On the schedule, it didn’t look like much. Cincinnati at Miami. The Giants at Washington. A good primer for next year’s draft order, that’s about it. Four teams playing out the string, sorting out the 2020 future stars.
Ah, but take me to the rewrite. Let’s get the story straight. If you had the foresight — or desperation — to throw a stack at these games, you’re probably in the chips now.
Both games went to overtime. Both matches rolled up the points and yards. And both matches did their best to elevate fantasy players into fantasy champions.
Daniel Jones had the final word in New York’s 41-35 victory at Washington, chucking a scoring pass to Kaden Smith on the first drive of overtime. That was Jones’s fifth touchdown of the day, pushing him to the top of the Week 16 quarterback board. Smith (6-35-2) was a godsend for any tight-end-desperate team, while Saquon Barkley (289 total yards, two touchdowns) picked a lovely time for his best game of the year.
Washington was locked out of the quarterback fun, given that injury pushed Dwayne Haskins to the sidelines. But Steven Sims Jr. snagged a couple of touchdown passes, Terry McLaurin was open most of the day (7-86-0), and Adrian Peterson at least punched in a short touchdown. This team has been competitive for Bill Callahan.
Miami’s 38-35 victory over the Bengals was perhaps a better fantasy stop because several of the Dolphins were proactive plays entering the week. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the mayor of DGAF, racked up 419 passing yards and four touchdowns. He’s been clicking with DeVante Parker (5-111-1) all year, and Mike Gesicki (8-82-2) also looks like a playmaker, even if he drops an easy one now and again. Miami’s backfield? Let’s skip over that quagmire.
Andy Dalton is probably going to hand his job to Joe Burrow next year, but perhaps this chaotic loss was his curtain call. Dalton directed two late scoring drives — and a couple of two-point conversions — to force the improbable overtime. He finished with 396 yards and four touchdowns, along with the two conversions. He’s not a franchise quarterback, but Cincinnati’s lousy record isn’t Dalton’s fault.
Tyler Boyd was the first read and smashed accordingly — 9-128-2. He’s been bankable for the Dalton games this year and should be a solid WR2 next season, no matter what the Bengals do with their quarterbacks.
Add it all up and the Top 3 fantasy quarterbacks came from these two games, along with the best running back, the top wideout, and two impact tight ends (TE2, TE5). There’s fantasy potential in any city — it’s just up to us to find it.
• Success has many parents — and so does failure — but it’s interesting that Adam Gase could never unlock Ryan Tannehill, DeVante Parker or Kenyan Drake during the coach’s time in Miami. Now Tannehill is clicking in Tennessee, Drake is popping in Arizona, and Parker is a full-fledged star in Miami. It makes you wonder.
• Like Barkley, Alvin Kamara saved his best for last, scoring his first touchdowns since Week 3. Hopefully that performance wasn’t wasted in the consolation bracket. I get the hesitance to buy after a career year, but Michael Thomas’s floor is so sturdy, I can see him going in the top half of the first round next year — perhaps as high as No. 2.
• Other than one magical quarter at Oakland, the Jaguars really haven’t done anything of note for two months. At one point it looked like this team had two viable quarterbacks; maybe the Jags don’t have any.
• Obviously the Browns have to start over, but what coach of influence can they bring in? Who would want to stake his NFL reputation on the Baker Mayfield rebuild?
• There wasn’t a “this year’s Kittle” but Mark Andrews came the closest, as a receiver anyway. You have to ignore the snap count with Andrews and accept that he’s a downfield threat and a matchup nightmare.
• No matter how much water the Panthers took on in 2019, they couldn’t sink Christian McCaffrey. That was generally the story with DJ Moore, too, but injury ruined Moore’s championship week.
• I saw Frank Reich’s name on a “hot seat” list this week, which is comical. The Colts lost every key offensive skill player for a period of time in 2019 — starting with the shocking Andrew Luck retirement in August. No team can be expected to overcome that. Reich cobbling together a 7-8 record from this mess is a feather in his cap. He’s a plus coach.
• The Steelers were another team hit with too many injuries to overcome; Mike Tomlin won’t win Coach of the Year, but this was one of his finest jobs. Also say this for Pittsburgh — this team still drafts wide receivers better than everyone else.
• If you throw out that one three-touchdown game, it was a washout year for Christian Kirk. The final brush was cruel, a zero-catch game off five targets against Seattle. Kyler Murray had an acceptable rookie year, but I was shocked the Cardinals were as mundane on offense as they proved to be.
• I know he wasn’t involved much Sunday, in part due to injury, but promise me you’ll draft Noah Fant next year.
• Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper looked physically compromised from the opening snap. Neither was ever going to miss this showdown at Philly, but I’m not going to slam them for underperforming when they’re not close to full throttle.