Tunnel Vision: Week 3
David Dorey
September 23, 2013
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Drew Brees 362 4
Cam Newton 268 4
Jake Locker 367 2
Geno Smith 345 3
Ben Roethlisberger 406 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Jamaal Charles 172 1
DeMarco Murray 203 1
Adrian Peterson 115 1
Joique Bell 132 1
LeSean McCoy 158 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Antonio Brown 196 2
Santonio Holmes 154 1
Josh Gordon 146 1
Sidney Rice 79 2
Calvin Johnson 115 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jimmy Graham 134 2
Jordan Cameron 66 3
Scott Chandler 79 1
Antonio Gates 55 1
Zach Miller 5 2
Placekickers XPT FG
Ryan Succop 2 4
Justin Tucker 3 3
Mason Crosby 3 3
Dan Carpenter 0 4
Matt Bryant 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Panthers (shutout) 0 7 3
Bears 2 3 5
Chiefs 1 6 4
Ravens 2 3 1
Bengals 1 4 4

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Andre Johnson - Shin bruise
James Starks - Knee injury
Daryl Richardson - Foot injury
Jordan Reed - Quad bruise
Vincent Jackson - Rib injury
Billy Cundiff - Quad injury
Miles Austin - Hamstring strain
Jermichael Finley - Concussion
Shaun Draughn n - Hamstring strain
C.J. Spiller - Knee injury
Chris Ivory - Hamstring strain

Week three means time to assess the mess

After week three, there have been enough games that realistic assessments can be made. Every team has at least two good or bad games and the effects of a bad matchup or a freakish good game can be matched against the other two games that each team has played. Not that more changes are not coming, but we can already define the extremes.

It is amazing that there are still six winless teams. This has a direct bearing on fantasy football because the longer that the losing continues, the greater the risk that the coaching staff loses the confidence of the team. That starts a spiral downward that inevitably ends with new coaches and new players the next season. Worse yet, losing eventually leads teams to bench starters and go with unknown players looking for a spark. That rarely ends up well for the individual players who were valuable in the past.

The New York Giants are breaking down like a rental car that just went out of warranty. Eli Manning threw eight interceptions already this year. The running game is nearly nonexistent. Two of the next three games are road trips to Kansas City and Chicago. Downgrade all the players. A bad offensive line and game plan that opponents can figure out mean little reason to hope for a turnaround soon.

The Pittsburgh Steelers can only hope that Le'veon Bell can infuse life into the rushing effort but they too have a porous offensive line and defenses can just tee off on Ben Roethlisberger and force him into making mistakes. The Steeler defense is still good but cannot make up for an offense that scored only three touchdowns on the season and two were home games.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are so bad that the Seahawks let them score 17 points. They just did not care after taking a 31-0 lead. It isn't that the Jaguars are playing to get a high draft pick and rebuild the next season. It is that they do this every year. In fantasy terms, it is hard to rely on their players getting 30 minutes of trash time each week so they can matter. And yet that is the only way that fantasy points exist.

The Washington Redskins have not played poorly on offense. It's that their defense allowed more points (98) than all but the Giants (115). Robert Griffin III was notably rusty but he has posted 300+ yards each week. What is missing are his rushing yards and scores. In the end, it never matters because they have to throw because they are behind. That has depressed Alfred Morris' stats because he never gets more than 15 carries and they still rarely throw to him.

The Minnesota Vikings have yet to hold an opponent to fewer than 31 points and that includes the visiting Browns this week. Adrian Peterson maintains his fantasy value but this offense isn't good enough to beat teams when their defense spots the opponent 31 points or more. Christian Ponder ran in two touchdowns on Sunday. He needs to start throwing more than one score per game since the offense must generate at least four touchdowns to stay in any game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved on defense but only the Jaguars (28) have scored less than the Bucs (34). The schedule is not kind but that doesn't explain why Josh Freeman only scored twice this season along with never more than 240 passing yards. Doug Martin maintains at least some value but everyone else on the offense has disappointed. There's already speculation about a quarterback change to the rookie Mike Glennon.

Those winless teams all have quarterback problems if not in production, then in turnovers and sacks which in turn points the finger at a bad offensive line. It is reasonable that all will improve and win games. But after three games, downgrading the players is   necessary and if you think their value hasn't taken a hit, try trading one of them.

Week 4 Waiver Wire Cheatsheet

Thanks to all the injuries, the waiver wire is a red hot item each and every week so far. It's natural that surprising players develop quickly or studs flop. But throwing in another six running backs who could not finish their game this week and there's never been a better reason for rosters of 20 or more so that fantasy owners have a chance to own the backups they will need. Here's a quick rundown on the free agents that will be considered this week at least in smaller roster leagues:

QB Jake Locker - His 299 pass yards are more than his first two games combined. Forget him.
QB Geno Smith - If he ends up top ten this year I will eat my hat. A hat, I must add, that is made of nachos and jalapeno's.
QB Brian Hoyer - He may become a starter. But his 321 yards and three touchdowns versus Minnesota is no different than what Jay Cutler (week 2) and Matt Stafford (week 1) already did to the Vikings. I know - "what the heck". No harm in taking him.

RB Isaiah Pead - With Daryl Richardson injured, worth a grab if only for week five versus the Jaguars.
RB LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden - I'd recommend a Miley Cyrus tattoo before taking any Patriot back besides Ridley.
RB Johnathan Franklin - Bye this week and then Eddie Lacy starts in week five. If you own Lacy maybe.

WR Santonio Holmes - He just caught his first touchdown in a year. Deep stash but marginal expectations.
WR Nate Washington - Good game, nothing more. He too is back on the waiver wire within two weeks. Three tops.
WR Donnie Avery - If defenses are going to take away Dwayne Bowe, then Avery is only getting started. Stash him.
WR Brandon LaFell - I LaFell off his band wagon in 2011. One game does not make me hop onboard.
WR Stephen Hill - Not a bad stash on deeper rosters just to see what happens.
WR Jason Avant - Only 52 yards over first two weeks - I am not buying.
WR Tedd Ginn Jr. - Two straight games with 60+ yards and a score. But never more than three catches. Nah.

TE Scott Chandler - He has a good game early every season and then fades faster than a $2 T-shirt. No thanks.
TE Zach Miller - Two scores against the Jags was great. But not his 23 yards per game average. Forget him.

Is It Time to Punt, Coach?

Several players have been disappointing and worthy of crying in your beer. The problem with studs turned duds is that you cannot trade them away and hope to get any value. Other than holding a player who is realistically cursed and affecting others on your squad (it happens to me), you almost always have to ride it out and hope he turns it around. Many a waiver wire mistake has been made by the impatient. Here's my take on a few of the heartbreakers.

QB Tom Brady - The Pats have reached the point where even Brady cannot invent players. Gronk will help. But probably not enough to make Brady worthy of being a top ten quarterback.
QB Colin Kaepernick - Week one was the aberration. But schedule is getting lighter, though not as light as the Colts visiting. Losing Michael Crabtree was huge. Anquan Boldin is an over-the-hill average possession receiver. When Vernon Davis is out, it gets ugly.
RB Stevan Ridley - It is very concerning that the Pats are using a backfield committee and Ridley draws too much attention when he runs. You can only hope the offense gets better and Ridley remains the goal line guy. He is not going to repeat 2012.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew - Was supposedly healthy and ready to rock We wanted to believe he still had a year or more still left in him. It appears that we were overly optimistic. Gimpy on a bad team is always a bad equation.
WR Dwayne Bowe - He will come around but not until the defenses get tired of what Jamaal Charles and Donnie Avery are doing to them while they focus on covering Bowe. He's too good and too talented over the middle to remain this little used.
WR Mike Williams - The Bucs look like a team teetering on implosion already. Limited expectations that it will get any better for him as the #2 wideout and if they change to a rookie quarterback, it will not improve.

Resist the urge to dump the players because getting beaten with your own guys in the league championship really hurts. Future weeks will be better  for the three week duds but they won’t' likely meet early expectations. Just readjust your value of the player and search for anyone better. You should do that every week anyway.

Sunday Snippets

KC 26, PHI 16 By now we have to know that the week one surprise from Chip Kelly's new offense was mostly that the Redskins defense sucks. And that the Eagles defense is not much better. Andy Reid had his homecoming after only three weeks and brought a better team in nearly every facet. Alex Smith threw for 273 yards and no turnovers. Dwayne Bowe is apparently just a little too far downfield since he had only one catch and Donnie Avery posted a career mark with seven catches for 141 yards. Jamaal Charles rounded out the only Chiefs that mattered with a mere172 total yards and one score with seven receptions. Michael Vick ran for 95 yards but his 201 pass yards for one score included two interceptions and he lost a fumble as well. LeSean McCoy was back in overdrive with 158 yards and one score but he never had a catch.
HOU 9 , BAL 30

I hate these sort of games. Matt Schaub (194 yards) could get nothing much going with Andre Johnson eventually sidelined. Aaron Foster (12-54) and Ben Tate (9-36) are not making anyone happy. The Ravens were no better with only 171 pass yards from Joe Flacco and Bernard Pierce big start only netting 72 yards but he did score once. Torrey Smith ended with 92 yards on five catches but this game only had the one offensive touchdown between both teams combined. The Ravens kept the lead thanks to scores from an interception return and a punt return. The Ravens offense was no where near as good as the score might suggest and the Texans just played down on the road.

NYG 0, CAR 38 The team Formerly-Known-as-the-Giants now completes the trifecta of futility having dropped to only 0-3 and going through the motions like every player owes a bookie a lot of money. It actually was not even good enough to merit consideration of being a thrown game. You cannot pretend to be this bad. Eli Manning only passed for 119 yards and yet another interception. No Giant gained over 39 yards in the game. Their blocking fullback is one of the best in the business and Henry Hynoski fractured his shoulder so expect more of the same. All the same players from last year and yet they appear to be playing at gun point. The Panthers are not nearly this good but Cam Newton threw for three touchdowns, ran for a fourth including 45 rushing yards. DeAngelo Williams ran for 120 yards on 23 carries. Brandon LaFell caught two touchdowns on his three receptions for 53 yards. This game was just surreal if you think the last decade would have any bearing here.
GB 30, CIN 34

Very good game as expected and nearly the Game-O-the-Week. Aaron Rodgers passed for 244 yards and just one touchdown with two interceptions. James Starks left injured and like last week, the next guy did really well with Johnathan Franklin gaining 126 total yards and one touchdown. Jordy Nelson (8-93) and Randall Cobb (5-54) had decent games though James Jones (4-34) caught the lone touchdown. Jermichael Finley left the game with a concussion before recording any catches. Andy Dalton (235 yards, 2 TD) had a big second half after doing nearly nothing in the first half. Giovani Bernard ran for 50 yards and a score plus added 49 yards as a receiver. Not bad for 14 touches. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (10-29) also ran in a score. No CIN receiver gained more than 68 yards though A.J. Green (4-46) caught one to salvage his fantasy value. The Packers scored on a returned interception but the game changer was when Franklin coughed up a fumble and it was returned 58-yards for the winning difference.

STL 7, DAL 31 For some reason the Cowboys matchup up really well against the Rams (if no one else). DeMarco Murray already had his career best 253 yards on the Rams back in 2011 and now his second best game ever is the 175 yards and a score he recorded on Sunday. Murray even added 28 yards as a receiver. Tony Romo passed for 210 yards and three scores even though no Dallas receiver had more than 67 yards. Sam Bradford was sacked six times and threw for just 240 yards and one score. Daryl Richardson never had a carry and played for one snap when his foot was stepped on and he was done. But Isaiah Pead (6-20) did little as a runner though he added 43 yards on seven catches. No Ram had more than 54 receiving yards. This was a dominating win by the Cowboys and made them look far better than usual while the Rams just had a bad game.
TB 3, NE 23

The Buccaneers join the Giants as one of those "What the hell?" teams. 0-3 on the year and the offense somewhat inexplicably has taken a step down despite having all the same players and coaches. Josh Freeman (236 yards) did not throw any touchdowns and no receiver managed more than 65 yards. Doug Martin ran for 88 yards and added 20 more on two catches but his touchdown total is taking a healthy decline this year since the offense never gets him close to the goal line. The Patriots won by 20 but hardly with anything impressive. Tom Brady passed for 225 yards and two scores like any other average quarterback and no receiver ended with more than 52 yards. Both scores went to Kenbrell Thompkins (3-41) because most owners had already given up on him. Stevan Ridley is another mystery when he only ran for 35 yards on 11 carries. LeGarrette Blount gained 65 yards on 14 runs but almost all was late in the game when it was already over. Both offenses are not looking that good.

ARI 7 NO 31 This was turn back the clock time when the Saints notched an easy home win. The Cardinals only passed for 187 yards and two interceptions as Carson Palmer looked much more like the constant stream of sub-par quarterbacks in Arizona from the last few years. Larry Fitzgerald played bad hammy and all and was the lead receiver with just 64 yards on five catches. Rashard Mendenhall (9-29) might as well have missed the game. This backfield is already unproductive and cuts up the workload into three parts anyway. Alfonso Smith ran in the only touchdown but had just three carries in the game. Fortunately the Saints are always just blowing hot air when they speak to running the ball more. Pierre Thomas (11-28) was outdone by Khiry Robinson (4-38) who should have been on the practice squad but replaced the perpetually disappointing Mark Ingram. Drew Brees ran in the only rushing score plus he threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Jimmy Graham (9-134, 2 TD) was dominating but no other Saints receiver really mattered. The Saints are definitely better this year if only defensively. The Cardinals are better but apparently only at home. Oh, and they will never have a rushing game worth noticing.
SD 17, TEN 20

This was an interesting game because it was hard to tell if either TEN or SD was really as good as they had played. And now we still don't know anything more anyway. Philip RIvers passed for just 184 yards and one score to Antonio Gates who led the team with 55 yards. Ryan Matthews ran for 58 yards on 16 carries but no catches. Danny Woodhead totaled 86 yards and included seven receptions. Chris Johnson ran for 90 yards but Jake Locker threw for 299 yard and one touchdown plus he ran for 68 yards and a second score. Nate Washington had a freakish 131 yards on eight catches while Kendall Wright ended up with six catches for 71 yards. Close game but not many fireworks.

DET 27, WAS 20 The Redskins join the Giants and Buccaneers in the "poke 'em with a stick and see if they are alive" club. And no, not really. Robert Griffin passed for 326 yards but no scores and he ran for 37 yards on six rushes. Alfred Morris gained 73 yards and one touchdown. His boast of 2000 yards is looking like he's going to have end the season really, really hot to get there. No WAS receiver gained more than 77 yards. Decent amount of yardage but only one offensive touchdown. But their offense is not really the reason they are 0-3, it is that defense that everyone is absolutely feasting on. Matt Stafford passed for 385 yards and two scores with Calvin Johnson (7-115, TD) and Nate Burleson (6-116) both having a great game like all wideouts against this secondary. Joique Bell gained a total of 132 yards and one touchdown. When the Lions on the road beat up a team, you know that the other team has deep problems.
ATL 23, MIA 27

Second week in a row that the Falcons do not look like the same team that reached the NFC Championship last year. Matt Ryan passed for 231 yards and two scores which mostly went to Julio Jones (9-115). Jacquizz Rodgers (18-86) and Jason Snelling (11-53, 4-58 TD) were effective but the rest of the offense did little. Roddy White only managed two catches for 16 yards and continues to be problem for his owners scared to miss out on what he might do. The Fins got a solid effort from Ryan Tannehill (236, 2 TD) though no receiver gained over 56 yards. Lamar Miller (8-62) was productive thanks to a 49-yard run but once again Daniel Thomas (5-21, TD) is used enough to ruin what Miller could be alone. The Falcons are just an average road team at best. Great at home, but not nearly so good away from Atlanta.

BUF 20, NYJ Good game between two teams that exceeded expectations. E.J. Manuel threw for 243 yards and one touchdown which went to Stevie Johnson (6-86) and Scott Chandler (5-79, TD). C.J. Spiller left with a knee injury and Fred Jackson posted 72 yards on just seven carries (59-yard run) and four catches for 37 yards. The Jets got 331 yards and two scores from Geno Smith who also tossed two interceptions. Santonio Holmes (5-154, TD) and Stephen Hill (3-108, TD) both had 50+ yard catches and dominated the box score Bilal Powell ran for 149 yards on 27 carries while Chris Ivory is just an afterthought with four runs for five yards. Two very young teams playing well and the Spiller injury may have been the difference here.
IND 27, SF 7

I was afraid of this. The 49ers just played flat, uninspired football no doubt still influenced by the humbling decimation in Seattle last week. The Colts on the road hardly have a dominating defense and yet they held Colin Kaepernick to just 150 passing yards and no score. He ran for just 20 yards. Anquan Boldin's chance to redeem himself for week two only gained 67 yards on five catches. Frank Gore ran for 82 and had 21 more on two catches but otherwise there was nothing going on here, Kendall Hunter (4-14) donated the only rushing score. Andrew Luck passed for only 164 yards but had no turnovers and ran in one score as did Trent Richardson (13-35) and Ahmad Bradshaw (19-95). Reggie Wayne (5-63) was the best receiver for the Colts. The Colts played well but mostly the 49ers just played really flat.

JAC 17, SEA 45 I expected a shutout and the Seahawks could have had one if they cared enough. They already led 31-0 before the Jaguars got on the board. Maurice Jones-Drew ran in one score and gained 43 yards while Cecil Shorts caught eight passes for 143 yards, The Jaguars only had 52 total yards as of halftime and Shorts only one catch for 15 yards. They just got plenty of trash time and did a little something with it. Russell Wilson only passed for 202 yards but had four touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch ran 17 times for 69 yards and got bored. Christine Michael and Robert Turbin ran 12 times just for fun. Sidney Rice ended up with two touchdowns on his five catches for 79 yards and Golden Tate even netted 88 yards on five receptions. This was a beatdown that was so thorough that the Seahawks just mailed in most the second half and still won by 28.
CHI 40, PIT 23

The Bears led in this one all the way and scored twice on defense. Jay Cutler (159 yards, TD) was more interested in chewing up the clock with runs than passing. Matt Forte turned in 111 total yards and one touchdown for a very nice game considering the venue. The meager passing stats made Brandon Marshall the lead receiver with only 52 yards though Martellus Bennett scored once on his two catches for 22 yards. Big Ben was besieged constantly in the game and while he passed for 406 yards and two scores, he tossed two interceptions and lost two fumbles which covered the two defensive scores. There is still no real rushing effort for the Steelers if only because they keep losing and only managed 19 rushing attempts against the Bears. Antonio Brown (9-196, 2 TD) had a career game while no other receiver gained more than 52 yards or scored.

Huddle Player of the Week

Jimmy Graham - No arguing that Graham is the best tight end in the NFL. We all agreed on that last summer and he's done nothing to change that perception. After rolling up 224 yards on 14 catches with two scores over the first two weeks, on Sunday Graham led the NFL with nine receptions for 134 yards and two more touchdowns. He's still as big a difference maker within his position as anyone in the league.


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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Jake Locker 357 2 QB Colin Kaepernick 170 0
RB Johnathan Franklin 126 1 RB C.J. Spiller 10 0
RB Brandon Bolden 100 0 RB Arian Foster 52 0
WR Santonio Holmes 154 1 WR Vincent Jackson 34 0
WR Sidney Rice 79 2 WR Dwayne Bowe 4 0
WR Donnie Avery 141 0 WR Victor Cruz 25 0
TE Scott Chandler 79 1 TE Tony Gonzalez 24 0
PK Ryan Succop 2 XP 4 FG PK Greg Zuerlein 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 137

Huddle Fantasy Points = 18

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was a screwy week since the top wideouts included a slew of undrafted and unstarted players. Same for the quarterbacks like Jake Locker, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder and Brian Hoyer who all beat expectations. We were again subject to even more injured players and the sheer volume of those either unable to finish games or already missing games is becoming a crisis for many fantasy teams. So far the most likely reasons for the number of injuries are the new practice rules which do not toughen up players before the season. That or back to the voodoo curse that has been levied mostly on players that I own.

We must have a week with minimal injuries because at this rate we will be playing in week ten using players who are currently building cedar decks or driving a beer truck waiting for someone to call and invite them to try out.

The Game-O-The-Week? What better to represent the screw year of winless teams and head-scratching outcomes?

Browns 31, Vikings 27

This one had to destroy a lot of survivor contests. I mean the Browns deal off their only good player. Willis McGahee had to die his hair black for the interview to become the starting tailback and played only two days after learning where Cleveland actually is. They opt for Brian Hoyer who spent the last four seasons holding a clipboard for the Pats and then Cardinals. The Vikings were at home. How could this possibly be a Browns win. This was maybe the biggest slam dunk this year.

Or not.

The Browns led 14-7 in the second quarter thanks to passes to Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon. By halftime, they still led 24-17.The Vikings tied it up 24-24 by the fourth quarter and then led 27-24 when a drive stalled at the CLE 12-yard line and Blair Walsh kicked a field goal.

Both teams used two series to do nothing but punt and at 3:21 left in the game, the Browns took over on their own 45-yard line. Hoyer drove the field with almost nothing but passes to Gordon and Cameron. With 55 seconds remaining and third down and seven from the MIN 7-yard line, Hoyer connected with Cameron for his second touchdown and the go ahead score 31-27.

Christian Ponder drove 36 yards to the CLE 34-yard line where time expired.

There was no way of knowing what Gordon would do as he was returning from his two week suspension and he had never played with Hoyer before. And the quarterback's only claim to fame ever was that he backed up Tom Brady after Matt Cassel left. But Gordon racked up ten catches for 146 yards and one score. Cameron caught six passes for 66 yards and three scores. Adrian Peterson was held to only 88 yards on 25 carries though he scored once.

It was a good game where no one thought to look for one. It was visible evidence that you really never know what is going to happen in the NFL. Granted it came against a weak Vikings defense. And maybe the Vikings did not prepare enough but what was there to prepare for? A quarterback no one had seen, an ancient running back and the team drug problem just getting back from a NFL time out.

The byes begin though only the Packers and Panthers are off this week. Ten starting running backs have at least been unable to finish their game in the last two weeks if not are still out. Roddy White and Larry Fitzgerald are killing their owners. In the season where quarterbacks fell deeply in many drafts, it ends up they were about the only safe picks.

No matter what your current league standing is, chances are it doesn't matter. Injuries are decimating teams and if you've somehow dodged all those bullets, you know it is only a matter of time. Within a month, rosters are likely to be very different because of those player injuries, replacement players and " look who I found on the waiver wire!"

If you are 0-3, hang in there. If you are 3-0... we're coming for you.

Now get back to work...

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