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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 6
David Dorey
October 18, 2010
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Kevin Kolb 326 3
Aaron Rodgers 313 2
Drew Brees 263 3
Ben Roethlisberger 257 3
Tony Romo 197 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Ryan Torain 109 2
Arian Foster 97 2
LaDainian Tomlinson 57 2
Joseph Addai 130 1
Christopher Ivory 175 0
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Jeremy Maclin 159 2
Dwayne Bowe 108 2
Calvin Johnson 146 1
DeSean Jackson 78 2
Andre Johnson 138 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Ben Watson 88 1
Tony Gonzalez 19 2
Heath Miller 50 1
Todd Heap 49 1
Vernon Davis 35 1
Placekickers XP FG
Stephen Gostkowski 2 3
Dan Carpenter 2 3
Sebastian Janikowski 0 3
Adam Vinatieri 3 2
Mason Crosby 2 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Steelers 0 5 3
Rams 0 7 1
Seahawks 0 6 1
Dolphins 0 5 1
Vikings 1 0 2

Bumps, bruises and bow outs

Seemed like a pretty heavy day for injuries.

Chris Cooley (WAS) - Concussion
Joseph Addai (IND) - Shoulder injury
Shaun Hill (DET) - Broken arm
Earnest Graham (TB) - Hamstring
Malcom Floyd (SD) - Hamstring
DeSean Jackson (PHI) - Concussion
Antonio Gates (SD) - Ankle injury
Josh Cribbs (CLE) - Concussion
Nate Kaeding (SD) - Strained groin
Mardy Gilyard (STL) - Hamstring
Eddie Royal (DEN) - Groin injury

like a sack race at a kegger

To say there are no clear leaders this year is an understatement. Sure the Jets are 5-1 but they nearly lost in Denver. The Steelers (4-1) seem likely to be there at the end unless their defense gets suspended for using helmets as sledge hammers. But the rest of them? The Pats, Ravens and Colts are likely to play in January but none are dominating and that final wildcard in the AFC would end up with one of about eight teams right now. The AFC West lost all of their games this week so the 3-2 Chiefs have the sole lead there.

The NFC is even uglier. The weakest division is the NFC West where every team won their game this week including - hooray! - the 49ers. You could argue for or against about five or six teams being the best but the Giants looked bad early on and the Eagles have bounced back to 4-2. The Bears still lead the NFC North that suddenly looks wide open (AKA mediocre) and the Saints just now are tied in the lead in the NFC South but have been less than stellar outside the division.

Only Buffalo and Carolina remain winless and both were on a bye this week. This just seems to be a very parity-ridden season.

Extra Credit

When people have quiet, restful moments there are a number of things they might do - nap, play solitaire, flirt with old girlfriends on Facebook, whatever. Or do as I do and play with NFL statistics just to gauge how the season is shaping up compared to the last year. Ends up very similar as it usually does with one small inconsistency.

Comparing the first six weeks of 2009 to 2010, rushing touchdowns by quarterbacks are down from 19 to only 8 this year. What is even more strange is that in 2009 those 19 scores were made by 18 different quarterbacks and only Ben Roethlisberger had two. Running back rushing scores have fallen from 123 to 114 so they have not had a bump in work at the goal line. Why have quarterbacks been rushing in so fewer touchdowns? That's a drop of nearly 60% in QB rushing scores.

ten random observations

1. Mike Williams caught ten passes for 123 yards for the Seahawks which should send several people back to the waiver wire to grab him while ignoring that he only had 11 catches for 138 yards in the previous month. In the same game was Johnny Knox with 120 yards on five receptions while his two previous weeks only totaled two catches for 40 yards and somehow he still has yet to score a touchdown. If there is one thing I hate, it is chasing the inconsistent wide receiver after he finally has one decent game. After six weeks, if a wideout hasn't been good in at least half his games you can probably forget about him.

2. I wrote about Dwayne Bowe last week and how he dropped passes. And this week, I actually started him because if any defense can make a receiver look good, it has to be Houston. And sure enough, Bowe caught six passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns. You have to love facing a bad secondary. And guess what, Bowe plays against the visiting Jaguars this week. Think I'll hold on to him for at least one more Sunday after all. Houston and Jacksonville are star makers.

3. Now we have to think about what to do with Deion Branch. First week with the Patriots - FIRST WEEK! (emphasis added as I benched him) he turns in nine catches for 98 yards and a score. Wes Welker only had 53 yards on seven catches and is apparently bent on being about 70% of what he was last year. Randy Moss is gone so can Branch really be more than a one week wonder? Sure, he was with the Patriots five years ago but he never had a 1000 yard season or more than five scores. He had twelve targets in the game as well. Not sure that I am ready to buy into Branch being more than a WR3 type quite yet but anyone who wants to see where this goes had better pay up the free agent bucks this week. Branch was facing the Ravens, so it wasn't like Dwayne Bowe. Then again, seems like there is always one running back and one wideout who comes out of relative obscurity right about this time of the season and then delivers big the rest of the way. And yes, I am talking to the Robert Meachem and Jamaal Charles owners of last year.

4. I am a big believer in both magic years and bad mojo years. Magic years typically describe at least one of the Super Bowl contestants who have a season with minimal injury and maximum good luck. The ball always bounces their way while their opponents always doink off the left upright in overtime. The Saints last year - magic year. The teams with the potential for a magic year to me are Houston, Kansas City, Chicago or Atlanta. This is the time of year either the fluffy love of lady destiny kicks in or they fall back from a nice start to the season. Houston needs a defense and Chicago has zero rushing game. The Falcons have not been even average on the road and the Chiefs are much better and yet in almost hard to pinpoint ways. If the Rams had any receivers who were above average in talent, I'd almost include them. It could fall apart for any of those teams but I bet at least one or two will be around in January and maybe in the later weeks of the playoffs. Happens every year before they become a pumpkin during the next season.

5. The bad mojo teams are never hard to find since they reside in or near the cellar in many divisions. The Cowboys and 49ers are definite bad mojo teams since the sum of their parts isn't even worth adding up. Both teams can hardly keep out of their own way when it comes to losing in all sorts of ways. The Cowboys are mostly shooting themselves while the 49ers suddenly just don't work like they used to last year. I think the Chargers have to considered in the bad mojo class as well. Carolina and Buffalo are both 0-5 and obvious bad mojo heavyweights along with the Browns who could win out the rest of their games and we'd still all agree they were a bottom five team. The Lions seem like a contender every year for the #1 Bad Mojo Award but that's not entirely fair. Unlike the rest of the league, the Lions have to suffer with God playing whack-a-mole with their players. No team can have rampant injuries like the Lions. Soon as a decent one pops up - BAM! - injured. When was the last time the Lions had the same QB, RB and WR1 play all 16 games? I'd say never but then again I have only followed football for about 30 years. That Matt Stafford sure looks goo - BAM! Hey Jahvid, let me see your toe - BAM! Calvin? Where's Calvin? Let me rub your shoulders...

6. For those of you still waiting for a running back to emerge in Tampa Bay, I want to commend you on your rampant sense of optimism. But Carnell Williams was still given ten carries despite only gaining 18 yards. Kareem Huggins had three runs for seven yards which technically was better than Williams. But LeGarrette Blount was inactive this week and the Bucs made Williams the #1 receiver with seven receptions for 63 yards. Just not going to happen and they do not care.

7. I do not remember Ryan Torain looking that big, He is 6'1" and 218 pounds which is definitely taller than most backs. He rushed for 100 yards and two scores on 20 carries and looked legitimately good on some of those runs against the Colts. The Redskins are using Keiland Williams as the receiving back (4-19, TD) but I still may have to re-evaluate Torain. Granted that running back is maybe the most plug-and-play of the offensive positions but a smidgen of talent takes you further. Now if he can only remain healthy for the first time ever...

8. Patrick Crayton is likely to fly off the shelves this week after catching six passes for 117 yards in St. Louis. The Chargers lost Antonio Gates to an ankle injury and Malcom Floyd had a hamstring strain. Legedu Naanee is already out. This is a prolific passing offense and to be the best receiver available could really pay off. All depends on how long the other three are to be out (if at all) but Crayton is a serviceable #2 wideout that can look like a WR1 if Rivers sets his sights on him.

9. The Rams relied on the rookie Danario Alexander for a team high four receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers and most do not know who the 6'5" wideout is. That's not surprising since he was undrafted thanks to four previous knee surgeries and the last one was in February to repair an injury he had in the Senior Bowl. He could not, of course, work out at the combine or during a pro day. He was signed to a contract and then cut and then later signed to the practice squad. He was just activated to help replace Mark Clayton and he has made his presence known. We'll see if he can sustain it and if he can remain healthy but figure on him being snapped up in most every league this week. Maybe this is the "Meachem" guy...

10. Chris Ivory ran for 158 yards on 15 carries as he slashed and bashed his way through the heart of the Buccaneers defense. This is the same guy who only gained 39 yards on ten carries in Arizona and 13 yards on seven runs against the Falcons. He did had 67 yards on 12 carries versus the Panthers though. His big day will beg the question - will he remain involved when Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush return? He's been somewhat inconsistent but with Thomas not above durability questions, chances are Ivory may hang around at least enough to mess up Thomas' stats.

Huddle Player of the Week

Kevin Kolb - The man who would be King was dethroned after only passing five times in week one when he was injured and Michael Vick had a good game in relief. But Vick has been out for two weeks and in his place has been Kevin Kolb who was solid in San Francisco and led the league this week with 326 yards and three touchdowns. He got "pipped" by Michael Vick who only faced the bad defenses of the Jaguars and Lions before getting hurt. HC Andy Reid cannot dare change his mind again so Kolb gets this honor and then likely the bench.

Salute!

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

Comedy Line-up Yards TDs Tragedy Line-up Yards TDs
QB Colt McCoy 281 1 QB Brett Favre 118 1
RB Chris Ivory 175 0 RB Jahvid Best 47 0
RB Danny Woodhead 115 0 RB Michael Turner 49 0
WR Deion Branch 98 1 WR Hakeem Nicks 8 0
WR Patrick Crayton 117 0 WR Miles Austin 9 0
WR Deon Butler 47 1 WR Malcom Floyd 15 0
PK Dan Carpenter 2 XP 3 FG PK Connor Barth nope

Huddle Fantasy Points = 92

Huddle Fantasy Points = 19

Sunday Snippet

SEA 23, CHI 20 Really? I mean come on - SEA never wins outside of Seattle and even then it would be like against ARI or STL. But the Bears could not score via the pass and Jay Cutler ended up with 290 yards and a few more bruises. Johnny Knox (5-120) was the only Bear that really mattered though Matt Forte at least rushed in one score. The Seahawks started Marshawn Lynch (17-44, TD) but he still had to split with Justin Forsett (10-67, TD). Mike Williams turned in 10 catches for 123 which was literally about the same as his totals over the four previous games. Devin Hester returned a punt for a score and that ties him with Brian Mitchell with 13 return TDs for the all-time NFL record. The win brings Seattle to 3-2 in a division that will do nothing more than provide tackling dummies in the wild card round of the playoff. The Bears drop to 4-2 and they don't look nearly so mean anymore.
MIA 23, GB 20
OT
The Packers couldn't get past their many injured players to stop the Fins from winning in overtime after Aaron Rodgers scored the tying touchdown with only 13 seconds left in regulation. He passed for 313 yards and one score which mostly went to Greg Jennings (6-133) who had an 86 yard touchdown. The Dolphins got 231 yards and two scores from Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall (10-127) showed up big this week. But the Fins still have to split the load between Ronnie Brown (19-73) and Ricky Williams (13-64). The Packers fall to 3-3 and are looking shaky with holes in the defense, no rushing game and no Jermichael Finley. The Fins are 3-2 but still trail the Jets by two games.
BAL 20, NE 23
OT
Gee, this was a popular game score. The Patriots had to stage a comeback to get this and Tom Brady (292 yds, 1 TD) seemed like he missed Moss in the first half. But then he clicked with Deion Branch (9-98, TD) who was likely on everyone's bench including one of mine. The Pats used five different rushers and Danny "Rudy" Woodhead (11-63) was the most productive. Joe Flacco (285 yds, 2 TD) actually outplayed Brady while using Derrick Mason (8-100) and Anquan Boldin (4-63, 1 TD) and Ray Rice was effective with 126 total yards. The loss for the Ravens drops them to 4-2 and just a half game behind the Steelers. The Patriots rise to 4-1 and trail the Jets. Each team had three possessions in overtime so it was truly anyone's game.
DET 20, NYG 28 Since the Lions just tied the all-time record for consecutive road losses (24), this was more like an overtime game. The Lions lost Shaun Hill to a broken arm but Drew Stanton filled in well with 222 yards and a score. Calvin Johnson wasn't even a lock to play in the game until late week but caught an 87-yard touchdown and ended with 146 yards and the score to show yet again to never bench your studs. Jahvid Best continues to fizzle with only 16 rush yards on 12 carries. Eli Manning passed for 177 yards and two scores which were spread out to favor no one. Ahmad Bradshaw ran 19 times for 133 yards but - gotcha! - Brandon Jacobs scored twice. The win keeps the Giants at the top of the NFC East while the loss is just another 1-5 start for the Lions.
ATL 17, PHI 31 Had the season started in week five, Kevin Kolb would be the permanent starter. This week he had 326 yards and three touchdowns which led to a barrage of media questions about his place as the starter but HC Andy Reid reiterated that he wasn't going to change his mind about the starter (at least not again). DeSean Jackson scored on both a run and a reception but was just leveled in a helmet-to-helmet collision and looks like he may miss one or more weeks. Jeremy Maclin (7-159, 2 TD) stepped up very nicely when Jackson left. Matt Ryan (250 yds, 2 TD) connected with Tony Gonzalez (3-19) for both scores while Roddy White (6-83) and the newly returned Michael Jenkins (5-99) led the team. Michael Turner only gained 45 yards on 15 carries. The win keeps the 4-2 Eagles at the top of the NFC East and the Falcons break their four game winning streak and are tied at 4-2 with the Saints in the AFC South.
CLE 10, PIT 28 The return of Ben Roethlisberger came at home against the Browns so he passed for 257 yards and three touchdowns and arrayed them neatly out to Hines Ward (5-54), Mike Wallace (3-90) and Heath Miller (2-50). We had forgotten that Miller played for the Steelers. Rashard Mendenhall scored once and had 99 total yards so it was a very nice "everyone scores" sort of game. Colt McCoy had his first start and passing for 281 yards and one score on the Steelers was truly impressive since he lost Cribbs and only threw to tight ends and running backs. Peyton Hillis only gained 41 yards on 12 runs but added 49 yards on six receptions. The loss drops the Browns to 1-5 while the Steelers are 4-1 atop the AFC North.
SD 17, STL 20 The Rams were waxed by the Lions 44-6 so beating the Chargers is a bit of an upset. Sam Bradford passed for 198 yards and one score to rookie Danario Alexander (4-72). No other STL receiver had more than 34 yards. Steven Jackson had one of his rare games that had both 109 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Rams defense was a big credit to the win and held Philip Rivers to only 249 yards and one score. With Antonio Gates injured, Patrick Crayton (6-117) became the primary receiver since Malcom Floyd was also injured. Ryan Mathews (12-64) ran well when given the chance and Mike Tolbert only had three carries but scored a touchdown. This game was largely controlled by the injuries suffered by the Chargers who are now only 2-4 along with Oakland and Denver. The Rams are 3-3 and only a half game out of the lead for the NFC West.
NO 31, TB 6 Six weeks into the season, the Saints finally looked like the Saints. Drew Brees threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns while Robert Meachem (4-71, TD) and Lance Moore (2-57, TD) were the most productive wideouts. Chris Ivory ran for 158 yards on 15 carries and even added a 17 yard catch. He was very impressive and ran with enough power and speed that you'd think he would replace Pierre Thomas if you ignored all the other games Ivory had. Besides, they still gave the TD run to Ladell Betts. The Buccaneers had Josh Freeman throw for 219 yards and a score but there is no rushing game here. None. Carnell Williams led the team with 18 yards on ten carries though he added 63 yards on seven receptions. No rushing game is a problem the Bucs apparently cannot fix and they are never willing to bench Williams to see who can maybe run for more than two yards per carry given more than a handful of carries. The Saints are 4-2 and now tied with the Falcons while the Buccaneers are 3-2 and not looking all that magical anymore.
NYJ 24, DEN 20 Mark Sanchez has finally thrown an interception this year, two in fact. The game pretty much came down to a fourth-and-six at the DEN 48-yard line when Denver safety Renaldo Hill was flagged for interference on Santonio Holmes near the goal line. LaDainian Tomlinson (16-55) scored his second touchdown after that play. Dustin Keller (3-75) led all receivers but Braylon Edwards (4-46) had the only receiving score. The Broncos had FIVE different players with three or more rushes though Knowshon Moreno (12-48) had the most in this committee backfield that included Tim Tebow who ran for his first NFL score and had six runs but no passes as the wildcat player. Kyle Orton passed for 209 yards and a score but it was easily the most meager yardage from the Broncos this year. And they still played the Jets almost even. Now the Jets are 5-1 and on a five game winning streak to lead the AFC East and the Broncos drop to 2-4 which in the AFC West keeps them in the thick of the division race.
OAK 9, SF 17 The 49ers finally reach the win column and for just one week it will be a good time in practice. Alex Smith passed for 196 yards and two scores with no interceptions and Frank Gore ran for 149 yards on 25 carries. Michael Crabtree (4-57) scored once in one of his "on" games while Vernon Davis (4-35) grabbed the other touchdown. Jason Campbell was horrible completing only 8 of 21 for 83 yards and two interceptions. Michael Bush was bottled up and only gained 47 yards on 20 runs. This team needs Bruce Gradkowski badly - Campbell just has never been able to run this offense with any measure of productivity. The loss drops the Raiders to 2-4 which is second place in the AFC West while the 49ers are just as happy as they can be to rise to 1-5 on the season.
DAL 21, MIN 24 Contender for Game-O-The-Week. Brett Favre got plenty battered and only threw for 118 yards and one score but had no turnovers. No receiver was better than Randy Moss with only 55 yards and Adrian Peterson was held to 73 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown. But the Vikings had Percy Harvin return the second half opening kick for a very important score while the Cowboys imploded on themselves. Tony Romo passed for 220 yards and three scores but had two interceptions. All combined, the Cowboys backs rushed 25 times for only 63 yards and the passing game mostly ignored the wideouts who collectively only had six catches. Roy Williams (3-28) had two touchdowns but Austin Miles was held to only 12 yards on two catches. He had a 68 yard touchdown catch too but - waa-waa-waa - there was an offensive interference penalty. The win gives the 2-3 Vikings hope since both CHI and GB lost today. The loss leaves the Cowboys at 1-4 where they all get to know "Bad Jerry". The only surprising thing in this game is that it did not end in overtime on a fake field goal attempt that was thwarted when the ball carrier was hit and fumbled, it was picked up by a defender who ran the wrong way for a safety for the other team. A Vikings field goal with 4 minutes left to play? Meh...
IND 27, WAS 24 Another contender for GOTW. Peyton Manning ended with 307 yards and two scores but should have been intercepted maybe three different times. The Colts did lose three fumbles. Pierre Garcon (4-103, TD) had some nice catches to lead the team and Reggie Wayne (6-71) and Austin Collie (7-57, TD) were close behind. Joseph Addai gained 128 yards and a score on just 17 carries before leaving with yet another shoulder problem. The Skins kept it very close with Ryan Torain (20-100, 2 TD) had a very nice game that rewarded those free agent hounds out there. But Donovan McNabb only threw for 246 yards and one score with two interceptions and as always there were no Redskins with big receiving numbers. The Colts merely outlasted the Skins and now are 3-2 and within striking distance of Houston. The Skins drop to 3-3 in the NFC East.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Two overtime games this week and with the exact same scores no less. This week was a little less upside down than the previous few but Seattle wins on the road? The Chargers are suddenly without any receivers? Dallas is 1-4? It's good theatre all around and a season that is not going to be clear on the good, the bad and the ugly until week 17.

The Game-O-the-Week is a great one with big points and a meeting of two teams trying to have a magic year.

Chiefs 31, Texans 35

This game started with an eight and a half minute drive that ended with Matt Cassel throwing to Mike Vrable for a score on fourth-and-one on the HOU 2-yard line. A classic Charlie Weis move. But this game was pretty boring with no more scoring until there were only seven minutes left in the second quarter. Matt Schaub found Joel Dreessen for a five-yard touchdown and a 7-7 tie. What a yawner.

The first half ended with the Chiefs reaching the HOU 17-yard line with 19 seconds left and Dwayne Bowe caught a touchdown for a 14-7 tie at halftime. Not exactly the stuff of fantasy dreams.

After trading series of punts in the third quarter, the Chiefs finally drove to the HOU 42-yard line where once again Cassel hit Bowe for a touchdown and a surprising 21-7 lead. At least the Chiefs were scoring.

But the Texans got the ball on their 34-yard line and the first play was a 17-yard completion to Jacoby Jones. Next was an 11-yard strike to Andre Johnson. Then Derrick Ward tore off a 38-yard touchdown run for a 21-14 deficit with 7:12 left in the third quarter.

The Chiefs then drove from their own 29-yard line to the HOU 6-yard line where they had to settle for a 24-yard field goal and a 24-14 lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter. This is where it all heated up.

The Texans returned the kickoff to the KC 46-yard line and three minutes into the fourth quarter scored on a 2-yard touchdown run by Arian Foster for a 24-21 game.

Not to be outdone, the Chiefs then drive 70 yards in five minutes and have Thomas Jones score from the 11-yard line for a 31-21 lead with only 7:11 left to play.

When the Texans got their kickoff downed at the HOU 14-yard line, Matt Schaub hit Owen Daniels for 24 and 27 yard gains and then mixed passes and runs to finish with a one-yard touchdown run by Foster again. That made the score 31-28 in favor the Chiefs who were wondering what they had to do to put these Texans away.

Unfortunately, what they did was get the ball on their own 33-yard line and only gain eight yards in three plays. With 2:30 left to play, the Chiefs punted a touchback that gave the Texans the ball on their own 20-yard line and needing a touchdown - not a field goal.

Schaub hit Foster for ten yards and then Johnson gained 15 more. On second and ten from the HOU 45-yard line with 1:54 left to go, Schaub found Johnson for a 31 yard gain. You might think covering Johnson would be especially prudent on this drive but he even drew a pass interference penalty they declined.

After two incompletions at the KC 24-yard line, Schaub connected with Daniels for 11 yards to the 13 yard line with 1:07 left to play.

Foster ran once for two yards and let the clock start to drain. On second down and eight, with 36 seconds left to play, Schaub scrambles to his left and throws a touchdown to the back left corner of the endzone where Andre Johnson, somehow amazingly, was running free.

The Chiefs did nothing with their 22 seconds and lost a game that they had led for 59 minutes and 24 seconds. So close.

It was a good week with some big scores and close games. In the end, it only matters what points are on the board when the gun sounds, not how long they have been there.

Here's hoping that you have one of those magic teams in your league starting this week.

Now get back to work...

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