It was a rough finals for quarterbacks.
According to ESPN.com ranks, the consensus Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10 QBs all scored 11 fantasy points or fewer Sunday. Considering the average QB this season has scored 15.5 fantasy points, that's pretty unbelievable.
Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford may have had occasional good moments, but on the whole all four submitted some of their worst overall play of the year. As a group, they had three TD passes and six INTs. Philip Rivers and Tom Brady played better, but they simply weren't asked to do much.
And so, if you'd trusted your gut and taken Andy Dalton's sweet-looking matchup versus the Minnesota Vikings, you'd have been rewarded with 366 yards passing and four TDs, and if you'd suffered some kind of mild head trauma and started Geno Smith, you'd have gotten 26 fantasy points. Overall, though, it was just a bad week for QBs, which meant if you were matched up against Peyton Manning -- who scored another 32 fantasy points and reached the 51-TD mark for the season with some garbage-time fun in Houston -- it was probably a long day.
Let's look at Sunday's other top storylines:
• For those of you in standard-scoring ESPN leagues, your finals span Weeks 16 and 17, so you'll be concerned with Sunday's injuries. And there were some significant ones. Andre Brown suffered a concussion on an overtime fumble. In the midst of another strong game, Eddie Lacy appeared to twist awkwardly on his injured right ankle and didn't return. Shane Vereen suffered a groin injury early while running a sideline pass route in the first quarter and sat out the remainder of the game. And Steve Smith said he heard a "click" in his knee upon suffering a first-half non-contact injury, which doesn't sound good at all.
• Try as they might, the Cleveland Browns couldn't get the Josh Gordon magic to fully hold over for another week. Oh, 97 yards on six catches is good enough, and hopefully helped you win your title. But Gordon had a whopping 16 targets, and dropped potential TD passes on back-to-back second-quarter plays Sunday from the New York Jets 1, including one on fourth down. Thus, Gordon's touchdown streak ended at five games.
• Reggie Bush was a big ol' Week 16 bust, losing his second fumble since promising not to lose another fumble all year, and eventually ceding a ton of playing time to Joique Bell. In a tight game, while Bush had 14 touches for 44 yards, Bell had 30 touches for 154 yards and a 1-yard TD plunge. Bush also had a painful drop in the second half, whereupon the backfield committee was in full force: Even Theo Riddick got in on the act, getting a couple of carries, including a fourth-quarter 2-yard TD that looked as though it might be the game winner. With the Detroit Lions eliminated from playoff contention, it's unclear how they'll use their RBs next week.
• Larry Fitzgerald couldn't overcome his brutal matchup against the Seattle Seahawks and had three catches for 18 yards. Calvin Johnson didn't look healthy and wound up with three grabs for 43 yards. Jason Witten had only two catches on two targets for 13 yards. Adrian Peterson had 12 touches for 47 yards. Matt Forte got caught in a landslide of Chicago Bears mistakes and Philadelphia Eagles TDs and wound up with 54 total yards on 13 touches. DeSean Jackson somehow didn't partake of all that Eagles scoring, and had just four grabs for 29 yards. What can you say? There were minefields. There are always minefields in a one-week situation. I hope you were able to avoid them.
• You have to believe that Donald Brown has made himself some money. While Trent Richardson was merely OK Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown continued to look like the dynamic playmaker the Indianapolis Colts thought they were getting in the '09 first round. A free agent this winter, Brown may have seen his Week 16 workload limited by a stinger he suffered last week (T-Rich out-touched him 19 to 12), but Brown busted two impressive long TDs that featured extraordinary individual effort. Cha-ching.
• And maybe Mark Ingram saved himself a '14 roster spot with the New Orleans Saints Sunday, finally looking like a feature back while Pierre Thomas did nothing and Darren Sproles barely touched the ball. Ingram showed legit burst on a second-quarter 34-yard scamper and produced 5 yards or more on eight of his 13 carries. Of course, his role on a weekly basis is completely up for grabs, so you can't count on him in Week 17 for fantasy, but his emergence against the Carolina Panthers makes me even less likely to trust any Saints backfield option next week.
• The New England Patriots rotated their early-down backs per usual, with LeGarrette Blount getting the start and Stevan Ridley mixing in liberally. Because the Pats were up big almost immediately against the Baltimore Ravens, the runs just kept on coming, and Blount had a big fantasy day: 16 carries for 76 yards and two TDs (the second of which led to a Ray Lewis-esque end-zone dance). Vereen might need injury time off, which probably would put Brandon Bolden in line for passing-down touches, and which also probably would make all these guys completely hands-off in Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills.
• Not only didn't Ray Rice take advantage of a good-looking matchup against the Pats (a ho-hum 40 yards on 11 carries, though he did have two catches for 23 yards), he also got stuffed at the New England 1, and his fantasy owners had to watch Joe Flacco sneak in the Ravens' only TD on the next play. Ow.
• Maurice Jones-Drew started and played ahead of Jordan Todman, racking up 17 touches to Todman's seven. Alas, the Jacksonville Jaguars threw for both of their TDs inside the Tennessee Titans 10, so you were better off sitting MJD, too.
• Jamaal Charles continued his inexorable march to the Fantasy MVP award with another 142 scrimmage yards and an early TD scamper, but LeSean McCoy closed in on his first career rushing title with 133 more ground yards, putting him at 1,476 for the year. He leads Charles by 189 yards and Peterson by 210, so barring some Week 17 weirdness, Shady should wear the rushing crown.
• Andre Johnson had four catches on 63 yards in Matt Schaub's return to the Houston Texans lineup, but it should've been better. Schaub had AJ on a bomb down the sideline and threw it out of bounds, and then later Johnson dropped a deep cross that would've been a long TD. With 13 straight losses under their belt, everything the Texans touch these days turns to ashes.
• … and that includes their backfield! Yes, Dennis Johnson showed up. But he got nothing going in his first NFL start, and by the second half he'd been benched in favor of the bigger Deji Karim. Like Jacquizz Rodgers in Atlanta, Johnson just isn't a big enough player to consistently run in the tackle box.
• The Nick Foles Mystery Train deserved better Sunday night, as his team won 54-11 but stopped throwing early. Foles was as sharp as he has been all season, completing 21 of 25 passes for 230 yards and two scores. He played his best game in more than a month by a wide margin, but that's the torture of fantasy: Sometimes the result isn't indicative of the quality of play. That said, Foles still accounted for 18 fantasy points, and if that's a bad day for him this year, well, it sure has been a fun ride. If your league plays in Week 17, Foles is still one of the most attractive options out there.
• The bloom on Kirk Cousins' rose faded a bit Sunday. His numbers were dreadful -- 21-of-36 for 197 yards, a TD and an INT -- and his accuracy came and went. But it was fruitful to see him stick with Pierre Garcon, especially early on; Garcon wound up with 11 catches for 144 yards and set the Washington Redskins' single-season receptions record, breaking the mark previously held by Art Monk. Suffice it to say, maybe Robert Griffin III shouldn't worry too much about his starting job next year.
• Edwin Baker seemed to be the Browns' main man, though Chris Ogbonnaya played on a few red zone snaps (and his presence on those plays seemed to scream "pass!" in bright neon). While Willis McGahee barely played and Obie was limited to two offensive touches, Baker scored a short TD and had 19 touches. He's your guy if you need a desperation option in Week 17.
• Zac Stacy got 33 carries. That's a lot. Since Week 8, he's had at least 27 touches from scrimmage in five of eight games. I love the kid, but that workload makes me nervous. Anyone else remember Jeff Fisher running Eddie George into the ground?
• Marcedes Lewis scored a TD for the fourth straight game, meaning obviously he deserves to be a top-five TE option in Week 17. Ahem.
• Thanks for reading Instant Impressions all season. It's been a blast!