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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 1
David Dorey
September 13, 2010
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Peyton Manning 433 3
Jay Cutler 372 2
Carson Palmer 345 2
Eli Manning 263 3
Tom Brady 258 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Arian Foster 238 3
Matt Forte 201 2
Chris Johnson 150 2
Darren McFadden 150 1
Rashard Mendenhall 135 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Chad Ochocinco 159 1
Hakeem Nicks 75 3
Austin Collie 131 1
Miles Austin 146 1
Wes Welker 64 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Marcedes Lewis 31 2
Dallas Clark 80 1
Vishanthe Shiancoe 76 1
Bo Scaife 37 1
Evan Moore 87 0
Placekickers XP FG
Neil Rackers 4 2
John Kasay 1 3
Matt Bryant 0 3
Mason Crosby 3 2
Jeff Reed 0 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Giants 0 4 5
Patriots 2 1 2
Lions 0 4 4
Seahawks 1 2 2
Panthers 0 1 4

Bumps, bruises and bow outs

Ryan Grant (GB) - Ankle injury
Leonard Weaver (PHI) - Torn ACL
Kevin Kolb (PHI) - Concussion
Matt Stafford (DET) - Shoulder injury
Matt Moore (CAR) - Possible concussion
Anthony Gonzalez (IND) - Ankle injury

It is Only Week One...

Before you freak out that your newly drafted players suck, consider some week one performances from 2009:

Andre Johnson (4-35)
Roddy White (5-42)
Steve Smith CAR (3-21)
Sidney Rice (2-17)
Anquan Boldin (2-19)
Chris Johnson (15-57)
Jamaal Charles (8-37)
Ronnie Brown (14-53)
Aaron Rodgers (184 yards, 1 TD)
Brett Favre (110 yards, 1 TD)

It is Only ONE WEEk...

Before you get a "GENIUS" tattoo because some of your players went off this week, consider some of the biggest scorers in week one of last year: Remember - on average one in every 16 players just had their best game of the year.

Patrick Crayton (4-135, 1 TD)
Antwaan Randle El (7-98)
Michael Clayton (5-93)
Mike Bell (28-143)
Julius Jones (21-136 yards, 1 TD)
Matt Hasselbeck (279 yards, 3 TDs)
Joe Flacco (307 yards, 3 TD)

Now Class, what did we learn

Sunday taught us two important rules in the NFL. First, the Lions must never win on the road there is no such thing as a "catch". There is the process of catching a catch. At no time during the process of a catch is a catch a catch. Only when the process is concluded by handing the ball to a referee with a kind of curtsey move does it become a catch. At least accordingt to the NFL rule book..

The "non-catch" of Calvin Johnson will be on all the sports shows and was on the homepage of NFL.com as a video. Johnson caught a pass in the endzone with both hands over his head, took the ball away from the defender and as he was going from fully upright to landing face forward in the endzone, he held the ball with just his right hand. There was no bobble in his one handed clutch. He clearly held the ball from well above his head all the way down to the ground where it hit and then bounced away. More of a spike the ball than anything.

In terms of time he held it, it was exponentially longer than what a "both feet" toe tap at the sideline is like. Even the announcers believed it would be overturned. But the broadcasters added an NFL Rules Official to explain why it was not a catch and for some reason he looked a lot like the Wizard of Oz. By rule, you must keep possession of the ball throughtout the process of the catch which is not over until, basically, then say it is over.

Seemed like one of those silly rules that can easily get in the way of the spirit and fairness of the game with a technicality. Calvin would agree. Plus the Lions lost by five points.

The other "say what?" was at the conclusion of the Dallas-Washington game when Tony Romo passed for a game winning touchdown to Roy Williams but RT Alex Barron tried to steer wrestle a pass rusher and drew a flag. Guess what - a game cannot end on a defensive penalty. BUT it can end on an offensive penalty! Thanks for playing, make sure you check out the Jefferson Memorial on your way out of town.

The First Rule of waiver wires - It is not who is on the waiver wire that matters, it is who the league knucklehead is dropping to grab a one week wonder.

Hands down - best thing you can do for your team for the next two or three weeks is watch who is being dropped by your league mates. Some players just have slow starts. After the first four weeks of 2009, Miles Austin only had five catches for 81 yards on the season. Every year in every league, someone is going to be cut loose too early and someone will benefit - let it be you. Watch the waiver wire for who gets dropped.

to the waiver wire!

Just some early heads up on a few players sure to be flying off your league shelves this week:

Mark Clayton (STL) - Ten catches for 119 yards. He dropped many more. But the Rams are going to need to throw and apparently will have some ability to do so. Worth grabbing just to see what happens.
Brandon Lloyd (DEN) - Jabbar Gaffney scored once but Lloyd became the preferred target for Kyle Orton when he had five catches for 117 yards and not all because they were picking on the same defender.

Ten Random Observations

1. I am seriously worried about the Vikings. I know that Favre started really slowly last year as well, but the offense looked way out of synch. Like once Rice left it there was just a vacuum. Adrian Peterson looks great but they always shut him down when he gets near 100 yards for some reason. Maybe they will improve and be fine but to me, it looked like Favre was thinking "so THIS is what one year too many looks like."

2. Just brutal - C.J. Spiller started his career by facing the Dolphins and had a team high seven carries that gained only six yards. He added four catches for eight yards. That is 11 touches that gained 14 yards for the first round pick. With such a bad game it is a shame that we cannot give him a mulligan but then again it will not be any better next week in Green Bay. Ouch. This is why it is very important to be maybe "pick #30" good coming out of college.

3. There were 18 teams this week that failed to score at least 20 points. We had several big games by individuals but for the most part there was a lot of offensive inefficiency going on this week. Only three players passed for over 300 yards, or rushed for over 100 yards. There were eight wideouts with over 100 yards but only three of those had a score and never more than one. Only five tight ends had a touchdown. You could have lucked into a monster team this week but you could have easily had a major flop from your stars as well. Let's hope it picks up. Oh yes, and Monday night treats us to the Ravens at the Jets.

4. I have to admit it. I watched some parts of the Cardinals-Rams game and not because it had that "car wreck" appeal. I was genuinely impressed with the rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. He passed for 253 yards and one score in his first game. Sure, he had three interceptions but then again he's playing with a receiver corps made up of rodeo clowns, unemployed librarians and Mark Clayton. He made some very nice throws. For a rookie on a bad team, he spawned optimism already that once the Rams acquire better receivers there could be something happening here. This guy is good.

5. What to think about Darren McFadden running for 95 yards on 18 carries and also leading the receivers with six receptions for 55 yards and one score? Did he grow up over night? And he gained 11-58 and had 4-45 receiving in the first half so it wasn't just a garbage time feast. Michael Bush is supposed to return next week and that would just divide up whatever the backfield here can do. If McFadden can be the same lackluster player he has for two seasons, then Michael Bush could have some surprise value in a handful of easier matchups. If McFadden is playing better, that just ruins all the value because of sharing. Does anyone really think McFadden is for real?

6. The Browns were beaten by the Buccaneers - no big surprise. But what hurts there is that Jerome Harrison rushed nine times for 52 yards (5.7 YPC) and yet Peyton Hillis also had nine carries for 41 yards and he scored once. Hillis was also used on four catches for 24 yards while Harrison only had one reception. Sounds like a situation to avoid though after his huge ending to the 2009 season, you would think the Browns would give Harrison more work. Heck - you'd think it would rate at least getting the most touches between he and a guy no one is sure if he is a fullback or a running back. There is not a ton of fantasy points here, but the Browns are apparently devoted to splitting the meager results up into non-relevancy.

7. Dez Bryant looked encouraging for a player who was suspended at Oklahoma State last September thanks to Deion "not your friend now, eh?" Sanders. And he missed the preseason with a high ankle sprain. When we did finally see him in action, he had eight catches for 56 yards. Most were at the line where he was immediately plastered but he also caught a few down field. Seemed like he had great hands but he still has not shown much in speed or break away ability. He's apparently already displaced Roy Williams. One to watch because Romo made great efforts to get him the ball. Bryant may just end up killing Jason Witten (3-27).

8. Wide receivers have never gone as fast as they did in drafts this summer. In most, the top six or eight were gone by the middle of the second round. And yet, are there some concerns now with many of them? Andre Johnson - Foster running kills the need to throw. Randy Moss - Elevating unhappy to an art form lately. Calvin Johnson - losing Stafford again. Larry Fitzgerald - Anderson really is no Warner. Brandon Marshall - Henne not making coaches happy. DeSean Jackson - Kolb was struggling prior to the knockout blow. Be an interesting year as they all are. Only difference is now we get to whiff on more early round wideouts instead of running backs.

9. Rashard Mendenhall worries me. Sure, he ended with 135 total yards and one score and he won the game. But take away the 50 yard run in overtime and he wasn't nearly so productive. He had 21 runs for 70 yards prior to that (3.3 YPC) which was lower than what was expected at home in the opener against the visiting Falcons. At halftime he only had 41 yards on 12 carries. The offense suffers with Dixon at the helm of course, but that's the case for at least three more weeks and there's not always going to be a 50 yard score in overtime.

10. There is something to be said for a new offensive scheme. There has to be. On Sunday we got to see what the Bills, Bears, Texans, Raiders, Seahawks, Buccaneers and Redskins new offenses would look like. The Bears, Texans, Seahawks, Buccaneers and Redskins won their opening game. Only the Bills and Raiders lost and they were among the worst teams in the league last year anyway. Lot to be said for a lack of game film. And in a few weeks, no more advantage.

Huddle Player of the Week

Arian Foster - To start the summer, Foster's stock had taken a dip because not only was Steve Slaton getting healthy but the Texans drafted Ben Tate. But then Tate was lost for the year and Foster climbed up the draft board. And then Foster ran for 110 yards on 18 carries in week three of the preseason and he started shooting up the draft boards as high as the start of the second round. Ends up no matte where you took him, you maybe got a real steal. Foster led the NFL on Sunday with 33 runs for 231 yards, a catch for seven yards and three touchdowns. Nothing like getting your league high score in week one. A sign of things to come for the Texans? Could be...

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Michael Vick 175P 103R 0 QB Matt Schaub 104 1
RB Peyton Hillis 65 1 RB Michael Turner 49 0
RB Javon Ringer 33 1 RB Ryan Grant 45 0
WR Nate Washington 88 1 WR Andre Johnson 33 0
WR Mark Clayton 119 0 WR Calvin Johnson 45 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 117 0 WR Randy Moss 59 0
PK Neil Rackers 4 XP 2 FG PK Garrett Hartley 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 84

Huddle Fantasy Points = 38

Sunday Snippet

MIN 9, NO 14 Not exactly a lot of fireworks. Every football coach in the country made their team watch the replay of the game so he could say "See - even Brett Favre needs to show up for training camp! NOW GET BACK TO PRACTICE!" Apparently when Sidney Rice left. he took the ability for the Vikings AND the Saints to score.
CLE 14, TB 17 Delhomme is looking better but not quite good enough. The only downside to this game is that Karim Huggins really is a third string back who is not going to see the field. Maybe another one of your sleepers hit? Just a whole lot of nothing happened in this game. Of course that's going to be true in most games for these teams.
MIA 15, BUF 10 Another one of those Fantasy Point-Free games. Ronnie Brown looks good but Ricky Williams got five more carries. Brandon Marshall (8-53) is still catching lots of passed just not running or scoring. Looks a lot like a different year and same Bills.
DET 14, CHI 19 This game was proof that the league not only expects the Lions to lose, they devise rules to ensure it. Losing Matt Stafford did not take long so everyone holding Calvin Johnson has to be sweating. Matt Forte still doesn't run well (17-50) but the guy is a difference maker as a receiver (7-151, 2 TDs).
DEN 17, JAC 24 Mike Sims-Walker meet Champ Bailey. See you next week, Mike. Brandon Lloyd (5-117) was a big surprise but everyone's sleeper Mike Thomas (6-89) was a decent start. When Marcedes Lewis scores twice, you know this is not a normal game. Nice to see Eddie Royal (8-98) party like it's 2008.
CIN 24, NE 38 The beauty of this game was that everyone notable had at least decent fantasy points. Tom Brady (258 yards, 3 TDs) went back to relying on Wes Welker (8-64, 2 TDs) who apparently isn't actually mortal or subject to our laws of nature. Randy Moss (5-59) was mostly quiet and Fred Taylor (14-71) still is not injured. The Ochocinco (12-159, 1 TD) and Owens (7-53) Comedy Show actually seems to be working with enough left over for Jordan Shipley (5-82). Imagine - Carson Palmer throwing for 345 yards and two scores. This game was a fantasy blessing.
CAR 18, NYG 31 Manning still loves his three wideouts but Hakim Nicks (4-75, 3 TD) gets the extra neck rub. Ahmad Bradshaw did almost nothing all game but a touchdown and a 39 yard run saved his stats. Manning (263 yards, 3 TDs) is starting the season hot though 3 interceptions were not a help. DeAngelo Williams (16-62) had a quiet day but then again Jonathan Stewart (5-12) was completely silent. If Moore has a concussion, we may get to see the rookie Jimmy Clausen next week.
ATL 9, PIT 15 It took overtime for either team to score a touchdown and the 50 yard scoring romp by Mendenhall made his stats go from an unimpressive 21-70. Hines Ward (6-106-8) and Mike Wallace (2-62) are weathering the non-Roethlisberger times okay. The Falcons predictably could do little but Roddy White was the delightful exception with 13 catches for 111 yards.
OAK 13, TEN 38 The First Pick In The Draft (27-142, 2 TD) opened his season still on pace for another 2000 yards but the getting was so good that even Ringer scored. Heck, Vince Young passed for two touchdowns and one went to a wide receiver. The Raiders saw better play from Jason Campbell (180 yards, 1 TD) than they used to get from Jamarcus Russell but it still is not nearly enough. To make it surreal, Darren McFadden had 150 total yards and a score. This is basically the same as his entire 2009 season.
GB 27, PHI 20 Losing Kolb early on was no help though he was struggling anyway. But Vick took over and rushed for 100 yards and made this into a game. LeSean McCoy only had seven rushes and five catches so he may be an other Westbrook just without all those tiresome touches. The Packers were not nearly as prolific as expected with Aaron Rodgers (188 yards, 2 TD) scoring late to save his value. Ryan Grant left the game and may be gone for a bit judging by his grimace. Nothing new here other than these teams combined for 47 points and no single player had a big game.
SF 6, SEA 31 This was probably the biggest surprise of the day. It was the Seattle defense - and yes they still have one - that controlled this game. Frank Gore only rushed for 38 yards on 17 carries. Alex Smith threw two interceptions and no scores. The Seahawks got a decent showing from Matt Hasselbeck (170 yards, 3 total TDs) but no single player had a big game. Mike Williams (4-64) may set the record for what a player can do after not playing for a couple of years.
ARI 17, STL 13 Larry Fitzgerald owners may like that touchdown but they may want to get used to the "three catches for 43 yards" part of his stats. Steve Breaston 7-132 really did enjoy playing Anquan Boldin's part against a weak team. The Rams got 119 yards on ten catches from Mike Clayton as an example of "anything is possible". This is just yet another point deficient game.
DAL 7, WAS 13 The late game was a nail biter in the sense it was close. But it was the sort of game neither team really deserved to win. Dallas ended the first half with a free touchdown for the Skins thanks to Tashard Choice's fumble on the final play. And then they ended the second half with a Dallas touchdown that was nullified. The only notables is that Chris Cooley (6-80) and Santana Moss (6-77) are the only two Redskins worth covering. Miles Austin (10-146, 1 TD) had a big game and we finally got to see Dez Bryant (8-56). But this managed to be the lowest scoring game of them all.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was a low scoring weekend for most teams which has been the trend for the last couple of years. Prior to that, opening weekend was full of people winning money on the "over" with big scores all around. There were still a few teams doling out the points though the best is certainly left to come. I'd give week one to the defenses for sure. The offenses out there need to catch up because the defenses have been figuring teams out during the offseason.

For the Game-o-the-week, I opted for the one that fantasy loves and yet one with a message:

Colts 24, Texans 34

Realize that this is only the second time ever that the Texans have beaten the Colts. Come on - this is Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne and the same team that swept the Texans last year (and actually every year except for once). What could go wrong?

Apparently the one thing that always hurts the Colts - losing S Bob Sanders and his magic run-stopping dust. The Colts were held to a four and out to start the game but the Texans got a big punt return from Jacoby Jones and ended up with a field goal from the IND-7 when three plays could not score.

The next time the Texans got the ball and there was no more Bob Sanders, they discovered that Arian Foster was picking up chunks of yardage. When the second quarter started, a pass from Matt Schaub to Kevin Walter went for a 22-yard touchdown. The Colts would later get the obligatory touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne but at the half, the Texans still led 13-10.

In the second half, the Texans almost entirely abandoned the pass because Foster and Steve Slaton were finding big holes to run through with minimal people waiting on the other side. Foster opened the third quarter with a one-yard rushing touchdown and the two teams entered the fourth quarter with the Texans leading 20-10.

By the fourth quarter those five and eight yard gains from earlier in the game started to become even bigger. Foster ran for 42 yards on one play, then Slaton gained 13 yards, then Foster had 11 more. On the next play, Foster ran for a 25 yard touchdown. That's covering 91 yards in four rushing plays. That is letting the wheels wobble off of a rushing defense.

Manning managed to find Dallas Clark for a score with 4:54 left to play but on the next possession, the Texans recovered an onside kick attempt and and it took one Slaton run and six Foster rushes to score the third rushing score.

At 34-17 the game was already over at the two minute mark but Manning hit Austin Collie for a 73 yard score to make it 24-34 as a final score.

On the Colts side, you had a huge game from Manning with 433 yards and three scores.. Dallas Clark caught 11 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Austin Collie ended with ten receptions for 131 yards and a score sd well. Wayne lagged close behind with 99 yards on seven catches for the remaining touchdown. Joseph Addai only ran ten times for 44 yards but added six catches for 29 yards. If you started a Colts player (and you did if you owned one), you had a nice page back. Even Pierre Garcon had 75 yards on four catches.

And the Colts lost the game.

With the Texans, it was a very meager game for all offensive players except for Arian Foster who ran for 231 yards on 33 carries (7.0 YPC) and scored three times. As an Andre Johnson owner who always just missed landing Foster on my teams, I was able to contain my excitement about Fosters big day.

But that was week one. The team that won the AFC just lost to a team that had only beaten them once before. We saw some great fantasy points coming pouring out from the Colts box score. Arian Foster owners are going to be insufferable for at least one week. But football is back and even though this is the same game we've played, coached and/or watched since we were kids, there is always a newness to a season and an excitement to see what has changed and what remains the same. It is an ever-changing cast of players who never quite duplicate a previous year despite that being how most people draft.

Let the season begin, let the changes take place and have some fun for the next four months!

One thing to remember though - it ain' t a catch until the ref says it's a catch.

Now get back to work...

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