Amari Cooper and Derrick Henry post season-best point totals
As we do each week, we recap the week’s best and worst from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks.
Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys: What a week! We’ve seen the two best single-game PPR fantasy point totals of 2018 occur in Week 14, with Cooper’s 49.7 on Sunday leading the way. He caught three touchdowns, all of them in the fourth quarter or later, including the game-winning 15-yarder in overtime to defeat the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles 29-23. That shattered Cooper’s previous personal best of 40.9, set in 2016 Week 10 and matched in 2017 Week 7, and it was the best single-game total by any wide receiver since Julio Jones had 50.8 in 2017 Week 12. It also fell nine-tenths of a point shy of setting a new record for a Cowboys wide receiver, trailing only Frank Clarke’s 52.1 of 1962 Week 1. Cooper has been outstanding since the Cowboys traded a first-rounder to get him, as he has 138.3 points in his six games for them, the seventh-most any wide receiver during that time span. He should finish the year on a high note, too, considering he’ll face the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants in his final three games.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants: His 29.7 PPR fantasy points gave him an 11th game with at least 20 points, setting a new rookie record for a player at any position, while breaking his tie with Eric Dickerson (10, 1983). Barkley’s performance was instrumental in the Giants routing the Washington Redskins 40-16 as he had runs of 78 and 52 yards on his way to 197 yards from scrimmage. He might’ve even fared better if he hadn’t been removed from the game at the onset of the fourth quarter, making the effort look all the more impressive. Barkley now has 333.3 points through 13 games, which is already the fifth-best rookie total by any player at any position in NFL history, not to mention the ninth-best total by any running back through 13 team games of any season since 1950 (though Todd Gurley II will have an opportunity to pass Barkley on that list on Sunday Night Football).
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans: Where did that come from? As mentioned above, Henry set a Titans franchise record for rushing yards in a game on Thursday Night Football. Thanks to his four rushing touchdowns, one of which was a 99-yard score that tied him with Tony Dorsett (1982 Week 9, in the final game of the strike-shortened regular season) for the longest rushing touchdown ever, he scored the most points of any player this season, with 47.8 PPR points. He had the same total in non-PPR, since he caught no passes. That score topped Christian McCaffrey’s 46.7 PPR points from Week 12 and Mitchell Trubisky’s 43.5 points in Week 4, and it more than doubled Henry’s own prior personal best of 21.5 PPR points (2017 Week 6). Remarkably, Henry’s score didn’t contend for the most-since-1960 record, even at his own position, falling more than eight points shy of cracking the top 10. It wasn’t even a top-10 performance during the traditional fantasy playoff weeks (Weeks 14-17, in ESPN leagues), but it was the best single-game total by any player since Todd Gurley II’s 49.6 points in 2017 Week 16. It was the second-best single game performance by any player on Thursday Night Football, trailing only Corey Dillon’s 53.6 points in 1997 Week 15 (see the chart below). Few fantasy managers reaped the benefits of Henry’s stunning performance, as he was started in 14.3 percent of ESPN leagues, which means not everyone missed out. He’ll face the New York Giants, the worst rush defense in the league, in Week 15, so there’s a realistic chance that Henry will have another big — though probably not historic — fantasy point total.
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers: The most common tight end found on ESPN 10-team standard league playoff teams — 59.4 percent of his managers in that league format advanced — Kittle carried those teams on his back on Sunday, scoring a position-best (through the 4 p.m. ET games) 34.0 PPR fantasy points on nine targets. That set a new personal best for the second-year tight end, but strangely, he could’ve done more after being shut out on the fantasy scorecard after halftime. All of Kittle’s production came in the game’s first half, and that point total was the second-most by any tight end entering halftime of a game since 2001 (Vernon Davis, 36.1, 2013 Week 6). Kittle now has 206.3 points for the season, moving himself into third place behind only Kelce (259.9) and Zach Ertz (235.6).
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Don’t shortchange Elliott for his contributions to the Cowboys’ critical victory on Sunday. He scored 31.3 PPR fantasy points on his 28 carries and 12 receptions (on 13 targets), giving him three 30-point performances in his past five games. With it, Elliott vaulted himself into fifth place among running backs for the season, with 293.5 points, putting himself within range of his single-year best of 325.4, set during his rookie year of 2016. Like Cooper, Elliott should finish the year strong considering his matchups, making him a certain top-five option at his position each of those weeks.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: He led the way for the Steelers’ offense yet again, and while the game resulted in heartbreak for his team, which lost 24-21, Smith-Schuster’s 33.0 PPR fantasy points on a team-high 12 targets were still plenty welcome for our purposes. It was the third time this season he scored at least 30 points, a fact that looks all the more impressive if you consider that teammate Antonio Brown has done so only once (Week 13), and it was driven in part by an acrobatic touchdown in the end zone in the second quarter. In the process, Smith-Schuster pushed his season point total to 253.7, narrowing the gap considerably between him and Brown (264.3). Both players should remain plenty involved in Week 15 against the New England Patriots, and the case should be made that both warrant WR1 status.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: For a player who was so seemingly unlucky finding the end zone in the season’s early stages, Jones has become awfully familiar with it of late. He scored two receiving touchdowns on Sunday, his first two-touchdown game since 2017 Week 12, on his way to 30.6 PPR fantasy points, tops among wide receivers from the 1 p.m. ET games. That gave Jones five receiving scores in his past six games, which is a far better pace than his equal number of receiving touchdowns (5) in his previous 31 regular-season games. He’s lined up for a strong finish to his season, too, with games against a slumping Arizona Cardinals secondary (Week 15), the Carolina Panthers (Week 16) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 17) rounding out his schedule.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: For the fifth time in his past six games, he scored at least 25 PPR fantasy points, his 28.1 points trailing only Barkley’s 29.7 among running backs from Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET games. During that six-game span, McCaffrey has a whopping 192.4 points, tops among all players at any position. That brought his season total to 324.7, which is the 16th-most by any running back through 13 team games in NFL history. McCaffrey also caught six passes to give him 86 for the season, which is already tied for 14th-most by any running back in history (with three team games left to play) and matches Matt Forte (2014) for the most by any running back through 13 games of any season.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: While his game ended in heartbreak, the opposing Miami Dolphins winning 34-33 on a touchdown scored on a Kenyan Drake lateral, Brady nevertheless carried the Patriots’ offense, his 26.6 fantasy points tops among quarterbacks from Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET games. It was Brady’s second-best single game score of 2018, and best since Week 5 (27.5), with both of those games representing the two times he has passed for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns. His accuracy has improved in recent weeks, but he’s going to be challenged by a pair of much tougher pass defenses in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills in Weeks 15 and 16.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: His 28.9 PPR fantasy points were second-most among wide receivers from Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET games, and came on 12 targets, the third consecutive week he was targeted in double-digits. Hilton has capitalized upon quarterback Andrew Luck’s return to the heavy usage patterns he exhibited in the season’s early weeks, scoring a combined 100.6 points in his past four games. Hilton has a chance at borderline WR1 numbers as he rounds out the season with a trio of favorable matchups: DAL, NYG, @TEN.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: Brady-to-Gronkowski looked like the Brady-to-Gronkowski connection of old on Sunday, as the big tight end topped his position in PPR fantasy points (24.7) from the 1 p.m. ET games while also setting a new season best in the category. It was the 38th game of Gronkowski’s career with at least 20 points, moving him closer to Tony Gonzalez (46) and Antonio Gates (45), the only two tight ends ahead of him with more 20-point games.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins: For only the sixth time in his career, he scored at least 25 PPR fantasy points, his 27.5 on nine targets on Sunday representing the third-best single game point total of his 91-game career. It was only his fourth game in double digits all season, as he has been relatively disappointing in 2018, though Stills has seemed to be more productive in games when Ryan Tannehill was healthy and starting at quarterback. Stills was started in only 4.8 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 14, 51st-highest among wide receivers.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns: In what was one of Sunday’s more encouraging bounce-back performances, Landry scored 24.1 PPR fantasy points, his best single-game point total since Week 7 (25.7) and one driven by both rushing and receiving touchdowns. In fact, had been slightly more accurate on his lone pass attempt, overthrowing running back Nick Chubb, Landry might’ve scored the rare trifecta: A passing, rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game. Landry’s performance will give his managers much more confidence in him as we get deeper into the fantasy playoffs, as this was an extremely favorable matchup and he capitalized. He’ll get two more favorable matchups in Weeks 15-16, facing the Chris Harris Jr.-less Denver Broncos and reeling Cincinnati Bengals.
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs: He and Patrick Mahomes rallied from a 24-17 deficit late in the fourth quarter to help the Chiefs win in overtime 27-24, with Kelce’s nine targets resulting in 20.7 PPR fantasy points. That extended his position lead for the season to 259.9 points — Zach Ertz would need 33.1 in order to catch him during the 4 p.m. ET games — which is the third-most by any tight end in history through 13 team games of any season, trailing only Rob Gronkowski’s 276.0 of 2011 and Jimmy Graham’s 262.6 of 2013.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: While his 24.8 PPR fantasy points represented only his third-best single game total this season, considering the other game factors involved, this was quite a performance by the second-year running back. Mixon carried the football a career-high 26 times and had a career-high 31 total touches, despite the fact that his Bengals never held a lead in the game, and he did it against a Los Angeles Chargers defense that has at times been one of the tougher units against the run (it ranks roughly league-average, however, for the season). Mixon, who was started in 69.9 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 14 (15th-highest among running backs), has RB1 potential for what’s a much more favorable matchup against the Oakland Raiders in Week 15.
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders: For the fifth time in this surprisingly productive season, Cook scored at least 15 PPR fantasy points, his 18.6 the fourth-best total at his position through Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET games. He had a team-leading 10 targets, continuing to serve as a much-needed safety valve for quarterback Derek Carr. Cook’s production has been somewhat unpredictable from week to week — he also has a pair of games in which he scored fewer than five points — but he should put forth another solid total in Week 15 against the Bengals.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: After scoring 20-plus PPR fantasy points in three consecutive games, those preceding his Week 13 suspension for fighting during a Week 12 game, Fournette regressed significantly on Thursday night, scoring only 6.1 PPR fantasy points on 14 rushing attempts and a 2-of-3 performance on passes. It was the third-worst point total from any of his 19 career NFL games to date and was representative of what overall was a poor night for his team. Fournette’s Jaguars found themselves in a big hole early, so he didn’t see the typical lofty workloads we’ve come to expect from him in his healthy weeks. Fortunately for him and his managers — at least those who remain active in their fantasy playoffs — he’ll face a slumping Washington Redskins run defense in Week 15.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins: While his 2.9 PPR fantasy points on 10 carries and one reception might not seem out of place in what was a 40-16 loss — a game that at one point was 40-0 — it was the way in which Peterson got there that was so disappointing. This game began with Peterson totaling 18 yards on seven rushing attempts in four drives before either team had even scored a point, which set the tone for the rest of his and his team’s day. He was — predictably — minimally used thereafter, as the Redskins were forced to switch quarterbacks, from Mark Sanchez to Josh Johnson, in the third quarter, and throw it more often during the second half. Peterson’s performance was especially important in light of his facing a Giants defense that had allowed more than 30 points per game to opposing running backs in the preceding five weeks, not to mention his 58.8 percent start rate in ESPN leagues (20th-highest at the position). Between this game, his team’s messy quarterback situation and the matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Peterson will at best be a fringe flex play for Week 15.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: For the first time in 12 games, Newton was held without a passing touchdown, his 10.9 fantasy points were his worst single-game total of 2018, his worst in any game since 2017 Week 7 and his 10th-worst in any of his 122 career NFL starts. He entered the week facing questions about the health of his shoulder, and this performance hardly answered them. Newton nearly had a lost fumble (it was overturned), and he had an interception negated by penalty, so his day could’ve been worse than this. His health will now need to be closely tracked throughout the practice week, as he’ll be a much less attractive fantasy option despite what’s a pretty favorable final-three-weeks schedule (NO, ATL, @NO) if he can’t get close to 100 percent in time.
Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Cleveland Browns: His miserable season continued Sunday, as he finished with minus-0.6 PPR fantasy points on two carries and zero targets. While he wasn’t heavily started in Week 14, as Johnson’s 9.2 percent start rate in ESPN leagues ranked only 43rd-highest among running backs, he still finds himself on 57.0 percent of rosters, which seems excessive considering his production. He has disappointed mightily despite facing one of the position’s strongest second-half matchups, putting him in contention for the honor of 2018’s biggest bust. Johnson and the Browns face the Broncos next, and he shouldn’t be started for that below-average matchup.
James White, RB, New England Patriots: His fantasy production has utterly collapsed in recent weeks, and White’s 4.8 PPR fantasy points on a mere four rushing attempts and a 2-for-4 performance on passes represented a season low for him. The healthy returns of both Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead have had an impact upon White’s usage, but one would think he’d be more heavily utilized in the receiving game, as he was earlier in the year. White is no longer a sure thing even in PPR leagues, and that’ll especially be the case as he faces the Steelers in Week 15.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Speaking of recent disappointments, his 5.1 PPR fantasy points on 10 rushing attempts and one reception gave him five consecutive lackluster efforts, and he has now been held beneath six points in consecutive weeks. Coleman has suffered mightily from the Falcons’ overall offensive struggles of late, which cast doubt upon his weekly workload. He was started in 42.8 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 14, 25th-highest among running backs, and despite a much more favorable matchup upcoming in Week 15, he’ll be difficult to trust going forward.
Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers: While his start percentage in ESPN leagues has plummeted in recent weeks largely due to injury, registering 23.7 percent (34th-highest among wide receivers in Week 14), his zero fantasy points on three targets were surely devastating to those who needed him. It was the first time since 2016 Week 15 that he was shut out, and it gave him a sixth consecutive game scoring fewer than 10 points. Funchess, who might not be fully recovered from his back troubles of recent weeks, shouldn’t be trusted in 10- or 12-team leagues entering Week 15 against the Saints.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons: For the first time since his NFL debut in Week 1, when he was shut out on the fantasy scorecard, Ridley was held beneath five PPR fantasy points, scoring only 2.0 on four targets. He was scarcely used during the early and latter stages of this game, as Matt Ryan relied heavily upon Julio Jones, as has been the case in the past several weeks. Seemingly more of a boom-or-bust receiver than he appeared in September/October, Ridley is only a WR4/flex consideration for the fantasy playoffs.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Green Bay Packers: His 3.3 PPR fantasy points on five targets gave him a fourth game being held beneath four points in seven games since the Packers’ bye week, showing how little of a factor he has been during that time. A broken thumb could be contributing to his mediocre numbers, though Graham continues to play through the ailment and now has to face the Chicago Bears in Week 15. He’s only a high-end TE2 at this point.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos: Though he was targeted six times, he scored only 3.3 PPR fantasy points on Sunday to let down the 38.1 percent of owners in ESPN leagues who started him (28th-highest among wide receivers). One might have expected more from Sutton, whose role seemed certain to expand following the season-ending injury to Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles). Unfortunately, DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick were the bigger benefactors, with Hamilton’s 17.7 points leading the team in Week 14 as Case Keenum continued his recent pattern of relying most upon his slot receiver. The development is something to keep tucked away for the final three games, as Sutton might not be a slam-dunk starter like initially anticipated.
Golden Tate, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: For an overtime game, Tate’s 1.7 PPR fantasy points on three targets was quite the modest total. That’s especially true if you consider the number of fantasy managers he let down, as he was started in 42.0 percent of ESPN leagues, 24th-highest among wide receivers. It came in sharp contrast to his Week 13 (23.5 points) and served a reminder that he now has four games scoring fewer than 10 points in his first five for the Eagles. He’ll be only a WR4/flex option for Week 15.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions: He scored only 2.5 PPR fantasy points on four targets on Sunday, a huge letdown for the 56.9 percent of managers in ESPN leagues who started him (17th-highest among wide receivers). For Golladay, it was his second-worst total of 2018 (2.2, Week 8), though it’s fair to point out that the Lions attempted only 23 passes in the game and never targeted any one receiver more than four times, as they didn’t need to throw with a late lead. Unfortunately, it was poor timing for the performance, considering it came during the fantasy playoffs with a much tougher Week 15 matchup against the Buffalo Bills ahead.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: His 8.5 PPR fantasy points on seven targets were hardly catastrophic, but he picked a terrible time to set a season low, especially since he was the most-started wide receiver of Week 14 (99.6 percent of ESPN leagues). It was Brown’s worst single-game point total since 2017 Week 15 (4.4), a game he left early due to a calf injury. As mentioned above, he should rebound in Week 15 against the Patriots in a game that should feature a lot of passing, but Smith-Schuster’s emergence has cut a little into Brown’s production.
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