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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 8
David Dorey
November 1, 2010
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
David Garrard 262 5
Matthew Stafford 212 4
Kyle Orton 387 1
Jon Kitna 391 1
Jason Campbell 314 2
Running Backs Yards TD
LeGarrette Blount 129 2
BenJarvus Green-Ellis 123 2
Jamaal Charles 238 0
Adrian Peterson 142 1
Frank Gore 125 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Calvin Johnson 101 3
Brandon Lloyd 169 1
Mike Sims-Walker 153 1
Darius Heyward-Bey 135 1
Larry Fitzgerald 72 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 123 1
Marcedes Lewis 51 2
Jason Witten 97 1
Daniel Fells 35 1
Craig Stevens 29 1
Placekickers XP FG
Dan Carpenter 1 5
Sebastian Janikowski 3 4
Mason Crosby 0 3
Kris Brown 3 2
Connor Barth 5 1
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Detroit 1 7 2
Tampa Bay 2 1 4
Oakland 0 8 1
Arizona 1 2 2
St. Louis 0 3 4

Bumps, bruises and bow outs

Kenny Britt (TEN) - Hamstring injury
Vince Young (TEN) - Ankle injury
Brett Favre (MIN) - Jaw laceration
Vernon Davis (SF) - Ankle re-aggravated
Ryan Torain (WAS) - Hamstring injury
Donald Driver (GB) - Reaggravated Quad injury
Mike Tolbert (SD) - Ankle sprain

It just gets messier every week

We're right at the midway point to the NFL season and while there are a handful of teams that are bad without any expectation of improvement, the league overall only gets less clear at the top - bottom line there really are no truly dominant teams in the league and only the Pats have as good as 6-1 on the season.

There are only five losing records of the 16 AFC teams and just six in the NFC. And yet ten teams have at least five wins already. The Bills are still searching for their first win despite being quite competitive in most games. The Cowboys are celebrating their 50th year as a franchise with a 1-6 record that screams for heads to roll. Overall, hard to say any team is a lock for anything at this point... at least for being a top team that is.

I did not see that coming

How great is this?

The New York Jets have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL and a consensus pick to reach the AFC Championship game. They feature one of the most dominant defenses and at home went against the very injury decimated Green Bay Packers. They were tied for the best record in the NFL. The Jets came off of their bye and had two weeks to prepare for this game. And so what happens?

The Jets are now the only team that has been shutout this year.

ten random observations

1. The media is screaming for Wade Phillips to be fired which after a 1-6 start is not hard to imagine. Jerry Jones has said before he does not plan on switching horses in the middle of a season but he's going to get really tired of answering questions every week. My bet - Phillips gets the axe and he may even ask for it. Tooting my own horn is my prediction that they would lose this week despite what should have been their easiest game of the season. While I did not for see the total implosion of the defense, these Cowboys didn't have the hunger or killer-instinct with Romo and stepping down another level to Kitna only makes it worse. On the plus side, now the Cowboys get to be a potential trap game for their opponents. Plus Kitna may be a goldmine if you get no negatives for interceptions.

2. To those free agent hounds who scooped up LeGarrette Blount and waited patiently for him to matter, hope you started him this week since he ended up as the highest scoring running back with two touchdowns and 129 total yards. He had a 48-yard run that started with him hurdling a would be tackler and ended with him stumbling and being caught from behind. Blount is no speedster but at 6'0" and 247 pounds he's a load to bring down. He did not have any carries until late in the first quarter and only had four carries for 12 yards at halftime but his second half production should buy him earlier work from here on out. Blount did lose a fumble that was returned for a score which is a concern. But he also seems the perfect back to wear down defenses late in the game to protect a lead. Before you think you have the next Chris Johnson, realize that the next four games include @ATL, @SF and @BAL along with a home game against the Panthers. Chances are less that the Buccaneers will be protecting a lead in most of those games. But man - this was the first time that the Buccaneers looked like they were even trying to use a decent back.

3. Randy Moss had a brief post game showing in the press conference where he said he had paid $25,000 for refusing to speak to the media last week. So he would speak but take no questions other than ones he posed to himself. He then said he meant no disrespect to his Vikings team mates but that he "loved and missed his teammates" with the Patriots and then he left. It was sort of funny and probably not what Vikings fans were wanting to hear. Apparently Moss was one of the smoothest firings that the Patriots ever did.

4. Had to be thoroughly impressed with Matthew Stafford and not just because he had 212 yards and four scores, but because he managed to complete nine passes to Calvin Johnson for 101 yards and three scores when everyone in the entire stadium knows that Johnson is the first read on every pass play. Shaun Hill had been impressive in his relief work but Stafford stepped back in and looked sharp against a decent secondary. We'll see this weekend how well he can handle the visiting Jets since a one receiver offense usually does not fare well against them.

5. I'm pretty convinced that the Panthers are officially the worst team in the league. Sure, the Bills are 0-7 but they are fun to watch and are in so many close games that is must be maddening to root for them. The Cowboys are 1-6 like the Panthers but they still have some offensive punch left even if their defense has already rode off into the sunset and their rushing attack is more about deciding which offensive lineman to run into each play. But the Panthers, the glorious Panthers only get worse as the season progresses. Steve Smith is all they have and that is not remotely enough. We should be discussing the Browns here but they are 2-5 and good enough to win a trap game or two.

6. There are only six teams in the NFL that have won at least their last two games. In fact only the Giants (4) and Patriots (5) have won more than their most recent two games. I remain steadfast in my contention that the only consistency in the NFL this year is when it is bad consistency. There are four teams working on at least a four game losing streak - Buffalo (7), Cincinnati (4), Denver (4) and Dallas (4).

7. Kenny Britt owners have been more than a little annoying as they have collected at least one touchdown every week for the last five games and he even had a 225 yard, three touchdown effort in week 7 against the Eagles. But on Sunday Britt owners found the well finally dry and he had no catches before injuring his hamstring. And on the behalf of the non-Britt owners, we just want to let you know that when that happened, Britt was untouched but pulled up lame on what probably would have been a 71-yard touchdown. So much for the free weekly touchdown.

8. The big story from the Redskins game was that HC Mike Shanahan benched Donovan McNabb at the end of the game because he felt that Rex Grossman would be better in the two minute drill. The score was only 25-31 with 1:45 left to play when Shanahan sent Rex Grossman in to save the game. Of course his first play was to be sacked for a seven yard loss and lost a fumble to Ndamukong Suh who scored the 17-yard return. That pushed the game to 37-25 because the Lions went for a two point completion and failed. When the Skins got the ball back with 1:30 left to play on their own 30-yard line, Grossman again came out and failed to mount a comeback. Now Shanahan has effectively told Donovan McNabb that his 12 years as a starter in the league has been outweighed by Rex Grossman. This cannot be a good thing and even though McNabb said what he was supposed to say after the game, that sort of action says they do not trust their starting quarterback when it matters the most.

9. This is my theory of the Bengals and I would contend it is pretty accurate. You have a running back in Cedric Benson who is at least average and maybe a bit above but he doesn't work much as a receiver and isn't going to be that much better than his blocking. Carson Palmer is a quarterback who has all the smarts and only about half the arm that he used to have. And Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco who initially paired together purely as a marketing vehicle for their cable TV careers though Owens still cares about playing. Add it all together and you have a 2-5 team that needs more easy matchups. Up next, the T.O.Cho channel where they are continually interviewed by Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders.

10. Chris Wells may not be the most disappointing running back this year, but he's at least in the conversation. This week the supposed intention was to use Wells more since Tim "Butterfingers" Hightower fell from grace last week. Facing the visiting Buccaneers with their 27th ranked defense against running backs meant the perfect chance to let Wells loose. But the 2010 Cardinals never have the luxury of a high volume of carries and Wells only managed to gain 50 yards on 16 carries and he had one catch for 14 yards. Hardly the stuff of fantasy dreams though he scored one touchdown to ease the pain of what should have been. Wells has some very nice upcoming matchups... but this was supposed to be one of them.

Huddle Player of the Week

David Garrard - Likely not started other than in the ever so rare 32 team leagues, Garrard had never passed for more than 178 yards in any game this year. His tenure with the Jaguars is the subject of rumors every season. Not only had he only passed for just nine touchdowns this year, but he had to watch his own defense give up 16 passing scores to opponents who averaged 265 passing yards against them. Well, every Jaguar has his day and Garrard's came on Sunday against the team formerly known as the Dallas Cowboys. Garrard was within a decimal of a perfect passer rating while he merely threw for 260 yards and four touchdowns, and then added one more score on a two yard. Nice day's work!

Salute!

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

Comedy Line-up Yards TDs Tragedy Line-up Yards TDs
QB Jon Kitna 379 1 QB Aaron Rodgers 170 0
RB LeGarrette Blount 129 2 RB Steven Jackson 63 0
RB Marcel Reese 122 1 RB Jonathan Stewart 38 0
WR Darius Heyward-Bey 135 1 WR Chad Ochocinco 34 0
WR Nate Washington 117 1 WR Randy Moss 8 0
WR Brandon Tate 101 1 WR Wes Welker 24 0
PK Dan Carpenter 1 XP 5 FG PK Nick Folk no, not at all

Huddle Fantasy Points = 145

Huddle Fantasy Points = 20

Sunday Snippet

MIA 22, CIN 14 Dan Carpenter kicked five field goals for a second week in a row to give the Bengals their fourth straight loss. Not a lot of big performances in this game thought Terrell Owens scored twice while only gaining 65 yards on five catches but no one else matter for the Bengals. Even Cedric Benson at home could only gain 69 yards on 20 carries. Ricky Williams scored once but only had 47 yards and Brandon Marshall ended with a team high 64 yards on five receptions. Just a lower scoring game with no player really shining. The loss drops the Bengals into the basement of the AFC North along with the Browns and the Dolphins rise to 4-3 but still trail the Pats by two.
JAC 35, DAL 17 The Cowboys dive into obscurity hit bottom with this loss and the natural expectation is that Wade Phillips gets fired if for no other reason than he is 1-6 and claimed after the game to have no idea what to do since he's tried everything he knows. Jerry Jones may not like firing coaches mid-season, but if he doesn't he'll have to answer the same questions every week. Jon Kitna ended with 379 yards and a score but had four interceptions and most his stats came when the game was already over. Miles Austin gained 117 yards on seven catches and Jason Witten ended with 10 receptions for 97 yards and one score. But there was almost no rushing game to speak about. At home it was 38 yards on 17 carries. David Garrard had a career best game with 260 yards and four scores along with an additional score on a 2-yard run. Mike Sims-Walker caught 8 passed for 153 yards and one touchdown while Marcedes Lewis scored twice on his two catches for 51 yards. Even Maurice Jones-Drew had a fine effort with 135 yards on 27 carries. The win draws the Jaguars to 4-4 while the 1-6 Cowboys tie with the Panthers for the worse record in the entire NFC.
WAS 25, DET 37

GOTW contender. Matt Stafford finally came back and merely threw four touchdowns and 212 yards which mostly went to Calvin Johnson (9-101, 3 TDs) and even Ndamukong Suh returned a fumble for a touchdown. Nothing like seeing first round draft picks pay off. Jahvid Best (12-48) and Kevin Smith (12-51) split carries though Best added five catches for 31 yards. The Ryan Torain Train slowed down with only 10 yards on nine carries but he scored once on his three receptions for 19 yards to salvage a little fantasy value before he hurt his hamstring. Torain being injured - what a concept. What a familiar concept. The Skins drop to 4-4 to slip a notch in the NFC East while the Lions rise to the giddy heights of 2-and-anything.

BUF 10 , KC 13 The Bills have perfected "not quite good enough". Ryan Fitzpatrick had a lower effort with only 223 yards and one score to...of course... Steve Johnson. But no player here had more than 66 yards as a receiver or 64 yards as a runner and Johnson only added 37 yards on five catches. The Chiefs scored via a Matt Cassel (152 yds, TD) pass to Dwayne Bowe but he only ended with three catches for 16 yards. This game was all about showcasing the run with Thomas Jones gaining 77 yards on 19 carries and Jamaal Charles turning in 177 yards on 22 runs and also was the leading receiver with 61 yards on four touches. Kind of hard to gain 238 total yards and yet never score. In fact to my memory, he was the first weekly top five fantasy scoring running back that did not have any touchdowns. The loss makes the Bills 0-7 and only serves to make the Cowboys and Panthers feel every so slightly better about themselves and their single win apiece. The Chiefs are now 5-2 and remain atop the AFC West.
GB 9, NYJ 0 Say what? There really isn't much to this game. There were no touchdowns and Greg Jennings (6-81) continued to be used more since Jermichael Finley left. Donald Driver re-injured his quadriceps and never had a catch but the Green Bay backfield combined for only 76 yards on 23 carries. Mark Sanchez passed for 256 yards but had two interceptions. Jerricho Cotchery (4-89) was the only productive receiver and LaDainian Tomlinson was held to only 54 yards on 16 carries though he added five catches for 37 yards to salvage his stats. Now the Jets are 5-2 and trail the Pats by a game in the AFC East. The Packers are 5-3 and all alone at the top of the NFC North. And the world makes just a little less sense.
DEN 16, SF 24 Cheerio! The London game went off with more points than usual and the 49ers even got their second win of the year using Troy Smith (196 yds, TD) who mostly relied on Delanie Walker (5-85) though Michael Crabtree (3-53) caught the lone passing score while Vernon Davis left the game because of his ankle after only one catch. Frank Gore helped control the game with his 118 yards on 29 runs and he scored once. The Broncos surprisingly got nothing from their #32 ranked rushing attack but Kyle Orton threw for 369 yards and one touchdown. As usual, that benefited Brandon Lloyd (7-169, TD) and almost no one else. The loss drops the Broncos to only 2-6 while the 49ers are pretty happy being 2-6. The Brits got to see some long passes completed and overall a better than normal game.
CAR 10, STL 20 Steven Jackson was held in check with only 59 yards on 23 carries and just one catch because he came out during passing situations due to his broken finger. But the game was won mostly by Sam Bradford passing for 191 yards and two scores with no turnovers. No wideouts had any notable game though Daniel Fells (4-35) and Danny Amendola (6-28) both scored. Matt Moore did not have much luck with 194 yards and a touchdown balanced by three interceptions. Steve Smith led the team with 85 yards on nine catches but he lost a fumble and never scored. Jonathan Stewart finally got his chance to shine with DeAngelo Williams out this week but he only gained 30 yards on 14 carries as one of the biggest disappointments on the day. The loss leaves the Panthers tied with the Cowboys for the worst record in the NFC. The Rams are 4-4 and only a half game behind the Rams for the NFC West lead.
TEN 25, SD 33 The Chargers were trailing at halftime but rallied after an emotional Norv Turner speech during halftime. The Titans lost both Kenny Britt and Vince Young during the game but Young passed for 253 yards and two scores before he left. Nate Washington gained 117 yards and a score on four catches with a 71-yard completion for the touchdown. Lavelle Hawkins stepped up for 56 yards on four catches replacing Britt. Chris Johnson only gained 59 yards on 15 carries but scored once and had five receptions for 24 yards. The Chargers won with Rivers passing for 305 yards and two scores with Antonio Gates sucking up and playing with a bad toe and still leading the team with 123 yards and a touchdown on five catches. No other receiver had more than 48 yards and the Chargers are using four different running backs in the game so that 153 yards and two scores were split up and Ryan Mathews (15-43, TD) and Mike Tolbert (11-63, TD) both had decent games but not a difference maker. The Titans loss drops them to 5-3 and a half game behind the Colts and Texans. The Chargers are 3-5 and mostly just happy to finally get another win.
MIN 18, NE 28 Brett Favre now has eight stitches in his chin as a reminder of what "one season too many" looks like. He passed for 259 yards and one interception while Tarvaris Jackson subbed in at the end and threw a score to FB Naufahu Tahi who you probably did not start today. Adrian Peterson had a strong game with 92 yards on 25 carries with one score and he added 50 yards on five receptions. Percy Harvin turned in 104 yards on six catches and played through a painful ankle sprain but he was the only wideout that Favre could reach. Bernard Berrian only had 15 yards on two catches and Randy Moss was normally tripled covered and only managed one catch for eight yards. The Pats won with BenJarvus Green-Ellis scoring twice in his 17 runs for 112 yards and Danny Woodhead added another score as well. Tom Brady passed for 240 yards but most of that happened in one play when he found Brandon Tate streaking wide open downfield and connected on a 65-yard touchdown pass. The Vikings fall to only 2-5 on the season while the Pats are 6-1 and own the best record in the NFL.
SEA 3, OAK 33 Apparently the Raiders not only won in Denver last week, but unlike the last two seasons, they did not follow it up with a loss. The Raiders had no problem dispatching the Seahawks who only had 47 yards on 19 carries and just seven yards on nine runs by Marshawn Lynch. Matt Hasselbeck only passed for 160 yards and one interception. But Jason Campbell enjoyed one of his best games ever with 310 passing yards and two scores with no turnovers. Darrius Heyward-Bey turned in five catches for 105 yards and one score thanks to a 69 scoring reception. Marcel Reece is still the running back no one knows about and he had 90 yards and a touchdown on three catches. Michael Bush caught a carom shot and turned it into a 55 yard gain as his only catch and ran for 51 yards and a score. It was a total beatdown and the 4-4 Raiders are now only a game and a half behind the Chiefs in the AFC West.
PIT 10, NO 20 The Saints finally rekindled a bit of 2009 mojo after a humbling loss to the visiting Browns last week. Drew Brees passed for 305 yards and two scores that went to Marques Colston (6-75) and Lance Moore (7-54) while Robert Meachem (6-76) figured in as well. Lots of yards, no one gets too much in this offense. The Saints had no rushing game with a total of 32 yards on 18 carries and even Julius Jones (7-16) figured in. Ben Roethlisberger passed for only 195 yards and one interception while Rashard Mendenhall scored once and rushed for 71 yards on 15 carries but otherwise the Steelers had very little working on the offense playing against an inspired Saints defense. The loss drops the Steelers to 5-2 and ties them with the Ravens for the AFC North lead. The Saints are 5-3 and still a half game back in the NFC South.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This and next week are the only ones with just 13 games during the season but we were treated with plenty of big performances and the Monday night game between the Colts and Texans should be yet another bonanza of fantasy points. There were six teams that scored over 30 points. And as has been the common theme to the season, much of the best play happened where you did not expect.

Buccaneers 38, Cardinals 35

What is not to love about a 73 point game? If you started any of the notable fantasy players in this game you were rewarded well if not magnificently.

The Cardinals opened the scoring midway through the first quarter when Max Hall hit Larry Fitzgerald on a three-yard touchdown pass. That Fitzgerald can catch any passes is a miracle enough since he's destined to be doubled and tripled on every play until he retires. That he can score on a pass from Max Hall is almost a reality bender.

After the Bucs punted the ball back, Max Hall was sacked and on the next play tried to hit Fitzgerald again. But it was intercepted and returned for a score. Now that is what you would expect from most Max Hall to Larry Fitzgerald passes. That tied the game at 7-7.

After both teams showed an inability to get a first down, finally the Cards had a long drive that ended with a Chris Wells touchdown with ten minutes left in the first half. That made it 14-7 in favor of the Cardinals.

But then Josh Freeman took the ball at his own 20-yard line and threw a 31 yard completion to Mike Williams (the younger one). Two plays later, he hit Williams down the middle for a 47 yard touchdown and a 14-14 tie.

That only lasted for four plays since Hall tried to connect with Steve Breaston and was intercepted along with a 45-yard return for a score and a 21-14 lead by the Buccaneers.

The Cardinals drove the field on their next possession and had a first and ten on the TB 11-yard line. Wells gained six yards on the first two plays and then Jason Wright caught a pass to the 4-yard line. On fourth-and-two, the Cards decided to forgo the field goal and instead so what no one saw coming - throw the ball to Fitzgerald which ends up they sort of thought it was coming. Ball went over on downs and the Bucs ended the first half driving 94 yards to the Cardinals 3-yard line where they had to settle for a field goal and the 24-14 lead at the half.

The Buccaneers and Cardinals both were slow to get going in the second half until finally a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount ended up with a 15-yard touchdown run with 4:41 left to play for a 31-14 lead with 4:29 left to play in the third quarter.

Derek Anderson replaced Max Hall in the second quarter and he finally led a 76 yard drive that ended with LaRod Stephens-Howling running for a 30-yard score just to stick it to the Wells owners. That made the deficit 21-31 with just one minute left to play in the third quarter.

The quarter ended right after the Buccaneers only needed one play from their own 15-yard line to handoff to Blount who fumbled and it was returned for a Cardinals score. It was challenged, it was upheld and the Cardinals entered the fourth quarter only down 31-28.

After the Buccaneers could not move the ball they punted and it was returned to the TB 48-yard line. Anderson then hit Steve Breaston for 36 yards, then Early Doucet for six yards and then Larry Fitzgerald caught a five-yard touchdown. What a shocker. With 9:46 left to play, the Cardinals had fought back to finally regain the 35-31 lead.

The Buccaneers had plenty of time and were dinking and dunking until Arrelious Benn caught a 53-yard pass and was tackled at the 1-yard line. It only took Blount one play to score his second touchdown and five the Buccaneers the 38-35 lead.

The scoring ended there at the 5:13 mark but the game was still entertaining with Anderson throwing an interception at the ARZ-22 yard line and when the Bucs tried to kick a 53-yard field goal it was blocked, giving the ball to the Cards on their own 43-yard line with 3:16 left to play. They reached the 20-yard line when once again Anderson passed to Fitzgerald and it was intercepted.

On the first play, Blount ran for 48-yards by hurdling a tackler and rumbling downfield. They eventually had to punt but the Cards could not advance the ball.

We did see a running back with a big game but it wasn't Chris Wells, it was LeGarrette Blount. Steve Breaston owners got 147 yards on eight catches and the Fitzgerald guys saw two scores on his 72 yards. Mike Williams ended with 105 yards and a score for the Buccaneers.

It was a high scoring game with a surprise debut from Blount and even then it was really only in the second half that they used him.

So ends week eight with a very promising Monday night game left to watch. The league standings are still in a big knot and chances are your fantasy league is probably the same. And now is when fantasy football really makes its' importance known - all player performances still matter. All games are worth watching.

It's the only saving grace in Dallas these days.

Now get back to work...

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