It was an afternoon of oddness equaled by insanity. Five interceptions in one game from Matt Ryan, a quarterback who had only thrown seven picks through nine games? Sweet. Three overtimes, and three blown fourth-quarter leads? Score.
But the fantasy darlings came from an unlikely game. Why? Because the Jacksonville Jaguars were playing, and usually that results in your standard, ho-hum, snot-loosening debacle.
Not today. We live in a world where Chad Henne matters again, you guys.
Andre Johnson and Justin Blackmon are two wild and crazy guys
Perspective is a difficult thing to accomplish while considering what we watched this afternoon during the Jaguars-Texans game, which was one of the day’s three overtime games, and one of the three games in which the eventual loser blew a sizable lead. We care very little about the last part, though, because really, it’s the Jaguars, and they were being Jaguarian. Nuff said, yes?
What matters more is the absurd production posted by both Justin Blackmon and Andre Johnson. The focus both here and elsewhere will be on Johnson, because that’s what happens when you’re the guy who catches the 48-yard pass that ends overtime and seals a win in a game that almost ended in much sister kissing. That also happens when said catch was the pinnacle of a 273-yard receiving day, easily the most productive game of Johnson’s career, and the ninth best single-game total in NFL history. That yardage was more than Johnson’s combined yards over his last three games, and he won many a fantasy matchup with 27 points on his yards alone, and then the touchdown adds six more for a pretty swell total of 33.
While Johnson deserves the bulk of your slobber, we knew that he’s pretty good. He may or may not be beginning to fade while descending the WR ladder, and other younger wideouts like, say, A.J. Green are far more worthy of early draft real estate. But when healthy he’s still capable of being dominant. This is not new.
What’s new is Blackmon, and his nearly immediate connection with Chad Henne after the Jaguars backup replaced Blaine Gabbert. As amazing as Johnson was, Blackmon was only marginally behind him with his 236 receiving yards. Together they set a record that won’t fall for quite some time. Or maybe it will, because all the cool kids are passing all of the footballs all the time nowadays.
It was the first time in league history that two receivers had over 200 receiving yards in the same game. Turning back to that list of the all-time best single game performances, Blackmon’s output lands him at 30th. That’s 30th in the history of ever, and it came in just Blackmon’s ninth career game during a season when he’s averaging only 27.8 yards per game, and he didn’t eclipse the 50-yard mark until Week 7.
This was more than just improbable. It should have been impossible, especially against a Texans defense that still employs Daniel Manning and Johnathan Joseph. They allowed Blackmon to score on an 81-yard catch and run, and if he stopped there he would have had his best receiving day of the season on that catch alone. He didn’t stop.
The real reason why we should gush over Blackmon’s day instead of Johnson’s is the opportunity for value it presents. Johnson is quite obviously owned universally, while Blackmon is only owned in 44.7 percent of ESPN leagues, and 22 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Matt Schaub is all up in your video game numbers
I never thought I’d dedicate most of the words in one of these Sunday reaction posts to a game involving the Jacksonville Jaguars, but here we are. Matt Schaub did more than just pass to Johnson. He passed to everyone, all the time, whenever the hell he wanted to, and five of those passes ended in touchdowns. The final tally? 527 yards on 55 attempts (only 12 of which were incompletions), with two interceptions.
The math on that is 39 fantasy points using standard scoring. Yes, he was helped by essentially an extra quarter, as the Jags and Texans needed nearly a full fifth quarter to decide a winner, with Johnson crossing the end-zone line and scoring his game-winning touchdown at the 2:01 mark of OT. But yeah, so what. I don’t care if he was given nine quarters, because posting 527 passing yards on an NFL defense is a Herculean accomplishment.
With those yards Schaub added another log in the league’s records books. His passing yardage tied Warren Moon for the second best single-game total of all time.
Chad Henne sees your record, and raises you a job taking
We know what Chad Henne is, or at least we thought we did. He’s a Dolphins castoff who was deemed to be worse than Matt Moore and not worth keeping as the backup to a rookie quarterback. So to Jacksonville he went, where more backup duty beckoned. Now if he doesn’t start next week even if Blaine Gabbert is healthy, there’s officially some kind of Blow for Geno plan going on somewhere in the ugly, empty teal seats in north Florida.
Henne’s 354 passing yards and four touchdowns included completions of 81 and 67 yards against a Texans defense that was ranked third against the pass prior to today while giving up just 196 passing yards per game. This wasn’t a secondary that’s susceptible to chunk yardage either, as the Texans had allowed only three catches for 40 yards or more through nine games while defending 319 passes. Today it took just 33 attempts from Henne to log those two bombs.
Also remarkable is the abundance of scoring against a defense that was allowing an average of only 1.3 passing touchdowns per game. Suddenly with Henne, the Jaguars have relevant fantasy options again even without Maurice Jones-Drew, as Cecil Shorts also needed only three catches to finish with 81 yards. It was his second straight game with a +50 yard catch.
They’re still losing games, because they’re still the Jaguars, an inescapable fact. But with Henne, they may win you fake games.
Matt Ryan was as cold as his awful nickname
Now finally moving on to non-Jaguars musings, Matt Ryan had what will soon amount to a vicious outlier in a game the Falcons had no business winning. He threw five interceptions during Atlanta’s win over Arizona, three of which came in just the first quarter.
The instinct here is to panic, because of course it is. But here’s a fun little fact which should put your weary head to rest. Even with today’s disaster that also didn’t include a touchdown pass, Ryan has still thrown 20 TDs to 12 INTs, a highly favorable ratio. And with his 301 passing yards today he’s now strung together three straight 300-yard games, a stretch in which he’s passed for 1,054 yards.
He’ll be just fine, thanks.
The Atlanta defense is now the Buffalo defense
Run defense is the truly glaring concern for Atlanta, but from a fantasy perspective it’s a rather inviting weakness. Remember when the Bills’ front seven was just the worst? So three weeks ago. Today the Falcons gave up 127 rushing yards and a touchdown to LaRod Stephens-Howling, which included a 52-yard run. Prior to today Stephens-Howling only had 184 rushing yards on the season, and this is also a running back who was stuffed recently, and held to only six yards on eight carries by the 49ers in Week 8.
Last week the Falcons were gashed for 149 rushing yards by a Saints offense that’s averaging only 88.4 yards on the ground weekly. Doug Martin and the Bucs are next, the same Doug Martin who has 592 yards over his last four games. Delicious.
Are we finally seeing the Jets admit that Shonn Greene sucks?
Let’s look back Shonn Greene’s season and exclude his 161-yard game in Week 6 against the Colts. Why? Because it’s yet another massive outlier for a running back who’s had six games with less than 60 rushing yards. When we do that, we get a back who has only 406 yards over his other seven games prior to today.
That’s only 58 yards per game, a pace he only slightly bettered today during the Jets’ win over St. Louis, with 64 yards on 18 carries. Meanwhile, backup Bilal Powell has re-asserted himself with 42 yards on 11 carries. He also scored twice, showing that Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano have more faith in him around the goal line.
Monitor this closely over the coming weeks, because if Powell continues to eat into Greene’s carries and get goal-line work, he could be a possible flex option during the fantasy playoffs for those of you in deep leagues (14 teams or more). In weeks 14 and 15 the Jets play Jacksonville and Tennessee, the 28th- and 29th-ranked run defenses.
Robert Griffin III was almost perfect
RG3 attempted 15 passes during Washington’s win today over Philadelphia. That alone is notable since he’s averaged 29.1 attempts per game. But far more notable is the fact that only one of those 15 attempts resulted in an incompletion.
This is perhaps the new Griffin, or if it isn’t then maybe it should be. Defenses had adjusted to him prior to the Redskins’ Week 10 bye, with the rookie posting passer ratings of 72.8 and 72.4 in weeks eight and nine, both far below his overall rating of 93.9. Less could be more as far as Griffin’s passing is concerned, as when running and passing are nearly even (Griffin attempted 12 runs for 84 yards) the inherent guessing game of the option offense remains difficult.