New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts didn’t take a sack and ran for 106 yards during his first career start. He did this while facing a New Orleans defense that entered arguably playing the best in the NFL, as the Eagles racked up 179 rushing yards by halftime and won as touchdown underdogs. Hurts became just the second quarterback ever to beat an opponent with a nine-plus-game winning streak during their first start, and he’s going to be an easy top-10 fantasy QB during the championship rounds (he gets @Ari and @Dal over the next two weeks). Hurts rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns during his final season in college, and he’s been an immediate upgrade for the Eagles. The rookie has a bunch of fantasy upside thanks to his legs, and Carson Wentz has almost certainly played his last snap in Philadelphia.
Miles Sanders had become a genuinely shaky fantasy start as part of a committee (57% snap share last week) and with the worry of a mobile QB taking over (resulting in fewer targets and stolen goal-line touchdowns like Taysom Hill in New Orleans) ... so, naturally, he erupted for his best game of the season despite facing a Saints defense that’s ceded the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Because of course he did.
Multiple in-game injuries to Philadelphia’s secondary certainly helped, but Taysom Hill produced yet again, and as if he heard all the fantasy managers shouting, suddenly targeted Alvin Kamara a whopping 10 times. The Saints get home matchups with the Chiefs and Vikings over the next two weeks, so Hill would be a top fantasy start should Drew Brees remain out. The loss dropped New Orleans to the No. 2 seed (behind Green Bay) in the NFC, and while homefield appears to matter much less these days, the top seed is now bigger than ever.
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
I liked Mike Glennon as a cheap DFS or Superflex option this week at home against a Tennessee defense that had allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season (and Kenny Vaccaro was a late scratch Sunday), yet he was benched for Gardner Minshew (who promptly produced good fantasy stats). The QB’s clunker to open the fantasy playoffs also hurt James Robinson, who had a nice TD run called back by an illegal formation penalty … Ryan Tannehill was efficient while watching Derrick Henry put up yet another monstrous game in December … A.J. Brown had another bad drop (Tennessee would execute a successful fake punt right afterward), but you’ll have to forgive him while fighting through an ankle injury and pulling down ridiculous touchdown catches like this … DJ Chark had another no-show and has been one of the bigger fantasy busts this season.
Dallas Cowboys @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Cowboys’ fantasy D/ST had a big day during Andy Dalton’s revenge game, highlighted by an Aldon Smith 78-yard fumble return for a touchdown … Ezekiel Elliott’s frustrating season continued as he split work evenly with (the superior) Tony Pollard, and he’s now gone eight straight games without a rushing touchdown … CeeDee Lamb had as many punt returns (two) as he did targets … Giovani Bernard (who committed his first fumble in 830 rush attempts) finished fourth in carries on the Bengals, as no Cincinnati player can be trusted in fantasy lineups until 2021.
Arizona Cardinals @ New York Giants
Kyler Murray didn’t produce a huge fantasy day, but he ran 13 times in a possible sign his shoulder is feeling better (although he appeared to hold up near the goal line at one point). The strong effort by Arizona’s defense — highlighted by Haason Reddick’s five(!) sacks — hurt Murray’s production, although DeAndre Hopkins had an impressive line (11-9-136) versus James Bradberry and company … An immobile Daniel Jones and a brief appearance by Colt McCoy led to a whopping eight sacks on just 32 dropbacks by Giants QBs, and the team’s next two matchups (Cle, @Bal) won’t be any easier in the trenches … After losing two touchdowns to Alfred Morris last week, Dion Lewis stole a goal-line score from Wayne Gallman on Sunday … Golden Tate had a sick catch, and who knew Dan Arnold has ups:
— NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) December 13, 2020
Houston Texans @ Chicago Bears
Deshaun Watson had to deal with a constant pass rush and no Brandin Cooks (or Will Fuller), and he had to briefly leave injured one play after having a wide-open touchdown dropped in the end zone by Jordan Akins (even factoring in the sun, this was a candidate for worst drop of the season). Watson later returned while clearly not 100% during a blowout and deserves credit for fighting through a Houston situation that includes Buddy Howell leading the team in rushing and Chad Hansen in receiving Sunday … I would’ve taken the over on just three targets for Keke Coutee, but at least one went for a score … David Montgomery took advantage of another favorable matchup, including an early 80-yard house call Sunday. Montgomery has totaled 409 yards with four touchdowns over the last three games, which is especially impressive given he’s averaged a modest 13.0 rushing attempts over that span … Cordarrelle Patterson has 16 carries over the last two weeks, including one at the goal line Sunday, although unfortunately that hasn’t come with many targets … This Texans defense is bad.
Denver Broncos @ Carolina Panthers
Drew Lock had a big game while in few fantasy lineups, and KJ Hamler turned two of his three targets into touchdowns ... Teddy Bridgewater saved his fantasy day with a fourth-quarter TD run, although Robby Anderson’s solid game (12-8-84-0) feels like it could’ve been more given DJ Moore, Christian McCaffrey and A.J. Bouye were all out of a game that saw Bridgewater attempt 40 passes … Troy Fumagalli made his presence felt (as Fumagallis tend to do) after Noah Fant left early with an illness, and Denver’s WR group is going to be interesting to handicap entering 2021 with a likely change at quarterback and Jerry Jeudy currently looking like the team’s third-best option.
Minnesota Vikings @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kirk Cousins disappointed in a sneaky-favorable spot, although a career-high 41 rushing yards helped. A Tampa Bay secondary that had been leaky before the team’s bye held both Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to fewer than 40 yards while, in turn, the Bucs allowed their first 100-yard rusher (Dalvin Cook) since Week 9 last season … Tom Brady didn’t target anyone more than five times, with his biggest connection a 48-yard score to Scotty Miller … Ronald Jones saw a nice boost in value with Leonard Fournette a healthy scratch coming out of the bye, but he lost a goal-line TD to Rob Gronkowski and could’ve had a much bigger game on the ground considering the edge Tampa Bay entered with up front. Still, Jones is a top-10 fantasy RB right now … After missing three kicks last week, Dan Bailey missed all four attempts (three field goals) Sunday during a loss that really hurt Minnesota’s playoff chances.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Miami Dolphins
Patrick Mahomes threw two interceptions in the first quarter, matching his total over the season’s first 52 quarters to open the year. Mahomes also took the longest loss on a sack (30 yards) since 1997. Of course, Mahomes finished with nearly 400 passing yards on the road during a comfortable win (KC led 30-10 after the third quarter) against a pass defense that entered #6 in DVOA … Tua Tagovailoa threw for 300+ yards and ran for a score despite DeVante Parker exiting in the second quarter and finishing catchless. Lynn Bowden (who led Miami in targets/catches/receiving yards) proved to be the biggest beneficiary from the team’s running back injuries … Clyde Edwards-Helaire became just the third Chiefs rookie ever to record 1,000 yards from scrimmage but didn’t exactly impress by gaining just 32 yards on 16 carries versus a poor run defense, as Tyreek Hill matched his rushing yardage during the wideout’s lone carry Sunday. CEH has simply proven to be far more “MEH” than fantasy managers expected during his rookie season … Xavien Howard recorded an interception for the fifth straight game and now has a league-leading nine on the year, while Mecole Hardman scored during a nice punt return.
Indianapolis Colts @ Las Vegas Raiders
Jonathan Taylor continued his improved play with 150 rushing yards and two scores, including an impressive 62-yarder. The rookie back has averaged 138 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns over the last three games and will be a borderline top-five fantasy back in Week 15 at home against a checked-out Texans defense that might be the worst in the league against the run … T.Y. Hilton’s resurgence continued, as he likely helped many fantasy teams down the stretch who didn’t even draft him, although his production has come at Michael Pittman’s expense … Josh Jacobs trolled fantasy managers and said he was sitting out, although ultimately they may have been better off had it been true … In a week filled with highlight-worthy defensive plays, Kenny Moore had one of his own during a nice interception.
New York Jets @ Seattle Seahawks
The Jets kept running Frank Gore up the middle on first down while missing three field goals by halftime, as what the team fielded Sunday couldn’t be described as competitive … Russell Wilson matched his TD total from the previous four games in a get-right matchup, and he’s up to a career-high 36 touchdown passes this season … DK Metcalf had his ankle rolled on early but (of course) shook it off, while Chris Carson appears to be in a timeshare with Carlos Hyde, although it’s a fine tradeoff if fewer carries continue to come with more targets … The Seahawks have played better lately, but their defense has allowed 200+ more yards to wide receivers than any other team in football this season, yet no Jets wideout reached 50 yards Sunday. Adam Gase owes Peyton Manning more than a Christmas card.
Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Chargers
Matthew Stafford left injured, while Matt Ryan continued to struggle without Julio Jones, tossing three picks and finishing with as many TD strikes as Russell Gage, who surprised the defense with a nice connection to Calvin Ridley ... I can’t possibly imagine drafting Todd Gurley next season, regardless of the round … This is an Atlanta defense that quietly had been shutting down fantasy backs as much as any in the league over the last five weeks, so Austin Ekeler’s nine catches and 146 yards from scrimmage was impressive work. The Chargers can’t run-block, and Justin Herbert struggled (5.5 YPA) for the third straight game. After getting 8.4 YPA over his first five contests, Herbert has gotten just 6.1 over seven games since … I’m beginning to think Anthony Lynn may be in over his head with this coaching thing.
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
Aaron Rodgers predictably had another big game, but it didn’t all go as planned, as Aaron Jones was curiously quiet (including having just 13 yards at halftime) in the best matchup for running backs this season, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling improbably displayed terrific hands while securing all six of his targets … D’Andre Swift was quiet aside from a GL score in a favorable matchup, but it was nice to see him out there healthy again. I’ll be drafting him irrationally high in 2021 fantasy drafts, while T.J. Hockenson is going to be one of the first four tight ends off the board … Davante Adams recorded a TD catch for his eighth straight game, although he’s still five away from tying Jerry Rice’s record.
Washington Football Team @ San Francisco 49ers
Antonio Gibson was out, Alex Smith left injured (Dwayne Haskins!) and no WFT receiver reached 50 yards (Terry McLaurin was held to fewer than 25 yards for the second straight week), as Washington won on the road without scoring an offensive touchdown for the first time since 1992. The loss effectively ended a miserable 49ers season that includes a 1-6 record at home (and yet they somehow have only a -11 point differential on the year) … Kyle Shanahan, Trent Williams, and Jordan Reed all entered with revenge on their minds only to watch WFT score two defensive touchdowns, including Chase Young making a big play that likely locked up the rookie Defensive Player of the Year award … It’s come with a 5-10 record, but Nick Mullens has the third-most passing yards over the first 15 starts in NFL history … Deebo Samuel left hurt again, helping lead to 16 targets for Brandon Aiyuk, who’s arguably the lone bright spot of San Francisco’s season. The rookie will remain a must-start in Week 15 in Dallas.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills
Maybe his knee injury is to blame, but Ben Roethlisberger struggled again Sunday night and hasn’t gotten 6.0 YPA in any of his past four games. Not that Roethlisberger is getting much help, as James Conner’s return did nothing for a stagnant Pittsburgh running game (Conner’s big comeback featured him appearing to leave injured yet again, only to fumble during the first play after he returned), and Diontae Johnson committed two more drops that resulted in him sitting for a stretch (the team suffered an NFL season-high seven drops in the game). It’s hard for an 11-2 team to look less impressive than the Steelers do … Josh Allen didn’t come close to matching last week’s near-perfect performance but actually posted the most fantasy points by a QB against Pittsburgh since Week 5 (and Stefon Diggs scored the most by a WR since Week 7) … In a near-even committee and with a goal-line beast at quarterback, it’s going to take an injury to Buffalo’s backfield for Devin Singletary or Zack Moss to have real fantasy value moving forward.