I don't know why it happens. Maybe it's the fact that everyone's happy from all the turkey they've been able to eat over Thanksgiving. Maybe it's because they got a great deal at Best Buy on Black Friday. Maybe it's because the circus is in town and they just really love clowns. I just call it Silly Season because something snaps and players, usually the most downtrodden and ridiculed, start posting sick stat lines and beaucoups points. These guys are a gold mine if you happen to start them, but let's face facts - most of you had these guys sitting on your bench if you haven't cut them by this point! Let's look at some examples.
QB - Russell Wilson (SEA) - Here's a guy that has been an extreme disappointment so far. In seven straight games (from week 3 to week 10) he got exactly one passing TD in each and has yet to rush for a touchdown. He's certainly not the player we've gotten used to seeing over the previous 3 years. However, on Sunday he proceeds to obliterate the Pittsburgh defense and do his best Peyton Manning 2013 impersonation with 345 pass yards and 5 TDs! In standard scoring he ended up with 35.2 points which is more than twice his average points earned this season. Can he do it again? He's got some favorable matchups including at Baltimore in week 14, home for Cleveland in week 15 and the closes out against the faltering St. Louis squad at home for the fantasy championships. Obviously something has lit a fire in Wilson the past 2 weeks, I'm interested to see if it continues. Runner ups: Matthew Stafford (34.78 points) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (29.18 points).
WR - Sammy Watkins (BUF) - Talk about a sophomore slump, Watkins has been nearly invisible this year. He's been battling injuries all season long, has missed 4 games entirely, and when he does play he's been more of a miss than a hit. So what happens when they go to Kansas City and play in the cold November Rain (cue Axl Rose)? Of course he becomes a Megatron clone with 6 catches, 158 yards and 2 TDs. In PPR he earned you 33.8 points if he wasn't sitting on your bench! Looking forward he's got Houston at home next week, which shouldn't be a problem given how bad he made a stout KC squad look on Sunday. After that he's got a drool worthy matchup against the simpletons in Philly. The fantasy playoff weeks are at Washington and home against Dallas, neither of which really scares me so I think we could see more fireworks. Runner Ups: Jarvis Landry (35.9 points), Calvin Johnson (35.3 points).
RB - CJ Anderson (DEN) - An epic first round bust so far on the order of Trent Richardson in 2013 or Montee Ball in 2014, Anderson was usurped by the much better looking and harder running Ronnie Hillman in an offense that has struggled all season. Not including the Green Bay game, his best outing with Manning behind center was 43 yards and zero touchdowns! So what happens on a snowy night in Denver? Mr. Anderson is transformed into Neo, the bullet dodging cyber hero of the Matrix, and beats down what had been a formidable Patriot defensive front. He slashes, bobs and weaves his way to 113 rush yards and 2 TDs along with 4 catches for 40 yards, including a 59 yard TD run for the win in overtime! Of course, Hillman wasn't invisible on Sunday as he got 59 yards and a TD himself, but has the order been restored in Denver? Looking ahead the schedule is certainly not daunting with dates in Oakland, home against San Diego and away to Pittsburgh the next 3 weeks, but the Fantasy championship game will be played against Cincinnatti. However, with this performance you've got to roll with Anderson with confidence over the next few weeks! Runner Ups: Eddie Lacy (24.9 points), Branden Bolden (19.5 points).
TE - Julius Thomas (JAX) - Started the season injured and then has spent much of the past 2 months stuck in the 3 catches for 30 yard range for production, Thomas hasn't been a factor all season. It's been a disappointing step down from his past two years as the featured TE in Denver. However, during the course of this season, his oft maligned QB, Blake Bortles, has started to emerge as a fantasy relevant QB. Thomas turned into him old self again raking in 9 catches for 116 yards and a TD, and ending the day with 26.6 points in PPR! However, you must consider the fact that he was playing against San Diego. I'm thinking this is more of a one off than a trend. Looking forward the only sure thing I see looking forward is a date with New Orleans on week 16 for the fantasy championship. I'd stash him on my bench until then. Runner Ups: Vance McDonald (who? from SF with 19.1 points), Ryan Griffin (again, who? from HOU with 17.2 points).
Players like these and performances like these are something you can't plan for, they're like lightning in a bottle and if they happen to go off on a week you start them, they'll probably win you the week (just don't tell that to my friend who managed score 181.5 points in a PPR league this week and LOST because his opponent happened to start Russell Wilson). Trying to predict who is going to do this is a fool's errand because there is often no rhyme or reason for such an outsized performance. Expect more of these as the season goes by.