Things we learned in Week 16
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Let's all say thank you to Peyton Manning for making it possible to place the championship trophy on our mantel. After a mediocre semi-final performance in Week 15, Manning was at his best when it counted - in the fantasy championship round.
Throwing for 400 yards and four touchdowns on Sunday, the Broncos' quarterback season-long numbers are mind-boggling. With one more week remaining, Manning has thrown for 5,211 yards (347.4 ypg) and a record-breaking 51 touchdown passes (3.4 per game).
On a personal note, the two fantasy leagues I won this season had Manning under center. Thanks Peyton!
Below are a few more things we observed on Sunday afternoon.
Miami at Buffalo
Ryan Tannehill took a beating and was out of the game with a knee injury by the fourth quarter. He had just 10 completions on 27 attempts for 82 yards.
Lamar Miller had eight yards on three carries and has rushed for fewer than 10 yards four times this season.
The Bills came into the game leading the NFL with 49 sacks and they added seven to their total by dominating Miami's patchwork line all day in a shutout effort.
Fred Jackson outperformed C.J. Spiller one more time, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries to Spiller's 77 yards on 20 carries.
New Orleans at Carolina
Carolina's defensive line pressured Drew Brees heavily in the first half, sacking him five times. The Panthers only got to him once in the second half, but Brees could muster just one touchdown drive. Brees completed 30-of-44, but only had 281 yards, and threw two picks.
New Orleans' lone touchdown drive of the game started on the 3-yard line in the fourth quarter and was sparked by a 46-yard catch by Jimmy Graham. Graham later capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown catch.
Cam Newton also struggled, frequently overthrowing his receivers even when they were wide open, but he came through with a game-winning 14-yard touchdown to Domenik Hixon on an out pattern with 23 seconds left.
Steve Smith suffered a non-contact knee injury in the first half and was done for the day after attempting to come back in for one play, so Newton didn't actually have many open targets to throw to.
Before the final drive, the Panthers' only form of offense came from DeAngelo Williams, who had a 43-yard rushing score with 1:45 in the second quarter and 67 yards on 12 carries in the game.
Minnesota at Cincinnati
After going down 28-7 in the first half, there was no need for the Vikings to put Adrian Peterson at risk while he was playing through a sprained foot. Peterson touched the ball just once in the second half and zero times after 10:30 in the third quarter.
The familiar Matt Cassel returned in Week 16, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. Cassel had just 114 passing yards, 268 less than Week 15.
The Vikings are making an effort to get Cordarrelle Patterson the football every week. Patterson only caught three of his seven targets for eight yards, but he ran three times for 54 yards and a touchdown. Patterson has scored a touchdown in four straight games.
The Vikings got no pressure on Andy Dalton and didn't hit him at all until early in the fourth quarter. By that time he already had four touchdowns on the board. He finished with 366 yards, giving him career highs with 4,015 yards and 31 passing touchdowns.
A.J. Green caught two of Dalton's touchdowns and had seven catches for 97 yards. He hasn't picked up the 100-yard bonus since Week 10 after doing it five straight weeks to that point, but he has hauled in four touchdowns over the last four games.
Denver at Houston
Manning made sure to wrap up the single-season touchdown record in Week 16 so he can take it easy next Sunday. He threw for 400 yards to reach 5,000 yards for the first time in his career and four touchdowns to pass Tom Brady's record with 51 TDs on the season.
As usual, Manning kept all of his receivers happy, throwing two scores to Eric Decker, one to Demaryius Thomas and one to Julius Thomas.
Wes Welker was out with a concussion, so Decker and Demaryius Thomas both saw some extra looks. Decker had 17 targets, 10 receptions and 131 yards and Thomas had 14 targets, eight receptions and 123 yards.
With Matt Schaub back under center in place of the injured Case Keenum, Houston reverted to its conservative offense. Schaub threw for just 4.8 yards per attempt on his 37 passes.
Dennis Johnson led the team in carries with 12, but Deji Karim outgained him by one yard for the team lead with 30 yards on eight carries.
With Garrett Graham and Ben Tate out and DeAndre Hopkins struggling, the Broncos defense was able to zero in on stopping Andre Johnson. Johnson reeled in just four of his 13 targets for 63 yards and has eight catches on 23 targets (.348) the last two games. He still hasn't caught a touchdown from Matt Schaub this season; all five of Johnson's scores came from Keenum.
Tennessee at Jacksonville
The 6-foot-6 Marcedes Lewis has become a trusted red-zone target for Chad Henne, catching scores in four straight games, none longer than 13 yards.
Lewis had one of Jacksonville's two touchdowns inside the 10-yard line. Mike Brown had the other, making Maurice Jones-Drew a fantasy disappointment with 69 yards from scrimmage in his return from a hamstring injury.
The Titans split carries between Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene 22-19 in favor of Johnson. Johnson had 90 yards and Greene had 91, but Greene picked up the 1-yard TD run. Johnson did rush for four yards per carry for the first time since Nov. 14, though, and will need 50 yards in Week 17 for his sixth straight 1,000-yard season.
Indianapolis at Kansas City
That's the Donald Brown the Colts thought they were drafting in 2009. He ran the ball well and caught a ball for a touchdown matching Jamaal Charles step for step.
Charles didn't use it all up in last weekend's record-setting game, opening the scoring for the Chiefs with a 31-yard run. His 12th rushing touchdown and 19th overall help make him one of the top-two fantasy running backs this season. Still, his 26 points was 32 less than last weekend.
Alex Smith's big game last weekend was an aberration due to Charles' catching ability and he can't be counted on week in and week out. Fantasy owners who thought he could do it again were stuck with a 153-yard, two INT performance at the worst time.
Despite an iffy line if front of him, Andrew Luck was solid with 241 yards and a score through the air.
Cleveland at New York Jets
Unless you owned Josh Gordon in your fantasy league or had a relative in this one, why would you watch this game?
Edwin Baker (who?) scored on the ground for the second consecutive week. In two games he has matched the total for all the other Browns running backs this season.
Chris Ivory couldn't get in the end zone, but he did get his fantasy owners the 100-yard bonus.
Tampa Bay at St. Louis
Bobby Rainey had plenty of opportunities, but 37 yards on 20 carries isn't going to get it done.
Zac Stacy is becoming one of the more reliable fantasy running backs. Hard to imagine he started the season No. 3 on the Rams' depth chart.
Dallas at Washington
Let's note that on the Cowboys' first play from scrimmage, at the Washington 4-yard line, Tony Romo chose not to run with DeMarco Murray or pass to Dez Bryant. Instead he tossed an incomplete pass toward Terrance Williams. Murray scored on a draw play up the middle on second down.
Murray saw 25 touches this time and that included the game-winning score on fourth down. At least they learned not to ignore him even if he doesn't whine like a receiver.
Kirk Cousins was focused on just one receiver and while Pierre Garcon fantasy owners were happy with the results, Cousins' couldn't engineer a first-half touchdown drive. He remedied that early in the third quarter by throwing a touchdown pass to ... Garcon, of course.
Still, 197 yards wasn't enough to win the game and Cousins didn't engineer much of a drive in the final minute. Robert Griffin III dynasty owners shouldn't worry about his job next season. If he's healthy, he's the starter.
New York Giants at Detroit
An early field goal by the Giants gave them a lead for the first time since Week 13. Later, Eli Manning and Jerrel Jernigan hooked up for his first touchdown of the season.
Andre Brown led the Giants with 16 attempts, but managed just 40 yards despite one 11-yard run.
On Sunday the best running back in Lions' blue was Joique Bell, who over the season, has proven he can be a fantasy-worthy starter if given the opportunity to start full-time. Sunday he combined for 154 yards, 1 TD).
Calvin Johnson picked a bad time to go "cold." Over the past three games, which encompass the fantasy playoffs, he caught 12 balls for 193 yards and zero touchdowns.
Arizona at Seattle
Palmer can put up solid numbers with his talented receivers (though not today), but he's also turnover-prone as he proved once again on Sunday with three first-half interceptions. He finished with four interceptions giving the Seahawks nine picks over the past two games. No wonder their defense scores so many fantasy points.
Dull day for Marshawn Lynch, rushing 18 times for 71 yards and catching two balls for five yards. Fantasy owners couldn't be happy with that total.
Neither team could muster much offense against two of the top defenses in the league. Hopefully, you planned for that when assembling your lineup.
New England at Baltimore
Remember in the preseason when Stevan Ridley was a fashionable late first- round pick? He's currently buried on the depth chart behind Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount. Both Vereen and Blount scored on Sunday while Ridley owners sulked.
The Pats offense didn't do much to help fantasy owners, but they did win the game, which is all coach Bill Belichick cares about.
If the two defensive/special teams scores in the final two minutes, with the game already well out of reach, turned a fantasy loss into a win for you, it truly was a "Christmas" miracle.
The Ravens emotional win of Monday night didn't carry forward. Baltimore couldn't run the ball and Joe Flacco couldn't find any open receivers.
Flacco did manage to run one in midway through the fourth quarter to keep his team from being shut out.
Pittsburgh at Green Bay
The cold, snowy weather in Green Bay didn't faze either of these teams who were used to playing in less than ideal conditions at home.
After 23 games without a 100-yard rusher, Le'Veon Bell did it in Week 16. He did it in style with 124 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Eddie Lacy (15-84-2) will give Keenan Allen, Giovani Bernard and Zac Stacy a run for fantasy rookie of the year. Too bad he injured an ankle in the second half and couldn't finish what he started.
Oakland at San Diego
Denarius Moore's return from injury over the past two weeks has been a non- event - other than taking targets from Andre Holmes and Rod Streater.
"Short-yardage specialist" Darren McFadden scored on a red-zone carry. He's still not fantasy worthy.
Ryan Mathews' strong last six games (572 rushing yards, 4 TDs) gives hope that he can finally fulfill the promise of a 2010 first-round draft choice.
Allen's score in the third quarter was the fifth in his last eight catches over the past three games. Even though he's not catching a lot of balls, he's making them count.
12/22 19:57:12 ET