Monday Morning Takeaway – Week 17

Tampa Bay 22, Atlanta 17


Doug Martin capped off his awesome rookie season with another huge outing posting 148 yards on 28 rushing attempts. The Muscle Hamster is a lock as a top five RB next year.

Mike Williams quietly had another solid season accumulating 996 yards and nine touchdowns.  He should also be mentioned amongst the best red-zone wide receivers in the league adding another short yardage touchdown in this game.


Yes the starters played, but no they were not playing at full capacity. I suspect this game was more of a “walk through” after pouring their energy into the past two weeks and clinching home field advantage. The Falcons postseason fantasy value will be contingent on their opponent.


New York 9, Buffalo 28


The best news for the Jets is the season is officially over, meaning the rebuilding process can begin. Say goodbye Mr. Sporano.


Yet another of the NFL teams who are about to undergo some radical changes.

The misuse of CJ Spiller and reliance on Ryan Fitzpatrick are the two reasons Chan Gailey will likely be fired by the time you’re reading this article.


Baltimore 14, Cincinnati 23


This game reminded me of preseason week one as the Ravens starters played two series and sat much of the game. Nothing to see here, move along.


Cincinnati came out relatively slow until a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones just before halftime. Similar to preseason week two, the starters did not return in the second half. Boring.
Chicago 26, Detroit 24


For fantasy managers projecting into next season our focus has been on the development of Alshon Jeffery. Brimming with talent, playing alongside strong armed quarterback and with Brandon Marshall demanding added attention, Jeffery will be worthy of late round flier entering the 2013 season as a mid WR4.


Calvin Johnson’s quest for 2000 receiving yards fell 36 yards short as Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and the Bears secondary said “not on my watch”. Still an amazing season for fantasy owners who ignored the Madden Curse and selected Johnson in the first round.

Beyond Calvin, this team is not good. No defense, no real running game and more off field issues than a rehab clinic.


Jacksonville 20, Tennessee 38


The Tim Tebow groundswell in Jacksonville will be reaching tidal wave proportions after Chad Henne tossed three interceptions, two of which were returned for Tennessee touchdowns. Henne was so bad he should have thrown another three interceptions. Start printing those number 15 jerseys.

Injured during pregame warm-ups, Montell Owens reminded us why we must read all news before cementing our starting lineups. In his place stepped the Jags fifth string running back Keith Toston who ran roughshod through the Titans porous defense displaying downhill power and quick decision making. Racking up 74 yards on 17 carries it would have interesting to see what his numbers could have been had this game not been so lopsided.



The Titans opening drive looked solid marching straight down the field for a Chris Johnson touchdown. After that it was a complete mess as Jake Locker is scary bad while severely limiting the production of the entire Tennessee offense. Even his completed passes are off the mark as he’s unable to hit players in stride and give them room to run. Unless he drastically improves over the offseason, Locker’s struggles will hinder the projected value of Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington.

On the plus side, the Titans DST did manage to score four touchdowns; two pick-six and two punt returns. Yeah!


Houston 16, Indianapolis 28


This is not the same Texans team it was early in the season. By halftime they’d gone eight quarters without a touchdown (what?). Arian Foster finally found paydirt with a third quarter touchdown. It’s worth noting that Foster should real class acknowledging Chuck Pagano by tapping his sign in the endzone. With the underrated Cincy defense coming to town, the Texans could very well be one-and-done. Make note when setting those postseason lineups.


Chuck Strong is alive and well as the Colts took down the mighty Texans fighting for the number one overall seed. This game was highlighted by TY Hilton’s 70 yard touchdown. Hilton’s emergence this season is undeniable making him a legit wide receiver both in postseason leagues and our 2013 draft prep.

Vick Ballard has grown into one of my favorite players this season finishing the game with 78 yards and a touchdown against the league’s best run defense. A hardnosed runner with excellent skills in the passing game, Ballard finished 16th in running back scoring over weeks 7-17. He will certainly be worthy of a mid / later round choice in next year’s fantasy drafts.

If you’ve ever questioned the toughness of Reggie Wayne, watch the hit he took from Kareem Jackson just before halftime. Most would have left the game.


Carolina 44, New Orleans 38


If you were looking for a high scoring affair, this was the game to watch. DeAngelo Williams highlighted the evening for the Panthers ripping the Saints defense for 210 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Williams has the raw talent to be a stud if he were handed the load, but continues to relent goal line touches limiting his fantasy value. This week it was Mike Tolbert vulturing three scores (ugh!). However, D-Will is a likely candidate to be released meaning his 2013 fantasy value will be contingent on his new employer.


In a shoot out it was the usual suspects prospering for the Saints as Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston and Lance Moore all feasted on the Panthers pass defense.

The truly big news coming out of New Orleans wasn’t the play on the field, but the re-signing of head coach Sean Payton (although not official until after the Super Bowl). And Saints fans collectively rejoice.


Philadelphia 7, New York 42


Michael Vick made his final start in an Eagles uniform. He tossed an interception on first drive of the game further displaying his aptitude as an NFL starter and personifying his time in Philly. I wish I could say more but this game, but the score was so ridiculous the Fox network turned it over to the Chicago vs Lions even before halftime. And so goes the Eagles season.


Eli Manning ended the year on an up note tossing five touchdowns against Philly, three in the first quarter. For many fantasy managers it was too little too late after throwing one touchdown over the previous two games combined. If Manning falls back into the late sixth round range he’ll be likely on my 2013 team.

Although Ahmad Bradshaw was active, it was David Wilson starting in the Giants backfield as the two split caries evenly by game end. This is further indication the RBBC will continue in next season decreasing the value of both players.

Rookie wide receiver Reuben Randell was Eli Manning’s preferred target in the red zone snagging two early touchdowns over veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asumgha. Playing behind the oft-injured Hakeem Nicks will make Randell and intriguing proposition opening next season as a late round flier with upside.


Cleveland 10, Pittsburgh 24


No Brandon Weeden, no Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon was carted off the field early. With Pat Shurmur’s head on the chopping block our evaluation of all Browns players will be put on pause until mid-July.


The Steelers totaled 212 yards on the day making for tough fantasy production. Fortunately Ben Roethlisberger found the endzone three times hooking up with Leonard Pope, Antonio Brown and Plaxico Burress. On the ground Jonathan Dwyer led the backfield with 52 yards. All-in-all a slow day and a slow season from the Steelers offense. You think ownership is kicking themselves for firing Bruce Arians?


Kansas City 3, Denver 38


The Chiefs were simply outmatched as Denver’s slapped around the Kansas City. On the bright side, the Chiefs locked up the number one overall pick. Expect a complete makeover.


Backup running back Ronnie Hillman had an early game fumble causing the coaching staff to staple him to the bench for the remainder of the game, including garbage time. Hilliman’s mistake solidifies Knowshon Moreno as the Broncos starter entering the playoffs, a solid option in postseason fantasy leagues.


Green Bay 34, Minnesota 37


We can safely say that Greg Jennings is fully recovered from a sports hernia that plagued him for much of the season. In this game Jennings reasserted himself as Rodgers favorite target hauling in 120 yards and two touchdowns. An impending free agent, Jennings return doesn’t seem likely.

Remember when Mike McCarthy said he would use the hot hand approach at running back? That must mean second year player DuJuan Harris has brought the fire being given the rock 16 times for 87 yards. In our fantasysharks postseason fantasy football, Harris could have late round value with the Packers projected to make a deep playoff run.


It was the same ole story out of Minnesota as Adrian Peterson was the highlight of the evening for the Vikings offense rumbling for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Most disappointing was AD falling just nine yards shy of breaking the single season NFL record held by Eric Dickerson. He did set up the game winning field goal propelling Minnesota into the playoffs. Let the Arian Foster vs Adrian Peterson debates begin.

In all fairness we should mention Christian Ponder who had his best outing as a pro in a must win game. Ponder should tremendous poise and guts finishing with 234 yards and three touchdowns placing his throws and keeping pace with the high flying Green Bay Packers.


Miami 0, New England 38


Miami was steamrolled in this game by a dominant Patriots team. As for our projections moving forward, both Reggie Bush and Brian Hartline will be entering free agency. Unlikely to return this team will have a completely new look entering the 2013 season.


After watching Houston lose to the Colts in the early games, New England smelled blood in the water needing a win to lock down a first round bye. Even the newly inserted Rob Gronkowski got into the mix scoring a 23 yard touchdown on his first game back from a broken forearm. However, with so many mouths to feed it was Aaron Hernandez was left out in the cold.


Oakland 21, San Diego 24


Terrelle Pryor started under center for the Raiders in a “what do we have to lose” game. Pryor had a number of wide receivers running wide open but couldn’t connect as he was wildly inaccurate, a common problem for young starters. As Pryor struggled so did the rest of the Raiders offense unable to sustain drives rendering the running game moot. Pryor’s athleticism did spark a rampant comeback including two late game touchdowns; one rushing and one passing.

Rod Streater has jumped onto the scene over the past five games racking up 351 yards and one touchdown. Clearly outplaying both Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore over that stretch, Streater is officially on our “watch list” entering the 2013 preseason.


Danario Alexander continues to prove he is the best wide receiver on the San Diego roster hauling in seventh touchdown in eight games. With the Chargers likely to retain him as a restricted free agent, Alexander’s pre-draft value is dependent upon the immanent coaching change.

The future fantasy value of each player on the Chargers roster is reliant on the coaching staff and offseason additions. And that’s why we monitor the offseason.


Arizona 13, San Francisco 27


Inserting their fourth quarterback of the season, Brad Hoyer looked much better than the previous three, which isn’t saying much. He was able to light up rookie wide receiver Michael Floyd who ended the game with 166 yards and a touchdown. My guess is Hoyer will be retained as a backup in Arizona for whomever they sign during the offseason.

It’s also worth noting that Beanie Wells, ruled active, did not receive a single carry. Wells is likely to be gone along with General Manager Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt.


I’m not sure which is more fantasy worthy, the decline of Vernon Davis or the sudden ascension of Michael Crabtree? In the second half of the season (weeks 8-17) Davis ranks 38th amongst in tight end scoring (your read that right). On the opposite end of the spectrum is Crabtree whose finished 6th amongst all wide receivers over the same time span. This game was further proof as Crabtree rolled up 172 yards and two touchdowns while Davis had one reception for five yards. Moral of the story; Kaepernick really likes Crabtree.


St. Louis 13, Seattle 20


This game pitted two vastly underrated defenses slugging it out. As a result no Rams player had enough production to become noteworthy. As for the offseason moves, we’ll be curious what the Rams plan on doing with Steven Jackson.


Seattle’s recent scoring assault came to a screeching halt as the Rams pass rush proved to be a dominant force. Marshawn Lynch had nice 100 yard game and Golden Tate finished with 105 yards on five receptions. But as stated above, this was two solid defenses going toe-to-toe as Seattle did just enough to pull out a victory.


Dallas 18, Washington 28


From a fantasy perspective there isn’t much this game can teach us. The same starters will be back next season including; Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and DeMarco Murray. Jason Garrett is likely to be retained meaning the offensive system will stay intact. Like I said, nothing new to report.


Congratulations to Alfred Morris for setting the Redskins single season record for rushing yards eclipsing Clinton Portis. All Morris did was put his team on his back, rumble off 200 yards and three, count them three touchdowns. With Morris doing all the heavily lifting, Robert Griffin III turned into a game manager doing just enough to move the chains and coast into the postseason.

Get your popcorn ready cause we have a Sunday night matchup pitting RGIII and Russell Wilson. In the famous words of Bart Scott; “can’t wait!”

About Eric Hartvigson