Odell Beckham is the size of an average Rotoworld writer. Alas, none of us have ever made a catch quite like that. Few people in the history of the sport have, which is why it’s a play your mom, granddad and grocery-store checker will be talking about. It will serve as a Thanksgiving icebreaker at dinner tables across the country. “See that play that Beckham guy made last weekend,” your uncle will ask rhetorically. “Like Willie Mays on a football field,” you’ll respond, feeling a bit hyperbolic, but not really.
Of course, Beckham was already proving to be much more than a one-handed catch artist coming into Sunday night’s game — though that is something he works on. Beckham entered Week 12 as fantasy’s No. 12 receiver over the past five weeks, and No. 16 over the past three. Not bad for a player who didn’t make his NFL debut until Week 5, and had his head coach exasperated as recently as Week 2. Beckham is now averaging 7.8 catches for 126 yards across his past four games, scoring two touchdowns and nearly single-handedly making the Giants’ offense watchable. Perhaps you’re not willing to go that far, but there’s not much debate: Beckham is looking like a player who deserved to go No. 12 overall in the draft.
There’s not much reason to expect Beckham to slow down going forward. Sure, he’s going to become the focus of increased-defensive attention, but you can bet he was a topic of conversation at Valley Ranch last week even before he a Mike Trout-ed a ball in the end zone. The Giants’ schedule is soft down the stretch, with nary a shutdown corner amongst the G-Men’s opponents (@JAX, @TEN, vs. MINN, @STL, vs. PHI). Not that Beckham has looked capable of being shut down. He’s already gone toe-to-toe with the NFC’s best corner, Richard Sherman, and escaped with seven catches for 108 yards. Not all of Beckham’s production came on Sherman Island, but this 44-yard grab on a double move did.
In the year of Antonio Brown, that’s whom Beckham has most resembled through his first seven games. Jumping on the bandwagon now may feel like chasing past production, but Beckham’s numbers, draft pedigree and usage all suggest he’ll remain a top-18 option going forward, with weekly WR1 upside. Beckham may be new to your starting lineup, but it’s somewhere he should remain glued throughout the fantasy playoffs.
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Five Things That Went According To Plan In Week 12
Josh Gordon’s return to the Browns’ starting lineup. There was much debate about what Gordon’s usage would look like in his 2014 debut. It ended pretty much the second the game started. Gordon was a 69 percent player, playing 54-of-78 snaps, and drawing 16 targets. Gordon was the focus on 40 percent of Brian Hoyer’s throws, catching eight passes for 120 yards. When the game got to crunch time, Gordon was not winded, catching a 24-yard pass with 0:32 remaining to set the Browns up in Falcons territory. Gordon was the same alpha WR1 who averaged 11.3 targets in 2013, and turned them into the 10th most receiving yards in NFL history. Even as the Browns draw tough defenses like Buffalo and Cincinnati down the stretch, Gordon will be a weekly top-five WR1.
Drew Stanton’s struggles in Seattle. There had been a school of thought that Carson Palmer’s role in the (then) 8-1 Cardinals’ success had been overblown. Hopefully Sunday laid that to rest. Stanton was overwhelmed from the opening whistle, finishing with 149 yards passing and just six completions to wide receivers. Stanton has now been dreadful in 7-of-8 quarters since taking over as starter in Week 11, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s going to be a major hindrance — if not outright death knell — to the Cardinals’ aspirations of a deep playoff run. Every Cards skill player is now a weekly dice roll as Arizona closes out the year with a brutal schedule.
Robert Griffin III’s continued meltdown. Fresh off yet another unnessarily tumultuous week off the field, the Redskins tried to keep things simple for RGIII on it. He responded by completing 11 passes, generating 117 yards of offense. Griffin lost a fumble, and accounted for zero touchdowns. Speaking afterward, Pierre Garcon was blunt about the Redskins’ failures on offense. “Throw to the receivers,” Garcon said. “There were a lot of opportunities. Didn’t take them.” For all intents and purposes, I declared RGIII’s Redskins career over in Week 2. It’s a hot take I’ve thought about many times since, worrying it would end up making me look like a fool. Sunday, however, Griffin’s lack of a future for the team that made him in a star in 2012 couldn’t have appeared more crystal clear.
Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West showing why the Browns were willing to waive Ben Tate. All the pre-game fanfare focused on the return of Josh Gordon, but it was Crowell and West who put the Browns on their backs, turning 26 combined rushes into 150 yards. It was Crowell who truly stood out, turning a modest 12 carries into 88 yards (7.3 YPC) and two touchdowns. Crowell’s first score was a one-cut beauty, while the second featured not one, but two field reversals. West isn’t going away, but it’s Crowell who is going to keep chairing Kyle Shanahan’s committee. Crowell is an upside RB2, with West a viable FLEX.
C.J. Anderson shining as the Broncos’ lead back. Facing a Dolphins run defense that entered Week 12 allowing just 3.8 yards per carry and 94.5 yards per game, Anderson ripped off 27 rushes for 167 yards (6.18 YPC), adding four receptions for an additional 28 yards. Sims was quick through the hole, and silky smooth as a pass catcher. Flashing a three-down skill-set Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball both lack, Anderson is beginning to run away with No. 1 duties in Peyton Manning’s offense. Anderson has league-winning upside for the fantasy playoffs.
Five Things That Didn’t Go According To Plan in Week 12
The Rams’ final series in San Diego. After recovering from a catastrophically-bad call, the Rams found themselves with a 1st-and-goal from the Chargers’ six-yard line with 1:09 remaining. They trailed 27-24. With an inept Shaun Hill at the controls, the formula should have been simple: Three straight running plays. Instead, OC Brian Schottenheimer inconceivably dialed up a pass on 2nd-and-4, and Hill tossed the back-breaking pick to end all back-breaking picks. Now the Rams are 4-7, and officially done in the NFC.
Jonas Gray’s coronation. Less than a week removed from having the best game by any rusher in 2014, a healthy Gray didn’t play a single snap. It was a humiliating — and extraordinarily harsh — punishment for oversleeping on Friday, but an entirely predictable one from Bill Belichick’s Patriots. Belichick has run roughshod over the AFC through two two-term presidents by refusing to compromise a single aspect of his vision, and wasn’t about to start with a player who began last month on the practice squad. You can argue that Belichick is too cold. You cannot argue that he’s a winner.
Trent Richardson’s assumption of No. 1 duties in the absence of Ahmad Bradshaw. It was Dan Herron — and not T-Rich — who got the start and led the Colts in touches, tallying 17 to Richardson’s 13. Speaking afterward, T-Rich dutifully claimed that it was his mid-week illness that kept him playing second fiddle to “Boom,” but the yardage totals do not tell the story of a formula the Colts should change going forward. Herron racked up 96 yards to T-Rich’s 42, posting a 5.4 YPC while Richardson plodded to 3.2. Mountains of evidence suggest T-Rich is not an effective NFL back, No. 1 or otherwise. With the Colts still fighting for seeding in a crowded AFC, don’t expect them to ignore it. Herron offers RB2 upside as the Colts’ new Bradshaw, while Richardson remains a touchdown-dependent FLEX bet.
Ryan Mallett’s second NFL start. Unexpectedly good in his Week 11 debut, Mallett was unreasonably bad in his Week 12 follow up, completing just 21-of-45 passes for 189 yards, zero scores and a pick. Mallett was never expected to shine against the Bengals’ elite pass defense, but it was a concerningly-bad performance. Turns out there was indeed cause for concern. Mallett injured his pec in pre-game warmups, and could apparently be done for the season. Mallett showed extreme toughness in playing through such a severe injury, but all it really earned him was some bad film heading into free agency. It’s possible fourth-round rookie Tom Savage, and not Ryan Fitzpatrick, will be the next man up for the Texans.
Charles Sims’ bid for the chairmanship of the Bucs’ committee. With Doug Martin back, Sims got out-touched 12-8. Martin, as has become custom, was not effective. But neither was Sims, rushing just six times for 22 yards (3.7 YPC). Sims’ two receptions added a meager 11 yards. Throw in Bobby Rainey’s five touches, and it appears the Bucs have adopted a three-man timeshare, killing the fantasy value of all involved, and making Sims a nonentity for the playoffs in re-draft leagues. If Sims goes off for you in Week 13, you won’t be able to claim you saw it coming.
Early Waiver Look (Players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Stats of the Week
28. That’s how many incompletions Matthew Stafford had against the Patriots. The 39.1 completion percentage dropped Stafford’s season mark from 61.2 to 58.7. Stafford has completed more than 60 percent of his passes just once in six seasons (63.5 in 2011).
61. The number of snaps Tim Wright played against the Lions. That’s out of 81 (75.3 percent). Wright’s previous season high was 22 in Week 8. Wright could be a fantasy stud as a 75 percent player, but it’s just like as likely he’ll play 15 as 75 in Week 13. He remains a boom-or-bust TE2.
Emmanuel Sanders has surpassed 100 yards receiving in 7-of-11 games. Probably a bargain at three years, $15 million, wouldn’t you say?
Sunday was the first time in Ryan Tannehill’s 43-game career that he accounted for four total touchdowns.
Charles Johnson played 67-of-69 snaps against the Packers. Now up to 9/139/1 over the past two weeks, Johnson will be a WR3 dark horse for the fantasy playoffs.
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