FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 4
David Dorey
October 1, 2012
Follow Follow @Dorey_TheHuddle
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tom Brady 340 4
Cam Newton 215p / 86r 3
Drew Brees 446 3
Ryan Fitzpatrick

350

4
Aaron Rodgers 319 4
Running Backs Yards TD
Jamaal Charles 115 2
Michael Turner 171 1
Marshawn Lynch 155 1
Willis McGahee 135 1
Stevan Ridley 106 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Brian Hartline 253 1
Roddy White 169 2
Marques Colston 153 1
Andre Roberts 118 2
Victor Cruz 109 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Scott Chandler 62 2
Rob Gronkowski 104 1
Greg Olsen 89 1
Owen Daniels 72 1
Jimmy Graham 76 0
Placekickers XPT FG
Matt Prater 4 3
Greg Zuerlein 1 4
Matt Bryant 3 3
David Akers 4 2
Stephen Gostkowski 7 1
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
49ers 1 3 4
Texans 2 4 3
Chargers 1 2 6
Vikings 2 5 1
Patriots 0 3 6

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Jake Locker - Shoulder injury
Aldrick Robinson - Wrong place, wrong time
Santonio Holmes - Foot injury that looks bad
Greg Jennings - Groin strain
Scott Chandler - Head shot but no concussion

Ten Stats you need to know

1. RB Chris Johnson (15 carries for 141 yards) - Sure, just when most owners bench him because of a terrible match-up in Houston, Johnson finally shows up. He added two catches for 16 yards and looked in the same form that owners expected when they drafted him in the first or second round in every draft. Johnson only gained 45 yards on 33 carries in the three previous weeks combined.

Sell him. Sell him now. He would do this last year when he had 12 games with 64 rushing yards or less and four games when he topped 100 yards. His last game over 100 yards was followed with a 23 yard effort. Another time he gained 130 yards and the next week ran 12 times for 13 yards. Sell him now. And don't buy him.

2. RB Jacquizz Rodgers (10 touches) - The change of pace back in Atlanta is more than mere relief. In a hotly contested match-up against the Panthers, he ran six times for 18 yards and added four catches for 40 yards. This was made more notable by Michael Turner only getting 13 runs and three catches. Granted - Turner had 171 total yards thanks to a 60 yard touchdown catch. But it speaks volumes when Turner is given 16 touches and Rodgers gets ten.

Turner has ran well in recent games and the new ratio is something that will help keep him fresh for later in the year. This also gives Rodgers important game reps and a chance to make big plays himself. He has the confidence of the coaches and an opportunity for a big increase in production.

3. Buffalo Bills (24 carries for 84 yards) - As a team they only gained 3.5 yards per carry and worse yet they used four different running backs in the game. The Bills rushing attack against the Patriots involved Fred Jackson (13-29), C.J. Spiller (8-33), Tashard Choice (2-14) and even Johnny White (1-8). Certainly facing the Patriots has been very tough on all runners this year but the Bills made it even worse by splitting up the workload.

Spiller and Jackson are both healthy and back on the field but neither player will carry a heavy load. Back in the season opener when both played, Jackson ran six times and Spiller was given 16 carries. But fifteen of his carries happened after Jackson left injured. The duo will both be used and ruin what could be with just one primary back. The Bills also are hitting a brutal stretch of the schedule with the next five games including four road trips to face the 49ers, Cardinals, Texans and Patriots. Expect lower games for the next month or more.

4. WR Jerome Simpson (Seven targets) - He completed his suspension for violating the NFL drug policy and played his first game as a Viking. Percy Harvin received eight passes as the primary but Simpson was thrown seven passes and caught four for 50 yards to lead the Vikings. Expect those stats to rise at least the next two weeks since the Vikings host the Titans and then travel to play the Redskins. Both should provide plenty of chances for Christian Ponder and Simpson to work on their chemistry. Ponder already looks for Simpson as much as any other receiver after just one game with the ex-Bengal.

5. RB Ryan Mathews ( Four carries for one yard) - To the surprise of even the beat writers from San Diego, Jackie Battle was given the start for the Chargers in Kansas City. He scored twice and ended with 81 total yards. Mathews? At half time he only had four carries for one net yard and then was never given a carry in the third quarter. That was all a punitive measure by headcoach Norv Turner to teach Mathews a lesson about not fumbling. Not sure what lesson is learned twiddling his thumbs on the sideline but to the great dismay of every fantasy owner, Mathews sat.

He came in during the fourth quarter and rushed for 60 yards on ten runs and he caught two passes for 21 yards but combine the two backs and Mathews missed out on 29 runs for 100 yards, 63 receiving yards and two scores. Turner claims he has full confidence in Mathews ostensibly because he has now made Mathews stand around for three quarters. Mathews will play in New Orleans this week and that should be a gold mine so long as Turner has no more lessons he needs to teach.

6. QB Philip Rivers (Wideouts only 35% of completions) - The Chargers let Vincent Jackson leave and thought they were replacing him with Robert Meachem. That was misguided. Through four games, the wide receivers only provide 35% of the passing completions (30-387). Compare this to the tight ends (22%, 19-206) and running backs (43%, 37-275). If you want to know why Rivers averages just 224 passing yards per game, this is why. There are no decent receivers deep down the field or capable of breaking off a long gainer.

There is no reason to expect any change here with Antonio Gates showing his age and only Malcom Floyd capable of more than mediocre play from the wide receivers. On the plus side - this bodes well for Ryan Mathews if they will start using him as a full time back again. The need for capable receivers continues to plague Rivers.

7. RB Brandon Bolden (16 runs for 137 yards) - No doubt the Patriots rookie becomes the newest hot property on the league waiver wire. Anytime a player gains 100 yards from the waiver wire it is very notable. But it is not necessarily actionable. As in let someone else go grab him. Bolden had the big effort against the Bills and yet his first three weeks totaled just seven carries for 15 yards. This came in a game where the Patriots won 52-28 and Stevan Ridley ran 22 times for 106 yards and two scores.

If you have a completely dead spot in your roster, get Bolden. Hope for the day that Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead are both injured and you may get to use him. But chances are high that you can never comfortably start Bolden. So far, Bolden turns in fewer than 12 yards in three out of every four games.

8. WR Domenik Hixon (Six catches for 114 yards) - Plenty of people burned up the waiver wire when Ramses Barden caught nine passes for 138 yards against the Panthers during week three. He was replacing Hakeem Nicks and led all Giants receivers. But the reality was that he was replacing Domenik Hixon who was also out with a concussion that week. So Barden took two steps up the depth chart and then landed on fantasy rosters. This week Nicks remained out because of his foot but Hixon returned. Barden played as the #3 and ended with two catches for 36 yards. Hixon caught six passes for 114 yards and led all receivers.

With the attention that Victor Cruz commands, it is no surprise that the #2 wideout is doing so well no matter who gets to play. With Nicks experiencing swelling in his knee along with his right foot issue, chances are Hixon gets to replace Nicks for at least another week or two.

9. WR Leonard Hankerson (11 targets) - The second year player is making his move. He led the Redskins with 11 passes thrown to him and caught seven for 57 yards. He is currently replacing Pierre Garcon and will move over to replace Josh Morgan when Garcon can play a full game. Robert Griffin III already has two efforts over 300 passing yards and Hankerson is a valuable addition to the starting wideouts even when Garcon plays. Hankerson will no less relied on when the Redskins face the tough defenses of the Falcons, Vikings, Giants and Steelers up next on the schedule.

10. Stud Tight Ends (Three catches for 10 yards) - That was the total production this week from Dennis Pitta, Martellus Bennett and Kyle Rudolph. These same tight ends  combined for 16 catches, 159 yards and four touchdowns just last week. Pitta was blanked by the Browns and Rudolph only caught two passes for eight yards versus the Lions. Martellus Bennett started the Eagles tilt with a 38-yard catch which was called back because of penalty and then only had one reception for two yards for the rest of the evening.

This is not to say these are bad tight ends - far from it. All three will be stars for their respective teams. But accept that outside of perhaps Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, any tight end can lay an egg in any given week thanks to having a dual role as a receiver and a blocker.

Sunday Snippets

CLE 16, BAL 23 The Browns put up a surprisingly good fight with Brandon Weeden passing for 320 yards and Trent Richardson scoring for the third week in a row and totaling 104 yards against the Ravens. But the receivers once again had a major case of the drops that makes Weeden's effort even more impressive. The Ravens only saw Ray Rice gain a total of 96 yards and not score. Joe Flacco passed for 356 yards and one score because Torrey Smith (6-97, TD) and Anquan Boldin (9-131) had a very rare game where both were very productive. Boldin in particular enjoyed the absence of Pat Haden. Now the 0-4 Browns travel to New York to face the Giants and the 3-1 Ravens travel to Kansas City.
NE 52, BUF 28

With 80 total points this game rekindled 2011 with huge stats for all concerned. Tom Brady passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns that were doled out to Rob Gronkowski (5-104), Brandon Lloyd (3-50) and Danny Woodhead (2-23) while Wes Welker ended with 129 yards on nine catches. Steven Ridley ran in two touchdowns on his 22 carries for 106 yards and even Brandon Bolden scored once on his 16 runs for 137 yards. Oh yes, whew, Brady ran in a score too. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 350 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions. C.J. Spiller (8-33) and Fred Jackson (13-29) both played without offering any real fantasy value. Scott Chandler (4-62) scored twice and Donald Jones (2-90) had a touchdown as well. Steve Johnson (2-23) was the only fantasy relevant player who did not have a great game. Now the 2-2 Patriots host the Broncos which means BRADY VS. MANNING and the 2-2 Bills head to San Francisco.

MIN 20, DET 13 I hate games like this. The Vikings had a kick and punt return for both their touchdowns. Otherwise, Christian Ponder only passed for 111 yards and Adrian Peterson (21-102) was the lone Viking with any fantasy points. The Lions had a tough time thanks to the MIN defense and Mikel Leshoure only ran for 26 yards on 13 runs. Matt Stafford ran in a score but had no passing touchdowns on his 319 yard day. Brandon Pettigrew (7-67) and Charles Johnson (5-54) were tops for the Lions but this was a boring game and won by the team with no offense but two special teams touchdowns. The 3-1 Vikings now host the Titans and the 1-3 Lions go on bye.
TEN 14, HOU 38

Predictable blowout. The Titans lost Jake Locker - maybe not a bad thing - and Matt Hasselbeck showed what happens with a veteran QB. He passed for 193 yards and two scores split between Kenny Wright (4-46) and Craig Stevens (2-24). Otherwise there were no productive receivers and yet Chris Johnson rushed for 141 yards on 25 carries and even added 16 yards on two receptions as a receiver. Matt Schaub threw for 202 yards and two scores between Owen Daniels (6-72) and James Casey (5-36) with Andre Johnson (3-56) starting the game hot but then fading because the beat was on. Arian Foster ran for 86 yards and one score while the Texans defense scored on two interception returns. The 1-3 Titans travel to Minnesota this week while the Texans head to New York to face the Jets.

SD 37, KC 20 Chargers pull off an impressive win mainly because they only had one interception and the Chiefs threw three interceptions and lost three fumbles. Philip Rivers passed for 209 yards and two touchdowns but no Charger receiver was better than Antonio Gates (3-59). Though nothing was said, reported or let on, the Chargers started Jackie Battle instead of Ryan Mathews assumedly as a timeout for his previous fumbling and Battle scored once and gained 39 yards on 15 runs. Mathews was later given some work with 14 runs for 61 yards and added two catches for 21 yards but Battle had four receptions for 42 yards and a second score. Mathews owners could have done far better without the unannounced punitive action. Matt Cassel put up 251 passing yards and two touchdowns. As always, there were only two Chiefs players that mattered. Jamaal Charles rushed for 92 yards and one score and added three catches for 23 yards and another touchdown. Dwayne Bowe (7-108) had his obligatory trash time fun with yards and one touchdown. The 3-1 Chargers head to New Orleans while the 1-3 Chiefs host the Ravens this week.
SF 34, NYJ 0

The 49ers were apparently still steamed about their loss last week. They destroyed the Jets by being everything that Rex Ryan wants in a team and yet does not have. Three different 49ers rushed in a touchdown - Fran Gore (21-62), Kendall Hunter (8-56) and Colin Kaepernick (5-50). Alex Smith only threw 21 times for 143 yards and 12 completions because nine different players had at least one rushing attempt. Only six had a catch and nine ran the ball including running backs, quarterbacks, fullbacks and wide receivers. The 49ers defense scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery as well. The Jets are bad and getting worse. Mark Sanchez only completed 13 of 29 passes for 103 yards and one interception. Tim Tebow had his first ever pass as a Jet for a nine-yard completion. The rushing game remains in shambles with Shonn Greene (11-34) doing no favors for himself and Bilal Powell (4-11) not really any better. Worse yet is the loss of Santonio Holmes with a foot injury early reports had as potentially season ending. At some point Tim Tebow has to make a showing. The Jets may even give some work to Jonathan Grimes who they just acquired off the Texans practice squad. This is a bad team going no where but lower. The 3-1 49ers host the Bills this weekend while the 2-2 Jets will play the visiting Texans.

SEA 13, STL 19 The defenses in the NFC West are getting ridiculously good. Ryan Wilson did not have a Hail Mary ending to his game, he only passed for 160 yards and three interceptions instead. The only Seattle player with a notable game was Marshawn Lynch who rushed for 118 yards and one score on 20 runs and added four receptions for 37 yards. The lack of a passing game finally caught up to the Seahawks who probably were emotionally down after their big "win" last week. The Rams had no big performances either with Sam Bradford passing for just 220 yards and no scores while the punter Johnny Hekker threw a touchdown to Danny Amendola (6-55). Steven Jackson gained only 55 yards on 18 runs and had just one catch. Boring defensive game which sadly may become the standard for interdivisional match-ups in the NFC West. The 2-2 Seahawks head to Carolina to play while the 2-2 Rams host the Cardinals.

OAK 6, DEN 37

This match-up almost always gets won by the visiting team but the 2012 Raiders are just not coming together. Carson Palmer could only throw for 202 yards and no scores. Darren McFadden ran for only 34 yards on 13 carries and there were no touchdowns or players with any real fantasy value. The Broncos got ahead and then just showed no mercy. Peyton Manning passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns while Willis McGahee ran in one score and gained 112 yards on 19 carries and added six catches for 23 more yards. Demaryius Thomas went for 105 yards on five receptions but lost the ball simply changing hands on a long gainer that might have been a touchdown. Eric Decker (7-79) scored once as well. This was just a beat down that made Manning look like Manning of old and beat the Raiders by the biggest margin since 1962. The 1-3 Raiders go on their bye while the 2-2 Broncos head to New England for a Manning/Brady matchup.

CIN 27, JAC 10 The Jaguars only got 38 rushing yards from Maurice Jones-Drew which means they never had a chance. Blaine Gabbert passed for a rather high 186 yards and a touchdown that went to Marcedes Lewis and Justin Blackmon (6-48) had his best game of the season but still only had 48 yards, Andy Dalton posted 244 pass yards with two touchdowns and ran in a third score. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (26-82) had plenty of work but not much in the way of production. A.J. Green (6-117) caught one score while no other receiver ended with more than 50 yards. This was a standard beatdown on a Jaguars team that lives and mostly dies by whatever Jones-Drew can accomplish. The 3-1 Bengals host the Dolphins this week while the 1-3 Jaguars greet the visiting Bears.
WAS 24, TB 22

Great game and contender for Game-O-The-Week. The Buccaneers took the lead with 1:47 left to play but then could not keep the Skins from going from their 20-yard line to the Bucs 24-yard line where they kicked the winning field goal with three seconds left to play. Robert Griffin III passed for 323 yards and Alfred Morris rushed for 113 yards and one touchdown. Griffin also scored on a run while adding 43 rushing yards to his total. The Skins had no big receivers other than Fred Davis (4-70), Josh Morgan (4-62) and Leonard Hankerson (7-57) all had moderate games. Josh Freeman posted 299 pass yards and one score that went to Vincent Jackson (6-100) while Mike Williams (4-115) had the most receiving yards. Nice win lifts the 2-2 Redskins who host the Falcons now and the 1-3 Buccaneers reach their bye week wondering what went wrong.

MIA 21, ARI 24
OT
Yet another contender for GOTW in a game that went into overtime when Kevin Kolb threw a touchdown to Andre Roberts with 22 seconds left to play and then after the Cardinals went three-and-out in overtime, the Fins took over on their own 21-yard line. Four plays later they were at the MIA 38-yard line where Ryan Tannehill threw an interception that was returned to the MIA 47-yard line. Kolb used six plays to reach the MIA 28-yard line where Jay Feely kicked the game winning field goal. Ryan Tannehill had played his best game with 431 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions. Reggie Bush was able to play but only gained 67 yards on 17 runs and had no catches. Brian Hartline had a game for the ages with 12 receptions for 253 yards and one touchdown while Davone Bess turned seven receptions into 123 yards. But Kevin Kolb passed for 324 yards and three scores. Andre Roberts (6-118) ended with two touchdowns while Larry Fitzgerald (8-64) scored once. Ryan Williams took his first real start and only managed 26 yards on 13 runs and one catch for no gain. Now the 1-3 Dolphins head to Cincinnati and the 4-0 Cardinals go to St. Louis.
CAR 28, ATL 30

And another contender for GOTW. The beauty with this game is that there were plenty of fantasy points to share and yet it finally ended up with the expected outcome thanks to Cam Newton fumbling on a third-and-two with 1:44 left. The Panther recovered but had to punt instead of bleed the clock. Starting at their own one yard line, Ryan hit Roddy White for 59 yards to set up the eventual 40-yard field goal with five seconds left to win the game. Cam Newton threw for 215 yards and two scores while rushing for 86 yards and a third touchdown.Greg Olsen again came through as the lead receiver with six receptions for 89 yards and one score while Steve Smith was held to only 52 yards on three catches. Matt Ryan passed for 369 yards and three touchdowns that went to Roddy White (8-169, 2 TD) and Michael Turner (3-68, TD) who scored on a 60 yard catch and run and also gained 103 yards on 13 runs. Julio Jones was held to one catch for 30 yards and left all fantasy owners scratching their head but happy for the one catch late in the game. Now the 1-3 Panthers host the Seahawks and the 4-0 Falcons will play in Washington.

NYG 17, PHI 19 An appropriate game to end a nail-biting Sunday. This was close but not high scoring with the second half only providing two touchdowns by the Giants and four field goals by the Eagles who simply could not punch in a score. It still came down to a last second failed 54-yard field goal try. Eli Manning passed for 309 yards and two scores with both Domenik Hixon (6-114) and Victor Cruz (9-109, TD) providing nearly all the receiving while Martellus Bennett (1-2) proved that no, he is not unstoppable. Ahmad Bradshaw (13-39) and Andre Brown (5-14) was a reminder that what happened last week with Brown was not going to happen again. Michael Vick actually played an entire game without losing any fumbles or throwing any interceptions which it ends up as a help to winning a game. DeSean Jackson (6-99, TD) was the only good fantasy receiver though Brent Celek (4-57) at least posted enough yardage to merit a start. LeSean McCoy has a season high 123 rushing yards on 23 carries though he only added three catches for 17 yards. Now the 2-2 Giants host the Browns and the 3-1 Eagles play in Pittsburgh.

Huddle Player of the Week

Brian Hartline - Yes. Rub your eyes. Brian Hartline. Playing in Arizona no less. With a rookie quarterback who had never passed for more than 219 yards in any of his three career starts. The fourth year player had only one game exceed 100 yards and that was 111 yards two weeks ago versus the Raiders. Now Hartline not only has the top performance of 2012 with 12 receptions for 253 yards, he is tied with Plaxico Burress for the 16th greatest single game receiving yardage in NFL history. For the record, Flipper Anderson owns the top mark with 336 yards on 15 carries back in 1989. Chances that Hartline will be a fantasy starter in Cincinnati next week? 100%!

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 364 4 QB Carson Palmer 202 0
RB Jackie Battle 81 2 RB Doug Martin 42 0
RB Brandon Bolden 148 1 RB Reggie Bush 67 0
WR Brian Hartline 253 1 WR Julio Jones 30 0
WR Andre Roberts 118 2 WR Steve Johnson 23 0
WR Joseph Morgan 80 1 WR Percy Harvin 34 0
TE Craig Stevens 24 1 TE Vernon Davis 28 0
PK Matt Prater 4 XP 3 FG PK Mason Crosby 4 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 167

Huddle Fantasy Points = 32

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Ah... what parity. There are currently only nine teams with a winning record in the NFL. 11 teams have a 2-2 record. Five games were decided by a field goal or less and the current reigning Superbowl champ is 2-2. The Packers won in 2010 and are 2-2. The Saints won in 2009 and are 0-4. Ah yes, it is a new season to be sure.

The Game-O-The-Week? Just like week three, there were plenty of contenders and all were worthy. But the one the fantasy world loved the most was clear:

Saints 27, Packers 28

You had to love this game. How great would it be to pit two of the best offenses in the last few years against each other? Ends up - pretty great. Drew Brees passed for 446 yards and three touchdowns that were divided up between Marques Colston (9-153), Joe Morgan (1-80) and Darren Sproles (5-44). Jimmy Graham ended with 76 yards on seven catches and there was no success rushing on the Packers.

Aaron Rodgers had been a cause of concern by fantasy owners but came through with 319 yards and four touchdowns just like you hoped when you drafted him. Jordy Nelson (8-93) scored once while two touchdowns went to James Jones (5-56). Greg Jennings injured his groin and left the game after his one catch for a touchdown. Cedric Benson rushed for 84 yards and added four catches for 22 more yards.

it was 21-14 in favor of the Packers at halftime. The Saints took the opening drive of the second half and drove the field but then stalled at the Packers 2-yard line and had to settle for a field goal.

The Packers then drove the field and reached the Saints 4-yard line when Aaron Rodgers got poked in the eye. He left for one play and Graham Harrell only needed one play to lose a fumble to the Saints defense. Five plays later Drew Brees hit Joe Morgan for an 80-yard touchdown. That was the second-year player's second career catch.

On the Packers next possession, Rodgers threw an interception on a deep pass meant for Jordy Nelson. That sent the Saints on a drive that would enter the fourth quarter and end with another field goal when they could not punch in a touchdown from the Packers 9-yard line. The Saints led 27-21 with 13:07 left to play.

Both teams traded possession and then finally Rodgers was able to mount a 57 yard drive that ended with a 11-yard score to Jordy Nelson and the 28-27 winning margin with 7:05 left to play.

Brees started his big final drive on his own 31-yard line and 11 plays later it was third-and-four from the Packers 25-yard line. An incomplete to Sproles led to Garret Hartley kicking a 43-yard field goal for a 30-28 lead. But the Saints center was called for holding and the 48-yard attempt went wide left. The Packers were able to run out the clock thanks to Cedric Benson.

So what teams are good? What teams are bad? After four weeks the only unbeaten teams are Houston, Arizona and Atlanta. That is all. The only team without a win is Cleveland. Chances are good your league is no different with maybe one or two teams at the bottom, a couple of top teams mostly there because of a kind early schedule and then everyone else. A month into the season and it is still wide open with teams developing and changing.

Were into bye weeks and there will be injuries along the way. Guaranteed - both the NFL and your fantasy league will be very different in just a few weeks.

When Brian Hartline can post the 16th best wideout performance on the road against a 4-0 team, you know - this is not going to be an easy year to call.

Now get back to work...


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