By Eric Pehowic
The Daily Item
— I enjoy being a fantasy football analyst after a week like this.
It's not as enjoyable as guessing correctly on every pick, but there were a lot of performances that laughed at the rankings, projections, matchups and every other tool we use to "predict" outcomes.
We're like weathermen. Bad weathermen. Go to www.fantasypros.com and check out their accuracy. The best of the best comes in at 65 percent.
We're not going to stop playing and we're not going to stop trying to predict the best players with the tools we have at our disposal.
Let's take a look at some of the highs and lows from this week:
1. Shady Unstoppable
Exhibit 1 in the ridiculousness referred to in the intro. The Lions hadn't allowed a rushing touchdown to a running back since Matt Forte in Week 4. They hadn't allowed more than 37 yards rushing to any running back since Eddie Lacy in Week 5. They haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher all season despite facing Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte.
In a blizzard, LeSean McCoy popped a 40-yard TD and a 57-yard TD en route to a franchise record 217 yards on 29 carries.
2. Patriots defense kicks an extra point
Well, they didn't actually kick an extra point, but their top matchup, low price in daily leagues and predicted top performance by virtually every fantasy expert on the planet earned us all the equivalent of an extra point.
3. Vote Josh Gordon for top-5 WR in 2014
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon followed up his record-breaking second consecutive 200-yard receiving performance in Week 13 with a 151-yard, 1-TD performance. He caught seven-of-10 passes thrown his way and broke an 80-yarder.
Gordon has 1,400 yards and eight touchdowns.
And he was suspended for the first two games of the season.
If he's not in the 2014 preseason top-5 at wide receiver, he'll be in the conversation.
4. Drew Brees dissects Panthers
The Panthers defense have been as good as any in the league. You could argue they're the best this season.
They've been especially good at silencing quarterbacks.
But you don't want to face Drew Brees one week after a stinker. Brees took out his frustrations by throwing 42 times, completing 30 for 313 yards and 4 TDs, two each to Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham.
5. Gronkowski fizzles, tears up knee
If there is one lock of the week every week it's Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. That is, of course, until the first week of the playoffs.
His 2 catches for 32 yards were probably described, uh, colorfully by owners expecting to mock their playoff foes en route to the semifinals.
Gronkowski left the game after suffering a low hit from Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward in the second half. Word coming in this morning from multiple news sources points to a torn ACL and MCL and the end of an absurdly good but injury-riddled season.
6. Peyton and the flying Broncos
I hope now, with the season winding down, everyone can witness the epic story being written in Denver.
Manning threw seven touchdowns in the first week and hasn't slowed down. He's thrown a touchdown in every game and at least four touchdowns in seven of 13 games. He has 4,522 yards and 45 TDs.
On Sunday, against a matchup that was bad on paper for him and his wide receivers, Manning dumped 59 passes, completing 39 for 397 yards and four TDs to four different receivers.
Eric Decker was his favorite target for the second straight week. The Titans allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in the previous five weeks. But the issue is that few teams have enough top level horses to gallop with Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker. Meanwhile, Julius Thomas is a freakish matchup monster at TE that poses even more problems.
Somebody's going to be open in that offense and Manning is going to find him.
7. Looking ahead: Cowboys at Bears, Monday night
Many of you in standard and weekly leagues have quite a few horses left in this race because the Monday Night Football matchup is packed full of fantasy-relevant stars.
Even if you're down 40 points with one player to go, don't count yourself out.
The over/under is 48 points. Considering how the last few weeks have gone in the NFL, you're dropping as much as you can spare on the over.
The Cowboys are favored by 1 to 1.5 points, meaning Vegas predicts a very close contest.
Close means a fun game to watch and that all players will remain relevant until the final whistle.