As the fantasy playoffs officially began, chest pains weren't only for fantasy owners thanks to Falcons coach Mike Smith's scare. In the meantime, Maurice Jones-Drew went nuclear, Tom Brady lost his head, injuries abounded and as last night showed once again, Dan Bailey owners shouldn't count on adding any last-second field goals to their scoring total.
Fantasy MVP of the Week: Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD, otherwise known as the only reason one would subject themselves to watching Jaguars games, posted four touchdowns and over 130 combined yards. An early second-round pick in the preseason, Jones-Drew was off the radar early on, thanks to a tough start that included two touchdowns in his first seven games. In the second half of the season he's been one of the biggest fantasy success stories. Even before Sunday's explosion, the league's rushing leader had scored in four of five games heading in. Just imagine how lethal he'd be with a passing game around him.
Runner-up: Tom Brady. In a sloppy game where the Patriots had to win a shootout with the Redskins (of all teams), Brady put up some huge numbers with 357 and three TDs. In his last five games he's feasted in even-number weeks -- throwing for three touchdowns in weeks 10, 12 and 14 with an average yardage of 349 yards. In his last two odd weeks in that span, weeks 11 and 13, he's thrown two scores in each with an average of 261 yards. Does that mean you should get ready for another down week this Sunday?
Honorable mention: Mark Sanchez. The Jets' QB turned in a Cam Newton-ian performance with two touchdown passes and two touchdown runs. Sanchez shouldn't be starting in any leagues under 12 teams mostly due to the Jets being offensively mediocre. But when the offense hums like it did Sunday against the Chiefs, it makes one wonder why it can't look like this more often.
The Streak Buster Award: Marques Colston. It's been a long time since Colston had seen the end zone and Sunday he did it twice and had a monster game. As any Saints receiver owner will tell you, picking which week to start Colston, Lance Moore or Robert Meachem should be left to purely scientific methods like throwing darts at their names blindfolded. Unless you're a Jimmy Graham owner, starting any other Saints pass-catcher has been a dicey proposition. Enter Colston, who yesterday got some much deserved attention from Drew Brees. It's been a tough season for Colston owners, who endured a five-game scoreless streak.
The Jake Hearts Nate Award: If Jake Locker were the season-long starter in Tennessee, Nate Washington would be Pro Bowl Bound and a WR1 in fantasyland. For the second time this season Locker subbed for an injured Matt Hasselbeck and only had eyes for targeting Washington. If Locker gets any more starts down the stretch, move heaven and earth to grab Washington to fill your flex/WR3 position. In two games with Locker as his QB he's averaged 7.5 catches, 122 yards and 1.5 TDs. In 11 games with Hasselbeck: four catches, 50 yards and 0.18 touchdowns a game. If Locker does get named the starter, he makes a sneaky pickup for anyone with a hole at QB (Ben Roethlisberger owners, etc.).
This Week's Injur(ies) That Shook The Fantasy World Award: Two significant injures have us worried and the timing couldn't be worse.
Greg Jennings: A knee injury feared to be an MCL tear felled the top receiver from the Greatest Show on Dirt. It's a brutal break pending the MRI, and for fantasy playoff purposes he's probably done. Owners take heed, there are a couple options. Although Jordy Nelson becomes the de facto WR1, Donald Driver makes for a good pickup for Jennings owners. His six targets were the second most yesterday, and with four catches for 75 yards the old man showed he can still get it done. In larger leagues where Driver may not be an option, throw up a Hail Mary for James Jones. Jones should see more of the field and get more opportunities as a result of Jennings being out.
DeMarco Murray: As most Oklahoma fans will tell you, Murray's college career seemed like a jumble of one injury after another. Sunday night that chicken (or that Sooner, if you will) came home to roost with a fractured ankle. Felix Jones picked up the slack against the Giants with 100 yards, but he's never been consistent or reliable. Murray owners hopefully kept Jones or else they should chase him on the waiver wire just as a placeholder with upside. Another option would be to grab Ryan Grant, who with James Starks out becomes the primary Green Bay running back.
Honorable mention: Ben Roethlisberger: With the dearth of QBs that make for nice plug-in starts (T.J. Yates!), the loss of Big Ben will probably hurt the most in large leagues. Keep an eye on Roethlisberger's injury status, he's played through a litany of maladies in the past and always seems to stay productive.
The Patriot Games Award: Rob Gronkowski. Is the second round of the 2012 fantasy draft too soon to grab Gronkowski? With a 160-yard effort and two more touchdowns in Week 14, the single-season record is his with 15 and counting. Gronkowski's draft value for next year is sure to be a hot debate after another amazing performance. Along with the Saints' Graham, what are the chances that tight ends would be the No. 1 pass catchers on two of the top three passing teams in the league? We're all waiting on you, Jermichael Finley.
The Welcome Back Award: Larry Fitzgerald. It's been an up and down season for the Cardinals' great, who has had to fend for himself in the second year AW (After Warner). Fitz's 149-yard effort vs. the Niners was his first 100-yard game in three outings and his touchdown broke a two-game drought.
Part 2: DeSean Jackson. This season has been a disaster for him in fantasy terms as well as in real life. It was good to see Jackson grab a touchdown and enjoy a positive outing -- even if there wasn't an owner in any less than a 20-team league that benefited with him in their lineup.
Fantasy Goat of the Week: Arian Foster. Did you know that 41 yards on 15 carries is just another way to say, "first round fantasy playoff exit"? Ben Tate led the way with 67 yards for the Texans, who are getting by with Yates in charge of the passing game. In his first game with Yates under center and defenses targeting him last week, Foster's production dipped a little, but this time around, it took a swan-dive.
Runner-Up: Calvin Johnson. Remember when he was celebrating "completing the process" in the end zone every week? Those were the days. Defenses have blanketed him lately, creating a skid of five straight games where he's been held under 100 yards -- and in that span he has only one TD.