Here are 13 NFC-based deep thoughts from an intriguing Week 13—none of which lament Christian Ponder's four-game average of 115 passing yards since Week 9.
1. It might not matter if/when LeSean McCoy returns to the Eagles lineup. On Sunday, Bryce Brown crushed the Cowboys for 183 total yards and two touchdowns—his second straight outing of 160-plus rushing yards and multiple scores. Bottom line: Going against the Bucs, Bengals and Redskins for Weeks 14-16, Brown should be a top-10 rushing asset—with or without McCoy.
2. Hats off to Brandon Marshall for extracting 10 catches and 165 yards out of Jay Cutler's 17 completions and 233 yards passing against the Seahawks. In Cutler's previous five home outings, he failed to throw for 200 yards each time.
3. Even if Adrian Peterson wasn't just 11 months removed from a gruesome knee injury and subsequent surgery, I would still consider this to be his greatest ever rushing campaign. Six straight 100-yard days (the longest streak of his career) and absurd averages of 158 rushing yards and one TD during that span.
4. Calvin Johnson (13 catches, 171 yards, one TD vs. Indy) is now on pace for 1,904 yards—a mark that would eclipse Jerry Rice's single-season NFL record for receiving yards (1,848 in 1995). But for that achievement to occur, Johnson needs two superb outings against middling pass defenses for Weeks 14 and 15 (Green Bay, Arizona).
5. How great is Doug Martin? His 98-yard effort against the Broncos was likely viewed as a disappointment in fantasy circles. How great will Martin be over the next three weeks? With sweet matchups against the Eagles, Saints and Rams, he's a healthy lock for 380 total yards and two touchdowns. (And that may be underselling things a bit.)
6. I'm grateful to the Rams for confirming the injury-related absence of Danny Amendola (foot) a few hours before kickoff. That extra time afforded me the opportunity to weigh the pros/cons of swapping out Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin for Chris Givens (11 catches, 92 yards vs. San Fran) at the flex spot. My only Sunday regret: I forgot to add Givens in a separate PPR league.
7. Well, so much for the notion of DeMarco Murray (102 total yards, one TD vs. Philly) needing a week to find his proverbial sea legs. The 27 touches against Philly (including four receptions) were easily his highest output since Week 11 of last year. On the flip side, I'll be shocked if Murray logs 20 or more touches against the stout Bengals next week.
8. Here's a good news/bad news proposition: Against the Vikings, Packers tailbacks James Starks (82 total yards, one TD) and Alex Green collectively racked up 152 total yards and one score. However, this isn't an endorsement to start either one in 12-team leagues next Sunday (against the Lions).
9. It should be clear sailing for Marshawn Lynch (98 total yards, one TD vs. Chicago) from this point forward. With matchups against the Cardinals, Bills and 49ers for Weeks 14-16, I already have him pegged for 340 combined yards and two touchdowns.
10. For what it's worth, Detroit's Mikel Leshoure (73 total yards, one TD vs. Indy) scored a touchdown against every AFC South foe this season (six total). Fingers crossed on that trend repeating in 2016.
11. I'm disappointed the Panthers only ran DeAngelo Williams 12 times (for 67 yards) against the Chiefs—especially since Cam Newton (310 total yards, three TDs) averaged a pedestrian 8.6 yards per pass attempt. That said, I'm guaranteeing 80 yards and one score for Williams next week against Atlanta if Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is a no-go.
12. There are few words to describe the Cardinals' offensive debacle against the Jets. Rookie QB Ryan Lindley (72 yards passing) targeted Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd 17 times on Sunday for a grand total of three catches and 45 yards! (Ugh.)
Speaking of Fitz, I cannot recommend starting him in 10-, 12- or 14-team leagues against Seattle. And that might be the most heartbreaking statement of my time as a fantasy writer.
13. From a fantasy standpoint, there wasn't much separation between Colin Kaepernick's performances from Week 13 (292 total yards) and last Sunday (258 total yards, two TDs).
If he had scored on that sterling 50-yard run in the fourth quarter against the Rams, the hearty fans of San Francisco might have erected a statue of him outside Candlestick Park.
Instead, his zero-TD outing in St. Louis was simply a friendly reminder that unpolished rookies, like Kaepernick, should only be emergency starts during the fantasy playoffs (12-team leagues).
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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