Oh Hue. You’re the gift that keeps on giving. Forget stocking stuffers. I’m not asking for much this Christmas. Just gather a compilation of Hue Jackson’s greatest hits, leave it under the tree with a bow on it, and I’ll be a happy camper.
Jackson’s ill-fated tenure in Cleveland was as disastrous as it was entertaining, a spell-binding masterwork of ineptitude. Our dear friend Hue is the Nathan Peterman of coaches, a flaming wreck of incompetence. He’s Jeff Fisher without the moustache, a cheerful plague hell-bent on destroying every franchise he touches (you’re next, Cincinnati).
I have nothing against Hue-Jax. He seemed pleasant enough on Hard Knocks and was obviously dealt a bad hand in Cleveland. I’m fine if Hue wants a no-show job putting creamer in Marvin Lewis’ coffee for the next zillion years, though the idea of him returning to the sidelines as a head coach (get ready folks, the rumors are already swirling) is genuinely ludicrous. But hey, I’m always here for a good disaster if the Bengals are willing to throw their franchise to the wolves for our amusement.
Hue has been the league’s most consistent punchline for years but above all, he set an extremely high bar for eating crow. Jackson said he would take a dip in Lake Erie if the Browns went winless in 2017. Always a man of his word, Hue fulfilled his promise and even brought a few of his friends with him.
We’ve heard of fantasy leagues dishing out punishments for last place. Retaking the SATs will always be the best punishment but jumping into an ice-cold lake isn’t a bad alternative. So on Thursday, three of my high school friends and I decided to make things quite interesting. We added a new wrinkle to our annual Donkey Bowl, a four-man FanDuel contest including only the three-game Thanksgiving slate, by sanctioning a Hue-esque lake jump for whoever finished in last place.
I tempted fate by slotting in minimum-priced Chase Daniel as my QB1, but thankfully that folly didn’t cost me as I finished second among my four friends. My friend Matt (not the same Matt whose stubbornness cost him a win in a different league earlier this year) wasn’t as lucky. We’re still waiting on the date and location but rest assured Matt will go for a swim sometime this holiday season. I’ll be there to witness and probably Snap-chat Matt as he bathes in shame. Matt’s punishment attire has yet to be decided, though I suggested he wear a Baker Mayfield jersey for the occasion.
While Matt washes off his fantasy failures in the purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka, why don’t we set up the projector, turn down the lights and roll my Week 13 Power Rankings? Here they are …
1. New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 1
Drew Brees strengthened his MVP chances with another brilliant effort in Week 12, dishing out four touchdowns (a threshold he’s now reached in three of his last four games) in a Thanksgiving win over the division-rival Falcons. He’s on track to set NFL single-season records in both completion percentage (76.4) and quarterback rating (127.3). With injuries to many of the league’s top tight ends, it might be time for fantasy owners to take a flyer on Dan Arnold, who recorded a team-high 45 yards along with his first NFL touchdown in last week’s victory.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Last Week: 2
The NFL schedule-makers should probably go to jail for giving Los Angeles and Kansas City a bye on the same week (on a holiday weekend, no less!). I consider that an act of high treason (as opposed to light treason). Well-rested coming off last week’s siesta, Todd Gurley will aim to put up another crooked stat line when the Rams travel to Detroit for Week 13. Brandin Cooks, he of three straight 100-yard receiving games, will also be on display as the Rams look to keep pace with New Orleans in the race for the NFC’s top seed.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 3
Eric Berry is set to resume practicing this week. The All-Pro safety hasn’t seen the field since last year’s season opener at New England, but when healthy, he should provide a huge boost to the Chiefs’ struggling secondary. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas all deserve seats at the head table, but where does Tyreek Hill fit in the NFL’s receiving hierarchy? Hill doesn’t have Julio’s size or Odell’s hands, but can anyone in the league actually cover him? The Rams sure couldn’t.
4. New England Patriots
Last Week: 5
Rob Gronkowski clowned the Jets in his return from a back injury, roping in his first touchdown since Week 1 on a 34-yard dart from Tom Brady. That was Gronk’s 78th career touchdown reception, fourth-most among active players. The bye week must have done Sony Michel some good as the 23-year-old rumbled to a career-high 145 yards (132 rushing, 12 receiving) while adding his fifth rushing touchdown of the season. That’s the most rushing scores by a Patriots rookie since BenJarvus Green-Ellis made five end-zone visits in 2008.
5. Chicago Bears
Last Week: 6
Chase Daniel didn’t miss a beat filling in for an injured Mitchell Trubisky, leading the Bears to a Thanksgiving victory over the Lions on the strength of 230 yards and two touchdowns. Eddie Jackson registered Chicago’s league-leading sixth defensive touchdown on his second pick-six in as many weeks. That gives Jackson four interceptions for the year, fourth-most in the NFL behind Damontae Kazee, Xavien Howard and teammate Kyle Fuller. The Bears’ current five-game winning streak is their longest since 2012, which is also the last time they finished with a winning record.
6. Los Angeles Chargers
Last Week: 7
I mean, I guess you could say Philip Rivers got off to a decent start in Week 12. Completing your first 25 passes is good, right? The Bolts have played some great ball this year, but you have to question the coaching staff’s decision to A) trot out Melvin Gordon at less than 100 percent against an inferior opponent and B) risk an injury setback when the Chargers were up by a million points against said inferior opponent (shakes head in disgust). Keenan Allen will take a three-game touchdown streak into Sunday night’s battle with Pittsburgh.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 4
Ben Roethlisberger put up a juicy stat line with 456 passing yards in Week 12 but couldn’t finish the job, ruining a late comeback bid with a back-breaking, goal-line interception. The loss to Denver snapped a six-game winning streak for the Steelers. It wasn’t the result Pittsburgh wanted but boy did JuJu Smith-Schuster put on a show, blasting the Broncos for a career-high 189 yards on 13 catches. In doing so, the 22-year-old (his birthday was last week) set a franchise record by becoming the youngest Steeler to reach 1,000 yards receiving.
8. Houston Texans
Last Week: 8
Lamar Miller went on a Monday night rampage, demolishing the Titans for 162 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries as the Texans ran their winning streak to eight games. The seven-year vet matched a career-long with his 97-yard touchdown dash in the victory over Tennessee. A week after goose-egging against the Redskins, Demaryius Thomas rose from the dead with a pair of end-zone visits, marking his first multi-touchdown game in almost three years. DeAndre Hopkins has 73 catches and zero drops this year. Yeah, that’ll play.
9. Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 9
Dalvin Cook had another rough night running the ball in Week 12 (10 carries for 29 yards) but bolstered his stat line by nabbing three catches for an additional 47 yards. Cook’s touchdown against the Packers on Sunday night was his first since Week 4 of last season. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are trying to become the first Vikings duo to reach 1,000 yards receiving since Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss accomplished the feat back in 2000. Kirk Cousins’ 129.5 quarterback rating Sunday was his highest since Week 11 of last year (132.6).
10. Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 13
Russell Wilson came to the rescue with a season-high 339 passing yards in Sunday’s from-behind-win over the Panthers. Nobody is talking about him, but the seventh-year signal-caller has quietly put up the highest quarterback rating (112.0) of his career along with his highest yards per attempt (8.19) since 2015. Wherever the end zone is—under 30 feet of water or at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro—Tyler Lockett will be sure to find it. The Allen Iverson enthusiast matched a career-high by snagging his eighth touchdown in the win at Carolina.
11. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 12
The Colts kept their winning streak intact by erasing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit Sunday in a victory over the Dolphins. The touchdowns keep coming for Andrew Luck. He struck pay-dirt three more times in Week 12, giving him at least three touchdown passes in each of his last eight games. It was a rough week on the injury front for Indy with Jack Doyle (kidney) and Marlon Mack (concussion) both going down against Miami. Eric Ebron, who is tied for the league-lead with 11 touchdown receptions, will hold down the fort at tight end with Doyle sidelined.
12. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 11
Lamar Jackson kept the scrambling to a minimum in the first half but let it rip after the break with 60 yards on nine second-half rushes Sunday in Baltimore’s win over Oakland. Gus Edwards proved that his Week 11 breakout was no fluke by gashing the Raiders for a career-best 118 yards on 23 carries. Ty Montgomery had his best game as a Raven in Week 12, compiling 64 yards on 11 touches in the victory. Mark Andrews, who went undrafted out of Oklahoma this past spring, leads all rookie tight ends with 337 receiving yards.
13. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 15
The Cowboys are back in the NFC East driver’s seat thanks to newcomer Amari Cooper, who thumped the Redskins with 180 yards and two touchdowns on Thanksgiving (or as Rotoworld alum Adam Levitan calls it, Bird Carcass Day). Dallas has won three of four since acquiring Cooper at the trade deadline. NFL rushing yards leader Ezekiel Elliott has been lethal throughout his three-game touchdown streak, delivering an absurd 531 yards from scrimmage during that span. The surging Cowboys will be put to the test Thursday night against the Saints, who haven’t lost since Week 1.
14. Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 10
At one point the Panthers looked like a playoff lock. But after losing three straight including a nail-biter to the Seahawks in Week 12, they’re anything but. Cam Newton got off to a blistering start by completing all 14 of his first-half passes in Sunday’s defeat, but faded after halftime as Seattle stormed back to capture a walk-off, 30-27 victory. Christian McCaffrey went scorched earth with a 237-yard (125 rushing, 112 receiving) masterpiece in Week 12. He’s on pace for 103 catches, which would top the running back record set by Matt Forte in 2014.
15. Washington Redskins
Last Week: 14
Washington took a Turkey Day beating at the hands of Dallas while falling into a first-place tie in the NFC East. Colt McCoy’s first start in four years went as disastrously as you’d expect with three interceptions and a horrifying 68.8 quarterback rating. Mr. Irrelevant Trey Quinn made his first career end-zone visit in the loss to Dallas while veteran Vernon Davis shot himself out of a cannon on this 53-yard touchdown grab. Receiving back Chris Thompson is aiming to return this week after missing the Redskins’ last four games with a rib injury.
16. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 19
Newly-installed feature back Josh Adams got his money’s worth on Sunday, rolling to 84 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the Eagles’ come-from-behind victory. Zach Ertz went missing against the Saints but redeemed himself Sunday with a virtuoso performance against the Giants (7-91-1 on eight targets). Philadelphia’s injury-ravaged secondary is a concern, as is their remaining schedule with upcoming games against the Rams (10-1), Texans (8-3), Cowboys (6-5) and Redskins (6-5). Golden Tate continues to be a non-factor, averaging just 32.3 yards per game with no touchdowns since his arrival in Philadelphia.
17. Denver Broncos
Last Week: 21
Fearless first-year running back Phillip Lindsay took a bite out of the Steelers in Week 12, pillaging his way to 110 yards on 14 carries as Denver held on for the upset. Lindsay is on pace to become the first Broncos rookie to rush for 1,000 yards since Clinton Portis in 2002. Emmanuel Sanders made a mockery of Pittsburgh’s secondary on Sunday, torching his former team for 86 yards on seven catches. Ace corner Chris Harris pulled in another interception in Week 12, his third in a span of five games.
18. Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 17
Marcus Mariota was on fire Monday night, completing 22-of-23 passes for 303 yards in a loss to Houston. Unfortunately, he also took a beating, taking six sacks for a loss of 43 yards. Only Eli Manning, Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson have been sacked on a more frequent basis than Mariota this year. Fantasy owners were understandably down on Corey Davis after his lackluster rookie year, but he’s made amends with a rock-solid sophomore campaign. The 23-year-old leads the Titans in catches with 43 and is quietly on pace for over 1,000 yards receiving.
19. Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 16
The candle blew out on Green Bay’s slim playoffs hopes with another defeat in Week 12. Aaron Jones (93 yards and a touchdown) and Davante Adams (5-69-1 on eight targets) were up to their usual tricks, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the Vikings, who drowned the Packers with over 400 yards of offense. Think the rookie wall is a myth? Tell that to Marquez Valdes-Scantling (11 receiving yards over his last two games). Jimmy Graham hasn’t been the most durable player throughout his career, but he deserves big-time props for playing through a broken thumb on Sunday.
20. Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 24
Baker Mayfield, who leads all rookies with infinite swag, put the hurt on Cincinnati in Week 12, whooping the Bengals for 258 yards and four touchdowns, including one where David Njoku took a piggy-back ride to the end-zone. Cleveland’s win spelled the end of a 25-game road losing streak that spanned over three years. Nick Chubb was a juggernaut against the Bengals, turning a career-high 31 touches into 128 yards (84 rushing, 44 receiving) and two touchdowns. Damarious Randall took home gold at the Shade Olympics Sunday by goofing on ex-coach Hue Jackson in the aftermath of this interception.
21. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 20
Calvin Ridley aced his Week 12 test against New Orleans, blowing up for 93 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving night. The 23-year-old has lived up to his first-round billing, leading all rookies in both receiving yards (625) and touchdowns (eight) this season. Matt Ryan’s heroics weren’t enough to slay the mighty Saints but his 377 passing yards were more than enough to satisfy his fantasy owners. His current pace calls for 5,357 passing yards, which would be the third-most in NFL history.
22. Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 22
Back after missing five games with an injured shoulder, Ryan Tannehill revived the Dolphins’ stagnant offense by slinging a pair of touchdowns in Week 12, though it wasn’t enough to get Miami over the hump in a tough road matchup with Indianapolis. Tannehill’s first-quarter strike to Kenyan Drake marked the Dolphins’ first offensive touchdown in 27 possessions. Speaking of Drake, the third-year ball-carrier upped his season touchdown total to seven with a pair of end-zone visits in Sunday’s defeat. Miami’s -60 point differential is the NFL’s fifth-worst.
23. Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 18
Cincinnati’s tailspin continued with another letdown in Week 12 as the Browns came in and creamed the Bengals on their home field. A thumb injury will cost Andy Dalton the rest of 2018, meaning it will be up to 2016 sixth-rounder Jeff Driskel to lead Cincy’s offense down the stretch. A.J. Green’s absence has been felt as the Bengals have been outscored 110-55 during their current three-game losing skid. Even with the Bengals in free fall, Tyler Boyd has kept grinding, chipping in with 89.8 yards per game over his last four contests.
24. Detroit Lions
Last Week: 23
Aging power back LeGarrette Blount used his vulture powers for good by cramming in a pair of touchdowns in a Thanksgiving loss to Chicago. Well-traveled slot receiver Bruce Ellington has kept busy since arriving in the Motor City, soaking up 16 targets in his two games for the Lions. With Marvin Jones (knee) on season-ending I.R., sophomore stud Kenny Golladay (52-804-5) should be a reliable WR1 down the stretch. A date with the 10-1 Rams awaits the struggling Lions in Week 13.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 27
Jameis Winston took care of business in Week 12, ripping the visiting Niners for 312 passing yards and two touchdowns in a rare stress-free performance. Fourth-year slot receiver Adam Humphries stayed piping hot with another touchdown in the win over San Francisco. That gives the former Clemson Tiger four TDs in his last four games. Mike Evans cleared the 1,000-yard plateau in Week 12, becoming only the third receiver in league history to reach that mark in each of his first five seasons.
26. Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 28
Josh Allen turned on the afterburners in Week 12, racing to a career-high 99 rushing yards in a win over Jacksonville. That was Allen’s first appearance in over a month after missing four games with an injured shoulder. Undrafted Alabama rookie Robert Foster continues to move mountains. He’s been a big play machine, totaling 199 yards on just five catches (39.8 yards per reception) over his last two games. If LeSean McCoy hasn’t hit rock bottom yet, he’s getting close. The six-time Pro Bowler has averaged a pathetic 2.2 yards per carry over his last five contests.
27. New York Giants
Last Week: 26
So much for running the table. The Giants collapsed in Week 12, squandering a 16-point first-half lead in a loss to Philadelphia. Saquon Barkley cemented his Rookie of the Year status with another gem against the Eagles, smoking the Giants’ division rival for 142 yards (101 rushing, 41 receiving) and a pair of touchdowns. The Penn State product ranks third in the league in yards from scrimmage behind only Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott. Fantasy owners starting Evan Engram took a big old zero when the tight end missed Sunday’s game after tweaking his hamstring in pre-game warmups.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 25
The slumping Jags absorbed another blow with Sunday’s defeat at Buffalo, which ran the team’s losing streak to seven games. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was canned after that loss while former third overall pick Blake Bortles was benched for Browns castoff Cody Kessler. The demotion ends Bortles’ streak of 72 consecutive starts. As if that wasn’t enough mayhem to digest, Leonard Fournette was hit with a one-game suspension for fighting Shaq Lawson while All-Pro lineman Andrew Norwell was just lost to a season-ending ankle injury. A year that started with so much optimism has quickly fallen apart for Jacksonville.
29. New York Jets
Last Week: 29
The Jets’ woes continued with another setback in Week 12, this time losing at the hands of their long-time rival, the hated New England Patriots. Coming off a breakout season in 2017, Robby Anderson hasn’t looked the same this year, catching fewer than half his targets (23-of-48) while battling ankle and hamstring injuries. It’s hard to see silver linings while in the midst of a five-game losing streak, but at least the Jets can take solace in the development of Chris Herndon, who leads all rookie tight ends with 26 catches.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 30
Playing without top receivers Pierre Garcon (knee) and Marquise Goodwin (personal), Nick Mullens couldn’t get anything going against the Bucs in Week 12, managing just 221 yards on sluggish 18-of-32 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions. He’ll try to redeem himself Sunday at Seattle. Meanwhile Matt Breida has been a rock for San Francisco, topping 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games. He’s aiming to become the Niners’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Frank Gore cleared that threshold in 2014.
31. Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 31
Apparently, Jordy Nelson gained the power of invisibility during his week off, seeing just one touch over 52 offensive snaps in his return from a knee injury Sunday at Baltimore. Millionth-round draft pick Marcell Ateman drew a career-high 10 targets in Week 12, but caught just three of them for a thoroughly underwhelming 16 yards. Fifth-year field general Derek Carr has gone his last six games without throwing an interception, but has eclipsed 200 yards just twice in that span. Doug Martin’s touchdown Sunday was his first since Week 14 of 2017 when he was still with Tampa Bay.
32. Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 32
The Cardinals jumped out to an early 10-0 advantage in Week 12, then packed it in by allowing 45 unanswered points in a road loss to the Chargers. It’s been a trying stretch for floundering rookie Josh Rosen, who has hurled nine interceptions while stumbling to a hideous 65.1 quarterback rating over last five games. Larry Fitzgerald has had an equally frustrating year for the Birds (career-low 41.8 receiving yards per game), though at least he’s been finding pay-dirt on a consistent basis with five touchdowns in his last five contests.
Biggest Jump: Broncos, Browns
Biggest Drop: Bengals