FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 1
David Dorey
September 10, 2012
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Ryan 324 4
Drew Brees 339 3
Tony Romo 319 3
Robert Griffin III 362 2
Aaron Rodgers 330 2
Running Backs Yards TD
C.J. Spiller 194 1
Kevin Smith 91 2
Stevan Ridley 152 1
Adrian Peterson 87 2
Alfred Morris 96 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Kevin Ogletree 114 2
Julio JOnes 108 2
Brandon Marshall 119 1
Andre Johnson 119 1
Stephen Hill 89 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jimmy Graham 85 1
Aaron Hernandez 59 1
Rob Gronkowski 60 1
Jermichael Finley 47 1
Tony Gonzalez 53 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Matt Bryant 4 4
Billy Cundiff 4 4
Blair Walsh 2 4
David Akers 3 3
Nick Folk 6 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Texans 1 3 4
Jets 2 0 4
Browns 1 2 5
Eagles 0 2 4
Patriots 1 1 2

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Daniel Thomas - Concussion
Fred Jackson - Sprained knee
Jake Locker - Sprained shoulder
Rashad Jennings - Leg injury
John Skelton - Knee sprain
Pierre Garcon - Foot injury
Nate Washington - Unspecified injury

Ten important stats

1. Coby Fleener (6-82 receiving) - The rookie really did keep up his close relationship with his college quarterback. Granted, Reggie Wayne was the main man with nine catches for 135 yards but Fleener was second best on a team that is going to throw more than most all season. This is even more impressive considering that Fleener caught more than four passes in a game just once during his four years at Stanford. His first game in the NFL was actually busier than all but one game he had in college. No other Colts receiver caught more than three passes or gained more than 37 yards.

2. Brandon Weeden (5.1) - The Cleveland rookie quarterback had a 5.1 QB rating which was the lowest for any week one rookie debut for the last 50 years. The Browns were not destined to be an offensive powerhouse anyway, but to be worse than maybe any living quarterback in their week one debut? Consider that he completed 12 of 35 for 118 yards and four interceptions and fumbled twice. Mark down any expectations for Josh Gordon (2-32) or Greg Little who was unable to catch any of his five passes and two of those were actually intercepted. Weeden will be a blessing when your fantasy team defenses faces him.

3. Danny Amendola (9 targets) - He missed last season with an elbow injury but he is back as the primary receiver for Sam Bradford who threw a team high nine passes to him. He caught five and gained 70 yards to lead the Rams. Even with all new coaches and offensive scheme, Amendola remains the possession guy in the passing attack. Undrafted in many leagues, he's a must get if you receive fantasy points for receptions. He won't win you any games, but he's a great bye week filler for your other starters.

4. Reggie Bush (14-69 rushing, 6-46 receiving) - The Dolphins back was given little respect in fantasy drafts that regularly had him going in later rounds. But in a league rife with committee backfields, Bush had all but three rushes and his six receptions were more than any other Miami receiver. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the road against a ferocious Texans defense. Arian Foster only averaged 3.0 yards in the same game. Bush was a good - or at least lucky - draft pick for fantasy leaguers.

5. Kyle Rudolph (5-67 receiving) - The second-year tight end had seven targets by Christian Ponder and was second only to Percy Harvin as a Vikings receiver. Rudolph was the first tight end drafted in 2011 and the ex-Notre Dame player was drafted with high expectations. Most tight ends break out in their second season and Rudolph's start is encouraging. He never had more than three catches in any game as a rookie. When Jerome Simpson returns in week four as a field stretcher, it will open up passes over the middle even more.

6. Robert Griffin III (2 TD, 0 turnovers) - There was plenty to be impressed about the Skins rookie quarterback. He passed for 320 yards and rushed for 42 more on ten runs. But on this historic day where week one greeted five rookie quarterbacks, Griffin was singular. He was the only one to win his game. He threw for two touchdowns when the other four combined for just two scores. And Griffin had no turnovers while the other four combined for 11 interceptions and two lost fumbles and none had less than two turnovers. Griffin was on the road playing against a team that was expected to be on fire after a rough offseason. But the only thing on fire in New Orleans was Bob3.

7. C.J. Spiller (194 total yards, one TD) - In a mini-replay of last year, Fred Jackson left injured and Spiller suddenly came to life. He rushed for a league-high 169 yards on 14 carries which included a 56-yard touchdown run and a 49 yard scamper up the middle that ended on the Jets two-yard line. His two catches for 25 yards included a 30 yard gain and a five yard loss. All this on the road in New York against the Jets. Jackson is not gone for the season this time but Spiller is really coming on in his third season and proving his breakout in late 2011 was not a fluke. He won't always have three plays over 30 yards but then again - he can do it on any given play.

8. Chris Johnson (11-4 rushing) - The Patriots have a great rushing defense but it has never been this good. The Titans as a team only gained 20 yards on 16 carries and Johnson in particular only gained four net yards on 11 runs for a less than hardy 0.4 yards per carry. This is a concern carried over from last season since Johnson vowed to redeem himself for a disappointing 2011. But consider too that he has been in a new offense for two years and since Jeff Fisher left, the offense no longer is as productive rushing. Johnson did salvage his fantasy value with six catches for 47 yards but a home opener should be far better than this. His schedule still contains meeting with the Texans (twice), Steelers, Bears and Jets with almost no soft defenses along the way.

9. Alfred Morris (28-96-2 rushing ) - The folly of guessing what HC Mike Shanahan will do begins anew with him naming Morris the starter at the last minute and letting him have 28 carries. He scored twice, gained 96 yards and never fumbled. But he also only gained an average of 3.4 yards per carry and never caught a pass. He's more of a "sell high" player if you drafted him because history has proven no consistency is even allowed in the Skins backfield. Roy Helu averaged 4.2 yards per carry last year and had over 100 yards in four different games. Evan Royster topped 100 yards in the final two weeks of last season. You'll see them all eventually.

10. Steven Ridley (21-125, TD rushing) - The Patriots new starting running back not only had 21 rushes against 11 for all other running backs, he gained 6.0 yards per carry. Danny Woodhead and Brandon Bolden only managed 2.8 yards per run. Ridley remained in and scored twice and he even added two catches for 27 yards. In this wildly productive offense, the notion that Ridley could be relied on for most of the carries and all of the scores is fantasy euphoria. He was so good, he even lowered Tom Brady's stats. No defense will ever make stopping the run their first priority when playing the Patriots.

To The waiver wire!

WR Kevin Ogletree - Your league has been looking at him since last Wednesday. Probably not the next Laurent Robinson but then again - he looked good and Austin / Bryant is going to always take up more attention.

RB Alfred Morris - If he was not drafted, he'll be a plenty hot commodity for this week anyway. Personally, the Redskins backfield is like three ugly sisters and you will never know who Cinderella is this week.

RB Knowshon Moreno - He hawked a touchdown away from Willis McGahee but only gained 13 yards on five carries and had no catches. Let someone else take him.

WR Jeremy Kerley - Returned a punt for a touchdown and scored as a receiver but only gained 45 yards on four catches. Do you really want any part of the NYJ passing game? No. You don't. Just back away.

WR Cecil Shorts - The #3 in Jacksonville scored once and had 74 yards on four catches but think about it. The #3 receiver... in Jacksonville... Last year that was a guy who only scored once all year. Might be again.

WR Aldrick Robinson - The sixth rounder from SMU last year never had a catch as a rookie. But he scored a 5-yard touchdown on his first ever NFL catch and ended with 52 yards on four catches including a team high six targets. If you are in a really deep league, sure - grab him. Griffin likes him and apparently defenses are starting to worry about Pierre Garcon anyway.

Sunday Snippets

DAL 24, NYG 17 Cowboys start on a high note with Tony Romo (307-3) red hot and DeMarco Murray (20-131) finally rushing over the century mark in a road game. Mostly this game was the Dallas defense holding Eli Manning (213-1) at bay. The only Giants player exceeding expectations was ex-Cowboy Martellus Bennett (4-40-1). This game looked like a Super Bowl winner who started their first game while thinking "I forgot how hard this really is". Dallas got a little revenge for losing in week 17 and not going to the playoffs while the Giants marched on to the championship. The Cowboys head to Seattle now and the Giants stay at home to host the Buccaneers.
IND 21, CHI 41

The best rookie passer (prior to this week) threw for 309 yards and one score but had three interceptions. Donald Brown scored and had one decent run but probably still has no real fantasy value. Reggie Wayne (9-135) had his own way of "I GOT YOUR OVER THE HILL RIGHT HERE" to his doubters as the clear primary receiver here but Coby Fleener was also a favorite target of Luck with 82 yards on six catches. But Jay Cutler (333-2) had a fun time and Matt Forte (16-80, TD, 3-40) had a nice game though it is worrisome that Michael Bush had 12 carries and two touchdowns. Brandon Marshall (9-119-1) start the year looking like a great acquisition while Alshon Jeffrey (3-80-1) looked like a great draft pick. Game went as expected but with about twice the points on both sides. Now Colts return home to host the Vikings and the Bears head to Green Bay.

PHI 17, CLE 16 They say every win is a good win but this may be one of those exceptions. The Eagles scored with 1:18 left to play to snatch this from the jaws of defeat. Michael Vick threw for 317 yards and two scores but had four interceptions. Jeremy Maclin (7-96-1) kept getting hurt, return for a few catches and then got hurt again but just kept shaking it off. DeSean Jackson (4-77) is really trying hard this year but has not mattered too much. LeSean McCoy (20-110, 6-26) played well though he never scored. All this against the Browns with 118 passing yards and four interceptions. Trent Richardson took every RB carry (19) but only gained 39 yards. Three field goals and one touchdown from an interception return almost allowed the Browns to beat Philly. This is not a great sign for either team. Now the Eagles host the Ravens while the Browns head to Cincinnati.
STL 23, DET 27

Here is another mind-bender with the Lions at home needing a Stafford to Smith touchdown pass with ten seconds to go to beat the visiting Rams. Wow. Stafford ended up with 355 yards and one score but threw three interceptions. Kevin Smith totaled 92 yards and the one score while Megatron stopped at six catches for 111 yards. Your Titus Young sleeper only had one catch for 14 yards. Sam Bradford ended with only 198 yards and one score but no interceptions. The Rams were mostly about field goals and returning an interception for a touchdown. They don't look any more potent under Jeff Fisher yet and even Steven Jackson only gained 53 yards on 21 carries. Almost a huge opener for the Rams. They now return home to face the Redskins and the Lions head to San Francisco.

MIA 10, HOU 30 This game pretty much went like everyone would think. Ryan Tannehill passed for 219 yards and three interceptions and the Dolphins were literally all Reggie Bush (14-69, 6-46 rcv) and very little else. The Texans saw Arian Foster not only play but take 26 carries for 79 yards and two scores while everyone that scrambled to play Brandon Tate were rewarded with five carries for six yards (but 22 yards on three catches). Andre Johnson (8-119-1) had a monster game thanks to a weaker MIA secondary. It was maybe the one game that went off completely as expected. Now the Fins head home to host the Raiders and the Texans go to Jacksonville.
ATL 40, KC 24

Beautiful. At least in a fantasy sense. The Falcons offense looks primed for major passing numbers this year with Matt Ryan throwing for 299 yards and three scores and rushing in one as well. Julio Jones (6-108-2) was a bona fide stud while Roddy White (6-87) turned in a decent showing. Tony Gonzalez (5-53-1) opened his final season with nice stats as well. What makes this great is that the Falcons appear to have no running game anymore (Michael Turner 11-32) and their defense gave up 24 points to the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles (16-87) ran well though he never scored and the Chiefs later went to using ex-practice squad player Shaun Draughn to finish out the game. Peyton Hillis only gained 16 yards on 17 carries and eight yards on three catches so yeah, kinda like Thomas Jones. Just not as productive so far. Dexter McCluster is back to being a receiver and led the team with 82 yards on six catches. Solid win for the Falcons who head home to host the PMannings while the Chiefs go to Buffalo.

JAC 23, MIN 26
OT

This was almost game of the week. Any overtime game immediately qualifies and this one had some nice surprises. Not the least was that Blaine Gabbert would throw for 260 yards and two scores - IN JUST ONE GAME - and that Maurice Jones-Drew (19-77, 3-18 rcv) won his old starting job back within maybe two or three plays. That crafty stealing of Rashad Jennings netted you 49 yards in total. Justin Blackmon (3-24) and Laurent Robinson (5-66) were no difference makers and Cecil Shorts and Marcedes Lewis had the receiving scores. Adrian Peterson ended up with 17 carries for 84 yards and two scores while looking like maybe eight months is the new standard to recover from catastrophic knee surgery. The Jags will host the Texans this week while the Vikes go to Indianapolis.
NE 34, TEN 13

Another one of those thankfully predictable games with Tom "bloody nose" Brady passing for 236 yards and two scores that went - 'gasp!' - to the tight ends Rob Gronkowski (6-60) and Aaron Hernandez (6-59). Brandon Lloyd turned in five catches for 69 yards but Wes Welker's three catches for 14 yards has one team owner in every league shaking their head. The Titans don't look any better with Jake Locker (229-1) under center though he left injured. He was also the leading rusher (2-11) for the TItans since Chris Johnson only netted four yards after 11 carries. Johnson caught six passes for 47 yards to offer some value but no need to call him CJ2K when he only gains 11 yards per game as a rusher. Kendall Wright (5-37) had a quiet opener and the Titans just never really got on track offensively. The Patriots now head home to host the Cardinals and the Titans go to San Diego.

BUF 28, NYJ 48 Another great choice for GOTW. The Jets went from never being able to score in the preseason to slapping up 48 points on the scoreboard. The GREAT QB DEBATE went like this: Mark Sanchez 266 yards, three touchdowns and Tim Tebow 11 yards. Advantage Sanchez. Stephen Hill opens his rookie season with two touchdowns on his five catches for 89 yards and yes, he gets snapped off the waiver wires pretty quick this week. Jeremy Kerley (4-45) also caught a score. Shonn Greene (27-94, TD) produced good numbers only once the game became a blowout and the Bills just wanted to go home. Ryan Fitzpatrick (195) ended with three touchdowns but had three interceptions. No receiver had a big game though the starters each scored including tight end Scott Chandler who had two touchdowns in his first game of 2011 and then did nothing the rest of the way. The biggest surprise was that Fred Jackson (6-15) was ineffective and then injured but C.J. Spiller had a career best 169 yards and a score on just 14 carries and added two catches for 25. This was a blowout though and one that the Jets really enjoyed after a tough preseason. The Jets head to Pittsburgh and the Bills return to Buffalo to host the Chiefs.
SEA 16, ARI 20

The "Russell Wilson Rocks!" Bus got a flat tire after only 153 yards and one touchdown with one interception and he ran eight times to net only 20 yards. Marshawn Lynch had no back problems and gained 85 yards on 21 carries. Not much happening for Seattle when they could not pass the ball very well. The Cardinals lost Skelton to injury but Kevin Kolb came in and looked great, winning the game by completing 6 of 8 for 66 yards and one score. The Seahawks still have a dominating rush defense that only allowed 42 yards on 20 carries. Larry Fitzgerald only had 63 yards on four catches but that was good enough to lead the Cards. Pretty boring game all around. Cards look like nothing special while the Seahawks look like a great defense that has almost no offense. They return to Seattle to host the Cowboys and the Cardinals go to New England this week.

SF 30, GB 22 The 49ers defense is still awesome. They held Cedric Benson to just 18 yards on nine carries and Aaron Rogers passed for 303 yards and two scores with one interception - actually not that great at home. You know the defense was good when the leading receivers were James Jones (4-81, TD) and Randall Cobb (9-77). Jermichael Finley (7-47, TD) was the only starting receiver that had a decent fantasy game. The 49ers passed for 211 yards and two scores but mostly just did not make many mistakes and relied on the defense. Frank Gore opened the year productive with 112 yards and a score on 16 carries but he has to avoid tailing off at midseason again. Randy Moss had his first game in 20 months and scored once on his four catches for 47 yards. The 49ers defense delivered the win and the Packers looked surprisingly punchless against them. Now the Packers host the Bears and the 49ers host the Lions. Most notable - David Akers kicking a 63 yard field goal to tie the NFL record and it hit the crossbar, bounced up and then fell behind in a drama you could never pull off intentionally.
CAR 10, TB 16

After spending 2011 getting punked every week, the Buccaneers defense became stellar somewhat overnight. DeAngelo Williams faced what was a horrible rushing defense last season and only gained (-1) on his six carries. Cam Newton rushed for 4 yards on five runs and passed for 301 yards with one TD and two interceptions. Steve Smith (7-106) and Brandon LaFell (3-65-1) were the only Panthers with fantasy stats of any note. Doug Martin opened his NFL career with 95 yards on 24 runs and 23 more yards on four receptions. But Vincent Jackson (4-47) was the best receiver in this game that offense forgot. The Panthers return home to face the Saints and the Bucs head to New York to face the Giants.

PIT 19, DEN 31 The game was a nail-biter until the late fourth quarter when Manning was good enough and the Denver defense was great. Manning passed for 253 yards and two scores in his Bronco debut and once again, Demaryius Thomas went speeding through the Steelers defense en route to a 70+ yard game breaking touchdown. No other Bronco had big stats and Willis McGahee (16-64) even gave way to Knowshon Moreno who scored the short rushing touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger (245-2-1) was having a solid game until the final couple of drives when the Denver defense just took it away (including an interception for a touchdown). More bad news - it does not appear that there will be any Steelers running back with enough work to matter on a fantasy team. They split up 22 carries to Jonathan Dwyer (9-43), Isaac Redman (11-20) and even Chris Rainey (2-5). The Steelers return home to host the Jets while the Broncos head to Atlanta.

Huddle Player of the Week

Matt Ryan - The Falcons quarterback seemed poised for a big year with a wealth of weapons and a nice schedule. So far - so good. Ryan merely passed for 299 yards and three touchdowns and even rushed in a score as well. Add in what appears to be a lethargic Falcons rushing attack and Ryan may only be getting started.

Salute!

Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Blaine Gabbert 266 2 QB Eli Manning 213 1
RB Alfred Morris 96 2 RB Michael Turner 32 0
RB C.J. Spiller 194 1 RB Fred Jackson 15 0
WR Stephen Hill 89 2 WR Wes Welker 14 0
WR Jeremy Kerley 45 1 WR Hakeem Nicks 38 0
WR Andre Roberts 69 1 WR Greg Jennings 34 0
TE Marcedes Lewis 52 1 TE Fred Davis 38 0
PK Billy Cundiff 4 FG 4 XP PK Mason Crosby 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 137

Huddle Fantasy Points = 30

Sunday's Couch Commentary

We had a great opening week where all those rookie quarterbacks were NOT the second coming of Cam Newton. At least four of them were not. The Eagles and Lions won their games and try to convince themselves that a win is a win and that they did not almost lose a team they should have waxed by halftime. Tom Brady got a bloody nose and David Akers joined Club 63. Peyton is back to being the better Manning while all that week one hoopla about Marshawn Lynch and Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson was overblown. Apparently they all think it is 2011 again and they no longer hurt. The Buccaneers defense has gone from 32nd to 1st in the offseason and man, was that hype about Russell Wilson maybe a bit optimistic?.

The Game-O-The-Week? Could have been the Jets beating the Bills but I still do not believe and I watched. No, the GOTW has to say "In with the new, out with the old".

Redskins 40, Saints 32

The preseason started with Robert Griffin III as the hottest rookie quarterback but by September all the talk was about Andrew Luck. And then Ryan Tannehill won his job, and Brandon Weeden and then Russell Wilson jumped on the hype bandwagon. Should have left it all alone - it is a very long season and there is tons of football to play, But if week one means much, Griffin may need to make room next to Heisman Trophy for the Rookie of the Year award. In a 16 part race, he enters the second turn in the lead.

After Bountygate and losing coaches for varying lengths of time, the Saints erected a the big Payton picture in the Superdome and were ready to show the world that nothing has changed. The Saints were still a force to contend with and their defense need not rely on the bounty system for motivation. Might need to rethink that. This one will leave a mark.

The Skins kicked a field goal with 7:11 left in the first quarter to take the lead.

The Saints needed only six plays to go 80 yards and end with a beautiful 20-yard strike to Jimmy Graham in the endzone, apparently standing between two very short Redskins.

But after the kickoff, first down for the Redskins saw Griffin hit Pierre Garcon on a slant that went for 88 yards and a touchdown - one of the longest ever as the first thrown by a quarterback. 10-7 was a surprise in a game that the Saints seemed destined to always lead.

But the Saints went four and out and the Skins went on a 12 play drive that included converting a fourth-and-one at the NO 48-yard line. Robert Griffin threw a five yard pass to Aldrick Robinson for a score and a very unlikely 17-7 lead with 11:37 left in the second quarter. When the Skins got the ball back, they ended with a 41-yard field goal for a 20-7 shocker.

The Saints drove the field but then Marques Colston fumbles a catch right at the goal line that goes out the back of the end zone for a touchback. Fortunately for the Saints, the next series of the Redskins ends with a blocked punt being returned for a touchdown with only 46 left before the half. 20-14 and two quarters to play meant plenty of time for Brees magic.

But the Skins got the opening kickoff in the third quarter and marched down for a one-yard score by Alfred Morris. 27-14 and the third quarter was just starting.

After another four and out by the Saints, the Skins got yet another field goal for a 30-14 lead midway through the third quarter.

The Saints used the remainder of the quarter reaching the Skins 3-yard line where the drive stalled and Garrett Hartley kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 30-17 score.

But the Skins again had a 80 yard drive that ended with a field goal and a 33-17 lead with 11:03 left to play.

After both teams had three plays and a punt, the Saints finally was able to drive the field and connected on a 33-yard touchdown to Lance Moore on fourth and ten with 6:25 left to play. Darren Sproles scored the two point conversion and the score was 25-33 and just one more score and a two point conversion could tie it.

And the Saints held the Skins to a punt and took over on their own 27-yard line with 3:39 left to play. It was a time for a patented Drew Brees comeback. A chance to show the upstart Redskins that the Saints were not rolling over for anyone. That losing coaches to the Bountygate situation was not a death knell. That everything was fine in the Big Easy and the Superdome was about to erupt with a drive that all would remember.

Except he threw an interception on first down and it was returned to the Saints 3-yard line where Morris ran in another touchdown on first down. 40-25 and it was not going to be Big or Easy.

With 2:29 left to play, Darren Sproles caught a 2-yard touchdown and the extra point made it 40-32.

But the Saints ran out of time outs and the Redskins drained all but 28 seconds before punting into the end zone. Drew Brees managed two short passes and then killed the clock. With one second left to play from the WAS 39-yard line, the toss into the endzone was intercepted at the goal line. Mighty Casey had struck out. But Robert Griffin's bandwagon is only starting to get big.

A great opening week with plenty of high scores, a bit of the old and a lot of the new. We started with the Giants losing at home to the Cowboys and ended with Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform. It's back. it is beautiful. And it's going to take a while to understand all of this. Viva la football!

Now get back to work...


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