What We Saw: Week 13 Monday Night Edition

Mercury Morris is celebrating with champagne in his cereal this morning

Washington @ Steelers

 

The plucky Washington Football Team refused to go quietly into the cold night as they fought back from 14-0 down to lead 20-17 approaching the 2-minute warning in the 4th quarter against an undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers team whose offense was surprisingly offbeat, mainly due to bad drops from the wide receivers. The Washington defensive line was menacing throughout the game, and it was Montez Sweat, phenomenal all night, who tipped a Ben Roethlisberger pass up into the air for Jon Bostic to intercept and give his team the ball back. Dustin Hopkins kicked a field goal meaning the Steelers needed to go down the field in just 17 seconds to win the game. Eric Ebron failed to get out of bounds on a pass from Roethlisberger and the clock ran out, sealing a memorable win for Washington and Ron Rivera.

 

Washington Football Team

 

Quarterback

 

Alex Smith: 31/46, 296 yards, 1 TD, 3 sacks

 

A beautifully managed game from the king of game management, Alex Smith (15.84 fantasy points) was behind this remarkable comeback from Washington. His best performance this season was timely, and Smith was efficient all night in the face of tremendous pressure from an elite Pittsburgh pass rush. Smith now has a passing TD in 3 consecutive games and has this offense humming, especially in the short passing game over the middle of the field.

 

 

A return to San Francisco next week is not ideal for fantasy purposes but he does hold value in a Superflex league.

 

Running Backs

 

Peyton Barber: 14 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD

Antonio Gibson: 2 carries, 14 yards

J.D. McKissic: 5 carries, 8 yards, 1 FUM | 10 targets, 10 receptions, 70 yards

 

An extremely promising rookie season from Antonio Gibson (1.40 fantasy points) looks like it could be over after the 3rd round selection out of Memphis limped off with an injury during the 1st quarter and did not return. Gibson seemed to be having his left foot taped whilst suffering from intense pain. All eyes will be on the news post-game. Peyton Barber (8.30 fantasy points) was mostly ineffective in relief but did punch in a touchdown to bring his team back into the game.

 

 

The injury to Gibson benefitted pass-catching specialist J.D. McKissic (17.80 fantasy points) more – he caught all his 10 targets for 70 yards and consistently found himself open in the 2nd half to move the chains. McKissic will be a popular waiver wire target for the playoffs if Gibson indeed misses time.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Logan Thomas: 9 targets, 9 receptions, 98 yards, 1 TD

Cam Sims: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 92 yards

Steven Sims Jr.: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 17 yards

Terry McLaurin: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards

Isaiah Wright: 4 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards

 

It was a very rough night for primary receiver Terry McLaurin (3.40 fantasy points) who registered his worst stat line of the season today after being marshaled by a double-team of Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick for most of the night. Coming off 5 straight games of at least 84 receiving yards, McLaurin only had 2 catches and is now without a touchdown in 4 straight contests. Not what we want come fantasy playoffs. Instead, Smith was forced to his secondary unit and the big beneficiary was Cam Sims (14.20 fantasy points), who looked effective on the outside and even pulled down a fantastic one-handed catch to set up the go-ahead field goal.

 

Logan Thomas (24.80 fantasy points) is quickly catapulting himself into TE1 talk. Going up against a Steelers defense that has given up the least amount of fantasy points to tight ends this season, Thomas ripped apart the Steelers secondary who were too busy keeping McLaurin quiet.

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Quarterback

 

Ben Roethlisberger: 33/53, 305 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT | 1 carry, 0 yards

 

A season-high 53 passing attempts could not help Ben Roethlisberger (19.20 fantasy points) overcome his own team’s failures against a Washington defense that was completely unforgiving. It all looked rosy going into half time as Big Ben found Diontae Johnson and then James Washington for passing touchdowns. The throw to Johnson was lovely – perfectly placed to the outside with the knowledge that his receiver was in tight coverage.

 

 

Roethlisberger suffered from 5 dropped passes from his receiving corps, 3 alone from tight end Eric Ebron. He also came under fire from an elite Washington pass rush, especially from the interior. This ended up being his undoing as a tipped pass late in the 4th quarter effectively ended the Steelers undefeated season.

 

 

Big Ben is a solid option for your fantasy playoffs, but temper expectations to a high QB2 rather than low QB1.

 

Running Backs

 

Benny Snell: 8 carries, 5 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 5 yards

Anthony McFarland: 4 carries, 15 yards | 1 target

Jaylen Samuels: 1 carry, 1 yard | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 11 yards

 

Missing James Connor once again, this Pittsburgh running game was abysmal. Totaling just 13 carries for 21 yards and 8 targets with 5 receptions for 16 yards, there is literally nothing to talk about here. On a night when they jumped out to a 14-0 lead, the Steelers needed to lean on this run game but nobody stepped up at all. Benny Snell (3.00 fantasy points) was the man given the carries near the red zone but he was snuffed on a 4th and 1 try in the 2nd quarter.

 

 

It is hard to validate any of these backs as a viable fantasy option for next week.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

James Washington: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD

Diontae Johnson: 12 targets, 8 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD

Eric Ebron: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 68 yards

Chase Claypool: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 38 yards

JuJu Smith Schuster: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 28 yards

Ray-Ray McCloud: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards

Jerald Hawkins: 1 target

 

Diontae Johnson (21.10 fantasy points) continued his issues with drops again against this stout Washington secondary after an awful time against the Ravens last week. Despite that, he again led the team with targets and now has 10 or more targets in 6 of his previous 7 games. The other issue is his volume in the redzone – his TD today was only his 2nd in the last 6 games. The truth is there are just too many mouths to feed in Pittsburgh. James Washington (16.00 fantasy points), for example, has resorted to making things happen for himself due to a lack of attention from Big Ben.

 

 

Those who have Washington rostered have likely given up on him by now so this meant little to many in fantasy. Chase Claypool (5.80 fantasy points) and Juju Smith-Schuster (9.80 fantasy points) are likely to have upset many owners today, making little out of their 4 and 10 targets respectively. Juju was used mostly over the top and close to the line of scrimmage, a bizarre plan from the Steelers. It didn’t work. And Claypool seems to be ceding snaps to Washington. There is just too much volatility in this receiving room to count on a verified WR1.

Despite his drops today, Eric Ebron (13.80 fantasy points) continues to be a low-end TE1 thanks to volume. This was his 2nd straight game with 11 targets.

 

— Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

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