FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 17
David Dorey
December 30, 2013
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Drew Brees 381 5
Andy Dalton 304 3
Carson Palmer 406 3
Peyton Manning 266 4
Kyle Orton 358 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Matt Forte 157 3
LeGarrette Blount 189 2
Jonathan Grimes 126 1
Chris Johnson 141 1
Knile Davis 86 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Jernal Jerrigan 147 2
Anquan Boldin 160 1
Demaryius Thomas 113 2
Golden Tate 129 1
Dez Bryant 99 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jason Witten 135 0
Jimmy Graham 71 1
Tim Wright 58 1
Greg Olsen 42 1
Brent Celek 71 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Stephen Gostkowski 2 4
Adam Vinatieri 3 3
Phil Dawson 2 3
Dan Bailey 1 3
Mike Nugent 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Giants 0 3 4
Panthers 1 9 1
Seahawks 1 2 2
Bengals 1 2 3
Steelers 0 3 2

THE HUDDLE AWARDS - 2013

QUARTERBACK

Best Player - Peyton Manning

Not much question here. All Manning did was to set the new all-time NFL record with 55 passing touchdowns in one season and he also ended with another season record when he passed for 5477 yards. In fantasy football where usually only ten or twelve will be starters there is not a lot of difference in them. Not so this year with Manning well ahead of Drew Brees  who was far ahead of #3 Matt Stafford.

Best Draft Pick - Andy Dalton

He was drafted as the 14th quarterback in the average draft and that reflected a moderately successful season in 2012. But Dalton was red hot particularly starting around week six and then produced at his best in the final month of the season. He ends with 4456 yards and 33 touchdowns to wind up top five in all leagues.

Best Rookie - Geno Smith

This says more about the rookie class than it does Smith. He only passed for 3368 yards and 12 touchdowns but ran in five more scores and gained 322 yards on 62 runs from scrimmage. But he was the only rookie to play every game and E. J. Manuel missed six games due to injury. Compared to 2012, it was just another weak quarterback class.

Worst Draft Pick - Aaron Rodgers

After five straight seasons as an elite quarterback that never missed more than one game per season, Rodgers proved all too mortal. He only lasted through midseason when he suffered a broken collarbone in the matchup with the Bears in week nine. He finally returned in week 17 after almost all fantasy championships were over. Spending big on an early quarterback usually means scrimping on a late bye week filler. This is one of those times not having a great backup hurt. And not his backup, but another NFL starter you could have relied on.

Best Free Agent - Nick Foles

He had a few big games in relief of Michael Vick in 2012 but not enough to unseat him in Chip Kelly's new offense in Philadelphia. But he was given two starts when Vick was out and after bombing the Buccaneers, he flopped against the Cowboys. His next start came in Oakland where he threw for seven touchdowns and 406 yards. The Foles era officially began and he totaled 21 passing touchdowns over the final seven weeks of the season. When you can find a guy worth 21 touchdowns on your waiver wire at midseason, you become a contender.

RUNNING BACK

Best Player - Jamaal Charles

Charles was a perfect fit for the Andy Reid offense. He became the next LeSean McCoy (who incidentally was the #2 back this year) only with more power. Charles took the final week off and still led the pack with 1287 rushing yards, an NFL high 693 yards on 70 catches with seven more touchdowns. He was very common to league championship games last week. Reid's new offense used him just as much as a runner and then doubled his receptions.

Best Draft Pick - Knowshon Moreno was the 50th running back selected in the average draft because the Broncos spent a high pick on Montee Ball. But Moreno wasn't going to go quietly into that good night and he consistently outplayed Ball. He also held onto the ball better since he never lost a fumble this year unlike Ball who gave up three. Moreno would go on to end top five in running back fantasy scoring and posted 1038 rush yards with 10 touchdowns and caught 60 passes for 548 yards and three more scores. Have to love when a tenth round pick ends up as a top five back.

Best Rookie - Eddie Lacy

While both Le'Veon Bell and Giovani Bernard were also in the top half of fantasy backs this year, but Lacy snuck into the top ten. He rushed for 1178 yards and scored 11 touchdowns while adding 242 yards on 33 catches over 15 games played. He added a new dimension to the Packers offense that had not produced a 1000 yard rusher since 2008 when Ryan Grant last passed the mark. Lacy would run for more than 100 four times and score in ten games.

Worst Draft Pick - Doug Martin

What a drop. He was the #2 back selected in the average draft and came off a rookie season with 1926 yards and 12 touchdowns. But something seemed to change when he had scored just once in the first six weeks and topped 100 rushing yards only once. He would tear the labrum in his shoulder and be placed on injured reserve. That meant in a league of 12, your first pick really never happened until 22 other picks were taken because your actual first pick stumbled and then disappeared.

Best Free Agent - Rashad Jennings

Honorable mentions would go to Donald Brown, Bobby Rainey and Brandon Bolden. But Jennings was proof positive that owning your top running back handcuffs is a prudent move to make. With running backs so heavily drafted, it is hard to imagine that any significant free agents would show up for more than a spot week or two replacement. Darren McFadden was injured yet again but he was such a flop when he did play that Jennings clearly produced more when given the chance. That meant once McFadden was ready to return and get injured again, that Jennings was just kept as a starter and kept McFadden largely on the sidelines. Jennings wasn't much of a factor until week nine when he took a full start and ended with 176 total yards and a touchdown. He would end with six touchdowns and five different games that exceeded 100 total yards.

WIDE RECEIVER

Best Player - Josh Gordon

Johnson was the best player this year but then faded right when you needed him most. Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green were also major difference makers. But Gordon ended with an NFL high 1646 yards on 87 catches and scored nine times. And that was after he missed the first two games due to a suspension. He shattered all the Browns receiving records and would top 100 yards in seven different games. His 237 and 261 yard games in weeks 12 and 13 were a record for yardage over a two week spread. He became even hotter down the stretch when fantasy owners needed him most. He had the perfect storm - a team that was always behind, virtually no run support and marginal other receivers who only promoted throwing to Gordon even more.

Best Draft Pick - Josh Gordon

He was taken as the 35th wideout selected in the average draft because of missing those first two games. The best wide out in the league doesn't usually come out of the seventh round of a fantasy draft. Until now.

Best Rookie - Keenan Allen

The Chargers chose Allen with their 3.14 pick making him the eighth wide receiver drafted for 2013. He would end up outscoring all other rookie wideouts by a significant margin. Allen would start out slowly for only two weeks before gaining 80 yards against the Cowboys and then 115 yards and a score in Oakland. By then he was on everyone's rosters churning out the fantasy points. Allen would end with seven games over 80 yards and eight touchdowns. His yardage wanted a bit late season but over the traditional three weeks of fantasy playoffs he scored five times. He ended with 1046 yards on 71 catches.

Worst Draft Pick - Randall Cobb

Cobb would be taken as the 9th overall wide receiver in the average draft. He was great his first two games when he topped 100 yards and scored in each. Then three moderate yardage games without scores would happen before he fractured his fibula in week six and was lost until week 17 when almost all fantasy championships were already over. He was coming off a promising second season with 954 yards and eight touchdowns. He'll probably fall too far in drafts next year.

Best Free Agent - Harry Douglas

He was never drafted but ended around the 25th best wideout this year. Once Julio Jones was gone for good, Douglas stepped in for career best stats. Starting in week seven he would top 70 yards in six of the next seven games including three that would top 120 yards each. He only scored twice all year though was was never worthy of more than being a third wideout. Worse yet he turned in fewer than 50 yards and no scores in all three of the fantasy championship weeks.

TIGHT END

Best Player - Jimmy Graham

Thanks to the demise of Rob Gronkowski, Graham was all alone as the top tight end this year and no one even remotely came close. Graham would end with 86 catches for 1215 yards and 16 touchdowns on the year. No other tight end would break 1000 yards or score more than 13 times. Graham is certain to be a hot commodity again next year as the only "must own" tight end.

Best Draft Pick - Julius Thomas

Taken as the 20th tight end taken in the average draft, "Orange Julius" would explode on the scene with 110 yards and two scores in the season opener against the Ravens. He would go on to score a total of 12 times on the season and break 90 yards in three different games. His late season production was typically low in yardage but he scored in all but four games for 2013.

Best Rookie - Timothy Wright

Honorable mentions for to Jordan Reed and Zack Ertz. Tight end is not a position where rookie typically produce much. They're busy enough just learning to block let alone their double duty as a receiver. Wright ended with the best fantasy score of all rookie but he was never much more than a fill-in. His outlook is very bright given that the 6-3, 220 lb. tight end is really just a really tall wideout who rarely plays other than when the Buccaneers are behind and need to catch up via the pass. Wright totaled 571 yards on 54 catches and scored five times all starting from midseason onward. He was never a real difference maker but was a nice find on the waiver wire considering the other options.

Worst Draft Pick - Rob Gronkowski

The second tight end drafted lasted until the third round or so in most leagues because he was already known to miss games to start out because of back and forearm surgeries. That meant fantasy owners had to wait until week seven before he showed up. And he was everything they hoped for over the next six weeks until he tore his MCL and ACL against the Browns and was gone for the rest of the season. No arguing that four times he was a great difference maker. But he didn't help anyone to get a lead in their league and certainly did nothing to help anyone in the playoffs. He was a lottery ticket that didn't pay off.

Best Free Agent - Charles Clay

There were a number of free agent tight ends that would be selected and used with at least temporary success - Delanie Walker, Time Wright, Heath Miller and Jordan Reed in particular. But Clay would outscore them all. He would score six times and top 80 yards on four occasions. He was no major difference maker in a position that is building a logjam of "kinda good" players, but he was the best the waiver wire would serve up.

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Kyle Orton 366 2 QB Tom Brady 118 1
RB Jonathan Grimes 126 1 RB Jamaal Charles 0 0
RB Knile Davis 86 2 RB Frank Gore 14 0
WR Jernal Jerrigan 147 2 WR DeSean Jackson 28 0
WR Cordarrelle Patterson 85 2 WR Vincent Jackson 35 0
WR Kerry Taylor 75 1 WR Andre Johnson 49 0
TE Robert Housler 78 0 TE Julius Thomas 36 0
PK Rob Bironas 10 pts PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 pts

Huddle Fantasy Points = 125

Huddle Fantasy Points = 25

Sunday's Couch Commentary

The regular season comes to a close and the playoffs are now set.

Saturday - Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday - San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

Waiting in the wings are the Seahawks, Panthers, Broncos and Patriots

The NFL enters the playoffs with the same #1 and #2 in the AFC from last year. But the Ravens and Texans are gone and replaced by the Chiefs and Chargers..

In the NFC, The Redskins, Vikings and Falcons are gone from last year and replaced by the Eagles, Panthers and Saints.

This is always an interesting round.

The Chiefs are 11-5 and facing the surging 11-5 Colts who just beat them 23-7 in week 16 in Kansas City.

The 9-7 Chargers at the 11-5 Bengals and already lost to them 10-17 in San Diego back in week 13.

The 12-4 49ers at the 8-7-1 Packers is actually a replay of the season opener when the 49ers won 34-28. They also beat the Packers 45-31 in the Divisional Round of 2012.

The 11-5 Saints play at the 10-6 Eagles and are the only teams that did not play each other this year.

The NFL playoffs always has one team you would never guess and pretty much always knocks off the one or two teams you thought had the best chances.

Taking a look back at 2012, here were the Games-O-The-Week:

Week 1 - Ravens 27, Broncos 49

Week 2 - Chargers 33, Eagles 30

Week 3 - Browns 31, Vikings 27

Week 4 - Steelers 27, Vikings 34

Week 5 - Seahawks 28, Colts 34

Week 6 - Jaguars 19, Broncos 35

Week 7 - Bears 41, Redskins 45

Week 8 - Cowboys 30, Lions 31

Week 9 - Steelers 31, Patriots 55

Week 10 - Cowboys 17, Saints 49

Week 11 - Chiefs 17, Broncos 27

Week 12 - Chargers 41, Chiefs 38

Week 13 - Alabama 28, Auburn 34

Week 14 - , Miami 34, Steelers 28

Week 15 - Packers 37, Cowboys 36

Week 16 - Steelers 38, Packers 31

Week 17 - Packers 33, Bears 28

The 17th season for The Huddle now winds down with only the playoffs yet to report. Join a playoff league or play a daily game - no reason to put all that great knowledge to bed for six months.

We've just witnessed the most touchdowns and yards thrown by anyone in the history of the NFL. In week 15, we had a freak event where more points were scored than in any other week in NFL history. It seemed like a year with more injuries but it really wasn't. But it was a year with the most big games in the last ten years:

2+ TDs 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
RB 64 55 54 69 84 92 54 81 83 86
TE 20 18 18 19 22 9 17 13 12 17
WR 74 57 56 64 46 39 64 40 46 66
Total 158 130 128 152 152 140 135 134 141 169

The double score games by wide receivers have never been higher. Remember that next August.

We watched as all the hot rookie backs from 2012 flopped or just disappeared. We got a new batch this year and have to decide what to expect in 2014. There were plenty of running backs who under performed and the direction of committee backfields remains just as strong even though we collectively draft like they are the most certain bets.

Tight ends still have Jimmy Graham but Tony Gonzalez is leaving. Jason Witten is getting old. Rob Gronkowski is apparently an injury waiting to happen. And there are about 15 other tight ends that can be argued to be top ten.

Quarterbacks were dominated by Manning and Brees while Brady took a big step back and Aaron Rodgers did the unthinkable and was injured. Others would be great for a month or so and they slide back. But it was a very good time to draft Manning.

The wideouts did very well. 14 would gain more than 1200 yards and eight would log 10+ touchdowns.

Think forward to next summer when we have to sort all these players we've gotten to know so well. Plus all the ones returning from injury. Plus a rookie crop to blend in. And knowing that half are not going to do as well next year as this year. It's going to be challenging, frustrating, maddening and shocking and in those little moments we pick the magic player and start the right guy it all makes it worth it.

This is my 287th Tunnel Vision since we opened in 1997.

Hope to see you around for #288.

Have a Happy New Year and all the best to you and yours.

Now get back to work...


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