Fantasy Football Week 14: Top Surprises and Performers in the NFL

Keet Bailey@@KeetBaileyCorrespondent IIDecember 13, 2010

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Ryan Torain #46 of the Washington Redskins runs past Tim Jennings #26 and Anthony Adams #95 of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Welcome to the first week of the fantasy football playoffs for many of us. Hopefully you’re reading this article with a victory in your sights, and hopefully I’m not bringing up any sore moments from any of the following players.

Fantasy football continues to surprise us. The list was a bit shorter to choose from so far with the Minnesota Vikings/New York Giants game postponed until Monday evening thanks to a collapsing roof from snow on top of the Metrodome.

When doing your rosters this morning, many of you were in our Live Chat asking us about playing conditions. There were some crazy conditions out there. Tom Brady managed to nearly throw for 400 yards despite 40 MPH winds and a ton of snow.

Many of us were excited to see Peyton Manning get back on track, after throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns and ZERO interceptions against the Titans on Thursday Night Football.

But let’s take a look at some of the guys we didn’t expect to do so hot this week and proved us wrong:

10. Deion Branch, WR, New England Patriots

So where did this offense come from? When you think of 40 MPH winds, and snow out the ying yang, you prepare for a defensive game that ends by a score of 6-0. The Patriots don’t abide by the rules, however, and Deion Branch caught eight passes for 151 yards with a touchdown.

If you honestly think you could have predicted that, then you should be out playing the lottery, rather than predicting NFL stats. Branch rewarded fantasy owners that took the risk with no less than 21 points.

9. David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Garrard’s inconsistency really frustrates fantasy owners. The Jaguars had to go against the ninth-ranked pass defense in Oakland, but he still managed to throw for three touchdowns and one interception. Those three touchdowns paired up with 159 yards as well.

There were many people that said they wanted to take a chance on him this week, and they were rewarded with a solid 19 points this week if they did.

8. Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee Titans

See, this is the Kerry Collins we wanted to see more of, you know, the Collins that can throw the ball somewhat well and put points on the board. On Thursday, Collins and the Titans battled the Colts and made a late push to try and ruin the Colts' potential playoff chances.

Collins threw for three touchdowns and 244 yards. This all totaled 21 fantasy points for Kerry Collins owners. You may consider picking up Collins for your playoff run if you need a QB2. He goes up against Houston, KC and Indy in the last three weeks of the season.

7. Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

I love to see Rashad Jennings making plays. He’s had a small role in Jacksonville, but has made the most of his opportunities. I pimped this guy hard in the late rounds of the 2009 NFL Draft, and he showed today that he could make plays.

Jennings busted out for a 74-yard touchdown run in the middle of the third quarter against Oakland, and finished with five carries for 105 yards, as well as the touchdown. He got 16 points for owners, but there’s most likely less than one percent of fantasy owners that even played him this week.

6. Arizona Cardinals Defense/ST

This just in: The Cardinals do have a defense capable of making plays. Wow. That’s really all I can say about the Denver/Arizona game. I thought for sure that Kyle Orton would have his way with them. Instead, Arizona intercepted Orton three times and forced three fumbles.

Rookie Daryl Washington (TCU represent!) finished the game with a 40-yard interception returned for a touchdown with 2:42 left in the game, if Denver didn’t already have a rough game. The Cardinals defense held Denver to 13 points, and just six points throughout nearly the entire game. You were rewarded with 23 fantasy points if you started Arizona.

5. Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco

Alex Smith was frustrated being benched for Troy Smith a few weeks ago. He took out his frustrations on the Seattle Seahawks defense, which has been non-existent, especially since losing Red Bryant. Alex Smith threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns.

I’m not terribly surprised. We were mentioning earlier that Smith could have a big game against such a weak defense, but we also thought Westbrook would do a lot of work on the ground. Smith rewarded fantasy owners with 23 points this week.

4. Tim Hightower, RB, Arizona Cardinals

We’re not done with the Cardinals. Tim Hightower proved me wrong. I believe I told one of our callers on our Thursday show to sit him, and if you did, I apologize. I really thought the Cardinals would struggle, and I couldn’t see Hightower making any sort of impact.

But good ol’ Tim must have listened to my doubts, and went on for 18 rushes, 148 yards and two touchdowns, including a 35-yard rush for a score late in the fourth quarter. Hightower accounted for 24 fantasy points this week.

3. Ruvell Martin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

If you can tell me how many catches Ruvell Martin has had in 2010 without looking it up, you win a dollar. If you guessed ZERO, then you’d be correct. Martin made a few minor plays with the Green Bay Packers a few years ago, but has struggled to work his way into the depth chart for most of the season with the Seahawks.

But, he caught four passes in the Week 14 matchup against the 49ers, totaling 73 yards and a touchdown. I don’t think Martin is on anybody’s roster. If he’s on your roster, then you’re probably in a 20-team league with four WR spots, and he still isn’t starting.

Martin only finished with 13 fantasy points, but the fact that he made his first four catches in a big way in 2010 was surprising enough earns him a spot on this list.

2. Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins

Torain missed the last five weeks with a torn hamstring. He was thought to be a gametime decision, as he’s still not 100 percent. At least that’s what we thought.

Torain busted out of the gates early, and had a long of 54 on one of his runs. While he didn’t finish with a touchdown, he still ran for 172 yards on 24 carries, and scored 18 points for fantasy owners. He’s a solid Flex start the rest of the season assuming he says healthy.

1. Jay Feely, K, Arizona Cardinals

If you thought we were done talking about Arizona, then you’re incredibly mistaken. I usually don’t like to put kickers on this list, but when they are kicking as many times as the Oregon Ducks mascot is doing push ups, they deserve to be on this list.

Feely went five-for-six on field goal attempts, and kicked four extra points as well. Feely hit on kicks of 36, 48, 55, 23 and 49 yards.

But did you know he had a rushing touchdown as well? Feely scored on a five-yard rushing touchdown on a trick play early in the game to put the icing on the cake. Feely totaled a whopping 28 fantasy points for a kicker, which is the highest total for any kicker in fantasy football in 2010.


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