FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 11
David Dorey
November 18, 2013
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Ben Roethlisberger 367 4
Carson Palmer 419 2
Matthew Stafford 386 2
Nick Foles 345 1
Matt McGloin 196 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Bobby Rainey 167 3
LeSean McCoy 150 2
Marshawn Lynch 63 3
Ray Rice 148 1
Rashad Jennings 148 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Calvin Johnson 179 2
Antonio Brown 147 2
Vincent Jackson 165 1
Michael Floyd 193 1
Harry Douglas 134 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Garrett Graham 136 2
Delanie Walker 91 1
Charles Clay 90 1
Coby Fleener 107 0
Mychal Rivera 54 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Shaun Suisham 4 3
Dan Carpenter 4 3
Adam Vinatieri 3 3
Steven Hauschka 5 2
Mike Nugent 5 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Bengals 2 4 4
Bills 1 4 4
Seattle 1 2 4
Tampa Bay 1 3 3
NY Giants 1 0 3

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Jermaine Kearse - Concussion
Mike Brown - Shoulder
Leonard Hankerson - Knee
Emmanuel Sanders - Foot
LeSean McCoy - Hamstring
Jordan Reed - Concussion
Joique Bell - Foot
Greg Jennings - Achilles
Darren Sproles - Ankle
Wes Welker - Concussion
Pierre Garcon - Ankle

The season is well past the mid-point and yet significant changes continue to occur both injury-related and just shaking up the depth charts and trying new players in new positions. When the best fantasy player for week 11 was an undrafted journeyman running back on his third team, you can be sure the surprises are not over. Bobby Rainey rushed for 163 yards, caught two passes for four yards and in total scored three touchdowns for the Buccaneers. His touchdown against the Dolphins the previous week was a career first.

The Buccaneers replaced Mike James with Brian Leonard as the third down back and it was Rainey who took over the game. Sadly they won't have another matchup as friendly as the Atlanta Falcons, but Rainey is proof that significant changes still happen. He also shows the importance of playing the schedule.

Here's the important part about Rainey and why Trent Richardson is so troubling. Rainey has only been on the Buccaneers since October 21 when he was claimed off waivers from the Browns. Four weeks later he's the top fantasy player in the entire NFL for the week. Trent Richardson was acquired on September 18th and nine weeks later he's just losing more ground. Richardson rushed for 22 yards on eight carries in the win over the Titans. Donald Brown turned 14 runs into 80 yards and two touchdowns. There is no position that a player can just step into and excel like running back. They either "have it" or they don't.

In addition to Donald breaking through for the Colts, Coby Fleener turned in a career best eight catches for 107 yards. The absence of Reggie Wayne is involving T.Y. Hilton and Fleener far more than any other receiver. With the next five weeks including road games versus great cornerbacks of the Cardinals Bengals and Chiefs, it's sure to need Fleener to step up yet again.

Ray Rice has been a major disappointment this year but he popped off with 131 yards and a score in Chicago. His recent history makes it hard to rely on him but at least he can have a big performance and four of his next five games will be at home. Notable too is that Bernard Pierce remains just a change of pace back.

The Browns finally recognized that Willis McGahee was a 32-year-old back well past his prime and used Chris Ogbonnaya since he's realistically the only other option. He responded with eight runs for 69 yards and six receptions for 30 more yards in the loss to the Bengals. Three of his next four games include home venues against the Steelers, Jaguars and Bears. If he cannot run on them, he'll just catches more passes from his new friend Jason Campbell.

Terrelle Pryor's term as the starting quarterback for the Raiders may be over. While coach Dennis Allen hasn't officially made the change, Matt McGloin pulled out the win in Houston. The undrafted Penn State alum completed 18 of 32 for 197 yards and three touchdowns. He also had no turnovers. At least the next two weeks should be interesting for him at home against the Titans and then playing in Dallas where every quarterback succeeds at least in a fantasy sense.

Notable too is that Case Keenum was the most recent rookie star after throwing three touchdowns against both the Colts and Cardinals. But he was pulled late in the third quarter when the Texans wanted to change their game plan and did not feel the youngster could handle it as well as Matt Schaub. The switch to Schaub was an in-game decision but it illustrates how more risk resides with players on losing teams. "Looking for a spark" has killed many player performances in the past and will only get worse as the season progresses and teams become more desperate. HC Gary Kubiak would not comment on the starting quarterback this week. Andre Johnson was upset after the game and rightfully so. Keenum threw five touchdowns to Johnson in just two starts. Matt Schaub needed the last 27 games to total five scores with the star wideout.

Lamar Miller consistently outperformed Daniel Thomas during the season but HC Joe Philbin was happy with the committee approach despite lesser results. Against the Chargers, Lamar Miller only ran four times for 17 yards and was eclipsed by Thomas who gained 57 yards and a touchdown on his ten carries. That was the first rushing touchdown between them in seven weeks and it went to Thomas. Considering the next opponents are the Panthers, Jets, Steelers and Patriots, there's no reason to bother keeping either let alone any starting consideration.

An interesting development is in Tennessee where Delanie Walker turned in a career-best ten catches for 91 yards and one score in the loss to the Colts. He had a touchdown the previous week when he caught four passes for 62 yards in the win over the visiting Jaguars. Both were the first two games by Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing Jake Locker. Fitzpatrick started two earlier games this year but those were against the Seahawks and Chiefs - no receivers did well then. Fitzpatrick and Walker have a tough schedule with four road games over the next five weeks but the Titans will need to pass against the Raiders, Colts, Broncos, Cardinals and Jaguars.

The Packers are on their third quarterback but so far the fantasy value hasn't taken a hit from the receivers. Scott Tolzien never threw a touchdown in New York and he even tossed three interceptions to the Giants. But his 339 passing yards helped Jordy Nelson to catch eight passes for 117 yards and Jarrett Boykin ended with 91 yards on six receptions. For two straight weeks, Tolzien has not helped any other receivers much but both Boykin and Nelson remain strong fantasy starts. Even more so when you notice their next opponents are the Vikings, Lions, Falcons and Cowboys. Tolzien's five interceptions over two weeks are no help to the Packers, but he is the best they have until Rodgers returns. And the schedule is just getting easier.

Week 11 also served up reminders that bad weather games are possible through the end of the season and they really don't care if your only kicker is wet and shivering on the sideline praying they score a touchdown instead of needing a field goal. The Ravens-Bears game was delayed due to tornados and was played in wind gusts up to 34 mph. Passing numbers were down and rushing stats were up. The tendency is to over-value the effect of rain or snow but there is no getting past what wind will do to a pass or a field goal attempt. Let wind be your main criteria for evaluating the effect of weather. A blizzard or downpour is an obvious concern and wet conditions on natural turf can be an issue. But aside from some meteorological Armageddon, wind is the biggest issue. Keep the gusts under 20 mph and don't worry about it.

Sunday Snippets

IND 30, TEN 27 Surprisingly good Thursday game came down to the wire. Donald Brown (14-80, 2 TD) made it look like Trent Richardson (8-22) was a big waste. Andrew Luck only threw for 232 yards and no scores and heavily preferred Coby Fleener (8-107). Chris Johnson ended with 86 yards and two touchdowns which almost entirely happened in the first half. Ryan Fitzpatrick (222 yards, TD) was just not enough to win the game and he too depending mostly on his tight end Delanie Walker 910-91, TD) though Kendall Wright (9-80) had a good game as well. The 7-3 Colts head to Arizona this week while the 4-6 Titans go to Oakland.
NYJ 14, BUF 37

I hate these games. The Jets are not good on the road but the Bills are not that good anywhere and were playing without their two starting wideouts. There was no rushing game by the Bills who only totaled 40 yards on 25 carries between C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson and of course they let Frank Summers run in the one touchdown. E.J. Manuel passed for 245 yards and two scores split between Marquise Goodwin (6-81) and T.J. Graham (2-74). After Geno Smith threw three interceptions, they benched him. Chris Ivory ran for 98 yards and one score and Santonio Holmes returned for a limited role and only caught two passes but still led the team with 71 yards. Interdivisional games like this often end up hard to call. Now the 5-5 Jets head to Baltimore and the 4-7 Bills take their bye. The Bills did not win this so much as Geno Smith lost it.

BAL 20, CHI 23
OT
Close game marred by a lengthy delay because of a tornado and with plenty of rain and wind. Still there was more offense here than expected. Joe Flacco passed for 162 yards and one score to Torrey Smith (5-32) but the surprise was Ray Rice running for 131 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries like he was a top back again. Josh McCown was able to throw for 216 yards and one score but Brandon Marshall (4-42) had a down game and Alshon Jeffery (7-83) was the better choice. Matt Forte totaled 125 yards and one touchdown. Now the 4-6 Ravens host the Jets and dream of last year when they were relevant. The 6-4 Bears head to St. Louis.
CLE 20, CIN 41

Jason Campbell passed for 248 yards and one score but had three interceptions.Josh Gordon (5-125, TD) was the only receiver in the game with decent stats thanks to breaking free for a 74-yard score. Chris Ogbonnaya ran for 69 yards and added 30 yards as a receiver as the new primary back in Cleveland. Andy Dalton passed for just 93 yards but threw three touchdowns. None of the Bengals had much yardage though Giovani Bernard ended with 86 total yards. The Bengals scored twice on defense and the Browns did once. Just that sort of messy game. Now the 4-6 Browns host the Steelers and the 7-4 Bengals take their bye.

OAK 28, HOU 23 Apparently Cinderella is back cleaning dishes. Case Keenum was benched and Matt Schaub came in to finish losing the game. Ben Tate ran for 88 yards and added 29 yards as a receiver. Garrett Graham turned in seven catches for 136 yards and one touchdown while Andre Johnson caught ten for 116 yards. The Raiders won with Matt McGloin taking the torch from Keenum and passed for 197 yards and three touchdowns. They were split among Denarius Moore (2-11), Rod Streater (6-84) and Mychal Rivera (5-54). Rashad Jennings ran for 150 yards and one score for the rare big game. This one really hurts the Texans since it was one of the lightest matchups left on their schedule and they couldn't win it. Yanking Keenum seemed like an over-reaction to being behind. Now the 4-6 Raiders will host the Titans and the 2-8 Texans host the JAGUARS! THEY ARE PLAYING THE JAGUARS! THIS IS THE ONE!
ARI 27, JAC 14

And back to losing again. The Jaguars passed for 255 yards and one score but that went to Danny Noble (1-62). Ace Sanders (8-61) was better than usual too. but Maurice Jones-Drew only gained 23 yards on 14 runs though he scored once. Carson Palmer played rather unlike Carson Palmer. He threw for 419 yards and two scores split between Michael Floyd (6-193) and Larry Fitzgerald (6-61).Rashard Mendenhall only gained 14 yards on 13 runs but scored once, and Andre Ellington was held to three yards on eight runs. This game as a sign that the Jags cannot win when their opponent cares and needs a win. Now the 6-4 Cardinals host the Colts and the 1-9 Jaguars head to Houston.

WAS 16, PHI 24 The Eagles sweep the Skins with Nick Foles passing for 298 yards and running in a score and LeSean McCoy rolling up 150 total yards and two touchdowns. DeSean Jackson ended with four catches for 82 yards. The Skins were in the game thanks to Robert Griffin's 264 yards and two scores but Pierre Garcon (6-68) did not score And Jordan Reed left early with a concussion. Alfred Morris ran for 93 yards on 22 carries but still never catches the ball. This officially kills any chances for the Redskins this year even in the weak NFC East. The 3-7 Redskins host the 49ers and the 6-5 Eagles take their bye week.
DET 27, PIT 37

The enigmatic Steelers showed up for this game with Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 367 yards and four touchdowns in a rare great game. Antonio Brown had a monster game with seven receptions for 147 yards and two scores. Heath Miller even caught eight passes for 67 yards. Le'Veon Bell was ineffective running for only 36 yards on 18 carries. Matt Stafford was good with 362 yards and two scores that both ended up with Calvin Johnson (6-179) who continues his Unstoppable Tour. But the only other Lion was notable stats was Joique Bell who ended with 97 total yards and one rushing score. Reggie Bush was held to only 54 total yards and was benched for fumbling. Now the 6-4 Lions host the Buccaneers and the 4-6 Steelers head to Cleveland.

ATL 28, TB 41 It was a great day, finally, to be a Buccaneer. Mike Glennon passed for 231 yards and one score with Vincent Jackson (10-165, TD) absorbing nearly everything. Bobby Rainey went from journeyman/practice squad guy to leading the NFL with 30 runs for 163 yards and two touchdowns and adding a catch for a third score. The outmatched Falcons saw Matt Ryan throw for 254 yards and two scores but two interceptions and he was even yanked from the game at the end. Harry Douglas worried fantasy owners with a knee injury but he was not only active, he also, gosh!, caught six passes for 134 yards and one touchdown. Tony Gonzalez (6-51) did not do much with a bad toe, Roddy White only gained 36 yards on three receptions but finally scored a touchdown. Worse of all was Steven Jackson rushing for only 41 yards and late in the game they let Antone Smith play and he ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on only two carries. The 2-8 Falcons next lose to the visiting Saints and the 2-8 Buccaneers go to Detroit.
SD 16, MIA 20

For such a low scoring game, there were fantasy stats happening. Philip Rivers passed for 298 yards and one score to Antonio Gates (4-52) but Keenan Allen was held to only 45 yards on three catches. Ryan Mathews had his random big game with 127 yards on 19 carries. The Fins only got 268 yards and one score from Ryan Tannehill. Charles Clay had his random big game with six receptions for 90 yards and one score. Daniel Thomas scored once and ran ten times for 57 yards - one of his most effective efforts while Lamar Miller (4-17) took a back seat. As if the Fins backfield wasn't already devoid of fantasy value, now it is officially devoid of consistency. The 4-6 Chargers head to Kansas City and the 5-5 Fins host the Panthers.

SF 20, NO 23

Great game with longer term implications since they could meet in January. Colin Kaepernick passed for just 127 yards but had two touchdowns and one interception. Anquan Boldin (6-56, TD) finally turned in a decent game thanks to the one touchdown catch and Vernon Davis caught the other score on his four receptions for 33 yards. Frank Gore was mostly bottled up and only ran for 48 yards. Drew Brees passed for 305 yards but only one touchdown. He used 11 different receivers with none better than Marques Colston (5-80). Pierre Thomas only ran for 49 yards but added 35 yards on three catches. Lower scoring game for the Saints at home but the win sends them to Atlanta where they become 9-2. The 6-4 49ers go to Washington.

MIN 20, SEA 41

As usual this looked like a real game for a while but it really wasn't. Christian Ponder threw for 129 yards and a score but after two interceptions he was swapped out for Matt Cassel later on. Adrian Peterson was held to 65 yards on 21 carries but Jarius Wright scored twice on his three receptions for 69 yards. Russell Wilson passed for 230 yards and two scores though no Seahawk receiver did much and Percy Harvin returned for only one catch for 17 yards. Marshawn Lynch only gained 63 total yards but scored three touchdowns to make the difference. Now the 2-8 Vikings head to Green Bay and the 10-1 Seahawks take their bye so they can rest up and get even better.

GB 13, NYG 27 It ends up that Aaron Rodgers really was a difference maker. Without him, Scott Tolzien passed for 339 yards and three interceptions. Jordy Nelson (8-117) and Jarrett Boykin (6-91) were decent with yardage but Eddie Lacy scored the only touchdown on his 14 carries for 27 yards. Eli Manning only threw one score during his 279 yards but it went to Rueben Randle (3-37) and not a defender. Victor Cruz was the top receiver with 110 yards on eight catches. Andre Brown ran for 66 yards on 18 carries but they let Brandon Jacobs run in the short touchdown. No idea why. Now the 4-6 Giants host the Cowboys and the 5-5 Packers seek to end their free fall at home against the Vikings.

Huddle Player of the Week

Bobby Rainey - How great was that? The undrafted running back played in college as a West Kentucky Hilltopper in Bowling Green, Kentucky before going to the Ravens in 2012, then the Browns this year and later claimed by the Buccaneers. His two-years in the league combined for 21 rushes for 79 yards and one touchdown. And on Sunday, all he did was run 30 times for 163 yards and two scores and added two receptions for four yards and a third touchdown. And he looked great carving up that injury-ravaged defense of the Falcons. He may not be as prolific this week in Detroit, but for one week for those desperate enough to start him - he was magic.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Matt McGloin 194 3 QB Drew Brees 305 1
RB Bobby Rainey 167 3 RB C.J. Spiller 23 0
RB Antone Smith 92 1 RB Adrian Peterson 65 0
WR Jarius Wright 69 2 WR Cecil Shorts 22 0
WR Marquise Goodwin 81 1 WR Keenan Allen 45 0
WR Rod Streater 84 1 WR Brandon Marshall 42 0
TE Mychal Rivera 54 1 TE Jordan Reed 12 0
PK Dan Carpenter 13 pts PK Nick Folk 2 pts

Huddle Fantasy Points = 144

Huddle Fantasy Points = 37

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was a pretty normal week. Only three teams won on the road and each were against one of the weaker teams in the league. There was plenty of scoring though it seems much went to defenses this week. There were several close games and the RAvens-Bears tilt went into overtime. The The Game-O-The-Week wasn't a nail biter but it was a defining game for this season.

Chiefs 17, Broncos 27

This game answered what happens with the best defense in the NFL meets the best offense? The Chiefs had been blessed with the lightest schedule in the league and their offense had not been that tested. The Broncos had lost a game but Peyton Manning always started out with three touchdowns and 300 yards to start with and then just added on.

The results say that the Broncos are about locks to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Granted - they play again in Kansas City in just two weeks and a Chiefs win throws it back into their advantage. But the Chiefs could not hang with the Broncos once they fell behind. Jamaal Charles ran for 78 yards and yet only caught two passes for a net six yard loss. Dwayne Bowe scored and caught four passes for 57 yards as the top receiver but that only seems good compared to what Bowe was doing the rest of the year. Bowe still only averaged 14 yards per catch.

Peyton Manning threw for 323 yards but only one touchdown. He still was able to mix it up between Demaryius Thomas (5-121), Wes Welker (8-72) and Eric Decker (5-71). Julius Thomas became the first tight end to score on the Chiefs but that was the only passing touchdown.

Knowshon Moreno was bottled up with only 79 yards on 27 carries and a longest run of 11 yards. But he was never used as a receiver and the biggest surprise was that this was a must-win game. There was no room for error. And yet there was Montee Ball running eight times for 26 yards and scoring twice. Manning was credited with the fumble on one exchange with Ball but the Broncos got the ball back

So the Broncos take the win and fairly convincingly. Two weeks from now will be even better. The season is turning towards the final weeks now and the race to playoffs are heating up. The NFL's latest ever bye happens with the Bills, Bengals, Eagles and Seahawks off this week. There are plenty of injuries still but much less severe and less impacting to fantasy games.

Bobby Rainey just tore up the Falcons. The best five tight ends were Garrett Graham, Delanie Walker, Charles Clay, Coby Fleener and Mychal Rivera. This isn't going to end with one team just surfing the same wave all the way to the end. We have weather, weekly surprises and stolen touchdowns.

What we don't have is the golden lineup. Or the player that all top teams have. It is still up for grabs and the waiver wire continues to spit out players capable of being the top fantasy scorer for the week.

Now get back to work...


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