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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 5
David Dorey
October 7, 2013
Follow Follow @DMDorey
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tony Romo 506 5
Peyton Manning 414 5
Jay Cutler 385 2
Russell Wilson 312 2
Philip Rivers 411 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Pierre Thomas 91 2
Ray Rice 103 2
Fred Jackson 93 2
Knowshon Moreno 150 1
Jamaal Charles 145 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Alshon Jeffery 218 1
Dez Bryant 141 2
T.Y. Hilton 140 2
Rueben Randle 96 2
Terrance Williams 151 1
DeSean Jackson 132 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Julius Thomas 122 2
Jason Witten 121 1
Jimmy Graham 135 0
Vernon Davis 88 1
Charles Clay 52 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Alex Henery 3 5
Mason Crosby 1 5
Matt Prater 6 3
Garrett Hartley 2 4
Justin Tucker 2 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Cardinals 0 7 4
San Francisco 1 1 4
Cleveland 2 4 1
Cincinnati 0 4 2
Kansas City 0 3 3

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Sunday proved to be the lightest injuries of the year so far. Thursday wasn't that great.

Chris Ogbonnaya - Concussion
Brian Hoyer - ACL tear
E.J. Manuel - LCL sprain
Stevie Johnson - Back
Zac Stacy - Ribs
David Wilson - Neck
Calvin Johnson - Knee... wait... WHO IS INACTIVE?
Leon Washington - Ankle
Blaine Gabbert - Hamstring
Michael Vick - Hamstring
Donnie Avery - Shoulder
Ryan Mathews - Concussion

The injuries were lighter this week though don't mention that to the fantasy owners who had one of the players who could not finish their game. Brian Hoyer was lost for the season with torn ligaments in his knee but that only returns the steering wheel to Brandon Weeden. That shouldn't have any real negative effect on the offense. Jordan Cameron's best game was with Weeden. Hoyer produced better stats in his two games but they were against the Vikings and then hosting the Bengals. And Hoyer started at the same time that Josh Gordon returned. Weeden may not be the solution for 2014, but for this year he'll play well enough to maintain the same level of fantasy value for both Cameron and Gordon.

The same cannot be said for the Bills. E.J. Manuel sprained his LCL and is expected to miss the next four to eight weeks depending on how well he heals. That leaves the team in the hands of an undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel who only managed to complete 8 of 20 for 80 yards and one interception against the Browns. Consider their next six opponents - Bengals, at Dolphins, at Saints, Chiefs, at Steelers and Falcons. Sadly facing that schedule and relying on Tuel means a major downgrade for all Buffalo offensive players. There's a chance for yardage during trash time but you cannot rely on it. C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods all drop a notch or two and will become impossible to trade for value.

Michael Vick injured his hamstring and is expected to miss at least this week's matchup with the Buccaneers. Nick Foles is a more than adequate replacement for that game and arguably a better pure passer than Vick. No reason to downgrade any Eagles this week. In fact LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson may see an increase without Vick there to chew up rushing yardage instead of handing off or throwing the ball.

David Wilson was pulled from the Eagles loss with a jammed neck but is not expected to miss any more time. In what was one of his softest matchups of the year, Wilson only gained 16 yards on six runs before leaving. About all you can hope for is that Wilson can score in week seven when the Vikings visit. Otherwise there are no remaining matchups that suggest Wilson will be worthy of a fantasy start.

When the Lions decided that Calvin Johnson would not play it took the fantasy world by surprise. No matter how limited Johnson had been in practice, he had never missed a game since 2009. And playing without Megatron is obviously nothing the Lions want to repeat. He is expected back this week and said he was close to playing in Green Bay. No doubt he draws Joe Haden in Cleveland this week. That spells problems for a team that never produced a wideout with more than 30 yards against the Packers. Ryan Broyles (2-27) and Patrick Edwards (2-16) just do not measure up no matter how advantageous their situation may seem.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is filling in for Jake Locker who is out for four to six weeks with hip and knee injuries. He wasn't bad with 247 yards and a score against the Chiefs but threw two late game interceptions to seal the loss. Kendall Wright led the team with six catches for 74 yards and Chris Johnson even gained 63 yards and a score on four receptions thanks to a 49-yard touchdown catch. But Johnson only gained 17 yards on 10 carries and aside from the one score, only produced 29 yards in the game. Lower stats will be common next week when they play in Seattle and even the next week at home versus the 49ers won't be much better. Adding in the week eight bye and there's no reason to start a Titans player for the next three Sundays.

The Jaguars-Rams game was a nice laboratory experiment to see what players could produce if they did not have to face an actual NFL-quality defense. Ends up that Justin Blackmon (5-136, TD) is ready to play after serving his suspension and even Cecil Shorts (5-74, TD) can go from being a game time decision to scoring for the first time this year. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 70 yards on 17 carries but needs that soft matchup to matter. Zac Stacy is now the primary back of a committee and earned it when he ran for 78 yards on 14 carries before leaving with bruised ribs. That is not expected to be an issue this week though playing in Houston won't be nearly as profitable as hosting the Jaguars. For the near future, throw both Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead back onto the waiver wire as they have no real role.

No doubt next summer's fantasy drafts that the running backs are going to take a hit after 2013 served them up early and often. The role of the running back is ever shrinking and this week saw only two runners top the century mark - Marshawn Lynch (102 yards) and Jamaal Charles (108 yards). Only five runners were given 20 or more carries and the top fantasy plays of the week included Pierre Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, Fred Jackson and Danny Woodhead. All drafted well after the initial crush of early rounds.

Miles Austin missed the last two games with yet another hamstring strain but the Cowboys are in no hurry for him to return. Seems the rookie wideout from Baylor is accomplishing more than Austin has. Terrance Williams posted seven catches for 71 yards in San Diego and then delivered four receptions for 151 yards and a score versus the Broncos on Sunday. Tony Romo is gaining confidence looking his way and the Cowboys will face the visiting Redskins this week and then travel to Philadelphia the follow game. He's sure to be one of the first players off waiver wires this week and deservedly so.

In the same vein, Keenan Allen is filling in for the injured Malcom Floyd and turning it up only five games into his NFL career. After gaining 80 yards on five catches against the Cowboys, the Chargers rookie was sharp against the Raiders. He ended with six receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown. He was being more involved as the game progressed. This week they host the Colts and then travel to Jacksonville before their week eight bye. After that - the Redskins and Broncos are a near lock for much more passing. If you miss out on Terrance Williams, Allen needs to find a home just as much.

Sunday Snippets

BUF 24, CLE 37 A surprisingly good Thursday game that saw both teams lose their starting quarterback. C.J. Spiller was able to play and gained 66 yards only thanks to a 54-yard touchdown run. Fred Jackson (17-53, 4-40, 2 TD) is probably the best 32-year old player in the NFL. Certainly the best one coming off a broken leg. The Browns are back to Brandon Weeden since Brian Hoyer tore his ACL. Willis McGahee was effective with 72 yards and one score but only because he ran the ball 26 times because Chris Ogbonnaya left injured. Josh Gordon (4-86, TD) doesn't care which quarterback is there. The 2-3 Bills return home to face the Bengals while the 3-2 Browns host the Lions.
NO 26, CHI 18

This game was over at halftime really though the Bears made a game of it. Drew Brees passed for 288 yards and two scores that were both thrown to Pierre Thomas who ended with 91 total yards. Jimmy Graham turned in the obligatory big game with ten catches for 135 yards but none of the Saints receivers did much. Marques Colston only caught two passes for 15 yards. Almost every completion went to a running back or Graham. Four field goals made the difference. The Bears played from behind and saw Jay Cutler throw for 358 yards and two scores with no interceptions. Alshon Jeffrey (10-218, TD) was the one the defense let go unlike Brandon Marshall (4-30, TD). Matt Forte ended with 95 total yards. Now the 5-0 Saints head to New England and the 3-2 Bears host the Giants (so bye week effectively).

NE 6, CIN 13 This was the surprise if only because it ended Tom Brady's 52 game streak with a passing touchdown. Now next week when the Saints play in New England they won't yammer on about Drew Brees record 54 games and how Brady will break it. Late bad weather hurt the passing effort but that doesn't explain why the game was so low scoring. The Bengals defense held the Pats to only 197 passing yards and the return of Danny Amendola (4-55) wasn't that big of a deal. It was an uncharacteristic day for the Pats who looked very much like a team in need of play makers. LeGarrette Blount ran 12 times for 51 yards but lost a fumble. The Bengals were nothing special on offense with Andy Dalton passing for just 212 yards and no scores. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 67 yards and one score on his old team but that was about it. Giovanni Bernard gained 69 total yards but lost a fumble and A.J. Green ended with a team high 61 yards on five catches. Now the 4-1 Patriots host the Saints and the 3-2 Bengals head to Buffalo.
DET 9, GB 22

For the first time since 2009, we know what the Detroit Lions are like without Calvin Johnson. Ends up - not that good. Matt Stafford passed for 262 yards and just one touchdown. The rushing effort only produced 65 yards on 18 carries and the best receiver was Brandon Pettigrew with four receptions for 59 yards. Aaron Rodgers passed for 274 yards and one touchdown to James Jones (4-127) while Jordy Nelson (5-82) and Randall Cobb (4-35) were quieter. Cobb did have two runs for 72 yards. Eddie Lacy was back and rumbled for 99 yards on 23 carries for a very nice return. The loss sends the 3-2 Lions to Cleveland this week and the 2-2 Packers play in Baltimore.

BAL 26, MIA 23 Tight game that happened mostly in the second half. Joe Flacco passed for 269 yards but no scores and one interception. Ray Rice finally had a big game when he scored twice but gained just 74 yards on 24 carries. He also added six catches for 28 yards. Torrey Smith was the only other Raven of note with 121 yards on six receptions. Ryan Tannehill passed for 307 yards and one touchdown which favored Mike Wallace (7-105) the most despite his several dropped passes. The rushing effort was nearly nothing with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas combining for only 16 yards on nine runs. Now the 3-2 Ravens host the Packers and the 3-2 Dolphins go onto their bye.
PHI 36, NYG 21

Just wow. The Manning brothers could not be more different. The Giants are entering into an era unlike any for perhaps decades. Eli Manning passed for 334 yards and two touchdowns with three more interceptions. David Wilson scored a touchdown and then left the game with a bad neck. That left Brandon Jacobs as the sole running back. Let's reiterate this - BRANDON JACOBS WAS THEIR ONLY RUNNING BACK. He gained 37 yards on 11 runs - sort of a pleasant surprise. The defense opted to remove Victor Cruz (5-48) and allowed Hakeem Nicks (9-142) and Rueben Randle (6-96, 2 TD) both had big games. Michael Vick left with a bad hamstring and Nick Foles had no problem exploiting the Giants defense for two touchdowns that went to DeSean Jackson (7-132, TD) and Brent Celek (3-47, TD) while LeSean McCoy turned in 92 total yards and one score. The 0-5 Giants are hitting all new lows every week and now head to Chicago. The 2-3 Eagles will play in Tampa Bay.

KC 26, TEN 17 Safe to say the Chiefs have erased the futility of the last few seasons. And they do it with just a solid overall effort. Alex Smith passed for just 245 yards and no score with Donnie Avery the top receiver with 91 yards on three catches. Dwayne Bowe (4-35) remains in hiding and Jamaal Charles gained 145 total yards and ran in the only offensive touchdown. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 247 yards and one touchdown but had two interceptions. He was also the lead rusher with 50 yards on six runs plus a rushing score. Chris Johnson only ran for 17 yards on ten carries as a very bad sign but at least he caught four passes for 63 yards that included a 49-yard touchdown. The game wasn't as productive as the score suggested. Now the 5-0 Chiefs will host the Raiders and the 3-2 Titans head to Seattle for their next loss.
JAC 20, STL 34

When you let the Rams beat you by 14 points, you are redefining bad .Blaine Gabbert threw one score and two interceptions before leaving the game and Chad Henne looked better of course. Justin Blackmon's first game back was a big success - 136 yards on five catches and one score. Cecil Shorts was not 100% and was a game time decision and yet still posted 74 yards on five receptions and also scored. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 70 yards and added16 more on two catches which pretty much screams TRADE ME. If you even can. Sam Bradford has struggled in recent week but not versus the Jags when he passed for 222 yards and three touchdowns. Austin Pettis (4-49) caught two and Lance Kendricks (4-37, TD) still benefits being the tight end they do not cover. Zac Stacy was the lead runner with 78 yards on 14 carries but Daryl Richardson had 13 runs for 48 yards so he wasn't demoted too much. The 0-5 Jaguars now head to Denver where they only thing of interest will be the Vegas line. The 2-3 Rams return to reality playing in Houston this week.

SEA 28, IND 34 A great game and a definite contender for GOTW. The real difference in this game was when the Colts blocked a punt and recovered it for a score. Andrew Luck passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns that both went to T.Y. Hilton (5-140) who was freakishly good against the highly touted secondary. Trent Richardson ran for 56 yards on 18 runs and had no receptions. Russell Wilson threw for 210 yards and two scores while also rushing for 102 yards. Marshawn Lynch also ran for 102 yards. The top receiver was Doug Baldwin (5-80) though Golden Tate (5-61) did score once. The loss drops the 4-1 Seahawks from the ranks of the unbeaten and they head home to take it out on the Titans this week. The 4-1 Colts will bring their jug of shut-up juice to San Diego this week.
CAR 6, ARI 22

This was a messy and boring game punctuated by six interceptions (three each quarterback). Cam Newton passed for 308 yards and yet never scored. No Panther caught more than Greg Olsen's five catches for 79 yards and DeAngelo Williams only ran for 39 yards. Carson Palmer threw one score but only totaled 175 yards. Larry Fitzgerald still disappoints with only 43 yards. Rashard Mendenhall scored once but only gained 43 yards on 17 carries while Andre Ellington (7-52) continues to look like the superior runner and even added 31 more yards with three receptions. This was just the game that fantasy football wants to forget. The 1-3 Panthers now head to Minnesota and the 3-2 Cardinals will play in San Francisco.

HOU 3, SF 34 The Texans lose their third in a row and in the process Matt Schaub set the all-time record with four straight games with an interception returned for a touchdown. That's going to stand for a while. And hey - he may not be done yet. The Texans were able to get 118 total yards from Arian Foster but no one else did much. A.J. Johnson only caught three passes for 39 yards. All combined, the Texans passed for just 188 yards and three interceptions. The 49ers had the game go so well that Colin Kaepernick only needed to complete six of 15 for 113 yards and one touchdown. That includes a fourth quarter 64-yard touchdown catch by Vernon Davis. Frank Gore (17-81) and Anthony Dixon (5-12) both rushed in touchdowns and by the end of the game seven different 49ers had rushed the ball at least once. The 3-2 49ers remain at home to face the Cardinals this week and the 2-3 Texans host the Rams. If Schaub cannot avoid a pick-six against the Rams, he should just walk out of the stadium when it happens. Might be some fans willing to carry him.
SD 17, OAK 27

Who needs Darren McFadden? Not the Raiders so long as they have a healthy Terrelle Pryor. He passed for 221 yards and two scores and ran for 31 more while never turning the ball over. Denarius Moore (5-84, TD) and Rod Streater (3-56, TD) were the only receivers that mattered for the Raiders. And Rashad Jennings (10-41) is just a place holder for McFadden. Philip RIvers passed for 411 yards and two touchdowns but also threw three interceptions while the team lost two fumbles. There was no rushing effort at all by the Chargers who totaled 19 carries for only 32 yards. But all that passing yardage was distributed out for Vincent Brown (8-117), Keenan Allen (6-115, TD), Antonio Gates (7-74) and even Danny Woodhead (9-58, TD). Too many turnovers killed the Chargers chance to win. Surprising to see Pryor as the more poised one in the pocket. Now the 2-3 Chargers host the Colts while the 2-3 Raiders head to Kansas City.

Huddle Player of the Week

Tony Romo - His previous career best was 440 passing yards and he buried that with 506 yards against the Broncos which included eight pass completions of 25 yards or more. Terrance Williams scored from 82 yards out and Dez Bryant covered 79 yards on another before getting caught five yards short of a touchdown. In all Romo would throw for five touchdowns and he only threw one interception. That last one that gave away the win. In fantasy terms though - pure gold.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 297 2 QB Tom Brady 197 0
RB Donald Brown 40 1 RB Lamar Miller 15 0
RB Jackie Battle 62 0 RB Trent Richardson 56 0
WR Justin Blackmon 136 1 WR A.J. Johnson 39 0
WR Terrance Williams 151 1 WR Stevie Johnson 10 0
WR Cole Beasley 47 1 WR Larry Fitzgerald 43 0
TE Lance Kendricks 37 1 TE Jordan Cameron 36 0
PK Alex Henery 18 pts PK David Akers 3 pts

Huddle Fantasy Points = 116

Huddle Fantasy Points = 27

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This week we saw the Seahawks and Patriots fall from the ranks of the unbeaten. But the Broncos, Chiefs and Saints remain perfect and compared to last season that's amazing for Kansas City and New Orleans. The NFC East is now tied for the lead with a 2-3 record by the Cowboys and Eagles. The Giants and Jaguars are redefining new ways to lose games though they share an affection for giving up far more points than their offenses could ever hope to score.

The Game-O-The-Week? Maybe this is a surprise.

Seattle 28, Indianapolis 34

The Seahawks finally could not produce enough defense to win the game and Andrew Luck was able to wrap the game up in plenty of time for everyone to watch the FOURTH HIGHEST SCORING GAME OF ALL TIME that was happening in Dallas. Sorry. Never has the Game-O-The-Week been such a slam dunk. 51-48 wins GOTW every time.

As a devoted fantasy football fan, it brought tears to my eyes. Maybe that was also impacted by my following the Cowboys for the last 40 years or so. Sniff... I'm so torn...

There was no quarter that contained under 21 points. They came within one point of a 100 point game. I don't need to check Vegas to believe this one was an "over".

Imagine throwing 506 yards and five touchdowns and losing the game. Scoring 48 points and losing. And yet it is possible.

Let's just run down the scoring plays.

Quarter 1

DEN 0, DAL 7 Romo to Bryant for 2 yard TD
DEN 0, DAL 14 Murray 4 yard TD run
DEN 7, DAL 14 Manning to J Thomas for 4 yard TD

Quarter 2

DEN 7, DAL 17 Bailey 43 yard FG
DEN 14, DAL 17 Manning to Decker for 2 yard TD
DEN 21, DAL 17 Manning to J Thomas for 9 yard TD
DEN 28, DAL 17 Manning run for 1 yard TD. It kinda fooled me too.
DEN 28, DAL 20 Bailey 48 yard FG

Quarter 3

DEN 35, DAL 20 Manning to Welker for 2 yard TD
DEN 35, DAL 27 Romo to Williams for 82 yard TD
DEN 38, DAL 27 Prater 48 yard FG
DEN 38, DAL 33 Romo to Bryant for 2 yard TD (failed two-point conversion)

Quarter 4

DEN 38, DAL 41 Romo to Witten for 10 yard TD
DEN 41, DAL 41 Prater 50 yard FG
DEN 41, DAL 48 Romo to Beasley for 4 yard TD
DEN 48, DAL 48 Moreno run for 1 yard TD
DEN 51, DAL 48 Prater 28 yard FG

17 different drives ended up scoring points. Tony Romo threw for more yardage than any Cowboy quarterback ever. Peyton Manning now has 20 touchdowns in just five games. He is on a pace for 64 touchdowns and maybe that happens. His next two home games are against the Jaguars and Redskins. He might get the other 44 scores from those two games alone.

This game should be legendary in the annals of fantasy football. There were a total of 920 passing yards to split up as well as nine passing scores. Four different receivers topped 100 yards. Ten different players caught or ran in a touchdown. It was nirvana where you could not have started any Bronco or Cowboy player and not received a good to spectacular game. Everyone was in on it.

Sadly I am both a fantasy football fan and a Cowboys fan. And I am a realist. Admittedly when the Cowboys took over at their own 20-yard line with 2:39 left to play and the score was tied, I did not want to say it but I thought it. On first down, Romo was sacked for a six yard loss and I did not want to say it but I thought it. And then he threw that interception over the middle with two minutes left and I had to say it.

"There it is."

And that's why I play fantasy football. Because all I want to think about is that I started Tony Romo on my fantasy team. Not sad, not mad. Kinda glad. Besides, 2-3 still gets you the lead in the NFC East anyway.

The leaves are about to start changing. There is a slight nip in the morning air. You can smell a fireplace burning for the first time. I just won most of my leagues. There's chili in the refrigerator and my dog at my feet. And then the wife says "by the way, my parents are visiting next week."

There it is.

Now get back to work...


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