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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 2
David Dorey
September 20, 2010
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Schaub 497 3
Aaron Rodgers 275 3
Philip Rivers 334 3
Shaun Hill 335 2
Jay Cutler 277 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Jahvid Best 232 3
Jason Snelling 186 3
LeSean McCoy 128 3
Adrian Peterson 196 1
Mike Tolbert 95 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Andre Johnson 158 1
Kevin Walter 144 1
DeSean Jackson 135 1
Mike Sims-Walker 105 1
Demaryius Thomas 97 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 57 2
Dustin Keller 115 1
Dallas Clark 83 1
Chris Cooley 64 1
Brandon Pettigrew 108 0
Placekickers XP FG
Mike Nugent 0 5
Jeff Reed 1 4
Neil Rackers 3 3
Matt Bryant 5 2
S. Janikowski 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Steelers 1 4 6
Dolphins 1 3 4
Chargers 0 2 6
Buccaneers 0 4 3
Colts 1 4 3

Bumps, bruises and bow outs

Michael Turner (ATL) - Groin injury
Ryan Mathew (SD) - Ankle injury
Percy Harvin (MIN) - Hip injury
Jason Witten (DAL) - Possible concussion
Nate Burleson (MIN) - Ankle injury
Dennis Dixon (PIT) - Knee injury
Andre Johnson (HOU) - Ankle sprain

Parity is back and still sucks

It is only week two and there are only seven 2-0 teams (Saints could make it eight on Monday night) and just six teams that are 0-2 (49ers could make it seven). Half of the teams are 1-1 right now and too often that is an impressive win and a disappointing loss. Or this year just a lot of low scoring games with one play determining the outcome.

The Good - Dolphins, Steelers, Texans and Chiefs have the only 2-0 records in the AFC which is neatly one per division. The Bears, Packers and Buccaneers are 2-0 in the NFC with the Saints still yet to play. Of those seven teams, only the Packers made the playoffs last year. All those other playoff teams are 1-1 or 0-2.

The Bad - The Bills and Browns are the only AFC teams at 0-2 and there is no surprise for either. In the NFC, the Cowboys, Vikings, Lions, Panthers and Rams are 0-2 and could be joined by the 49ers.

first cut free agents

Jason Snelling (ATL) - No one knows why the Falcons list him as the 3rd string back but since both Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood were injured, they relied on the burly back as they did last year. And Snelling posted 186 yards and three scores. He is the real deal but only valuable if Turner is out. He'll be the free agent of the week in smaller leagues where he is not already on a roster.

Mike Tolbert (SD) - This is Snelling only in San Diego. He gained 95 total yards and scored twice against the Jaguars on Sunday. But the x-rays were negative on Mathews who wanted to return so Tolbert is likely a non-factor for now. But Mathews had durability issues before so stashing Tolbert might be prudent in a deeper league.

Demaryius Thomas (DEN) - The rookie spent the summer injured and showed up for the first time this week. He had 97 yards on eight catches and scored once in his first game. He is on some waiver wires but not after this week.

Louis Murphy / Darrius Heyward Bey (OAK) - if you have room and they are available, stash them away. Bruce Gradkowski was impressive yesterday and has been stuck on bad teams in his career but he has the talent to matter. If he plays, it helps the two wideouts even more. Heyward-Bey in particular is looking much better with six catches for 80 yards this week after a largely invisible rookie season. Murphy is better know and meshed nicely with Gradkowski but so far Jason Campbell hasn't been as good with the pair.

Brandon Pettigrew (DET) - The first rookie drafted last year finished on injured reserve because of his knee but he showed up on Sunday with seven catches for 108 yards. His knee is healed and he is making his presence known again.

Tony Moeaki (KC) - Had five catches for 58 yards this week and was the leading receiver for the Chiefs. Last week he had three catches for 21 yards and a score. For a rookie, that's a lot of work and Matt Cassel is getting chemistry and confidence with him.

Ten random observations

1. Brett Favre already lost Sidney Rice and now Percy Harvin needs an MRI. Favre had his magic season in 2009 but so far has only 396 yards, four interceptions, one lost fumble and a touchdown to show for returning. Star players always say that they will walk away from the game when it is not fun anymore but can they walk away in the middle of the season? Favre looks like he just read the fine print that says he has to make 14 more payments on a car that is no longer safe to drive and cannot be fixed. We should compare pictures of him now and at the end of the season to see how much he ages.

2. The only thing worse than how the Cowboys have been playing is knowing that next week they have to face the Texans in Houston. The passing game is still there and the defense is usually dominating for one or two plays of each series but they are playing just bad enough to lose and worse yet - they are playing to the level of their opponent minus a score lost on some stupid play. Oddly enough, Romo, Witten, Austin and Bryant are maintaining fantasy value.

3. LaDainian Tomlinson has rushed 22 times for 138 yards over the first two games for a healthy 6.3 yard per carry average and he's added six catches for 42 yards. He has easily out shined Shonn Greene and there is more speed in his cuts it seems. He looks rejuvenated and for a guy that had been written off, he's still a good component in an offense. He just may end up going out with the bang instead of the whimper. The surprising thing is that he has yet to score a touchdown when he ranks #3 in NFL history with 153 touchdowns.

4. Randy Moss is a player I have always loved. Yes, he may have been immature in the past. Maybe he has taken some plays off. Who among us haven't driven around with a road worker on our hood? But he is a difference maker and one of the greatest wideouts either you or I have ever seen. On Sunday he became the fourth player in NFL history to score 150 touchdowns when he made a ridiculous one-handed 34-yard touchdown against the Jets while being covered by Darrelle Revis. He now trails Tomlinson (153), Emmitt Smith (175) and Jerry Rice (208). That's pretty rare company to be keeping and he can play a few more years if he wants.

5. This is weird. In 2009, the number of tight end touchdowns were week one (14) and week two (14). For 2010, it has been week one (9) and week two (6). That's 28 versus just 15 or almost 50% less scores. The yardage has been there but just not the touchdowns. No wonder we waited to get one.

6. I think the Buccaneers have to be one of the most surprising teams so far. They are 2-0 and just won on the road in Carolina. Granted all they did was beat the visiting Browns as well but the defense has been much improved as has Josh Freeman who doesn't throw for many yards but has made very few mistakes and between Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams he has some actual weapons to rely on. Cannot imagine this will last with hosting PIT next week but overall the schedule is pretty light here. The only thing I can accept so far is that the Browns remain terrible and the Panthers have taken a big step down this year.

7. What to think about the Bears and the newest incantation of Mike Martz? Sure they beat the Lions last week but barely. Now they leave Dallas with a 2-0 record and Jay Cutler has passed for 649 yards in two games with five touchdowns and just one interception against him? This offense is supposed to be all about interceptions. Could it be the late season weather as the only thing to slow this offense down? Lot's of football left to play but so far, Cutler is playing as well as he ever has. And he's not relying on the same people from week to week.

8. Kevin Kolb returns this next week and none too soon since every announcer calls him "Colb" and then corrects themselves with the proper "Cobb". There are going to be some people mad because Michael Vick led the Eagles to a win in Detroit and has been very productive while not killing any animals in the process. And plenty of people were down on Kolb last week when he struggled against the Packers. But he only threw ten passes in that game and these same Packers held Trent Edwards to only 102 yards yesterday. Vick was sharp on a couple of his throws and always presented the defense with the problem of his rushing. The Eagles play in Jacksonville this week - the same team that allowed Rivers 334 yards and three scores and Kyle Orton 295 yards and one touchdown. Too early - way too early - to write off Kolb or think that Vick is better. This week better be a good one though.

9. Many of you jumped on Brandon Lloyd last week when he turned in five catches for 117 yards. He still had three receptions for 53 yards this week but he's just a place holder for Demaryius Thomas who didn't start but came in and racked up eight catches for 97 yards and one score. The duo will be flip-flopping on the depth chart so throw away your dreams that Brandon Lloyd was suddenly going to start to matter at the age of 29. Thomas? Looked pretty sharp and actually rather "Marshall-esque."

10. The injuries to Ryan Mathews and Michael Turner today are not thought to be serious but both had minimal stats from their incomplete game. Just an early reminder that drafting wideouts and quarterbacks are almost always safer and why you should dedicate at least a portion of our roster to stick two or three running backs who are but one injury away from starting. I went grabbing guys like Brandon Jackson late in drafts solely because he played in a powerful offense and was one guy away from starting. Granted - Jackson was no superstar in relief but he netted me a few points in a couple of leagues where I could use him. My favorite "sit there and be ready" player? Javon Ringer is on almost everyone one of my teams. Wishing no ill towards Chris Johnson at all but what happens if he goes down? Cha-ching for my team, that's what. Scan your waiver wire for players in great offenses that are one player away from mattering on their team. Or have the worst record in your league since that's about the only way to get him when the injury bug takes down a starter.

Huddle Player of the Week

Jahvid Best - Sure, his team is 0-2 but the rookie from CAL rushed for 78 yards on 17 carries and converted nine receptions into 154 with a total of three touchdowns scored. The guy who is wicked fast but supposedly a little too small to be durable (no, not Chris Johnson) has scored four times via the run and caught one scoring pass. In a league that is rife with committee backfields, Best is taking the load for the Lions and scoring and scoring and scoring. Nice to see a Lion so productive.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Shaun Hill 335 2 QB Brett Favre 225 0
RB Jason Snelling 186 3 RB M. Jones-Drew 50 0
RB Mike Tolbert 95 2 RB Chris Johnson 53 0
WR DeMaryius Thomas 97 1 WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh 0 0
WR Jacoby Jones 53 1 WR Lee Evans 0 0
WR James Jones 32 1 WR Hines Ward 9 0
PK Mike Nugent 5 FG PK John Kasay 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 132

Huddle Fantasy Points = 20

Sunday Snippet

ARI 7, ATL 41 The fantasy value has been stripped from the Cards other than Larry Fitzgerald (7-83). Tim Hightower had 124 total and a score but mostly trash time stuff. The Falcons saw Matt Ryan toss 3 TDs and 225 yards and Michael Turner (9-75) left with a groin injury making Jason Snelling (186 total yards and 3 TDs) become the waiver wire darling this week. Block out the last three years of the Cards and you'll remember them as they are. Gotta think Fitzgerald is feeling mighty lonely and a bit out of place lately. Gotta wonder if a teammate asks for his autograph while they are still in the huddle.
TB 20, CAR 7 I am still trying to wrap my head around this. Buccaneers were 3-13 last year and swept by the 8-8 Panthers. And now even though the Bucs have added no one other than Mike Williams they can come in and whip the Panthers in Carolina? Matt Moore is doing himself no favors and not only was he replaced by the rookie Jimmy Clausen with 10 minutes left to play, but he may end up losing his starting job sooner than later without significant improvement. It is still early in the season, but so far you cannot argue that the Bucs are much improved and the Panthers have dropped a notch or two. At home against the Bucs, Williams and Stewart only combined for 25 carries and 97 yards. Williams alone had 152 yards and two scores in Tampa Bay last year. Times are a'changing...
BAL 10, CIN 15 One thing is the same from 2009 - the Ravens and Bengals still have low-scoring snorefests that the Bengals win. Mike Nugent kicked five field goals to take this game. Joe Flacco and company just lost any momentum they had from beating the Jets when they threw four interceptions against just one score to Derrick Mason. Anquan Boldin (5-35) is now understanding what the Ravens way is all about. There was almost no passing in this game but Ray Rice (16-87) and Cedric Benson (23-78) but had decent stats.
KC 16, CLE 14 What is wrong with scoring??? When these teams met last year it ended up 41-34 in favor of Cleveland. This game had three field goals and one of the three touchdowns was an interception return. Jerome Harrison rushed for 286 yards last year but only produced 33 yards on 16 carries. Whoopee. Getting a little tired of these games that cannot break 30 total points. Once again, Thomas Jones gained 83 yards on 22 carries for a 3.7 YPC while they limited their play maker Jamal Charles to only 11 carries for 49 yards (4.5 YPC). Charles was thrown one pass which he turned into a 27 yard gain so basically he had about as many yards as Jones and yet almost half the touches.
BUF 7, GB 34 This was a massacre as expected. Brandon Jackson only had 39 total yards but scored once while John Kuhn also had 36 yards on nine runs. Jermichael Finley netted four catches for 103 yards but no other wideout had more than 38 yards. The Bills only had 102 passing yards and two interceptions. The Bills said they were not showcasing Marshawn Lynch (17-64) so they could trade him even though it was obvious they were showcasing him so they could trade him. He only had three carries last week. Fred Jackson (9-39) saved the day by scoring and preventing the skunk. HC Chan Gailey knew when he came on that it was a sinking ship. He just never realized that bubble gum, toothpaste and masking tape was all he had to fix the leaks.
MIA 14, MIN 10

Yeah, love those game scores where you know exactly what happened - three touchdowns, one field goal and COMPLETE AN UTTER MEDIOCRITY. Brett "Verily Our Savior" Favre was at home and still threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in his own endzone for one of Miami's TD's. Adrian Peterson rushed for 28 carries and 145 yards and one score which was good. But he was stopped on fourth and one at the goal line in a game where a TD was really important. Harvin left the game with a bad hip and if any more injuries happen, Favre may contemplate just giving his two week notice. The Fins did nothing special fantasy-wise and had no big performances, they just stood back and watched the Vikes make mistakes. According to HC Brad Childress about his players, " I don't think any of these guys are panicked. " They should go talk with the fans in the parking lot because they definitely are.

CHI 27 , DAL 20 Game-o-the-week contender and for those harboring ill-will towards the Cowboys this could be the game of the month at least until the next loss in Houston next week. No matter than CHI had lost their last three to the Cowboys, Jay Cutler withstood a pummeling to throw for 277 yards and three TD's. Johnny Knox (4-86) showed up this week while Devin Aromashodu had no catches and Devin Hester scored once on his 77 yards and four catches. This is what it will be like in Martz offense - there may not be one guy who is a primary wideout for two straight weeks. The Cowboys rushing attack (18-38) is doing nothing more than insulting the memory of Emmitt Smith (who is still alive but watching the Boys is probably killing him). Tony Romo (374, 1 TD) and Miles Austin (10-142) are producing stats but everything seems to mysteriously stop working inside the 20-yard lines. So far Dallas is remaining just bad enough to lose all games.
PHI 35, DET 32 Game-o-the-week contender but just another bitter loss for the Lions. Jahvid Best is already a front-runner for Rookie of the Year with 17-78 rushing and 9-154 receiving plus three more touchdowns. Shaun Hill threw for 335 and two scores in the loss. Those stats alone should have been a win for the Lions. Vick actually made like a quarterback and passed for 284 yards and two scores while LeSean McCoy enjoyed a career best 120 yards on 16 carries and scored three times as well. DeSean Jackson (4-135, 1 TD) was the other star of the offense. This was a fun game full of points and swapping leads but in the end, the Lions fell just short despite recovering an onside kick. Hey Lions - the fantasy world has always loved you (games like this are a big reason why).
PIT 19, TEN 11 Take away the opening kickoff return for a score by PIT and it is a close game. Vince Young was yanked after two interceptions so that Kerry Collins could throw one as well but Young is the starter next week. Chris Johnson snapped his streak of 100+ rushing yard games with nary a long breaker for once. He only managed 16 carries for 34 yards at home no less.The Steelers did nothing special other than play great defense and kick field goals. If this is some cycle we are going through where defenses finally get ahead of the offenses then I cannot wait until the inevitable rule changes to spark more scoring.
SEA 14, DEN 31 The dominating Seahawks of last week apparently stayed in Seattle because these guys were skull-thumped by the Broncos. Kyle Orton passed for 307 yards and two scores. Both Knowshon Moreno (24-51) and Correll Buckhalter (11-19) scored though did not rush that well. Demaryius Thomas had his debut and his eight catches for 97 yards and a score gives rise to some optimism that Brandon Marshall's absence may be getting filled. The Seahawks were rolled over pure and simple. Matt Hasselbeck passed for 233 yards and a score with three interceptions and no Seahawk gained more than 52 rushing or receiving yards. Apparently the Seahawks are back to being a beast at home and just beat on the road.
STL 14, OAK 16 Jason Campbell was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski who sparked a victorious comeback for the Raiders. Darren McFadden racked up 145 yards on 30 rushes and for the second week in a row looks like the guy he was always supposed to be and yet never was. Louis Murphy (6-91, 1 TD) was the top receiver but Darrius Heyward-Bey (6-80) wasn't far behind. Imagine if this entire offense was to have fantasy value. Could it be possible again? The Rams played tough and almost won the game thanks to the rookie Sam Bradford (167 yards, 2 TDs) and Steven Jackson who was, of course, both the lead runner (19-75) and receiver (4-50) and did not score. Hard to get excited about so few points but the Raiders are getting fantasy relevant again and the Rams may actually be more than just Jackson. The Oklahoma connection was in force again this week with Mark Clayton catching just two passes for 24 yards but both went for touchdowns.
NE 14, NYJ 28 The Jets lost Revis but suddenly discovered the offense that was absent last week. Mark Sanchez threw for 220 yards and for the first time in his career he tossed three touchdowns. Shonn Greene owners have to be plenty disappointed that he's losing out to LaDainian Tomlinson for the bigger share of the workload. Tomlinson gained 76 yards on 11 runs and had 26 yards on four receptions while Greene only managed 56 rush yards and four yards on one catch. Dustin Keller hit the waiver wire in many leagues last week and then turned in seven receptions for 115 yards and a score just to punish you. The Jets defense came up big against the Pats by allowing 52 yards on 20 rushes and limited the passing game to relying on Aaron Hernandez (6-101) while Randy Moss (2-38) and Wes Welker (6-38) had quiet games but both scored once. So far, just another game where both teams looked the opposite from last week.
JAC 13, SD 38 David Garrard has always been low on interceptions ( and yards and scores) but he tossed a career worst four picks in SD to ensure this offense was going nowhere. Maurice Jones-Drew was held to only 31 rush yards and 17 more on one reception. Mike Sims-Walker )10-105, 1 TD) thoroughly enjoyed not being covered by Champ Bailey this time. The Chargers lost Ryan Mathews to an ankle sprain but FB Mike Tolbert (16-82, 2 TD) had no problems taking his place. Philip Rivers (334 yards, 3 TDs) has a weird way of showing how much he misses Vincent Jackson. The game wasn't even as close as the score suggests and the Jaguars are struggling to move the ball. Once MJD is taken from the equation, all that is left is trash time pass yards.
NYG 14, IND 38 So now we know - the Texans are really good because the Colts looked like they were in top form with they destroyed Peyton's little brother. Peyton threw for 255 yards and three scores to the normal suspects in a yawner by halftime. Eli passed for 161 yards and two scores but this game was virtually a rout with the Colts allowing a two long passes for scores in the second half. Hakeem Nicks only had one catch for seven yards in the game until he caught a 31-yard touchdown with less than two minutes to play. Colts look like they are back after week one had them ripped apart by Arian Foster. Brandon Jacobs got a time out for throwing his helmet into the stands and chances are good he'll be talking to the principal again on Monday because no one is happy about Jacob's role and production on this team. Not much of a game here but at least there were trash time yards and scores and all your normal Colts fantasy starters had a big game.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

We're still seeing a high number of games finish with both teams failing to reach 20 points. There were six more this week and four teams that scored only ten points or less. There has been a whole lot of defense going on in the NFL much to the detriment of many fantasy owners. This week I break one of my rules. I would try to always find a Game-o-the-week that did not contain a team that was featured the previous week to share the love. This week - sorry. No way I can ignore the best game to watch:

Houston 30, Washington 27 OT

The biggest surprise in this game is that the Redskins could only muster about 250 yards and two field goals by the offense against the Cowboys. Who was to know what would happen when the Texans showed up fresh from their takedown of the Colts?

The Redskins opened with a field goal and after the Texans lost an interception on their third play of the game, the Skins went up 6-0 on Gano's second field goal.

But the Texans marched 83 yards on 11 plays and scored when Matt Schaub hit Jacoby Jones in the end zone from the WAS 5-yard line to open the second quarter. The Skins turned right around and found Joey Galloway for a 62-yard completion and four plays later saw Clinton Portis score from one yard out and a 13-7 lead.

After both teams traded punts, the Texans drove the field and allowed Neil Rackers to miss a 47 yard field goal.

Two plays later, Donovan McNabb connected with Fred Davis for a 62 yard completion and then Portis scored his second touchdown from the one-yard line. The half ended 20-7 and the Texans were clearly no longer at home playing a divisional rival.

The third quarter opened with a long drive for the Texans that ended with a 47-yard field goal and a 10-20 deficit. Didn't matter because the Skins then went 92 yards on ten plays that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley and an insurmountable 27-10 lead with 3:15 left to play in the third quarter.

But the Texans marched 78 yards on seven plays and saw Schaub score on a six yard pass to Kevin Walter. 17-27 was much more respectable way to lose. But the Skins then went three and out and the Texans reached the WAS 26-yard line with 11:15 left to play when Rackers kicked a 43-yard field goal for a 20-27 deficit.

The Redskins drove the field and when Gano attempted a 29-yard field goal it was blocked! A chance to go 30-20 was wasted.

Both teams had three and out series and with 3:16 left to play, the Texans started on their own 19-yard line. Andre Johnson caught a 29-yard pass and then Jones had a 18 yard gainer. After three tries from the WAS 34-yard line, the Texans went for it on fourth down with 2:11 left to play and Schaub hit Andre Johnson for the 34-yard score and a tied game.

Regulation ended with the tie and the Texans won the toss.

Using mostly Foster runs, the Texans battled to the WAS 34-yard line but instead of trying the 51-yard field goal, they punted a touchback.

McNabb took over on his own 20-yard line and relying on short passes reached the HOU 34-yard line where they did attempt the 51-yard field goal AND THEY MADE IT!

No wait. HC Gary Kubiak called a timeout at the last second just like Mike Shanahan has done so many times so that the kick, despite being very long and dead center did not count. The second attempt did count, only this one went very wide right.

This allowed the Texans to take over on the HOU 42-yard line and after six plays had reached the WAS 17-yard line where Rackers nailed the 35-yard game winner. It was the first time in franchise history that the Texans won an overtime game (now 1-6).

That makes the Texans 2-0 despite never being favored in a game.

When the dust all settled, fantasy owners were counting up the haul like it was Bonus day at Goldman Sachs.

Matt Schaub - 497 yards and three scores. Donovan McNabb - 426 yards and one touchdown.

Andre Johnson - 12-158, 1 TD. Kevin Walter - 11-144, 1 TD.

Arian Foster 69 yards rushing, 69 yards receiving. Clinton Portis 33 yards with two touchdowns.

It was a high scoring game where none was expected.

We still see a few teams that continue to struggle, a few that remain surprisingly good and most teams that are 1-1 and still left to figure out. What is your team? I would guess most leagues don't have more than three unbeaten teams - four at tops with two weeks of up and down play from most players. What's important to remember from this week? Could be that we're going to continue a bumpy ride for a few more weeks with little more than Jahvid Best as a week to week star.

Oh yes, and if you throw your helmet into the stands, it apparently requires three stadium employees and then one burly and pissed-off equipment manager to get it back.

Now get back to work...

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