It’s hard to stay up to date with absolutely everything that went down in a given NFL Sunday. Obviously you know the big storylines—Derrick Henry still being an absolute one-man wrecking crew and single-handedly winning fantasy playoff games everywhere being the clear no. 1—but it’s important to also note minor storylines, ones that might have more actionable fantasy football takeaways.
I’ve gone game-by-game to bring you the major storyline to come out of each game.
Ravens vs Browns: J.K. Dobbins’ value has a cap
First off, this game was insane. The perfect Monday night football game. There are plenty of fantasy football storylines to draw from it—Baker Mayfield has now scored 30 points in back-to-back games, Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones are legit fantasy adds, Marquise Brown I guess still can score a touchdown—but the biggest for me was yet again seeing that rookie back J.K. Dobbins’ fantasy value has a ceiling.
While I’m sure plenty of fantasy managers were hoping that Dobbins would have an end of the year like fellow rookie Jonathan Taylor, that hasn’t been the case despite playing over 60% of the snaps Monday night. The problem is that it seems Gus the Bus Edwards will be a part of this offense no matter what. And of course Lamar Jackson is there.
Dobbins had a solid game, rushing for 53 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, but Gus Edwards had the better fantasy performance, rushing seven times for 49 yards and two touchdowns. This is now the third week in a row that Edwards has either scored a touchdown or ran for 100 yards. Of course both backs pail in comparison to Jackson who rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns against the Browns.
Dobbins is still a must-start every week heading deeper into the fantasy playoffs, but he might never have RB1 value and might be stuck with a low-end RB2 ceiling.
Broncos vs Panthers: Drew Lock is back to tossing touchdowns
After a couple of rough games back in Weeks 10 and 11—and missing Week 12 due to COVID-19 contact—Lock has looked better in his return, culminating in a four touchdown game Sunday against the Panthers.
Lock picked apart the Panther secondary, throwing touchdowns to three different receivers, including two to rookie K.J. Hamler (3% rostered in Yahoo leagues). With the Bills and Chargers next on the schedule, Lock and the Broncos’ passing game might continue to put up good numbers during your fantasy playoffs.
Texans vs Bears: David Montgomery is here to win you a fantasy championship
I really hope you had the patience to hold onto Montgomery all season because holy cow has he been rewarding fantasy managers in recent weeks. After back-to-back 20+ PPR point performances, Montgomery put forward his best fantasy outing of the year Sunday against the Texans.
Montgomery ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, plus had three catches for 42 yards. He’s been THE RB1 the last two weeks and that’s extremely impressive when you consider that Derrick Henry also exists. The Bears offense has been something of a revelation recently and now suddenly is reliably putting up fantasy-worthy numbers.
Chicago plays the Vikings and Jaguars in the next two weeks which means Montgomery is only going to continue to eat.
Cowboys vs Bengals: Ezekiel Elliott might not even be a reliable RB2
This Cowboys team has been a torn in the side of fantasy owners this year. Everything was going grand with Dak Prescott under center but since then, managers have had to constantly debate which Cowboys receiver is the right one to start—spoiler alert: it’s Amari Cooper (except for that one game when it’s freaking Michael Gallup all of a sudden)—and fret over how much they can seriously trust Zeke.
The answer is not a lot.
Outside of a great game against the Vikings in Week 11, Zeke hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown or gone over 80 yards rushing since Week 5. In fact, Zeke has only four games in that time when he’s even gone over 50 yards rushing. Yikes.
Tony Pollard has become a larger part of the Cowboys offense and honestly, has looked better and outperformed Zeke in recent weeks. Ignore his name, and treat Zeke like the RB3 he is for the remainder of your fantasy season (however long that might be).
Also Giovani Bernard got benched after a first quarter fumble and finished the game with three carries for eight yards. Y I K E S.
Titans vs Jaguars: Gardner Minshew is back... possibly
Mike Glennon was benched Sunday against the Titans for I guess making the Jaguars attempt at tanking look too apparent, so back came Minshew Mania! Minshew proceeded to throw for 178 yards and a touchdown. We’ll see if the Jaguars keep this quarterback change for the rest of the season.
The change is noteworthy because it might help spark a struggling D.J. Chark. Despite still seeing a high target share, Chark has been a far cry from the fantasy stud he was last year. He’s failed to go over 50 yards receiving in his last three games and has only gone over 60 yards three times this year. We know Minshew and Chark have a special connection so maybe the quarterback change will help Chark finish the year strong.
Oh, and Derrick Henry is stupid good at football. Say it with me...
i will draft derrick henry in fantasy next year no matter what i will draft derrick henry in fantasy next year no matter what i will draft derrick henry in fantasy next year no matter what i will draft derrick henry in fantasy next year no matter what i will draft derrick henry— pètë wėãr å dámn mäšk røgęrś (@petemrogers) December 13, 2020
Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce are cheat codes. We know that. Even in a week when Mahomes throws three interceptions, he still managed to finish with over 20 fantasy points because of course. But we knew all that. What we didn’t know was how well Tua was going to play against a solid Chiefs defense.
Tua threw the ball 48 times, resulting in 316 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, along with 24 yards and a score on the ground. Tua’s rostered in 20% of Yahoo leagues and he’s not a bad add if you’re in need of a quick QB fix. Though, he does play the Patriots next week which has been a place young signal callers struggle, especially when they’re without their top pass options (see that amazing transition?).
Parker left in the second quarter with a leg injury, while Gesicki left with a shoulder injury in the fourth. The injury for Gesicki is a particularly big blow as he went 5/6-65-2 on the day. Both might not be able to go for Week 15.
Cardinals vs Giants: Dan Arnold likes catching touchdowns
It’s hard to rely on, but Arnold has not caught at least one touchdown in three of his last four games. Sunday against the Giants he went 2/4-27-1 after scoring two touchdowns against the Rams in Week 13. He also at some point became a wide receiver since he has both the TE and WR designation so I guess that’s cool as well. Arnold is only rostered in 1% of Yahoo leagues so he’s there if you want him, but I’d be hesitant to rush and start him. Touchdown dependency is hard to rely on especially in the middle of the fantasy playoffs. Really I just mention him here because there’s nothing else of much excitement from this game fantasy-wise.
Vikings vs Buccaneers: Antonio Brown leads Bucs offense in catches and targets
This game was upsetting on many fronts as neither passing game was truly able to take advantage of the favorable matchup. Tom Brady and his cast of weapons were unable to light up a Vikings secondary that has been struggling all season, meanwhile Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson put up a total dud, both failing to go over 40 yards receiving. This was a particularly big blow to your’s truly as I put a lot of stock and faith in the Vikings’ receiving duo only to be let down hard. DARN YOU FOOTBALL GODS!
The best takeaway I can make from this game—other than Irv Smith Jr. SZN is upon us and Scotty Miller offering the only big passing play of the game—is Brown leading the Bucs in both catches (5) and targets (T-5 with Mike Evans). So there’s that.
Colts vs Raiders: T.Y. Hilton and Jonathan Taylor are like good good now
It’s been a rather stressful season for both Taylor and Hilton managers, the latter likely actually dropping Hilton somewhere along the road because of how stressful the season was for T.Y. Alas, I hope for your sake you didn’t because the last few weeks, things have magically clicked for both Hilton and Taylor.
Hilton finished Sunday going 5/7-86-2. He’s now scored at least one touchdown and gone over 80 yards receiving in each of his last three games. (He’s also completely nuked all my Michael Pittman Jr. hype in the process.) Meanwhile, Taylor enjoyed his best game as a rookie, rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries while adding two catches for 15 yards.
If you have them on your team, start them from here on out with the utmost confidence. They’ve more than earned it.
Jets vs Seahawks: The Jets suck no matter what
I know there were plenty of people sneaking Breshad Perriman into their DFS lineups as a sneak play given how the Seahawks secondary has played this season and Perriman’s propensity for catching long touchdown bombs. Welp, that didn’t happen. In fact, nothing happened for the Jets offense. They sucked. Royally. Drop everyone and don’t trust them. If they have a big week on the waiver wire, well good for them.
Packers vs Lions: Matthew Stafford left with serious rib injury
Stafford went 24-of-34 for 244 yards and a touchdown before leaving in the fourth quarter with a rib injury. Initial reports sound like the injury is serious and could throw is Week 15 availability into question. In Stafford’s absence, Chase Daniel stepped in and threw for 29 yards on six pass attempts.
No Stafford is a huge blow to what has been a shaky Lions receiver core even with Stafford under center. Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola have had a nice couple of weeks, but if Daniel gets the start in Week 15 against the Titans, their fantasy ceilings take a solid hit.
On the other side of things, Aaron Rodgers is really, really, really good at football.
Saints vs Eagles: Jalen Hurts sparks Miles Sanders
FINALLY MILES SANDERS DID SOMETHING! All it took was the Eagles to make a quarterback change and for me to bench him on my fantasy team. Great jobs by all! Sanders went nuts against a tough Saints defense, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and adding four catches for 21 yards into the mix.
Hurts meanwhile looked solid in his first NFL start, going 17-of-30 for 167 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 106 yards. He’s rostered in 17% of leagues.
With Hurts under center, the Eagles’ rushing game was much more explosive and I would trust them again next week to get the job done against the Cardinals.
Falcons vs Chargers: Bye bye Todd Gurley
Leading up to the Falcons’ Week 10 bye, Gurley was the RB6 in non-PPR leagues with nine total touchdowns. Since the Falcons’ bye, Gurley has been the RB78, failing to record a touchdown or even 30 yards rushing in a game over the last four weeks.
Against the Chargers Sunday, the Falcons used a mixture of running backs to move the ball on the ground. Ito Smith saw the most of the work, carrying the ball 11 times for 42 yards. Gurley had only six carries for 19 yards. Smith has now seen at least nine total touches in each of his last three games and seems to be the Falcons primary ball handler. That being said, the Falcons backfield shouldn’t be started in Week 15 against the Buccaneers.
Washington Football vs 49ers: Deebo Samuel goes down yet again
Samuel saw one touch Sunday against Washington before grabbing his hamstring and going to the sideline. It’s feared that he will be done for the season which honestly, the 49ers should do even if Samuel could play this year. He clearly is dealing with a bunch of nagging injuries, including that broken foot back in the preseason. The 49ers need him to be healthy for the future so shelving him for the rest of the year makes plenty of sense.
In his stead, Brandon Aiyuk continues to dominate, posting another 100 yard receiving game, this time going 10/16-119. This follows his Week 13 game against the Bills in which he went 5/9-95-1. He’s a reliable low-end WR2 for the rest of the season, especially with the Cowboys and Cardinals on tap.
Steelers vs Bills: Diontae Johnson’s drops are an issue
I said Johnson could struggle in my Week 14 Roast & Ghost piece and what do you know, I was right. Now I said it was going to be because Tre’Davious White is good at football and was going to minimize Johnson’s production, when actually it was a few key drops to start the game that resulted in Johnson being benched for the remainder of the first half.
Ben Roethlisberger: *puts the ball right on the numbers*— Fake Teams (@faketeams) December 14, 2020
Diontae Johnson: pic.twitter.com/dubZ95Cspo
Johnson eventually returned to the field and finished Sunday going 4/7-40 but was out played by both JuJu Smith-Schuster (6/7-55-1) and James Washington who came in to replace him (3/6-29-1). The drops are worrisome as it’s been something Johnson has struggled with this season. If he starts seeing diminished playing time because of it, that’s a huge blow to his fantasy value in the most important part of the season.