The worst fantasy football performances of Week 14
Whither the Broncos?
Most of the bad performances of Week 14 were reasonably predictable — a bad quarterback, a banged-up running back. There are a couple surprises, but with obvious after-the-fact bugs.
And then there were the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos were facing a strong Buffalo defense, but there was no real reason to expect that three different high-end members of the Denver offense would be appearing in the weekly roundup of the worst performances. But here we are:
Worst quarterbacks in Week 14
Peyton Manning, DEN (173 passing yards, 2 interceptions, -2 rushing yards, 2 fantasy points)
Normally, these are arranged by point total — the worst one first, and each successive guy did a little better. But I have to make an exception this week, because Manning’s day, in the first round of the playoffs in many leagues, had to have ruined so many fantasy seasons. Including that of my brother, who sent me a lot of anguished texts in the late afternoon Sunday. It helped that C.J. Anderson kept reaching the end zone on the ground, but it’s also true that the Broncos have been a less pass-happy offense of late. Still, it’s Peyton Manning.
Next game: At San Diego next week, it’s still Peyton Manning, and if you managed to survive this game, you’re still using him. Fingers crossed.
Brian Hoyer, CLE (140 passing yards, 2 interceptions, 3 rushing yards, 1 fantasy point)
Back to our regularly scheduled worst scores. It is absolutely baffling to me that the Browns aren’t going to Johnny Manziel yet. Hoyer has four games of seven or fewer fantasy points in his last five, with one touchdown against eight interceptions in that time. He is utterly unusable in fantasy, and if it weren’t for the fact that the Browns were still using him, I’d say he was utterly unusable in real football as well.
Next game: Hosting the Bengals next week, you’d really have to think it will be Manziel time. But who the heck knows. Either way, Hoyer is not worth any consideration at all.
Zach Mettenberger, TEN (125 passing yards, 1 interception, -1 rushing yard, 1 fumble lost, 1 fantasy point)
Mettenberger was forced from the Titans‘ Week 13 game with a shoulder injury, but apparently felt good enough to give it a go Sunday. That didn’t last. Mettenberger re injured the shoulder in the fourth quarter, missed the rest of the game and — if early reports are to be believed — will miss the rest of the season. Still, the Titans’ offense wasn’t doing anything even before that. It’s got to be a disappointing end to a not-that-terrible rookie performance for Mettenberger.
Next game: Odds are it’ll be in 2015.
Worst running backs in Week 14
Alfred Morris, WAS (6 rushing yards, 11 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
The blame for Morris’ performance Sunday has to be split. Washington fell behind and passed a lot, meaning Morris — who has never been much of a pass-catcher — became less relevant. But the running back also did nothing with the rushes he did attempt, with 6 yards on eight carries. That’s three-quarters of a yard a carry. With the unsettled quarterback situation in Washington, the injury questions around DeSean Jackson and this level of performance out of Morris, it’s nearly impossible to trust any member of the Washington offense going forward.
Next game: At the Giants next week, Morris is still talented, and you’d think he’d be ranked as a low-end RB2 or strong flex play, but he’ll definitely be a scary one.
Rashad Jennings, NYG (5 rushing yards, 17 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
Going against the awful Tennessee run defense, the conventional wisdom on Jennings, despite his injured ankle, was “If he’s active Sunday, you use him.” That proved to be untrue. Jennings was active in the decoy sense that the Calvin Johnson types have filled in other weeks, and Andre Williams got the majority of the work. Jennings is still a strong fantasy option when healthy, but that “when” is becoming a bigger and bigger question.
Next game: The Giants host Washington next week. If we get a clear practice report on Jennings, he’ll be a low-end RB2 — Washington has a decent run defense — but absent more confidence than we currently have, it might be wise to steer clear.
Giovani Bernard, CIN (17 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards, 2 fantasy points)
In three games since returning from injury, Bernard has been Cincinnati’s top fantasy running back … zero times. Jeremy Hill has 25 fantasy points in those three games, while Bernard has 12. It appears more and more that 2014 is going to be a write-off for Bernard — he hasn’t shown any signs of his 2013 production in months. Hill, despite his unimpressive production (six fantasy points Sunday) and questionable media comments, is the running back to own in Cincinnati, if there is one.
Next game: At Cleveland next week, Bernard will be little more than an in-great-need flex play. He’s just not producing.
Worst wide receivers in Week 14
Demaryius Thomas, DEN (11 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
From the Broncos’ Week 4 bye until Sunday, Thomas averaged 17.9 fantasy points a game, with no game of fewer than 10 fantasy points. So Sunday’s performance, in which he caught only two balls on five targets, was as unexpected as any in the game. As noted in the above Peyton Manning section, the team didn’t need to pass the ball as much as normal, with C.J. Anderson finding the end zone on the ground three times, but this offense is also not really lighting it up through the air as it once did.
Next game: At San Diego next week, Thomas will have to still be ranked as a WR1, but the confidence isn’t quite so high anymore.
Josh Gordon, CLE (15 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
People keep expressing surprise that Gordon looks rusty. Dude didn’t play in something like 11 months, and now has an awful quarterback throwing him the ball. Remember when some of us were saying stashing Gordon on your roster all season in hopes of late-season dominance was silly and a bad use of a roster spot? Yeah, this is why.
Next game: Hosting the Bengals in Week 15, Gordon will still be a fantasy starter, but he’s a No. 2 wide receiver, not a No. 1.
Andre Johnson, HOU (17 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
Johnson got less than half a game to put up those numbers Sunday, suffering a second-quarter concussion on a play that drew a penalty. So he wasn’t as bad as Thomas or Gordon were Sunday. But Johnson’s numbers this season have been bad enough every week that he’s just impossible to run out here, healthy or no, with anything even close to confidence.
Next game: We’ll see how Johnson does going through the league’s concussion protocol, but at Indianapolis next week, you’d have to be really needy to use him.
Worst tight ends in Week 14
Julius Thomas, DEN (0 receiving yards, 0 fantasy points)
It was the most frustrating outcome possible for Thomas owners: He was active Sunday, but only as a “break glass in case of emergency” play, and he didn’t see the field. For a player with Thomas’ upside, if you have him and he’s active, you have to use him, but then something like Sunday happens and you lose in the playoffs and everything is terrible. There’s not even any takeaway advice: If Thomas is active in Week 15, he’s right back in all lineups.
Next game: Once again, Broncos. Chargers. San Diego. And if Thomas is active for them, he’s active for you.
Dwayne Allen, IND (5 receiving yards, 0 fantasy points)
The story for Allen was pretty similar to the one for Thomas — he was active, but not really. Allen was targeted three times Sunday, but only hauled in one pass and didn’t do much with it. With T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener around, the Colts don’t need Allen right now, but they could certainly use him, and that wasn’t the “him” they’re used to. Allen is touchdown-dependent, but definitely had no issue getting them earlier this season.
Next game: Hosting the Texans next week, you’d assume Allen’s ankle will continue to heal, and he’ll be a low-end TE1 for Week 15.
Jimmy Graham, NO (25 receiving yards, 2 fantasy points)
Graham wasn’t the only prominent tight end with two fantasy points this week. Jason Witten, Delanie Walker, Larry Donnell, Vernon Davis and Owen Daniels all had the same total. Antonio Gates had one point. But Graham is easily the biggest name — and biggest disappointment — of the group, and after a zero-point game in Week 13, you had to hope for more Sunday. Once again, it’s hard to know what to do with Graham — as noted, it’s not like there are a lot of big-name tight ends racking up the points — but at this point there is no longer any argument for anyone but Rob Gronkowski atop the tight-end rankings.
Next game: At Chicago next Monday, Graham is still going to be a must-start tight end, but you no longer feel safe with him.
Worst defense/special teams in Week 14
Cincinnati Bengals (42 points allowed, -9 fantasy points)
That was it. The Bengals’ defense didn’t force a turnover, didn’t sack Ben Roethlisberger, didn’t score, nothing. This unit, which was supposed to be one of the top few defenses in the league coming into the season, now was only the 23rd-best fantasy defense entering Week 14. Depending on how the Falcons do Monday night, the Bengals could be as low as 29th after the week. That wasn’t really what you were hoping for.