Tunnel Vision: Week 4
David Dorey
September 30, 2013
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Peyton Manning 327 4
Philip Rivers 401 3
Alex Smith 288 3
Jay Cutler 317 2
Matt Ryan 421 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Arian Foster 171 1
Reggie Bush 173 1
Adrian Peterson 140 2
Danny Woodhead 86 2
Le'Veon Bell 84 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Victor Cruz 164 1
Demaryius Thomas 86 2
Torrey Smith 166 1
Wes Welker 76 2
Nate Washington 105 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez 149 2
Antonio Gates 136 1
Jordan Cameron 91 1
Coby Fleener 77 1
Garrett Graham 69 1
Placekickers XPT FG
David Akers 4 4
Adam Vinatieri 4 3
Nick Novak 3 3
Steven Hauschka 2 3
Dan Carpenter 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Colts 1 4 3
Redskins 1 7 2
Chiefs 1 3 3
Titans 1 5 4
Broncos 2 3 0

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

RB Fred Jackson - Sprained MCL
WR Santonio Holmes - Hamstring
RB Alfred Morris - Ribs
RB C.J. Spiller - Ankle
WR Deonte Thompson - Concussion
RB Marcel Reese - Knee
RB Darren McFadden - Hamstring
QB Jake Locker - Hip
WR Stephen Hill - Head
TE Marcedes Lewis - Ankle
Aaron Dobson - Neck

And they're rounding the quarter turn...

We're done with a quarter of the NFL season and about a third of the fantasy season is now over. This is the critical part of the season where those teams with extreme records either remain really good or bad or they drift back towards the middle having enjoyed a nice schedule or perhaps lost thanks to missing players. While the NFL standings may not be a part of your fantasy scoring, it has a major impact on how your players perform. Teams are going to make changes if the current equation is not working. And that can affect you.

Worry plenty about the 0-4 teams of the Steelers, Jaguars, Giants and Buccaneers who are all winless because of offensive line problems, quarterback issues, turnovers and just plain playing worse than all other NFL teams. It is more than the schedule by now. It is more than a bad break of two. These teams are teetering on making changes where possible and doing whatever they can to finally notch the win. That can potentially open up new situations for players getting a shot to help their team find a spark. But more likely it can mean going away from players on fantasy rosters because they are not helping their real team win games.

We continue to see players breaking out each week and in some cases they are merely meeting expectations after many weeks of frustration. And after a month of playing time, it is getting time to recognize that some of those expectations are never going to be met with certain players.

Breaking Bad

RB Le'Veon Bell (Steelers) -His season debut couldn't avoid the loss but at least Bell scored two touchdowns and ran for 57 yards on 16 carries while all other runners were limited to only two carries each. He even caught four passes for 27 more yards. It was a nice reward for those who took a risk on him while still injured and even more for fantasy owners who drafted him before his foot injury.

RB Danny Woodhead (Chargers) - He scored twice against the Cowboys and for leagues with reception points, he's an equivalent to Darren Sproles now that he is averaging almost seven catches over the last three games.

RB Rashad Jennings (Raiders) - Darren McFadden only lasted three weeks before getting injured and Jennings stepped to gain 45 yards on 15 runs and 71 yards on eight receptions. Of course Marcel Reece was also out. Should the two remain out, Jennings is worthy of a start.

RB Chris Ogbonnaya (Browns) - Willis McGahee was predictably rusty but Ogbonnaya ran for 27 yards on five carries and added five catches for 21 yards. He's not only worth owning for bye week coverage, he's better than the starter McGahee.

WR Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs) - He remains worthless in road games this year but both times he played at home, Bowe ended with around 55 yards and a touchdown. It isn't a difference maker but at least he is showing up in home games to reward drafters who weren't’t sure if they could ever rely on the Chiefs star wideout.

QB Brian Hoyer (Browns) - His win over the Vikings was no fluke. He followed up his 321 yard, three touchdown effort in Minnesota with 269 pass yards and two more scores against the Bengals in his second win. What better way to say they are not throwing in the towel on 2013 than switching over to a winning quarterback?

WR Alshon Jeffrey (Bears) - Followed up his solid seven catch, 51-yard effort at Pittsburgh with five receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in Detroit. Jay Cutler is relying more on his #2 wide receiver even if it comes at the expense of Brandon Marshall.

WR Greg Jennings (Vikings) - The switch to Matt Cassel not only helped the Vikings win their first game, it also allowed Greg Jennings to start to earn all that free agent money with a quarterback who could actually connect with him. Jennings finished with three catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns in a role the Vikings desperately need every week.

WR Kenbrell Thompkins (Patriots) - He scored twice in week three but still had never gained more than 50 yards in any game. Then in Atlanta, he led all receivers with six catches for 127 yards and one touchdown. Tom Brady's confidence is growing with his undrafted rookie and that spells better things down the road.

WR Terrance Williams (Cowboys) - The talented rookie from Baylor was little used until this week when he replaced Miles Austin. Williams ended with seven receptions for 71 yards. While it is still too early to expect him to be a fantasy starter, it was a nice first game for a player who backs up one of the more fragile wide receivers in the NFL.

Breaking Down

RB Rashard Mendenhall (Cardinals) - He's only getting worse and now lost a fumble in each of the last two games. Andre Ellington is outplaying him and the coaching staff is not pleased. Mendenhall already found his ceiling and it is not that high.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Jaguars) - Four games in and still has not broken 50 rushing yards. Whether it is his offensive line, his ankles or a combination of that along with too many miles on the odometer, it is just not happening. Jones-Drew's rest of the season fortunes won't go anywhere until they change the quarterback and get some line help. But even then he's not going to reprise his glory years.

RB Stevan Ridley (Patriots) - While Ridley remains the starter, that doesn't mean much anymore. Brandon Bolden helps out with receptions and relief runs. LeGarrette Blount helps close out games. That nice heavy load that Ridley took in 2012 is a thing of the past and Ridley is just one-third of the backfield now. And so far that isn't even the best fantasy scorer of the three.

WR Kenny Britt (Titans) - He's finally ran out of potential and is no longer in the Titan's plans.

WR Roddy White (Falcons) - He'll have future value but when that happens seems to be an ever-sliding date. A month in and White has never been more than a decoy. His high ankle sprain hasn't sidelined him but it is in no hurry to heal.

Keep churning that roster because we are not only continuing to see rampant injuries each week, but we are into the byes and that means even fewer players to choose from each week when establishing your starters. Evaluate your roster now that a month has passed for who needs to be cut and determine your strengths and weaknesses. As many injuries as we have seen, this is not going to be a year you can just saddle up the same group and ride them all the way through.

Sunday Snippets

SF 35, STL 11 Okay so the 49ers are not dead yet but the Rams may be. The 49ers are still limited to Frank Gore (20-153, TD) and Anquan Boldin (5-90, TD) but in games like this that is plenty. The Rams are in reverse and gunning the engine. At home they still only ran for a combined 19 carries for 18 yards. That means it doesn't really matter how many passes that Sam Bradford throws because the defense is ready for them. The 49ers are 2-2 with two games getting punked and two dominating their opponent and now get to host the Texans. The Rams are 1-3, on a three game losing streak and get to host the Jaguars this week so smiles all around.
BAL 20, BUF 23

A very good game though little light in scoring. Joe Flacco passed for 347 yards and two scores but also five interceptions. There was no rushing game to speak of since both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for only 24 yards on nine runs. Torrey Smith (5-166, TD) was the only Raven worth starting. The Bills did not do much other than inherit all those turnovers from the Ravens. Fred Jackson (16-87, TD) and C.J. Spiller (23-77) both had big roles while the only receiver worth noting was Robert Woods who led the team with four catches for 80 yards and one touchdown. The Bills built a lead and the Ravens fell short in their comeback attempt. Now the Ravens fall to 2-2 like two other teams in the AFC North and play in Miami next. The 2-2 Bills head to Cleveland this week.

CIN 6, CLE 17 Not much happened in this game. The Bengals could get no rushing success and threw for only 206 yards and no scores. A.J. Green ended with just 51 yards on seven catches. The Browns weren't all that better with Willis McGahee rushing for only 46 yards on 15 runs but Brian Hoyer won two games in a row now and passed for 269 yards and two scores. Early word was that Brandon Weeden would get his job back but Hoyer is 2-0. Jordan Cameron is apparently unstoppable since he caught ten passes for 91 yards and a score. Now the 2-2 Bengals and 2-2 Browns are tied with the Ravens for the AFC North lead. The Bengals host the Patriots this week while the Browns host the Bills.
ARI 13, TB 10

This game was as brutal as the score suggests. No rushing by either team and Doug Martin was tops with only 45 yards on 27 runs. The only decent event in this was that Larry Fitzgerald caught six passes for 68 yards and one score and seems to be finally healthy. Michael Floyd (5-87) and Mike Williams (4-38, TD) had the only other decent fantasy games. The Cardinals rise to 2-2 and host the Panthers this week while the 0-4 Buccaneers maybe lost their best shot at a win this year. They are on bye so at least no more losses this week.

SEA 23, HOU 20
This was a back breaker for the Texans at home who led 20-3 at the half but then never scored again. Matt Schaub (355 yards, 2 TD) was great for one quarter but threw two interceptions. Arian Foster had his most impressive game of the year against the toughest foe when he ran for 102 yards and added six catches for 69 yards and one touchdown. Andre Johnson ended with 110 yards on nine receptions. The stats all belonged to the Texans other than the scoreboard thing.This was the first time ever the Texans lost despite producing over 500 yards of offense. Marshawn Lynch totaled 143 yards and one score as the only notable offensive player. This game turned when an interception was returned by the Seahawks for their final touchdown which sent it into overtime. Now the 4-0 Seahawks are really feeling cocky coming back from a 17 point deficit on the road. They head to Indianapolis this week while the 2-2 Texans gets to head to San Francisco to see which 49ers show up.
IND 37, JAC 3

The Jaguars should adopt that organ dirge music from a monastery because it seems like someone dies each time they play and apparently they are okay with it. I mean they still use Blaine Gabbert (179 yards, 3 interceptions). Maurice Jones-Drew (13-23) cannot hope to face less than ten guys in the box. Cecil Shorts (7-61) is really amazing all things considered. Andrew Luck (260 yards, 2 TD) found Reggie Wayne (5-100, TD) and even Coby Fleener (5-77, TD) but Trent Richardson was held to only 60 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. This allows the 3-1 Colts to remain tied for the divisional lead and host the Seahawks this week. The next loss by the 0-4 Jaguars will be in St. Louis this week. It's like a bye week with points for the Rams.

NYG 7, KC 31 While the Jaguars do their weekly impression of feinting goats because they have little talent, not so for the Giants who have the same coach and players as years past but it just does not work anymore. Perhaps the offense is stale. Maybe Tom Coughlin has just finally turned off his employees. But Eli Manning (217 yards, TD and interception) is just a shell of his former Super Bowl MVP self. Victor Cruz (10-164, TD) was great but no one else was. David Wilson (13-55) wasn't as bad as usual but never got the workload. Alex Smith (288 yards, 3 TD) thoroughly enjoyed the Giants visit as did Jamaal Charles who totaled 132 yards and one touchdown. Maybe bigger news yet was Dwayne Bowe scoring once on his four receptions for 58 yards in the first proof that Smith knows Bowe is there. The 0-4 Giants now host the Eagles and the 4-0 Chiefs head to Tennessee.
CHI 32, DET 40

Definite contender for Game-o-the-week. At least this game helped counteract all the other low scoring matchups. Notable too was that this is only the second time in the last ten meetings that the Lions actually won. Jay Cutler ended with 317 yards and two scores but threw three interceptions. Matt Forte totaled 117 yards and one touchdown, Alshon Jeffrey (5-107, TD) and Brand Marshall (7-79) had decent games as did Martellus Bennett (8-90). The only Lion with a big game was Reggie Bush who ran for 139 yards and one score plus added 34 more yards as a receiver. No one else gained more than 58 yards though Calvin Johnson (4-44) did catch the only passing touchdown. The loss drops the 3-1 Bears even with the Lions in the division and they will host the Saints this week. The 3-1 Lions play in Green Bay this week.

NYJ 13, TEN 38 Jets on the road not that great so far. Geno Smith only passed for 289 yards and one score with two interceptions. Kellen Winslow (6-73) showed up this week but not much else happened even though the game was trash time for the second half. Bilal Powell gained 108 total yards. Jake Locker was having the rare good game with three passing touchdowns and 149 yards but left with an injured hip. Nate Washington (4-105, 2 TD) was the only decent play on the entire team. Titans won big and yet Chris Johnson only ran for 21 yards on 154 carries. Now the 2-2 Jets head to Atlanta and the 3-1 Titans host the Chiefs.
PHI 20, DEN 52

This is truly a thing of beauty. The Broncos are so dominant that it has been awe-inspiring. Peyton Manning threw for a standard 327 yards and four touchdowns while nearly breaking a sweat. Those scores went to Demaryius Thomas (9-86, 2 TD) and Wes Welker (7-76, 2 TD) but Eric Decker (5-88) still had some fun. Knowshon Moreno ran for 78 yards and one score. But the Eagles never really got on track. Michael Vick only passed for 248 yards and ran for 41 but never scored. LeSean McCoy only gained 73 rushing yards and no receiver ended with more than 57 yards. What is hidden inside the ridiculous points the Broncos are scoring is a defense that is doing pretty well and even scored twice this week. Now the 1-3 Eagles go to New York to face the Giants while the Broncos get to import Points-R-Us to Dallas this week.

WAS 24, OAK 14 The Skins finally get their first win thanks in part to the Raiders losing their QB and two running backs. Robert Griffin threw for just 227 yards and one score while no receiver gained more than Pierre Garcon's 59 yards and one score. Alfred Morris ran well enough to gain 71 yards on 16 carries before leaving injured. The Raiders only got one score and 227 pass yards from Matt Flynn with most teams produce in one quarter against the Skins. The only fantasy relevant player was Rashad Jennings who totaled 126 yards as the lead rusher and receiver. The 1-3 Skins now take their bye and the 1-3 Raiders host the Chargers.
DAL 21, SD 30

The Cowboys seemed to be in the game when leading 21-13 at the half but never scored again. Tony Romo ended with only 244 yards and two scores that both went to Dez Bryant (6-81) and Terrance Williams (7-71) replaced Miles Austin. Demarco Murray gained 70 yards on 14 runs which is a big drop from last week but actually one of his better efforts. But Philip Rivers passed for 401 yards and three scores that mostly went to Antonio Gates (10-136, TD) and Keenan Allen (5-80). Danny Woodhead was the star with 86 total yards and two touchdowns. Now the 2-2 Cowboys are still in the lead of the NFC East and get to be pasted by the visiting Broncos this week. The 2-2 Chargers head to Oakland hoping to find the same stripped down team that played today.

NE 30, ATL 23 Great late game that almost ended up with a Falcons comeback. Matt Ryan passed for 421 yards and two scores but couldn't connect at the end. Tony Gonzalez (12-149, 2 TD) had a monster game and eventually Julio Jones (6-108) ended up with a good game as well. But the rushing effort remained pedestrian without Steven Jackson and Roddy White (3-28) continues to do little. Tom Brady (362 yards, 2 TD) got it done when it had to happen using Kenbrell Thompkins (6-127, TD) and Julian Edelman (7-118) while the backfield remains a three man rotation. The 4-0 Patriots now head to Cincinnati and the 1-3 Falcons host the Jets. These Falcons look like last year but they do not play like last year. Not even in a home game.

Huddle Player of the Week

Tony Gonzalez - He's playing to get a ring and to bury tight end records so deep that he should just have his own record book. Against the Patriots he was the main reason why the Falcons were ever in the game. Gonzo ended with 12 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns to be the highest scoring player of the day.


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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Jake Locker 166 3 QB Michael Vick 289 0
RB Rashad Jennings 116 0 RB Ray Rice 17 0
RB Roy Helu 84 1 RB Darren McFadden 29 0
WR Jerricho Cotchery 103 1 WR Stevie Johnson -1 0
WR Jerome Simpson 124 0 WR Desean Jackson 34 0
WR Dexter McCluster 48 1 WR Vincent Jackson 24 0
TE Garrett Graham 69 1 TE Brandon Myers 0 0
PK David Akers 16 pts PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 Pts

Huddle Fantasy Points = 115 pts

Huddle Fantasy Points = 21

Sunday's Couch Commentary

One in every four teams have a perfect record now - 0-4 or 4-0. The parity of past seasons has escaped 2013 so far and what is new is that the bad teams are not merely an extension of bad teams from the previous season other than the Jaguars. The bad teams are bad despite having nearly the same players if not coaches from the previous season. In particular the Steelers and Giants are head-scratchers that seem like they should get back to previous form in any given week but it just does not happen.

The Patriots are undefeated thanks to a really light schedule and a solid effort in Atlanta. The Broncos look like a 16-0 team. We say that every year at this point since one or more teams will dominate in the first month and then later cool off. But the Broncos look as dominate as any team ever has one week into the season. They even have new all-time records falling to them each week.

There were a few low scoring games but for the most part the fantasy points flowed pretty well this week. What is getting tougher is knowing who to use to acquire said fantasy points. Injuries shake up the entire depth chart at times and make for more unknowns as replacement players are used.

The Game-O-The-Week? There were no high point games decided at the last second. But we had an excellent one happen in London England that certainly cloaked the fact that both teams were winless coming into the tilt.

Steelers 27, Vikings 34

The beauty in this game wasn't that it was a close, nail-biting win. It was that it produced so much fantasy relevance in a game between two 0-3 teams that were playing in London with minimal preparation. Instead of a boring game, the Brits were treated to a game that featured a 70-yard scoring pass to Greg Jennings and a 60-yard run by Adrian Peterson. Le'Veon Bell played for the very first time this season and recorded two touchdowns and 84 yards as one of the top running backs for week four. Four different receivers topped 85 yards and Adrian Peterson rushed for 140 yards and two scores.

Matt Cassel passed for a very credible 248 yards and two scores with no turnover on the vaunted Steeler's defense.

In the end, the Steelers fell short in their comeback quest. They return home 0-4 with no sense of satisfaction. The Vikings take their win and head into their bye week with at least the winless monkey off their back. The Steelers are left to wonder how it happened again for the fourth time. The defense isn't playing up to form and the offense cannot move well with marginal blocking.

Some bad teams got better this week and some remained just bad. Same with players who have now gone a month and given you plenty of reasons to like or hate them, hold or trade them, and adore or curse them. It's time to shift gears from Patience to "Bury Your Dead". Be wise about your choices but never let what you paid for a player get in the way of your decisions. Once your draft is done, all players are exactly the same. They are all evaluated solely on the basis of what they are producing now and in the forecastable future.

Break up is hard to do. But so is hearing that blowhard boast about winning another trophy.

Now get back to work...

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