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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 2
David Dorey
September 16, 2013
Follow Follow @DMDorey
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Aaron Rodgers 480 4
Michael Vick 451 3
Philip Rivers 430 3
Sam Bradford 377 3
Robert Griffin III 321 1
Running Backs Yards TD
Marshawn Lynch 135 3
James Starks 168 1
Matt Forte 161 0
Knowshon Moreno 107 2
LeSean McCoy 167 0
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Julio Jones 182 1
DeSean Jackson 193 1
Eddie Royal 90 3
Calvin Johnson 116 2
Dez Bryant 141 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jimmy Graham 179 1
Martellus Bennett 76 2
Charles Clay 109 1
Greg Olsen 84 1
Antonio Gates 124 0
Placekickers XPT FG
Nick Novak 3 4
Sebastian Janikowski 1 4
Jay Feely 1 4
Blair Walsh 3 3
Alex Henery 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Vikings 2 1 4
Seahawks 0 3 5
Patriots 0 4 4
Broncos 1 1 4
Buccaneers 1 4 2

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Vick Ballard - Knee (IR)
Brandon Weeden - Thumb
Ray Rice - Hip Flexor
Darrius Heyward-Bey - Ribs
Malcom Floyd - Neck
Steven Jackson - Thigh
Eddie Lacy - Concussion
Andre Johnson - Possible concussion
Hakeem Nicks - Dislocated finger
Reggie Bush - Knee
Maurice Jones-Drew - Ankle
Larry Fitzgerald - Leg
Vernon Davis - Hamstring
Brent Celek - Shoulder
Martellus Bennett - Shoulder

Week two served up just as many surprises and shocks as the season opener, only this time it was with different players on different teams. Almost every star from the first week went flat in the second. And worst of all? An almost unprecedented amount of injuries to significant fantasy players this early in the year.

Vick Ballard was lost for the season during practice when he tore knee ligaments. Ray Rice pulled up lame with a hip flexor strain that is sure to be an issue this weekend. Steven Jackson faced his old Rams team but injured his quadriceps while stretching out for a receiving touchdown. He was sidelined with only three carries for no net yards gained. Eddie Lacy suffered a concussion on his first carry. Reggie Bush twisted his knee in the second quarter of the Cardinals matchup and played sparingly the rest of the game. Maurice Jones-Drew not only injured his ankle, he injured the very same ankle that had been surgically repaired. It was fantasy carnage.

Those six running backs put a major dent into fantasy backfields but they were hardly the only position hit with injuries. Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Vernon Davis could not finish their games. The amount of injuries to star players was sure to impact many of your league's fantasy match-ups and at least some situations will bleed over into next week. We suffered with about a month's worth of bad news in just one week and especially for the running backs who already were struggling to offer value this year.

Week one always witnesses breakout performances and then we get that dose of reality. Anquan Boldin may have just set an NFL record for the biggest one week drop in production when he fell from 13 catches for 208 yards against the Packers to only one reception for seven yards in Seattle. Jason Witten opened with eight catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants but in Kansas City was held to just 12 yards on three receptions. Jared Cook followed up his 141 yard, two touchdown breakout versus the Cardinals to only one grab for ten yards in Atlanta. Those are some pretty dramatic shifts and represent just how dynamic production is going to be in these early stages of the season. And they were not the only ones.

Now were faced with an even tougher question - which week is more indicative of the future? What makes that even more difficult to answer is that we can only base it on what defenses are allowing. But there have only been two games played and defenses are equally sensitive to their schedule. Week three becomes the most interesting because by then you get at least two of the three performances that are similar. After week three, we can start to make some educated assumptions and speculate what is coming down the road next. And yet what complicates matters is players are injured. There were fourteen fantasy players who were certain to be in fantasy line-ups this week that did not finish their game. That skews everything.

It is critical that you churn your roster every week if you have the room. Always look to upgrade every position - even defenses, tight ends and kickers. Upgrade your bench with backups because several of them are going to be coming into play this week. But don't pay too much this early either. In one large contest, some fantasy team owners were spending as much as $996 of a $1000 salary cap for Broncos tight end Julius Thomas. And he did deliver again in week two. But simple reason tells you he is not going to score every week and he is not going to carry your team. But when you only have $4 left to spend on free agency with a dozen weeks until the playoffs, you can only make four more moves for worthless dollar players. While having extra salary cap money at the end doesn't benefit you, neither does hamstringing the rest of your season on the whim of one week and probably just one unusual game performance.

The waiver wire is going to be a weekly frenzy if these sort of crazy performances and injuries continue. Here's a few of the hotter waiver wire players available in most of the leagues out there:

Bernard Pierce - Should Ray Rice miss time, Pierce is going to become a full-time back with plenty of talent. He should be already owned but was dropped in some leagues after only rushing for 22 yards in week one.

James Starks - Likely on all waiver wires, he comes off 168 total yards and one score against the Redskins. That same defense that gifted LeSean McCoy with 184 rushing yards in the season opener. Eddie Lacy may be concussed but he'll be back as early as this week and reassume the starting role. Don't bust the bank on Starks versus the Redskins. Think what Lacy could have done.

Joique Bell - Available in a few of the smaller leagues, he a powerhouse runner that could pay big dividends if Reggie Bush misses much time. Reality check - Detroit starting running backs always miss time. If not now, later on in the year Bell will be a bigger factor.

Justin Forsett/ Jordan Toddman/ Denard Robinson - Fortunately there is no reason to grab the Jacksonville backup running back because there is not one. There are three and even combined they would not be worth owning.

Eddie Royal - No one believed that his two touchdowns meant anything in week one. So he followed that up with three more this week for the NFL lead for receivers. For perspective, Royal needed the past four years to score exactly five touchdowns. Yes, get him. Apparently he is this season's James Jones. Maybe he gets nothing from here on out but already with five touchdowns, he won't be on the waiver wire when it happens.

Austin Pettis - The third-year Ram wideout was solid with eight catches for 78 yards and a score versus the Falcons. But his teammate Jared Cook had a monster season opener and then crashed. Pettis will never be more than the #3 or #4 target for Sam Bradford.

Take the lesson of week two to heart. Players get hurt. Players can flop after a monster game. Try to own the backups for your stars as long as they can offer value if called upon. And you should still be making starting decisions based more on the quality of the player than the matchup.

Sunday Snippets

NYJ 10, NE 13 This should count as a loss for the Patriots with only one touchdown in a home game. Tom Brady apparently cannot magically make receivers appear. Another way to look at this is that the Patriots have gone three straight quarters without a touchdown. Brady maybe never had 185 yards in a home game. Outside of Julian Edelman, it looked like Brady was playing in a pick up game of sandlot. The Jets defense played very well in fairness and they rushed for 112 yards using three different backs. The biggest success factor was that Geno Smith passed for three interceptions. The Jets really had some decent moments. The Patriots really look like they just plain ran out of players finally.
STL 24, ATL 31

Starting to like this no-defense mode teams are entering. Steven Jackson faced his old team and ran three times for no game before leaving injured. He had one catch for a score. But neither team had any luck rushing the ball in this game. Matt Ryan passed for 374 yards and two scores with Julio Jones leading the world with 11 catches for 182 yards and one score. Roddy White (3-21) is still mostly a decoy though Harry Douglas (4-43) was unable to do much this time. Gonzo settled for only 33 yards on four catches. Sam Bradford (352 yards, 3 TDs) is finding it easier to pass with actual receivers. Chris Givens (5-105) was tops though Austin Pettis (8-78, TD) had a great game and Tavon Austin showed up this week with a 6-47-2 stat line. Notably missing - Jared Cook (1-10) who now attracts more attention.

CLE 6, BAL 14 Not a lot of good comes from a 6-14 game. The Browns ran Trent Richardson (18-58) more but he needed five catches for 21 yards to help his value. The only other Brown of any note continues to be Jordan Cameron (5-95) who is proving week one was not a fluke and that the Browns really don't have many other options. Next week - Josh Gordon returns. The Ravens managed to win the game but lost Ray Rice (13-36, 3-9) in the process when he pulled up lame with a hip flexor. Bernard Pierce (19-57, TD) becomes a free agent rock star if Rice remains out. Joe Flacco (211, TD) doesn't need one more player from last year to be gone. At least Torrey Smith (7-85) exceeded expectations while being shadowed by Joe Haden.
CAR 23, BUF 24

This week was E.J. Manuel's bar mitzvah when he became a man with six seconds left to play. He found Steve Johnson (8-111, TD) for the winning score. C.J. Spiller ran for 103 yards on 16 carries and added four catches for 26 yards. He was hawked by Fred Jackson (12-30, TD) and the rookie Robert Woods (4-68) had a decent game as well. Cam Newton (229 yds, 2 TDs) only ran four times for 15 yards while DeAngelo Williams rumbled for 85 yards on 22 carries. Greg Olsen (7-84, TD) and Tedd Ginn (3-62, TD) were the best receivers. The Panthers gave them just about more than they could handle but the rookie Manuel just bought himself some instant credibility with the last second win at home.

MIN 30, CHI 31 Definitely another close Game-O-The-Week contender. And this game was just as screwy as most matchups between these two teams. Cordarrelle Patterson opened the game with a 105 yard kick return, the Vikes scored on a 61-yard fumble return while the Bears returned an interception for 44 yards and a score. Jay Cutler passed for 290 yards and three scores but had two interceptions. Matt Forte not only ran for 90 yards but he added a delightful 11 catches for 71 yards as the Bears made good on their promise to use him more as a receiver. Brandon Marshall (7-113, TD) and Martellus Bennett (7-76, 2 TD) had huge games and Bennett caught the game winner with ten seconds left to play. Adrian Peterson (26-100) cooled down a little from last week while Greg Jennings (5-84) finally showed up. Once again the Vikes made it a game in all sorts of ways.
WAS 20, GB 38

One of those wonderful games that produces so many fantasy points. Aaron Rodgers passed for 480 yards and four touchdowns. Eddie Lacy left after one carry with a concussion and James Starks went off with 168 total yards and one touchdown. Just when you figured James Jones (11-178) was done, he was just getting started. Randall Cobb (9-129, TD) and Jordy Nelson (3-66, 2 TD) also had big games while Jermichael Finley (6-65, TD) was doing well until he too left injured. Robert Griffin passed for 320 yards and three touchdowns in a failed bid to catch up. That left Alfred Morris with only 13 carries but he gained 120 total yards. Pierre Garcon (8-143, TD) had a monster game but Leonard Hankerson turned back into a pumpkin after last week's success. The Packers pummeled the Skins who trained 38-7 entering the fourth quarter.

TEN 24, HOU 30 OT Another great game where you did not suspect there would be one. Jake Locker (148 yards, 2 TDs) managed two scores with minimal yardage while Chris Johnson (25-96) ran moderately well for a road game in Houston. The Texans got a nice effort from Matt Schaub who passed for 298 yards and three touchdowns but had two interceptions. Arian Foster ran better this week with a score on his 19 runs for 79 yards but Ben Tate racked up 93 yards on only nine carries thanks to a 60-yard run. The rookie DeAndre Hopkins (7-117, TD) caught the game winning pass while Andre Johnson (8-76) managed a decent showing before leaving injured in the fourth quarter. The Titans had this one in the bag but could not hold on. Titans defense playing better than expected. The Texans kicked a last second "doink" on a field goal try send it into overtime.
MIA 24, IND 20

Bit of a upset. The Dolphins played great defense and Ryan Tannehill threw for 319 yards and one score while Lamar Miller was much better when he ran 14 times for 69 yards and one score. Mike Wallace (9-115, TD) had his coming out party now that Joe Haden was not dancing with him. Tight end Charles Clay (5-109) caught a 67-yard pass and also turned back into a fullback so he could punch in the one-yard touchdown run. The Fins gave up 321 passing yards to Andrew Luck but only one score. T.Y. Hilton (6-124) had his first big game as did Coby Fleener (4-69, TD) because Dwayne Allen was out. Ahmad Bradshaw ran for a credible 65 yards on 15 carries and scored once. The Fins are 2-0 now despite expectations.

DAL 16, KC 17 There is no denying that the Chiefs defense really is better than last year. Tony Romo passed for 298 yards but only one touchdown while Dez Bryant (9-141, TD) was the only Cowboy with more than 50 yards or a score. DeMarco Murray was talked up by the coaches prior to the game but his 12 carries for 25 yards signals that he's still more dud than stud this year. Alex Smith was solid with 223 passing yards and two scores though no receiver had more than Dwayne Bowe's 56 yards and one touchdown. The only other Chief of any fantasy note was Jamaal Charles who was held to only 55 rush yards on 16 carries but added eight catches for 48 yards and the other receiving touchdown. It was one of the lowest scoring games of the day but at least Bryant and Charles delivered big even if no one else did.
JAC 9, OAK 19

This game held as much interest as the score suggests. Chad Henne passed for just 241 yards and one score while Maurice Jones-Drew only managed 27 yards before leaving with pain in his ankle (and yes, it was "that" ankle). The good news for his owners is that there really is no backup to go grab for MJD. Cecil Shorts (8-93) was improved as he always is when Blaine Gabbert is not playing and even the rookie Ace Sanders (5-64) made a couple very nice catches. Terrelle Pryor was the darling of the waiver wire last week but this time he only threw for 126 yards and ran for 50 more. Darren McFadden had his ultra-rare productive game with 129 yards on 19 runs and 28 more on four receptions. Fortunately there are no OAK receivers to worry about remembering. The lack of any running effort is now killing the Jaguars worse than letting Gabbert start.

DET 21, ARI 25 The injury to Reggie Bush had an interesting effect - suddenly it was 2012 all over again. Matt Stafford passed for 278 yards and two scores with Calvin Johnson (6-116, 2 TD) being the only Lion with more than 50 yards on the day. Depending on Bush's knee, Joique Bell may become a hot property this week on the waiver wire in smaller leagues where he was not owned. Carson Palmer threw for 248 yards and one score but did not have as productive a day as expected. The Cardinals did well enough to win since Larry Fitzgerald did end up playing but only caught two passes for 33 yards and later left the game with his ankle admittedly "no where near the 80% that was claimed before the game". The only mildly interesting thing here was Rashard Mendenhall somehow gained 66 yards and a score on 15 carries despite looking like he was in slow motion.
NO 16, TB 14

This game made me cry. It made me remember pass-happy days with major points. Shoot-outs. Not each team only scoring one offensive touchdown and the Saints pulling out a win on a third field goal because Rian Lindell missed a 47-yard field goal and left 1:06 on the clock which let the Saints march down and kick the winner as time expired. Drew Brees passed for 322 yards and one score but that was almost entirely for Jimmy Graham (10-179, TD) who the Buccaneers somehow forgot about. The rushing effort of the Saints was the usual anemic effort spearheaded by Mark Ingram (8-20) who by this point has proven that he is never, ever, going to be anything special or even the best running back that they have. Josh Freeman almost won with 125 passing yards and one score. Vincent Jackson (5-77) caught a 72-yard touchdown that was called back because of an unrelated illegal formation penalty. Doug Martin had his first big effort of 2013 when he ran for 144 yards on 29 carries and yet never caught any passes. This was just a sad, sad game.

DEN 41, NYG 23 This was a good game but not as great as the score might suggest. Peyton Manning "only" threw for 307 yards and two scores but becomes the only player in NFL history with nine touchdown passes after only two games. Eric Decker (9-87) was much more in the game plan though he never scored. Demaryius Thomas was next best with only 52 yards. Julius Thomas (6-47, TD) had a nice showing again though Wes Welker (3-39, TD) had much less impact. Knowshon Moreno (13-93, 2 TD) looks as good as he ever has while the rookie Montee Ball (12-16) lost a fumble near the goal line and seems more and more like a great draft pick - in 2014 maybe. The other Manning threw for 362 yards but only one touchdown and four more interceptions. He has become the NFL's premier turnover machine throught the first two weeks. Victor Cruz (8-118) and Hakeem Nicks (4-83) were decent without being difference makers. The rushing effort is gone from the Giants. Dead. David Wilson (7-17) shares with Brandon Jacobs (7-4, TD) shares with Da'Rel Scott (5-2, 2-30 TD as receiver). Wilson never catches the ball and now gets about 33% of the touches. Not a good thing.
SF2 , SEA 29

The Battle of the West wasn't much of a fight. Both teams used great defense but the Seahawks defense was just dominant. Colin Kaepernick was held to 127 pass yards and three interceptions but added 87 as a runner. Frank Gore looked like an over-the-hill back when he only managed 16 yards on nine carries. Vernon Davis (3-20) injured his hamstring while Anquan Boldin (1-7) was everything that he wasn't last week. The Seahawks got great field position over and over but the only Seahawk to really benefit was Marshawn Lynch. He ran 28 times for 98 yards and two touchdowns and then added a third score while catching three passes for 37 yards. This was a good game to watch because for once great defense also had some scoring. Plus you know the rematch in San Francisco will be that much better now.

Huddle Player of the Week

DeSean Jackson - He's been the "other guy" In Philadelphia but once Jeremy Maclin was lost for the year - already on two of my teams at the time - the workload fell onto Jackson. He has been known as both speedy and kind of brittle which led to the tag "long baller" since he would rarely have many catches but enjoyed a healthy YPC. This week he came up with a career best nine catches for 193 yards and one touchdown. Not bad for a guy that was being drafted as the 26th overall wideout last summer. Two games in and he already has 297 yards and two scores.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB E.J. Manuel 309 1 QB Colin Kaepernick 214 0
RB James Starks 168 1 RB David Wilson 17 0
RB Jason Snelling 60 1 RB Maurice Jones-Drew 28 0
WR Eddie Royal 90 3 WR Anquan Boldin 7 0
WR Austin Pettis 78 1 WR Roddy White 21 0
WR Ted Ginn Jr. 62 1 WR Larry Fitzgerald 33 0
TE Charles Clay 109 1 TE Jason Witten 12 0
PK Nick Novak 15 pts PK Randy Bullock 2 pts

Huddle Fantasy Points = 135

Huddle Fantasy Points = 19

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This week seemed to be a very low scoring slate of games but most of them ended with a flurry of points that usually favored the home team. The week began with that horrible snore-fest in New England where everyone wondered where the real Patriots were hiding. There were 11 teams that could not generate 20 points or more and in that odd "play to their level" way, five games went off with neither team reaching the 20 point mark. It seems at least in some cases, defenses are getting better again. In the NFC, there are only three teams still undefeated after just two weeks. 75% of the NFL has already lost a game.

The Patriots barely beat the visiting Jets but they are the only team of the four from the conference championships of 2012 who currently own a winning record. The Ravens, 49ers and Falcons are 1-1.

What to make of the Dolphins and Chiefs who are 2-0? They've mixed just enough offense with a surprisingly good defense to notch both their first games.

There were plenty of big performances. We were treated to Manning vs. Manning which showed that both brothers are adept at hitting Bronco receivers.The Sunday night game was like watching the bad-ass from one school go across town to discover that maybe there are bigger bad-asses out there after all. The Seattle defense at home should just issue opponents white flags when they enter the stadium.

The Game-O-The-Week? There were several candidates but I like the one that best said - "don't get comfortable any time soon."

Chargers 33, Eagles 30

What was not to like about this home opener for the most exciting offense in the NFL? The Eagles were breath taking in their first game when they took down the Redskins. The Chargers at home put up a spry fight against the Texans considering that they have no offense and the Texans defense should have been intimidating. Seemed like a set-up this week for a big win for the Eagles.

Wasn't to be.

This was a wonderful game with some huge fantasy points. Philip Rivers (419 yards, 3 TD) and Michael Vick (428 yards, 2 TD plus a rush TD) both paid off big. They combined to create four different players over 100 yards - Antonio Gates (8-124), Malcom Floyd (5-102), DeSean Jackson (9-193, TD) and LeSean McCoy (5-114). That does not even count Eddie Royal (7-90) who scored three touchdowns.

After running all over the Redskins, McCoy only had 11 carries versus the Chargers. And weirder yet, Ryan Mathews ran for 73 yards on 16 carries like a real running back would have. Even Danny Woodhead totaled 64 yards with eight receptions. The Eagles went from being the biggest rushing offense in the league to only 11 carries and it only required seven days to make that change.

The Chargers came to play and and took the lead until the third quarter when it was tied up 20-20 after Vick found Jackson for a 61-yard touchdown.

Entering into the fourth quarter, the Chargers finished out their drive with a 33-yard field goal for the 23-20 lead. But on the next possession for the Eagles, they drove the field and ended with a Vick touchdown run for a 27-23 lead with only 7:13 left to play.

The Chargers returned the kick to mid-field where he fumbled and by the time the ball stopped bouncing, they recovered their own fumble at the PHI 39-yard line. They only needed seven plays to throw the third touchdown to Eddie Royal and a 30-27 lead for San Diego.

But Vick responded with a tying field goal once the drive stalled at the SD-14 yard line. All the Eagles had to do was to keep the Chargers from scoring for 1:45 and they could reach overtime that always favors the home team.

But Rivers hit Gates twice for a total of 36 yards. Then two Woodhead receptions and two runs brought the ball to the PHI-28 yard line where Nick Novak kicked the game winner with 11 seconds left to play.

Are the Chargers that good? Exactly what are the Eagles? Is there any chance that Michael Vick is going to last this year? There were more questions than answers after the game.

Week three is always revealing because that is when it all starts to take form. When you can start to expect how good or bad teams will be. The information is there to no longer guess about outcomes and predictions and start extrapolating and matching up the pieces. So far all we have is a great big old jigsaw puzzle that we have not nearly finished enough to see the entire picture.

What is tougher yet - this week we seemed to have lost several pieces.

Now get back to work...


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