SEC in Fantasy, Week 12: Kerryon Johnson, Peyton Barber and the longest week ever

Week 12 went from Thursday morning to Wednesday evening, but it featured some stronger performances from a pair of Auburn backs.

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The longest week in NFL history just wrapped up in the Steel City on Wednesday evening.

For those of us in the correct time zone, Week 12 began a half hour before noon on Thanksgiving Day with a matchup between the Lions and Texans. With D’Andre Swift set to miss his second consecutive game due to lingering concussion symptoms, Kerryon Johnson was in line for another big workload after logging 22 more snaps than Adrian Peterson and outpacing the future Hall of Famer in touches out of the backfield a week ago.

The first game of the holiday began as it did the week before for the Lions — a pair of short runs from Adrian Peterson put Kerryon Johnson in the backfield on the third play of the game for the Detroit offense, which was immediately facing third down and long.

Last Sunday against Carolina, Stafford threw to KJ out of the backfield to complete the first down. But Johnson would have to wait a play before getting his first target on Thursday, instead having to pick up a safety blitz from Justin Reid and throw a key pass protection block that bought enough time for Matt Stafford to find T.J. Hockenson on a chip-and-drag route for the first down. The next play, Kerryon caught a short pass for seven yards, similar to the early conversion versus the Panthers.

On second-and-3, Kerryon took a handoff from Stafford out of the pistol, tossed it backward to Jamal Agnew, who flipped it back to Stafford, and the quarterback connected again with wide-open Hockenson for 51 yards. That was all the work Johnson would get on the first drive, as Peterson checked in and muscled his way into the end zone three plays later from a yard out.

A pick-six and a Jonathan Williams’ lost fumble made up the next two plays from the Detroit offense, who found a way to supremely spoil a strong start in typical Lions’ fashion. The fourth drive featured Kerryon in the backfield most of the way, taking handoffs on the first two plays for a total of 11 yards.

After a pair of 16-yard completions, KJ took a 7-yard run and followed it with a gain of four before the ball squirted out from under him. Though he was ruled down initially, the Texans successfully challenged the ruling on the field — it was a fumble, recovered by Houston, just his third fumble (unluckily, all lost) in three seasons. Not what you want when you’re trying to prove your worth in an already limited role.

But remember, the Lions’ third running back on the depth chart had already fumbled his very first touch as a member of the team, and with a soon-to-be 36-year-old as the only other true member of the backfield, they couldn’t possibly afford to freeze Kerryon out. He would get another shot.

The very next play was a fumble from the Texans, and KJ buckled up his helmet and took the field once again. He caught a pass for 16 yards, took a run for a couple more, and checked out to watch Peterson plunge into the end zone for a second time from the one-yard line.

From that point forward, Kerryon would spread out his production with two more catches for 32 yards and six more rushes for a total of 22 yards, ending his Turkey Day line early in the third quarter with 11 carries for 46 yards, four catches for 52 yards, and the lost fumble.

With Swift expected to return to the lineup in Week 13, Johnson may play sparingly again — but the new regime might want to take a couple more looks at him before his cap hit eclipses $2M next season.

The following Thanksgiving game in Dallas featured another Auburn alum fighting for more playing time in a crowd of running back mates, as Peyton Barber and the Washington Football Team visited the Cowboys. After registering just 2.42 yards per carry on the season and making special teams tackle the week before, Barber likely was not expecting the touches that would be on the way.

Though his teammate Antonio Gibson absolutely scorched the Dallas defense for 115 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns, Barber was able to take advantage of his extended run throughout the afternoon as well. Barber took his three first half carries for a total of 21 yards, already besting his total yardage effort in all but three games on the season.

Peyton would take a carry for four yards and down a punt in the third quarter before running the ball seven times on the final two drives of the game to close out Dallas.

By the time it was all said and done, PB had taken 11 carries (his most since Week 1) for 57 yards (most all season) and the Washington Football Team had crushed its NFC East rival for the second time this season, 41-16. Barber’s Team is now tied atop the division standings with the New York Football Giants.

With that in mind, let’s look at the rest of the very long Week 12 for the rest of former Auburn and SEC players in the NFL:

Alabama

QB: Jalen Hurts (Eagles) - 0.2

RB: Derrick Henry (Titans) - 37.5

RB: Kenyan Drake (Cardinals) - 22.8

WR: Amari Cooper (Cowboys) - 20.2

WR: Calvin Ridley (Falcons) – 14

TE: Irv Smith Jr. (Vikings) – INJ

FLEX: Henry Ruggs III (Raiders) - 6.9

TOTAL = 101.6

El Tractorcito steamrolled his way into the end zone early and often, punishing the Colts defense to the tune of 178 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Eight of Henry’s 27 carries went for 10 yards or more. He added a pair of short-yardage catches to what was a huge performance on the ground, springing his Titans into first place in the AFC South.

RB2 for the Tide this week was Kenyan Drake, who took a different route to get to his second largest fantasy score of the season. Drake ran for 100 yards less than Henry but scored the first and last touchdowns of the game for the Cardinals, adding three catches for 15 yards to his final line. Though Drake is averaging 3.2 yards per carry in his last two weeks, he has managed to score three touchdowns and save his fantasy performances.

As for the Crimson Tide pass catchers, Amari Cooper led the way on Thanksgiving afternoon for the Cowboys, breaking the century mark for just the third time this season — his first 100+ yard game since Week 4. Cooper caught six of his eight intended targets for 112 yards, including an early 54-yard touchdown reception that gave Dallas its only lead of a lopsided 41-16 beating from the Football Team.

With Julio Jones missing his third game of the season due to injury, Calvin Ridley became the number one option for Matt Ryan once again in Week 12. Though he was held to just 50 yards receiving, it was Calvin’s volume (six catches) and scoring (4-yard TD) that gave him another 14+ point performance in the absence of his teammate/mentor.

On the other side of the most surprising result of the weekend — Atlanta’s 41-6 thrashing of the playoff hopeful Raiders — Henry Ruggs III caught three passes for 56 yards and lost a couple of yards on a rush.

Before we close the book on Alabama in Week 12, we need to mention that there might be a quarterback battle on the horizon here. I am not sure what else it will take to give Jalen Hurts a look at running the Philly offense, but if he gets the keys soon and Tua returns from a nagging injury, the Crimson Tide will be the only team in the conference with two starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

Arkansas

QB: Brandon Allen (Bengals) - 7.1

RB: Jonathan Williams (Lions) - 2.6

TE: Hunter Henry (Chargers) – 10.2

FLEX: Jeremy Sprinkle (Football Team) – 0

TOTAL = 19.9

Finally, this block will not be completely dedicated to Hunter Henry — just almost.

With the gut-wrenching loss of Joe Burrow for the foreseeable future, Zac Taylor announced during the week that it would be former Razorback, Brandon Allen, who would get the first Burrowless Bengals start against the visiting Giants. If you somehow watched this game, bless your heart. Allen’s passes accounted for 136 of Cincy’s 155 yards of total offense.

Those few yards, a pick, and a lost fumble were only some of the lowlights from a contest that featured a 28-minute stretch in which four consecutive Giants field goals were the only form of scoring. It seems the Bengals will be sticking with Allen for now, but he will surely need to improve in order to stick around.

Jonathan Williams’ first offensive snap as a Lion came on Thursday, and he promptly fumbled the first and only rushing touch he received after a 5-yard gain. However, he was able to get back into the game later and utilize his talents as a pass-catching back, securing all four passes thrown his way for 21 yards.

Hunter Henry mixed it up on Sunday, catching a season-high seven passes out of his career-high 10 targets for 67 yards. Henry cracked double digits for the third week in a row — this time without the benefit of a touchdown, something he had not done since Week 2.

Auburn

QB: Cam Newton (Patriots) – 6

RB: Kerryon Johnson (Lions) - 9.8

RB: Peyton Barber (Football Team) – 5.7

WR: Darius Slayton (Giants) – 0

TE: C.J. Uzomah (Bengals) - IR

FLEX: Chandler Cox (Dolphins) - OUT

K: Cody Parkey (Browns) – 10

TOTAL = 31.5

With the increased Thanksgiving workload from its backfield, Auburn was in a prime position to put up its highest score since Week 2. Instead, it got just SIX total fantasy points between Cam Newton and Darius Slayton, totaled its lowest-scoring week since Week 7, and for the third time this season, got its best fantasy performance from a kicker.

After four consecutive clean sheets through the air, Newton threw a couple of interceptions as he struggled his way through his worst performance of the year. He only completed half of his 18 passes for a total of 84 yards and was sacked three times, but turned in a very respectable day on the ground: nine rushes for 46 yards, including a huge third down zone read dash of 14 yards that ended with a late hit out of bounds, which set up Nick Folk’s game-winning 50-yard field goal as time expired.

Cody Parkey converted all five of his kicking attempts on Sunday, hitting field goals from 24 and 45 yards out and drilling all three of his PATs in the Browns’ 27-25 win in Jacksonville. Parkey hit double digits for the first time since Week 5.

Florida

QB: Jeff Driskel (Broncos) - CV-19

RB: La’Mical Perine (Jets) – IR

WR: Brandon Powell (Falcons) - 7.4

WR: Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) - 6.1

TE: Trey Burton (Colts) - 11.7

FLEX: Jordan Reed (49ers) - 2.8

TOTAL = 28

Due to COVID restrictions and La’Mical Perine’s severely sprained right ankle, the Gators had to rely solely on their pass catchers for points in Week 12. And honestly, the results were better than expected.

Trey Burton led the way with three catches for 42 yards and his second consecutive week with a touchdown. Burton tied a season-high with six targets from Old Man Rivers. Next, Brandon Powell was on the receiving end of one of the Falcons’ touchdowns on Sunday — a quick 4-yard connection from Matt Ryan. Powell was targeted one other time and only got back to the line of scrimmage.

Demarcus Robinson’s name is not Tyreek Hill, so he did not put up the gaudy 51.4 fantasy point stat line on Sunday. However, he did manage a fourth consecutive respectable game: five catches out of six targets for 36 yards. And in Los Angeles, Jordan Reed could only come up with two of his six tosses for 18 yards.

Georgia

QB: Matthew Stafford (Lions) – 17.1

RB: Nick Chubb (Browns) - 25.1

RB: Sony Michel (Patriots) - 0

WR: Mecole Hardman (Chiefs) - 3.8

WR: Riley Ridley (Bears) - 2.6

TE: Isaac Nauta (Lions) – 0

FLEX: A.J. Green (Bengals) - 0

K: Rodrigo Blankenship (Colts) - 2

TOTAL = 50.6

Congratulations are in order to Matt Stafford, who tied Tony Romo for most Thanksgiving Day touchdown passes in NFL history with his 18th on Thursday. Not a whole lot else is worth mentioning here, so let’s just get to the stats: 28 of 42 for 295, that special TD, and an interception.

Of the seven games Nick Chubb has participated in this season, five of them have featured him rushing for 108 yards or more. On Sunday, 19 rushes resulted in 144 yards and three catches netted him 32 more yards. From Dawg to Dawg Pound, this dude has been the real deal and is the main reason his team is 8-3.

The Georgia lineup had to feature some zeroes this week due to an assortment of injuries and limited playing time. Mecole Hardman had three catches for 23 yards and Riley Ridley caught two passes for 16 yards. Besides a pair of extra points from Blankenship, that was all the Bulldogs could muster in Week 12, its lightest week of the season.

Kentucky

RB: Benny Snell Jr. (Steelers) – 10.8

WR: Randall Cobb (Texans) – IR

WR: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Dolphins) - 0

TOTAL = 10.8

The lone SEC fantasy player featured on Wednesday afternoon, Benny Snell took advantage of his promotion to the top of the Steelers running back depth chart. 16 carries and three catches produced 60 rushing yards and 33 yards receiving. We will have to wait and see if/when James Conner is able to return to the Pittsburgh lineup.

LSU

QB: Joe Burrow (Bengals) – IR

RB: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs) – 4.4

RB: Leonard Fournette (Buccaneers) – 3.5

WR: Jarvis Landry (Browns) - 24.3

WR: Justin Jefferson (Vikings) – 22.5

TE: Foster Moreau (Raiders) – 0

FLEX: Russell Gage (Falcons) - 4.9

TOTAL = 59.6

Jarvis Landry and Justin Jefferson did some real heavy lifting for the LSU fantasy team on Sunday as the top wide receiver options for both of their respective squads. In what by far was Juice’s best game of the season, Cleveland’s No. 1 route runner caught eight of his 11 targets for 143 yards and a touchdown — all season highs. The Brown with the second most targets, catches, and yards was Nick Chubb, mentioned before, at 3-3-32. Landry was the guy.

This whip route was completely unfair. This was one of Jefferson’s two trips to the purple paint on Sunday, putting up seven catches for an even 70 yards on 13 targets. JJ was the leader in the wide receiver room for Sunday’s game after Adam Thielen was put on the COVID restricted list during the week.

Juice and JJ accounted for more than 78.5% of LSU’s fantasy production in Week 12, but Russell Gage also chipped in three catches for 34 yards in the Falcons’ routing of the Raiders.

Both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Leonard Fournette knew they would not get the bulk of the action throughout their game on Sunday, and they were right. CEH ran 11 times for 37 yards against a tenacious rushing defense in Tampa and caught his only pass for two yards. Fournette’s box score was at least neat and tidy. He took three handoffs for 10 yards and caught all three of his targets for 10 yards. That’s 3-10 & 3-3-10 on 33 offensive snaps.

Mississippi State

QB: Dak Prescott (Cowboys) – IR

TE: Jordan Thomas (Patriots) - 0

TOTAL = 0

More crop circles in Starkville.

Missouri

QB: Drew Lock (Broncos) – CV19

TE: Sean Culkin (Ravens) – 0

TOTAL = 12.1

How ‘bout that Broncos game, huh? St. Louis Bread Company bagels.

Ole Miss

RB: Jordan Wilkins (Colts) – 7.2

WR: A.J. Brown (Titans) – 23.8

WR: D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks) – 22.7

TE: Evan Engram (Giants) – 13.9

FLEX: Dawson Knox (Bills) - 6.7

TOTAL = 74.3

Jordan Wilkins was the starter this week for the Colts but the game script quickly moved away from the running game, making him pass-catching dependent for fantasy relevancy. Six rushes for 22 yards and three catches for 35 yards got him to 7.2 for the day.

I am probably the only person on the Earth who was intrigued by SEC alum team’s positional matchups but we had a stellar one this weekend at wide receiver. Ole Miss went into Monday Night Football trailing LSU’s receiving duo 46.8 to 23.8 after A.J. Brown caught four passes for 98 yards and a touchdown and then easily took this horribly executed onside kick to the house.

Metcalf would need just a fraction above 23 points against Darius Slay to clinch the top WR1/WR2 total in the League. D.K. absolutely owned the matchup all night, catching 10 of his 13 targets for 177 yards — a spectacular night that turned Philly’s top corner into several memes. The Eagles were able to keep D.K. out of the end zone though, and he came up a mere 0.3 points short of the LSU mark.

Evan Engram and Dawson Knox were both back in action this week and churned out their best weeks of the season. Evan Engram took six catches for a career-high 129 yards on Sunday in Cincinnati. His lost fumble knocked him back a couple of points but he and the Giants will take it. A single two-yard catch for a touchdown from Knox was enough to nearly double his best scoring output coming in, as Ole Miss put up their strongest weekly numbers of 2020.

South Carolina

RB: Mike Davis (Panthers) – 9.4

RB: Rico Dowdle (Cowboys) – 0

WR: Deebo Samuel (49ers) - 18.8

WR: Damiere Byrd (Patriots) - 4.8

TE: Hayden Hurst (Falcons) – 6.8

FLEX: Alshon Jeffery (Eagles) - 2.5

K: Ryan Succop (Buccaneers) - 6

TOTAL = 48.3

13 passes thrown to Deebo Samuel resulted in 11 snags for 133 yards in the Niners upset win in Los Angeles. Deebo had not received that amount of attention from a quarterback, nor had he caught that many passes in his two-year career coming into Sunday. After the game, Deebo decided to take to Twitter for a little trolling of Rams’ star, Aaron Donald:

It was another pedestrian day for Mike Davis, who logged 15 carries for 55 yards and three catches for 24 yards for the Panthers in Week 12. With McCaffrey again on the mend, it will be interesting to see how Carolina plays this out. As the 14th ranked team in the NFC, do they go back to their superstar who has been saddled with different injuries throughout the year? Or will Mike get a few more weeks as the feature back?

Damiere Byrd was thrown to seven times again on Sunday, but that was all that resembled Week 11’s standout performance. Byrd caught just three of those passes for 33 yards on Sunday and will look to get back on track with his quarterback in Los Angeles. And although it did not result in much (15 yards), it was great to see Alshon Jeffery catch a couple of passes on Monday night.

Four catches for 48 yards from Hayden Hurst is actually a pretty solid day, considering the fantasy experts were widely calling for managers to sit him with Julio out. Next week, Hayden Hurst Helmsley will face the New Orleans defense who held him to zero catches last week.

Succop hit a 26-yarder and nailed all three of his extra points, but one more boot on the other side was able to best him again as his Buccaneers fell to the same score in consecutive weeks: 27-24.

Tennessee

QB: Joshua Dobbs (Steelers) - OUT

RB: Alvin Kamara (Saints) – 5.7

RB: Jakob Johnson (Patriots) – 0

WR: Cordarrelle Patterson (Bears) – 0.8

WR: Marquez Callaway (Saints) - 0

TE: Jason Witten (Raiders) – 0

FLEX: Luke Stocker (Falcons) - 0

TOTAL = 6.5

Fantasy gurus are perplexed at what to make of Kamara’s play since Taysom Hill took over for the injured Drew Brees. Probably because nearly every week Alvin was active from Weeks 1-10, he produced a better scoring total than his past two weeks combined! Some are pushing the panic button, others want to see his usage in different matchups. The actual football results have been two blowout wins for the Saints, so I’m not sure they mind either way right now. 11 carries for 54 yards and only one catch resulting in a loss of two isn’t what fantasy managers are looking for from what has been an unstoppable force.

Texas A&M

QB: Ryan Tannehill (Titans) – 19.1

RB: Trayveon Williams (Bengals) - 1.6

RB: Cullen Gillaspia (Texans) - INJ

WR: Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – 18.5

WR: Josh Reynolds (Rams) – 6.5

TE: Jace Sternberger (Packers) – 1

FLEX: Christian Kirk (Cardinals) – 3.4

K: Randy Bullock (Bengals) - 6

TOTAL = 56.8

After catching two more on Sunday, Mike Evans has now received 11 touchdown passes in 12 weeks of football — the top spot among former SEC receivers. In our scoring format, three catches and 50 yards will get you just 6.5 points (similar to the week Josh Reynolds had), but make two of those bad boys tuddies and you’re making everyone happy with 18.5.

Reynolds’ 6.5 was actually by way of five catches for 40 yards, while Christian Kirk chipped in a lowly three catches for 19 yards. For Kirk, the last Weeks 10-12 have been a bit of a struggle as his combined score has failed to reach the marks he put up each of the three weeks previous.

Though one of his passing touchdowns was changed to a lateral toss, Ryan Tannehill still put up another solid fantasy day. 13 of 22 for 221, a forward passing touchdown to A.J. Brown, and a rushing score pushed him inside the Top 10 of fantasy quarterback scoring on the season.

Quick shoutouts to Jace Sternberger and Trayveon Williams for their fantasy spare change. Randy Bullock converted all three of his kicks: a 44-yard field goal and two extra points.

Vanderbilt

RB: Khari Blasingame (Titans) – 2.1

RB: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Buccaneers) - OUT

WR: Trent Sherfield (Cardinals) - CV19

TOTAL = 2.1

Blasingame caught another pass for 16 yards, besting his 13-yard catch a couple weeks ago. Once again, Blas puts VANDY ON THE BOARD.

FANTASY STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK 12

1. Alabama: 1110.8 (last week - 1)

2. Georgia: 882.1 (2)

3. LSU: 868.9 (3)

4. Texas A&M: 696 (4)

5. South Carolina: 541.3 (5)

6. Auburn: 503 (6)

7. Ole Miss: 474.4 (7)

8. Tennessee: 342.6(8)

9. Florida: 303.7 (9)

10. Mississippi State: 151.9 (10)

11. Missouri: 130.1 (11)

12. Kentucky: 129.7

13. Arkansas: 104.7 (13)

14. Vanderbilt: 20.3 (14)

WEEK 12 ALL-SEC FANTASY TEAM

QB: Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M/Titans) – 19.1

RB: Derrick Henry (Alabama/Titans) – 37.5

RB: Nick Chubb (Georgia/Browns) - 25.1

WR: Jarvis Landry (LSU/Browns) - 24.3

WR: A.J. Brown (Ole Miss/Titans) - 23.8

TE: Evan Engram (Ole Miss/Giants) - 13.9

FLEX: Kenyan Drake (Alabama/Cardinals) - 22.8

K: Cody Parkey (Auburn/Browns) - 10

TOTAL = 176.5

On the backs of the Titans and Browns come our All-SEC Team of the Week. Those two teams will actually meet in Week 13 in a duel between 8-3 AFC division leaders. Each of Tennesee’s three-headed offensive monster claimed spots for the second week in a row after a Sunday afternoon beatdown of the Indianapolis Colts. Henry and A.J. Brown have claimed the award five times this season, while Tannehill returned for a fourth time. As for the Browns, Chubb was the second best running back in the conference — back on the list for the first time since Week 3. Jarvis Landry and Cody Parkey received the honor for the first time this season. Parkey’s kicking performance put an Auburn Tiger at the top of a position for the first time since Opening Weekend.

Evan Engram was the other all-conference newcomer this week and Kenyan Drake rounded out the big scores by edging out a couple of wide receivers for the FLEX spot.

Auburn failed to capitalize on a tremendous opportunity to catch up with South Carolina in Week 12. With two running backs who have been squeezed out all season getting extended run on Thanksgiving Day, the Tigers exchanged that new production for duds on Sunday from Newton and Slayton. Now the team is in serious trouble of getting chased down by Ole Miss, who have shown its ability to break through to a new ceiling at any time in recent weeks.

The Buccaneers and Panthers will take their BYE weeks in Week 13, opening another chance for Auburn to make up the now 38.3 points that divide them due to Davis and Succop weekend off. Hopefully those two teams are the only ones who will go without playing, but if this past week is any indication — who really knows? Maybe we’ll get another Wednesday afternoon matinee in the week ahead.

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