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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 9
David Dorey
November 4, 2013
Follow Follow @DMDorey
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Nick Foles 420 7
Tom Brady 432 4
Ben Roethlisberger 400 4
Case Keenum 376 3
Drew Brees 382 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Zac Stacy 178 2
Chris Johnson 170 2
Rashad Jennings 112 1
Stevan Ridley 124 2
Adrian Peterson 177 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Andre Johnson 229 3
Riley Cooper 139 3
TY Hilton 121 3
Jerricho Cotchery 96 3
Aaron Dobson 130 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jimmy Graham 116 2
Rob Gronkowski 143 1
Jason Witten 102 1
Tony Gonzalez 81 1
Greg Olsen 66 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Nick Folk 2 4
Stephen Gostkowski 7 2
Ryan Succop 2 3
Graham Gano 4 2
Dan Bailey 3 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Dolphins 1 5 4
Chiefs 2 0 3
Panthers 1 1 4
Cowboys 1 2 2
Patriots 0 5 3

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Jeremy Kerley - Elbow
Darren Sproles - Concussion
Kyle Rudolph - Foot
Robert Woods - Knee
Darren McFadden - Hamstring
Austin Collie - Knee
Marquise Goodwin - Hamstring
Darrius Heyward-Bey - Concussion
C.J. Spiller - Ankle
Terrelle Pryor - Knee
Giovani Bernard - Ribs

lOOKING BACK AT WEEK NINE

Week eight was oddly consistent and offered few surprises which was nice with the break-neck speed of change the 2013 season has served up. But it was not to last. Week nine showed up just as surprising as any and while many players turned in big games, they came from those no one would have reason to suspect. And that sort of inconsistency is detrimental for fantasy football if only because the yards and points are going to players that no one started.

The Redskins were under-using Alfred Morris this season but his stats have picked in recent weeks. Morris comes off a season best performance of 121 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in the win over the Chargers but also witnessed HC Mike Shanahan give away three short scores to someone else. But it was not Roy Helu who turned in a trio of touchdowns in week seven. This time it was fullback Darrel Young running in three touchdowns on his five carries for 12 yards. Hard to complain when Morris finally produces well but harder still to see so many points be given to others in an apparent random fashion.

After saying that they needed to use Lamar Miller more, the Dolphins gave him only 16 carries in the win over the Bengals. Miller gained 105 yards while Daniel Thomas was still allowed 12 runs to only produce 38 yards. Miller added four catches against only one for Thomas but the only consistency here is that Miller is always more productive and yet Thomas is always heavily involved.

What is also a fantasy killer is when players return from injury. Do you start them? C.J. Spiller was held out of the Saints loss because of his ankle but returned to face the tough Chiefs defense. He ended up with a season best 116 rush yards on 12 attempts and added 39 yards on two receptions. And then he was unable to finish the game because of his ankle.

Arian Foster was a game time decision and was active for the Colts tilt despite nursing a sore hamstring. He left the game almost immediately with a back injury before ever carrying the ball. Ben Tate played in his place with broken ribs but did not appear limited in any way. With the Cardinals, Raiders and Jaguars up next, Tate may be the starter for a while depending on Foster's back. And hamstring. And whatever else.

Darren McFadden injured his hamstring back in week four and missed the following game. But he returned for two moderate performances against the tough defenses of the Steelers and Chiefs. Facing the much weaker Eagles, McFadden reinjured his hamstring and was unable to play. Rashad Jennings took over and gained 102 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries and added 74 yards on seven receptions as well. Consider Jennings an attractive waiver wire move with the Giants, Texans and Titans up next.

Jonathan Stewart finally made it back onto the field for the first time this year. He ran nine times for 43 yards and DeAngelo Williams also rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries. They made sure that Mike Tolbert was given six runs to gain 24 yards and score once. And so there is now even less reason to consider the Panthers backfield. Consider the next defenses are the 49ers, Patriots and Dolphins and there is even less reason to expect any change.

The Titans decided that Shonn Greene needed to get "15 carries" per game but that was said when Chris Johnson had gone four straight games with under 40 rushing yards. Against the Rams, Johnson turned in a season best 150 yards on 23 carries and scored twice while adding 30 extra yards on three catches. Greene scored early in the game but ended with nine runs for 38 yards. Next week are the Jaguars and that should mean more Johnson unless week nine was just another freakish game not to be repeated. Hosting the Jaguars is about as good as it gets so both Johnson and even Greene should see success again.

Nick Foles passed for 407 yards and seven touchdowns against the Raiders to join the NFL record book for the single game record he now shares with seven other players. Foles looked horrible in Dallas and then was concussed. He was held out of the loss to the Giants but came back with a roar. There's no guarantee that Michael Vick doesn't pop back up and ruin it again but at least the Eagles remaining schedule should be tailor-made for big passing games. Playing the Packers, Redskins, Cardinals, Lions, Vikings and Bears will all provide either really soft secondaries or high-point games that will demand passing to catch up.

With Reggie Wayne sadly gone for the year, T.Y. Hilton is stepping up and making a difference now. He moved into Wayne's spot and came away with seven catches for 121 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Texans. This is likely just the first of many games where Andrew Luck leans heavily on Hilton. Darrius Heyward-Bey left with a concussion after just one catch and is more noted for drops than receptions anyway. Lavon Brazill only managed one catch and Griff Whalen was limited to only three grabs for 32 yards. Hilton already looks like the clear #1 wideout and the Colts continue to show they cannot win any games by just rushing the ball. They'll have to pass and Hilton looks like a star in the making.

DeMarco Murray returned after missing two weeks with an MCL injury. The Cowboys spoke to wanting to have a more balanced offense and that would mean plenty of Murray since he's far more talented a runner than any other back on the roster. And he did gain 7.8 yards per carry but was only given four runs. Murray caught six passes for 19 yards but facing a weak visiting Vikings defense, the Cowboys only bothered with eight rushing attempts and just the four for Murray. That's just another sign that the Cowboys are going to pass early and often in every game. Of course in this week of so many odd performances, that meant Jason Witten would catch eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. That was more than his three previous games combined. Dez Bryant (6-64) and Terrance Williams (2-33) were both pretty quiet for a home game against a weak secondary. Next week is a trip to New Orleans and a guaranteed shootout.

This week not only had the obligatory upsets and surprises, but contained one of the two biggest identifiers for the 2013 season. One is obviously all the injuries that now even includes two head coaches. The other is multiple touchdown games. This is the year of the monster game. We are halfway through the season and here is where we stand on players who have scored three or more touchdowns in a game over the last ten years.

3+ TDs 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
RB 6 8 10 13 13 17 12 18 18 18
TE 2 1 2 1 3 0 0 1 2 3
WR 7 5 5 9 2 3 8 8 5 10
Total 15 14 17 23 18 20 20 27 25 31

In all of 2012, there were only 14 instances where a player scored three rushing and/or receiving touchdowns in a game. Just 14. That was the lowest in the last decade. But 2013 already served up 15 such player performances. The pace is set to see running backs have the standard dozen. Since the death of the stud running back around 2008, the rushers were on a decline but 2013 should reverse the trend. Tight ends are on a pace to possibly see four big score games but that isn't far from the norm. Where the difference comes is with wide receivers. They are on a trend to end with 15 such games. There has never been a year where there are more three-touchdown games by wide receivers than running backs. In years past, it was more like 2:1 and that makes sense given how offenses would grind out wins.

This begs a question - why? How is it that we could see maybe double the normal number of wide receivers with three or more touchdowns in a game? The answer seems obvious. Defenses are unable to make adjustments. After two scores, it is pretty evident that said player needs to be given more attention. When it doesn't happen it speaks to rampant injuries in the secondaries that strip out the talent needed to make adjustments. Perhaps it also has to do with lighter practice schedules in the summer and season. Complex offenses demand complex coverages and that's easier to install on a practice field than in a half-time locker room. We can speculate as to the cause but it seems evident that this year defenses are just not as adept at making adjustments.

How do the defenses stack up against players who score two or more touchdowns per game?

2+ TDs 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
RB 26 55 54 69 84 92 54 81 83 86
TE 15 18 18 19 22 9 17 13 12 17
WR 36 57 56 64 46 39 64 40 46 66
Total 77 130 128 152 152 140 135 134 141 169

Considering that the 2013 values can be roughly doubled to show the established pace, this gets no less interesting. Running backs still look to end up very much in line with recent seasons. In fact the pace of 52 double score games would end up as the lowest. But tight ends are on a pace for 30 such games and that would crush any other year. And even more, wide receivers are on a pace for 72 double touchdown games and no doubt an all-time record.

Boiled down what this at least suggests is that difference makers are becoming more and more the tight ends and wide receivers. This isn't about how do you move the ball. It is what happens when you get close to the goal line? If defenses are not making adjustments as well as in years past, it pays to keep up on which defenses allow more scores and yardage. It says that playing matchups are more advantageous than ever before - if you can get them right. Always play your studs has been the rule of thumb. With so many flops and duds and the lack of consistency, maybe it is time to consider matchup first and then the player involved.

Sunday Snippets

CIN 20, MIA 22
OT
Thursday night's game not only went into overtime it ended with only the third overtime safety in NFL history. Andy Dalton was on a hot streak and while he threw for 338 yards, he had no touchdowns and three interceptions. And a lost fumble. Giovani Bernard had a big game with two touchdowns and 79 yards on only nine carries and he added four catches for 25 more yards. A.J. Green caught 11 passes for 128 yards but no other receivers mattered and even Marvin Jones (4-66) was unable to score despite being grabbed off every waiver wire everywhere. Ryan Tannehill (208 yds) ran in the only Miami touchdown and Lamar Miller (16-105) rushed well considering 12 carries were wasted on Daniel Thomas (38 yds). Mike Wallace (6-82) was better than usual. Winning on a safety just feels anticlimatic.Kind of everyone looks at each other for a moment as if to say "that means it is over, right?". Now the 6-3 Bengals head to Baltimore which doesn't seem as big of a deal anymore and the 4-4 Dolphins travel to Tampa Bay.
KC 23, BUF 13

Standard Chiefs game. The Bills looked like it was competitive and even led 10-3 at the half before the Chiefs decided <insert annoyed teenager voice> "okay, okay, okay so we'll play the gaaaaaaaame.". Alex Smith only passed for 124 yards and even Jamaal Charles only totaled 96 yards. The Chiefs two touchdowns came on an interception or a fumble return. Dwayne Bowe had a monster game (7-67) or at least what qualifies as one now. Jeff Tuel threw for 229 yards and one score that went to Marquise Goodwin, C.J. Spiller was able to play and of course reeled off 116 yards on 12 runs and then 39 more on two catches though he never scored. If you want to rely on him next week, you'll only ruin it for everyone else. Now the 9-0 Chiefs take their bye week and the 3-6 Bills head to Pittsburgh.

ATL 10, CAR 34 The team formerly known as the Falcons saw Matt Ryan throw for 219 yards and three touchdowns interceptions with one touchdown. Harry Douglas (3-82) and Tony Gonzalez (6-81, TD) were the only productive players and Steven Jackson (13-57) is not exactly making a difference. Cam Newton threw for 249 yards and both passes and rushed for a touchdown. Greg Olsen (4-66, TD) was the only decent fantasy play. Jonathan Stewart returned to gain 43 yards on nine carries. DeAngelo Williams (13-42) and Mike Tolbert (6-24, TD) ensure that there is absolutely no reason to start any running back from the Panthers anymore. Now the 2-6 Falcons host the Seahawks and the 5-3 Panthers head to San Francisco.
MIN 23, DAL 27

These teams played a far more competitive game than they should have and in true form the race to which team could blow it at the end was won by the Vikings though Tony Romo's interception with 4:35 left almost did the trick. Christian Ponder passed for 236 yards and one touchdown against a defense that typically give that up in the first drive of the game. Adrian Peterson was back home (or at least close enough) and ran for 140 yards and one touchdown and with 37 yards was the second best receiver. Tony Romo passed for 337 yards and two scores. DeMarco Murray gained 31 yards on only four runs as the Cowboys plan to balance the offense never lasts beyond the first five minutes of the game. Jason Witten had been so bad for so long that many benched him and set him free to catch eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Dez Bryant was held to only 64 yards on six catches but did not yell at anyone this time. The 1-7 Vikings host the Redskins this week and the 5-4 Cowboys head to New Orleans.

NO 20, NYJ 26 This was great game to show now inconsistent the NFL can be. The Jets won though Geno Smith passed for just 115 yards and completed 8 of 19 passes but Smith ran in one score and Chris Ivory had another good game with 139 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Drew Brees threw for 382 yards and two scores with two interceptions. There was nearly no rushing with a team total of 13 carries for 41 yards. Jimmy Graham (9-116, 2 TDs) seemed to be pretty healthy while Robert Meachem (4-93) and Lance Moore (6-70) were the other best receivers. Marques Colston was a scratch which wasn't all that noticeable anyway. Now the 6-2 Saints return home to face the Cowboys and the 5-4 Jets take their bye.
TEN 28, STL 21

Here was a stupid game. Jake Locker (185 yds, 1 int) didn't do much but Chris Johnson had another randomly great game with 170 yards and two touchdowns.That's much more yardage than his four previous games combined and his first rushing touchdowns of the year. Shonn Greene and Jake Locker both ran in a score as well. Kellen Clemens was a great replacement for Sam Bradford since he too threw for 210 yards and one score in a losing effort. Zac Stacy was the lone bright spot yet again when he ran for 127 yards and two scores. Jared Cook apparently still plays for the Rams since he scored once on his three catches for 36 yards. Now the 4-4 Titans get to host the Jaguars (PARTY) and the 3-6 Rams head to Indianapolis.

SD 24, WAS 30 The Chargers don't travel that well though Philip Rivers passed for 341 yards and two scores. Keenan Allen (8-128, TD) was the best receiver though Danny Woodhead caught nine passes for 77 yards. But the Chargers only ran 14 times in the game despite leading most of the way. Robert Griffin III passed for 291 yards but no scores since Alfred Morris ran for 121 yards and four touchdowns one touchdown. The other three scores were decided by spinning a bottle on the sideline and went to Roy Helu Darrel Young. Just another ridiculous bit of random game assignments by MIke Shanahan. Pierre Garcon had a rare big game with seven catches for 172 yards. Now the 4-4 Chargers host the Broncos and the 3-5 Redskins head to Minnesota.
PHI 49, OAK 20

Yet another "saw what?" game. Nick Foles passed for 406 yards and YES SEVEN TOUCHDOWNS to become the youngest of the eight players attaining that NFL single game record. He had so many touchdowns to give away that DeSean Jackson (5-150, TD), Riley Cooper (5-139, 3 TD) Zach Ertz (5-42, TD), LeSean McCoy (4-36, TD) and even... whew... Brent Celek (3-27, TD) had good games. Foles had only six touchdowns on the year. He had never scored more than six times in all of 2012 when he played in seven games. Now he is in the record book with seven touchdowns in one day. Terrelle Pryor passed for 288 yards and ran for 102 yards and a score but threw two interceptions. Darren McFadden only lasted five carries before once again hurting his hamstring. That left Rashad Jennings to gain 102 yards and one touchdown plus catch seven passes for 74 yards. And this is why you never, ever draft or start McFadden. God's honest truth - was in a bad way for RB this week in one league and grabbed Jennings from the waiver wire and started him. I'll take lucky over good any day of the week. Now the 4-5 Eagles head to Green Bay and the 3-5 Raiders go to New York to face the Giants.

TB 24, SEA 27
OT
This was like the Chiefs game. The Buccaneers went up 21-7 by the half and honestly felt like they had a chance to win the game. Oh, those Bucs! But no. I mean it took overtime but it was never really in question. Mike Glennon passed for 168 yards and two scores and Mike James not only ran for 158 yards and caught two passes, he threw a touchdown on a trick jump play. Tim Wright (4-58, TD) was the top receiver and continues to be a factor each week. Russell Wilson passed for 217 yards and two scores with two interceptions but also ran in one touchdown. Marshawn Lynch (21-125) ended up well but was criminally under-used until the very end of the game. Doug Baldwin (6-75, TD) had an uncharacteristically good game. In the end, the Seahawks tied it up and then took it away in overtime. Now the 0-8 Buccaneers host the Dolphins and the 8-1 Seahawks head to Atlanta.
BAL 18, CLE 24

You have to wonder sometimes how the Ravens won the Super Bowl last year. Did they collectively sell their souls to the devil or did only the talented players leave in the offseason? Joe Flacco passed for 250 yards and two scores that both went to Marlon Brown (5-54) and should open up his waiver wire fury this week. Torrey Smith (5-78) was decent enough but Ray Rice only gained 17 yards on 11 carries and the only thing speedy about him is the increasing speed of his decline. Jason Campbell passed for 262 yards and three scores but did not use Josh Gordon (3-44) or Jordan Cameron (1-4). He liked Davone Bess (3-24, 2 TD) and of course Gary Barnridge (1-4, TD). The Browns won and are even worse rushing the ball than the Ravens were. Now the 3-5 Ravens host the Bengals and the 4-5 Browns take go on their bye with a spring in their step.

IND 27, HOU 24 This was another "pull the rug out" game. The Texans rolled up a 21-3 lead by halftime and the much beleaguered team looked like they were finally going to treat their hometown fans to a big win. But then HC Gary Kubiak collapsed leaving the field at halftime and was taken by ambulance to the hospital where they would only say he was stable, it was precautionary and that it was not a heart attack. We wish him well. Case Keenum passed for an impressive 350 yards and three scores that somehow ended up with Andre Johnson (9-229) who only scored six times over the last two seasons and not at all for 2013 until now. Arian Foster was active and started the game before promptly injuring his back and giving way to Ben Tate (22-81). Andrew Luck passed for 271 yards and three scores that all went to TY Hilton (7-121, 3 TD) who covered for Reggie Wayne pretty well. Now the 6-2 Colts host the Rams and the 2-6 Texans head to Arizona.

Huddle Player of the Week

Nick Foles - This week it could go to Foles or Andre Johnson or Riley Cooper or T.Y. Hilton or Zac Stacy or... what a week. Foles joins seven other quarterbacks with the record mark of seven touchdowns in one game and you have to wonder at what point the smile that Michael Vick was wearing became fake. It was a magic game and Foles could do no wrong. Too bad he was on the bench in probably most leagues. On a week of big scores, Foles was the biggest dog. He may never do that again but no matter - he's in the NFL record book.

Salute!

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

In 17 years of writing this, the Comedy Team has the highest score ever.

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Nick Foles 420 7 QB Matt Ryan 219 1
RB Rashad Jennings 176 1 RB Ray Rice 38 0
RB Darrel Young 12 3 RB Darren McFadden 15 0
WR Jerricho Cotchery 96 3 WR Vincent Jackson 11 0
WR Marlon Brown 54 2 WR Terrance Williams 33 0
WR Riley Cooper 139 3 WR Josh Gordon 44 0
TE Zach Ertz 42 1 TE Jordan Cameron 4 0
PK Nick Folk 14 pts PK Greg Zuerlein 3 pts

Huddle Fantasy Points = 192

Huddle Fantasy Points = 29

Sunday's Couch Commentary

There were plenty of close games this week and in many cases it was a nice upset in the making that evaporated at the end. Just as the fans of the Texans, Vikings and Buccaneers if a moral victory feels good. We are seeing teams increasingly playing like they are tired and come our flat. Most can rally but it makes for sloppier football and harder to predict performances.

The Game-O-The-Week? It wasn't close but it had the most points and spoke to how changing the season continues to be.

Steelers 31, Patriots 55

The Steelers have struggled this year and their last three games failed to score more than 19 points. All year considered their best was the 27-34 loss in Minnesota. But Ben Roethlisberger would pass for 400 yards and four touchdowns for a season best. He had thrown for two scores only once and never more this year. But this week - four touchdowns.

Of course three of them went to Jerricho Cotchery. The player who only had two other scores all year and just one in the previous six weeks. Seen catches was also a season best.

Emmanuel Sanders (6-98) and Antonio Brown (5-71, TD) also had decent performances. Le'Veon Bell ran for 74 yards and caught four passes for 65 yards and a season best 139 total yards.

Tom Brady had only thrown two touchdowns over the last four games and averaged just 203 yards in that time. Against the Dolphins he was held to only 116 passing yards and completed only 13 of 22 while insisting that his swollen hand was not only not an issue but that it wasn't really swollen and actually was not even his hand. Many owners figured that the last straw had been drawn and if it was time to push the car into the river and call their insurance broker.

And so Brady faces the top five passing defense of the Steelers and throws for 432 yards and four touchdowns.

Rob Gronkowski went from two catches for 27 yards versus the Dolphins to nine catches for 143 yards and one touchdown.

Aaron Dobson turned in five catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

Danny Amendola had a total of nine catches for 70 yards since the season opener and yet caught four passes for 122 yards and one touchdown.

Stevan Ridley ran for 115 yards and two scores.

It was almost like a twilight zone trip back to 2012 and it did happen pretty close to Halloween.

So drop all plans to dump Patriot players. And consider the Steelers to have a terrible defense but a great passing game. And know that when the Pats next play the Panthers that Brady will flop terribly and the offense will sputter. And the Steelers will host the Bills and shut them out with a dominating defense. You'll start to question if this week ever happened.

And if you are on the Buccaneers, Texans or Vikings, you'll be okay pretending that it never did.

Now get back to work...


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