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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision: Week 1
David Dorey
September 12, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Cam Newton 440 3
Drew Brees 422 3
Aaron Rodgers 313 3
Ryan Fitzpatrick 211 4
Tony Romo 345 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Mike Tolbert 93 3
Ray Rice 149 2
LeSean McCoy 137 2
Matt Forte 158 1
Cedric Benson 123 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Steve Smith 8-178 2
Kenny Britt 5-136 2
Calvin Johnson 6-88 2
DeSean Jackson 6-102 1
Reggie Wayne 7-106 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Scott Chandler 5-63 2
Jeff King 2-61 1
Jimmy Graham 4-56 1
Dustin Keller 5-61 1
Jason Witten 6-110 0
Placekickers XPT FG
David Akers 3 4
Robbie Gould 3 3
Josh Scobee 1 3
Rian Lindell 5 2
Neil Rackers 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
49ers 2 5 3
Ravens 0 4 7
Bears 1 5 3
Texans 1 1 2
Eagles 1 5 1

Bumps, Bruises and blowouts

Marques Colston - Broken collarbone
Roy Williams - Groin injury
Nate Kaeding - ACL injury, done for year
Danny Amendola - Dislocated elbow, may miss season
Andy Dalton - Wrist injury
Marcedes Lewis - Leg cramps
Sam Bradford - Finger injury
Steven Jackson - Quadriceps injury
Mike Tolbert - Knee sprain

Only 1976 more yards to go

Chris Johnson did not show up until the last week of the preseason when he signed his new contract and then he vowed to not need much practice time in an entirely new offense with a new quarterback. He said he would gain 2000 rushing yards again. But he only gained 24 yards on nine rusty runs. He only needs to average 132 rush yards per game for the rest of the year. Probably not going to happen.

Maybe working out with your team really isn't overrated.

It is only one week

Don't get too enamored with some week one stud unless you can feel really good there is a reason why he can sustain the production. Here are a few studs from 2010 week one that may not have been worth that free agent pick:

Derek Anderson - 297 yards, 1 TD
Jahvid Best - 36 yards, 2 TDs
Tim Hightower - 94 yards, 1 TD
Legedu Naanee - 110 yards, 1 TD
Nate Washington - 88 yards, 1 TD
Steve Breaston - 132 yards, 0 TD
Eddie Royal - 88 yards, 0 TD

it is only week one

GAAAA! The guys you picked all sucked. Your season is over before it begins. Nah - opening week is not always indicative of future results. Consider week one of 2010:

Aaron Rodgers - 188 yards, 2 TD, 2 int.
Ray Rice - 62 yards, 0 TD
Steve Johnson - 40 yards, 0 TD
DeSean Jackson - 30 yards, 0 TD
Andre Johnson - 33 yards, 0 TD
Calvin Johnson - 45 yards, 0 TD
Jason Witten - 27 yards, 0 TD

Because otherwise you gotta talk to your wife about her family visiting soon

Should you find yourself in your car with a Sirius XM radio in it on Thursday nights from 10 PM CST until midnight, tune in to channel 210 on Sirius or 87 on XM for the Big Lead Sports show presented by TheHuddle.com. Myself, John Tuvey (Start/Bench List) and Johnny U. Miller (Jumbotron) are on dropping knowledge and advice and taking phone calls. You can even subscribe to it via your computer.

From 10 - midnight CST you can get about 70 years of fantasy football experience from three of us here on The Huddle.

To the waiver wire!

Pickuping up week one free agents can be very lucrative but beware what you are buying. Some players just had their best game of the year and happened to shine in week one. Some guys I am looking at as the "real deal':

Cam Newton - Yeah, I want him as my backup QB. He just passed for 422 yards in his first game and was supposed to be a rushing QB. Not sold yet but I want whatever else that happens to occur on my bench for me.

Ryan Fitzpatrick - Dang. On the road and passes for 208 yards and four touchdowns. And people were talking like Tyler Thigpen might be an issue this year. Why? All Fitzpatrick does is throw touchdowns. That is actually pretty helpful. A great fantasy backup for sure.

Most leagues have every running back that owns a helmet already on rosters but in case, have to like what Carnell Williams (19-95 yards, 5-49 receive) did subbing for Steven Jackson against the Eagles. Earnest Graham got plenty of playing time as the passing formation back and pulled in eight catches for 58 yards.

Devery Henderson has value now that Marques Colston broke his collarbone and Lance Moore still has a groin injury. But Henderson is a #4 when the others are healthy. Robert Meachem as well though he is likely owned in most leagues.

Ten random observations

1. Here is what I think. Peyton Manning is probably the best quarterback that I have ever seen play the game. Hands down. Now we can argue semantics and the apples/oranges of different eras. But Manning is the core of the Colts offense and that which all good things stem. He makes everyone better. When has a Colts receiver that was successful left to become better elsewhere? Manning makes his teammates better. They have talent sure, but the next level is all about who is throwing the ball. For those of you adamant that Tom Brady is better, consider that he plays in a great system. One that allowed Matt Cassel to complete a career best 63.4% of his passes for almost 3700 yards and 21 touchdowns in 15 games. Doubtful you will see that from Kerry Collins even though he ranks 11th best in history for pass yards. The Colts are not going to get any better without Manning there. No player is more integral to his team's success.

2. I got into it with a guy once who said that C.J. Spiller was most like Jamal Charles and that I was far too tough on him. Admittedly, Spiller is someone I think of when some one asks " who is the biggest running back bust you can think of?" The guy was the first back drafted in 2010 (1.09) and only gained 283 yards on 74 yards over the entire season. That's a 3.8 YPC. His second season is underway now and he opens with five carries for 16 yards but he scored his first ever NFL rushing touchdown. Whoopee. Fred Jackson is the workhorse with 112 yards on 20 carries and he was never drafted. Johnny White was never drafted either and he had eight runs for 26 yards. I have officially given up on Spiller. More than when I said this last year. Why do they bother?

3. I have to grumble. I own eight fantasy teams. Because I like getting a week 11 bye for my kicker and thereby not have to carry a second one, I drafted Adam Vinatieri in four leagues. He scored one point. I had Garrett Hartley in one league that will not let you drop players until week 2 even though we drafted in July. And my remaining kicker is, yes, Nate Kaeding. Eight teams and I got a total of four points from all my kickers combined. And yes, they will be my first free agent move in every league. Man. That hurts. You could not do that if you tried.

4. Have to admit, I liked the Dallas passing game. Sure they lost the game but we expected that anyway. But Tony Romo passed for 342 yards and two scores in NY against the Jets. And all three of the normal targets had a big game - Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin. They threw at Cromartie and Revis. With a bad secondary to promote shootouts and a marginal rushing attack, the Cowboys may pass for big numbers if they can stay healthy.

5. Nice sign that there were 11 quarterbacks who passed for more than 300 yards and 16 of 28 had two or more passing touchdowns. No slowing down on the importance of passing and for leagues that do not use reception points, you are really missing out on the great equalizer that makes all positions deeper.

6. What's that noise? Oh yeah, it is all the people jumping off the Marshawn Lynch bandwagon. His entire claim to fame was the one 67 yard run in the playoffs when it looked like the Saints were filming a commercial where they were supposed to pretend to try to tackle a guy but then let him keep running. "Beast mode" on this Sunday got you 33 yards on 13 carries in San Francisco and added 14 yards on two catches. My version of "beast mode" requires more than 47 total yards. Maybe he'll do better this weekend in Pittsburgh. But I would not bet on it.

7. Pretty encouraging to see Matt Ryan passing to the rookie Julio Jones for five catches for 72 yards. The Falcons got swamped by the Bears but Jones was already a yard short of being the lead receiver on Sunday. A.J. Green scored once but that was on his only catch when the Browns simply did not cover him but Jones could make a splash as a rookie.

8. Loved the dimension that Darren Sproles brings to the Saints. He had no rushes but caught 7 passes for 75 yards and scored on a 72 yard punt return in Green Bay. It was like everything that Reggie Bush used to be and more. And for half the price no less.

9. Was good to see Maurice Jones-Drew run for 97 yards on 24 carries and score once since his knee surgery had fantasy fans wary of drafting him too early. But Jones-Drew had no catches and Deji Karim ran 14 times for 33 yards and caught three passes for 39 yards. That is 24 touches to 17 for Karim. In a game that was never certain until the final gun. Probably did not want to overuse MJD and he did have 24 carries. But no catches? And 14 runs by Karim? Interesting to track this and see how much Karim continues to be involved.

10. Here's my quandary. The Packers and the Saints are both going to be pumping out nice fantasy points from their respective passing games. And yet - who does what in any given week? Greg Jennings seems safe enough but after him - who? Jordy Nelson is going to be a hot property this week and yet he is still in a rotation with James Jones and Donald Driver and even the rookie Randall Cobb will figure in. Oh yeah, Jermichael FInley and even a running back as well. For the Saints, Colston's injury may help clear it up some but Devery Henderson is not going 6-100 every week. Robert Meachem, Lance Moore (soon) will both figure in heavily. And so will Darren Sproles. And Jimmy Graham. I have a hunch it's going to be mighty hard to rely on Packers and Saints this year but hey - you'll probably be dead on every other week.

Huddle Player of the Week

Cam Newton - Admit it. You thought Newton was going to lay an egg in his first game. Why not? The Panthers were the worst team of 2010 and changed out all the coaches but could not install anything until the lockout was over. Newton was the first pick in the draft but there were some who speculated he would not be a very good passer in the NFL and that his rushing was his better talent. But Newton just set the all-time "in the history of the NFL" record for most passing yards in a debut game by a rookie - 422 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 18 yards on eight carries and scored a rushing touchdown as well. Bottom line. On the road in his first ever appearance with what was considered the worst team in the league, he just outplayed every other NFL quarterback in week one. He is the leader in passing yards.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Cam Newton 440 3 QB Matt Ryan 319 0
RB Carnell Williams 140 0 RB LeGarrette Blount 15 0
RB Ben Tate 116 1 RB Rashard Mendenhall 45 0
WR Devery Henderson 100 1 WR Vincent Jackson 31 0
WR Early Doucet 105 1 WR Dwayne Bowe 17 0
TE Scott Chandler 63 2 WR Owen Daniels 12 0
PK David Akers 3 XP 4 FG PK Adam Vinatieri 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 149

Huddle Fantasy Points = 23

Sunday snippet

PIT 7, BAL 35 Okay. Did someone forget to tell the Steelers there was a game today? These matchups have always been 10-13, 14-13, little scores on both sides. The Steelers are the reigning AFC Champs and yet gave up three passing scores and 107 rushing yards and a touchdown to Ray Rice. The Ravens forced seven turnovers. It even ended an eight-year streak of winning openers for the Steelers. The Steeler stats were not that much out of line for a Ravens game but Ray Rice gained 107 rushing yards and added 42 yards and a score on four catches. Ed Dickson had a breakout game of 5-59 and one TD replacing the departed Todd Heap.
ATL 12, CHI 30 Another big surprise as the Bears dismantled the Falcons. While the Super Bowl may end up ATL vs. PIT potentially, both teams started horribly. Matt Ryan passed for 319 yards but no scores and one interception. Julio Jones had five catches for 71 yards and Roddy White ended with eight receptions for 61 yards. But Matt Forte gained 158 total yards and one score and mainly won by mistake free ball while ATL gave up a fumble return for a score and had three turnovers. The Falcons only had two field goals and a returned interception for a touchdown. The darling on every one's "up-and-comer" list just took a dump on your suicide league.
CIN 27, CLE 17 This was a messy game as expected and in the end the difference was leaving A.J. Green completely uncovered on one play so he could score from 41 yards out on his only catch in the game. And at the end they stacked the line to stop Benson who squirted through for a 39-yard TD. Otherwise this was a pretty mediocre showing by both teams but the Browns proved to be even sloppier. The only player in the entire game with more than 60 yards rushing or receiving was Benson. Not much to take away from this other than it looks bad for the Bengals and even worse for the Browns. If someone wants to trade you for Benson, try not to break a smile. Bet you can't..
IND 7, HOU 34 And this is why they pay Manning the big bucks. Kerry Collins passed for 187 yards and lost two fumbles. Reggie Wayne ended with 106 yards on seven catches and one score but that was the extent of any IND player having decent stats. Arian Foster did not play and Ben Tate (24-116, TD) showed what he was supposed to be doing last year before Foster took over his opportunity. Andre Johnson (7-95, TD) was sharp as well. The notable to this game is that all your IND players are now impossible to move in a trade and yet if you cut them they will be immediately snapped up. When Manning plays all Colts receivers are exciting and sexy to use like hooking up with hotties at a local bar. Now they all look like the same set of women only the morning after when they have no make-up, no wonder bra and get pissed when you refuse to kiss them on the mouth.
TEN 14, JAC16 Titans posted a good game but fell short. Kenny Britt scored twice (5-136) and one was an improbable flip pass by Matt Hasselbeck that he took for 80 yards. Chris Johnson was a complete nonfactor and yet Maurice Jones-Drew (24-97, TD) looked pretty good and showed no signs of his knee surgery bothering him. This was mostly a slow game with no big plays outside of Britt. Luke McCown (17/24 - 175) made no scores and lost a fumble. He did not offer the rushing ability that Garrard once had. For now, both teams look on the weak side.
BUF 41, KC 7 Just not a good sign for the Chiefs. What to think? Can the Bills possibly be that good? Can the Chiefs possibly... well maybe. Matt Cassel played with a cracked rib and only passed for 119 yards and a score. Charles only rushed for 56 yards on a mere ten carries. The Bills defense crushed the Chiefs and Ryan Fitzpatrick (208, 4 TD) still defies explanation. Here's the fun part. The Bills never ranked any better than 28th in any category for TE's last year. They only had one TD all year thrown to the position and many games had no passes even thrown to a TE. So of course, they open the season with Scott Chandler catching five passes for 63 yards and two scores even though he had one career catch in his previous three years. And David Nelson tied with Steve Johnson for the lead with four catches for exactly 66 yards both. Never use a tight end, then complete nine passes for 125 yards and two scores to guys no one knew could catch. Brilliant!
PHI 31, STL 13 Michael Vick (187 pass, 98 rush, 2 TD), LeSean McCoy (137 yards, 2 TDs) and DeSean Jackson (6-102, TD) all showed up big but Jeremy Maclin (1-20) doesn't see ready for prime time yet. Sam Bradford looked very ordinary throwing for 188 yards and no scores. About all the Rams had going for them was Steven Jackson who only lasted for two plays and pulled a quad muscle on his 47-yard TD run. Lance Kendricks went from training camp star to butter fingers in the first game dropping a couple of passes badly. Brandon Gibson also thought it was volleyball which is bad since Danny Amendola may be out for the season. Eagles are looking good and the Rams are looking surprisingly bad after such a promising 2010.
DET 27, TB 20 Including the end of last season, the Lions are on a five game winning streak and open the year with a road win. They kept the Buccaneers off balance the entire game and Matt Stafford (305, 3 TD) knew enough to look for Calvin Johnson (6-88, 2 TD). Jahvid Best is healthy but only gained 72 yards on 21 runs but added four receptions for 42 yards. The Lions were constantly playing from behind and that meant that LeGarr3ette Blount only gained 15 yards on five carries in the entire game. He is not a part of passing packages still which may be an oversight. Not much to this game other than the Lions appear on a upswing and the Bucs are still trying to find the trick to not be mediocre.
CAR 21, ARI 28 As noted before, Cam Newton was amazing. He was predictably political after the game saying his record performance doesn't matter as much as the loss but he had to at least consider grabbing his crotch and yelling into the camera "Hey critics, I got your NFL quality QB right here". He passed for 422 yards and two scores and rushed in a third one. Steve Smith not only had his first 100 yard game since week 15 of 2009, his 178 yards and two scores were the third best game of his entire career. The Panthers could not run with only 56 yards on 19 carries between both Williams and Stewart. The Panthers have a passing game. Who would have expected that? Kevin Kolb had a nice debut with 309 yards and two scores and no interceptions. Early Doucet (3-105, TD) is not worth whatever you are planning to pay for him in free agency this week. Beanie Wells rushed for 90 yards and a score on 18 carries because this home game was as easy as any game will be all season long. Both teams looked better than last year and the Panthers have nothing to be ashamed about in that game. Rookie QB? Go figure. Some of his passes were really, really accurate.
MIN 17, SD 24 The only reason this was close was because Percy Harvin tacked on a kick return TD and Philip RIvers threw two interceptions. All the Vikes scoring happened in the first half and get this - Donovan McNabb passed for 39 yards and one score and one interceptions. 39 yards in the entire game. 7 of 15. Not a positive sign for those of you holding Percy Harvin or Bernard Berrian. Adrian Peterson ran well enough with 98 yards on 16 carries but he was all that worked. Rivers (335, 2 TD) started slowly but picked up steam. Mike Tolbert to be the guy that just gets it done. He ran for 35 yards and a score on 12 carries and then added two touchdowns on his nine receptions for 58 yards. Antonio Gates (8-74) showed no signs of being bothered by his feet but Vincent Jackson (2-31) was a major disappointment.
SEA 17, SF 33 This was really a tough game to watch. The 49ers got two return TD's from Ted Ginn Jr. to make the difference at the end of the game but otherwise not much was happening for either team. The 49ers only had 124 pass yards by Alex Smith and Frank Gore ran for only 59 yards on 22 carries. Alex Smith ran in the only offensive TD. Tarvaris Jackson passed for two scores but only had 197 yards, 1 interception and lost two fumbles. The undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin has the only notable stats in the game (4-83) because he was uncovered one play and scored from 55 yards out. Both teams look like they are going to struggle this year.
NYG 14, WAS 28 Bit of a surprise since the Giants won the last six meetings but Eli Manning had no passing scores and Ahmad Bradshaw (13-44, TD) and Brandon Jacobs (6-29) never got on track. Hakim Nicks (7-122) was the only Giants player of note. Mike Shanahan gave all but one carry to Tim Hightower (25-72, TD) and Fred Davis (5-105) was the best receiver and should be the free agent tight end of the week. The Giants looked to be dull as they had in the preseason and the Skins got a nice game from Rex Grossman (305, 2 TD). It was more of the Giants looking bad than the Skins looking good.
DAL 24, NYJ 27 The Cowboys played well above expectations with Tony Romo (342, 2 TD) not scared to throw but lost a very critical fumble at the Jets goal line and threw a bad interception. Jason Witten (6-110), Miles Austin (5-90,1) and Dez Bryant (3-71, TD) were all fantasy pluses. Neither team rushed well but Mark Sanchez was finally able to take advantage of a weak and injured DAL secondary and passed for 335 yards and two touchdowns. LaDainian Tomlinson remains a factor with five runs (half what Shonn Greene had) and was the lead receiver with six receptions for 73 yards. Plaxico Burress (4-72, TD) and Santonio Holmes (6-70) had respectable games but not as big as playing the visiting Cowboys seemed to suggest. Solid game that could have gone either way. Both teams look good this year.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

The Lockout is now but a distant memory and for the first time, we get to see a full slate of games. Plenty of upsets with normal powerhouses PIT, ATL and IND all getting spanked in a big way. Now is the time we have to ask ourselves - are these teams as bad or good as they suddenly seem? In most cases no. In a few, maybe yes. But we have many more weeks before we can be confident just which of those teams are just having a bad or good weekend and will not sustain that level of play.

The Game-O-The-Week was never in question. It was a thing of beauty. Like touching the face of the fantasy god.

New Orleans 34, Green Bay 42

Any game with 76 total points is okay in my book. When it has a combined 731 passing yards and six touchdowns, you know the quarterbacks were busy. This game was a great watch and produced eight players with touchdowns and six that had five or more receptions. It was like a pinball machine only with fantasy stats.

The first seven possessions in the game had five touchdowns, one punt returned for a touchdown and a field goal. By halftime, the Packers led 28-17.

The second half opened up with a field goal (NO), a returned kick off for a score (GB) and a touchdown pass to Devery Henderson. In the fourth quarter, the Packers scored a rushing touchdown to go up 27-42 and the Saints finally scored the final points with a pass to Jimmy Graham with 2:20 left to play. The Saints drove the field to the GB 9-yard line but a final pass to Darren Sproles had interference and the game ended on an untimed final play that the Saints opted to run the rookie Mark Ingram up the middle into the arms of most of the Packers defense.

So much to learn. We have all these fantasy points and now have to decide who gets them next week. The Saints are using Mark Ingram (13-40) much more than Pierre Thomas (5-31) including when the game is on the line. Darren Sproles is a great addition to the passing game that already was complicated. Jordy Nelson may be the next good Packers wideout or could disappear for a few weeks like in the past. James Starks (12-57, TD) was used more than Ryan Grant (9-40) and Jermichael Finley (3-53) wasn't used as much as expected.

But it was a great game and a wonderful way to wash away the stink of the Lockout and hard feelings. Lot's of upsets this week and we are left wondering which team is just having a big first week or really is good. And which teams really are losers and which just had a bad day and are about to catch fire next week.

Just like your league.

Ain't it grand?

Now get back to work...


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