Written By: Toby Junker and Kamari Purcell
Top Ten Power Rankings
1: Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
Last week: W vs. Chicago Bears
This Week: @ Seattle Seahawks
There’s an old football adage about how there are no easy wins in the NFL. However, if this week wasn’t easy for the Philadelphia Eagles, then I don’t know what is. The winning streak is now at nine games. They absolutely demolished the visiting Chicago Bears holding them to less than 150 yards total for the entire game (yes, you read that right). It was an absolutely dominant display as the Eagles tripled the Bears yardage total (420 vs. 140) and scored over ten times as many points (31 vs. 3). QB Carson Wentz had a good game with 227 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 int and 29 yards rushing and backup QB Nick Foles even got in enough time to throw 2 passes (all completions). On the ground, the team amassed 176 yards on 33 carries, good for 5.3 yards per carry. RB LeGarrette Blount lead the way (15 carries for 97 yards at 6.5 yards per carry) and was used much more than RB Jay Ajayi (5 carries for 26 yards at 5.2 yards per carry). TE Zach Ertz had a big day receiving with 103 receiving yards on 10 catches and a touchdown. One area where the offense can improve is in holding onto the football, as they had 4 fumbles and lost 3 of them. The defense was disruptive recording 2 sacks, 2 ints, and 2 fumbles (but were unable to recover either one). They limited Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky to 147 yards with slightly more than a 50% completion rate and the 2 interceptions. The Bears running game was null and void only mustering 6 yards on 14 carries (0.4 yards per carry) and Trubisky was the leading rusher with 12 yards on 4 carries. Next week’s game should be a lot tougher as they travel to Seattle to take on a moxy bunch in the Seattle Seahawks.
2: New England Patriots (9-2)
Last week: W vs. Miami Dolphins
This Week: @ Buffalo Bills
The New England Patriots picked up the win this week against a divisional foe in the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots had a very balanced offensive attack with over 200 yards through the air and nearly 200 yards on the ground. QB Tom Brady had 227 yards and 4 touchdowns with only 1 interception. RB Dion Lewis (15 carries for 112 yards at 7.5 yards per carry) and RB Rex Burkhead (13 carries for 50 yards and 1 TD) provided a dynamic attack in the rushing game and the team had 196 yards on 38 carries (5.2 yards per carry). They put the ball on the turf a few times (4), but were fortunate to recover most of them (1 lost and returned for a touchdown). TE Rob Gronkowski (5 catches for 82 yards) was on the receiving end of two of the touchdowns and he and WR Brandin Cooks had nice games (6 catches for 83 yards). The Patriots defense also played well, keeping QB Matt Moore in check by holding him to 215 yards and 1 touchdown while forcing 2 interceptions. They also limited the Dolphins ground game to 67 yards on 19 carries. S Patrick Chung had a good game, notching 10 total tackles and a recovered fumble. With a league best offense and a defense rounding into form, the Patriots are looking ready for the playoffs and are winners of seven straight games. Now, they face the second of three straight divisional matchups as they take on the Buffalo Bills on the road.
3: Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2)
Last week: W vs. Green Bay Packers
This Week: @ Cincinnati Bengals
Another elite team and another elite winning streak, that’s now six in a row for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They didn’t make it look pretty against an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, but they did just enough to pull off the last second win with a 53-yard field goal from their kicker Chris Boswell. QB Ben Roethlisberger had an up and down game with 351 yards on 45 pass attempts and 4 touchdowns with 2 interceptions. The ground game was mostly effective as the team had 121 yards on 24 carries at 5 yards per carry, lead by Le’Veon Bell who had 20 carries for 95 yards (and also 12 catches for 88 yards). WR Antonio Brown had another big game, finishing with 10 catches for 169 yards and 2 TDs. Bell and Brown accounted for a large portion of the team’s scrimmage yards with 352 out of 462 total yards. The defense didn’t play that well as they were unable to force any turnovers, but they did register 4 sacks. Packers QB Brett Hundley had a solid game with 245 yards through the air and 3 TDs. The Steelers did a solid job against the run, limiting them to 80 yards on 24 carries. Cameron Heyward had a nice game with 6 total tackles, 2 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss. The team did enough to win in what was a very back and forth affair. With a win next monday night, they can seriously ruin the chances for one of their fellow AFC North rivals in the Cincinnati Bengals to make the playoffs. Here’s to no controversy or nastiness in this one.
4: Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
Last week: W @ Detroit Lions
This Week: @ Atlanta Falcons
The Vikings are another team putting together a good stretch with seven straight wins. They had the early morning game on Thanksgiving and took advantage of the spotlight to put together a good performance. The Lions attempted comeback bid (down 27-10) fell short after the Vikings scored a field goal to go up by a touchdown and picked off Stafford to seal the game. QB Case Keenum has looked legit (282 yards and 2 TDs on Thursday) and has surely earned himself a nice little contract come this offseason. He is currently on arguably the best contract in football (1 year, $2 million) as he has started every game since Week 2 on the NFC North’s best team. Where he ends up will surely grab a lot of headlines. WR Adam Thielen (8 catches for 89 yards), WR Stefon Diggs (5 catches for 66 yards), and TE Kyle Rudolph (4 catches for 63 yards and 2 TDs) served as an effective trio of receivers. The Vikings did not have an effective game running the football as a team (41 carries for 136 yards at an average of 3.3). The defense played well and did a good job of limiting the Lions’ offense to field goals (3) instead of touchdowns (2). They held the Lions to 53 rushing yards on 15 carries (3.5 yards per carry). They generated a lot of pressure on Lions QB Matthew Stafford, ending the game with 3 sacks. They also forced the Lions to commit 2 turnovers while not having any of their own. They’ll now travel to face an Atlanta Falcons team that has been playing well of late (3 straight wins and 4 of 5 overall).
5: Los Angeles Rams (8-3)
Last Week: W vs. New Orleans Saints
This Week: @ Arizona Cardinals
The Los Angeles Rams got an impressive win over the New Orleans Saints to rebound after losing to the Minnesota Vikings last week. K Greg Zuerlein had a good game going 4-5 in the kicking game. The rest of the Rams offense had trouble scoring. QB Jared Goff had a decent game with 354 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. The running game had less than 100 yards and Todd Gurley was somewhat limited on the ground only rushing for 74 yards on 17 carries (4.4 average), but provided some relief in the passing game (4 catches for 54 yards). The offensive line also had a tough game allowing their quarterback to be sacked 4 times. Wide receivers Cooper Kupp (8 catches for 116 yards) and Sammy Watkins (4 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown) had good games. The defense played much better allowing Saints QB Drew Brees to only record 1 touchdown. They gave up 123 yards on 17 carries for a 7.2 yard average, but the bulk of that came on a long 74 yard touchdown run by Alvin Kamara. Overall, it was a solid win for the Rams against a very tough opponent. Next week they’ll face the Arizona Cardinals in a NFC West divisional bout.
6: New Orleans Saints (8-3)
Last week: L @ Los Angeles Rams
This Week: vs. Carolina Panthers
The Saints drop 3 spots this week because of the quality of the elite teams, many of whom are riding impressive win streaks. They faced a tough opponent in the Los Angeles Rams on the road. Drew Brees didn’t have a great game with only 246 yards and 1 touchdown and a fumble. The offensive line allowed 3 sacks, failing to give him much protection. RB Alvin Kamara exploded with a big game both running the football (5 carries for 87 yards with a long 74-yard touchdown) and catching the football (6 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown). The defense wasn’t particularly great, but S Vonn Bell had a good game with 11 total tackles, 9 solo tackles and a sack. This was just an average game for the team, but they still put themselves in a position to win. The eight game winning streak had to eventually come to an end. They’ll look to bounce back with a win over the Carolina Panthers in a pivotal NFC South matchup that will give the winner a leg up in attaining the division crown. The Saints already beat them the first go around and doing so will cement their tiebreaker over the Panthers.
7: Carolina Panthers (8-3)
Last week: W @ New York Jets
This Week: @ New Orleans Saints
The Carolina Panthers dropped a spot this week despite the win, because they had a lackluster win over the New York Jets. The team needed to rally in the fourth quarter when they trailed 20-18 following a Jets field goal. Defense and special teams came up with a pair of big plays as LB Luke Kuechly returned a fumble for a touchdown and WR/PR Kaelin Clay returned a punt for a touchdown giving them a 12 point lead midway through the fourth. Cam Newton had a disastrous game throwing for only 168 yards while completing less than 40% of his passes and no touchdowns, but he had 9 carries for 28 yards and 1 TD rushing and a fumble. He was also sacked 3 times. WR Devin Funchess was their leading receiver with 108 receiving yards on 7 catches. RB Christian McCaffrey was the best rusher (7 carries for 62 yards at 9.9 yards per carry), while fellow RB Jonathan Stewart struggled (15 carries for 26 yards at 1.7 yards per carry). The defense recorded 3 sacks and had the crucial return touchdown. However, they allowed Josh McCown to have over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns and gave up over 100 yards on the ground. WR Robby Anderson (6 catches for 146 yards and 2 TDS) and WR Jermaine Kearse (7 catches for 105 yards) had big receiving games for the Jets. The team will have to play better as this week they’ll look to avenge their Week 3 loss to the Saints and take the lead in the division.
8: Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
Last Week: W vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Week: vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Atlanta Falcons had a largely dominant win and are now building a winning streak (3 in a row). The offense was ruthless piling up over 500 yards of offense. QB Matt Ryan and WR Mohamed Sanu combined for 368 yards and 2 TDs through the air. RB Tevin Coleman (19 carries for 97 yards and 2 TDs) had a nice game in relief of usual starting running back Devonta Freeman, who should be back next week. The overall rushing attack combined for 148 yards on 28 carries at a 5.3 yard per carry average. Julio Jones had an explosive game with 12 receptions for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns, in what was one of the best games of his career. The Falcons offense was also extremely effective on 3rd downs going 11-14 (78.5%). They lost the turnover battle, losing a fumble and failing to record a turnover of their own. They held the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to less than 100 yards rushing, although QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (283 yards, no TDS or INTs, and sacked once) was blah in relief of QB Jameis Winston. It was by no means the Falcons best game, but they did enough to beat one of the inferior teams in the league. Up next on the schedule is a very tough Minnesota Vikings team, so the Falcons will definitely need to play better on both sides of the ball.
9: Seattle Seahawks (7-4)
Last Week: W @ San Francisco 49ers
This Week: vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The Seattle Seahawks received a gift this week by facing the 1-9 San Francisco 49ers and as they should, they handled them with relative ease. The game started off tough with Seahawks QB Russell Wilson opening up the game with an interception on the first play from scrimmage. However, the 49ers were unable to capitalize and the Seahawks were able to get on the board first. They lead the rest of the way and the defense only gave up a pair of field goals until the 49ers scored a touchdown as time expired with the game well beyond reach. Wilson finished with 228 yards through the air with 2 TDs and 1 INT. The ground game lead by RB Eddie Lacy (17 carries for 46 yards) was largely unproductive (30 carries for 90 yards and a score). Wilson spread the ball around as seven different receivers had at least 2 catches and none had more than 4. The defense limited the meek 49ers offense and forced QB C.J. Beathard with a brutal hit from DE Michael Bennett, allowing backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo to make his 49ers debut. Garoppolo (only passing TD on 2 passes) was more effective in his time than Beathard was all game (0 Tds and 1 INT on 38 passes). The Seahawks D also limited the 49ers ground game to 84 yards on 24 carries (3.5 yards per carry). Bobby Wagner was the best player on the defense with 8 tackles, including 2 for loss, 2 QB hits, a pass deflection and an interception. There’s a tough game on the horizon with the Philadelphia Eagles, but maybe their home field advantage can play a role in helping them overcome a resilient opponent.
10: Tennessee Titans (7-4)
Last Week: W @ Indianapolis Colts
This Week: vs. Houston Texans
The Tennessee Titans have quietly won four of their last five games. Granted they’ve played a relatively week schedule beating the Indianapolis Colts (3-8) twice, the Cleveland Browns (0-11), and the Baltimore Ravens (6-5), but there’s something to be said about beating the teams in front of you. The Titans had to rally from a 10 point 3rd quarter deficit with a pair of touchdowns to pull ahead late in the 4th quarter. QB Marcus Mariota did not have a good game (184 yards and a touchdown with 2 interceptions). They were also unable to rack up 100 yards on the ground, but RB Derrick Henry (13 carries for 79 yards at 6.1 yards per carry) was by far the better runner than Demarco Murray (12 carries for 9 yards at 0.8 yards per carry). Linebackers Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard lead the defense with each accounting for at least 8 tackles and a sack. They held Colts QB Jacoby Brissett in check with less than 200 yards and no touchdowns. They also held Indianapolis runners to 89 yards on 24 carries. The Titans were able to register their first win at Lucas Oil Stadium. Up next are the Houston Texans, a divisional opponent who have struggled this season offensively and defensively.
Best of the Rest:
Buffalo Bills (6-5), San Diego Chargers (5-6), Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4),
Detroit Lions (6-5), Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
Week 5 Hot Takes
Game of the Week:
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Arizona Cardinals (24-27) - This game really exploded after a mundane first quarter. After that, the teams traded blows back and forth like heavyweight prizefighters. Also intriguing was Cardinals QB Blaine Gabbert pulling off the upset against his old team in the Jaguars. Speaking of players returning to play against their old teams, Jaguars DE Calais Campbell was able to turn a fumble recovery into a touchdown. This was a bad setback for a Jacksonville team that is looking to make the playoffs and gave up its AFC South lead. This game ended in dramatic fashion with a 57-yard field goal kick by Arizona K Phil Dawson.
Play(s) of the Week:
Atlanta Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu’s 51-Yard TD Pass to WR Julio Jones - This was just an incredible play. With wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who has been know to throw some passes, lined up at quarterback, you knew something interesting was about to happen. The play started off with Sanu bobbling the football after faking the handoff to the running back. Then he proceeded to throw the perfect strike to Julio Jones who was actually covered pretty well. This was no easy wide open target like on most trick plays. The pass might have been better than any QB Matt Ryan has thrown this year.
Oakland Raiders LB NaVorro Bowman’s INT - This was just an absolutely stunning interception as Bowman caught the ball while lying on his back after it had been tipped twice. Not to mention that it was the Oakland Raiders first INT of the season and it happened in such insane fashion as if the play was rendering out in slow motion. 11 games to get your first pick is pretty rough, but it finally happened in a spectacular way.
Player of the Week:
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones - Quick shoutout to Chargers WR Keenan Allen who had his second big week in a row with 11 catches for 172 yards and a TD on Thanksgiving Day and WR Antonio Brown (10 catches, 169 yards, and 2 TDs) who did what he always does. However, Jones tallied a monster day with 12 catches, 253 yards, and 2 TDs. His affect on the game was noticeable and helped to carry his team to the win. Not much can be said other than the man is a freak of nature and had it all working for him on Sunday. When he gets in a zone like that, he is impossible to stop and every cornerback in the league’s nightmare.
(6 ppt, .5 ppr, % owned according to NFL.com)
Start: Philip Rivers, SD (vs Cleveland) - After a series of subpar outings prior to his bye Rivers has come back with a vengeance throwing for 230+ yrds and 2+ tds in each of his past three. The Chargers are vying for a playoff spot and get a Browns defense giving up the 8th most points to opposing QBs.
Sit: Matthew Stafford, DET (@ BAL) - While the Lions started the season as one of the surprise teams in the league they’ve regressed to what many expected them to be. Stafford hasn’t been able to consistently perform at an elite level and as such he is subject to matchups. He draws a Ravens defense giving up the second fewest points to opposing QBs and should be on your bench as a result.
Stream: Brett Hundley, GB (vs TB) (2.0% Owned)- Hundley struggled in his first chances to start as an NFL QB but ripped a vaunted Steelers defense to shreds last Sunday night. He draws a relatively weak Tampa defense (10th most points to opposing QBs) having to travel to cold Green Bay. Look for Hundley to build on his positive momentum.
Buy: Drew Brees, NO - This is a guy that I spoke about a lot earlier in the year but someone I’m still very fond of. He gets ATL twice in his last four weeks and the Saints are still turning to him when the game gets close. If you haven’t figured out your QB position and still want to upgrade he could be a rewarding target.
Sell: Jared Goff, LAR - Goff has had a great year and as someone who liked his prospects entering the year I’m interested in what he’ll do going forward. For this year however, he draws tough matchups (vs PHI & @ SEA) in weeks 14 & 15 which could lead to an early playoff exit for your team. See what you can get for the breakout sophomore and target him again come next drafting season.
Stash: Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (@ CHI) (5.4% Owned) - This is more of a hunch than anything else but Jimmy G looked pretty good in his limited action Sunday. Game scripts should have SF trailing, allowing for Jimmy G to score some valuable fantasy points for your team.
Start: Dion Lewis, NE (@ BUF) - New England’s offense is clicking (no surprise here…) and Lewis has found a nice role. While many were of the opinion that, entering the season, it was either going to be Lewis OR Burkhead, they’ve found a way to coexist (and co-produce). Facing a Buffalo defense that has been atrocious against the run since the departure of Marcell Dareus, both should be able to eat.
Sit: DeMarco Murray, TEN (vs HOU) - While Murray’s point totals haven’t been terrible he’s become largely touchdown dependent. In each of his 4 games since his bye, Murray has failed to register 50 yards rushing. Facing a Texans defense that gives up the third fewest points to RBs this could be a week to keep Murray on your bench.
Stream: Alex Collins, BAL (vs DET) (42.5% Owned) - Collins has slowly grasped control of the Ravens backfield as the season has progressed resulting in double digit points in three of his last four. As the Ravens look to secure a playoff spot, they’ll look to run the ball. Couple this with Detroit giving up the 6th most points to opposing RBs and Collins could be looking at a breakout day.
Buy: Devonta Freeman, ATL - Freeman has missed the past few weeks and owners could be desperate to secure a playoff spot. Offer them a RB with a good matchup (Freeman has to play the Vikings in his return) and argue not much matters if they don’t make it.
Sell: Mark Ingram, NO - While Ingram has seen top level production over the past 6 weeks, I’m bullish on him entering the playoffs. Fantasy isn’t a season long game; it’s a weekly game. Ingram has seen a few valleys in that stretch and one bad game could knock you out of the playoffs. See if you can move Ingram and a piece for a top level fantasy player (Bell, Brown, etc.).
Stash: JD McKissic, SEA (2.4% Owned) - The Seahawks offense needs a spark; as much a I love Russell Wilson he can’t do it all. I’m not guaranteeing that McKissic breaks out but an athlete gadget player has unlocked the potential of this offense in the past (thinking of Lockett from two years ago). McKissic is worth a stash in case he develops into this type of game changer.
Start: Josh Gordon, CLE (@ LAC) - The only receiver in NFL history with back to back 200 yard games. That’s not really relevant to this game but still speaks to the elite level of talent that this man posses. I’m not worried about Kiser or anything else; Gordon was away from the league for over 1.5 years, stepped back in the best condition of his life, got the Browns to reinstate him at the earliest possible date, earned starting honors in his first possible game back. He is the ultimately talented WR.
Sit: Marvin Jones Jr, DET (@ BAL) - Marvin Jones has been one of the hottest receivers in the NFL as late; with a tough matchup against Baltimore that run could come to an end. BAL gives up under 16 pts to opposing fantasy WRs and Golden Tate will figure to score some of those. I’d advise to hold off on Marvin Jones until the Lions have a better matchup.
Stream: Josh Gordon, CLE (@ LAC) (17.6% Owned) - Just trust me, Gordon is going to come back with a bang. He’s the only real WR in that offense and they will be trailing most of the afternoon. And before everyone gets really worried about Deshone Kiser, it is not like Colt McCoy and company were a much better supporting cast.
Buy: Josh Gordon, CLE - Well, I’m gonna look real stupid if this doesn’t work out…. Oh well, go big or go home. If Gordon comes back and returns anything close to his 2014 season (that year when he led the NFL with over 1,600 yards receiving in just 14 games) his value will skyrocket and you won’t be able to acquire him anymore.
Sell: Marvin Jones Jr, DET - Admittedly I don’t love only bringing up two guys in my WR section but I feel very strongly about these two guys. Jones value is at an all time high. In one of my league last week someone managed to trade Ajayi (a largely under performing RB who has played just 25% if the snaps since his move to Philly) and Jones for Julio Jones. The notion that you can get such established superstars at such a low value is silly. Get rid of Marvin and bring in a bonified fantasy star.
Stash: Josh Gordon, CLE (17.6% Owned) - If you don’t get the message by now I’ll make it real clear: GO GET JOSH GORDON. The Browns will be in positive game scripts (for fantasy WRs) the rest of the year and at the very least will want to see what they have in the talented WR.
All Stats & Info Courtesy of nfl.com