Before moving on to Week 15, we’ll break down some key fantasy football performances from this Sunday’s action.
Sunday’s slate of games featured double-digit victories for the Packers, Saints, Giants and Lions, one of the wildest endings ever between the Dolphins and Patriots, as well as crushing overtime losses for the Ravens and Eagles.
The following four players were the brightest stars at their respective positions in Week 14.
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Fantasy Quarterback of the Day: Tom Brady
The Dolphins managed to pull off one of the most-amazing victories the league has ever seen against the Patriots on Sunday.
Dolphins closed at +351 on the moneylinepic.twitter.com/ykYNxx0I67
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) December 9, 2018
Kenyan Drake’s game-winning 69-yard touchdown is the longest play from scrimmage to win a game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter since the 1970 merger (Per NFL345).
The end result wasn’t pretty, but Bill Belichick should at least be happy with his quarterback’s performance. Brady completed 27-of-43 passes (63%) for 358 yards (8.3 Y/A) with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. It marked the first time since Week 5 that Brady threw for 300-plus yards and three touchdowns.
Even more impressive was Brady’s ability to spread the ball out.
- Rob Gronkowski caught all eight of his targets for 107 yards and a touchdown. It marked the first time Gronk surpassed 100 yards since Week 1, and the score was just his third of the season.
- Julian Edelman caught nine of his 12 targets for 86 yards, including a short touchdown catch that was eerily similar to his game-winning score against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX
- Josh Gordon caught five of his eight targets for 96-scoreless yards and also drew a 41-yard pass interference penalty. Gordon has gained at least 70 yards or scored a touchdown in seven of his 10 games with the Patriots.
- Cordarrelle Patterson scored a 37-yard touchdown and now has as many receiving scores in 14 games with the Patriots (3) as he did from 2014-2017 with the Vikings (3).
Brady passed Peyton Manning Sunday for the most combined passing touchdowns in the regular season and postseason in NFL history. Up next for the offense is a road trip to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers.
Fantasy Running Back of the Day: Saquon Barkley
The Giants coasted to a 40-16 victory over Mark Sanchez and the Redskins, and Barkley managed to post 14-170-1 rushing and 4-27-0 receiving lines in fewer than four quarters of action with Odell Beckham Jr. (quad) sidelined.
Most-impressive was an electrifying 78-yard touchdown run that showcased both Barkley’s speed and vision.
.@SAQUON JUST WENT 78 YARDS 😱
— NFL (@NFL) December 9, 2018
Barkley has now scored a league-high five touchdowns of at least 50 yards. He’s racked up 1,753 combined rushing and receiving yards with 13 total touchdowns after just 13 games, which already places him in rarefied company.
Just how good has Barkley been as a rookie? Well, his average of 25.6 PPR per game is the highest average among all rookie running backs in NFL history.
Next up is a home date against the Titans. Barkley is arguably the most matchup-proof back in the league at this point, and the continued absence of Odell Beckham Jr could lead to a heightened workload for one of the best rookie running backs the league has ever seen.
Fantasy Wide Receiver of the Day: Amari Cooper
Cooper has been a weekly mismatch since the Cowboys acquired his services before their Week 9 matchup against the Titans. The 24-year old’s performance Sunday was one of the finest of his career, as Cooper caught 10-of-13 targets for 217 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ 29-23 win over the Eagles.
Amari Cooper did the T.O. celebration after scoring his 2nd TD 🔥
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 10, 2018
Dak Prescott has been playing at a career-high level since Cooper became his new BFF. Sunday’s performance featured a career-high 455 passing yards against the Eagles’ abysmal secondary, and the performance could’ve been even better had Prescott not missed Michael Gallup on a few deep balls.
Cooper’s 217 yards were the most by a Cowboys receiver since Dez Bryant posted a 9-224-2 line against the Saints back in 2012. He became the first Cowboys receiver with three touchdown receptions in a game since Bryant in 2014.
The Cowboys have won five consecutive games and are the clear-cut favorite to win the NFC East. Up next is another smash-able matchup on the road against the Colts.
Fantasy Tight End of the Day: George Kittle
Plenty of people pegged second-year tight end George Kittle as a potential breakout candidate entering 2018, but his performance Sunday was the work of a true difference-maker. Kittle had caught seven passes for 210 yards including an 85-yard touchdown, and he managed to get all of that done in just the first half.
Kittle and Shannon Sharpe are the only tight ends with more than 200 receiving yards in a game over the past 20 years.
The stats that the Kittle has put up through Week 14 (1,103 yards, four touchdowns) are already double what he had last season (515 yards, two touchdowns). The Niners’ No. 1 receiver possesses enough size (6-foot-4 and 247-pounds) and athleticism (89th-percentile SPARQ-x score) to give any defender problems. We’re seeing all that talent enhanced inside the fantasy-friendly confines of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
The 49ers take on the Seahawks at home in Week 15. Kittle posted a 6-70-0 line in Week 13 during the 49ers’ 43-16 loss in Seattle.
This Baker Mayfield Guy is Pretty, Pretty Good
The Browns have won as many games with Mayfield (four) than they did in 2015-2017 combined (four). This has included three of their past four games, during which time Mayfield has played absolutely spectacular football.
- Weeks 3-9: 60% completion rate, 6.67 Y/A, 10 TDs, 7 INTs
- Weeks 10-14: 75% completion rate, 9.99 Y/A, 9 TDs, 3 INTs
Mayfield completed 18-of-22 passes (82%) for 238 yards (10.8 Y/A) with one touchdown and zero interceptions. The Browns are still working on surrounding him with a better offensive line and wide receivers, but it’s hard not to be thrilled with what we’ve seen from the No. 1 overall pick to this point.
Baker Mayfield with a 60+ yard DIMEpic.twitter.com/5CCHQTbcu1
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 9, 2018
The Browns still have a favorable schedule moving forward with a matchup against the Broncos’ injury-riddled secondary in Week 15 before a Week 16 showdown vs. the Bengals’ league-worst scoring defense.
The Texans Simply Can’t Stop T.Y. Hilton
The Colts managed to snap the Texans’ nine-game win streak and perhaps exposed the best way to attack their elite defense. That secret seems to be having a quarterback in the upper-tier under center, something the Texans didn’t have to deal with for nearly their entire win streak.
- Week 4: Andrew Luck
- Week 5: Dak Prescott
- Week 6: Josh Allen/Nathan Peterman
- Week 7: Cody Kessler/Blake Borltes
- Week 8: Brock Osweiler
- Week 9: Case Keenum
- Week 10: Bye
- Week 11: Alex Smith/Colt McCoy
- Week 12: Marcus Mariota
- Week 13: Baker Mayfield
Helping matters for Luck was the fact that his No. 1 wide receiver managed to give the Texans’ secondary fits for most of the afternoon. Hilton finished with nine catches for 199 yards, his sixth-career game with over 100 yards against the Colts’ divisional rival.
T.Y. Hilton career vs. the Texans:
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 5, 2018
Hilton has now caught 33 passes for 556 yards and two touchdowns in his last four games. He’ll have his hands full in Week 15 against the Cowboys’ elite secondary in Week 14, but his 23% slot rate should help him avoid Byron Jones for a decent portion of the game .
Mount St. Julio Erupted
We warned you in this space last week that a Mount St. Julio Eruption was brewing.
Jones caught just two-of-eight targets for 18-scoreless yards against the Ravens in Week 13, marking his fewest since September 26, 2016. All Jones did after his previously poor game was post a 12-300-1 line vs. the Panthers, and all he did Sunday against the Packers was catch eight of his 11 targets for 106 yards and two scores.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, they trailed 34-7 entering the fourth quarter and lost 34-20. They’ve now dropped five consecutive games after sitting at 4-4 entering Week 10.
None of this is Jones’ fault considering his average of 109.9 receiving yards per game is the third-highest mark of his career. Jones became the first player in NFL history with at least 1,400 receiving yards in five consecutive season this Sunday.
Nobody on this planet can guard Jones for 60 minutes, but Patrick Peterson will sure give it the ole college try in Week 15.
Travis Kelce and the Chiefs Keep Rolling
The Chiefs scored an impressive victory at Arrowhead Sunday over the Ravens, and Kelce once again proved to be a chess piece that most defenses simply don’t have an answer for. Overall, Kelce caught seven-of-nine targets for 77 yards and a touchdown against the league’s fifth-ranked defense in pass DVOA.
Kelce has somehow already set career-high marks in every category in his first season with Patrick Mahomes.
Travis Kelce by season:
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 9, 2018
Kelce has gained at least 100 yards and/or scored a touchdown in nine of his 13 games this season. He’ll be tested next week by Derwin James and the Chargers’ league-best defense in DVOA against tight ends, but matchups are irrelevant to the league’s best tight end
Hurt in Battle and Returning Soldiers
There were plenty of key injuries on both sides of the ball this week. We won’t know more about Week 14 availability until later in the week, but the following skill-position players will certainly be worth monitoring:
- Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (rib)
- Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos (thigh)
- Bruce Ellington, WR, Lions (hamstring)
- Corey Clement, RB, Eagles (knee)
- LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills (hamstring)
- Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs (heel)
- Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins (foot)
Pictured aboved: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19), Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas (32).
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.