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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 4
David Dorey
Octboer 4, 2010
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Shaun Hill 384 2
Carson Palmer 371 2
Kyle Orton 341 2
Peyton Manning 351 2
Bruce Gradkowski 294 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Arian Foster 187 2
LaDainian Tomlinson 155 2
Maurice Jones-Drew 121 2
Rashard Mendenhall 88 2
Jospeh Addai 82 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Terrell Owens 222 1
Calvin Johnson 86 2
Reggie Wayne 196 0
Eddie Royal 113 1
Donald Driver 89 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 144 2
Zach Miller 122 1
Dustin Keller 28 2
Joel Dressen 73 1
Dallas Clark 68 1
Placekickers XP FG
Matt Prater 2 4
Jason Hanson 2 4
Nate Kaeding 5 2
Phil Dawson 2 3
Matt Bryant 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Chargers 1 9 3
Giants 0 10 2
Titans 1 6 2
Packers 1 3 3
49ers 1 3 2

Bumps, bruises and bow outs

Steve Smith (CAR) - Sprained Ankle
Michael Vick (PHI) - Rib and chest injuries
Justin Gage (TEN) - Hamstring strain
Jay Cutler (CHI) - Concussion
Darren McFadden (OAK) - Hamstring strain
Willis McGahee (BAL) - Neck stinger
Clinton Portis (WAS) - Groin injury

and then there was one

And they were not even playing. The Kansas City Chiefs are the only undefeated team in the NFL. I could follow that with that internet prank where a scary dead looking girl suddenly shows up screaming on your screen but if you already digested that the Chiefs have the best record in the entire league - the prank probably wouldn't make you flinch.

The Bills, Lions, Panthers and 49ers are the only teams without a win. Only 11 teams have a winning record so it remains very wide open with no division leader having more than a one game lead if that.

wait a minute... coaches too? serious? What??

The Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil had a disagreement on a roughing-the-passer call thrown on DT Sen'Derrick Marks and showed his displeasure using a single finger which was, of course, captured by plenty of cameras. Players of course are heavily fined when they do that and as Mr. Cecil will discover this week, so are coaches.

Coaching salaries are not published but safe to say he's about to be out five figures and maybe even six figures. Chances are the fine will evoke the same hand signal only this time made in private.

ten random observations

1. There were six games decided by a field goal or less on Sunday and most continue to hover around 16 points or so. After four weeks, the teams are largely competitive with no dominating franchise other than a few when they are at home. We saw bad teams come to life like the Jags beating the Colts. The Steelers and Titans both lost at home. It's a "parity" sort of season unlike last year which had greater differences between the good and bad. We've got many games to go but making your starting decisions are not getting any easier.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew finally turned in a game worthy of his high draft pick. He rushed for 105 yards on 26 carries and had two catches for 16 yards with two total touchdowns. Jones-Drew had not scored in his first three games and came off games of just 48 and 89 yards. With his next games being @BUF, TEN and @KC, MJD may be finally turing his season around.

3. Terrell Owens just passed Isaac Bruce for second on the all-time list for receiving yards and at the age of 36 is the oldest wideout to ever record a 200+ yard game when he had ten catches for 222 yards and one score in Cleveland. That included a 78-yard score which was a career best for Carson Palmer. Unfortunately, the Bengals lost anyway thanks in part to Carson Palmer's lost two fumbles and the defense tiring of getting bashed by Peyton Hillis. But at least TO had a good game...

4. Depending on what the doctor reports are, Michael Bush could be the waiver wire darling this week if Darren McFadden is going to miss any time with his pulled hamstring. McFadden has been one of the biggest surprises this year with three straight games of 95+ rushing yards and plenty of receptions but he rekindled his durability problems with an injury in only the fourth game. And it wasn't the product of a hit, he pulled up lame on the end of a 23-yard run. Bush no doubt is laying on there on many waiver wires after having no value for three games. He'll be a nice addition to your team for any games that McFadden might miss.

5. Last week it was Braylon Edwards sitting out for one quarter after a DWI arrest and then catching a key touchdown as soon as he got on the field. This week was the unannounced benching of Arian Foster for the first quarter and then he too scored immediately once he was in the game. The benching was a coaching decision for some indiscretion that Foster had done. What is the purpose really? Did either player suffer for the discipline? No. They both were huge parts of the game plan once they were in. It just smacks of an adult timeout done only for the purpose to look like they were doing something. The reality is that neither move had any bearing on the game and marginal effect on either statistics. These are adults, more or less, and it just dumbfounds me why they bother with such ridiculous and hollow actions.

6. Mike Shanahan continues to tinker with the Washington backfield and if you think he has settled on anything ever, you're bound to be disappointed. Clinton Portis is nursing a wrist injury but still carried 11 times for 55 yards in Philly while Ryan Torain had 18 runs for 70 yards and a score but no receptions. Portis added two receptions for 26 yards. Recall too that the Skins started out with Larry Johnson and Willie Parker before eventually releasing both. Keiland Williams was noted by HC Mike Shanahan as being impressive a week prior to being released himself. Now Portis has a groin injury as well so maybe Torain will get at least a game or two of heavy use. But if you think Torain is a long term answer in Washington, why is it that he was out of football last year and when he was in Denver with Shanahan in 2008, he only started one game? Long as Portis is injured and out, Torain is worth owning and starting. But sticking with a Shanahan running back is like dating a stripper. Sure, maybe she will settle down and be reliable every week. There will be one or two weekends you will never forget. But you have to know, deep in your heart, that you're just going to wake up some Sunday morning all alone with a tattoo you suddenly regret.

7. The Cardinals already have given up on Derek Anderson. At least for one game. They opted for the rookie Max Hall who had no more success. But it has to be odd to be a Cardinals fan and see your team finally climb to the top of the NFL heap and then go cliff diving at low tide. Beanie Wells could be one of the best pure runners in the league at least in theory. We may never know if he continues to get only five carries per game. Larry Fitzgerald owners are suffering with their second round pick now performing like a tight end. The defense is worthless in fantasy terms. Not sure how much they paid Warner, but it was worth every penny.

8. Write it down. Sam Bradford is the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Yes, I know there has only been four games. And if, God forbid, he was injured in the near future, I would probably still promote him as the ROY. No one else comes remotely close now that Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best have been injured. He's undoubtedly snapped up in every league. I would never, ever, draft a rookie quarterback in a redraft leagues. And that would be proven as the right thing to do about 49 out of every 50 times. That doesn't make me feel any better this year.

9. The Bears were 3-0 and I thought they might be able to hold it together for one more week but it was not to be. Jay Cutler was concussed after being sacked nine times in the first half against the Giants. He's been sacked 17 times so far and is a punching bag in that offense with that O-line to protect him. But I think the Bears are at the end of their fun opening streak if Cutler misses any time. This offense may completely self-destruct without him and it already had zero success rushing the ball.

10. In case you were not aware, Kyle Orton has been on fire this year. He has thrown for no less than 295 yards in any game and averages 355 per week. He has six scores against three interceptions. He is on pace to throw for 5680 yards which of course is about 600 yards more than anyone in history. That cannot continue but then again - he's good for 295 yards every week or more. Now he has to play @BAL, NYJ and OAK which should knock him down... or will it?

Huddle Player of the Week

LaDainian Tomlinson - After three straight weeks with 60 or 70 rushing yards, the old man was suddenly showing up as a fantasy starter this week. He had 88 total yards and a score in Miami next week and has crushed the hopes of every Shonn Greene owner. Playing in Buffalo where running backs are routinely treated to a big game, Tomlinson gained 133 yards on 19 carries and caught three passes for 24 yards. He scored twice and looked very much like the LT2 of old. On the same week that John Carney came back to win a game at the age of 46, Tomlinson showed he's hardly used up. Viva la seniors!

Salute!

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

Comedy Line-up Yards TDs Tragedy Line-up Yards TDs
QB Shaun Hill 383 2 QB Jay Cutler 42 0
RB Derrick Ward 80 1 RB Ray Rice 29 0
RB Ryan Torain 70 1 RB Chris Johnson 64 0
WR Harry Douglas 59 1 WR Mike Sims-Walker 0 0
WR Brandon Gibson 50 1 WR Steve Smith CAR 11 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 115 0 WR DeSean Jackson 19 0
PK Matt Prater 2 XP 4 FG PK Jeff Reed 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 101

Huddle Fantasy Points = 12

Sunday Snippet

SF 14, ATL 16 The 49ers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and almost hung on for their first win. They held Michael Turner to only 50 rushing yards and Matt Ryan passed for 273 yards and a score to Harry Douglas but it came down to Roddy White (7-104) chasing down a defender who had intercepted the ball and stripping him. That allowed the Falcons to continue a drive and kick the winning 43-yard field goal. The 49ers once again had Frank Gore as the both the leading rusher (21-77) and receiver (7-60). Vernon Davis salvaged his game with his first touchdown on the season. The Falcons are 3-1 and tied with the Saints in the NFC West and the 49ers slip to 0-4 while praying that Mike Singletary maybe believes "close counts."
NYJ 38, BUF 14 The Bills pathetic rushing defense gave up 273 yards to Jets runners and LaDainian "I got your old geezer right here" Tomlinson had 133 of those yards and two scores. Dustin Keller also scored twice and Braylon Edwards had the remaining score. This was a big time beat down with Ryan Fitzpatrick passing for 128 yards and two scores but he was also the leading rusher (7-74) since all the running backs only had nine carries for 40 yards. The Jets are 3-1 atop the AFC East waiting to be joined by the winner of the Monday night game between MIA and NE. The Bills waft slowly to the bottom of the pond with a 0-4 record.
CIN 20, CLE 23 It had to happen eventually and the Browns pulled this one out despite a large difference in stats. Carson Palmer passed for 371 yards and two scores including a 78-yard TD pass to Terrell Owens who ended with ten catches for 222 yards and one score. Ochocinco settled for just 59 yards and Cedric Benson was held to 60 yards on 15 carries. The Browns had no star outside of Peyton Hillis (27-102, TD) who runs with the daintiness of a white rhino. The loss drops the Bengals to 2-2 which trails both BAL and PIT by one game. The Browns are 1-3 and by now that's good enough.
DET 26, GB 28 The Lions play so hard and come so close that you kind of feel bad for them. Jahvid Best played with a bad toe and still had 84 total yards. Shaun Hill passed for 331 yards and two touchdowns to Calvin Johnson (6-86) while Brandon Pettigrew led the team with 91 yards on eight catches. The Lions actually outscored them but the Packers had a returned interception for a score. Aaron Rodgers passed for 181 yards and three scores but no one else really had decent stats for the Packers. Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings all caught touchdowns but only Driver had any yardage (3-89). The win ties the Packers with the Bears for the NFC North lead while the Lions drop to 0-4 with yet another heartbreaker.
CAR 14, NO 16 The 46-year old John Carney kicked three field goals to preserve this win in yet another reminder that old age and treachery beats youth and potential at least in kicking field goals. Drew Brees passed for 275 yards and one score but in true Saints fashion no receiver had a significant game. Pierre Thomas was inactive and Chris Ivory gained 67 yards on 12 carries and Ladell Betts added 47 yards on 13 runs. Jimmy Clausen almost had his first NFL win but only passed for 146 yards and one score which included the 55-yard touchdown catch by Jonathan Stewart.. DeAngelo Williams finally had a decent game just when you figured he would not when he gained 86 yards and a score on a 39-yard run. Pretty boring game that makes you wonder if the Saints are getting bored. The Saints are 3-1 and tied for the division lead and the Panthers drop to 0-4.
BAL 17, PIT 14 The Steelers almost made it to their bye week with a perfect 4-0 record which was unthinkable a month ago knowing that Ben Roethlisberger would not play. Rashard Mendenhall gained 79 yards on 25 runs and scored twice but the passing game was dead with Charlie Batch (12-21, 141 yds) throwing one interception and no scores. The Ravens had minor success using Willis McGahee (14-39, TD) but only used Ray Rice on eight runs that covered just 20 yards. Joe Flacco was the difference maker with 256 passing yards and one score to T.J. Houshmandzadeh (3-49). Both Derrick Mason (6-80) and Anquan Boldin (7-68) had surprisingly good games. The Steelers now head off to the bye week tied for the division lead with the Ravens who get to host their next meeting.
SEA 3, STL 20 Not only are the Rams winning games, they now are doing it in a dominating manner? Steven Jackson ran for 70 yards on 22 carries with a gimpy groin and added 54 yards on three catches. Sam Bradford passed for 289 yards and two scores with just one interception. The Seahawks could get nothing going and settled for 191 yards by Matt Hasselbeck with one interception and 65 yards on 19 carries by Justin Forsett. The Seahawks and Rams are now 2-2 and tied for the NFC West lead with the Cardinals. Four games in and Bradford has the Rams tied for the division lead. His best receivers were Mark "hey this is really fun" Clayton, Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola.
DEN 26, TEN 20 You know, sometimes you have to accept that you are not supposed to understand everything. I first realized that during a High School Trigonometry class and again in this game. The Broncos have no rushing attack at all. Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter combined for 17 rushes for eight total yards. You run the QB sneak 17 times in a row and you'll gain more than eight yards. But Kyle Orton passed for 341 yards and two scores with Brandon Lloyd (11-115) and Eddie Royal (8-113, TD) the best. Chris Johnson once again missed on his trademark 50+ yard touchdown and only gained 53 yards on 19 carries. That left the game up to Vince Young (173, TD) and that wasn't going to happen. Now the Broncos and Titans are both 2-2 and one game out of the lead in their respective divisions.
HOU 31, OAK 24 The game began with every Foster owner cursing Gary Kubiak for his unannounced benching of the NFL's leading rusher but after a quarter or so of staring blankly at the field while wearing his helmet, his time out was apparently over. He came in and tore off a 74-yard touchdown run and ended with 131 yards on 16 carries and 56 more yards and a second score on his three receptions. The first quarter benching no doubt properly chastised Foster for whatever sin he had committed. Assumedly he could have also turned in the 117 yards that Derrick Ward and Steve Slaton produced. The Texans played without Andre Johnson and had no success with their wideouts. Joel Dreessen (5-73, 1TD) had a career best game as the lead receiver. Bruce Gradkowski threw for 278 yards and two scores that mostly went to Zach Miller (11-122, TD) and Darren McFadden (6-82). McFadden gained 47 yards on 12 carries as well but suffered a late game hamstring strain. The Texans rise to 3-1 and are alone at the top of the AFC South. The Raiders drop to 1-3.
WAS 17, PHI 12 The return of Donovan McNabb did not go as well as hoped by Philly fans who did give him a standing ovation at the first of the game. That was not televised so as to not interfere with the preconceived notions of Eagles fans by the rest of the league. It was a very close game that changed complexion when Michael Vick was sandwiched at the end of a run. Kevin Kolb became the starter again and passed for 201 yards and one score to Brent Celek who actually does still play for the Eagles. Celek had been spending games playing craps behind the bench but became a tight end again once Kolb entered the game. The other PHI wideouts had a horrible time like DeSean Jackson (3-19) and Jeremy Maclin (1-15). LeSean McCoy went nuts with 64 rushing yards and 12 receptions for 110 yards. McNabb only completed 8 or 19 for 125 yards and one score to Chris Cooley. Anthony Armstrong had one catch for 57 yards or McNabb would have remained below 100 yards. The interesting part of this game was that Clinton Portis (11-55) and Ryan Torain (18-70, 1 TD) are splitting the workload. The Redskins are now 2-2 and tied with these Eagles for the NFC East lead.
ARI 10, SD 41 Big-time rout saw the Cardinals limited to 124 total yards of offense and Derek Anderson was benched for the rookie Max Hall who produced the same anemic numbers except for the two interceptions that Anderson had. Chris Wells only had five carries since the Cards went immediately into their "oh crap, we're behind" passing formation for the entire game. Philip Rivers posted 241 yards and two scores with Antonio Gates getting the most with seven catches for 144 yards and both touchdowns. Ryan Mathews had 55 yards and a score on nine carries while Mike Tolbert was given more "let's end this" carries and gained 100 yards on 16 runs with a score as well. The Cardinals are 2-2 and tied for the lead in the NFC West and the Chargers are 2-2 trailing the Chiefs.
CHI 3, NYG 17 Jay Cutler finally was battered into submission when he was sacked nine times in the first half and suffered a concussion. His replacement Todd Collins was also knocked out of the game which allowed them to activate Caleb Hanie. Had Hanie been injured, it is not certain who would have taken his place because by then no one was willing to have direct eye contact with Lovie Smith. The Bears have a pathetic rushing attack and Matt Forte gained only 26 yards on 12 rushes. The only players that excelled in this game were Ahmad Bradshaw with 143 total yards and a score and Hakeem Nicks who caught eight passes for 110 yards. The Bears finally ran out of quirky fortunate plays and lost Cutler who became little more than a pinyata. The Bears are tied with the Packers at 3-1 for the NFC North lead. The Giants rise to 2-2 and are in a three way tie for the NFC East.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Good week with plenty of upsets and close games. Seems like half the games are ending up with both teams scoring two touchdowns and then a field goal deciding the winner. We saw old veterans and the youngest of rookies both excelling but not a lot of big performances this week. Only two receivers had more than 115 yards and only six had more than 100. Arian Foster, LaDainian Tomlinson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Terrell Owens and Reggie Wayne were the only major difference makers.

There were so many close games this week that I could have named six or more if I didn't mind a lack of points - but I do. And to me no question which game was the best this week:

Colts 28, Jaguars 31

The Jaguars were obliterated against the Chargers and Eagles with almost no signs of any offense and little defense. The Colts had recently stomped on the Giants and Broncos. This wasn't a match on paper but as always seems the case - it was any given Sunday.

There were some questions about Joseph Addai last week after he missed practices but that was quickly put aside when the Colts first series in Jacksonville saw them march 59 yards on 12 plays where Addai rushed in a 2-yard touchdown for the 7-0 lead.

But then the Jaguars got the ball and Maurice Jones-Drew gained 26 yards with runs on the first five plays. David Garrard found Mike Thomas for 21 yards and then rushed in a 29-yard score himself. It seemed more funny than threatening from an offense that had been struggling.

That was when the Colts went three-and-out and the Jaguars took over on the IND 45-yard line in the second quarter. On just their second series, it was more pounding by Jones-Drew. Mike Thomas had a 19-yard catch but every other play was a Jones-Drew run and he scored from the 1-yard line for a 14-7 lead.

This alerted the Colts that this game was not going to be the 31-7 blowout they have figured on. Manning put together a nice 85 yard drive that ended with a Dallas Clark 7-yard touchdown catch for a tied game with 7:45 left in the half. Neither team had success with their next series and went into halftime still tied.

The Jaguars opened the third quarter with a short series and punted to the Colts who reached the JAC-23 yard line before Manning threw an interception that was returned to mid-field.

Using mostly runs, the Jaguars reached the Colts 15-yard line where David Garrard connected with Marcedes Lewis for a 21-14 lead with 4:42 left in the quarter.

The Colts then put together a nice drive from their own 26-yard line and after 11 plays reached the JAC-23 yard line at the start of the fourth quarter. That was when Reggie Wayne lost a fumble that was recovered by the Jaguars. The Jags could do nothing with the ball and punted to the IND 4-yard line. with 11:50 left to play.

True to champion form, Peyton Manning then led the team all the way to the JAC 2-yard line without having a third down. Then Addai scored his second touchdown in the game for a 21-21 time with 7:39 left to play. Still plenty of time for Manning to get another score to win.

But the Jaguars returned the kick out to their 43-yard line and then mostly Jones-Drew runs brought it down to the IND 8-yard line with 2:13 left to play. Garrard passed to Jones-Drew for the touchdown and the 28-21 lead. That was the fourth touchdown by a team that only had one touchdown over the previous two games combined.

It was Pure Peyton. Taking over at the IND 35-yard line, he not only competed a 4th-and-ten with a 16 yard strike to Dallas Clark, he then hit Reggie Wayne for a 42 yard game to the JAC 7-yard line. WIth 52 seconds left to play, Austin Collie scored the tying touchdown.

All that had to happen was for the Jaguars to get the ball with only 42 seconds left to play and kneel on it. Go into overtime at home and hope for the coin toss and some luck..

Or... have Jones-Drew gain eight yards on a run. Then after an incompletion, Tiquan Underwood caught a six yard pass for a first down and then a 22 yard strike with only 14 seconds left to play. Who would cover a guy named Tiquan? He reached the IND 41-yard line and they killed the clock with only five seconds left to play. That equated to a 59 yard field goal attempt.

And Josh Scobee recorded the third longest field goal to win a game in NFL history. The Jaguars beat the Colts.

What a wacky week. We had coaches flipping off referees. The oldest receiver to ever have a 200 yard game. A 46-year old kicker saves the day in New Orleans and Old Man Tomlinson gave his own kind of finger to those who had written him off. It's nice to see age doesn't diminish the skill set of the truly talented and even a gray hair or two doesn't mean you are not at the top of your game.

Gosh, if I could only convince my son that is true... or the wife...

Now get back to work...

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