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Schaub didn't seem to show any rust or be intimidated at all, throwing for a career-high 414 yards and adding two touchdowns, totaling 24 fantasy points. It's the first time since Joe Kapp in 1969 that a player threw for 400-plus yards in a win after missing his team's previous game! Only 9.8 percent of Schaub's ESPN owners enjoyed what he did, however. No idea how many had the Vikings' Kapp active against the Baltimore Colts on that day in 1969, though.
Anyway, while some of you will still view what Schaub accomplished a one-game thing, note that it's the fourth time this season Schaub has been in the 20s for fantasy scoring. For comparison's sake, Kurt Warner is the No. 2 quarterback in fantasy for the season, and he also has had four 20-point fantasy games. Then again, Warner has been consistent; in Schaub's case, in the four other games he has played in which he didn't go off, he didn't fare well at all. So, which side of the all-or-nothing Matt Schaub should you expect to see the rest of the fantasy playoffs?
As much as Schaub's ability to put up decent numbers hasn't been a major concern -- health certainly has, even before he tore his MCL in Week 9 -- fantasy football is a game of matchups, and those won't be so kind to the quarterback the rest of the way. The franchise that once called Houston home -- the 12-1 Tennessee Titans -- are up next, then the Raiders, followed by the Bears in Week 17. But keep Schaub in mind when you get to 2009 because the Texans have a serious offense with Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter catching the ball and rookie running back Steve Slaton on his way to finishing his first campaign ranked in the top 10 at his position.
While Schaub might not be able to duplicate his success and help fantasy owners in Week 15, his performance as the fantasy playoffs began in a number of leagues should be a reminder that the big names aren't always the right names, and taking a chance in a decent matchup can lead to victories. Now your job -- and ours -- is to find the next not-so-popular signal-caller who will put up numbers in future weeks. Shaun Hill, anyone?
Brian Westbrook was fantasy's top player in Week 13, and he followed it up with another terrific game Sunday, skewering the New York Giants for more than 200 total yards and two touchdowns. Sure, it's not four touchdowns like he delivered on Thanksgiving night, but let this be further proof that it's not wise to sit Westbrook in fantasy the rest of the season, not when he's this good. Whether it's the Cardinals or the Super Bowl champs, Westbrook can do major damage with touches. On a related note, we wouldn't recommend the Cleveland Browns' defense next Monday night in Philly.
Meanwhile, the rest of the NFC East didn't fare so well on the field or in fantasy, unless you were one of the 4.9 percent of ESPN fantasy owners who made the Tashard Choice, um, choice. The Giants didn't score an offensive touchdown until the final minute, and top player Brandon Jacobs -- active in 82 percent of leagues -- left early because of a knee injury after delivering five fantasy points. The rest of Choice's Cowboys sputtered, as Tony Romo committed four turnovers and continued his December slide. He's 4-6 in the regular season's final month, and 22-4 in the other months. And the Washington Redskins couldn't run in Baltimore, as Clinton Portis delivered another downer and Jason Campbell made more mistakes than big plays.
Fantasy owners can always count on the Saints' passing game, but the team's running backs were relatively ignored in starting lineups. Pierre Thomas scored for the fourth consecutive game, and eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the first time this season. In fact, it was the first time all year any Saint has run for 100 yards in a game. Thomas was active in a mere 22.9 percent of ESPN leagues as he scored 22 fantasy points, while Reggie Bush was active in 45.9 percent for his 80 rushing yards and touchdown reception. Deuce McAllister dressed, carried the ball once, and more or less proved that once and for all, Thomas and Bush are now the main running backs, and the duo can coexist even as Drew Brees throws every other down.
|This Week In Fantasy Football History|
By Neil Tardy
2006: With LaDainian Tomlinson on your team, how could you lose? What has to be considered the greatest single fantasy season ever peaked in Week 14 versus the Broncos, when Tomlinson scored his 27th, 28th and 29th touchdowns, breaking Shaun Alexander's single-season touchdown record, which had been set the previous season. That's what the headlines said, but the fantasy story was equally remarkable. Through the first five weeks of '06, Tomlinson managed three touchdowns, and only once topped 100 yards on the ground. Over the next 10 weeks, however, he amassed 28 scores. LT also produced a string of nine straight 100-yard games from Weeks 8 to 16, bettering 170 yards in four of them. Tomlinson added his final two touchdowns in Week 15, giving him 31 for the season. That means, ironically enough, that he was held out of the end zone in Week 16, the championship round in many fantasy leagues. Tomlinson owners had to get by with his 123 rushing yards.
Tim Hightower scored, but projections of a monster rushing game didn't come to fruition as he averaged 2.7 yards per carry. Not that it mattered for the Cardinals against the Rams, but didn't you expect top-10-back numbers? It was good to see Brandon Marshall have such a big game. Most of his owners started him anyway (92.8 percent), but he hadn't topped 14 fantasy points since Week 3. For all the Bears have done in their history, rookie Matt Forte is only the third Bear to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 50 passes in a season. Fred Taylor appears back in Jacksonville's good graces, as he and Maurice Jones-Drew split the carries about evenly. Jones-Drew was also the team's top receiver. So much for Ryan Grant being bothered by a sore thumb. The Packer got back on track with 104 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Brandon Jackson didn't get a carry. Even if Joshua Cribbs does play quarterback for the Browns, I wouldn't activate him at Philadelphia. Michael Turner didn't carry owners to wins with his 12 points, but double digits for the sixth consecutive week works for us. After Brandon Jacobs left, Derrick Ward got most of the carries and looked fine, but Ahmad Bradshaw did not, running five times for nine yards. Lee Evans' owners got caught up in his solid history against the Dolphins; he was active in 78.6 percent of ESPN leagues. Sadly, he gave his owners a mere two points. Shaun Hill is legit, and so is his schedule moving forward. Nice game for Peyton Manning. Then again, why couldn't he produce any offensive scores last week in Cleveland? I'm convinced Peyton Hillis would have had a 20-point fantasy game had he not gotten hurt. J.P. Losman looked awful, and Trent Edwards could certainly be rushed back into action for Week 15. Remember when the Colts used to score 35 points every week? Would you believe nobody on the team has more than six touchdowns?
Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks
With 14 fantasy points all season, Branch was, shall we say, a major disappointment. Alas, in Week 14 he responded with his first two touchdown catches and 20 fantasy points. Of course, only 1.7 percent of his owners had him active.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills
Lynch ran for 134 yards in Week 13, so fantasy owners were lining up to start the Buffalo running back against the Dolphins. Lynch was active in 92.8 percent of ESPN leagues, then ran for almost 100 fewer yards than the previous week, ending up with a season-low three fantasy points.
Seneca Wallace, QB, Seahawks: It's about time a Seattle quarterback puts up some decent numbers. Of course, it wasn't Matt Hasselbeck, who was still active in 14.9 percent of leagues despite being inactive for Sunday's game. Instead, it was Wallace, active in just 0.3 percent of leagues. Wallace threw three touchdown passes, and the Rams are up next. All quarterbacks should be considered when you hear or read the phrase: "The Rams are up next."
LenDale White, RB, Titans: White complained about touches and voila, he has 47 carries in two weeks. White was active in just more than half of ESPN's leagues, while Chris Johnson was at 89.5 percent, but it's clear with a Week 15 game in Houston looming, both should be worth starting.
Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins: No, he didn't score -- few did in that snoozer in Toronto -- but Bess caught nine passes for 74 yards, while Ted Ginn Jr. hauled in only one more pass than you and I did. Bess is clearly getting Chad Pennington's attention; now, his owners hope for a touchdown.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots: Maybe the Week 13 concussion scared his owners off, or the fact that he has scored only one more touchdown than you and I this season -- OK, you get the point on that angle -- but Welker had season bests in catches, yards and fantasy points Sunday, and he topped 100 receiving yards for the fourth time in five games. Why sit him ever?
Brett Favre, QB, Jets: So you thought his poor Week 13 outing against the Broncos was a fluke, eh? In San Francisco, against a very beatable 49ers pass defense, Favre threw for a season-low 137 yards, ending up in single fantasy digits for the sixth time in 13 games. Favre has the Bills and Seahawks next, but how can you trust him or wide receivers Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, who combined for one stinkin' fantasy point!?
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: Sure, so let's say the reason why Addai didn't accumulate numbers was because Indy so easily dismissed the awful Bengals, and his shoulder was hurting. Guess what, the Lions are up next, and they're not good either. With Dominic Rhodes running and catching well, the brittle Addai might not be needed to do much until Week 16.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns: The Browns led 6-0 into the second quarter, so Lewis had his chances to run, especially with Ken Dorsey at quarterback. Instead, he ran seven times for seven yards, then ceded carries to Joshua Cribbs. Lewis can't be trusted no matter the matchup, really.
Domenik Hixon, WR, Giants: One of fantasy's top pickups leading to Sunday, Hixon managed three fantasy points. It could have been a top-five day had he not dropped a 50-yard bomb from Eli Manning, which probably would have resulted in an 85-yard touchdown. Don't be so eager to activate Hixon against the Cowboys in Week 15.
A few running backs thought of as top-10 options left their games early and their fantasy owners unfulfilled. The Giants' Brandon Jacobs suffered a left knee injury after gaining 52 yards. It's unclear if Jacobs will miss Week 15, but Derrick Ward should be a popular free-agent addition this week if he's available in your league.
Meanwhile, Broncos cult hero Peyton Hillis suffered a strained right hamstring in the first half against the Chiefs, and didn't return. It's a shame, too, since Hillis had already scored and seemed on his way to a monster game. Tatum Bell replaced Hillis and averaged 4.7 yards per carry, but he's not to be trusted if Hillis misses future games (it appears he will).
Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte didn't play in the second half, as he dealt with a back bruise and also the ignominy of trailing the Lions. Tarvaris Jackson saved the day. If Frerotte wasn't a popular play against the Lions -- he was active in 7.1 percent -- he shouldn't be in Week 15 against the Cardinals.
Frank Gore injured his leg early in the second half and didn't return, although he did score a touchdown. Remember DeShaun Foster? He might be relevant in Week 15. Then again, he is still DeShaun Foster. Philly's Kevin Curtis suffered a concussion Sunday. No word on his availability moving forward, but Donovan McNabb does have many receiving options to compensate. Jerry Porter hurt his groin but wasn't popular in fantasy to begin with.
The Thursday games continue with Drew Brees and the Saints traveling to Chicago. Don't sit your Saints; the Bears have allowed 27 or more points in four games this season, including twice to the Vikings. Brees & Co. will get their points, as will Kyle Orton and dependable Matt Forte in what should be a shootout.
It's a key AFC East game for Brett Favre and the Jets against the Bills. Defense saved the Jets when they beat the Bills in Week 9, not Favre, who threw for 201 yards and nary a touchdown. Trent Edwards had the better game, with 289 yards in the losing effort, but he might not play. Marshawn Lynch was held to 16 rushing yards. Could comeback player of the year nominee Thomas Jones really be the only safe play here?
Tyler Thigpen has cooled off after weeks of 20-point performances, but maybe a home game with the pass defense-deficient San Diego Chargers will get him back on track. Thigpen threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns in San Diego in Week 10. Philip Rivers had 316 yards and two touchdowns that day.
Two playoff-bound teams from the AFC North meet again in Baltimore. The Steelers beat the Ravens in overtime back in Week 4, as neither quarterback threw for 200 yards. Le'Ron McClain ran for 63 yards and a score, and Pittsburgh's top runner was Rashard Mendenhall, who is now on injured reserve. Don't look for either top defense to allow much in Week 15.