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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 16
David Dorey
December 24, 2012
Follow Follow @DMDorey
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Aaron Rodgers 353 4
Tony Romo 416 4
Drew Brees 445 3
Matt Ryan 304 4
Peyton Manning 339 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Reggie Bush 107 3
Jamaal Charles 230 1
Ray Rice 157 1
Marshawn Lynch 130 2
Ryan Grant 158 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Dez Bryant 224 2
Roddy White 153 2
Calvin Johnson 225 0
Mike Williams 132 1
Jeremy Maclin 116 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Lance Kendricks 119 1
Jimmy Graham 88 0
Kyle Rudolph 39 1
Antonio Gates 44 1
Jermichael Finley 70 0
Placekickers XPT FG
Justin Tucker 3 4
Mason Crosby 7 2
Stephen Gostkowski 2 3
Blair Walsh 2 3
Jason Hanson 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Bears 2 4 4
Rams 1 5 5
Bengals 1 4 3
Steelers 0 5 3
Packers 0 7 2

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Arian Foster - Irregular heartbeat
Carson Palmer - Ribs
Heath Miller - Damage to PCL and MCL in right knee
Cecil Shorts - Concussion
Randall Cobb - Ankle
Scott Chandler - Knee
Vernon Davis - Concussion
Baron Batch - Broken arm
Mike Wallace - hamstring
Trent Richardson - Leg
Brandon Weeden - Shoulder
Mario Manningham - Knee

Top Ten Players that helped win your championship

1. GB QB Peyton Manning (339 yards pass, 3 TDs vs CLE)
For a guy who was drafted as ninth best quarterback last summer, the returns were stellar. His year off because of a bad neck meant plenty of risk and all he's done is merely deliver the Broncos to the playoffs while taking many fantasy owners to their championship games. His 34 touchdowns already places 2012 as his second best season and posting 339 pass yards and three scores on Sunday means you stole him and he paid off all year.

2. NO QB Drew Brees (446 yards, 3 TDs at DAL)
The cost of drafting Brees was high but the payoff has been constant all season with a top scoring quarterback each week. Brees has been the model of consistency and in these last two weeks threw for 753 yards and seven touchdowns right when you needed him most. He gave you ten games with three or more touchdowns and nine games of 300+ yards including each of the most recent four weeks.

3. DAL QB Tony Romo (416 yards, 4 TDs vs NO)
Romo was another quarterback that came cheaply - around tenth best in most leagues. He had a few games with less than prolific stat lines but became better as the season wore on. Five of his last six games went over 300 yards and after stinging the Steelers with 341 yards and two scores last week, Romo upped that with his best game of 2012 for fantasy championship week.

4. MIA RB Reggie Bush (107 yards, 3 TDs vs BUF)
The season started great for Bush with his 172 yards and two scores against the Raiders but he calmed down significantly during mid-season as the Dolphins turned to a heavier committee backfield. Just when you needed him the most, Bush was given two of his busiest games of the year. He gained 104 yards on 21 runs in week 15 and then followed that up with one of the best games of his career. Bush rushed for 65 yards on 19 carries and scored once while adding four receptions for 42 yards and two more touchdowns as a receiver. Nothing like exceeding expectations.

5. SEA RB Marshawn Lynch (130 yards, 2 TDs vs SF)
He started the summer with a DUI arrest that scared off some fantasy owners but Lynch had that delayed until after this season. He hit the ground running and rarely ever stopped. Lynch was consistently productive with over 90 total yards in 13 games and scoring a total of 12 touchdowns. Better yet his last three games racked up a combined six scores and each had more than 110 rushing yards. Lynch was one of the rare players constantly at the top of his position every week and then was even better when you needed some playoff help.

6. DAL WR Dez Bryant (224 yards, 2 TDs vs NO)
His first three weeks of the season held no scores and marginal yardage. Since then he's only had two flops and yet ten difference-making efforts for your fantasy squad. Bryant has been golden for the last seven weeks with at least a touchdown in each and a total of ten scores over that time. He injured his finger but opted to continue to play instead of getting surgery. His scoring streak continued and then in week 16 for fantasy championship, he had the best game of his entire career with nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns.

7. DET WR Calvin Johnson (225 yards vs ATL)
The price paid for Johnson was usually high last August for a player that was almost always a first rounder and the first wideout selected. No one is complaining about what they paid for him. All he has done is break the all-time single season yardage record set by Jerry Rice in 1995 and he's only 108 yards away from being the first ever 2,000 yard receiver. Johnson has topped 100 yards in each of the last eight games and his last four all featured at least ten receptions. His second highest yardage total of his six year career came last Saturday night just in time for fantasy playoffs.

8. DEN WR Demaryius Thomas ( 102 yards, TD vs CLE)
After getting drafted in the fifth round or later, Thomas proceeded to vastly exceed expectations thanks to swapping Tim Tebow for Peyton Manning. He's scored nine times this year and consistently posted decent yardage and/or a touchdown almost every week. It was painful when he only managed four catches for 13 yards in week 15 in Baltimore but made it up with nine receptions for 102 yards and one score this week. Apparently mixing a first round talent at receiver with a Hall of Fame quarterback results in a difference maker. A lesson to remember.

9. DEN RB Knowshon Moreno (137 yards vs CLE)
This is why you must live on your waiver wire. Moreno was inactive from week three though week 11 as the forgotten player for the Broncos. Willis McGahee was having a great season and Ronnie Hillman was backing him up and offering change-of-pace carries. But once McGahee was injured for the rest of the year, it wasn't Hillman who saw the increase in workload. It was Moreno who was dusted off. In five starts, he's never dipped below 80 total yards and followed up his 167 yards and one score on the Raiders in week 14 with 126 yards and another touchdown in Baltimore. On last Sunday, Moreno rushed for 78 yards on 22 carries and added five receptions for 49 more yards. Not too shabby for a waiver wire shot in the dark.

10. CHI WR Brandon Marshall (68 yards, TD at ARI)
It seemed risky to expect Marshall to move to Chicago and just pick up on his chemistry with Jay Cutler. The Bears never have a great receiver and Cutler rarely stays healthy. But Marshall has been magic and even when the rest of the team struggles, he still offers high-powered consistency. Marshall has produced either 100 yards or a touchdown in all but a couple of games and he's scored in each of the last three games when you needed it the most. For being the tenth drafted wideout in most leagues, he's cranked out fantasy points like never before and never slowed down while fantasy playoffs were held.

The Playoff Picture

NFC

North - Packers have won it.

South - Falcons are in and are the #1 seed.

West - Both the 49ers and Seahawks have both secured at least a wildcard. If the 49ers beat the Cardinals this week, they get the NFC West title and the Seahawks get a wildcard. That is pretty likely,

East - The Redskins are in the lead but lose it if the Cowboys win as a visitor this week.

Wildcards - Either the 49ers or Seahawks (whoever loses that division) are locks. The remaining wildcard belongs to Minnesota if they beat the Packers who still need to win to keep the #2 seed. If the Vikings lose, then it could be the Bears getting in. It is possible that the Cowboys, Redskins or Giants could get a wildcard.

AFC

North - The Ravens have won it. The Bengals are a wild card team.

South - The Texans have won it. The Colts are a wild card team.

West - The Broncos have won it,

East - The Patriots have won it.

What is interesting here is that all six playoff teams are already known but how they fall out is not certain with seeding in mind. The Texans and Broncos are both 12-3. The Patriots are 11-4 and the Ravens are 10-5. The Texans must win in Indy to keep the #1 seed or see the Broncos lose to the visiting Chiefs. The Patriots can become the #2 seed with a Houston loss and a Pats win over the Dolphins.

Sunday Snippets

OAK 6, CAR 17 The Raiders finish appropriately by having zero fantasy value in their week 16 game. No receiver over 31 yards and Darren McFadDUD ran for 33 yards on 17 carries. As always the only thing that mattered for the Panthers was Cam Newton throwing for 170-1 and rushing for 12-60-1. No one else mattered or scored. Now the 6-9 Panthers wind up playing in New Orleans and the 4-11 Raiders head to San Diego.
TEN 7, GB 55

This game went pretty well for the Packers. It came within 1:39 of being a shutout no less. Aaron Rodgers owners reaped the reward of 342 yards and three scores plus a rushing TD. James Jones led the receivers with 7-100 and a score while Randall Cobb (3-62) and Greg Jennings (7-45) both had touchdowns as well. Ryan Grant (20-80, 2 TD) and Dujuan Harris (8-29, TD) both had nice games in this "taking a tennis racket to the hanging carpet". The Titans maybe never looked worse and that was with the trash yardage and score. There still was no player here with any fantasy value for Tennessee. Now the 5-10 Titans wind up their year at home against the Jaguars and the 11-4 Packers finish out in Minnesota.

MIN 23, HOU 6 Both these teams are head scratchers. The Vikings don't seem like they are nearly this good with basically no passing game. The Texans at home looking to clinch the #1 seed never woke up. Their entire game plan was to stop Adrian Peterson (25-86) but forgot stuff like offensive goals that would include touchdowns maybe. Huge disappointment for the Texans who just played inexplicably flat. Arian Foster only ran for 15 yards on ten carries because he had an "irregular heart beat" and was yanked but Ben Tate (4-17) was not much better. Matt Schaub only passed for 178 yards and no scores with Andre Johnson (7-97) taking up most of it. Now the 9-6 Vikings are contend for a wildcard playing their final game against the Packers and the 12-3 Texans have to win in Indianapolis to keep the #1 seed.
NE 23, JAC 16

Stupid game. Should have been far better for fantasy leaguers. The Jaguars led 13-3 in the second quarter before it came unraveled. Chad Henne passed for 348 yards and one score but had three interceptions. Justin Blackmon (7-79, TD) was a decent play but Cecil Shorts (6-54) ended up leaving injured. Tom Brady only threw for 267 yards and two scores with two interceptions. Wes Welker (10-88, TD) was the only good fantasy play in a game that should have produced many. The win sends the 11-4 Patriots back home to host the Fins and the 2-13 Jaguars end up in Tennessee.

IND 20, KC 13 You have to hate when teams play down to the level of their opponents which in this case - pretty low. Jamaal Charles ran for 226 yards after being held to only ten yards last week by the Raiders. How exactly does that work? Seriously? Brady Quinn was horrible of course with two interceptions. Andrew Luck only passed for 205 yards and one score and the Colts needed a returned interception for a TD to make the difference. Vick Ballard ran 20 times for only 69 yards. At least Reggie Wayne caught five passes for 81 yards and one score. The win sends the 10-5 Colts back home against the Texans who still have to win their game so no freebie this week. The 2-13 Chiefs wind down the year in Denver.
BUF 10, MIA 24

For being such a low scoring game, at least there was some fantasy value here. C.J. Spiller ran for 138 yards on 22 carries and added 35 more on four catches. Reggie Bush gained 107 total yards and three touchdowns and even Lamar Miller ran for 73 yards on ten carries. Ryan Tannehill only passed for 130 yards but two were touchdowns to Bush and the rookie only had ten passing scores coming into the game anyway. Now the 5-10 Bills end up at home against the Jets and the 7-8 Fins head to New England.

WAS 27, PHI 20 This game was far closer than it should have been. Robert "Jesus" Griffin III only passed for 198 yards and two scores but was still being thrown accolades by the announcers on their drive home. Pierre Garcon caught seven passes for 89 yards and Alfred Morris ran for 91 yards and one score on 22 carries. Nick Foles was able to pass for 3456 yards and one score that went to Jeremy Maclin (8-116). The big news here was that LeSean McCoy played a full gig with 13 runs for 45 yards and nine receptions for 77 yards. The 9-6 Redskins now return home to host the Cowboys for all the NFC East marbles and the 4-11 Eagles finish on the road to the Giants.
CIN 13, PIT 10

Yawn. Sad the Bengals won 13-10 and worse that their touchdown was an interception return to start the game. A.J. Green caught 10 passes for 116 yards but no other Bengals mattered and BenJarvus Green-Ellis only gained 14 yards on 15 carries. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 220 yards and one score but had two interceptions. Antonio Brown (5-97, TD) was the only Steeler of any note. Rashard Mendenhall (11-50) and Jonathan Dwyer (14-39) cancelled each other out. Not a fantasy gem here. The 9-6 Bengals host the Ravens this week and the 7-8 Steelers host the Browns in what will now be their final game of the year having missed the playoffs officially.

STL 28, TB 13 The off-season is going to be used to answer one question - "that the heck happened to the Bucs?" Their continued free fall saw Josh Freeman pass for 372 yards and one score but with four interceptions. Mike Williams (7-132, TD) and Vincent Jackson (7-108) had big games and Doug Martin ended with 119 total yards. But the defense is getting worse and Freeman turns the ball over far too much. The Rams got 196 yards and two scores from Sam Bradford that mostly went to Lance Kendricks (4-119, TD). Steven Jackson ran for 81 yards and a score as well. Now the 7-7-1 Rams have a shot at a winning record if they can go win in Seattle and the 6-9 Bucs wind down with a trip to Atlanta.
SD 27, NYJ 17

The same Chargers team that got creamed by the Panthers in SD last week and lost most of their offense turns around and takes down the always woeful Jets who usually play better at home. Philip Rivers passed for 165 yards and two scores that ended up with Danario Alexander (3-69) and Antonio Gates (2-44) while the Jets move to Greg McElroy (185 yards, int.) was no better than with Mark Sanchez. Shonn Greene ran for two scores but only 38 yards on 14 carries. This was a surreal game where you did not know half of the players involved and the best runner was Jackie Battle (19-49). The 6-9 Chargers end up their year at home hosting the Raiders and the 6-9 Jets head to Buffalo.

CLE 12, DEN 34 At least this was predictable. The Broncos defense held the Browns to just one touchdown pass to Greg Little (6-58) late in the already decided game. No other Browns had any fantasy relevance and Trent Richardson only gained 53 yards but on only nine carries and left the game with a leg injury. Peyton Manning passed for 339 yards and three scores that were predictably split between Demaryius Thomas (9-102, TD) and Eric Decker (6-65, 2 TD). Knowshon Moreno gained 78 yards on 22 runs and added 49 yards on five catches. The 5-10 Browns finish out the year in Pittsburgh and the 12-3 Broncos host the Chiefs which hardly seems fair.
NYG 14, BAL 33

Not looking like the Giants are going to use the phrase "back-to-back". In a game they had to win they came out looking flat as ever. Eli Manning only passed for 150 yards and one score. Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 39 yards while Davis Wilson stole the touchdown but no receiver turned in more than 43 yards. Joe Flacco is not usually nearly as good as 309 yards and two scores makes him look. Torrey Smith (5-88, TD) and Anquan Boldin (7-93) were effective but the rushing effort was the most damaging. Ray Rice ended with 158 total yards and one score while bernard Pierce gained 123 yards on just 14 runs thanks to a 78 yard scamper. The 8-7 Giants now host the Eagles and the 10-5 Ravens play a big game in Cincy this week.

CHI 28, ARI 13 Yeah, about right. The Bears scored twice on defense while Jay Cutler only completed 12 of 26 for 146 yards and one TD. Matt Forte ran for 88 yards and one score on just 12 carries and Brandon Marshall was held to only 68 yards on six receptions for one score. Beanie Wells was benched (if you could even notice) when he gained three yards on four carries and fumbled away a CHI touchdown on the return. Larry Fitzgerald (8-111) finally had a decent game about when no one dared to start him anymore. This was pretty ho-hum with good defensive efforts by both teams.
SF 13, SEA 42

Teams coming off big wins sometime struggle. Not the Seahawks apparently, but definitely the 49ers who came out flat and left flattened. Colin Kaepernick only passed for 244 yards and one score with one interception in a game that he always trailed. The best player for the 49ers was Michael Crabtree with just 65 yards on four catches. Losing Vernon Davis and Mario Manningham was no help but the beat was already on anyway. Russell Wilson threw for 171 yards and four touchdowns while Marshawn Lynch ended with 130 total yards and two scores. Doug Baldwin scored twice on his four catches for 53 yards. Now the 10-4-1 49ers are only a half game ahead of the 10-5 Seahawks and will host the Cardinals this week. The Seahawks host the Rams.

Huddle Player of the Week

Dez Bryant - To think two weeks ago every owner was crying at the thought that their money-maker was going to risk the rest of the season with a fractured finger. But he opted to gut it out and delay the surgery just so he could throw down the best game of his career this week with nine catches for 224 yards and two scores. In a distance-bonus league? No problem - each touchdown went for 58 yards.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Joe Flacco 309 3 QB Eli Manning 158 1
RB Ryan Grant 114 2 RB Arian Foster 29 0
RB Pierre Thomas 77 1 RB Chris Johnson 41 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald (just being real, dog) 111 0 WR Hakeem Nicks nope 0
WR Doug Baldwin 53 2 WR Mike Wallace 13 0
WR Jason Avant 70 0 WR Danny Amendola 5 0
TE Lance Kendricks 119 1 TE Aaron Hernandez 13 0
PK Justin Tucker 3 XP 4 FG PK Rob Bironas 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 140

Huddle Fantasy Points = 21

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was fantasy championship week in roughly 95% or more of all fantasy leagues. And it did not disappoint with monster games all over. Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson and Jamaal Charles all gained over 200 yards. Johnson broke Jerry Rice's record. Eight different runners or receivers produced two or more touchdowns. And of course there were the painful flops like Arian Foster who was golden all year and then gets a heart issue and only gains 15 yards. It was a great weekend and in my opinion made better without a Thursday night game.

The Game-O-The-Week? This week it was not hard to award. The highest scoring game on Sunday ended up in overtime with a bevy of fantasy points for everyone.

Saints 34, Cowboys 31 OT

This was yet another heart-breaker for the Cowboy fans and yet equally rewarding to the Saints faithful ending an otherwise painful season.

This was very nearly a game of legend for Tony Romo who trailed by 14 points with 4:45 left to play and engineered a five-play drive that included a 41-yard strike to Dez Bryant and scored with 3:40 left to play. The Cowboys held the Saints and got the ball back on their own 36-yard line with 1:29 left to play with no time outs. On fourth and ten from the Saints 19-yard line with only 21 seconds left, Romo connected with Miles Austin for the tying score. It was magical for the hometown stadium residents and then Dallas won the coin toss for overtime.

Dallas only reached the DAL 36-yard line and had to punt. The Saints took over on their own 26-yard line and Drew Brees connected with Jimmy Graham for 26 yards. He reached the DAL 33-yard line four plays later where Marques Colston caught a pass and then had the ball knocked out. It caromed down the field where JImmy Graham finally landed on it at the DAL 2-yard line. A kick field goal later and Romo's legacy has not changed.

But in the process, he did throw for 416 yards and four scores with Dez Bryant collecting nine passes for 224 yards and two scores. Jason Witten only caught six passes for 60 yards but that was good enough to break Tony Gonzalez's single season catch record with a total of 103 receptions. Brees passed for 446 yards and three scores with Marques Colston (10-153) and Darren Sproles (7-104) both coming up big. Even Mark Ingram scored on his 21 runs for 53 yards.

Records were falling this week and more should go in week 17. The fantasy season draws to an end with mostly big scores all around. We're suddenly trying to convince ourselves that the Texans and 49ers really did not peak way too early. There's still plenty of NFL to watch and for most you can sit back and just watch the games without worrying about who is running out at the one-yard line or who just dropped a pass in the endzone.

I wanted to wish you all the happiest of holidays as well and offer my gratitude for taking the time to read the musings I write about late night on every Sunday. Here's hoping that you can be in the light and love of your family and if you cannot, that at least your memories can keep you warm and perhaps prompt you to reach out to others.

All the best, my treasured friends.

Now get back to work...


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