Week 15 on the NFL schedule is almost in the books (we still have Monday Night Football) and the best performances deserve to be recognized by our MMQB staff. Even if you’re feeling down because your team didn’t win, maybe one of your favorite players or coaches gets awarded a game ball by our staff.
Here are this weekend’s standouts:
Mitch Goldich: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs. McKinnon has been solid as the Chiefs’ pass-catching back this season, but has really broken out the past two weeks. He followed up Week 14’s performance (six rushes and seven catches for 134 total yards and two receiving touchdowns) with a Week 15 line of 10 carries for 52 yards and a TD, plus eight catches for 70 yards and another score. His performance reminds me of what Damien Williams did in 2018, when the calendar flipped to December and he said, “Hello, I’m going to score a ton of touchdowns, both as a runner and receiver.” (Note: I’m not sure he ever actually said this.) Williams kept it up through the January-February ’20 playoff run, when he had six scores in three games, including two in Super Bowl LIV. What’s fun is McKinnon has done this while Isiah Pacheco has established himself late in his rookie year, instead of cannibalizing all the production. But since Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been phased out and then placed on IR, there’s plenty to go around for these two. I like what it does for the Kansas City offense, as we already know what Patrick Mahomes is capable of doing with Travis Kelce and his stable of receivers. The Texans put up a great fight, but the Chiefs are as dangerous as ever and capable of winning their first Super Bowl since Williams was on that run.
Claire Kuwana: Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Jaguars. Jenkins had the game of his career on Sunday, snagging the game-winning pick-six against the Cowboys in overtime—securing a 40–34 win for the Jaguars, and preventing Dallas from clinching a playoff spot. With the Cowboys at the Jacksonville 49-yard line, Jenkins’s 51-yard return for a touchdown was above and beyond the defensive stop the Jaguars needed to hold off a Cowboys field goal. (Dallas’s kicker Brett Maher is 10-of-10 on field goals 39 yards or fewer, 3-of-4 on 40 to 49 yards and 8-of-10 on field goals from over 50 yards. He likely would have ended the game had the Cowboys gained a few more yards. This was also Jenkins’s second interception of the day; his first came in the third quarter and gave the Jaguars possession to make it a one-score game.
Michael Fabiano: Zay Jones, WR, Jaguars. Jones and Trevor Lawrence connected for three touchdowns. Lawrence has been an early Christmas gift for fantasy fans, scoring 20-plus points in four of his last five games. He came up huge against the Cowboys, beating them for four touchdowns and 26.8 points in a come-from-behind win. It’s the most points Dallas has allowed to an enemy quarterback this season. Lawrence’s favorite target was Zay Jones, who produced six catches, three touchdowns and a career-best 34.9 points. The Jaguars offensive players have a tough matchup against the Jets next, but this duo helped a lot of fantasy managers advance into the second round of the postseason.
John Pluym: K.J. Osborn, WR, Vikings. Osborn was the 176th selection in the fifth round in 2020. Game by game and year by year, Osborn has improved. And all of his hard work over the past couple of years paid off in the greatest comeback ever Saturday, when the Vikings rallied from a 33–0 deficit to defeat the Colts, 39–36, in overtime. And Osborn was one of the main reasons why the Vikings completed the comeback, catching 10 passes on 16 targets for 157 yards and a touchdown. Here’s what quarterback Kirk Cousins said about Osborn’s performance: “My issue with K.J. is he’s not getting the ball enough. He’s capable of having the day he had today every week. Not everybody can do that. If you’re gonna give it to Justin [Jefferson], then K.J. and Adam [Thielen], I guess, you end up not being able to participate as much. But K.J. is capable of that every week, and he’s an elite receiver and I just wish we could get him the ball more.”
Gary Gramling: Davis Mills, QB, Texans. I know, I know, he lost the fumble in overtime, and now all the other kids are going to call him names (“fumble pants” … “can’t hold the ball guy” … “smelly”). But taking a step back, Mills continues to prove himself as—by a wide margin—the best quarterback in Houston, and yet the Texans’s coaching staff keeps insisting on taking him off the field. A couple weeks ago it was Kyle Allen displacing Mills in what I assume was some kind of conceptual art project engineered by Lovie Smith. On Sunday, the Texans conceded seven snaps by putting Jeff Driskel in at quarterback; those plays netted 12 yards for Houston—my favorite was the tight red-zone first-down bootleg call on which Driskel slowly jogged out of bounds for a four-yard loss. Mills bailed out the coaching staff with a touchdown throw on the next snap. (I called Driskel “Diet Taysom Hill” on the podcast last week, which was quite insulting to Taysom Hill.) It was a sloppy, mistake-prone Chiefs team in Houston, but it was still the Chiefs, and if Mills had those seven snaps back, the Texans might very well win the game in regulation. Mills is probably not anyone’s longterm answer at quarterback, but winning a head-to-head matchup with Patrick Mahomes with what amounts to a Week-2-of-the-preseason collection of weapons would have been a nice feather in his cap. Especially during this holiday season.