Fantasy Football: Ray Rice Headlines 'AFC Random Thoughts' for Week 12

Jay ClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterNovember 26, 2012

Ravens tailback Ray Rice rolled for 164 total yards against the Chargers—highlighted by the incredible 4th-and-29 catch/run in the fourth quarter. (US PRESSWIRE)
Ravens tailback Ray Rice rolled for 164 total yards against the Chargers—highlighted by the incredible 4th-and-29 catch/run in the fourth quarter. (US PRESSWIRE)

Here are 15 AFC-based deep thoughts from Sunday's action—none of which detail Carson Palmer's deflating return to Cincinnati.

1. Ray Rice (164 total yards vs. San Diego) will post stellar numbers during the fantasy playoffs, even though he's not an obvious lock for greatness against the Steelers, Redskins, Broncos and Giants (Weeks 13-16). That said, his odds of rolling for 150 yards and two scores next Sunday are more favorable than replicating his amazing 4th-and-29 odyssey against the Bolts.

2. There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and C.J. Spiller racking up 100 total yards when given 12 or more touches. But the news gets better here: For the Bills' upcoming homestand against the Jaguars, Rams and Seahawks, Spiller (107 rushing yards vs. Indy) is a healthy bet for 420 total yards and two touchdowns.

3. I like how A.J. Green (three catches, 111 yards; 21 rushing) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (138 total yards, one TD) combined for 270 yards and one score against the Raiders. But I love how they're set up for similar greatness against the Chargers next week—either the first quarterfinal Sunday...or last chance at playoff prominence.

4. Only Peyton Manning could reach the QB-elite threshold of 285 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday—and still leave stat geeks in a foul mood. His streak of either 300 yards passing or three TD passes ended at seven games, just two short of his all-time record from 2009.

5. In case you care, that's six straight games of 100 total yards for Chris Johnson. And if you're scoring at home...that's now eight consecutive outings of fruitlessly hoping a Titans wideout (Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright) would roll for 100 yards and one touchdown. Ugh!

6. Strange but true: At this point in his career, Colts wideout T.Y Hilton has more touchdowns (six) and 100-yard outings (three) than Marvin Harrison (1996) and Reggie Wayne (2001) had combined for in their respective rookie campaigns—after 10 games. In other words, Hilton (two TDs vs. Buffalo) should be an automatic flex consideration in 12-team leagues for Weeks 13-16 (Detroit, Tennessee, Houston, Kansas City).

7. Kudos to QB Joe Flacco (355 yards passing, one TD) for busting that ignominious streak of four straight road games with less than 200 yards passing. Maybe he'll be a top-12 pick in Week 14, when the Ravens take on the Redskins' leaky pass defense.

8. I'm not ready to buy Knowshon Moreno (111 total yards vs. Kansas City) as Denver's go-to tailback for the final five weeks. Ronnie Hillman is simply too talented and too explosive to command only cursory touches from this point forward—especially if the Broncos have doubts about keeping Willis McGahee in 2013.

9. It's hard to be disappointed with Charlie Batch's 199-yard, three-interception outing against the Browns. He wasn't a starting consideration in 20-team or two-QB leagues, and back in 1998, I would have wagered good money on Brian Griese outlasting Batch as an NFL quarterback. Besides, I had Mike Wallace (one catch, nine yards) benched in all three leagues.

10. I have a bad news/good news proposition for Brian Hartline owners: He's destined for a pair of clunkers against the Patriots and 49ers (Weeks 13/14), not unlike Sunday's sad output against the Seahawks (two catches, 17 yards). But when facing clubs with non-winning records, Hartline is averaging 10.5 targets per game. That bodes well for Week 15 and 16 encounters with Jacksonville and Buffalo (both at home).

11. Part of me wants to rail on Chiefs QB Brady Quinn for not targeting Jamaal Charles (107 rushing yards vs. Denver) on a single pass play. But does it really matter? It's not like Quinn or any of Kansas City's primary decision-makers (head coach Romeo Crennel, O-coordinator Brian Daboll, GM Scott Pioli) will likely be with the club next season.

12. In 25-plus years of studying NFL box scores the following Monday, I cannot recall a time when the victorious club had a five-way tie for receptions leader. But that's how it went down with the Broncos and their four-catch quintet of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, Brandon Stokley and Jacob Tamme against the Chiefs. For one day, that's a cool trend of mediocrity.

13. Chad Henne's 261-yard, two-touchdown effort against the Titans was a little underwhelming. That, in a nutshell, should explain why Henne's a better long-term fit for the Jaguars, compared to Blaine Gabbert. If the latter had thrown for 261 yards—off only 17 completions—he'd garner praise for taking another baby step toward low-key relevancy.

14. Ryan Mathews (88 total yards vs. Baltimore) is on the 2012 short list of biggest fantasy disappointments—stemming from the one seasonal touchdown and two outings of 100 total yards. But I still wouldn't trade his matchups with the Panthers and Jets in Weeks 15 and 16 for up-and-comers like Daniel Thomas, Jacquizz Rodgers or productive vets Michael Turner, Shonn Greene and Reggie Bush.

Bottom line: Mathews should be a golden flex option in 12-team leagues. And the payoff will be sweet.

And finally...

15. Thank goodness this is an optimistic fantasy column and not a dark look at confounding stats. Otherwise, we'd be forced to lament Trent Richardson's 3.4 yards per touch against the Steelers. Instead, we'll trumpet the 112 total yards and one touchdown against one of the NFL's stingiest defenses.

We'll also pencil the Browns rookie in for 130 total yards against the Raiders next Sunday.

Jay Clemons
can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.