There were some big performances Sunday. Four players topped 30 fantasy points; 21 topped 20. But then, in the late-afternoon games, there was one historic performance. Being on Twitter during the first half of the Kansas City Chiefs-Oakland Raiders game was a heck of an experience.
But we'll get to that. Here's a look at the best performances of Week 15:
Best quarterbacks in Week 15
Nick Foles, PHI (428 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, 41 rushing yards, 33 fantasy points)
I have a spreadsheet every Sunday, into which I input every player's single-game score in order to see the best/worst/etc. more clearly. When I looked at Foles' score, I assumed I must have entered it wrong. I didn't see any of the Eagles-Vikings game, but they lost handily, so Foles' monster day didn't make sense. But he connected with DeSean Jackson for almost 200 yards, and hit Jackson, Zach Ertz, and Jason Avant for a touchdown each. He even added in his second-most rushing yards of the year. Fantasy-wise, the game went perfectly for Foles -- the Eagles fell behind early, so Foles had to throw as much as possible to catch up. It led to his most completions, most pass attempts, most passing yards of the season. Yeah, Foles had his second interception of the season, but overall it was a monster day.
Next game: The Eagles take on a Chicago Bears team that has held quarterbacks in check of late; they've only allowed 20 points to an opposing quarterback once all season, and that was in Week 7. Still, Foles has been a machine this year, with 26 combined touchdowns against only two interceptions. You can't expect a repeat of Week 15 from Foles next week, but he should still be fine.
Alex Smith, KC (287 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, 17 rushing yards, 30 fantasy points)
Smith was drafted 20th among quarterbacks in fantasy drafts this season, behind fantasy afterthoughts like Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Matt Schaub, Sam Bradford. He was the quarterback who couldn't throw deep, couldn't lead comebacks. Frankly, he still can't really do those things, or at least hasn't shown us that he can. What he can do, though, is hit Jamaal Charles on screen passes and not make mistakes. It's not flashy, but it's been enough to have Smith enter Week 15 as the No. 11 fantasy quarterback, and he'll likely come out of the week even higher.
Next game: The Chiefs host the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16 -- the same Colts team that has allowed Andy Dalton, Case Keenum, and Carson Palmer to have big games against them. So long as the Chiefs can stay ahead early, Smith should once again be fine for a top-tier start.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, TEN (402 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 22 rushing yards, 30 fantasy points)
Once again, it's a great recipe of falling behind early and facing a defense that can stop the run. Fitzpatrick and the Titans had a decent day through the air until the last few minutes, when a frenzied end-of-the-fourth-quarter stretch yielded two more scores to Michael Preston -- who, no, I had never heard of until Sunday -- and several more points added to Fitzpatrick's total. It's Fitzpatrick's fourth game of 20 or more fantasy points in basically half a season's worth of starts. In real football, Fitzpatrick's interception in overtime was a crusher, but in fantasy, it was only a couple points. Fitzpatrick will be a starter somewhere in 2014.
Next game: Week 16 ought to be good for Fitzpatrick again, with the Titans playing a Jacksonville Jaguars team that, while improved, still isn't exactly a powerhouse on defense.
Best running backs in Week 15
Jamaal Charles, KC (20 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 195 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns, 51 fantasy points)
Okay, so we all know Jamaal Charles was the best performer of Week 15. We all know Charles on Sunday turned in the top single-game fantasy performance of any player all season -- if ESPN's Tristan H. Cockcroft is to be believed, he's tied for the third-best single-game performance since 2000. It kind of seemed like the Oakland Raiders weren't aware of the possibility of screen passes in the game, and the Chiefs used it to their advantage. Charles came into Week 15 with an 18-point lead on second place among running backs, and he outscored LeSean McCoy by 42 points. He's running away with the top spot among running backs, and the question now becomes whether Charles ought to be the top overall pick in all of fantasy next season. It's hard to find much of an argument against that.
Next game: The Chiefs take on the Colts in Week 16. It's a defense that has been unimpressive for several weeks in a row, and no, Charles isn't scoring 50 again, but it wouldn't be at all a shock to see him in this space again next week.
Matt Asiata, MIN (51 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 15 receiving yards, 24 fantasy points)
I'm an idiot:
Kinda want to start Matt Asiata in fantasy tomorrow, just to be the guy who gets to post a screen-shot of his score when Asiata gets 25.— Daniel Kelley (@danieltkelley) December 15, 2013
I didn't do it (and yes, that is John McClane filling out post-Nakatomi Plaza paperwork as my avatar, because that is awesome). I really wanted to, but I couldn't talk myself into it. I just wanted to be the guy, you know? And I almost nailed his score, too, which is just that much more frustrating. In his second season, Asiata came into Sunday with three rushes for nine yards total, plus one catch for two yards. He was an NFL player, but barely. But injuries to Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart gave Asiata the job, and he came through -- well, sort of. Yeah, he had 24 fantasy points and three touchdowns. But dude averaged 1.7 yards per carry in the game. He had 30 carries. It's nice that he'll always have Week 15 of 2013 to look back on, but there's a reason he only had three career carries.
Next game: The Vikings haven't said what their plan is regarding Peterson going forward, but what motivation do they have to bring him back for the rest of this lost season? Gerhart is a different story, and again, the team hasn't said it's plan for him, but he's a free agent after the season, and it sounds like he'll at least be able to go in Week 16. Add that to the fact that the Vikings take on a good Bengals' run defense, and Asiata is a one-hit wonder.
Eddie Lacy, GB (141 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 30 receiving yards, 23 fantasy points)
Lacy came into Week 15 in a three-way tie for ninth among fantasy running backs, in a close race with two others for seventh. Basically, there's a top six at the position, then a gap before the next tier. Unless Reggie Bush plays and has a big game Monday night, though, Lacy pulled into a lead. He had more than twice as many yards as any other Packer, as the team mounted a huge comeback against the Dallas Cowboys.
Next game: For much of the season, Lacy's streaks have gone bad game-good-game-great game, then starting it all over. There's really no reason for that to continue, other than that it has so far. Still though, he's proven to be a top-flight running back, and he's a must-start next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Plus, there's the added bonus of a Week 17 matchup against the Chicago Bears, who don't stop any running backs at all.
Best wide receivers in Week 15
DeSean Jackson, PHI (195 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 25 fantasy points)
Sunday tied Week 2 for Jackson's best game of the season, and the 10 catches were his best. He's scored nine touchdowns and is just under 1,300 receiving yards. Strictly as a wide receiver, this is easily Jackson's best season of his career, and he still has two games to go. Jackson has easily been a top-10 fantasy wide receiver on the season.
Next game: The Eagles take on the Chicago Bears next Sunday; the Bears are not nearly as bad against wide receivers as they are against running backs, though they have allowed some big performances to receivers as well. Jackson will be fine. Maybe not 25-point fine, but fine.
Greg Jennings, MIN (163 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 22 fantasy points)
Jennings has had his moments this season -- 21 fantasy points in Week 4, 13 in Week 13 -- but overall it's been a really disappointing first season in Minnesota for the wide receiver. Sunday, though, he had a season-high 11 catches, and his 163 yards marked his first hundred-yard performance of the year. Jennings has struggled so much that he (until this game) doesn't even show up on the top 50 fantasy wide receivers.
Next game: The Vikings take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16, which should signal a return to mediocrity for Jennings. The Bengals' defense is just that much better than the Eagles'.
Dez Bryant, DAL (153 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 21 fantasy points)
It's been an awful run for Bryant of late, as he averaged only 56.5 receiving yards per game in his last six. He got back ont he right side of the ledger Sunday, though, with season highs in both catches (11) and receiving yards (153). His struggles were frustrating, but this was a big bounce back.
Next game: Things are getting better for Bryant, as the next two defenses he faces are the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. Not that it ever made sense to give up on someone as talented as Bryant, but it super-duper doesn't make sense with that pair of games.
Best tight ends in Week 15
Tim Wright, TB (82 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14 fantasy points)
There wasn't much in the way of big performances from tight ends Sunday, with Rob Gronkowski hurt and guys like Jimmy Graham having a down week. Wright ended up as the Buccaneers' leader in receiving yards, and it was the best game of the rookie's short career. The 82 yards were his second-highest single-game total, but he added a score to make it his biggest game. Since he got the starting job, Wright has there double-digit fantasy days and four games with exactly one fantasy point. In other words, he's not very reliable.
Next game: Tampa Bay takes on the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints next week, two teams that are stout against tight ends. Sunday's opponent, San Francisco, is, too, but Wright's inconsistency combined with the tough opponent make him a tough play in Week 16.
Vernon Davis, SF (79 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points)
Sunday was Davis' third double-digit fantasy day in his last four, and he's scored at least eight points in five straight. Basically, when Davis has been healthy this year, he's been great; his struggles have only been accompanied by his injuries. Still, he's fantasy's No. 2 tight end -- distant, but still -- and he's pretty solidly in his spot.
Jason Witten, DAL (71 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points)
Witten has spaced his five double-digit fantasy days around the season, never offering the big games in back-to-back weeks. The inconsistency is what has taken Witten from the top tier of fantasy tight ends to a step below. He's still a must-start, but he just hasn't offered the reliability fantasy owners had come to expect out of Witten in recent seasons.
Next game: The Cowboys get to take on the Washington Redskins in Week 16, which is a short way of saying "Start every big-name Cowboy." Inconsistent as he has been, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Witten equal this performance next week.
Best kicker in Week 15
Dan Bailey, DAL (5/5 FG, 3/3 XP, 24 fantasy points)
Bailey was one of fantasy's top kickers early in the year, with 10-plus points five times in his first nine games. Since then, though, he's averaged only 5.5 points per game and hadn't kicked more than one field goal in any game. He's still a reliable fantasy kicker, even moreso in leagues that offer bonus points for long field goals.
Best defense/special teams in Week 15
Seattle Seahawks (0 points allowed, 5 interceptions, 22 fantasy points)
Man, take one of the best defenses in the league and pit them against one of the most interception-prone quarterbacks we've ever seen in Eli Manning, and this is what you get. It was one of the most predictable outcomes of the season, and just solidified Seattle's defense as a mega-stud unit.