NFL Week 15 aka the semi-finals for your fantasy league was perhaps the most exciting week of football all year. Either your team has made it to the ‘ship, the consolation game, or you already gave up on your underperforming squad 2 weeks ago. The injury bug ran rampant in Week 15 and most likely cost many people a shot at the title, unless you have Michael Vick who was flat-out AWESOME.
The Giants had a stretch this season where they were chewing up quarterbacks and spitting them out, week after week. I thought for a millisecond about benching Vick in favor of Jon Kitna, but you absolutely CANNOT sit a stud QB in fantasy no matter the matchup. At the half I was kicking myself for not doing so. The Giants were up 24-3, Vick had tallied 3 fantasy points while Kitna had already thrown for 2 TDs. A 3rd quarter TD pass eased the pain, but little did I know for the 4th quarter of football I’d be watching the Madden version of the Philadelphia Eagles vs the New York Giants. Vick went OFF in the 4th quarter. Down by 21 with 8 minutes to go in the game, Vick threw for 2 more TDs, ran for another and the Eagles won on a last second 65 yard punt return by DeSean Jackson. I felt like David After Dentist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txqiwrbYGrs wondering is this real life? Not since the Monday Night Miracle had I seen such a 4th quarter comeback (yes, I watched that game to the end too). I rubbed my eyes, took a deep breath and thought to myself, Vick just got some of those MVP votes back and Giants punter Matt Dodge will be rounding up shopping carts outside of Walmart in no-time.
Only one team per league can have the luxury of fantasy megastud and dog killer extraordinaire Michael Vick, so if you were scrambling for viable options my heart goes out to you. Going into Week 15, Aaron Rodgers was the #3 overall QB. Suffering from the lingering effects of a concussion in Week 14, Rodgers sat out this week. Although there were several viable replacements (read Hook’s Week 14 Wrap-Up: Kitna and Garrard each tallied 20+ points), there’s no true replacement for a 1st round draft pick and top 10 producer. Rodgers’ backup Matt Flynn actually put up solid fantasy numbers but he couldn’t lead the Pack to an upset victory over the Patriots in what was a surprisingly close game. New England needed a 4th quarter score from Aaron Hernandez (his 2nd of the game) to edge out Green Bay 31-27.
Big ups to the Detroit Lions as they finally won a road game. Their overtime victory in Tampa ended the longest road losing streak in NFL history and gives them something to build on going into 2011. With a solid draft pick coming their way, this is a team that is going to win at least 6 games next year. Make the playoffs you say? Lay off the crazy pills. Maybe in 2012.
Elsewhere around the league, the Ravens won possibly the toughest game to call in Week 15 as they defeated the New Orleans Saints 30-24. The Colts kept their season alive with a victory over the Jaguars. Cincinnati beat Cleveland in the battle of Ohio, although the Bengals lost TO for the season (their season was over anyway) and our boy Peyton Hillis failed to score a TD. Oakland spoiled Tim Tebow’s first NFL start (2 TDs for football Jesus in the first quarter, nothing to write home about for the rest of the game) and the Chicago Bears may have ended Brett Favre’s career on Monday night. Favre got slammed into the turf so hard an outline of his body was left on the University of Minnesota turf. Without the old man, the Vikings got smoked and Devin Hester set a new NFL record for punt return TDs (seriously, why does anyone kick to him EVER???).
Time for studs and duds. In that big victory over New Orleans, Ray Rice put up a monster 233 yards 2 TDs. We already talked about Vicks 242 yard 3 TD, 130 yard 1 rushing TD game. Rex Grossman (yes, he’s still in the league) starting in place of a benched Donovan McNabb and all he did was throw for 332 yards 4 TDs 2 INT. Vincent Jackson showed up for work and scored 3 TDs on 112 yards receiving. Jason Witten (wrongly pronounced Wid-den by some) tallied 140 yards 1 TD. Mario Manningham had 113 yards 2 TDs, Jamaal Charles had 152 yards 1 TD, and Cedric Benson had 150 yards 1 TD. Austin Collie scored 2 TDs before getting smashed and ending up on season-ending IR, Chris Johnson and Donald Brown each went for over 130 yards 1 TD, Santana Moss and Aaron Hernandez round out the studs with 2 TD performances as well.
Duds, grenades and landmines this week probably cost you a shot at advancing to the ‘ship. If you’ve been riding the coattails of Arian Foster or Peyton Hillis, you were let down in Week 15 with neither player finding pay dirt. Reggie Wayne managed only 34 yards on 5 receptions. Wes Welker was a let down yet again with 3 receptions for 42 yards. Brandon Jacobs has found his way back to fantasy benches with a lackluster 34 yard game. Last and most certainly least, Knowshon Moreno didn’t have any Midol on hand as he sat this one out.
This is Championship Week in almost all fantasy football leagues and I’m sure some of you are wondering how I did this year. I participated in 4 leagues, 3 of which were money leagues. In the money leagues, I finished 6-7 (lost first round of playoffs, won 5th place game and 1 weekly high-score bonus), 7-7 (did not make 4 team playoffs) and 10-4 (in the championship game). Obviously, the 1 league with nothing at stake I finished 11-3 (in the championship game). Funny how things work out.
While it is near impossible to dominate every league you participate in, savvy waiver wire pickups and key trades can keep you in the hunt. I hope you appreciated Hook’ Weekly Wrap Up and the advice I’ve provided throughout the year. If you’re in the ‘ship like 2 of my squads, be sure to check your lineups Thursday and Saturday evening (yes, there is a game Christmas night) and again Sunday morning. Some key players are injured (AP, Rodgers, Foster, Collie, TO etc) or missing practice for undisclosed reasons (Peyton Hillis) and this is the absolute worst time to get caught sleeping. So check that injury report and take home your league’s championship. Taking home the purse sure is nice, but the bragging rights are priceless. Be sure to check out Hook’s NFL Week 16 Wrap-Up for am 8-month-premature 2011 fantasy preview.