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The Sunday Aftermath

Carson Wentz's Crucible

by Patrick Daugherty
Updated On: December 8, 2020, 1:14 am ET

Every man has a breaking point. For Doug Pederson, it was watching Carson Wentz complete one pass for eight yards to wide receivers in 38 minutes of football. After weeks of not only failing to move the offense but quite literally setting it back with sacks and turnovers, Wentz was sent to the bench at Lambeau Field with the Eagles trailing 23-3 midway through the third quarter. 

Second-rounder Jalen Hurts provided an immediate spark, rallying the Eagles to 23-16 within his first quarter of play. Dominated by Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, Jim Schwartz’s defense provided the final nail in the coffin by coughing up a 77-yard score to Aaron Jones, but Hurts generated 138 yards of offense in 22 minutes compared to 97 in 38 for Wentz. That does not include net, which would dock Wentz for 22 yards on his four sacks compared to five on three for Hurts. 

Hurts did not reinvent the wheel. He stopped it from rolling further backward. Hurts is a 1-2 read quarterback right now, and maybe always. The key was how much faster he processed them than Wentz. Whereas Wentz was playing in quicksand, Hurts was either getting his pass off or tucking and running. Wentz has fancied himself a scrambler as his passing game has collapsed, but it is a much more natural role for SEC and Big 12 dual-threat Hurts. 

Hurts provides signs of life whereas Wentz hasn’t had a pulse for weeks. The move needs to be made for Week 14, but it will not be an easy decision for Pederson. Wentz’s four-year, $128 million extension was signed just 550 days ago. It hasn’t even kicked in yet. Wentz is technically playing under his fifth-year team option this season. Cutting Wentz next spring would not only not save cap space, it would trigger a $24.5 million penalty while leaving behind $59.2 million in dead money. Not even the Rams could consider that. 

Wentz will be staying in Philadelphia, so can Pederson and GM Howie Roseman truly poison this well? The answer is probably yes, as neither will be back if the final four games of 2020 go anything like the first 12. And if you go by reasons purely competitive instead of financial, there really isn’t much of a choice. 2020 Wentz has become just the sixth quarterback in league history whose QB rating has dropped more than 24 points below his average number from the previous three seasons. He is the only player to have it happen at under 30 years old. 

Whether it’s his injury-ruined offensive line, questionable weapons or Hurts’ presence breathing down his neck, something has caused Wentz’s game to collapse. Continuing to trot him out there isn’t going to fix it. Both player and team need a pause more than anything else right now. They can worry about 2021 in 2021.     

Five Week 13 Storylines 

Jonathan Taylor continues to come on for the Colts. Taylor’s 135 yards from scrimmage were a new career high, coming on only 16 touches in the Colts’ 26-20 victory. Taylor routinely pushed the pile as a runner and continued to prove his big-play ability as a pass catcher. With the Colts facing a 4th-and-4 early in the second quarter, the Texans didn’t account for Taylor. Granted a free release, he caught a low pass from Philip Rivers and was off to the races for a 39-yard score. Test passed. Now the lead dog in each of his past two appearances, Taylor probably won’t be ceding to goal-line looks to Nyheim Hines in Week 14 the way he did on Sunday. Facing the Raiders before rematching with the Texans, Taylor has a glorious setup for the fantasy playoffs.    

T.Y. Hilton continues revival with 8/110/1 effort. Taylor wasn’t the only one getting his season on track in Houston. Coming off a garbage time-fueled Week 12 awakening, Hilton did his damage from the opening whistle. He caught an 18-yard pass on the Colts’ first play from scrimmage before capping the drive with a 21-yard score on a crossing route. Freed by a pick, Hilton found the sideline and made a house call. His most impressive play came six minutes later, as he hauled in a 21-yard grab on the right sideline that appeared obviously incomplete to the naked eye. Replay review revealed elite footwork and a legal catch. Hilton's hot streak is probably too late for fantasy managers who took the early-round plunge, but he has the same soft playoff slate Taylor does in the Raiders and Texans. Hilton is arguing to be returned to the top 36.   

Cam Akers seizes control of Rams backfield. We had the Malcolm Brown phase followed by the Darrell Henderson phase. Sunday, it was the No. 52 overall pick’s turn. Akers handled 21-of-28 running back carries for the Rams, an astounding seven of which came inside the 10-yard line. That is as clear and obvious as commitments get, but it has not been that simple with coach Sean McVay this season. Henderson has not looked like a man who should be demoted, something he emphasized with his 3/49/1 rushing line in Arizona. The “1” was a 38-yard touchdown with the Rams winning just 24-21 in the fourth quarter. The case is never really settled in McVay’s offense. Akers will earn the highest Week 14 ranking. Week 15? That’s a long way away.   

Justin Jefferson has yet another 100-yard day. Up to fourth in the league in receiving at 1,039 yards, Jefferson is just the fifth player of the Super Bowl era to reach 1,000 through the first 12 games of his career. The others? Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston and Odell Beckham. OBJ was the last time a rookie wideout went on this kind of run. Jefferson has revitalized the Vikings’ passing attack after a slow start and provided a badly needed counterpoint to Dalvin Cook’s power rushing. Used as a slot man in the crowded parts of the field at LSU, Jefferson leads the NFL in 20-plus yard receptions at 19. A star has been born, one who wasn’t flying off shelves in Dynasty leagues last spring. The 21-year-old is now a Dynasty keystone.   

Corey Davis continues career campaign with 182-yard day. While you — you, me, everybody — were memeing A.J. Brown’s latest bowling ball score, Davis was battling him to a production standstill through nine games. Sunday, Davis took the lead, drawing within 90 yards of his previous career high (891) with four games to go. Davis’ 182 were 21 more than he had ever managed, and give him six 100-yard days for his career, four of which have come this season. It’s hard to know what to do with this information. Brown is the playmaker. Derrick Henry is the focal point. Ryan Tannehill is the game manager who doesn’t get to open it up every week. And yet there’s Davis, who has caught fewer than five passes only three times in nine games and reached at least 67 yards in five of his past six contests. The only thing we can say for sure about Davis is that he will remain vital in a narrow offense. He’s a top-36 option for Week 14 vs. the Jags.  

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Five More Week 13 Storylines

Patriots stone age Chargers, Justin Herbert. If the Bolts gave Herbert a chance on Sunday, he didn’t take it. The rookie quarterback melted down along with the rest of his team. Amongst the litany of lowlights: It was the first time Herbert failed to score a touchdown. It was just the second time he threw multiple interceptions. His 3.9 yards per attempt were a new career low by 1.9 yards, extra disturbing since he threw 53 passes. Coming back down to earth with shaky days in three of his past four starts, the rookie who refused to look like one has proven to be human after all. That happens against Bill Belichick. It also happens when your “coaching staff” sends the incorrect number of players on the field on not one, not two, but three punts. Herbert has maxed out his rookie year, but not his fantasy season. The Falcons and Raiders are soft playoff landings.   

Keke Coutee and Chad Hansen keep the Texans’ offense afloat. How did Deshaun Watson respond to the loss of Will Fuller? By springing a couple of slot men for 100-yard afternoons. For Coutee, it was his first since Sept. 30, 2018. For Hansen, it was his first ever, a day so big it doubled his previous career production. Coutee entered Week 13 with six 2020 catches. Hansen entered it with zero grabs since 2017. That Watson could do this against one of the league’s best defenses on just six days' notice speaks to a player operating at an MVP level. The tough tests won’t stop, with the Bears on tap for Week 14 followed by a Colts rematch. Averaging nearly nine yards per attempt, protecting the ball and making big plays no matter who is in his receiver corps, Watson will maintain top-10 fantasy relevance for the final month of the season. 

Baker Mayfield helps Browns dismantle Titans. Mayfield has been mostly MIA during the Browns’ 9-3 triumph. That changed in Tennessee, with the beleaguered signal caller ripping scores of two, one, 75 and 17 yards. How was this possible for a player who entered Week 13 with two touchdowns over his past four starts? The lack of a pass rush really helped. As we know, Mayfield is excellent in clean pockets and much worse under pressure. This, of course, is true of every quarterback, but Mayfield has made it his job to become one of the poster boys. He was pressured on only three attempts by the Titans, the sort of stunning failure that makes it rather easy for a quarterback to pile up 334 yards and four scores. We’ll see what happens when the Ravens show up for Week 14. Mayfield had one of his worst career starts in Week 1 vs. Wink Martindale’s defense. 

Darren Waller has sixth 200-yard effort by tight end in NFL history. Waller entered Week 13 averaging 8.5 yards per catch. He exited with 13/200/2 (15.3 YPC), humiliating Gregg Williams and a defense that spent four quarters failing to adjust. Waller is now almost up to 10 yards per grab on the year. The only seam stretcher doing anything of note behind Travis Kelce, Waller needs to average 65 yards over his final four games to reach 1,000 for the second consecutive season. He entered Sunday at just 49. Week 14 opponent Indianapolis permits the third fewest tight end fantasy points.  

Frank Gore suffers concussion, Ty Johnson and Josh Adams go off in Jets backfield. First things first: Why is 37-year-old Gore getting himself concussed for winless Adam Gase teams? Secondly, why is that what it took for Gase to finally see what someone else could do? The answer against Las Vegas was “a lot.” Claimed off waivers two months ago, journeyman Ty Johnson had far and away the best game of his career, turning 22 carries into 104/1. Change-of-pace option Adams created 74 yards on his eight totes, giving the Jets their best overall rushing day of the season. Coaching might matter a little, huh? If Gore misses Week 14, Johnson and Adams will have an approachable matchup in a Seahawks Defense that just let Wayne Gallman go wild.   



1. How is the same defensive coordinator famous for both playing a safety 70 yards off the line of scrimmage and “blitz all” on Hail Marys? 

2. How disrespected is Trevor Lawrence feeling by the Jets and Jaguars right now?

3. Why does Jon Gruden become Adam Gase after Thanksgiving? 


Early Waiver Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

QB: Teddy Bridgewater (vs. DEN), Philip Rivers (@LV), Andy Dalton (@CIN), Tua Tagovailoa (vs. KC), Mitchell Trubisky (vs. HOU), Jalen Hurts (vs. NO), Alex Smith (@SF), Mike Glennon (vs. TEN) 
RB: Ty Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Josh Adams  
WR: Nelson Agholor, T.Y. Hilton, Keke Coutee, Jalen Reagor, Tim Patrick, Jakobi Meyers, Rashard Higgins, Jakeem Grant
TE: Jordan Reed, Logan Thomas, Dalton Schultz, Cole Kmet, Anthony Firkser, Jordan Akins, Tyler Eifert, Jacob Hollister, Drew Sample 
DEF: Patriots (@LAR), Panthers (vs. DEN), Cowboys (@CIN), Giants (vs. AZ), 49ers (vs. WFT), Texans (@CHI), Vikings (@TB), Titans (@JAX), Eagles (vs. NO)  


Stats of the Week

Via ESPN: There have been 252 pass plays in the past 15 seasons where a defense was down by 4-8 points in the final 15 seconds and defending 40-plus yards of territory. Sunday and Gregg Williams was the first time any of them sent six-plus pass rushers. Criminal fraud. 

Three. The number of punts the Chargers had the incorrect number of players on the field for. Seems hard to do. 

Via Saints reporter Nick Underhill: The Saints are 8-0 with backup quarterbacks starting the past two seasons. 

45. The number of snaps Todd Gurley has played since Week 9. It’s getting difficult to envision Gurley remaining in the league next season. 

The Eagles’ 3-0 lead in Green Bay was their first of any kind in four weeks. It did not hold. 


Awards Section 

Week 13 Fantasy All-Pro Team: QB Derek Carr, RB David Montgomery, RB Aaron Jones, WR Davante Adams, WR Justin Jefferson, WR Corey Davis, TE Darren Waller 

Tweet of the Week, from JJ Zachariason: Colt McCoy throws a touchdown pass to Alfred Morris. There's a sentence that should definitely be real in 2020. 

Tweet of the Week II, from Kevin Clark: Gregg Williams' career died doing what it loved: playing needlessly reckless football in a meaningless game of a lost season while almost certainly working some sort of behind-the-scenes power play on a doomed staff. 

Challenge of the Week: NFL let Gregg Williams stay unemployed for five minutes challenge. 

In This Economy Award: Four Jordan Howard carries.


Patrick Daugherty

Patrick Daugherty is the Senior Fantasy Football content creator for NBC Sports EDGE. You can find him on Twitter @RotoPat.