Fantasy Fallout: Top QBs struggle, DeAngelo Williams surges in Week 16
ByTRISTAN H. COCKCROFT via <a href="http://espn.go.com/" title="ESPN" class="espn_sc_byline">ESPN </a>via
December 28, 2015, 6:07 PM
• 3 min read
-- Sorry to be a downer, but:
For a fantasy football championship week, Week 16 was a disappointing one for two of the three quarterbacks most likely to have gotten you there in the first place. Cam Newton, the season's top-scoring quarterback entering the week (328 fantasy points) and one found on 34 percent of ESPN finalists' rosters, scored a mere 13 fantasy points, while Tom Brady, second only to Newton entering the week (319) and found on 28 percent of ESPN finalists' rosters, scored 11. Neither finished among the top 15 at his position.
Newton and Brady ranked 24th and 25th, respectively, among all NFL quarterbacks during the 16-game era -- that's 1978 forward -- to score at least 280 fantasy points through Week 15. But among those 25, their Week 16 scores each tied for sixth- and third-worst, respectively. Only Andrew Luck -- 322 fantasy points through Week 15, zero in Week 16, in 2014 -- and Randall Cunningham -- 314 through Week 15, six in Week 16 -- were definitively worse.
Here is the full list of 25:
What's worse, the only quarterback found on a greater number of ESPN finalists' rosters than Newton or Brady, Carson Palmer (35 percent), managed only 16 fantasy points to barely make the top 10.
Running like he's 22
The Pittsburgh Steelers' DeAngelo Williams scored 27 fantasy points, second-best among Week 16 running backs (entering Monday night's game). That gave him three games with at least 25 fantasy points this season, making the 32-year-old Williams the oldest NFL player since 1960 to accomplish that. He also now has four games worth at least 20, making him the second oldest to do that (John Riggins had six games worth 20-plus as a 34-year-old in 1983).
For the season, Williams has 180 fantasy points, third best among running backs. That's the seventh-best single-season total by any running back aged 32 or older -- with players' ages calculated on Nov. 1 -- since 1960 and it gives Williams a legitimate chance at a 200-point fantasy season, something only three other running backs aged 32 or older accomplished during that time span:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston scored 18 points on Sunday, giving him seven games out of 15 with at least that many, and increasing his season total to 245. Winston now trails only Cam Newton (352, 2011), Robert Griffin (303, 2012), Andrew Luck (264, 2012) and Russell Wilson (259, 2012) on the all-time list in terms of most fantasy points by a rookie quarterback, with one game remaining: A road contest against the Carolina Panthers.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles shook off early game struggles and finished Sunday's contest with 28 fantasy points, tied for the second-best total at his position as well as for his second-best single-game score in his career. They're not always pretty, but Bortles has been consistently productive at the most critical time of the fantasy season, scoring at least 20 points in every game he played between Weeks 12-16. Since 1960, he is only the fifth player to do that, joining Randall Cunningham (1998), Larry Johnson (2005), Michael Vick (2010) and Drew Brees (2011).
Bortles now has 299 fantasy points for the season, the eighth most by any quarterback in one of his first two years in the NFL, behind only Dan Marino (353, 1984, second season), Cam Newton (352, 2011, first), Jeff Garcia (327, 2000, second), Daunte Culpepper (324, 2000, second), Kurt Warner (311, 1999, second), Newton (309, 2012, second) and Robert Griffin III (303, 2012, first). Bortles also has one game remaining: A road game against the Houston Texans.
In a game he played at the age of 29 years, 218 days -- and what was only his seventh game of the season following a three-year absence from the NFL -- New Orleans Saints running back Tim Hightower scored a career-best 28 fantasy points on Sunday to lead his position. Two of Hightower's five-best single-game efforts have now occurred during the past three weeks: He scored 15 in Week 14, which is tied for his fifth-best effort.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson scored 17 fantasy points on Sunday, his fourth consecutive double-digit performance, all of which came in his first four NFL starts. Johnson has scored 86 fantasy points in his first four NFL starts, which trails only Devonta Freeman (121), Larry Johnson (103), Corey Dillon (88) and Arian Foster (88) among running backs since 1991 (the earliest season for which detailed "starts" data is available).
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones scored 23 fantasy points against the Panthers, tied for the most at his position (entering Monday). That is the most that any wide receiver has scored against cornerback Josh Norman's team since Jordan Matthews had 25 in Week 10 last season, and it was Jones' most against the Panthers since Week 14 of the 2012 season, Norman's first in the league.
New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall matched Jones' 23 fantasy points for the position lead in Week 16, and that score gave Marshall his second season with at least 200, as he now has 205. Marshall's previous three best campaigns in terms of fantasy points all came in seasons during which Jay Cutler was his quarterback: He had 210 in 2012 and 198 in 2013 while both players were with the Chicago Bears, and 170 in 2007 while both were with the Denver Broncos.
Thanks mostly to nine sacks and three fumbles recovered (two brought back for touchdowns), the Arizona Cardinals defense/special teams scored 35 fantasy points on Sunday, the best individual effort by a D/ST since the Tennessee Titans scored 36 in Week 17 of the 2012 season. That gave the Cardinals D/ST two games worth at least 30 fantasy points this season, making them the first team to have multiple such efforts since the 1998 Seattle Seahawks. For the year, the Cardinals D/ST has 160 fantasy points, second only to the Broncos (170).