Brilliance was in abundance during the nine early afternoon games on this fine Week 13 Sunday in which the temperature of the underworld dropped abruptly, and Rex Ryan finally admitted that his quarterback is not a quarterback at all, and is instead a cougar man toy.
That brilliance oozed from Adrian Peterson and Cam Newton, the latter finishing with 28 fantasy points, the third straight game he’s totaled more than 24 points. But there was one arm where brilliance was absent. Oddly, a young and inexperienced quarterback reminded us that he is indeed young and inexperienced. Yet he still managed to be a fine fantasy commodity.
Colin Kaepernick wasn’t good or bad
He was average. He was OK. He was maybe mediocre. And he wasn’t spectacular, brilliant, or any of the other adjectives we’ve come to associate with him over the past two weeks.
Unfortunately, the outcome of this afternoon’s Rams-49ers game with its overtime calamity that nearly ended in the first time two teams have tied twice in the same season since surely the history of forever will cast a shadow over Colin Kaepernick’s performance, and in many cases it’ll make the ire directed at him extend far beyond what he deserves. He made several significant errors, including one — the wayward lateral to Ted Ginn Jr. inside his own 10-yard line that resulted in Janoris Jenkins’ fumble recovery and touchdown — that was monumental. It’s easy to forget, though, that he’s essentially still a rookie, and both that play and the debatable intentional grounding that led to a safety were the products of Kaepernick’s inexperience. The beauty in his game will still far outweigh the ugly.
Those two moments will shine now as the football-watching public does what it always does with the quarterback: give far too much blame for a loss, and far too much credit for a victory. We’ll speak of Kaepernick’s seemingly shattered nerves in massive moments that led to mistakes which gave the Rams nine points, but we’ll talk very little about his 50-yard run that came directly after the Jenkins fumble return, showing a short memory, another essential rookie skill. And then we also won’t spent much time discussing that for all of his rookie-like faults today, Kaepernick still made the play which was necessary to win this game and appease those who care about some archaic and irrelevant quarterback wins stat. Yet after David Akers kicked what could have been the game-winning field goal, one of the league’s elite rushing defenses allowed Sam Bradford to scramble twice and gain 24 yards on the following drive. Two long field goals by Greg Zuerlein later, and the details are lost in a single digit that’s in Kaepernick’s loss column.
So yes, he was average and merely adequate, and with that rant over, know that if Kaepernick was your fantasy starter today as you gambled on his upside while clawing for the playoffs, the call you made was the correct one. Even though he played his first game today without scoring a touchdown of any kind, Kaepernick’s 292 total yards (208 passing, 84 rushing) were still good for 16 points. As I write this with 10 of the Week 13 games completed, that already compares quite favorably to other top names at the position despite the lack of scoring. Tom Brady only had 11 points during his very un-Brady afternoon with a passer rating of 74.8, while Aaron Rodgers had 10 points.
Kaepernick was far from awful, and far from great. He was the risk part of the low risks and high rewards associated with any Kaepernick fantasy start, and yet he still gave you fine production.
Russell Wilson is Colin Kaepernick
Has Hollywood made a really bad movie yet about two people switching bodies? No? So I have my first original idea then.
We’ve always known and recognized Russell Wilson’s elusiveness, and his ability to bust out a long run when given the opportunity. But he simply hadn’t done it yet, running for only average and moderate gains, with his 38 rushing yards last week against Miami his single-game high. When he led a masterful overtime drive that ended in a game-winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice today against the Bears, Wilson had an 11-yard run, and two 12 yarders. In that the extra period alone he had 40 yards on the ground, doubling his per game average prior to today (just 20.6).
In total Wilson finished with 71 rushing yards with 293 passing yards and two touchdowns, again exposing the Bears’ apparent vulnerability to mobile quarterbacks. Those totals led to 26 fantasy points coming from a quarterback who’s owned in only 17.9 percent of ESPN leagues, a number that needs to rise quickly this week, especially with the Cardinals up next. Wilson has now thrown nine touchdown passes over his last four starts and zero interceptions. During that stretch he’s also averaged 7.4 yards per pass attempt.
The very, very good of Andrew Luck, and the little bit of bad
We’ll get the latter bit out of the way first, because there wasn’t much of it, though Andrew Luck’s interception-throwing consistency on the road remains at least mildly concerning. Luck threw three more picks today during the Colts’ win over Detroit, which should have resulted in a loss, making any late-game heroics impossible. It was his second three-interception game over just the past three weeks, and of Luck’s 16 overall INTs, 13 of them have come away from Lucas Oil Field.
Those picks still hurt you too, as they essentially negated one-and-a-half of Luck’s four touchdown passes. But they only took an absurd day, and turned it into a slightly less absurd day. With his four touchdowns, 391 passing yards, and 33 rushing yards, Luck had 34 fantasy points. With the aforementioned average-ness of Brady and Rodgers, and Brees’ career-high five interceptions Thursday night (keep taking those quarterbacks in the first round, you guys), Luck’s play today resulted in this horrible but very real truth in far too many leagues:
Fantasy football teams that started Andrew Luck today are likely going to beat teams that started Brady, Brees, and Rodgers
— Sigmund Bloom (@SigmundBloom) December 2, 2012
Luck is now averaging 299.6 passing yards per game, putting him on pace for 4,794 yards overall in his rookie season. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. In his rookie season, Peyton Manning had 3,739 passing yards at a pace of 233.7 per game.
Hey, remember when we were worried about Calvin Johnson?
Ha. That was pretty funny. Good times.
With his 171 receiving yards today with a touchdown, Johnson now has four straight games with over 140 yards. That’s the kind of stupid goodness we’ve come to expect from Megatron, as it evens out to an average of 165.3 yards during that stretch. Yep, he’s still pretty good, but what was always the most entertaining is that at the height of the Johnson panic around about Week 8 when he was dealing with a knee injury, his reception and yardage numbers remained nearly identical to the pace he set last year in both categories. After today he remains on pace to break Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yards record (1,848 yards, and Johnson is currently on pace for 1,904 yards).
The only number that was lacking was his scoring rate, which meant that his fantasy production was also lacking severely. And even though he’s now scored in four straight games, Johnson’s touchdown production is still down significantly from where it was through 13 weeks a season ago, as he had scored 12 times at this point last year, and today he scored only his fifth touchdown of 2012.
There is and always will be at least a small element of happenstance with scoring. But more importantly, with receivers the ability to post points through TDs will always be tied to the success or struggles of the quarterback. Johnson has been himself all season, but Matthew Stafford most definitely hasn’t.
And hey, remember when we were worried about Adrian Peterson?
It seems like such a lost, faraway time now, doesn’t it? As we watch Peterson run, it’s easy to forget that none of this is supposed to make sense.
Every week we need to repeat and remind ourselves that this shouldn’t be possible, and running backs aren’t supposed to return this quickly from a shattering knee injury, and be able to explode, and cut, and find the edge, and take angles and hit holes that no other running back would take or hit.
Yet there was Peterson again today, running for 210 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Yes, that’s an average of 10 yards per carry, and what’s especially fantastic is how that number compares to the other per carry averages thus far in Week 13. Jamaal Charles also had a fine day (127 yards on 27 carries), and normally his 4.7 YPC wouldn’t look great, but it’d still look pretty damn good. Now? Downright pedestrian.
With his sixth straight +100 yard rushing game, Peterson has now firmly solidified himself as the first overall pick in fantasy drafts next year. But forget that for a second, because as those who didn’t make the playoffs begin to look ahead to next year, there’s an important observation to be made regarding that Charles-Peterson comparison. Namely, stop caring so much about injuries to elite players, because once again today two running backs who entered August with looming question marks were highly productive, with Peterson and Charles combining for 337 rushing yards.
You can’t start Larry Fitzgerald anymore
Unless losing is your thing.
I’m not addressing the Jets’ continued quarterback catastrophe anywhere in this space other than this sentence, because by now we’ve all learned that anyone on their offense who isn’t named Shonn Greene shouldn’t be started. Instead, I’d like to briefly lament the continued life sucking job that Ryan Lindley is doing on Larry Fitzgerald which reached its peak in the same game.
Fitzgerald had only one catch. It came early in the opening minutes of the first quarter of the worst professional football game ever played. So Fitz then had only 23 receiving yards, meaning he now has just 65 yards over his last three games. Why is this? Because Lindley. The rookie completed only 10 of his 31 pass attempts today for 72 yards ($#&!) and an average of 2.3 yards per attempt (!!!!!!!!!!).
Bench this man.