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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - 2010
David Dorey
January 3, 2011
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tim Tebow P205 R94 3
Rex Grossman 336 1
Ben Roethlisberger 280 2
Kerry Collins 300 2
Josh Freeman 266 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Ryan Mathews 139 3
Arian Foster 190 2
Michael Bush 171 1
Brian Westbrook 93 2
Rashad Jennings 142 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Jerome Simpson 123 1
Larry Fitzgerald 125 1
Nate Burleson 103 1
Mike Wallace 105 1
Mario Manningham 101 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Rob Gronkowski 102 1
Vernon Davis 96 1
Owen Daniels 62 1
Heath Miller 55 1
Tony Gonzalez 53 1
Placekickers XP FG
Nate Kaeding 3 4
Shaun Suisham 5 2
Adam Vinatieri 2 3
Connor Barth 2 3
Neil Rackers 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Cowboys 1 6 4
Raiders 1 7 2
Jets 1 3 6
49ers 1 6 2
Patriots 1 5 2

and now we know

Byes: New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Atlanta

Saturday, Jan. 8th
New Orleans at Seattle, 4:30 PM EST
New York Jets at Indianapolis, 8 PM EST

Sunday, Jan 9th
Baltimore at Kansas City, 1 PM EST
Green Bay at Philadelphia, 4:30 PM EST

Because I always have to speculate:

Saturday, Jan. 15th
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh
New Orleans at Atlanta

Sunday, Jan. 16th
Philadelphia at Chicago
Kansas City at New England

Which would lead to:

Indianapolis at New England
New Orleans at Philadelphia

New England vs. New Orleans

Of course I may be wrong...

ten final random observations

1. The NFC West has become the first division in the history of the NFL to actually win a playoff berth with a losing record of 7-9. They end with a 2-6 road record beating only Chicago and Arizona away from home. This does not bode well for the playoffs though there is almost no chance that the Seahawks are going to have to worry about road games anyway.

2. I know there are still some leagues out there that use week 17 for the super bowl and if that is what they want then more power to them. But the winner of said league hopefully did not use today's inactives that included Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Marques Colston, Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, LeSean McCoy or any of the many others who were held out as injured but would have likely played if the game had meaning. Again - leagues should do whatever they want but after a season of strategy it has to really hurt to see the players that got you there, no longer there.

3. The rookie Joe McKnight finally got some playing time with LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene rested for the day and the ex-USC back had a nice game with 30 carries for 158 yards and had two catches for 15 more yards. Though nothing has been said yet, will the Jets bother with Tomlinson again in 2011 when the 32-year old back was good for the first six weeks and then sort of disintegrated a little bit more with every new week? McKnight is a bit smaller at 5'11" and 205 but Greene is already there for the heavy lifting.

4. My guess is that 2011 will be like every year and the only thing most people remember about Ryan Mathews is that he racked up 120 yards and three touchdowns on the Denver defense which is - drum roll please - ranked #32 against running backs this year. They will not remember that Mike Tolbert was out this week either or that Mathews had never gained more than 64 rush yards since the season opener.

5. I have not yet done much work on researching the incoming college players in the spring but I am going to be using a rather jaundiced eye for the running backs. The only first round backs drafted last season were CJ Spiller, Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best - all spectacular in their falling short of expectations. The second round served up Toby Gerhart, Ben Tate and Montario Hardesty. Actually Tate and Hardesty were out injured all year and allowed Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis to have shockingly great seasons (like top two RBs). If history is teaching anything here, I guess it is to wait to see who drafts highly rated running backs and when they are put on IR in the summer draft everyone else in their backfield to be sure. Foster was a going to have a role anyway but not the "all day, every game" role. Hillis was a third stringer to start. I love rookie running backs as much as the next guy but they have forsaken us.

6. Sam Bradford will win the Offensive Rookie of the Year and rightfully so after breaking most of the all-time rookie records including those held by Peyton Manning. But he was the first overall draft pick so by rights it was his to lose. That covers up the guy that is also in the running and who maybe deserves it just as much. Mike Williams was drafted by the Tamp Bay Buccaneers with their 4.03 draft pick and he was just the 15th wide receiver taken in the draft. The Bucs drafted Arrelious Benn with their 2.07 pick. But Williams buried all the rookie with 65 catches for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. It is sort of reminiscent of Michael Clayton who gained 80-1193 and scored seven times for the Buccaneers as a rookie in 2004. Hopefully Williams can avoid taking that path since all his off-the-field issues is why the Syracuse star had fallen so far in the draft.

7. Quarterback Records - Brett Favre is now the only quarterback with more than 500 touchdowns (508) and 70,000 passing yards (71.838. Tom Brady became the fastest quarterback to ever reach 100 career wins (131 games). Peyton Manning has tied Dan Marino for the most 300 yard passing games ever (63). Now that Favre is retiring - he said it and he said he really, really meant it and looked like he knew he would - Manning gets to chase down those Favre records.

8. Running Back Records - LaDainian Tomlinson joins Walter Peyton as the only other running back with 13,000 rushing yards and 4000 receiving yards. Tomlinson turns 32 years old soon and is already a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

9. Wide Receiver Records - Randy Moss and Terrell Owens may not illicit admiration all the time but at least both join Jerry Rice as the only receivers in the history of the NFL with more than 150 touchdowns. Owens also became only the third player in NFL history with more than 15,000 receiving yards. You are going to have to come to terms with the fact both deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

10. I am still surprised - nay shocked - to see how well rookie tight ends did this year. Generally they do almost nothing in year one and then br teak out in year two if they ever do (and most do not). But this year we saw Jermaine Gresham (52-471, 4 TD), Rob Gronkowski (42-551, 10 TD), Tony Moeaki (47-556, 3 TD) , Jimmy Graham (31-356, 5 TD) and Aaron Hernandez (45-563, 6 TD) all make their marks. Those five tight ends accounted for a total of 28 touchdowns. Throw in Ben Watson, Marcedes Lewis, Brandon Pettigrew and Jacob Tamme and there were plenty of tight ends for everyone.

Huddle Sleeper team of the YEAR

Quarterback - Michael Vick
Running Backs - Arian Foster, Peyton Hillis
Wide Receivers - Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Lloyd, Mike Wallace
Tight End - Rob Gronkowski

Huddle bust team of the YEAR

Quarterback - Kevin Kolb
Running Backs - Shonn Greene, Pierre Thomas
Wide Receivers - Randy Moss, Brandon Marshall, Anquan Boldin
Tight End - Brent Celek

Huddle Player of the YEAR

Arian Foster - Sure, you could argue Michael Vick or three other quarterbacks. Every position had their top players but no position had the delta between #1 and #2 that running backs had with Arian Foster who was just a dominating force that ended with 327 carries for 1616 rushing yards to secure the NFL rushing lead and he scored 16 rushing touchdowns. He merely added 62 catches for 484 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver. He started red hot, he ended red hot and he hardly ever cooled during the season. For a guy that was drafted somewhere between the second and sixth (?) round depending on when your draft was and how large, he made a huge difference and was the biggest advantage to own. For those of you holding him rather smugly on your dynasty team, do not even think about what happens when 2010 second round pick Ben Tate is healthy in 2011.

Salute!

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

Comedy Line-up Yards TDs Tragedy Line-up Yards TDs
QB Tim Tebow 299 3 QB Drew Brees 196 1
RB Joe McKnight 173 0 RB Peyton Hillis 16 0
RB Rashad Jennings 142 1 RB Adrian Peterson 29 0
WR Jerome Simpson 123 1 WR Jeremy Maclin 0 0
WR Chad Hall 84 1 WR Johnny Knox 0 0
WR Dezmon Briscoe 65 1 WR Anquan Boldin 9 0
PK Connor Barth 2 XP 3 FG PK Dan Carpenter 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 114

Huddle Fantasy Points = 17

Top Ten Games of the year

10 OAK 59, DEN 14
Week 7
The biggest of several times this year that one team just stomped another and usually it happened in the AFC West each time. The Raiders were not even favored and yet scored 59 points and that was with no points by either team in the fourth quarter. Darren McFadden had 196 total yards and three touchdowns. OAK offense scored seven touchdowns.
9 TB 38, ARI 35
Week 8
What a beautiful game where we never thought to look. LeGarrette Blount had 120 yards and two scores, Mike Williams turned in 105 yards and one touchdown. Steve Breaston (8-147) and Larry Fitzgerald (6-72, 2 TD) both had big games and even Beanie Wells had a touchdown and 50 yards. In the end Blount scored a touchdown then ARI threw an interception. TB got a FG blocked and then ARI threw an interception. No big ending but 73 total points.
8 NO 30, DAL 27
Thanksgiving
Week 12
Cowboys mount a 17 point comeback to take the lead with 5:56 left to play and with next possession Roy Williams gained 47 yards to NO 11-yard line where he is stripped of the ball. Saints then drive 89 yards thanks to a 22-yard catch by Colston and a 55 yard catch by Meachem that leads to the Lance Moore touchdown at the two minute warning. Dallas gets close enough for David Buehler to miss a 59-yard field goal to cement the loss.
7 KC 31, HOU 35
Week 6
Chiefs had this game in the bag and led 28-14 entering the fourth quarter. But two Arian Foster touchdowns in the final quarter were followed by an Andre Johnson touchdown catch with only 28 seconds left to play. Chiefs led for 59:32 in the game.
6 OAK 31, JAC 38
Week 14
Another one of those fantasy gems. Darren McFadden ran for a 36-yard touchdown with 2:03 left to play and then the Jags returned the kickoff to the OAK 30-yard line and next play Maurice Jones-Drew ran for a 30-yard score which was the game winner. McFadden 209 total yards and three scores. Jason Campbell passed for 24 yards and two scores. The Jags rushed for 210 yards and two scores. You could not have started any player in the game without at least good results.
5 IND 28, JAC 31
Week 4
Seemed like a changing of the guard when the Colts tied it up with a Peyton Manning to Austin Collie touchdown pass with only 42 seconds left to play but then the Jaguars did not just kneel on the ball and reached the IND 41-yard line and as time expired. Josh Scobee kicked the third longest field goal to win a game in NFL history with a 59-yarder.
4 PHI 59, WAS 28
Week 10
This game was never in doubt with a 28-0 first quarter by the Eagles but it was awe-inspiring and one of those fantasy games we may never forget. Michael Vick passed for 333 yards and four touchdowns and added 80 yards and two more touchdowns as a runner in of the greatest fantasy performances of all time. The entire game had 11 touchdowns scored and was a fantasy points bonanza for most players. It was a heck of a Monday night game.
3 DAL 38, IND 35
OT Week 13
The Colts needed a 21 point third quarter to tie the game and force it into overtime. The Cowboys won in overtime because Peyton Manning threw his FOURTH interception in the game and allowed Dallas to kick a 38-yard field goal to win. Game featured two Manning interceptions returned for a TD and the Colts returned a blocked punt for a score as well.
2 HOU 24, JAC 31
Week 10
The Texans tied the score 24-24 with 4:26 left to play and the Jaguars drove to the HOU 25-yard line with 1:39 left to play where Josh Scobee went wide left on his 43-yard FG attempt. With 16 seconds left to play, Matt Schaub loses a fumble at the JAC 34-yard line so no late field goal attempt to prevent overtime. Except with eight seconds left Marcedes Lewis gains 11 yards and goes out of bounds. A defensive offsides makes it midfield with three seconds to play where David Garrard throws the standard Hail Mary pass only it is batted by the defensive right into the breadbasket of Mike Thomas for the win.
1 PHI 38, NYG 31
Week 15
Huge game in the NFC East that had the Giants leading the entire game and they were ahead 31-10 with only 8:09 left in the game. Ahead 21 points with only half a quarter left. But Vick threw a 65-yard touchdown to Brent Celek (7:43), recovered an onside kick and Vick ran it in for a 4-yard touchdown (5:32), Giants punted after nine plays and Vick drove 88 yards in eight plays that ended with a TD for Maclin (1:24). Three plays and the Giants punt with 14 seconds left to play to DeSean Jackson instead of out of bounds. Jackson muffs it, picks it up and then runs for 65 yards and a touchdown as time expired. Eagles never led in game until no time on clock. Second monster game by VIck (242, 3 TD and 10-130, TD rush).

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This is has been the 238th Tunnel Vision I have written starting back in 1997 when the internet was brand new and our topped ranked players included Tony Gonzalez and Brett Favre and.... wow. Okay so also Carl Pickens, Curtis Martin, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Herman Moore, Jerry RIce and so on.

I'll be spending the offseason working on a number of research studies I have been wanting to do since the NFL has been undergoing a fundamental change in the complexity of offenses and what I believe to be an unprecedented spreading of the wealth. We'll have to figure out exactly what the trends are and where we have been to see where we are going in the future and how we can take advantages of that rather than just drafting from last year's rankings like so many others do.

Every year we always say how odd it all was and how it gets harder to predict. And I meant it when I said that this year since across the board there was so much rising and falling of players and teams. As if the season is really four different mini-seasons where only the rarest of players steadily maintain or improve the entire season.

We saw the standard amount of injuries though in each case some fantasy owner winced and then ran to the waiver wire with his fingers crossed. More than anything, I hope you all had fun in your leagues. Sure, winning is the most fun and not just because you get to hand out your own version of Special Forces Death Cards every Tuesday morning. But you know the economy still is not great and there are a lot of people plenty stressed about many aspects in their lives. Let's play fantasy football not only to compete and challenge ourselves, not only for a chance to thrown down the wittiest trash talk or do that God-awful annoying dance you do when you win anything. We should also use it to interact with each other and take a little pressure off ourselves and others.

I know I speak for more than myself when I say that it hasn't been for the money. A bit of extra cash is always nice and I have won over $13,000 in my best year. But if money was all you wanted just go to a casino - it is easier and much faster and more cost effective than spending four months to win $200.

Take time to congratulate the winner in your league. Even if it is a faceless, online-only league be the sort of team owner you want everyone to be. Make sure you connect with all the guys in your league and tell them what fun you had and wish them a happy new year. If you have a work league, use the offseason for a golf or poker tournament. Have a barbecue in May and invite them over. Make fantasy football about laughter, fun and connecting with each other. In the end only one guy can win but everyone can still enjoy themselves - put it on yourself to make sure they all do.

It's a New Year and I wish each and every one of you the very best that life can offer you. Let 2011 be a better year and one that will make you smile on December 31st when you look back at what you did for yourself and others and how that marked your life. It doesn't always take a lot to make a positive difference other than smiling, caring and taking life off of cruise control at least some of the time. I firmly believe you get back what you give out. In a world of people mostly just standing around and waiting for something to happen to them, be the person that does something.

That's what I am going to try to do.

That and spend the next seven months trying to figure out who the new "Peyton Freaking Hillis" is going to be.

Now get back to work...

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