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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 3
David Dorey
September 26, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Joe Flacco 418 3
Mark Sanchez 369 3
Drew Brees 370 3
Eli Manning 254 4
Matt Schaub 373 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Darren McFadden 178 2
Ryan Mathews 149 2
Fred Jackson 161 1
LaDainian Tomlinson 154 1
Ahmad Bradshaw 149 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Wes Welker 236 2
Torrey Smith 152 3
Victor Cruz 110 2
Calvin Johnson 108 2
Mike Wallace 129 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jermichael Finley 85 3
Rob Gronkowski 109 2
James Casey 126 1
Jimmy Graham 100 1
Greg Olsen 57 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Jason Hanson 2 4
Neil Rackers 3 4
Billy Cundiff 4 3
Sebastian Janikowski 4 2
Ryan Longwell 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Ravens 1 5 3
Buccaneers 0 4 3
Bills 1 0 4
Browns 0 5 2
Colts 1 3 3

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Kenny Britt - Possible ACL
Michael Vick - Broken non-throwing hand
Kerry Collins - Concussion
Frank Gore - Sprained ankle
Jeremy Maclin - Hamstring

Man... this is REALLY light. Guess everyone else is already hurt. It is a good thing though.

Ten random observations

1. I am a kind and giving person and wish no ill on anyone. But I have to admit getting slightly peeved when those BenJarvus Green-Ellis owners were so smug. He opened the year with 34 yards and a touchdown in Miami and then 75 yards and a score against the visiting Chargers. He cost them almost nothing in the draft.

But the Patriots backfield is like a Hells Angels clubhouse. You can admire it from afar. You can know people who go in there and have fun. But if you ever participate in it you know you are going to end up in an alley somewhere with tire tracks on your back, no wallet and a tattoo of Dumbo the Elephant on your forehead. And so this week what happens? Green-Ellis rushed nine times for 16 yards while Stevan Ridley rumbled for 44 yards on seven carries. But sure, start Green-Ellis this week. I am sure he'll be back to scoring for you.

What's that? Do I hear the sound of a Harley getting louder?

2. Apparently his kryptonite is rainwater? What else would explain how Cam "Superman" Newton went from 420+ passing yards each week to only 158 yards? Not to worry too much, he had one passing touchdown and ran for 27 yards in a Panthers first win. Call me sentimental, but I kind of miss the old Newton and not just because I actually started him for the first time. Had to happen I guess. Third time is no charm here.

3. Exactly why did the Chargers let Darren Sproles go? All he has done so far is run eight times for 59 (7.4 YPC) yards and a touchdown and added 21 catches for 168 yards and a second touchdown. Oh yeah, and a touchdown on a punt along with several very nice returns. In a reception point league, the guy is a must start. He just delivers and while his touches are rarely more than 10 per game, he's winning games when he does take off. Not bad for a later draft pick in every league.

4. The answer to the question "what happens with Jamaal Charles gone?" is now known. And it looks like Thomas Jones as primary back who will not gain nearly enough to merit fantasy consideration and then Dexter McCluster who is making his bid to become the mid-west version of Darren Sproles. First game out and the diminutive McCluster (5-7, 170 lbs.) rushed nine times for 45 yards and added five receptions for 17 more yards in San Diego. Granted - it is not going to win your league but we're coming up to bye weeks and more injuries and RB depth is important for your team too.

5. I made myself a promise this summer. I would not draft anyone who had any health questions coming into the season. That meant no Maurice Jones-Drew, Peyton Manning, Arian Foster, Chris Cooley, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, Antonio Gates and Chris Johnson who was not injured but was a no show all summer. I accepted that I could be wrong but I know from the past that every time I take a player in a draft on the assumption that he is going to "be okay" it either happens too late or never. So far only MJD has done well. All these players may end up with decent stats but I hate slow starts and I hate waiting to see if someone really is healthy. Guys like Colston and Gates who have chronic problems I would especially never touch personally. See how this all ends and then consider it when you draft next year. Kind makes you hate optimism, really. In fantasy football, when the glass is half full it usually gets thrown in your face.

6. Maybe that whole Chad Ochocinco thing in New England is not going to work out like we imagined. He only caught two passes for 28 yards this week despite Aaron Hernandez being out and Deion Branch apparently invisible. He also dropped a probable touchdown which becomes more glaring in a game they lost by three points. I'd cut him if I owned him and let someone else jump on his name.

7. I am left to wonder - what ever happened to Sam Bradford? You know, the guy in St. Louis who was voted Rookie of the Year when he looked very Manning-esque in his first year throwing touchdowns and solid yardage despite having almost every single receiver become injured last year. He did much with nearly nothing. Now there is a guy in St. Louis who has thrown only two touchdowns and twice had less than 200 passing yards. What if it was all because of Danny Amendola? Man. I did not see that coming.

8. Everyone loves the underdog. Everyone loves the hard worker who was never given anything and earned every penny he ever got. Ergo everyone loves Fred Jackson. He's one of those backs who never quits. He has no pedigree and was undrafted from Coe College. But he refuses to play like he does not belong. And he has banged around the Bills for five years now. The Bills offense is exceeding all expectations and sweeping along Jackson who had over 100 rush yards the first two weeks and then faced a tough Pats rush defense and scored once on his 12 runs for 74 yards and added 87 yards on five catches. He's like everything that C.J. Spiller was supposed to be. Love those lunch pail types.

9. Brandon Pettigrew was questionable to play and never had a full practice because of his shoulder injury. He had one catch for seven yards in week two and four catches for 57 yards in the opener. Both tight end touchdowns went to Tony Scheffler. So of course knowing he was a such a risk this week he was an easy bench guy. But he ended with 11 receptions for 112 yards for a career best on both stats. Make note of that for the next time the Lions call someone questionable.

10. You have to start Rob Gronkowski without question but he has to slow down some time. After three weeks, he has 17 catches for 281 yards and five touchdowns. That is a pace to end with 90 catches for 1497 yards and 27 touchdowns. Then again, him slowing down is just a theory until proven real. Gronk is the killer tight end so far this year.

Throwing like a samoan

I just love comparing years to see how things are changing.

Thru Week Three... 2011 2010 2009 2008
300 Yard Passers 33 16 21 14
100 Yard Receiver TE 10 7 3 2
100 Yard Receiver WR 35 27 25 26
100 Yard Rusher 16 16 20 22

The number of 300 yard passing games is double that of last year and the number of big performances of receivers is on the upswing as well. Tight ends are on a very definite progression upwards thanks in large part to the Patriots. And yet those running backs are still the same if not down from recent years. How far does the pendulum go before it starts back the other way?

To the waiver wire!

Popular picks on the waiver wire this week:

Kendall Hunter - The 49er rookie running back was nothing special really with 26 yards on nine carries and 12 yards on two receptions but he scored to win the game for the 49ers. He played the final three series after Gore lost a fumble and hurt his ankle. Probably not much here but he was noticeable. Gore is not going anywhere and neither is this offense. But Gore himself said he was not sure he would play this weekend so expect at least the Gore owner to jump on him.

Alfonso Smith - The Cardinals second-year back ran 17 times for 54 yards and added 21 yards on three catches. And yet he had 20 touches so people will take a shot on him. He is no Beanie Wells and no one really wants him anyway. Value to the Wells owner but not much else.

Stevan Ridley - The Pats rookie RB had 44 yards on seven carries and RB starved teams will take a shot on him. There is a guessing game I refuse to play.

Torrey Smith - Deservedly the hottest pickup. But those were his first catches of his career. Still, a depth guy to grab.

Damian Williams - He only had one catch for 19 yards on Sunday and only 16 receptions last year as a rookie but he should be first in line to replace Kenny Britt who appears to have torn his ACL. He's worth a deep roster stash if only for the Britt owner.

Sunday Snippets

JAC 10, CAR 16 The debut of Blaine Gabbert (139 yards, 1 TD) went off with less fanfare than Cam Newton had but then again even Newton is not his normal record setting self now. The killer part of this game is that all those smiling jacks in your league with Steve Smith (2-15) discovered he was a pumpkin again The problem with the Panthers is that t hey still have no rushing game and apparently Newton's magic comes in two week spurts. At least Maurice Jones-Drew (24-122, 3-45) was a stud again. Nice to see - Mike Thomas (4-55, TD) connecting with the newbie Gabbert.
SF 13, CIN 8 The Bengals flopped in their home opener and with Jordan Shipley on IR and Jerome Simpson buying up soap on a rope while the offense did not compensate for them. Simpson did not play because because he was busy trying to develop a much needed set of eyes in the back of his head and researching if he wanted to go red team or blue team in prison. Cedric Benson (17-64) could have done more in his final game before his expected three week hiatus from work so he can learn to interact with family members without the police being called. The 49ers finally remembered to use Vernon Davis (8-114) since he is the only receiver they have left but another poor showing by Frank Gore (17-42) was made even worse when Kendall Hunter scored the only touchdown in the entire game. Sixty minutes, two teams, two crappy defenses and just one touchdown. Pitiful.
MIA 16, CLE 17 Every Peyton Hillis owner was surprised to find that strep throat can make you inactive on Sunday. In his place Montario Hardest (86 total yards) was a decent last second replacement. And Daniel Thomas followed up his nice debut last week with 95 rush yards, 27 receiving yards and his first NFL touchdown. Not much else notable happened in this game other than the Fins are now 0-3. Colt McCoy threw for 210 yards and two scores but try relying on that in any given week.
DET 26, MIN 23 Have to admit this was a really good game where we never expected one to happen. Matt Stafford (378, 2 TD) was as prolific as ever thanks to Calvin Johnson (7-108, 2 TD) and Brandon Pettigrew (11-112) who was of course questionable to play after a bad game last week. But Jahvid Best (12-14) proved the run is dead in Detroit though he had 74 yards on five catches. Donovan McNabb passed for 211 yards and one score while living on the waiver wire in most every league after two horrible starts. Adrian Peterson 17-78, TD and 4-19 receiving) was the only real reason the 0-3 Vikes were in this or any game. Hey - the Vikes showed some life and the Lions come down a notch and yet it still changes nothing. The Lions trailed 20-0 in this game and yet still won. Sucks to wear purple on Sunday so far...
HOU 33, NO 40 An obvious contender for Game-O-The-Week and a beautiful and glorious game. Games like this make me want to cry tears of joy. 743 combined passing yards. 73 points. Why can't we get games like this on Monday night? Drew Brees (370, 3 TDs) threw two interceptions but Jimmy Graham (4-100, TD) and Lance Moore (9-88, TD) both had monster games and Mark Ingram (9-38, TD) finally found the endzone for the first time along with two receptions for only a three yard loss. Darren Sproles continues to spawn the question - "how dumb was SD to let him go?". Matt Schaub (373, 3 TD) also excelled like it was the pre-Foster days with Andre Johnson (7-128, TD) and James Casey (5-126, TD) going off if only because you gave up on Casey by now. No Foster continues to be a very sore spot for his fantasy owners but Ben Tate (90 total yards) continues to pay off. Great game all around and 37 fourth quarter points meant that no one left the game to beat the traffic. 4 out of 5 times, this would be the GOTW.
NYG 29. PHI 16 . Michael Vick could not finish yet another game and left with a reportedly broken non-throwing hand. Replacing Vick with Kafka seems like a NASCAR race where Tony Stewart is swapped out mid-race to let some pizza delivery guy in a dented Subaru take his place. LeSean McCoy is still a small but pronounced beast with 141 total yards and a TD but the best receiver was Jeremy Maclin's 69 yards on five catches. The Giants finally came to life offensively when Eli Manning passed for 254 yards and four touchdowns that surprisingly favored Victor "Asomugha is over on that side" Cruz who had a career best 110 yards and two touchdowns on only three catches. Ahmad Bradshaw rolled up nice stats with 86 yards on 15 runs and a score on his five receptions for 53 yards. When Brandon Jacobs scores a 40-yard receiving touchdown to start the game, you know things are looking up for the Giants. And all this in front of some fairly pissed off Eagle home town fans. Newsflash - Vick wonders aloud why all quarterbacks get roughing penalties called but him.
DEN 14, TEN 17 This was about as boring as the score suggests. Kyle Orton (173 yards) passed for two scores but they went to Matt Willis (2-16) and Willis McGahee (2-1) who also added only 52 yards on 22 carries. Brandon Lloyd (4-38) is back but not all that much really. Matt Hasselbeck passed for 311 yards and two scores that ended up with Nate Washington (8-92) who becomes a decent WR2 now that Kenny Britt has an apparent knee injury that may be an ACL. As previously noted, the player formerly known as Chris Johnson still sucks and is redefining just how much rust a player can get playing dominoes with his agent for the entire summer instead of working with the team. And yes, once again Kenny has put the Britt in Brittle.
NYJ 24, OAK 34 The most appropriate thing in Oakland would be for Darren McFadden (19-171, 2 TD) to hand out the paychecks so each player could say "Thank you Mr. McFadden". With him the Raiders are a competitive team that can take down nearly anyone. Without him, they are just the Raiders which if you followed football for the last decade you know what I mean. Jason Campbell (156 yards) crawled back under his rock and Denarius Moore only had four catches for 34 yards but added a touchdown run of 23 yards. Man - he's sort of screaming "SELL HIGH" far as I am concerned. The Jets got a big game from Mark Sanchez who passed for 369 yards and two scores and rushed in a touchdown as well. The talk around HQ this week will be a group think tank for everyone to try to recall what they ever saw in Shonn Greene. And they'll set there wondering just how long they could try to ride LaDainian Tomlinson (38 yds rush, 116 yds receive and TD) before he broke down and would it be worth it. A week? Two weeks? Might be worth it...
KC 17, SD 20 I hate these sort of games. Sure, the Chargers could have won 42-0 if they were motivated but they figured it was a week off and the game ends up as some competitive nail biter between a great offense and a collection of guys drawing up plays in the dirt. Really San Diego? What about your home town fans? Philip RIvers had 266 pass yards and two interceptions. Ryan Mathews took it seriously because he cannot afford not to and ran for 98 yards and two scores while Mike Tolbert (43 total yards) continues to waft slowly to the bottom. Vincent Jackson (5-63) fell about 125 yards short of expectations. The Chiefs temporarily looked like a real team with Matt Cassel (176 yards, 2 TDs) no doubt happy with the close loss and Dwayne Bowe (4-67, TD) somehow maintaining fantasy value. This is one of those "discount everything that happened heavily" sort of games.
BAL 37, STL 7 The sophomore slump is in full swing for Sam Bradford (166, TD) and while Steven Jackson (4-23) played, it was mostly to reduce the stats of Carnell Williams (18-75) who really needed no help. Brandon Gibson (5-55, TD) had the rare decent showing but otherwise and understandably, this was all about the Ravens. Joe Flacco (389, 3 TD) was dumped on many waiver wires last week and yet came through big here thanks to the rookie Torrey Smith (5-152, 3 TD). Otherwise this was pretty much just the standard Ray Rice show with 162 total yards and five receptions. It was a whooping that says the Ravens are an elite team and the Rams are curiously looking very much like the pre-2010 Rams.
GB 27, CHI 17 This is a good, understandable game. Aaron Rodgers (297, 3 TD) played like he always has and while Greg Jennings (9-119) had a big game, Jermichael Finley ended with seven catches for 85 yards and three touchdowns to richly reward those fantasy owners who probably drafted him a bit early against conventional thinking. Jordy Nelson (3-40) is not going to have a good game every week and just to mix it all up, James Starks (11-5) was a bad surprise and Ryan Grant (17-92) pretended he was Starks instead. Now you can just flip a coin to predict the Packers backfield. It is official - relying on any of them will hurt and maybe all the time. The Bears had Matt Forte rush only nine times so that he could rack up a whole two yards but of course seven receptions for 80 yards makes it all okay. Cutler played pretty well with 302 yards and two scores but he had two interceptions. He was only sacked three times though so it was more like a day off really.
ARI 10, SEA 13 "Please Mommy, don't make me watch this game again. I'll clean my room." Kevin Kolb (252, 1 TD) was pretty average against a Seattle defense that did not seem that tough the first two weeks. Of course Larry Fitzgerald (5-64, TD) was the only Cardinal player with any notable stats and Beanie Wells was a scratch for the game because of his hamstring strain he got in practice. Alfonso Smith will be the new hot rookie RB on your waiver wire because the second year player just got his first ever game time and gained 54 yards on 17 runs and had 21 yards on three catches. That is not really that good, but hey - he is a RUNNING BACK ON THE WAIVER WIRE so he will be snapped up for at least one week. The Seahawks saw Sidney Rice (8-109) actually show up nicely despite no one else doing the same. Marshawn Lynch only gained 73 yards on 19 carries but you will see his 23 yard run and think he did well. Not so. This was just a tortuous game to watch so I guess we can say it met expectations.
ATL 13, TB 16 Nothing like being the preseason darling to have a big year. The Falcons fall to 1-2 even though they had beaten the Buccaneers the last five times they met. Make no mistake - what a boring game. Two touchdowns and five field goals total. Matt Ryan (330, TD) could not get it done at the end when it mattered most though he made fantasy studs out of Roddy White (9-140) and Julio Jones (6-115). But Michael Turner (11-20) had a rough time and the offense could not generate the points. The Buccaneers where nothing special and no receiver had more than 43 yards. LeGarrette Blount (24-81) was mediocre as well but one touchdown by Josh Freeman on a dive and three field goals was all it took in this defensive yawner.
PIT 23, IND 20 While the game ended with the Steelers winning as expected, almost nothing else went as planned in this game. Consider that Rashard Mendenhall only gained 37 yards on 18 carries - AGAINST THE COLTS - and yet Joseph Addai gained 86 yards and a touchdown - AGAINST THE STEELERS. Mike Wallace (5-144, TD) was the only one who played the same as he had in the first two games. Pierre Garcon (6-82) no doubt remained on everyone's bench unlike Reggie Wayne (3-24) who should have. The Steelers defense recorded just one sack on Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter. And yes, I had Mendenhall, Wallace and the PIT defense and needed just five more points in the entire fourth quarter which never happened.

Huddle Player of the Week

Torrey Smith - While you could certainly make a case for Wes Welker and his 217 yards and two touchdowns, Smith deserves this accolade and becomes the very first of his kind in the process. You see, he did not merely catch five passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns. He had his first catch of his career on Sunday and it went for a 74 yard touchdown. Then a ten yard completion. Then a 41 yard catch for a second touchdown. And then an 18 yard reception for a third score. He ended with an 11-yard catch for no score. Five career catches,three touchdowns. Hope someone was recording the game at home.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Eli Manning 251 4 QB Philip Rivers 266 0
RB Daniel Thomas 122 1 RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 16 0
RB Kendall Hunter 38 1 RB Michael Turner 20 0
WR Torrey Smith 162 3 WR Kenny Britt 18 0
WR Victor Cruz 110 2 WR Deion Branch 0 0
WR Josh Cribs 49 1 WR Steve Smith 15 0
TE James Casey 126 1 TE Kellen Winslow 20 0
PK Rian Lindell 4 XP 2 FG PK Josh Brown 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 152

Huddle Fantasy Points = 14

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was a huge upset sort of weekend with the Bills, 49ers, Giants, Raiders and Buccaneers all pulling off nice wins and there were almost no blowouts. 11 games ended with less than one touchdown difference between the contestants. It was all about the NFL pulling a correction of sorts after two weeks because you are not supposed to get comfortable yet with who any team is.

This week the Game-O-The-Week had several contenders but one was just slightly bigger and better and more surprising. Just one said - " you are not as smart as you think you are". And it was a lot of fun to watch.

New England 31, Buffalo 34

The Bills had lost their last 15 games to the Patriots dating back to the season opener in 2003. They won that game 31-0 thanks to Travis Henry, Drew Bledsoe and Eric Moulds. Tom Brady passed for only 123 yards and four interceptions in that game. But then the season finale that year was the rematch that the Patriots also won 31-0. And the spank was on and on and on and on...

The Bills came into this 2-0 like the Pats but had only beaten the Chiefs and squeaked past the Raiders. The Pats had crushed the Dolphins and Chargers. So it was no surprise when the Pats first series when 80 yards in ten plays and ended with a 14-yard touchdown to Wes Welker. The Bill threw an interception on their second play so the Pats went 35 yards in six plays to throw a one-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. And the spank was on again.

Sure, the Bills reached the Pats 35 yard line but threw an interception on a fourth and 14 from the NE 35-yard line. After both teams had a couple of series that ended with punts, Brady had a quick drive that went 65 yards in just five plays that ended with Gronkowski catching a 26-yard score for his second in the game that now stood 21-0. Not a good sign. Loss #16 was already well underway.

And the ensuing kickoff was only returned to the 4-yard line thanks to a penalty. But a couple of penalties and two long passes later, the Bills were on the NE 11-yard line where Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Steve Johnson for a touchdown and a more respectable 21-7 debacle.

With only 1:56 left to before halftime, Brady got the ball on his own 20 yard-line and thanks to two passes and two Unnecessary Roughness penalties, he reached the BUF 13-yard line ready for the kill shot. But he threw an interception. With one minute left to play, suddenly Fitzpatrick drove the field to the NE 24-yard line with eight seconds left and got a field goal for a 21-10 deficit.

There was no reason to expect much fireworks in the second half and the Bills went three and out on their first series. Then Brady tried to hit Chad OchoCinco but it was intercepted. It only took the Bills seven plays to cover 39 yards and score on third down from the three yard-line with a pass to Scott Chandler. 21-17 is like a real game score.

The Pats were newly motivated but ended with a field goal on their next series when they could not score from the 10-yard line on three plays. 24-17 was the score entering the fourth quarter while both teams were just punting every time they had the ball. The Pats had reached the BUF 23-yard line with 11:38 left to play when Brady tried to connect with Gronkowski again and it was intercepted at the BUF 5-yard line thanks to a penalty after the pick.

Fitzpatrick was roughed by the defense on the first play. Then he connected with Donald Jones for 48 yards down the left side. He threw an interception but there was pass interference and the Bills got the ball on the 1-yard line where on first down, Fred Jackson ran in the touchdown that tied the game with 10:30 left to play.

Time for Brady the Boy Wonder and Bill the Brain to get together and win for the 16th time.

Only Brady's first play was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. The Bills actually led 31-24. Looking back, they actually had scored 31 points to only three for the Pats after that initial 21-0 lead was spotted.

But no matter. Because starting on his own 29-yard line, Brady used 16 plays including two fourth downs to pass a touchdown to Wes Welker for a six-yard score and a 31-31 tie at 3:33 left in the game.

The Pats merely had to stop the Bills, get the ball, kick a field goal and then get ready for their thinly-veiled and yet smug post game interviews where they begrudgingly tip their hat to the Bills when you know they do not mean it. And yet...

On first down, Fitzpatrick hit Donald Jones for 29 yards. Then a screen to Jackson for 12 yards. From the NE 39-yard line with 1:48 left to play, Fitzpatrick connected with Jackson for a 39 yard touchdown catch but it was reversed and the refs spotted the ball at the one yard line with 1:43 left to play. First down - no gain. Second down - Unsportsmanlike Conduct for a new first down at 1:30 and the Pats had just one timeout. Fitzpatrick runs the clock down with a couple of plays and on third down with three seconds left and a history of 15 heart breaks, Rian Lindell nails the field goal for the win.

Say goodnight , the Bills of old. There is a new team in town.

Now get back to work...


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