A day many fantasy owners have been waiting all season for finally arrived on Sunday as the Houston Texans and head coach Bill O’Brien finally chose to bench starting QB Brock Osweiler. Of course, the Texans signed Osweiler to a massive four-year, $72 million contract this offseason, thinking they had locked up their long-term starter. Instead, Osweiler has been a massive failure in all aspects. He’s even turned one of the top WRs in the league, DeAndre Hopkins, into a useless player.
After Osweiler began the game against the Jaguars completing six of 11 passes for 42 yards and two interceptions, O’Brien turned to backup Tom Savage. While Savage has been average at best during his periodic opportunities at playing time, he looked like a superstar compared to Osweiler. Savage completed 23 of 36 passes for 260 yards as the Texans defeated the Jags. More importantly for fantasy owners, he got Hopkins involved. Nuk saw a season-high 17 targets and his 87 yards were his most since Week Two. While there has been no official word, most signs point to Savage as the team’s starter in Week 16. With the Texans on the hook for more money in 2017, they have a big decision to face this offseason.
In Other News:
In somewhat of a surprise, the Vikings got back future Hall of Fame RB Adrian Peterson Sunday, following his two-month absence after he suffered a knee injury early in the season. Peterson was struggling even before his injury and the Vikings have failed to get much of anything going on the ground throughout the season, so expectations should be limited as Peterson finishes out the season. In Week 15, he had six carries for 22 yards and added one catch for one yard. With Peterson back and in the starting lineup, Jerick McKinnon gained just 12 yards on three carries and Matt Asiata didn’t carry the ball at all, though those low carry numbers for each back has a lot to do with the drubbing the Colts put on the Vikings.
Earlier in the week, Packers HC Mike McCarthy cleared up any confusion surrounding Ty Montgomery, calling him a running back and letting us all know he hadn’t even been meeting with the WRs in weeks. Montgomery was then listed as the second RB behind veteran James Starks and since he was out against the Bears this week, Montgomery drew the start. McCarthy still seems intent on limiting Montgomery’s touches, but he didn’t need many to torch the Bears, gaining 162 yards on 16 carries and rushing for a pair of touchdowns.
Steelers TE Ladarius Green was having another nice game Sunday against the Bengals, catching five passes for 72 yards, but then he took another big hit to the head, forcing him to leave the game. Head injuries like this are always a very serious matter, but a concussion is what reportedly kept Green out for much of the offseason and even had him rumored to be considering an early retirement. If any of those preseason reports are true, this will be a situation to watch going forward. It would be a major upset if he plays in Week 16.
Colts RB Frank Gore went over 100 rushing yards for the third time this season, but it was backup Robert Turbin who vultured a pair of goal line TDs… In the Giants’ big win over Detroit, rookie RB Paul Perkins continued to see his role grow. While veteran Rashad Jennings saw the majority of the carries, it was Perkins who led the team in rushing with 56 yards on 11 carries… The Steelers completed a fierce comeback to overtake the Bengals and eliminate them from playoff contention, though they did so without monster games from their top two stars. RB Le’Veon Bell totaled 131 yards but failed to find the end zone, while WR Antonio Brown was limited to three receptions for 58 yards… Veteran RB DeMarco Murray had a nice game for the Titans, totaling 141 yards, but it was rookie RB Derrick Henry who scored twice in the upset win over KC… After the Jaguars fell to the Chiefs, Jacksonville officials made it official and fired HC Gus Bradley. The Jags are now 2-12 and were 14-48 under Bradley in his four seasons… In a surprise performance, Eagles RB Ryan Mathews lit up the league’s top run defense, rushing for 128 yards and a score against the Ravens, though it wasn’t quite enough as the Eagles lost on a failed two-point conversion in the game’s final seconds… The Browns lost again, though that’s not really news at this point. With Robert Griffin III still playing QB, the Browns’ supposed top two WRs, Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman, combined for seven catches for 43 yards… Bears QB Matt Barkley continues to put up major numbers and has some starting to think he can be a regular starter in the league next year. He threw for 362 yards and two scores (along with three interceptions) as Chicago nearly upset the Packers… After last week’s dismal performance, Falcons RB Devonta Freeman is back in the good graces of fantasy owners. He had a monster day rushing for 139 yards and a trio of TDs… Another bounce back star was New Orleans QB Drew Brees, who threw for 389 yards and four scores and most importantly, zero interceptions… While the numbers for both were not great, veteran Justin Forsett continues to outsnap and outproduce rookie RB Devontae Booker for the Broncos… The Chargers were without starting RB Melvin Gordon and it showed as the fell to Oakland. Rookie RB Kenneth Farrow filled in as best he could, gaining 53 total yards… Rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott had yet another huge game, rushing for 159 yards and a TD against the Bucs on Sunday Night Football… While Colts WR Donte Moncrief was out for the game, QB Andrew Luck spread the ball around. Rarely used TE Eric Swoope and disappointing WR Phillip Dorsett both produced 50 receiving yards and a touchdown. Luck torched the normally stout Vikings defense for 250 yards and two TDs… Lions WR Golden Tate got things back on track as he pulled in eight of his 13 targets for 122 yards… While he looks like he could play in Week Sixteen, Bengals WR A.J. Green remained out this week and veteran Brandon LaFell again picked up the slack, catching seven passes for 91 yards… The Chiefs didn’t give explosive rookie WR Tyreek Hill many chances to touch the ball Sunday, targeting him three times. Hill did have one carry, which he took for a 68-yard touchdown… Predictably, Bills RB LeSean McCoy dominated the Browns defense, rushing for 153 yards and two TDs… Bears rookie RB Jordan Howard remains one of the most consistent fantasy producers this season as he totaled 113 yards and one score… With WR Julio Jones yet again out, QB Matt Ryan spread the ball around. WR Aldrick Robinson caught four passes for 111 yards, while WR Taylor Gabriel posted a 3/60/1 line… It looked like a dreadful matchup for Saints WR Brandin Cooks, who had been shut down by the Cardinals defense earlier this season, but he came out of the game reminding us why he’s one of the top WRs in the game, catching seven passes for 186 yards and two deep TDs… Patriots rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell cooled off against the tough Denver defense, catching one pass for 14 yards… Second-year WR Amari Cooper has the making of the next superstar in the league, but he’s posted too many games like Sunday’s one catch for 28 yards performance… Cowboys TE Jason Witten caught all 10 of his targets Sunday night, but managed to gain just 51 yards… The Vikings offense was rough Sunday against the normally soft Indy defense. WR Stefon Diggs has cooled off in recent weeks and he managed just two grabs for 13 yards. Meanwhile, WR Adam Thielen suffered a neck injury and left the game without catching a pass… Chiefs TE Travis Kelce saw his four-game string of 100-yards end as he caught just three passes for 41 yards… Packers WR Randall Cobb continued to trend downward. He saw just one target Sunday and couldn’t haul it in. Meanwhile, his teammate Davante Adams had the potential for another big game, but dropped a pair of would-be touchdowns and finished with 2/25… Saints TE Coby Fleener remains a non-factor as he caught two passes for 10 yards… Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount (17/31/1) and Dion Lewis (18/95) split carries nearly down the middle against Denver. Lewis finally looks fully healthy… Veteran WR Dontrelle Inman stayed hot for the Chargers with five grabs for 68 yards, while WR Tyrell Williams might still be slowed by an injury. He caught four passes for only 20 yards… WR Dez Bryant led the Cowboys with eight catches for 82 yards… The Bears welcomed WR Alshon Jeffery back after his four-game suspension, but it was Deonte Thompson (8/110) and Cameron Meredith (9/104) who both went over the century mark for Chicago. Jeffery had a solid day himself, hauling in six passes for 89 yards and a TD… David Johnson set a new NFL record, eclipsing 100 yards from scrimmage for the first 14 games to open a season. Johnson totaled 108 yards and two scores against the Saints… Both QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald were questioned about their plans for 2017 and while Palmer said he expects to be back next season, Fitzgerald was non-committal about his future…