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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 6
David Dorey
October 14, 2013
Follow Follow @DMDorey
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Cam Newton 272 4
Nick Foles 296 4
Andy Dalton 337 3
Matthew Stafford 248 4
Joe Flacco 348 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Knowshon Moreno 104 3
Marshawn Lynch 155 2
Jamaal Charles 128 2
Reggie Bush 145 1
Brandon Jacobs 114 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Riley Cooper 120 1
Brandon LaFell 107 1
Jordy Nelson 113 1
Josh Gordon 126 0
Marvin Jones 105 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Vernon Davis 180 2
Kyle Rudolph 97 1
Joseph Fauria 34 3
Dallas Clark 81 1
Scott Chandler 47 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Mason Crosby 1 4
Shaun Suisham 1 4
Phil Dawson 3 3
Stephen Gostkowski 3 3
Kai Forbath 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Chiefs 0 10 3
Rams 1 5 4
Seahawks 0 3 2
Bears 1 1 3
Cowboys 1 3 2

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Cecil Shorts - Shoulder
James Jones - Knee
Thad Lewis - Foot
Joique Bell - Ribs
Randall Cobb - Knee
Chris Polk - Shoulder
Matt Schaub - Knee
Mike Goodson - Knee
Jimmy Graham - Ankle
Danny Amendola - Head
DeMarco Murray - MCL sprain

Week six - worth knowing

Week six served up not only the obligatory amount of injuries that require replacements. There were other situations where players were suddenly relevant and deserving of fantasy attention. With so many injuries, many fantasy teams have been decimated but with every player out, another becomes of interest. This may end up the year of the waiver wire and it is only week seven. Consider the evolving players of note going into this week:

Brandon Jacobs opened the week with a bang when he ran for 106 yards and two scores on the Chicago Bears. This was merely 52 yards more than his yearly total. David Wilson may still be out with a neck injury and Da'Rel Scott will miss a few weeks with a hamstring. Jacobs becomes relevant if only because there are no other Giants running backs and he'll face the Vikings and then play in Philadelphia before reaching the bye week.

The Packers may have dodged a bullet with both Randall Cobb and James Jones who left the Baltimore game with knee injuries. But if either miss time, it is more likely that the Packers so as they did against the Ravens - run the ball. Eddie Lacy gained 120 yards on 23 carries. That makes four weeks in a row that the Packers have topped 100 rushing yards. It doesn't help with Aaron Rodgers stats but it does win games. The Packers get three of the next four games at home and the lone road trip is to face the Vikings.

The Lions quest to develop an adequate #2 wideout across from Calvin Johnson is by no means over but at least there may be a name attached. While Nate Burleson is out, Ryan Broyles, Patrick Edwards and Kevin Ogletree have proven they are not the guy. But Kris Durham might be. He comes off a career best eight catches for 83 yards in Cleveland and spent time in college catching passes from fellow Georgia-alum Matt Stafford. Durham scored a touchdown on three receptions for 30 yards in week five in Green Bay. The fourth-year player has done little in his time in Seattle and Detroit but the last two weeks are worth tracking. At 6-6 and 216, he presents a big target.

In that same game, Joseph Fauria caught three passes for 34 yards and three touchdowns. He has seven receptions on the year and yet five touchdowns that ties him with Jordan Cameron for third best among NFL tight ends. The reality is that the undrafted rookie from UCLA may become relevant in fantasy football but he's not going to do it if "all he does is catch touchdowns." He's not worth a roster spot unless you have dead space because he'll need to be used more than as a goal line target to merit consideration. Three games this year had him with no catches. Hard to argue with three scores but he needs to become an every down player. At 6-7, he's just a very attractive end zone target so far.

If you are one of the many team owners with running back problems, consider the Browns Chris Ogbonnaya especially if you get reception points. While Willis McGahee is the starting tailback who won't likely matter much as a runner, Ogbonnaya fills in as both a rusher and receiver. He comes off a Lions loss where he caught seven passes for 61 yards and one score. His week five stats were low because he suffered a concussion but week four saw him with five catches for 21 yards and one score versus the Bengals. The Browns next opponents are at the Packers, at the Chiefs and then hosting the Bills. The Browns will be throwing more than handing off to McGahee.

This might be a nice time to trade away Zac Stacy. Sure, you just acquired him and he rushed for 79 yards and added two catches for 11 yards in Houston. But it may get no better and probably worse with the schedule next serving up the Panthers, Seahawks, Titans and Colts. Should be plenty of takers out there for any back coming off a game with 90 yards.

Looking ahead for the Vikings, safe bet is that Matt Cassel was never going to be a long-term solution even before he threw two interceptions in the home field massacre by the Panthers. Josh Freeman is already the highest-paid quarterback on the team and is showing up at an opportune time. He will naturally need to forge some chemistry with the receivers but at least the Vikes schedule for the next four weeks include road trips to face the Giants and Cowboys along with two home games versus the Packers and Redskins. That is far kinder than the last four defenses they faced - the Panthers, Steelers, Browns and Bears. At the very least Greg Jennings will have a much more favorable situation.

Yet another undrafted tight end is making waves. Tim Wright is a rookie from Rutgers who is showing up in the Buccaneers box score. He only turned in five receptions for 41 yards in week four before the bye but just reeled in seven catches for 91 yards versus the Eagles as the second best receiver for the Bucs. That's 12 catches for 132 yards in just two weeks. The very same weeks that Mike Glennon became the starter. Mike Williams was out and that helped gain more work but Wright is already clicking with Glennon and that's more important in the looming tougher games when a quick, short pass becomes even more needed.

There ain' t no good in an evil-hearted woman and there is even less if you rely on the Saints or Patriots backfields. When you get it right, you can reap big rewards. But mostly, you won't. The Saints split out rushing between Khiry Robinson (7-53, TD), Pierre Thomas (11-51 rush, 1-29 receive) and Darren Sproles (5-15 rush, 6-58 receive). Oh yes, and they let Tarvaris Cadet catch a touchdown on his only play in the game. The Patriots started out with LeGarrette Blount (7-9) as the primary back, but also used Brandon Bolden (5-19 rush, 2-9 receive) and Stevan Ridley (20-96, 2 TD rush and 1-14 receive). Ridley may be the primary again but maybe not. Sproles is reliable for catches in New Orleans but otherwise there is precious little consistency. Problem here with both teams is that you cannot rely on the last week to predict the future week.

Andre Ellington continues to shine even though he is limited to a dozen touches in games. In San Francisco, he ran for 56 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries and added 36 yards on five receptions. His role as a receiver is more valuable and will be relied on in the next games. The Cardinals play three straight home venues versus the Seahawks, Falcons and Texan before finally hitting the road to play the Jaguars. If he is on your waiver wire, you need to correct that.

The sun rose this morning, you need to pay your taxes and DeMarco Murray was injured this week. He's never played more than 13 games in any season so this is more of a team feature than an event. When he was out, the Cowboys turned to Joseph Randle for 11 runs that only covered 17 yards but he scored his first NFL touchdown and he added two catches for 15 yards. Murray sprained his MCL and may not play this week when the Cowboys face the Eagles. This week will provide plenty of motivation for the Cowboys since they are tied with the Eagles for the NFC East lead. With Lance Dunbar also out with a hamstring, Randle would be the starter this week in a game that should produce plenty of fantasy points.

Sunday Snippets

NYG 21, CHI 27 It was a very good game but in the end - pretty much what we expected. Eli Manning passed for 239 yards and one score but had three interceptions. Brandon Jacobs ate his Wheaties and ran 22 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns. For perspective, that was his best game since 2010 and he only had 48 yards over four games coming into this matchup so kind of a surprise. Jay Cutler was solid with 262 yards and two scores with no turnovers or sacks allowed. Brandon Marshall was at home so he had a season best nine catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns. The 0-6 Giants host the Vikings (fingers crossed) and the 4-2 Bears head to Washington D.C. to play the Skins.
GB 19, BAL 17

The Packers took the win but lost two important players in the process - both Randall Cobb and James Jones left the field and while Jones initially is thought not to be too bad. Cobb looked much worse. Aaron Rodgers passed for 315 yards and one score with Last Man Standing Jordy Nelson tops with 113 yards and the receiving score. Jermichael Finley (3-75) also had a nice game thanks to a long catch. Eddie Lacy ran for 120 yards on 23 carries to add a great new aspect to the offense. Joe Flacco passed for 342 yards and two scores that went to Dallas Clark (4-81) and Jacoby Jones (2-42). Ray Rice was held to only 49 total yards. Now the 3-2 Packers host the Browns while the Ravens head to Pittsburgh.

CIN 27, BUF 24
OT

Great contender for the Game-O-The-Week. Andy Dalton passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns with A.J. Green (5-91, TD) tops. Notable was Giovanni Bernard totaling 64 yards and one touchdown. This didn't seem like a great matchup but Thad Lewis took his first start and threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns and ran in a third score. He led the team on a 14 point comeback to tie the game. But no Bills player had a big game and Spiller was the best fantasy player with only 59 total yards and no scores. But this was a great effort by the Bills that wound up short. The 4-2 Bengals now head to Detroit and the 2-4 Bills go to Miami.

DET 31, CLE 17

Matt Stafford (248 yards, 4 TD) played great for not really having Calvin Johnson (3-25). Instead he decided that TE Joe Fauria was his new best friend and threw him three touchdowns on three catches. Reggie Bush gained 135 total yards and one score. The Browns couldn't get any rushing effort going and Brandon Weeden (222 yards, 2 TD) only connected with Josh Gordon (7-126). Chris Ogbonnaya ended with 64 total yards and a score but mostly just as a receiver. The win sends the 4-2 Lions home to face the Bengals and the 3-3 Browns will host the Packers.

STL 38, HOU 13 Sure, every week there are upsets but not that many "What the hell?" games. This was a WTH (or the acronym of your choice). The Texans are now in full retreat no matter what HC Gary Kubiak wants and Matt Schaub looks to no longer be a problem because his knee was badly twisted. On the plus side, he did NOT throw a Pick Six. His replacement T.J. Yates only needed a few plays to do it himself. Arian Foster ran for 141 yards and gained 57 more on four catches but only Andre Johnson (7-88) also mattered. The Rams put the crush on thanks to getting four turnovers. Sam Bradford only threw for 117 yards but had three touchdowns. No receiver had more than Jared Cook's 45 yards. Zac Stacy was somewhat effective with 79 rush yards and 11 more as a receiver. Now the 3-3 Rams head to Carolina hoping for another miracle and the Texans head to Kansas City feeling cursed.
OAK 7, KC 24

Finally the road underdog did not win. The Raiders were no better than expected with Terrelle Pryor passed for 175 yards and one score with two interceptions. He ran for 55 yards as the leading rusher. Darren McFadden (16-52) was active and played and even ended with a total of 83 yards but the only score went to Denarius Moore. The Chiefs did not do that much other than let Jamaal Charles run for 78 yards and two scores while also being the lead receiver with 50 more yards on five catches. Dwayne Bowe took his best matchup so far and only came up with 46 yards on three catches so yeah, why wait on him anymore? The 2-4 Raiders head onto their bye and the 6-0 Chiefs

CAR 35, MIN 10 The Panthers pummeled the Vikings with Cam Newton passing for 242 yards and three scores while running in a fourth touchdown. Nice day. Brandon LaFell (4-107, TD) had an unusually big game and Mike Tolbert totaled 47 yards but had two touchdowns. Matt Cassel (241 yards, TD) threw two interceptions and is not going to keep Josh Freeman from starting next week. Adrian Peterson only ran for 62 yards on ten carries and the only Viking of any note was Kyle Rudolph who caught nine passes for 97 yards and one score that almost entirely came late in the fourth quarter after the game was long over. Now the 2-3 Panthers host the Rams and the 1-4 Vikings head to New York to play the Giants.
PIT 19, NYJ 6

The game was as boring as the score suggests. Ben Roethlisberger only passed for 264 yards and one score and Antonio Brown (9-86) and Heath Miller (6-84) were good without being great. Le'Veon Bell only ran for 34 yards on 16 carries. Geno Smith passed for 201 yards and two interceptions while not one of the Jets posted any fantasy relevant stats. The win sends the 1-4 Steelers home to face the Ravens and hopefully extend the winning streak. The 3-3 Jets will host the Patriots.

PHI 31, TB 20 And there goes maybe the best shot at a win that the Bucs are going to get. Nick Foles was great throwing for 296 yards and three touchdowns. DeSean Jackson shattered expectations by scoring twice and gaining 64 yards despite going against a great secondary. Riley Cooper scored once on his four catches for 120 yards and LeSean McCoy totaled 171 yards. Mike Glennon passed for 273 yards and two scores that both ended up with Vincent Jackson (9-114). Doug Martin ended with 91 total yards and the surprise was rookie tight end Tim Wright catching seven passes for 91 yards. The 3-3 Eagles return home for an all-important matchup with the Cowboys while the 0-5 Buccaneers head to Atlanta.
NO 27, NE 30

By all rights this is the Game-O-the-Week. It ended exactly like the Vegas line said though and for a game between the two highest scoring offenses in the last few years, it yielded surprisingly little fantasy value. Drew Brees passed for just 236 yards and two scores split between Kenny Stills (3-64) and Travaris Cadet (1-3). The best runner was Khiry Robinson (7-53, TD) and Darren Sproles only totaled 73 yards. Tom Brady passed for just 269 yards and one touchdown with five seconds left to play. Kenbrell Thompkins (3-45) caught that but no one else was any better than Aaron Dobson's six catches for 63 yards and no score. Stevan Ridley was active and did not play until the end of the first quarter. But he ran 20 times for 96 yards and two scores while no one else rushed for more than 19 yards. It was an exciting game that saw many Patriot fans leave for the parking lot before Brady had the last minute drive for a touchdown. Now the 5-1 Saints head onto their bye and the 5-1 Patriots go to New York to face the Jets.

TEN 13, SEA 20 The game ended as expected though closer perhaps since the Titans ran back a blocked field goal for a 77-yard touchdown. Ryan Fitzpatrick only passed for 171 yards and two interceptions while Chris Johnson was held to only 54 total yards. Russell Wilson passed for 257 yards but no scores and the only player of any note in the entire game was Marshawn Lynch who ran for 77 yards, received four passes for 78 yards and scored twice. No one else mattered. The 3-3 Titans will host the 49ers this week while the 5-1 Seahawks head to Arizona.
ARI 20, SF 32

This looked like a game only because Larry Fitzgerald (bad hammy and all) caught a 75-yard touchdown. Carson Palmer was a surprise throwing two scores and 298 yards but also added two interceptions. Michael Floyd (5-44) also scored which was a surprise as well. Andre Ellington only had 12 touches but gained 92 yards and a score. Colin Kaepernick passed for 252 yards and two scores that both went to Vernon Davis (8-180) on one of the best performances in his career. Frank Gore ran for 101 yards but no scores or receptions. The 3-3 Cardinals now host the Seahawks and the 4-2 49ers head to Tennessee.

WAS 16, DAL 31 This was pretty disappointing considering the weak defenses. Robert Griffin III only passed for 246 yards and one interception while Pierre Garcon (6-69) was the best receiver. Alfred Morris ran for 81 yards but that was actually 15 carries for 36 yards and then a 45-yard touchdown run. Tony Romo passed for 170 yards and one score in the entire game against the Washington Redskins defense. The Cowboys may have been in a funk from the Broncos loss. The best receiver was Cole Beasley (4-44) and DeMarco Murray made it six weeks into the season before getting injured. This was sad. The most productive player was Beasley. Dez Bryant (5-36) and Jason Witten (3-27) were just not over last week apparently. The 1-4 Redskins now return home to host the Bears while the 3-3 Cowboys head to Philadelphia to see who will be the clear leader in the NFL East and even have a winning record!

Huddle Player of the Week

Vernon Davis - All he did was to turn in a career best game of eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. His second best game was actually seven catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns during the 2011 playoffs. Davis has now scored in all but one game and is making the 49ers offense good enough to win without Michael Crabtree who will be returning. Davis is enjoying a career season so far.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Nick Foles 296 4 QB Tom Brady 269 1
RB Mike Tolbert 47 2 RB Chris Johnson 54 0
RB Chris Ogbonnaya 85 1 RB Ray Rice 49 0
WR Marvin Jones 105 1 WR Dez Bryant 36 0
WR Tandon Doss 99 0 WR Marques Colston 11 0
WR Kenny Stills 64 1 WR Danny Amendola 1 0
TE Joseph Fauria 34 3 TE Jimmy Graham 0 0
PK Shaun Suisham 13 pts PK Sebastian Janikowski 1 pt

Huddle Fantasy Points = 146

Huddle Fantasy Points = 30

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was a whacked out week. Of the eight early games, seven were won by the visiting team. The next five games all went to the home teams. The only undefeated teams now reside in the AFC West. The Buccaneers, Giants and Jaguars all remain winless. The Saints came within five seconds of being 6-0. We're seeing inconsistencies in teams from week to week and naturally from their players. The heart of fantasy football is forecasting which of your players are going to perform the best in any given week, along with knowing who to dump and who to pick up to improve your roster.

The Game-O-The-Week? The Saints loss in New England was an exciting game that wasn't settled until the final seconds and with 57 total points, it was the highest scoring game on Sunday. But this is fantasy football and to me the clear winner was a game that best illustrates why we play fantasy football and why it remains a challenge every week. There is no connect-the-dot in the realm of human sport and even less so when it involves 106 players each week.

Jaguars 19, Broncos 35

The official line on the game was 26.5 points like it was a college game between two teams in very different divisions. The Broncos had the highest scoring offense in the NFL and nearly in NFL history while the Jaguars were the lowest scoring offense in the NFL and they were on the road. Simply matching up the offenses and defenses pointed to a huge massacre. If Peyton Manning could throw for seven touchdowns at home against the Ravens, how many would the Jaguars yield? A dozen?

Nope. 277 and two scores for his worst game of the year. even threw an interception.... Huh?

First let's rundown what this game produced. Maurice Jones-Drew gained 67 yards and scored once for clearly his best fantasy game on the year. His 20 carries were a 2013 high.

Justin Blackmon caught 14 passes for 190 yards for his second best yardage game ever and four more catches than he had ever made in any game. Since Cecil Shorts was out almost immediately, it was not like the Jags had anyone else to catch the ball that should have concerned the Broncos defense. Seriously. The only two players of any talent for the Jags were the only two that did anything and they both had season best games.

Manning threw just 277 yards which was his only game below 300 yards this year. He never left. Was there the entire game. He was averaging about five scores per home game but only threw two.

Knowshon Moreno only ran for 42 yards on 14 carries but scored three touchdowns and added 53 yards on six catches. That 42 yards were the best of any runner for the Broncos. Thought maybe Montee Ball gets some trash time yards and scores? He only had three runs all game and they were in the first quarter.

Wes Welker scored once on his six catches for 63 yards. Demaryius Thomas only caught three passes but gained a team high 78 yards.

How does this happen?

Having predicted and projected every NFL game for the last 17 years, here are some of the questions I have to decide when I break down a game.

1. Is it home or away and does that make a difference?

2. Does the team come off a game that will make them play flat? Big wins, emotional losses. Any games that puts them through a grinder and makes them less focused and energetic.

3. Does the team have a critical game looming after this week that will command their focus?

4. Is it reasonable to assume that one team believes they can win this one easily? Mail it in time?

5. Is the team on a string of wins or losses? Getting tired of winning or losing?

6. Is there a difference in cold, heat, time of kickoff, win, rain or any other characteristic that affects one team more than another?

7. Are there injured players who will miss the game that are relevant to the outcome?

8. Are there injured players who will play in the game and just how injured are they? How likely will it affect them?

9. What misdirection or outright untruths have either team presented that will impact the actual way the game happens?

10. If one team seems significantly better than another, how much effort will they give and at what point will they rest players and allow second stringers to play. This is not only an offensive question for running backs and receivers, but for defenses that insert lesser players and allow trash time to happen. How much trash time will there be? What happens for the other offense?

The challenge, the frustration and beauty of the NFL is that those ten questions impact teams and then trickle down to the individual players that you are using on your fantasy team.

And the trump to this all is the reality that everything that happens in a game is dependent upon on what has already transpired. It can change dramatically on events that you could never forecast - injuries, defensive or special team scores, turnovers and the like. Even if you could get it all right at kickoff, there is a good chance that it will change as the game progresses.

The silliness right now is to hear the talking heads on sports shows literally say that the Jaguars showed how to handle Peyton Manning. And Manning had to give kudos to the Jaguars as is the game was played on an even keel. It wasn't. If this had been the AFC Conference Championship then you would have seen the 63-0 sort of effort. But it wasn't.

Think about that week five 51-48 win by the Broncos in a game they were pushed to win. They came out flat this week against the worst team in the NFL. The Cowboys lost that game last week but managed to beat the Redskins. And yet last year Tony Romo passed for 441 yards and three scores when they visited Dallas. This year it was 170 yards and one touchdown. Last year Bryant went 8-145-2 in that game. This year it was 36 yards on five catches and no scores. It happens.

It's a humbling game to try to get everything right because it is far too complicated and contains so many variables that not even a supercomputer could calculate the outcome because it constantly changes with every play. It is the impossibility of it all that makes it so thrilling and addictive. You will be wrong sometimes and you have to be comfortable with that and try to learn from it.

For example I played both Justin Blackmon and Vincent Jackson in one league because I thought they had a shot at decent games and even if I was wrong, I would... what?... what's that? They were the two highest scoring receivers this week? Really? Well then screw all you whiners.

I AM THE MAN!

Now get back to work...


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