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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 3
David Dorey
September 24, 2012
Follow Follow @Dorey_TheHuddle
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Ben Roethlisberger 384 4
Joe Flacco 382 3
Jake Locker 413 2
Andy Dalton 344 3
Andrew Luck 363 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Jamaal Charles 288 1
Andre Brown 130 2
Maurice Jones-Drew 193 1
Ray Rice 150 1
Mikel Leshoure 134 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
A.J. Green 183 1
Calvin Johnson 164 1
Torrey Smith 127 2
Mike Wallace 123 1
Larry Fitzgerald 114 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Heath Miller 60 2
Tony Gonzalez 91 1
Kyle Rudolph 36 2
Martellus Bennett 73 1
Jared Cook 77 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Ryan Succop 1 6
Lawrence Tynes 3 5
Jason Hanson 3 4
Rob Bironas 5 3
Robbie Gould 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Titans 3 1 1
Cardinals 1 5 3
Bears 1 6 2
Giants 0 2 5
Jets 1 0 2

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Way too many injured this week. But none seem season-ending.

CJ Spiller - Shoulder injury
Mohamed Massaquoi - Hamstring strain
Willis McGahee - Rib Injury
Reggie Bush - Knee injury
Laurent Robinson - Concussion
Austin Collie - Knee injury
Beanie Wells - Turf toe
Darrius Heyward-Bey - Concussion
Matt Schaub - Earectomy (lost part of ear)
Jacob Tamme - Leg Injury
Peyton Hillis - Ankle injury
Dexter McCluster - Shoulder injury
Stephen Hill - Hamstring strain
Matthew Stafford - Hamstring strain

Ten stats you need to understand

1. RB Tashard Choice, (20-91 rush) - No doubt the waiver wire darling this week, Choice had a solid effort when C.J. Spiller left with a shoulder injury. But Spiller may not miss much more than a week and Fred Jackson is due back in a game or two. Choice may get to matter only this week when the Bills face the Patriots who have a decent rushing defense.

With Spiller, Willis McGahee and Reggie Bush all likely to be out this weekend, Choice is worth grabbing anyway. Plenty of teams will be hunting for running backs.

2. RB Danny Woodhead (15-34 rush, TD) - The Stevan Ridley owners were not happy to see Woodhead take such a big role but get used to it at least for a while. Woodhead belongs to passing formations now that Aaron Hernandez is out and that will be the case for the next month or so. That doesn't make Woodhead worth picking up as much as just ruining what Ridley was accomplishing.

The good news is that Ridley owners may be willing to part with him in a few weeks if this continues as expected. Once Hernandez is back, Ridley should resume a heavier load. Woodhead is a better receiver but not the runner that Ridley is.

3. TE Greg Olsen (7-98 receive) - He started slowly with only seven catches for 69 yards over the first two weeks. But Olsen finally showed up as the best weapon for Cam Newton in an offense that needs a reliable outlet on passing downs. HC Ron Rivera spoke highly of Olsen this summer, comparing him to Rob Gronkowski. Against the Giants, Olsen was very Gronk-like.

The Panthers are not passing as well this season and while Brandon LaFell and Steve Smith will always figure in, Olsen is in a good spot to finally meet his potential. This is not the last week that Olsen will lead his team in receiving.

4. QB Andrew Luck (313 pass, 2 TD) - He may play for a 1-2 team and just lost to Blain Gabbert but make no mistake - Luck is already a good NFL and fantasy quarterback. In only three starts, he has two efforts over 300 yards and has thrown for two scores in each of the last two games. He not only posted 313 yards against the Jaguars, he also rushed for 50 yards on four runs.

Luck will only get better and he is already playing very well. He's on bye this week but will return to face the Packers in week five and will still have one of the worst rushing offenses in the league. Cam Newton started out with big games and then faded as a rookie. Luck is only going to get better because he has to pass every game with no rushing support.

5. RB Ryan Mathews (76 yards) - He's back and only his team getting trashed by the Falcons decreased his contribution. Mathews ran for 44 yards on ten carries but the rushing game was soon abandoned in the big loss. He also provided five catches for 32 more yards - more catches than any other Chargers receiver. The Falcons were more defense than they could handle but applying that success against the future schedule means good games are on the way. The Chargers will play in Kansas City, then in New Orleans and finally host the Broncos before their bye week. That'll get Mathews' fantasy value on the rise.

6. TE Fred Davis (7-90 receive) - Like Greg Olsen, Fred Davis took three games to finally come to life. The Redskins franchise player had not shown much chemistry with Robert Griffin III in the first two games. Against the Bengals, Griffin looked his way nine times for seven completions. Most rookie quarterbacks love their tight ends as a big target close by. Pierre Garcon will resume a prominent position when he returns but that doesn't mean Davis takes a back seat.

Facing road games in Tampa Bay, New York (Giants), and Pittsburgh along with home games against the Falcons and Vikings will provide nice opportunities for Davis to maintain a significant role in the offense.

7. RB Mikel Leshoure (26-100 rush, 4-34 receive 1 TD) - The Lions liked what they saw in Leshoure so much that they never bothered giving Kevin Smith any work. Joique Bell offered five carries in relief of Leshoure but 31 touches by the same back means big things in Detroit. This was Leshoure's first NFL game after missing all of last season with an Achilles injury.

Lions running backs have a terrible record of getting injured but at least for now, Leshoure takes over the backfield of a very good offense. Kevin Smith needs to hit the waiver wire if you have small rosters. Never using Smith spoke volumes about his rapid descent on the depth chart.

8. RB Chris Johnson (14-24 rush) - Once is a fluke, twice is a concern and three times means it is over. Johnson entered the season with a stated determination and some evidence in preseason to suggest he could return to form. Whether it is the scheme run by offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, the blocking or Johnson losing heart, a step or his mind, it is over. In fantasy terms he cannot be started, he cannot be traded for any value and yet how can you cut him? Three games have resulted in a total of 33 carries for 45 yards and that is just the way it is in Tennessee.

Sure, he faced decent defenses but only 1.4 yards per carry? And the next month includes playing at Houston, at Minnesota, hosting the Steelers and then playing at Buffalo. And in this offense, he rides the pine until he shows up again - and not just once.

9. TE Jason Witten (2-8 receive) - The Cowboys tight end has long been a great fantasy player but this year continues to disappoint if not alarm. Witten had six passes against the Buccaneers but dropped a couple and only gained eight yards on two catches. He had only two catches for ten yards in the season opener and what seemed like a promising 58 yards on four receptions in Seattle. He claims that his spleen injury has nothing to do with his poor performances but there is no better explanation.

A home game against the Bears this week should give more definition since the Cowboys will be more challenged to pass well and need Witten more. A bye the following week means that Witten owners are feeling the bite of taking a risk on him this year. Witten has been only mediocre so far and with other tight ends breaking out this year, the time is already here to consider benching him until he has demonstrated that he is over the spleen injury and back to form.

10. RB Ryan Williams (13-83 rush) - Of course this week comes on the heels of Williams admitting he thinks about his surgically-repaired knee when he plays. But once Beanie Wells missed most of the second half against the Eagles with a toe injury, Williams made the most of his opportunity to be the lead back. He not only rushed for 83 yards on 13 runs; he also had a 12-yard catch. Wells has been an oft-injured back that rarely meets expectations. Williams could use this chance to show what he has - and that almost certainly is more than what Wells offers.

If Wells misses much time, the next match-ups are against the Dolphins, at the Rams, vs. the Bills and then at the Vikings. Williams could do his career a big favor by building upon the success against the Eagles.

Sunday Snippets

NYG 36, CAR 7 This was a fairly boring game unless you just picked up Andre Brown off waivers and got his 113 rush yards and two touchdowns. Martellus Bennett has scored in all three games as the Giants starting tight end and Ramses Barden had a career best 9-138 replacing Hakeem Nicks. Victor Cruz was held to 6-42 because literally everything else was working so well. Cam Newton (242 pass yards) did little other than steal a rushing touchdown from DeAngelo Williams (11-50). The only notable from the Panthers was Greg Olsen finally showing up this year and leading the Panthers with 98 yards on seven receptions. The 2-1 Giants head to Philly this week and the 1-2 Panthers go to Atlanta.
STL 6, CHI 23

On a wacky weekend of upsets, this one followed expectations when Sam Bradford only passed for 152 yards and two interceptions and Steven Jackson was able to play, went 11-29 and then left re-injuring his groin. Danny Amendola was as good as it got for a Ram and that was only five catches for 66 yards. With Matt Forte out, Michael Bush gained 55 yards on 18 runs and scored once. But there were no passing scores and Brandon Marshall led the team with just five catches for 71 yards. Bears defense returned an interception for a touchdown. The 1-2 Rams return home to face the Seahawks and the 2-1 Bears go to Dallas.

BUF 24, CLE 14 CJ Spiller injured his shoulder in the first quarter and will be out a week or two according to HC Chan Gailey. Tashard Choice becomes the FA of the week after gaining 91 yards on 20 runs. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for only 208 yards but three scores split up among Steve Johnson (7-61), Spiller (2-42) and TJ Graham 3-24). Brandon Weeden (237, TD) wasn't bad but Trent RIchardson only gained 27 yards on 12 runs. Richardson scored once though and added six catches for 24 yards. The0-3 Browns still look pretty punchless on offense and get to go play in Baltimore this week. The 2-1 Bills return home to face the Patriots.
TB 10, DAL 16

This is an ugly win and now the Cowboys have one great opener and two mediocre showings (one of these three are not like the other, one of these three do not belong...) Tony Romo passed for 283 yards but no scores and DeMarco Murray had a score but no yards (18-38). Miles Austin led the team with 107 yards on five catches while Dez Bryant continues to under perform with six receptions for 62 yards. Jason Witten's eight yards on two catches were little better than if he had not played. But it did not matter. Josh Freeman only passed for 110 yards and one score and Vincent Jackson had only one catch. Doug Martin ran for 53 yards and added 21 yards on two catches for a moderate game. The 1-2 Buccaneers return home to face the team formerly known as the Redskins and the 2-1 Cowboys host the Bears.

JAC 22, IND 17 Blaine Gabbert threw for 155 yards and one score thanks to an 80-yard touchdown to Cecil Shorts on his only catch in the game - otherwise Gabbert was 9 of 20 for 75 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew once again showed why they should just split the team salaries and give him half when he rushed for 177 yards and a score and added 16 more as a receiver. Andrew Luck threw for 313 yards and two scores with Reggie Wayne (8-88) and T.Y. Hilton (4-113, TD) his two favorite receivers. Donald Brown ran for 62 yards but Luck had 50 rush yards himself. The loss sends the 1-2 Colts onto their bye week and the 1-2 Jaguars return home to host the Bengals.
SF 13, MIN 24

Sorry about your survivor league. The 49ers lost this game against the ferocious opportunistic hawkish stout dominating I have no idea how the 49ers lost this. Alex Smith passed for 204 yards and a score but that went to Vernon Davis (5-53) while Randy Moss (3-27) did nothing at his old haunt and Michael Crabtree (6-40) rekindled 2011. Frank Gore gained 63 yards but only ran the ball 12 times. Christian Ponder passed for 198 yards and two scores that both went to Kyle Rudolph (5-36) while Percy Harvin continues his weird streak of games where he has no deep catches and no yards after the catch. Adrian Peterson only gained 86 yards on 25 runs. Ponder rushed in a touchdown as well. Yeah, still not sure how this happened. But the 2-1 49ers head to New York to play the Jets and the 2-1 Vikings go to Detroit.

CIN 38, WAS 31 What a game - this could have been Game-O-The-Week. Come one - really? Andy Dalton was on fire when he passed for 328 yards and three scores along with Mohamed Sanu who threw a trick pass for a 73-yard touchdown to AJ Green (9-183). Andrew Hawkins (2-66, TD), Jermaine Gresham (5-64) and even Armon Binns (3-63) all had nice games. BenJarvus Green-Ellis only gained 38 yards on 17 runs but scored once. Robert Griffin III passed for 221 yards and a score and was the leading rusher with 12 runs for 85 yards and one touchdown. Alfred Morris ended with 78 yards on 17 runs and a score. The only notable here was that Fred Davis (7-90) finally showed up for the first time this season. The 2-1 Bengals go to Jacksonville this week while the 1-2 Redskins head to Tampa Bay.
PHI 6, ARI 27

On the plus side no one is accusing the Eagles of another ugly win. Michael Vick did not throw any interceptions but only completed 17 of 37 for 217 yards and no score with two lost fumbles - one turned into a 93 yard recovery touchdown for the Cards. LeSean McCoy was held to only 70 yards on 13 runs and then just eight yards on three catches. Damaris Johnson led the Eagles with 84 yards on five catches subbing for Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson had only three receptions for 43 yards. The Cardinals defense is legit. We can't argue that anymore. Uncomfortable? Yes but it is the truth. Kevin Kolb passed for 222 yards and two scores with Larry Fitzgerald finally showing up for 2012 when he turned nine receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown. Notable too - Ryan Williams finally looked good, gaining 83 yards on 13 runs while Beanie Wells only managed 18 rush yards on eight runs before injuring his <whatever>. The win lets the unbeaten Cardinals host the Dolphins this week while the 2-1 Eagles host the Giants. The Cardinals are 3-0 for the first time since 1974 when they were still in St. Louis.

ATL 27, SD 3 This was just all Falcons. Matt Ryan passed for 275 yards and three scores while Matt Turner gained 80 yards on 14 runs with one touchdown. Tony Gonzalez lad the team with nine catches for 91 yards and one touchdown while Julio Jones (5-67, TD) and Roddy White (5-55) were never that needed in this blowout. Philip Rivers had no scores on his 173 yards and two interceptions and the return of Ryan Mathews only led to 44 yards on ten runs since the Chargers abandoned the run early on and Mathews added five catches for 32 yards, Antonio Gates was held to only 22 yards on three catches because the Falcons defense is way better than most people were thinking this year. The 3-0 Falcons host the Panthers this week and the 2-1 Chargers head to Kansas City.
HOU 31, DEN 25

Great game from a fantasy perspective. Matt Schaub threw for 290 yards and four scores while Arian Foster ran for 105 yards. Andre Johnson opened the game with a 60 yard touchdown catch but only had one more reception in the entire game. Kevin Walter (3-73) scored once even though no one remembers that he plays for the Texans still. Peyton Manning had a nice comeback effort and threw for 330 yards and two scores with no interceptions. That went to Eric Decker (8-136), Brandon Stokley (6-73, TD) and Joel Dreessen (2-36, TD) who was just standing in the right spot when a pass was batted away from Eric Decker. This was a big win for the Texans though the Broncos made it seem harder than it was. The 3-0 Texans host the Titans this week and the 1-2 Broncos host the Raiders.

PIT 31, OAK 34 Another contender for GOTW (along with five other games). Big Ben Roethlisberger passed for a monster game with 384 yards and four touchdowns. That neatly was distributed to Mike Wallace (8-123, TD), Antonio Brown (7-87, TD) and Heath Miller (8-60, 2 TD). The Steeler rushing attack is almost nonexistent. Carson Palmer ended up with 209 yards and three scores thanks to the fourth quarter comeback but no Oakland receiver had more than 55 yards in the game Darrius Moore (5-45) scored late but was almost blanked. Darren McFadden finally broke out thanks to a 64-yard TD run and ended with 113 yards on 18 runs. This was just a great game where we did not expect the fireworks to happen. The loss sends the 2-1 Steelers onto their bye week and the 1-2 Raiders go to Denver.

KC 27, NO 24

OT

Go figure. This was unkind to survivor leagues as well. Matt Cassel passed for 248 yards but no scores because Jamaal Charles ran for 233 yards on 33 carries and scored once while Ryan Succop kicked five field goals and the KC defense got a safety. Dwayne Bowe (7-79) was as good as it got for the Chiefs receivers. Drew Brees threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns but Lance Moore (7-70, TD) was literally the only decent fantasy play on the Saints this week. Even Jimmy Graham only had four catches for 16 yards though he scored once. This is a killer loss for the Saints and maybe a back breaker. The 0-3 Saints head to Green Bay where it gets no easier while the 1-2 Chiefs host the Chargers.

NYJ 23, MIA 20

OT

The Dolphins lost their best weapon in Reggie Bush (10-61) and he was replaced rather capably by Lamar Miller (9-48) and Daniel Thomas (19-69, TD) but Ryan Tannehill only threw for 196 yards and no scores. The Jets for 306 passing yards and one score from Mark Sanchez who finally used Santonio Holmes (9-147) and Jeremy Kerley (2-73, TD). The Jets continue to have no rushing game but still rely on Shonn Greene (19-40) to at least take up time. Slightly encouraging was Bilal Powell running for 45 yards on ten carries but the Jets never care as long as Greene holds those incriminating photos of Rex Ryan (and none of us want to see whatever they might be). The 2-1 Jets return home to face the 49ers and the 1-2 Dolphins go to Arizona.
DET 41, TEN 44

Wow. Just wow. Bombs away. The Titans become the first team in NFL history to score five touchdowns of 60+ yards in one game. FIVE of them. Punt return (65), Jared Cook catch (61), kick return (105), Nate Washington (71) and a fumble return (72) all went for touchdowns. Jake Locker passed for 378 yards and two touchdowns but Chris Johnson only gained 24 yards on 14 runs and now, officially, becomes untouchable until (unless) he turns in a decent game with any hint it is not a freak occurrence. The Lions had Matt Stafford throw for 278 yards and a score before leaving with a hamstring pull. Shaun Hill stepped in and passed for 172 yards and two scores for a total of 460 passing yards on the Titans. Calvin Johnson (10-164, TD), Nate Burleson (10-69, TD) and Titus Young (6-75, TD) had big games though Young was mostly just a 46-yard Hail Mary at the end of the game which tied it and sent it into overtime. Mikel Leshoure had his very first NFL action after being drafted last year and turned in a solid 100 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown while Kevin Smith dressed but never played. The Lions went with Joique Bell (5-23) for relief. The 1-2 Lions now host the Vikings this week and the 1-2 Titans go to Houston.

NE 30, BAL 31 Man - what a weekend! Hardly any boring games at all and then this one - GOTW contender obviously - left us out of breath. Tom Brady passed for 335 yards and one score to Julian Edelman (4-28) but Wes Welker (8-142) and Brandon Lloyd (9-108) both had big efforts. The Pats rushing effort was predictably small in BAL. The Ravens won with Joe Flacco passing for 382 yards and three touchdowns with Torrey Smith (6-127, 2 TD) paid a wonderful tribute to his fallen brother and Ray Rice (20-101-1, 5-49) had his standard great showing. This one came down to the wire, had plenty of funky penalty calls made (and not made) and even the game winning field goal looked like it was good by maybe one or two inches inside the top of the right goal post. Just an exhausting game to watch. The 1-2 Patriots ... wow... when was the last time they were 1-2? They play in Buffalo this week while the 2-1 Ravens host the Browns.

Huddle Player of the Week

Jamaal Charles - .Not only did his knee not flare up and send him out again, but Peyton Hillis was knocked from the game and when the dust all settled, Charles had rushed for 233 yards on 33 carries with one touchdown and added six catches for 55 yards. His touchdown was merely 91 yards. Charles was a delightful surprise for a player who was trying to get 100% healthy and fell into a perfect situation when then the Chiefs kept up with the Saints and Hillis did not take away much work at all before he left.

Salute!

Torrey Smith - Because we honor those we have lost when we try to be the best we can be while we are still alive.

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Jake Locker 413 2 QB Philip Rivers 173 0
RB Andre Brown 130 2 RB Reggie Bush 61 0
RB Mikel Leshoure 134 1 RB Steven Jackson 34 0
WR Ramses Barden 138 0 WR Vincent Jackson 29 0
WR TY Hilton 113 1 WR Demaryius Thomas 34 0
WR Brandon Stokley 73 1 WR Desean Jackson 43 0
TE Kyle Rudolph 36 2 TE Rob Gronkowski 21 0
PK Ryan Succop 1 XP 6 FG PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG

Huddle Fantasy Points = 151

Huddle Fantasy Points = 28

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was a crazy weekend with a lot of upsets and close games and three overtimes. Half of the road teams won. The 49ers no longer are unbeaten after losing in Minnesota. The Saints are still winless even after hosting the Chiefs. There are only three teams without a loss - Arizona, Atlanta and Houston. There are only two teams without a win - Cleveland and New Orleans. After three weeks, have enough information to start to realize who is good and who is not. At least until next week when it probably all changes again.

The Game-O-The-Week? There could have been six or seven that qualify. This week, we call it a three-way tie for the overtime games and take a look at how you win a game when you have to start over when the fourth quarter is over.

Jets 23, Dolphins 20

After scoring ten points in the fourth quarter to take the lead, the Jets let the Dolphins go from their own 29-yard line with 2:52 left to play and kick a game tying field goal with 21 seconds left.

The Jets took the overtime kickoff from their 20-yard line and reached the MIA 45-yard line when they had to punt. The Dolphins took over from their own 10-yard line and then then only needed a seven plays to reach the Jets 30-yard line thanks mostly to a 41-yard catch by Brian Hartline. The 48-yard field goal attempt by Dan Carpenter was wide left.

The Jets took over on their own 38-yard line and hit Santonio Holmes for 38 yards and then ran twice for little gain. On third down from the MIA 15-yard line, Nick Folk kicked the winning field goal. Missing that 48-yarder meant losing the game for the Fins.

Chiefs 27, Saints 24

The Chiefs caused the tie when they scored three field goals and one safety in the fourth quarter since the Saints never could score. The game tying kick cam when the Chiefs took over on their own 38-yard line with 5:26 left to play and chewed up all the clock marching down to the NO 25-yard line in 14 plays and letting Ryan Succop kick the 43-yarder to force overtime.

The Chiefs got the opening kick and reach the Saints 46-yard line before needing to punt. The Saints took over on their own 3-yard line where Drew Brees threw three straight incompletions. The resulting punt left the Chiefs at the KC 47-yard line. On third and 12, Matt Cassel threw a completion to Shane Draughn and he fumbled. The Saints returned the fumble for a 57-yard touchdown but replay reversed it saying it was not a fumble. On fourth and one at the Saints 44-yard line, the Chiefs did not punt, they let Jamaal Charles gain three yards for a new set of downs. eight plays later the nailed the 31-yard field goal to beat the Saints.

Saints had it, lost it thanks to having no defense and then had no offense at all in overtime.

Lions 41, Titans 44

This game was nuts. There were 46 combined points scored - IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. This may end up as the game of the year really. Consider this scoring in the fourth quarter:

DET - kicks 26-yard field
DET - Nate Burleson catches 3-yard touchdown
TEN - 105 yard kick return touchdown
TEN - Nate Washington 71-yard touchdown catch
TEN - 72-yard fumble return touchdown
DET - Calvin Johnson catches 3-yard touchdown
DET - Final play Hail Mary results in 46-yard touchdown when Titus Young catches the batted ball.

whew... 41-41 at end of regulation.

Titans drive from their own 20-yard line to the DET 8-yard line after 14 plays and Rob Bironas kicks a 26-yard field goal.

Lions start on their own 22-yard line and reach the TEN 7-yard line after only nine plays where on fourth-and-one they decide to not kick the tying field goal but go for the first down, then a touchdown to win the game. Only Shaun Hill fumbles the snap and they fail to get that one yard, giving the game to the Titans.

It was a very exciting weekend with lots of big performances and close games. Three overtimes, kicks at the final second. The Dolphins blocked the kick by the Jets except HC Joe Philbin called a time out to ice them and the second try was good for the Jets win. It was crazy fun and still mostly a confusing mass of competitive parity.

And it ended with the Ravens nipping the Patriots at the end thanks in no small part to Torrey Smith who learned on Saturday night that his brother died in a motorcycle accident. He left and returned to the team and wanted to play. He could have missed the game and no one would question it. Instead he ended with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns playing on emotion and adrenalin. It was a lesson to remember.

Mother, brother, father, son. Whoever it is who has passed before us only want to see us at our best. Making whatever it is we do important and worth spending a life doing it.

Now get back to work...


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