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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
David Dorey

Tunnel Vision

Quarterbacks Pass-Rush TD
 Dak Prescott 347-41 3
Gardner Minshew 355-5 3
Jared Goff 355-15 3
 Joe Burrow 375-5 3
 Josh Allen 172-41 3
Running Backs Rush
Saquon Barkley 14-84
D’Onta Foreman 21-165 1
Derrick Henry 23-126
Devin Singletary 12-106
Alvin Kamara  20-76
Wide Receivers Yards TD
CeeDee Lamb 10-120 2
DeVonta Smith 8-113 2
Justin Jefferson 12-133 1
Tee Higgins 8-128 1
Jaylen Waddle 5-143 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
T.J. Hockenson 13-109 2
George Kittle 6-120 2
Tyler Higbee
Shane Zlystra 5-26 1
Evan Engram 7-113 0
Placekickers XP FG
Brett Maher 4 4
Mason Crosby 2 4
Eddy Pineiro 4 3
Robbie Gould 4 3
Riley Patterson 1 4
Defense Sack – TO TD
Packers 2-4 0
Rams 6-3 1
Patriots 2-3 1
Eagles 6-1 1
Steelers 3-3 0

Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts

QB Taylor Heinicke (WAS) – Benched
RB Travis Homer (SEA) – Ankle
RB Jordan Mason (SF) – Hamstring
WR Christian Watson (GB) – Hip
TE Hunter Henry (NE) – Knee
TE Greg Dulcich (DEN) – Hamstring

Chasing Ambulances

This week was extraordinarily light for injuries. Yes, many players may have disappeared right when you needed them and ended up with a choke job.

But injuries were not your problem this week and that makes losing a playoff game hurt just a bit more.

WR Christian Watson (GB) – The Packers’ top rookie receiver was held out of the second half with a hip injury. He said himself that he’ll be “all right,” so the injury may not play into this week when they face the visiting Vikings.

TE Greg Dulcich (DEN) – He caught his second touchdown of the season and then was ruled out with a hamstring injury during the fourth quarter in the loss to the Rams. There was no prognosis after the game and he will be examined on Monday to determine the severity and see if he can participate in the loss game in Kansas City.

Free Agents, Flops and Other Notables

QB   Gardner Minshew (PHI) The Eagles may have lost to the Cowboys, but don’t blame Minshew in his first start this season. He passed for 355 yards and two touchdowns, plus ran in a third score. Granted, Minshew threw two interceptions and fumbled twice and lost one. But his first start was on the road against the Cowboys and he produced two 100-yard receivers.

The Eagles suddenly are weighing Jalen Hurts playing to get that one more win that ensures the No. 1 seed,  but will they need to when the 6-9 Saints show up next week?

QB Brock Purdy (SF) – The rookie is hardly irrelevant after winning all three starts and setting a franchise record by throwing for two touchdowns in back-to-back games to the tight end George Kittle. He’s logged three straight 100+ point QB ratings to start his career. He’s a game manager so far, and that’s all the 49ers needed him to be. He threw for 234 yards and two scores against the Commanders.

QB Baker Mayfield (LAR) – He’s 2-1 as the Rams starter while taking over a rudderless ship that had almost no crew from when the season started.  Mayfield had his best effort yet with 230 yards and two scores in the win over the Broncos. His final two games are on the road where he’s yet to win, but at least he’s getting positive game film out there to help next year when he signs on with yet another team and new set of coaches.

TE Evan Engram (JAC) – A number of Jaguars have helped their fantasy stock for next year, but perhaps none has rekindled his career like Engram who only signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars. Engram scored four times this year and his 113-yard, seven-catch performance at the Jets was his second 100-yard game in the last three weeks.

QB Zach Wilson (NYJ) – The former first-round pick struggled this year but he threw for only 77 yards in Week 11 at the Patriots and was benched for Mike White. Wilson was called back while White nursed broken ribs. The once-impressive Jets lost their last four games and at 7-8 are in real jeopardy of missing the playoffs. Wilson did it again in Week 16 when he only completed 9-of-18 for 92 yards in the loss against the visiting Jaguars. He missed passes so badly that it’s fair to question if Wilson has the ability to play in the NFL.  HC Robert Saleh wouldn’t talk about Wilson afterward, but he has to figure out what his Plan C is.

QB Desmond Ridder (ATL) – His first start was when he only passed for 97 yards at the Saints, but Ridder showed better talent on Saturday when he threw for 218 yards at the Ravens. He hasn’t shown much as a runner yet, but he has a home game against the Steelers this week and then the final week at the Bengals.

WR DJ Chark (DET) – He only caught one pass for 18 yards in Week 15 to remind you why he was thrown onto the waiver wire back in Week 4 when he went onto injured reserve. But Chark logged 90+ yards in three of the last four games, including a season-best four catches for 108 yards at the Panthers on Saturday.

WR Velus Jones (CHI) – It is minor, but the 3.07 pick this year who ran a 4.31 40-time at the Combine finally had more than one short catch. He’s been active for the last seven games and scored on his first NFL catch, but then hasn’t been any better than one short catch in any game. Against the Bills this week, he caught the typical eight-yard pass but also turned in a 44-yard catch at the end of the third quarter. He’s blazingly fast and has been the kick returner this year. But 2023 should see him do more – if Justin Fields can improve as a passer.

QB Deshaun Watson (CLE) – The Browns’ new quarterback only threw for 135 yards and no score, with one interception in the loss to the Saints.  Over his four starts, he’s only thrown for two touchdowns against three interceptions and ran around 20 yards per game with one score ran in just last Saturday. It’s all part of shaking off the rust from nearly two years, but he hasn’t looked as Jacoby Brissett, so the hope is this is just the necessary work to get back in shape. But he’s brought the fantasy fortunes of the receivers down. Donovan Peoples-Jones only caught one pass for two yards in the loss this week.

TE T.J. Hockenson (MIN) – The Vikings midseason acquisition has been a valuable cog in the machine but no difference-maker. That changed in Week 16 against the Giants when he led the team with 13 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the three-point win. Justin Jefferson (12-133, TD) still excelled but the other wideouts combined for only four catches and 23 yards. Hockenson should see better days in the playoffs when top secondaries do a better job against the starting wideouts.

QB Malik Willis (TEN) – The Titans choose the ex-Liberty quarterback with their 3.22 pick this year but three starts have failed to offer anything promising about the future. He took his third start of the year in Week 16 and only completed 14-of-23 for 99 yards and two interceptions. And that was better than his first two starts. The Titans just lost to the visiting Texans, 19-14, which alone indicates the alarm.

QB Kenny Pickett (PIT) – The rookie only passed for 244 yards and one score but he led the Steelers on a two-minute drive at the end of the game to throw a 14-yard touchdown to George Pickett with only 50 seconds left. The Steelers held on to win the game and Pickett has his first game-winning drive under his belt.

NFL Tight ends – In Week 14, tight ends accounted for only  six touchdowns and two went to Evan Engram. The previous week only saw four scores by the position. But Week 15 suddenly contained 17 touchdowns for tight ends and three turned in double scores. There were 14 in Week 16, excluding what may happen in tonight’s Monday night game against the Chargers and Colts.

There were four tight ends with multiple scores – George Kittle (6-120, 2 TD), T.J. Hockenson (13-109, 2 TD), Tyler Higbee (9-94, 2 TD), and Shane Zylstra (5-26, 3 TD). There were only three wideouts with double scores and that included Trenton Irwin (3-45, 2 TD) of the Bengals. Typically, tight ends score the most in the first month or so of the season, and then settled down. Week 16 was an aberration that helped fantasy leaguers in their playoffs – if they made it that far.

Huddle player of the week

Cam Akers  –  The Rams historically mediocre running back turned up his production for the last month with three scores and a couple of 60-yard performances. On Sunday against the Broncos, Akers ravaged their defense. He picked up chunks of yardage and ended with a career-best  23 carries for 118 yards and three touchdowns, plus two catches for 29 yards. Cam Akers was the highest-scoring fantasy play of Week 16 for quite the  Christmas present for those fantasy owners that were playing in their league playoffs.


Drama 101 – Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Gardner Minshew 360 3 QB Deshaun Watson 154 1
RB D’onta Foreman 165 1 RB R. Stevenson 33 0
RB James Cook 108 1 RB Jamaal Williams 14 0
WR Kendrick Bourne 129 1 WR Christian Kirk 26 0
WR Isaiah Hodgins 89 1 WR Davante Adams 15 0
WR Trenton Irwin 45 2 WR Stefon Diggs 26 0
TE Shane Zylstra 26 3 TE Mark Andrews 45 0
PK Brett Maher 4  XP   4 FG PK Nick Folk   zippo
Huddle Fantasy Points = 163 Huddle Fantasy Points = 25

Now get back to work…

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