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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 2
David Dorey
September 18, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Cam "Freaking" Newton 475 2
Tom Brady 423 3
Matthew Stafford 294 4
Jason Campbell 323 3
Ryan Fitzpatrick 264 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Darren McFadden 143 2
Jahvid Best 123 2
Adrian Peterson 141 2
Fred Jackson 140 2
LeSean McCoy 116 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Miles Austin 143 3
Jeremy Maclin 171 2
Vincent Jackson 172 2
Denarius Moore 146 1
Eric Decker 113 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez 83 2
Rob Gronkowski 86 2
Dustin Keller 101 1
Fred Davis 86 1
Aaron Hernandez 62 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Rob Bironas 2 4
Adam Vinatieri 1 4
Jason Hanson 6 2
Nick Folk 3 3
John Kasay 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Lions 0 2 6
Jets 0 2 4
Steelers 0 5 0
Packers 0 4 3
Saints 0 6 1

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Jamaal Charles - Knee injury
Arian Foster - Re-injured hamstring
Felix Jones - Separated shoulder
Austin Miles - Re-injured hamstring
Brandon Pettigrew - Shoulder injury
Michael Vick - Neck injury/Concussion
Braylon Edwards - Knee injury
Tony Romo - Fractured rib
Eddie Royal - Strained groin
Julius Thomas - Ankle injury
Jordan Shipley - Knee injury

Rethinking laws of nature

Cam Newton passed for 854 yards in his last two games. Easily a record for a rookie. He has only played in two NFL games but has turned in efforts of 422 yards and two scores at Arizona and now 432 yards and a score on the Super Bowl Champion Packers. 854 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Oh yes, and he has 18 runs for 71 yards and a rushing score in each game as well. He is just a rookie on the worst team from 2010.

Pretty amazing. Very impressive. And now he gets to host the Jaguars this week.

So like the lockout is not all bad?

I am trying to figure out a reason why and a general lack of preparation time may be the culprit. For what? Well, consider that in the first two games of 2010, there were only nine quarterback performances that topped 300 yards. That was three in week one and six in week two. This year we saw 14 in week one and eight this week with the Rams-Giants left to go. That is nine versus 22 this year. Yes, this has become a passing league and not so much a "defense the pass" league.

And it is good.

And the defense rests... also special teams

I am not saying it never happens. I am saying I am not going to go back and look the last time it did because I swear I cannot ever remember it. This week there has been no defensive or special teams touchdowns. Not one. None. We saw a total of 13 touchdowns via defense or special teams last week. Sort of weird really because I cannot ever remember this happening.

To the waiver wire!

The players sure to be on the free agent radar this week (assuming they are not already on a team)

Denarius Moore (OAK) - The rookie had one catch last week and could have been dropped in some leagues. But he just had five catches for 146 yard and one touchdown in Washington. And now I wish I had not dropped him. He is on some waiver wires I am very sure.

Brandon LaFell (CAR) - The #2 in Carolina is worth something and who would have guessed? The third round pick from 2010 now has a score in each of the first two games thanks to Cam Newton.

Dexter McCluster (KC) - The ex-wideout is now a running back and the loss of Charles means more work. Thomas Jones was nothing special yesterday but McCluster had 51 yards on 8 carries and caught four passes. Worth a spot on your bench.

Jesse Holley (DAL) - Not only did he have 96 yards against the 49ers thanks to a 77 yard catch, but he is the backup for Miles Austin who is out for a few weeks with a bad hamstring.

Daniel Thomas (MIA) - Likely already owned in all but the smallest of leagues but the rookie RB is taking a primary rusher role for the Fins and looked better than he did in training camp with 117 yards against the Texans.

Ten random observations

1. I have to admit - I am liking what Matt Hasselbeck is bringing to the Titans. Chris Johnson may be nouveau riche now but he's doing nothing to help out his team. But Hasselbeck has been solid with 263 yards and two scores against the Jags and then 358 yards and a score on the Ravens. To get over 600 yards in two games from the Titans quarterback is pretty rare and he is not only making Kenny Britt look great, he is even making Nate Washington worthy of being a WR start. Britt has two games so far of 5-136 and 9-135 with three touchdowns so far. Washington has turned in 7-99 and 6-67.

2. Now I have to rethink the Raiders. Their passing game has been "hands off' bad for many years but now that Jason Campbell threw for 323 yards and two scores, are they turning a corner? Denarius Moore made his rookie splash with 146 yards on five catches after being the talk of the training camp. Derek Hagen caught five for 61. Darren McFadden has been the key to the offense but now we have to see if this week was a fluke or not. Hosting the Jets should answer that.

3. Steve Smith now has 14 catches for 334 yards and two scores in just two weeks. To have that many yards last year literally took until week ten of the season. He only had 554 receiving yards in all of 2010. And no, we do not buy that you had any inkling what you were drafting in August. Talk about a lucky break.

4. I am still trying to get a handle on how the Chiefs got so bad, so fast. And that was before they lost Jamaal Charles. Unfortunately, losing Charles is losing the heart of this team and there is just no one left really to rally around. And what that means (besides your KC players are all untradable and unstartable now) is that you can pretty much just grab whatever defense is facing them each week for a nice score.

5. It is not enough to like Matthew Stafford for winning two games or having big stats. But he is doing it with some veteran wisdom that means spreading the ball around and taking whatever the defense is giving. Nate Burleson (7-93) and even the rookie slot receiver Titus Young (5-89) were the lead receivers against the Chiefs though the scores ended up with Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson. But that is just what you want to see to prove that this is not the same old offense that only relies on Calvin Johnson. Stafford has really made some nice progress.

6. I have trouble believing that Kerry Collins is going to remain the starter in Indianapolis. He has just not looked sharp at all and while that is understandable given his short time with the team, you have to wonder where is this going? The Colts lost to the Browns in Indy. Up next? The Pittsburgh Steelers. Left on the schedule coming up - @NO, ATL, @NE, @BAL and @HOU. But what quarterback is there that could step in? Maybe no one. Maybe Carson Palmer. Hard to say. But I cannot believe we are going to be watching this all season long.

7. Shonn Greene took his golden opportunity - against the visiting Jaguars no less - and only managed to gain 49 yards on 16 carries. Granted he scored a touchdown but Greene is not showing the power or speed that should be expected. Worse yet, his next three games all come on the road against OAK, BAL and NE. Trade him if you can. Just cannot imagine it is going to get any better any time soon.

8. Fred Davis is going to be a top ten tight end - easily - by the end of the year. Chris Cooley never had a catch on Sunday and Davis led the Skins with six catches for 86 yards and one score because he has always been too talented to be a #2 tight end. He already had five catches for 105 yards in the opener. The important factor here - Grossman prefers to throw to him and that is all you need to know.

9. Have to admit that I was impressed with old man (29) Willis McGahee rushing for 101 yards and one score on 28 carries against the Bengals and he had one catch as well. Lance Ball (6-28) played but had no real impact. The Broncos are hardly going to be an offensive powerhouse this year but with no Moreno around, McGahee could surprise if only in home games which he has none for the next two weeks.

10. I want to hate Beanie Wells and not just because he ended up on two of my teams last year. But he rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries on the road to Washington. That is phenomenal. Granted he had no catches but Wells gained 90 yards on 18 runs and a score in the season opener against the Panthers. He may actually be better this year than I was giving him credit for. And that makes me "wool sweater" uncomfortable.

Sunday Snippets

GB 30, CAR 23 The Panthers were ahead 13-0 and our collective jaws were on the floor again. Remember how last week we all said that Cam Newton won't throw for 422 yards every week? WE ARE LIARS. Unintended perhaps but the rookie just passed for 432 yards and a score this week. That is ridiculous. He was against the defending Super Bowl Champs. Once again, Steve Smith (6-156) Is making someone in your league giggle for his "what the hell" pick in the tenth round of your draft. The weird part is that the Panthers cannot run anymore with only 18 yards on 11 carries from the dynamic duo. Newton had 53 yards and a score on ten carries. Aaron Rodgers had a standard game with 308 yards and two scores but the nine different receivers all had moderate numbers including the leader Jordy Nelson who had just one catch for 84 yards that went for a score at the end of the game. James Starks continues to be better than Ryan Grant but both are playing a significant role.
KC 3, DET 48 This was the most lopsided regular season win in the history of the Lions and is a sign of how good they are this year. This was a horrible loss by the Chiefs and coupled with the ACL injury Jamaal Charles shows just how bad this team will stay. Matt Stafford carved up the Chiefs for 294 yards and four TD's that went to Calvin Johnson (3-29, 2 TD), Tony Scheffler (1-36) and Jahvid Best (6-66) who also scored as a runner on his 16 carries for 57 yards. The Chiefs lost Charles and that's a permanent problem. Thomas Jones (12-40) and Dexter McCluster (8-51) will try to replace him but neither may end up to be much of a fantasy starter. Dwayne Bowe managed to gain 101 yards on five catches but he's now the only weapon left on the roster.
CLE 27, IND 19 All things are not well in Indy. Apparently the Colts without Manning are just not a very good team. Joseph Addai and DeLone Carter split carries and outside of Reggie Wayne (4-66), there has been no consistent player on this team. Dallas Clark scored this week but only had 32 yards. Peyton Hillis was the only notable Browns player but he was enough all by himself with 94 rush yards and two scores. The Browns are really no different than last year but the Colts? Wow. Hard to imagine that Kerry Collins remains the starter.
TB 24, MIN 20 The good news in MIN is that Donovan McNabb passed for more than 39 yards this week (228). Bad news is that the Vikes are 0-2 and so far Adrian Peterson (120, 2 TD) is the only weapon of note. Percy Harvin had a decent showing (7-76) but no one else did in this important home game. The Buccaneers had a 14 point fourth quarter to take the win and LeGarrette Blount had a surprisingly good game with 2 TDs on his 13 carries for 72 yards. For you Mike Williams owners, he did catch a touchdown but it was called back because of an illegal shift. He ended with just one catch for a four yard loss. Preston Parker led the team with 98 yards on six catches while he replaces Sammie Stroughter.
CHI 13, NO 30 The Saints walked away with this one after the first quarter and Drew Brees (270, 3 TD) again found Devery Henderson (3-103, TD) for a long gainer. Lance Moore returned and did nothing but act as a decoy though only Jimmy Graham (6-79) also had decent stats. Jay Cutler (244, TD) had little success other than hitting Matt Forte for ten catches and 117 yards to add to his 10 runs for 49 yards but no other CHI receiver did much. Bears are not so tough away from Chicago.
JAC 3, NYJ 32 The Jets had a big-time stomping on the Jaguars who could only pass for 111 yards between Luke McCown and Blaine Gabbert who was thrown to the wolves. Maurice Jones-Drew was successful rushing with 88 yards on 18 carries but was limited in the game because of the score. The Jets had an easy time and Mark Sanchez threw for two scores that went to Santonio Holmes (3-42) and Dustin Keller (6-101) but no other receiver had more than ten yards. The disappointing part of this win was that Shonn Greene only gained 49 yards on 16 carries though he scored once.
SEA 0, PIT 24 This game wasn't really that close. Seattle had no rushing attack with 10 carries for 19 yards from the running backs and Tarvaris Jackson only managed 159 passing yards. It was a complete beat down though the Seahawks used the chance to rotate 11 different receivers into the game with no effect. The Steelers bounced back from their opening loss with Rashard Mendenhall scoring his typical home TD with 66 yards on 19 carries. Isaac Redman also ran in one score while Mike Wallace had a great showing with eight receptions for 126 yards and one touchdown even though not one catch was really needed to secure the win. Outside of Wallace, there were no big numbers here though a shutout is always nice like I called for in the prediction last week. Seattle is pretty punchless against a good team. Big Ben took a scary shot to the knees but apparently is fine as he returned to play.
BAL 13, TEN 26 What a great game to keep us always guessing. How exactly does this happen? The Ravens looked unbeatable last week spanking the Steelers and yet they travel to face the Titans who lost to the Jags. And yet suddenly they get swamped by a Titans team that still could not run. Chris Johnson only had 53 yards on 24 carries but Matt Hasselbeck passed for 358 yards and one score. That included both Kenny Britt (9-135, TD) and Nate Washington (7-99). About the only thing that worked at all for the Ravens was Ray Rice who rushed for 43 yards on 13 carries and was the lead receiver with 53 yards on five catches and the lone Raven's touchdown. The Ravens were flat after their big emotional win last week and even the Titans can beat a team that is playing flat.
ARI 21, WAS 22 This was a great game though a little light on points to be considered for Game-O-The-Week. Both offenses played surprisingly well. Kevin Kolb took his first road game as a Cardinal and passed for a very respectable 251 yards and two touchdowns that were split between Larry Fitzgerald (7-133) and Jeff King (2-36). In case you are wondering who the #2 WR is to get in ARI, the answer is there is no one really. At least not consistently. Beanie Wells would have been boxed in last year but had 93 yards and a score on just 14 carries for a wildly successful game for him based on his past. Rex Grossman passed for 291 yards and two scores for another very nice fantasy showing. Santana Moss (5-61) and Fred Davis (6-86) caught the touchdowns and Cooley never had a catch. The important part was that Tim Hightower had 106 total yards and beat his ex-employer.
DAL 27, SF 24 OT Another great game that was almost the Game-O-The-Week. The 49ers put up a great fight and Alex Smith passed for 179 yards and two scores to show just how bad the Dallas secondary is. Of course no 49er receiver was worth a fantasy start since Vernon Davis (2-18) was blanketed and Braylon Edwards (1-21) hurt his knee and only played in the first quarter. Frank Gore scored once on the ground but only had 47 yards on 20 carries. The Cowboys lost Felix Jones (9-25) to a shoulder injury which makes DeMarco Murray the next Cowboys back who under performs. Miles Austin had a career best three touchdowns on high nine catches for 143 but he hurt his hamstring again and may be out for the next month. Jason Witten (7-102) helped out along with Jesse Holley (3-96) marking his first game played by catching a 77 yard pass to set up the winning field goal. It was a great game that saw the 49ers somehow stay in the game while the Cowboys pulled out a comeback win by losing even more players to injury.
CIN 22, DEN 24 Yet another nail-biter that was just a bit low on points to make this Game-O-The-Week material. The Broncos were already without Brandon Lloyd and Knowshon Moreno but Willis McGahee shook off the rust to gain 101 yards and a score on 28 carries. Eric Decker took over with five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns while no other DEN receiver gained more than 23 yards. The Bengals had a very nice game from Andy Dalton who passed for 332 yards and two touchdowns and showed no signs of his forearm injury of last week. He split the workload mainly between Jerome Simpson (4-136) and A.J. Green (10-124, TD). Cedric Benson was a disappointment since he faced the notoriously poor rush defense of the Broncos and yet only gained 59 yards on 16 carries with no scores. Great game despite almost all the fantasy scorers having names we were not that familiar with.
HOU 23, MIA 13 The Fins settled down after the big stats from last week. Chad Henne only passed for 170 yards and one score in part because Daniel Thomas finally played and ran 18 times for 107 yards while on the bench in probably every league in the world. But Reggie Bush only gained 18 yards on six carries and the rushing workload will fall onto Thomas' shoulders from here on out. Thomas even caught one pass for ten yards. Brandon Marshall scored the lone touchdown for the Fins while catching six passes for 79 yards. Matt Schaub passed for 230 yards and two scores that went to Andre Johnson (7-93) and Owen Daniels (3-25). The big story here was that Arian Foster played and not very well (10-33) and then left with his hamstring injured all over again. Ben Tate stepped up just as nicely as last week and ended with 103 yards on 23 runs and four catches for 32 yards. Foster owners cannot be happy, are probably livid if they do not also own Tate but at least they are not the Jamaal Charles owner.
SD 21, NE 35 This predictable win was a fantasy bonanza. Tom Brady passed for 423 yards and three scores that all went to the tight ends again. Rob Gronkowski (4-86, 2 TD) and Aaron Hernandez (7-62, TD). Deion Branch led the team with 129 yards on eight catches. BenJarvus Green-Ellis gained 70 yards and a score on 17 carries while Danny Woodhead totaled only 27 yards because some of you thought last week was going to repeat with any regularity. Philip Rivers passed for 378 yards and two touchdowns that both went to Vincent Jackson (10-172) since the Patriots schemed to take Antonio Gates out of the equation and he ended with no catches. This was a nice game with nice fantasy points for almost all the notable players outside of Gates.
PHI 31, ATL 35 Another barn-burner and nail-biter. Michael Vick returned to the Georgia Dome for the first time and was having a nice game (242 yards, 2 TDs) but was knocked out of the game when he was tackled and did a face plant into a team mate's helmet. Mike Kafka tried rally the troops but fell short. Jeremy Maclin is back with a vengeance. After having only one catch last week, he turned in 13 receptions for 171 yards and two scores and left DeSean Jackson with only two catches for 21 yards. LeSean McCoy was also a star for a second week when he scored twice on his 18 carries for 95 yards and had 21 yards on four catches as well. Matt Ryan only passed for 195 yards but had four touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez ended with seven receptions for 83 yards and two scores but Roddy White only managed 23 yards and a score on three receptions.

Huddle Player of the Week

Miles Austin - The Dallas star enjoyed the absence of Dez Bryant in the SF game and turned in a career best three touchdowns on his nine receptions for 143 yards. He scored from 5, 25 and 53 yards out and made the difference for the Cowboys. Unfortunately he also reinjured his hamstring and will be out a few weeks but on Sunday he was a gem.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Cam Newton 475 2 QB Joe Flacco 197 1
RB Isaac Redman 55 1 RB Jamaal Charles 27 0
RB Keiland Williams 25 1 RB Arian Foster 40 0
WR Denarius Moore 146 1 WR Mike WIlliams TB -4 0
WR David Nelson 83 1 WR DeSean Jackson 21 0
WR Jerome Simpson 136 0 WR Reggie Wayne 66 0
TE Delanie Walker 38 1 TE Antonio Gates zip 0
PK Rob Bironas 2 XP 4 FG PK S. Janikowski 5 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 134

Huddle Fantasy Points = 32

Question of the week

Will Cam Newton be a top ten quarterback at the end of the year and is he already a must-start each week?

Sunday's Couch Commentary

There were a lot of long touchdowns this week and that is always fun to watch and profit from. We seemed to either have nail biters or blowouts this week with few in-between. The Seahawks, Chiefs and Jaguars were all destroyed without putting up much fight. Almost all the afternoon games ended up as very entertaining and close matches. There were six games that ended with wins by no more than four points. The Cowboys and 49ers went to overtime. But the best game of all actually came as one of the first of the day.

Oakland 35, Buffalo 38

Hard to believe that this game was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Raiders took a drive down and allowed Michael Bush to run in the one-yard touchdown on third down to open the scoring. The Bills threw an interception on their next series and the Raiders only needed to go 34 yards for their next score. After five plays, Darren McFadden went off left tackle for the five-yard touchdown and the 14-0 lead. The Bills finally had a drive but it petered out at the OAK 14-yard line and they kicked a field goal. The Raiders responded with a five play drive to cover 88 yards that ended with Jason Campbell running for the one-yard score. Denarius Moore had a 42 yard completion to help that drive. The Bills used the final 1:22 to reach the OAK 21-yard line where their last second field goal attempt was blocked.

21-3 at halftime and the shine was off the Buffalo pumpkin. They seemed destined to be another team that started red hot in week one only to cool and play flat in week two. Like the Ravens. Only the second half opened with the Bills reaching the OAK 43-yard line where Fred Jackson rushed for a touchdown and a 21-10 deficit.

The Raiders were driving but on the BUF 43-yard line, McFadden lost a fumble. That turned into a 57 yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Steve Johnson for a 21-17 score. Respectable. A game even. When the Raiders were held to three-and-out, they punted to the Bills who drove 69 yards in eight plays that ended with a fourth quarter touchdown run by Fred Jackson. Now the Bills led 24-21 and had ripped off 21 unanswered points. Sort of like the Raiders in the first half.

But suddenly the Bills too lost their defense. The Raiders only needed nine plays to reach the BUF 12-yard line where Jason Campbell hit McFadden for a touchdown. Now the Raiders were back in the lead 28-24 with 9:23 left to play.

But the Bills drove 80 yards on their next possession to reach the OAK 6-yad line where Fitzpatrick hit Scott Chandler for a score and a 31-28 lead with 4:53 left to play. And yes, I will start projecting for Chandler even though it is really hard to buy into him being a fantasy factor since he never played in his first four years on three different teams. Now he has three scores in two games. But I digress.

The Raiders only needed five plays to march 88 yards thanks to the rookie Moore catching a 50 yard touchdown and giving the Raiders in the lead 35-31 with only 3:41 left to play. Seemed like last team with the ball would win.

The Bills had to go 80 yards in 3:41 to win the game and a field goal would not be enough. They had to have a touchdown. On third and one from their own 34-yard line Fitzpatrick runs for four yards and a first down. Then two passes net a first down at the OAK 42-yard line with 1:53 left to play. Three plays only cover seven yards so on fourth and three with 1:03 left to play, Fitzpatrick finds Donald Jones for nine yards and a first down at the 15-yard line. After three passes gain nine yards, it was fourth down and one from the OAK Six-yard line with 18 seconds left to play. And somehow, David Nelson slanted to the middle all alone and caught the winning touchdown.

The Raiders only had 14 seconds and two plays left which ended with a Hail Mary interception.

It was a great game and from teams that last year would not have likely been in such a high scoring match.

After two weeks, we have answered a few questions but have many more left to ponder. Only seven teams are 2-0 and three of those are in the AFC East. Only six teams are 0-2 and no division has more than one. We still have plenty to learn and much more to discover. And in case you get comfortable, there will be more injuries like Jamaal Charles to change up your league every week.

We had no defensive or special teams scores this week and to make it all just completely surreal, I now have to figure out how to con finagle steal explain why you should trade me Cam Newton. Because I am all about helping you... This might take a while.

Now get back to work...


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