There was nothing special about Thursday Night Football from a fantasy perspective. It was New Orleans vs Atlanta, a matchup that had produced plenty of points in the previous outing for all fantasy owners. It was a night not to think too hard about the QBs or the WRs to start; it was going to be a fantasy smorgasbord. But in real life, tension was building. The Falcons came into the night 10-1 with the lone blemish on their near perfect season coming at the hands of the Saints just three weeks ago. It was supposed to be a turning point for the Saints as they were fighting themselves back into playoff contention after a 1-5 start and it was also a reminder of the parity that the NFL can provide when the supposed invincible team dropped to one that wasn’t even at a .500 record at the time. That game ended with Roddy White claiming the Falcons beat themselves but truthfully, every game since has been a struggle for the near perfect Atlanta team. Meanwhile, coming into the night, the Saints were now 5-6 and knocking on playoff death’s door really needing to win to even pretend to have playoff aspirations. The drama had already been ramped up prior to the Thursday night game as the Saints players were astonished to land in Atlanta on Wednesday to their bus getting egged not just by Atlanta fans but actual airport employees. There’s really no love between these two teams so Thursday Night’s game took on the playoff atmosphere and intensity usually reserved for January and when the dust of the night had settled, a fantasy star that had rarely failed his owners in the past came up flat. Drew Brees - the record holder for most consecutive games with at least one TD pass – finally had his streak stopped at 54 games by the Falcons. In fact, not only was his touchdown streak brought to a screeching halt, he ended the night with 5 INT, looking more like Matt Cassel than the fantasy stud we’ve come to know over the years while finishing with 341 passing yards and plenty of bad decisions under his belt. For fantasy owners looking for that big final push for the playoffs, Brees left them hanging in the wind for the night as he was outscored by nearly everyone. I mean, when was the last time both kickers outscored Drew for the night in terms of fantasy? It’s borderline unheard of. Needless to say, the following fantasy report of this game is going to read like a bit of a Twilight Zone episode where you’ll recognize the names of the people I mention but not the stats next to them. So with that said, let’s get on with the news that was week 13 Thursday Night football for the 2012 fantasy football season…
Matt Ryan - If I had told you Ryan would pass for half the yardage of Brees and only throw 1 touchdown in the process, how much would you have bet the Falcons lost? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, plenty of fantasy teams riding Ryan’s arm might’ve taken themselves out tonight as well as he scored under 10 fantasy points in standard leagues. Circumstances again dictated the results – Atlanta literally ran over the Saints for most of the first half – but the fact of the matter is, Matt has now failed to finish as a top 12 QB scoring for 3 of the last 4 weeks. Don’t even start the argument that week 13 isn’t over, he’s not finishing in the top 12 this week. Overall, I’m not worried. See, you’d know if I were worried because when I get nervous I start passing gas…pardon me. Ok, now you should officially be worried.
Pierre Thomas – Why hello, Pierre, I haven’t seen you in what feels like ages. Oh what’s that you say? You’ve been playing all season? Well you could’ve fooled me! Finished the night with the most carries out of the Saints backfield, going for 84 yards on 14 carries. Even threw in a 5 yard catch. Meanwhile Chris Ivory finished with 4 yards on 3 carries. I told you it was the Twilight Zone on the night. I know Pierre’s initials are PT but he’s played like used TP most of the year.
Tony Gonzalez - You know, it’s true what they say. Senior citizens, though slow and dangerous behind the wheel, still serve a purpose. Tony continued his Rolling Stones 2012 tour, netting 58 yards on 4 receptions while catching Ryan’s lone touchdown. Now don’t you go dyin on me, Tony!
Julio Jones - Julio kicked most of his owners in the jewel-ios on TNF as he only netted 48 yards on 5 receptions. Though that keeps his freaky home/road splits in tact for frequent commenter Murph to remind me. Of course, Roddy did not play the yin to his yang as he typically does so I can still pretend home/road splits aren’t real. #denydenydeny
Jimmy Graham – Well, at least it was better than last week, right? Finished the night with 59 yards and 4 catches and at least 500 angry tweets about his last two weeks of football. Somewhere out there a bitter Gronk owner is laughing while downing a bottle of jack. Truthfully, I got last week but this week? Not so much. Falcons aren’t the stiffest against Tight Ends and Brees is a bit out of sync. Or maybe Brees is N’Sync which is why he’s out of sync. Whatever the case, it’s a terrible time of year to start doubting your top players. Let’s hope they both right the ship together next week.
Lance Moore - Along with Marques Colston, he led the Saints in targets with 11 but finished with the bigger fantasy night of the two, gaining 134 yards on 7 receptions and is now on pace for 75 receptions on the year. And yet despite all that, I’m constantly asked if he should be dropped for ‘insert hot WR of the week here’. The only time you should be dumping Lance is when you’re Sheryl Crow.
Michael Turner - On 12 carries, Turner gained 5 more yards than he has on 41 carries in his last three games combined. Finished the night with 90 total yards, a touchdown and plenty of broken hearts care of Jacquizz Rodgers owners. In the end, I still don’t like him and no matter what he does you can’t take that away from me.
Mark Ingram - Would’ve had just as worthless of a night as Ivory had one of his 6 carries for a whopping 13 yards not gone for a touchdown. Who does he think he is, Turner? Oh wait, those 13 yards would’ve taken 14 carries if he were Michael. Anyways, remember how I said he looked like the back to own in NOLA? Well, even though tonight was an atrocity it still looks like a decent call. Of course, if you don’t own any of these three you’re probably better off and I respect and envy the heck out of you for that.