Ian Hartitz’s Week 12 fantasy football fallouts: Nullified touchdowns, missed big plays and more

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) catches a pass originally ruled as a touchdown as Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chandon Sullivan (39) defends. Instant replay would overturn the call and rule the play an incompletion during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

  • Titans RB Derrick Henry “wins” sheesh of the week for fumbling a potential 75-yard touchdown that was recovered by teammate Treylon Burks for the score.
  • Ravens QB Lamar Jackson had not one, not two, but three potential touchdowns officially charged as drops by PFF.
  • The NFL continues to seemingly have no idea what a catch is, just ask Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb, Patriots TE Hunter Henry or Saints WR Chris Olave.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Week 12 has come and gone. Sixteen NFL games brought joy, laughs and tears; today we’ll focus on the latter sadness and break down just how close some came to achieving fantasy football glory.

What follows is a breakdown on all the “Sheesh” moments from Week 11. I’ve watched every game and used PFF’s backend tools to help determine instances when:

  • Pass-catchers did receive an accurate pass that should have resulted in a score or big gain, but the ball was dropped
  • Pass-catchers could have scored or picked up big yardage with a more accurate pass
  • Players scored or picked up big yardage, but the play was nullified by penalty
  • Ball carriers managed to get all the way to the one-yard line, but didn’t score
  • Other random shit happened that tilted fantasy football managers of all shapes and sizes

But first: The single sheeshiest play of Week 12 goes to …

Titans RB Derrick Henry

Absolutely roller coaster of emotions here. The play begins with Henry catching a screen before doing what he does best: Run away from everyone while resembling a runaway semi-truck in the open field. This plan worked just fine all the way down to the Bengals’ 5-yard line when disaster struck and Henry was stripped. Luckily (for the Titans) rookie WR Treylon Burks had hustled all the way down to the goal line and managed to recover the loose football in the end zone. Pure madness.

Henry’s fantasy football managers certainly have had plenty to be thankful for this season, but obviously, they would have much preferred this 69-yard reception culminating with a score for The Big Dog.

What exactly is a catch these days?

There were three separate examples of “incompletions” that to this moment I still can’t overly agree with.

Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb almost made one helluva one-handed catch in the back of the end zone from two yards out, only for the play to be ruled incomplete because his heel appeared to come down slightly out of bounds. Two important notes: 1.) Lamb’s toes came down inbounds first, and 2.) Dez Bryant thought it was a catch. Sheesh.

Another missed touchdown happened later on Thanksgiving when Patriots TE Hunter Henry sure seemed to make a six-yard touchdown catch to give the Patriots a 30-23 lead. It was ruled a touchdown, and further replay seemed to show that the football never actually touched the ground. There have certainly been far less convincing catches ruled as touchdowns in the past. Objectively speaking: Sheesh.

And yet, it’s toughest to rationalize how Saints WR Chris Olave didn’t get rewarded with a 30-yard reception upon: 1.) Securing the catch, 2.) Taking one step, 3.) Taking a second step, and 4.) Taking a third step. The issue comes from the referees deciding that he didn’t maintain possession of the ball through contact with the ground, but that shouldn’t have been an issue after the stud rookie receiver already established a catch. Scholars will debate for years on how this wasn’t ruled a reception.

D’Andre Swift just can’t get a break

The Lions’ explosive third-year back started off the season on quite the tear, but injuries and questionable depth chart management have resulted in more headaches than cheers from fantasy managers as of late.

Thanksgiving’s sheesh-quence didn’t make things any better:

  1. Swift burst off right tackle to seemingly score a nine-yard touchdown before being ruled down at the two-yard line.
  2. The Lions did a cool guy move and dialed up a well-designed pick play to get Swift the touchdown anyway on the next play; too bad Jared Goff didn’t have enough time to deliver an accurate pass to his open running back.
  3. Swift got one more chance on third and goal from the six-yard line, but you guessed it, could only get down to the one.

Lions fans shouldn’t be too distraught considering Amon-Ra St. Brown finally managed to find the end zone on fourth down; just realize Swift fantasy managers were feeling the sheesh in a major way last Thursday, especially after Swift had ANOTHER sheesh when he couldn’t quite complete the process of catching a potential 11-yard touchdown while also trying to reach the ball over the pylon. The play wasn’t officially ruled a drop, but it sure would have been a lot cooler if he mad the play.

Don’t be so quick to slander Lamar Jackson

He might literally reply to your tweet and tell you to stfu.

Also, Jackson didn’t get a lot of help from his normally pretty reliable pass-cachers during the Ravens’ Week 12 implosion against the Jaguars. Each of TE Mark Andrews (from one yard out), WR Demarcus Robinson (12) and TE Josh Oliver (18) were officially charged with drops by PFF on plays that all would have gone for 6 points.


Yes, Jackson missed an open Robinson on what should have been a 50-yard touchdown on the second play of the game. Also yes, THERE WERE THREE OTHER DROPPED TOUCHDOWNS IN THE GAME. Throw in Jackson getting stopped just short of the goal line on a potential six-yard rushing score as well as another borderline drop by Andrews down the sideline on what could have been a solid 30-yard gain, and it’s safe to say No. 8 shouldn’t be viewed as the problem for the Ravens’ disappointing Week 12 loss.

Dropped touchdowns

There were six total plays that featured an official PFF drop on what would have otherwise been a touchdown:

  1. Broncos WR Courtland Sutton had a potential one-yard touchdown bounce off right off his body and fall incomplete.
  2. Ravens TE Mark Andrews dropped a potential one-yard touchdown.
  3. Ravens WR Demarcus Robinson dropped a potential 12-yard touchdown.
  4. Ravens TE Josh Oliver dropped a potential 18-yard touchdown.
  5. Steelers WR Diontae Johnson entered Week 12 with a league-high 86 targets without a touchdown. Finally, a two-yard score was settling softly into his hands on his 94th target of the season, until it wasn't. Drop, no touchdown, sheesh.
  6. Saints TE/QB/whatever Taysom Hill received a goal-line fade for some reason … and dropped it. TE Juwan Johnson also had a potential 12-yard score bounce off his facemask. Oh yeah, and Alvin Kamara fumbled at the one-yard line on a near short touchdown. Safe to say the Saints’ 13-0 loss to the 49ers wasn’t all on Andy Dalton.

Touchdown! Wait, why is everyone walking back to the line of scrimmage

Penalties are obviously called for a reason, but there isn’t a more chaotic few seconds in the minds of fantasy managers between their player scoring a touchdown on a play with a penalty and the foul being announced.

Giants WR Isaiah Hodgins nearly gave the Giants a 7-0 lead when he took a short pass 24 yards to the house, only for the score to be nullified by a rather ticky tack ineligible man downfield penalty. New York was forced to kick a field goal on the drive.

Broncos TE Greg Dulcich was on the receiving end of a (rare) great play from Russell Wilson on what was originally ruled a 13-yard touchdown; too bad offsetting penalties nullified the score and resulted in more of the usual pain that Broncos fans have grown far to accustomed to experiencing this season.

49ers RB Elijah Mitchell showed some serious burst on his way to housing a 32-yard touchdown; only problem was that George Kittle was charged with a rather soft holding call if I do say so myself.

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes threw a four-yard touchdown to TE Noah Gray, but the score was nullified due to an ineligible man downfield. This was because Mahomes extended an RPO call; his linemen had no way of knowing that he still had the football. Still: Sheesh.

Pass-catchers who could have scored with a more accurate pass

The following players should have had a much bigger day at the office, but unfortunately their respective quarterbacks weren’t quite up to the task for at least a moment. The following handful of players had to deal with some subjectively shitty near misses:

Lions WR D.J. Chark nearly put the Lions in a great position to win the game when he managed to get open deep on a third and 1 with just 32 seconds remaining. The man was open enough to throw up one arm like a prime Randy Moss; too bad Jared Goff threw a bit of a duck and never gave the ex-Jaguars receiver a chance to make a play.

Texans WR Nico Collins was open and indeed Kyle Allen’s intended receiver on what would have been a 10-yard score; fortunately for the Dolphins their cover-zero blitz got home and caused the pass to sail high and incomplete. Tough to be overly critical on Allen given he was crushed by two defenders while releasing the pass; just realize Collins did his job on the play.

Broncos WR Jalen Virgil got open down the seam on what coulda, shoulda, woulda been a 35-yard touchdown with a perfect throw, but as you can probably guess from the thesis of his column, Russell Wilson sailed the pass long and incomplete. Unfortunately, Russ wasn’t done: He had another near 13-yard touchdown to Kendall Hinton right after his score to Greg Dulcich was nullified; too bad the pass was just a bit too low and fell incomplete.

Panthers TE Tommy Tremble had a step of separation in the back of the end zone; unfortunately Sam Darnold had a rare misfire (at least for last week — seriously! He played well!) and sent the ball high and out the back of the end zone to nobody.

Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke had an open Terry McLaurin in the back of the end zone on what should have been a 12-yard score. And yet: Here we are.

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler nearly had an eight-yard touchdown in the middle of the third quarter after creating some separation on a Justin Herbert scramble drill; too bad the ball skipped in and was never catchable. Don’t get me wrong: Herbert would have needed to make a pretty perfect throw here to convert the score, but it still goes down in the books as a sheesh.

Chiefs TE Joe Fortson and RB Jerick McKinnon were open enough to convert nine-yard touchdowns, but received rare uncatchable passes from Patrick Mahomes. These near scores sheeshingly happened right after Mahomes’ four-yard touchdown to Noah Gray was nullified due to an ineligible man downfield. 

Packers RB Aaron Jones had a 13-yard rushing touchdown wiped off the board due to a holding penalty. But guess what’s even cooler than a 13-yard rushing touchdown? A 23-yard receiving touchdown! Kings stay kings.

Steelers WR George Pickens makes so many amazing catches that they are taken for granted at this point, but sadly he couldn’t pluck an off-target throw from Kenny Pickett with one hand from seven yards out despite his best efforts. Great route, wide open and Pickett couldn’t put it on him. Sheesh.

Unrealized air yards are a helluva drug

PFF’s Josh Hermsmeyer breaks down the week’s top buy-low candidates with his handy-dandy air yards model; don’t be surprised if certain pass-catchers from the Buccaneers are featured ahead of Week 13. The following six players had at least 70 unrealized air yards in Week 12, meaning they had a ton of downfield opportunities, but failed to capitalize on them for one reason or another:

  1. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (31 receiving yards, 161 air yards = 130 unrealized air yards)
  2. Browns TE David Njoku (86)
  3. Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle (82)
  4. Buccaneers WR Julio Jones (73)
  5. Cowboys WR Michael Gallup (71)
  6. Lions WR D.J. Chark (71)

Other sheeshes

There were a number of other near misses throughout Week 12 that were tougher to fully blame one particular party, but that doesn’t make the near-miss result any less sheeshful for the fantasy managers and fans at hand to deal with.

Good ball, no dice: Ravens WR James Proche had a 23-yard completion wiped out on an offensive holding penalty. … Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence made a number of dazzling throws on Sunday, including one such incompletion down the sideline to a tightly covered Christian Kirk that wasn’t officially ruled as a drop, although the potential 30-yard completion did go right through the ex-Cardinals’ out-stretched hands. … Bengals WR Tee Higgins hauled in a 22-yard reception early in the Bengals’ Week 12 win over the Titans; too bad he was partially only as open as he was because RB Chris Evans committed offensive pass interference. … Texans T Laremy Tunsil hilariously dropped a two-point conversion. I say hilariously because, you know, he’s a massive offensive lineman who should never be expected to make that play, and also because he was so distraught with himself after missing out on the conversion. … Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle and WR Trent Sherfield were given catchable 50/50 balls downfield on what could have produced 40-plus yard chunk gains; too bad neither managed to come down with their contested catch opportunity. … Broncos WR Montrell Washington had a similar 50/50 incompletion on a 55-yard BOMB from Russell Wilson as the aforementioned Dolphins receivers. … Panthers WR D.J. Moore only got one foot down inbounds on a rather well-placed throw from Sam Darnold to the sideline that would have resulted in a 26-yard gain if completed. … Commanders TE Jessie Bates nearly had a 14-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone; too bad he didn’t manage to get either of his feet down inbounds. … Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett had a b-e-a-utiful moon ball from Geno Smith bounce off his hands on what should have been a 20-yard gain inside the Raiders’ 10-yard line; luckily for the Seahawks he drew a defensive pass interference penalty anyway. … Chargers WR Keenan Allen could only get one foot down inbounds on a potential 19-yard touchdown. Good throw, good defense, good catch, but still a sheesh. … Chiefs WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling nearly made a fantastic diving catch for a gain of 30 yards, but the ball just barely slipped out of his grasp after further review. Luckily the Chiefs got a first down anyway since MVS was held on the play. … Bills WR Gabriel Davis broke open late down the left sideline after Josh Allen scrambled to create some extra time. The throw was there and briefly in both of Davis’ hands; too bad Lions CB Mike Hughes managed to break up the pass at the last second. Best-case scenario: 29-yard touchdown. Not a drop, but definitely a sheesh. … Colts TE Jelani Woods managed to get both hands on the ball on a pass that quite possibly would have resulted in six points from the six-yard line, but FS Minkah Fitzpatrick did enough to force the incompletion. And by enough I mean he was flagged for pass interference, but tough luck fantasy managers: No points for you.

Not the worst throw, but also not the best: Eight plays stood out that featured an off-target throw, albeit something close to perfection would have been needed to pull off the chunk-gain completion:

  • Giants WR Darius Slayton nearly started his day off with a diving 40-yard reception to put the Giants inside the Cowboys’ 10-yard line, but the slightly overthrown pass went just off his outstretched hands and fell incomplete.
  • Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb got a deep ball opportunity to pick up a potential 30-plus yard gain when the Giants sent the house and played cover-zero. The problem: Dak Prescott felt the heat of the all-out blitz and sailed the pass just a hair too long.
  • I’m calling bullsh*t on all the dropping babies Agholor memes that were sent out last Thursday night. Yes, Patriots WR Nelson Agholor just barely couldn’t haul in a 30-yard heave from Mac Jones on fourth and ballgame with just two minutes remaining. Also yes, the route had Agholor running down the numbers, while the ball nearly led him all the way to the sideline. Not a terrible throw, but also not one that Agholor — let alone any wide receiver — should have been expected to catch without a problem.
  • Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (25 yards) and Mike Evans (three 20-plus yard chunk gains — you saw the unrealized air yards leaderboard) both fell victim to overthrown passes from Tom Brady in admittedly shitty Cleveland weather. One of Evans’ sheeshes was caught, but he couldn’t quite get both feet inbounds.
  • Browns WR Amari Cooper certainly ended Week 12’s victory over the Buccaneers on a perfectly fine note; just realize he could have added a 30-plus yard gain to his box score with a bit more accurate deep ball from Jacoby Brissett. Don’t be too hard on Jacoby; Cooper deserves a bit of flack himself for dropping a fourth and 9 conversion despite being wide open, although it wouldn’t have been the sort of big gain to warrant a sheesh.
  • Titans WR Treylon Burks almost added a 30-yard gain to his solid performance, but Ryan Tannehill just couldn’t quite put the ball on his rookie receiver. The seed down the middle of the field did hit Burks’ outstretched hand before ultimately falling to the turf incomplete.
  • Both Raiders WR Davante Adams and TE Foster Moreau were plenty open enough to secure 20-plus yard gains with an accurate pass, but neither did, so here we are sheeshing.
  • Cardinals WR Marquise Brown had a step of separation deep down the right sideline, but Kyler Murray tossed the ball out of bounds and incomplete. Best-case scenario: Cardinals pick up at least 35 yards.

Just short. Sheesh: The following players were tackled at the 1-yard line in Week 12. Note that sequences where a player was downed just short of the goal line, but later went on to score the touchdown themself on the same drive, aren’t listed:


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