The top news from this past weekend surrounded two quarterbacks that weren't even on the radar in fantasy football drafts.
Those two quarterbacks also happened to be brothers.
Luke (25 points) and Josh (23 points) McCown both saw prominent roles in the absence of injured starters and thrived for their respective teams. The unfortunate part of it was the fact that neither Luke nor Josh was active in NFL.com leagues, so no one reaped the rewards of their performances. What's more, neither is guaranteed to start the rest of the season (or even next week), so this could have been a one-time situation for the McCown brothers.
Another quarterback that produced a monster stat line but was not even active in most NFL.com leagues was Gus Frerotte, who totaled 311 yards, three touchdowns and 26 fantasy points on NFL.com. With Marc Bulger's status for Week 14 in doubt, Frerotte now has fantasy football relevance. He could face a vulnerable Cincinnati defense in Week 14 if Bulger is forced to miss another start, so consider him in leagues with 12-plus teams.
Let's move on to our positional review, where Tony Romo (34 points) continued his statistical success in last Thursdays night's win over Green Bay to lead all quarterbacks. Peyton Manning (33 points) had his second consecutive solid start with 288 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Jacksonville. After a bad two-game stretch in November, Manning has thrown seven touchdown passes in his last two starts. Vince Young (23 points), who has had an up-and-down sophomore season, threw for 248 yards, rushed for 44 yards and scored two touchdowns in a win over Houston.
Ben Roethlisberger (22 points) bounced back from two mediocre starts and shined on Sunday night, and Tarvaris Jackson (20 points) had the best fantasy performance of the season in a win over the defenseless Detroit Lions. However, I wouldn't rush to add Jackson outside of deeper leagues that start two quarterbacks. Both Drew Brees (19 points) and Derek Anderson (19 points) were also solid options for fantasy football owners, as was Matt Hasselbeck (17 points). Even Rex Grossman (17 points) and Aaron Rodgers (17 points) made some noise in Week 13, but neither should be trusted (or started) in the fantasy football postseason.
The biggest disappointment at the quarterback position had to be Brett Favre, whose 56-yard, two-interception stat line in Dallas hurt the postseason aspirations of countless owners. The future Hall-of-Fame quarterback was knocked out of the contest in the first half due to a combination of elbow and shoulder injuries. Reports indicate Favre will be under center this week against Oakland, but he could be a risk-reward option based on the matchup and his multiple ailments. Matt Schaub (1 point) was also injured in his contest, and chances are he could miss some time with a dislocated left shoulder. Sage Rosenfels is next in line on the Houston depth chart.
The week was also full of disappointments at the quarterback position, as Jay Cutler (2 points), Jason Campbell (5 points), Eli Manning (7 points) and Carson Palmer (7 points) all left owners with a limited amount of production. Outside of Palmer, who faces a vulnerable St. Louis defense in Week 14, none of Cutler, Campbell or Manning should be trusted as a surefire No. 1 option in the fantasy football postseason.
The top running back of the week was LaDainian Tomlinson (31 points), who picked the perfect time to explode for 197 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in a win over Kansas City. Adrian Peterson (24 points) returned from an injured knee and didn't look like he missed a beat with a 116-yard, two-touchdown stat line against Detroit. Steven Jackson (22 points), who has re-emerged as one of the elite runners in fantasy football, posted some late numbers to finish with 167 all-purpose yards and one score in a win over Atlanta. Leon Washington, Ryan Grant, Derrick Ward and Justin Fargas all scored 21 points and rounded out the top five performers at the position.
Ward was a real find with 183 all-purpose yards and one touchdown in a win over Chicago, but he sustained a fractured fibula in the contest and could be done for the season. Brandon Jacobs is expected to return in Week 14, but Reuben Droughns could still be a popular name on the waiver wire, especially in touchdown-based formats. Fargas, who rushed for 146 yards and one touchdown, has made a real statement over the past two weeks with his tremendous level of production. He's now a viable No. 2 fantasy runner in most formats. The same can be said of Earnest Graham (19 points), who totaled 143 all-purpose yards and one touchdown in a win over New Orleans.
Kevin Jones had the worst performance among prominent runners with 1 point, as he failed to produce against a stout Minnesota run defense. Warrick Dunn (3 points) was also a disappointment, as he lost carries to Jerious Norwood against St. Louis. Jesse Chatman (3 points) did little before an injured ankle forced him out of action. If Chatman misses time, Samkon Gado could have some real value. Reggie Bush (5 points), Willie Parker (5 points) and Joseph Addai (6 points) also left owners with much to be desired in what was an important week. All three of those players, however, should still be active across the board.
Hines Ward, Reggie Wayne and Terrell Owens all tied for the best numbers from the wide receiver position, as all totaled an impressive 21 points. Ward has seen more looks in the past two weeks with Santonio Holmes out of action. Wayne and T.O., meanwhile, continued their statistical dominance. Braylon Edwards (20 points) and Torry Holt (20 points) also found immense statistical success and completed the top five performances among wideouts.
One receiver that has been underrated in recent weeks is Roddy White (18 points), who posted 10 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown against St. Louis. White has now recorded an impressive 34 fantasy points on NFL.com in his past two starts -- that's more than Owens, Edwards, Holt and Wayne in that timeframe. Kevin Curtis (17 points), Andre Johnson (17 points) and Patrick Crayton (16 points) also made their presence felt between the white lines, and Joey Galloway (15 points) continued his dominance of the New Orleans Saints.
Overall, a number of big-name wideouts also failed to produce in the box scores. Anquan Boldin (2 points) failed to produce and then left the Cleveland-Arizona contest with a dislocated toe. With Larry Fitzgerald also injured, Bryant Johnson will be a hot name on the waiver wire. Plaxico Burress (3 points) is far less than 100 percent, and it shows. He had a fast start to the season, but Burress has now scored single-digit points on NFL.com in five of his last six starts. Marques Colston (3 points) also had his worst stat line in awhile, but he should remain active in Week 14 at Atlanta. Lee Evans (5 points) and Donald Driver (6 points) also failed to meet statistical expectations.
The tight end position was turned upside in Week 13, as a number of the top performers were on waivers in most formats. Dallas Clark (18 points) had 60 yards and two touchdowns to lead all tight ends, and Tony Gonzalez (14 points) continued his career dominance of San Diego with 10 catches and 140 yards. Desmond Clark (13 points) was also solid, as was rookie Zach Miller (11 points) and Marcedes Lewis (10 points), but none of them are consistent enough to warrant serious consideration in the fantasy football postseason.
The rest of the best included far less valuable tight ends such as Anthony Fasano (8 points), Delanie Walker (8 points), Anthony Becht (6 points), Jerramy Stevens (6 points) and Dante Rosario (6 points). None of these four are worth a roster spot in fantasy leagues.
The biggest shock of the week was Antonio Gates, who is the unquestioned No. 1 tight end in fantasy football but produced zero points in Week 13. L.J. Smith (2 points), Jeremy Shockey (2 points), Donald Lee (3 points), Heath Miller (3 points), Owen Daniels (4 points) and Kellen Winslow (5 points) also posted less than impressive stat lines in what was a bad week for prominent tight ends. However, all five should still be active in most fantasy football leagues with 12-plus teams.
Mike Nugent and Rian Lindell tied for the lead among kickers with 16 points, but neither was active in more than four percent of NFL.com leagues. Nicholas Folk (15 points) was solid last Thursday night and is now tied with Mason Crosby for the lead in points at the position on NFL.com. Robbie Gould (12 points) and Crosby (12 points) rounded out the top five, with Sebastian Janikowski (11 points) and Kris Brown (11 points) not far behind. Janikowski has now scored double-digit fantasy points in three consecutive weeks.
The biggest disappointments among kickers were Jeff Wilkins (4 points), Rob Bironas (4 points), Adam Vinatieri (4 points), Shayne Graham (4 points), Jason Hanson (4 points) and Josh Brown (4 points). Believe it or not, but a total of 11 kickers now have more fantasy points than Vinatieri on NFL.com.
Carolina (34 points) was the surprise leader among defense with four interceptions, six sacks and one touchdown in a blowout win over San Francisco. The New York Jets defense (25 points) was also solid against an awful Miami offense, and San Diego (24 points) dominated a Kansas City team with few offensive weapons. Minnesota (19 points) produced well for owners for the second consecutive week. Arizona (17 points) bounced back from a bad performance and found success against Cleveland. Miami (16 points), Oakland (15 points) and New Orleans (15 points) also had nice weeks, but none of this them warrants serious consideration in the fantasy football postseason unless the matchup is favorable.
Denver (2 points) and Green Bay (2 points) had two of the worst weeks, and Detroit (3 points), Jacksonville (3 points) and Philadelphia (6 points) weren't much better. Aside from the Packers, who should rebound against Oakland in Week 14, none of these units has been consistent enough in recent weeks to start in most formats.
News & Notes
» Roy Williams suffered a sprained knee in Sunday's loss to Minnesota and is expected to miss the remainder of the fantasy football season. While that's bad news for owners, his replacement in the offense is no slouch. Mike Furrey had 98 catches and close to 1,100 yards last season, and now he'll see a far more prominent role in what will continue to be a pass-laden offense. Calvin Johnson and Shaun McDonald will also see a spike in opportunities and fantasy value as a result of Williams' absence.
» Reports out of Philadelphia indicate that Donovan McNabb, who has missed two weeks with ankle and thumb injuries, will return to practice Wednesday. The Eagles official website also suggests that McNabb has a "pretty good chance" to return in Week 14. The veteran has been inconsistent when he has been under center, but he'll remain a viable No. 1 fantasy quarterback against a New York Giants defense that surrendered close to 300 passing yards and one touchdown to the unreliable Rex Grossman in Week 13.
» LenDale White suffered a dislocated middle finger in a win over Houston, but Titans head coach Jeff Fisher indicated it's not a serious ailment. White did find the end zone in the contest, but he also lost carries to Chris Brown in what seems to have become a backfield committee. Once a viable No. 2 fantasy back, White should now be considered no more than a flex starter in most cases. Brown should be added as a handcuff for fantasy football owners who have leaned on White in a prominent role this season.
» Marvin Harrison missed his sixth consecutive game in Week 13 due to an injured knee and Colts head coach Tony Dungy still hasn't offered a timetable for the wideout's return. Harrison's ailment has made him a real disappointment in fantasy circles, but the Colts are still in the No. 2 position in the AFC in his absence. The team won't rush the veteran back so he's at 100 percent for the postseason, so Anthony Gonzalez's new role as a starter should continue. The rookie is well worth a look in all fantasy formats.