Now that we're in the fantasy playoffs, you have no choice but to be subjected to the state of my fantasy teams. In order of my desire to win the league...
Frameshmania (Family, 8-tm) -- lost by 50 in round 1 to my mother as the 4 seed. No further discussion.
BI (Work, 14-tm) -- as the 2 seed, got a bye. In the next round, facing the team with whom I traded RGIII, Jared Cook, Mikel Leshoure and Antonio Brown for Percy Harvin, Denarius Moore, and Vernon Davis. Whoops.
Mad Decent Jawnskies (Friends, 10 tm) -- thanks to the Patriots not kicking a field goal last night, I beat Matt Vogel by 1 point as the 4 seed to face the 1 seed next week.
Random 10-tm ESPN Auction -- as the 2 seed in a two-week first round of the playoffs, I lead 126-112.
Random 10-tm ESPN draft -- as the 2 seed in a two-week first round of the playoffs, I lead 83-71.
Now back to the action.
SEAHAWKS 58, CARDINALS 0
TRIUMPH: Um, the scoreboard probably told you enough, but there were lots of explosive games from Seahawks players. Marshawn Lynch had 128 yards and 3 TD on just 11 carries, and actually ceded 27 carries to other running backs, who produced 146 yards and a TD themselves. The 'Hawks had 8 turnovers (4 fumbles, 4 interceptions), after having more than 2 turnovers just once all season prior. Of course, that might have had something to do with the abhorrent display of offense spewing from Arizona.
TRAGEDY: The tragedy in this game is that Ryan Lindley actually outperformed John Skelton in this contest, and that was with his second-best ESPN Total QBR of the season (7.7). Lindley put up a Montanesque 8-for-17, 59 yards, and no touchdowns or interceptions in relief of Skelton, who may have had the worst QB game of the entire season (11-22, 74 yds, 0 TD, 4 INT, 2 fumbles, 0.4 QBR). When William Powell leads your team in rushing with 20 yards and Rob Housler leads your team in receiving with a resounding 36 yards, you don't have much of a shot.
TREND: How about Larry Fitzgerald's season? This looks to be rock-bottom for what is, at least I must assume, still a top-five receiver in terms of talent. In the last four weeks, he has grabbed just 6 of his 37 targets (an appalling 16%) for 67 yards. In his defense, he does have four individual games with better stats than that this year. This may be the worst non-injury-induced season from a consensus top-three player at his position fantasy-wise since Randy Moss in 2010, who had just 393 yards on 28 receptions in 16 games.
TRAIL MIX: Once upon a blue moon, the Cardinals were 4-0, including wins over Seattle and New England, and a dominant win over the then-decent Eagles. They are now 4-9.
EAGLES 23, BUCCANEERS 21
TRIUMPH: Jason Avant seems to only make his hay with backup quarterbacks and/or when starting receivers get hurt, but his hay is pretty good when it's made. He's been an important part of this team for years now, if only as a stopgap, and in his last two games, he has 11 receptions for 212 yards. He has these kinds of games every once in a while, with two 8+ reception, 110+ yard games last year as well (and the second one was with Vince Young at QB -- just sayin').
TRAGEDY: Bryce Brown -- what happened? After looking like the second coming of Adrian Peterson in his first two starts, Brown laid a massive egg (especially for his fantasy owners), gaining just 6 yards on 12 carries. If you remove his best run (11 yards), he gained -5 yards on his other 11 carries. Yes, the Bucs have the best run defense in the league (now by over 10 yards per game), but Brown had been so thoroughly dominant in his previous two games that he should have at least been able to do SOMETHING. At least the Nick Foles Experience was able to keep the train rolling for the Bucs being the worst pass defense in the league (now by over 20 yards per game).
TREND: Speaking of which, don't look now, but Foles may actually be half-decent. Take a look at his Total QBR over his five starts: 34.9, 7.2, 62.3, 71.1, 79.8. Even if you include his first two starts, his 54.5 average for the season outpaces Jay Cutler, Cam Newton, and Joe Flacco (and this is a stat that takes into account rushing contributions!). In the last three weeks, he has posted the 15th, 14th, and 5th best QBRs in the league, and if he's going to be middle-of-the-pack in the league soon with even more upside, I'll take that going into next year.
TRAIL MIX: The Eagles entered this game as 8-point underdogs and had been 2-9-1 against the spread, while the Bucs had been 9-2-1. Regression to the mean FTW.
PATRIOTS 42, TEXANS 14
TRIUMPH: Really, Brandon Lloyd? Really? After being a projected top-20 fantasy receiver coming into the year, Lloyd had largely disappointed, especially in the last several weeks. Since Week 7, he had averaged just 3 receptions and 27 yards per game, after averaging a nontrivial 6 for 67 in the first six weeks (although with just 1 touchdown in those first six). And now he goes 7-for-89 and a touchdown in the fantasy playoffs? Harumph.
TRAGEDY: So much for the Texans' defense being good. In the last three games, they've allowed 30 or more points three times, and the fourth was against the Titans. And the most recent debacle was with top cornerback Johnathan Joseph finally back in the lineup to cover the above-referenced Lloyd. Now this unit has two matchups against the apparently destiny-bound Colts in the next three weeks, who have the 7th-ranked offense in the league themselves.
TREND: I know, I've talked about this before, but I'm pretty concerned about Arian Foster as a sorta Texans fan. He's the 6th leading rusher in the league even after going 15-for-46 in this game, but he has 30 more carries than anyone else, and by Football Outsiders' Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) statistic, he's only the 12th most effective running back in the league on a per-carry basis. He's delivered top-flight fantasy production by virtue of his 16 total touchdowns, but his combined 84 yards on 29 carries the past two weeks should be a concern.
TRAIL MIX: In their last 21 games in the second half of the regular season, the Patriots are 21-0, winning by an average score of 38-18. That is all.