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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 3
David Dorey
September 27, 2010
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Michael Vick 321 4
Philip Rivers 455 2
Drew Brees 365 3
Kyle Orton 476 1
Peyton Manning 325 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Adrian Peterson 190 2
Chris Johnson 125 2
Peyton Hillis 180 1
Cedric Benson 90 2
Rashard Mendenhall 143 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Anquan Boldin 142 3
Austin Collie 171 2
Lance Moore 149 2
Roy Williams 117 2
Brandon Marshall 169 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Dustin Keller 98 2
Tony Gonzalez 110 1
Antonio Gates 109 1
Jeremy Shockey 78 1
Zach Miller 64 1
Placekickers XP FG
Rian Lindell 3 3
Josh Brown 3 3
Sebastian Janikowski 2 3
Dan Carpenter 2 3
Graham Gano 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Seattle 2 4 5
Pittsburgh 1 4 2
Philadelphia 0 6 1
Dallas 0 4 1
Arizona 1 3 1

Bumps, bruises and bow outs

Jahvid Best (DET) - Toe injury
Vishante Shiancoe (MIN) - Leg injury
Steven Jackson (STL) - Groin injury
Sebastian Janikowski (OAK) - Lost sense of direction
Demaryius Thomas (DEN) - Shoulder injury

Well, it beats picking up trash on the highway

The Miami Dolphins wore their "alternative" jerseys on Sunday which were rather bright orange and had that "Convict Rodeo" look about them. Since the Dolphins failed to rally for a win, we can only hope the Great Pumpkin look stays in an equipment box for a long time.

Partly cloudy with no chance of reign

The NFL is now only three games into the new season and there are only two teams that are 3-0 - the Chiefs and Steelers. Either the Bears or Packers (ding) will be 3-0 after Monday night. Didn't take too long to weed out the unbeaten. The Steelers return home to face the Ravens and the Chiefs take the bye week and pretend it is already the end of the season.

Sadly, futility is always easier and more crowded. The 0-3 teams are the Bills, Browns, Lions, Panthers and 49ers. Hard to say which if those are the worst but I am pretty sure it is not the 49ers if only because I don't want Mike Singletary to found out I said that.

ten random observations

1. I want to get ahead of the curve in Tampa Bay where the rushing game is nothing short of pathetic and someone else will be getting playing time if not a new starting gig. Carnell Williams has racked up a whole 55 carries for 139 yards during the three games for an anemic 2.5 YPC. That cannot continue. Kareem Huggins was the potential answer in the summer when he had some impressive play in preseason games but he was injured and has not been seen since. He was angling to play this week but had a setback and was inactive for the game. Huggins is not that big at 5'9" and 198 pounds and some think maybe he'll be a third down back at best. I still want to see him play. The Bucs used LeGarrette "what are you looking at" Blount and at 247 pounds and 6'0" he packs a wallop. Blount gained 27 yards and one score on just six carries against the Steelers so he is worth a look. Something has to happen in Tampa Bay and their schedule is getting easier.

2. The other place I am watching is New Orleans. Pierre Thomas has never been a paragon of durability and he'll be getting more work with Reggie Bush sidelined. The rookie Chris Ivory hasn't done much yet but he got seven runs for 13 yards against the Falcons this week. If you watched the game, Thomas appeared to have his ankle broken on one play but got taped up and returned to play apparently none the worse. But if he goes down and the Saints have an easier opponent, Ivory should be an interesting one to own.

3. Dustin Keller is going to be a starter in every league now that he had 7-115 and a score against the Patriots and then 6-98 and two scores in Miami. And while I can appreciate that, I have to wonder what happens when the rushing attack faces a weaker opponent? Or when Santonio Holmes shows up and Mark Sanchez has three good wideouts to use? I have to wonder if Keller isn't about as high valued as he is going to get. I think 100 yards and a score or two every week is going to be rather hard to sustain.

4. Brandon Marshall owners were probably getting antsy after two weeks where he had around six catches for 60 yards in each game. Then when the Jets bring their top-rated defense to town, he turns in 10 catches for 166 yards and a score. Chad Henne finally was connecting at will with him and that's against about as tough of a secondary as it will get. Speaking as a non-Marshall owner, it gets pretty tedious watching a guy catch pass after pass after pass. He's like Welker only he scores too.

5. Seems sort of weird. Week three in the books and so far those rookie running backs are strictly limited to first rounders doing anything. C.J. Spiller (1.09) finally got it going this week and Jahvid Best (1.30) had it stop. Ryan Mathews (1.12) did not make it past last week. But beyond that not much to look at other than Anthony Dixon (6.04) scoring a touchdown that belonged to Frank Gore. Three guys that matter and already two are injured. And there we will be next summer in our fantasy auctions bidding up the next batch of rookie runners like the seedlings were already mighty oaks. Where there is fantasy football, there is hope. Rampant, near-impossible hope.

6. I am thinking it is time to drop Brett Favre. I own him in one league mainly because 11 other team owners conspired against me and caught me bidding up players that I did not want. So one Jerome Harrison later, I could only afford Favre for a quarterback. But man - it is just not happening with #4. Three weeks later and he has two touchdowns and never more than 225 yards. I have kids to feed. My jeep needs bigger tires. This is not cutting it. He started slowly last year too but for ONE GAME. By now he already had a 300 yard effort and five touchdowns. The only positives in Minnesota is the rushing of Adrian Peterson. Favre is playing like Tarva... Tarvar... never mind. No need on spending my life worried about purple assassins. I just have to come to terms with who this #4 is and then start Hasselbeck or Cassel.

7. I am liking Bruce Gradkowski and the rest of the Raiders offense. They are like that family down the street that you always avoided but then you find out that their parents let them shoot BB guns from their bedroom windows and ride minibikes without supervision. Sure, the Raiders have a ways to go to regain respectability but there is a passing game now with Bruce Gradkowski, Louis Murphy and Zach Miller. And Darren McFadden is one of the top runners. No one knows why he is. No one knows why he spent two seasons playing football with the dedication of a DMV worker and now is everything you hoped two years ago when you had to draft a rookie runner. Granted, Janikowski screwed the team with his kicking on Sunday but this team is better and should be 2-1.

8. My advice if you own Fred Taylor - toss him back into the free agent pile and then hope that whoever is released to pick him up is better. Many fantasy team owners draft the various Patriots running backs but do you play them? Doesn't that hurt? I own Taylor in one league, started him in week one and not since and now will drop him because there is no consistency in what they will do in New England. And you BenJarvus Green-Ellis owners who maybe even started him this week? Congratulations. That was like a drug dealer giving you your first high for free. Because no matter what, it's never going to be that good again even though you keep trying. Same thing with the Saints receivers. Sure, everyone wants Lance Moore this week. Ask Robert Meachem owners what to expect in the future.

9. Kenneth Darby looked almost adequate replacing Steven Jackson this weekend. He rushed for 49 yards on 14 carries and had one catch for eight yards but he had moments where he ran well. In the past, the Rams somehow managed to have no runner of any note behind Jackson despite his guarantee to be injured for a game or two. Darby looked better than the past replacements did. He even scored a touchdown. He's a lock to be scooped up in every league that left him ride the waiver wire so far.

10. In all of 2009 in the Year of the Quarterback, there were a total of seven games that had a passer of over 400 yards. Pretty heady stuff that 400+ production level. There were eight times a passer went over 400 yards in 2008 and only four times in 2007. This year has only been going for three weeks and already we have seen it happen five times. That is a pace for 27 games with a 400+ yard passer! It will slow down later in the year but so far there's some major quarterback points each week.

Huddle Player of the Week

Anquan Boldin - He changed teams to become the #1 receiver and had to settle for a Ravens squad which had never passed well nor often. But Joe Flacco had a big game and when the dust settled it was all about Boldin with eight receptions for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Not bad after his 35 yards and no score last week.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Charlie Batch 212 3 QB Brett Favre 210 1
RB Peyton Hillis 190 1 RB Jahvid Best 39 0
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 104 1 RB Joseph Addai 39 0
WR Lance Moore 149 2 WR Miles Austin 20 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 169 1 WR Steve Smith CAR 22 0
WR Steve Johnson 66 1 WR Marques Colston 25 0
PK Rian Lindell 3 FG 3 XP PK David Akers 4 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 139

Huddle Fantasy Points =30

Sunday Snippet

TEN 29, NYG 10

The Giants rolled up some nice yardage but killed themselves with turnovers, penalties and even a safety. Steve Smith (9-103) finally showed up and Ahmad Bradshaw had a decent game with 112 total yards and a touchdown but Manning passed for 386 yards and no scores and two interceptions. About all the Titans really did was play take-away style defense and let Chris Johnson (32-125, 2 TDs) bounce back after a low game last week that made the rest of us happy. The Titans are 2-1 and the Giants fall to 1-2. Two straight weeks now the Giants have been humbled.

CIN 20, CAR 7 This game was mostly just ugly with Cedric Benson touchdowns on either end. Jimmy Clausen's debut had him throwing 16 of 33 for 188 and one interception and two lost fumbles. He ended his day by getting a hard shot to his ribs. DeAngelo Williams (10-64) was effective but never got the carries he needed and Jonathan Stewart (8-13) stole the only touchdown. This was an ugly game for Carson Palmer with his two interceptions and there was no decent fantasy stats from any receiver outside of Benson because he caught the touchdown. The Bengals are 2-1 and rising while the Panthers are 0-3 and swirling down the drain.
DAL 27, HOU 13 The Cowboys finally got into gear with a defense that held Matt Schaub to 241 yards and a score with two interceptions. Arian Foster gained 106 yards on 17 runs but no other player for the Texans had decent stats. Andre Johnson led the wideouts with 64 yards and Kevin Walter scored the meaningless late game touchdown. To add to the surreal nature of the game, Roy Williams had his best game as a Cowboy when he caught five passes for 117 yards and two scores. When Dallas wins and Miles Austin only has 20 yards on two catches against one of the softest secondaries in the league, you know this was not a normal game. The Cowboys finally get a win while the Texans finally get a loss.
SF 10, KC 31 Sometimes you just have to forget you ever knew teams before this year. The Chiefs take down the reeling 49ers with Matt Cassel throwing for 250 yards and three touchdowns. As always, Jamal Charles was devastating despite being limited to 15 touches that gained 154 yards because Thomas Jones (19-95) still is considered a better choice and even was given the touchdown run. The best part of this week for the Chiefs was that Dwayne Bowe (2-61, 1 TD) finally showed up and Tony Moeaki (4-44, 1 TD) remains the biggest TE surprise this year. Fran Gore was held to only 43 yards on 15 carries but added nine catches for 102 yards. No one else mattered for the 49ers who now drop to a horrific 0-3 while the Chiefs rise to an unbelievable 3-0 on the season.
DET 10, MIN 24 The Vikings are still struggling to pass but at home they took the chains off Adrian Peterson who cruised to 160 yards and two scores on 23 carries for the difference in the game. Percy Harvin made it past migraines and sore hips to score once with six catches for 62 yards but otherwise this was all Peterson. Jahvid Best reaggravated a toe injury from back in week one and was pulled in the game. Only Tony Scheffler (7-60,1) had a decent game for the Lions. The Lions drop to a familiar 0-3 and the Vikings finally get a win.
BUF 30, NE 38 WHAT? WHAT? What would a week be like without at least one game that makes you do a double-take when you see the score. The same team that could not score more than ten points in a game (at home no less) hits the road to New England and somehow scores 30? C.J. Spiller apparently is an actual running back and he scored on one of his three catches for ten yards and added a 95-yard touchdown kick return. He ran for 29 yards on only four carries. The Bills swapped out Trent Edwards for Ryan Fitzpatrick who threw for a very un-Billish 247 yards and two scores. The Pats rolled up the points as well but outside of Tom Brady (252, 3 TDs) it was another odd game with BenJarvus Green-Ellis (16-98, TD) and AAron Hernandez (6-65) team leaders in rushes and catches. Randy Moss caught two scores but only 42 yards and only those two catches. How about Wes Welker ending with four catches for 45 yards? The Bills slide further down to 0-3 and the Pats rise to 2-1. Gotta love inter-divisional games where anything can happen.
PIT 38, TB 13 The Steelers enjoyed a big game from Charlie Batch (186 yards, 3 TD) where he only had to complete 12 of 17 passes. Mike Wallace roared back to life with three catches for 100 yards and two scores and Hines Ward (3-34) supplied the third receiving touchdown. Rashard Mendenhall gained 143 yards on 19 runs with one score. It was a dominating performance against an once-unbeaten Buccaneers team that only rushed for 60 yards on 15 carries but scored once on the ground. Josh Freeman (184) was unable to get on track though Arrelious Benn (3-33) had some playing time. Big-time smack down that was never in doubt. The Steelers are 3-0 and getting close to handing the team back to Ben Roethlisberger while the Buccaneers drop to 2-1.
CLE 17, BAL 24 Did the crappy offenses suddenly find a new chapter in their playbooks? The Browns got a TD pass from Seneca Wallace and the Browns had no turnovers. Peyton Hillis replaced Jerome Harrison and merely gained 144 yards and a score on 22 carries and had seven receptions for 36 yards.... IN BALTIMORE. The Ravens won handily anyway thanks to Anquan Boldin's three touchdowns and 142 yards but he didn't leave anything for the other receivers. Ray Rice ran for 80 yards and Joe Flacco passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions this week. The Ravens apparently wanted to take a week off and still got away with it. Seriously - the Browns? The 0-3 Browns?
WAS 16, STL 30 Re-evaluate what you think of the Rams because this team is changing after years of providing a wonderful source of fantasy points (for opponents). There is a defense here. There is an offense here. And when Steven Jackson is injured (Part VIII), the entire offense no longer implodes. Both Donovan McNabb and the rookie Sam Bradford had nearly identical games of about 235 yards, one score and one interception. Steven Jackson (10-58, 1 TD) left with a leg injury and Kenneth Darby (14-49, TD) still kept the offense chugging along. Santana Moss had a big game with 124 yards and a score on six catches but the Redskins are now mixing both Clinton Portis and Ryan Torrain in equal measures which still did not have any fantasy value. The Skins and Rams are both 1-2 now but only the Rams had their owner running through the post game locker room high fiving players.
PHI 28, JAC 3 Michael Vick helped cement his place as the starter by facing a horrible secondary for the second week in a row. He passed for 291 yards and three scores and added a fourth touchdown on his four runs for 30 yards. DeSean Jackson had another big week with 153 yards and a score on five catches and Jeremy Maclin (4-83) scored twice. But Vick is surprisingly taking down LeSean McCoy's stats more than anyone else. Brent Celek (4-42) at least showed up in a box score but also is greatly lagging expectations. Garrard is going to battle the critics calling for someone - anyone - to take over the starting job from him after he completed 13 of 30 for 105 yards and one interception. MJD owners are the ones dabbing tears from their eyes since he has yet to score, has very little role as a receiver for unknown reasons, and he is averaging 83 total yards per game. The Jaguars are 1-2 and looking weaker while the Eagles rise to 2-1.
IND 27, DEN 13 FInally, one game that follows the expected path. Sort of. The Colts were without Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon so practice player Blair White was promoted to the active roster. When Peyton Manning is your QB, that means you get a touchdown in your very first game. The Broncos stuck Champ Bailey on Reggie Wayne which meant that Austin Collie went nuts with a career best 12 catches for 171 yards and two scores. No other receiver had more than 65 yards. The Colts had almost no rushing game either with 20 carries for 41 yards split between Joseph Addai and Donald Brown. Kyle Orton had a career high 476 passing yards but only one touchdown. Both Brandon Lloyd (6-169, 1 TD) and Jabar Gaffney (12-140) had big games and will be plucked, once again, from the waiver wires out there. They will then have really low games, be released and then have another big game. So it has been, so it shall be. Laurence Maroney (12-24) took over for Knowshon Moreno with roughly the same results. The Colts now rise to 2-1 and the Broncos fall to 1-2.
OAK 23, ARI 24 Game-of-the-week contender to be sure and a game that should have been an upset (like I predicted... sigh) but in the end not only is Sebastian Janikowski unable to kick a 58 yard field goal, he cannot even hit a 32 yarder at the end of the game (that's a line of scrimmage of the 17-yard line). In addition to the non-field goals, the game opened with a 102 yard kickoff return by LaRod Stephens-Howling. Darren McFadden gained 105 yards and a score for his third straight game over the century mark (note - he only had one in his first two years). Michael Bush finally played but only for three carries and 13 yards. Louis Murphy (5-119) is still liking Bruce Gradkowski and Zach Miller (4-64, TD) had a big game as well. The Cards only had 26 yards on two catches from Larry Fitzgerald but at least he had one touchdown. Chris Wells returned and gained 75 yards on 14 carries. He looked sharp and ran well. This near miss leaves the Raiders at 1-2 and the Cardinals rise to 2-1.
SD 20, SEA 27 Just more of the odd games from the weekend. Leon Washington returned two kickoffs for touchdowns for only the tenth time in NFL history. Philip Rivers passed for 455 yards and two scores which is more yardage than any Chargers quarterback or Seahawks opponent had ever accomplished. With the rookie Ryan Mathews out of the way, Mike Tolbert gained 73 yards on 17 carries but most of the damage was done by Antonio Gates (7-109, TD) and Malcom Floyd (6-97, TD) but even Craig "Buster" Davis managed 82 yards on three catches. The Chargers lost three fumbles and two interceptions. The Seahawks did not do much other than let Washington return kicks. Justin Forsett (17-63) was the fulltime running back since Washington was always sucking oxygen on the sidelines. John Carlson (5-61, TD) was the lead receiver but the Seahawks mostly did not make mistakes and killed them with special teams. It too was an exciting game all the way to the end. Now the Chargers fall to 1-2 and the Seahawks are 2-1.
NYJ 31, MIA 23 The late game was exciting to watch with a surprising amount of scoring and yardage. Braylon Edwards was punished for blowing double the legal limit in a DWI case by having to watch the game for 15 whole minutes before entering and recording a 67-yard touchdown. Rex Ryan further punished him by cuffing the back of his head when he returned from the score. No need for any NFL intervention on this one. Mark Sanchez passed for 256 yards and three scores which also benefited Dustin Keller (6-98, 2 TD). Shonn Greene continues to be a painful draft pick with only 36 yards on ten carries while LaDainian Tomlinson had 88 total yards and a touchdown. Chad Henne enjoyed the absence of Darrelle Revis when he passed for 363 yards and two scores. That went mostly to Brandon Marshall (10-166, 1 TD) and Davone Bess (6-86). The Fins actually used four running backs so even Ronnie Brown barely merits any fantasy starts. The Jets now rise to 2-1 and the Fins fall to 2-1.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

What a great weekend! Lots of upsets and all of a sudden - everyone is scoring again. Not one game had it where neither team could score 20 or more points. At least one team always had that much and some a lot more. The Bills can score 30 points? The Browns 17? The Rams 30? The Texans 13? (oops).

Big weekend for points and yet there were plenty of under performers and many of the biggest fantasy scorers were not even normal starters. This was a re-adjustment week just in case you thought the first two weeks were going to just continue as is. Some of these teams will continue to develop for many more weeks and some are who they are - like those 0-3 teams excepting the 49ers.

The Game-O-The-Week was a great one to show what change is all about.

Atlanta 27, New Orleans 24

Talk about back and forth.

The first series for the Saints started on the Falcons 6-yard line thanks to a 72 yard punt return by Lance Moore. After two runs netted three yards, Jeremy Shockey caught the first touchdown.

On the next series for the Falcons, they marched 80 yards and ended nine plays later with a scoring pass to their tight end Tony Gonzalez.

But then the Saints were intercepted on their next play and the Falcons had to punt after their three-and-out. The Saints took over at their own 14-yard line and four plays later Drew Brees found Lance Moore for an 80-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead to end the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the only scoring came with just 1:06 left to play when Michael Turner bulled in a one-yard score for the tie game of 14-14 that lasted to the half time.

The Saints took their opening drive in the third quarter down to the ATL 32-yard line before Chris Ivory lost a fumble. The Falcons then ended with a field goal with 3:47 left to play in the third and a lead of 17-14.

The Saints had to punt from their own 20-yard line on the next series but the Falcons returner muffed the punt that was recovered on the ATL 42-yard line by the Saints. Five plays later and Lance Moore struck again with a 16 yard touchdown and yet another lead change 21-17 at the end of the quarter.

But the Falcons took their next drive from their own 23-yard line all the way down to the NO 22-yard line where Matt Ryan finally found Roddy White for a touchdown and a 24-21 lead with nine minutes left to play.

After both teams had one series without a score, including Matt Ryan throwing an incomplete on fourth and six from NO 37-yard line, the Saints took the ball at the 3:32 mark on their own 37 yard line and moved the ball down to the ATL 15-yard line with time expiring when Garrett Hartley kicked a 32-yard field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.

The Falcons won the toss but went three and out.

The Saints took over on their own 32-yard line and drove the field as you knew they would. Three completions advanced the ball to the ATL 11-yard line where Garrett Hartley probably ended his career with a missed 29-yard field goal. Wide left. It was only about eight yards longer than an extra point.

The Falcons took the gift and never looked back, relying on Saints penalties and mostly Turner runs to reach the NO 28-yard line where Matt Bryant nailed the game winner - 27-24.

The Raiders lost in much the same way. All that work for naught because of a kick. At least the Saints did not have to fly home.

And the NFL is now mixed up with teams that are mostly 1-2 or 2-1. The 0-3 teams look like they mostly belong there but the 3-0 teams are not going to last much longer. How is your league in this season of so many monster performances in just three weeks? Is it possible for more than one team to have made it to 3-0? We're still a long ways from knowing for sure what to expect from every NFL team each week and already we are seeing injuries changing the outcome of fantasy games.

More changes to come. If you are 1-2 or 2-1 you are doing fine for now. An 0-3 start hurts but can be overcome. But a 3-0 start? Share your top 3 players in the comments section below and let's see who were the magic picks so far.

And for the rest of you chin up, at least they don't make you wear bright orange jerseys to your job today!

Now get back to work...

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