the Jaguars loss as director of football operations Tom Coughlin announced that both HC Doug Marrone and GM Dave Caldwell would return despite the team’s struggles this season. Also noteworthy, the old school Coughlin had heated words for RBs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon, who were spotted sitting on the bench while the Jags had the ball on offense. Fournette was inactive for the game and Yeldon did not touch the ball. The pair seemed uninterested in the play on the field and Coughlin called their behavior “unbecoming of a professional football player.” Yeldon is set to enter free agency and has long been presumed to leave the team for a better situation but Fournette’s situation is tricky. The team has recently informed the former top-five pick that they have voided the future guarantees in his contract following his suspension last month. Where this leads is unclear but the team is obviously not happy with their starting back and he can’t be pleased with the situation himself. Anything that resulted in Fournette playing for a new team would likely be an upgrade for his fantasy value. 

 

Lions- 31

Packers- 0

 

The back half of the season had been so bad for the Lions that rumors of HC Matt Patricia losing his job were starting to pop up. If Week 17 matters, he’ll get another year to turn the franchise around. This matchup of disappointing teams was dominated by the Lions and the Packers were shut out and lost QB Aaron Rodgers to a concussion early in the second quarter. The Packers were also without WR Davante Adams, who missed the game with a knee injury, causing him to fall short of breaking the franchise record for receptions. 

 

When Rodgers left, he was replaced by backup QB DeShone Kizer, who passed for 132 yards and led the team with 40 rushing yards. RB Jamaal Williams, who was a fantasy star a week ago, rushing for four yards on eight carries. Rookie WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling led the team with 43 yards on three catches while veteran WR Randall Cobb, likely playing his final game with the team, caught one pass for 27 yards. 

 

Lions QB Matthew Stafford played one of his better games of the season, passing for 266 yards and two scores. RB Zach Zenner continued his takeover of the backfield, totaling 123 yards and a touchdown. The Lions played without WR Kenny Golladay, leaving rookie WR Brandon Powell to lead the way with 103 yards on six catches. 

 

The Packers will now continue their search for a new head coach and it seems unlikely that it will include interim HC Joe Philbin. The Packers are reportedly pursuing Patriots OC Josh McDaniels

 

 

Chargers- 23

Broncos- 9

 

The Chargers had a very slim chance to earn the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage through the playoffs and they played like a team that had already accepted that it wouldn’t happen. The Chargers got off to a slow start, taking a 7-3 lead over the Broncos at halftime, before opening things up and winning by a comfortable margin. 

 

Chargers QB Philip Rivers finished with a modest 176 passing yards one touchdown and two interceptions. Both picks came in the opening quarter and kept the Broncos in the game longer than they could’ve on their own. RB Melvin Gordon managed just 66 yards while RB Austin Ekeler led the way with 58 rushing yards and a touchdown. WR Mike Williams caught five passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, while WR Keenan Allen added 64 yards on four grabs. The Chargers will face the team that no one wants to match up with, the Ravens, in the first round.

 

Another frustrating season ends for the Broncos and as they have for so many recent years, they enter the offseason with uncertainty surrounding both their quarterback and head coach roles. Second-year HC Vance Joseph is reportedly on the hot seat though he seems to have the support of his players. Overall, the free agent addition of QB Case Keenum has to be viewed as a bust as he wasn’t able to replicate his Minnesota magic with the Broncos. Keenum passed for 292 yards and a touchdown in this game while rookie RB Royce Freeman led the team with 60 rushing yards and added another 43 as a receiver. Denver played without rookie RB Phillip Lindsay, who suffered a wrist injury last week. Rookie WR DaeSean Hamilton continued to impress, leading the team with 49 yards on five catches. As usual, WR Courtland Sutton was a disappointment, catching one pass for 25 yards. 

 


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Ryan McDowell is a senior writer for dynastyleaguefootball.com. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanMc23.
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