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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 5
David Dorey
October 10, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Cassel 269 4
Ben Roethlisberger 228 5
Michael Vick 405 2
Matt Schaub 416 2
Aaron Rodgers 396 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Adrian Peterson 149 3
BenJarvus Green-Ellis 149 2
Fred Jackson 196 1
Arian Foster 184 0
LeSean McCoy 107 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Dwayne Bowe 128 2
Pierre Garcon 125 2
Victor Cruz 161 1
James Jones 140 1
Doug Baldwin 136 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Joel Dreesen 112 1
Vernon Davis 39 2
Jake Ballard 72 1
Jimmy Graham 129 0
Heath Miller 46 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Nick Novak 2 5
S. Janikowski 1 4
John Kasay 3 3
Stephen Gostkowski 3 3
Steven Hauschka 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
49ers 1 3 3
Seahawks 1 3 5
Bills 1 1 5
Vikings 0 4 4
Bengals 1 3 2

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Joseph Addai - Hamstring injury
Tarvaris Jackson - Shoulder injury
Josh Morgan - Broken leg
Ryan Mathews - Strained calf
Julio Jones - Hamstring injury
Donald Jones - Ankle injury

Ten random observations

1. It is just insult to injury. Rashard Mendenhall owners have been more than a little disappointed this year even though part of the blame goes to the injured Steelers O-line. But now that Mendenhall and his hamstring did not play this week, Isaac Redman took his place and smart owners grabbed him to replace Mendy with this week. And of course Redman runs for 49 yards on 15 carries. And Jonathan Dwyer took his first carry of the game for 76 yards to set up the TD pass to David Johnson ( never heard of him either). Dwyer ended with 11 runs for 107 yards. In total - 26 runs for 156 yards. And that is what every Mendenhall owner has dreamed of since week one. But - never happens.

2. Wes Welker ended with a team high five receptions for 124 yards on the visiting Jets who were intending to shut him down. That gives Welker 740 receiving yards this season - the most in the first five games of the season in NFL history. He is on pace for 2368 yards so expect a slow down. By next year anyway.

3. My contention is that the Patriots are the Apple of the NFL. Meaning that they have led innovation and changed the gridiron in the way it is played. They have been harbingers for multi-back backfields, the use of the slot receiver and now the use of dual tight ends. What I want to know is when Bill Belichick can get to work on the economy. He's all ready weathered his own version of Watergate.

4. I continue to be amazed with Fred Jackson who is simply having a magic year. He ran for 111 yards and one score on the Eagles and added 85 yards on six catches as the leading receiver. The undrafted running back out of Coe College has been on fire this year. And I looked up Coe College which ends up to be a school with only 1250 fulltime students. Sort of small and I would think they would be naming the stadium after Jackson. Here's one more tidbit about Jackson to make you rub your eyes - he won't be getting a lucrative contract for this either. After playing for four years, he's still not a good bet even with a big season. Because although he has only played for four years, he turns 31 in February. Yeah - old dudes rule but they do not last.

5. Apparently you do not replace Andre Johnson, you just start looking for tight ends. This week saw Joel Dreesen (5-112, TD) and Owen Daniels (7-89) out produce the wide receivers and Arian Foster (5-116) did more damage as a receiver than anyone. Dreesen won't always have a 56 yards touchdown to pad his stats but Daniels should remain a primary look for Matt Schaub. Dreesen was wide open on his score with no defender within 20 yards of him.

6. Filed away under "REALLY?" is the way that the Saints have opted to use fullback Jed Collins who caught one pass for one yard and a touchdown against the Panthers and had one run for one yard and one touchdown last week against the Jaguars. It is not enough that the Saints use Darren Sproles (11-51 rush, 5-40 receive), Mark Ingram (9-32, TD rush 2-17 receive) and Pierre Thomas (7-18 rush, 3-24 TD receive). They have to give a weekly touchdown to the fullback. My theory is that Sproles has been so good that he has "cut the top" off all the other running backs and that Jimmy Graham has cut the top off all the receivers (along with Sproles help). The running backs combined are huge and individually are mostly mediocre. The Saints receivers other than Graham are just not that big a deal anymore. None of them are helping anyone's fantasy team to be sure.

7. Michael Vick just passed Randall Cunningham for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in NFL history (4928). He already held single game (173) and season (1039). The problem with Vick this year though is that he is becoming a turnover machine. He has a total of 3 lost fumbles and seven interceptions in the first five weeks. He is running as well as he ever has but still has not scored via the run. He has ten touchdowns and ten turnovers. That is the reason the Eagles lose - he has traded scores for turnovers this year. And a lot of those turnovers are not Vick's fault but instead the receivers or just the poor blocking.

8. Eli Manning is better nearly every week. Oh no - not in the sense of winning. But in fantasy terms he has passed for at least two scores in each of his last four games and already has 11 touchdowns on the year. Counting his 420 yards on Sunday, he has averaged 297 yards per game. That's good enough to be weekly starter for sure.

9. What to think of DeAngelo Williams who comes off a nice game of 115 yards on just nine carries. He had 82 yards on only ten runs in the previous game. Granted - he had three games to open the year that totaled only 27 runs for 51 yards. But with Cam Newton there taking rushing yardage and all the running touchdowns and Jonathan Stewart always a factor, does it mean that Williams just gets about ten runs per week regardless? Sure looks that way. Going to be yard to average more than ten yards per carry each week and have fantasy value.

10. Shonn Greene just ran for 83 yards on 21 carries but I am not buying it. Here is why: 10-26, 16-49, 15-59 and 10-23 which means including the Patriots game, Greene has only rushed for 240 yards on 72 carries for a hefty 3.3 yard per carry average. The Jets planned on giving Joe McKnight a little work but only ended up giving one carry. Even LaDainian Tomlinson only had two carries and one run in the game. Not understanding what the Jets are seeing that has never really been there.

To the waiver wire!

Here are some players sure to be coveted on the waiver wire - right or wrong:

Curtis Painter - Second game was a mirror of the first even down to the double score with Pierre Garcon. He's not a bad pickup with games coming up of @CIN, @NO, @TEN, ATL and JAC but you are banking more on trash time freebies than game winning stats.

Pierre Garcon - Probably already taken after last week but in case he was not in smaller leagues, he's obviously where Painter is able to do his damage. Single coverage thanks to Reggie Wayne no doubt helps.

Jackie Battle - Ran for 119 yards on 19 carries means he is ripped off of every waiver wire for sure. Reality? Thomas Jones still matters (right or wrong) as does Dexter McCluster. Plus Battle goes on bye now and then has @OAK, SD, MIA and DEN coming up. Probably at least worthy of covering a bye week or two.

Darrius Heyward-Bey - Caught seven passes for 99 yards and one touchdown in Houston. He had four receptions for 115 yards last week against the Patriots. But I have never liked OAK receivers and Heyward-Bey has two previous years of nearly nothing so buying into him seeing the light or even having the quarterback is hard for me to buy. But someone in every league will hold him for the next two weeks before giving up.

Jason Hill - Yes he just had 118 yards and one touchdown on a 74-yard catch. He only had 94 yards after four games. Don't buy into Hill for his one pass catch.

Devin Aromashodu - Led the Vikes with 81 yards on two catches (60 yarder helped). Too early to grab him but worth a watch since he has speed and the coaches like him.

Doug Baldwin - Probably owned in many if not most leagues but he has been genuinely impressive for an undrafted rookie. Not consistent yet but had two games of around 80 yards and just comes off 136 yards and a score in New York. That's better than most wideouts out there and worthy of a waiver pick if he is still there.

Braylon Edwards - He is not due back until week eight because he had meniscus surgery. But Alex Smith is playing far better and Josh Morgan has a fractured ankle. Might not be a bad stash for a few weeks if you have the roster space.

Tim Tebow - You knew it would happen eventually. All it took was Kyle Orton passing 6 of 13 for 34 yards and one interception in the entire first half for him to get the hook and let Tebow take over. Now I like Tebow and I am not even sure why other than he runs well and scores via the run - all count big for your fantasy quarterback. Assuming the official word he remains the starter, he does have a bye this week. But then the schedule is @MIA, DET, @OAK, @KC and NYJ which all will ask the quarterback to win the game (or at least try).

Damian Williams - He has officially replaced Kenny Britt. He was targeted 11 times and came away with six catches for 66 yards and one touchdown in Pittsburgh. Nate Washington is the primary here, but Williams is worth owning.

Alex Smith - Threw for 170 yards and three scores on the Buccaneers and the 49ers were so far ahead they let the backup QB play - when was the last time that happened? 1993? Smith passed for 291 yards and two scores on the Eagles in the upset last week. HC Jim Harbaugh says he is opening up the playbook now after going easy earlier in the season. Might not be a bad fall back for your team.

Sunday Snippets

PHI 24, BUF 31 The Dream Team continues their 1-4 nightmare pace with Michael Vick posting a personal best four interceptions but only one was returned for a Bills touchdown. Vick played well enough otherwise - 315 yards and two scores passing along with 90 yards rushing. Jason Avant (9-139) managed to lose a fumble. DeSean Jackson (5-86, TD) and Jeremy Maclin (6-54, TD) both had decent games and LeSean McCoy (11-80, TD rush, 4-27 receive) was good without being great. But the Bills mostly just took in the Eagle turnovers for points in the first half. Ryan Fitzpatrick only had to pass for 193 yards and one score. Fred Jackson had yet another monster game with 111 yards and a score rushing and 6-85 as a receiver. The Eagles could have won this game, but it would have required Vick passing more to his own team. Nice points for most including the BUF defense. And it only makes both teams look the same as they did coming into the game. Vick had suggested that they lose the "Dream Team" moniker just last week. Nonsense. They are proving to be a complete dream to all who play them.
TEN 17, PIT 39

The Steelers finally played up to expectations despite losing a lot of players just last week. Ben Roethlisberger tied a personal best five passing touchdowns and 228 yards that were spread out to Mike Wallace (6-82), Heath Miller (3-46), David Johnson (2-5) and two scores for Hines Ward (7-54) who actually does still play for the Steelers. Isaac Redman replaced Rashard Mendenhall but only gained 49 yards on 15 carries while JOnathan Dwyer chipped in 107 yards on 11 totes thanks to his 76-yard run. The Titans were never in the game and Matt Hasselbeck ended with just 262 yards and one score to Damian Williams (6-66). Nate Washington was held to 69 yards on five catches to lead the team. Chris Johnson was decent thanks to a touchdown but only gained 51 yards on 14 runs and had three catches for 14 yards. This is the sort of game we would have expected had we never seen the first four games for each or considered how many Steelers were injured this week. But since we knew all that stuff the Steelers were surprising.

OAK 25, HOU 20 This one's for you Big Al. The Raiders mourn the passing of Al Davis who to the rest of us was like a really nut job uncle only you had been told about him being a war hero and ultra-successful businessman in the past. "Uncle Al? Really?" Yeah, really. The Raiders took the upset win in Houston without any big game from a player other than Darius Heyward-Bey (7-99, TD) who apparently alternates between a viable fantasy starter and the guy who can string together games without any catches. Jason Campbell only passed for 190 yards and two scores and Darren McFadden only gained 51 yards on 16 carries and added 17 yards on two catches for his first official bad game of the year. Matt Schaub passed for 416 yards and two scores but had two interceptions and Arian Foster only ran for 68 yards on 22 runs but was the leading receiver with 116 yards on just five receptions. Joel Dreesen (5-112) scored once as did Kevin Walter (5-81). In the end, the difference was 4 field goals by Janikowski that included kicks made from 55, 54 and 50 yards while Neil Rackers was only 2 of 3 on his attempts. The game ended with the Texans on the OAK 5-yard line with six seconds when he could have likely walked into the endzone and won the game but instead opted to throw a bad interception instead.
KC 28, IND 24 This could have been the GOTW if the Colts mattered still but apparently - not so. The mantra going into this game for the winless Colts was "if not now, when?" for their first win. Apparently the answer is never because it will never get as easy as the visiting Chiefs again this year. Curtis Painter should be snapped up in most leagues this week after passing for 277 yards and two scores - both again went to Pierre Garcon (5-125) while Reggie Wayne (4-77) just continues to disappoint. Dallas Clark (1-7) has lost all fantasy value by now. Matt Cassel passed for 257 yards and four touchdowns that were split between Dwayne Bowe (7-128) and Steve Breaston (4-50). Jackie Battle ran for 119 yards on 19 carries and added 21 yards on two runs for another guy sure to be snapped up off the waiver wire. This was a close game but the Colts could not score in the second half, lost Joseph Addai to a hamstring injury and could not cover the KC wideouts. No telling when the Colts get that ever-elusive first win.
CIN 30, JAC 20 Andy Dalton would be a bigger deal were it not for Cam Newton. Dalton has won two of the four games he has started and comes off a win with 179 yards and two touchdowns. The other rookie star of A.J. Green yet again scored once and had 90 yards on five catches to lead the team. Cedric Benson (24-53) might as well be on suspension anyway. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 85 yards and one score and the best receiver ended up as Jason Hill with 118 yards and one touchdown which was 26 more yards than his first four games combined. Blaine Gabbert was more rookie-ish with one score and two lost fumbles on his 221 passing yards. The 3-2 Bengals keep hanging in there and the 1-4 Jaguars are having a very long season.
ARI 10, MIN 34 Here's another game that is no big deal if you can ignore the first four weeks. The Vikes finally get their first win of the year with Adrian Peterson (29-122, 3 TDs) leading the way. Donovan McNabb was no more productive than usual with 169 yards and one score on a run. And the Vikings finally had a nice game from a wide receiver because they ignored the normal starters and used Devin Aromashodu who ended with 81 yards on two catches and who will, no doubt, be picked up in leagues this week. This was a 28 point first quarter and then a pretty boring game the rest of the way. The Cards only passed 232 yards and no scores with three interceptions though Early Doucet (8-92) was a nice surprise and Larry Fitzgerald (4-66) at least had a few fantasy points. The New Beanie Wells only rushed for 60 yards on 20 carries but scored yet again. This was a beatdown of the first order and gets the Vikings in the win column for the first time.
NO 30, CAR 27 A definite GOTW contender and a near upset. Cam Newton finally did not throw for huge yardage (224) and there was no rain but he did pass for two touchdowns and added a third as a runner (7-27) so still a nice fantasy outing. Steve Smith (3-79, TD) was the main receiver and the surprise player was DeAngelo Williams (9-115, TD) thanks mostly to a 69-yard yard touchdown in the second quarter. It was clearly his best game of the year. Drew Brees (359, 2 TD) has his standard good game and Jimmy Graham (8-129) led the team in receiving among the nine players with catches. There were 28 runs by running backs and no more than 11 by any single player. The Saints actually now use four running backs and for the second week in a row the fullback Jed Collins scored a touchdown. Darren Sproles (11-51 rush, 5-40 receive) had a lesser game than recent weeks. Brees won this game when he had a drive end with a touchdown pass to Pierre Thomas with only 57 seconds left to play. The Panthers are again the most feared 1-4 team in the league.
TB 3, SF 48 An old-fashioned 49er stomp like it was Steve Young was throwing to Jerry Rice. Only it was Alex Smith (170 yds, 3 TD) throwing to Vernon Davis (3-39, 2 TD) and Josh Morgan (5-75). Morgan suffered either a broken foot or a broken leg so please leave him on the waiver wire. Frank Gore has shrugged off his slow start to the season and just comes off a 125 yards rushing effort with one score and 18 yards on two catches. Even Kendall Hunter gained 65 yards on just nine runs. The Buccaneers never remotely got it into gear. Josh Freeman settled for 187 yards and two interceptions and LeGarrette Blount only gained 34 yards on ten carries. If you squinted your eyes when you watched, it was like 1991 again only you could cross your legs easier back then and you did not have a remote control for the TV.
SD 29, DEN 24 The Chargers are 4-1 but rarely make it look easy. Philip Rivers only passed for 250 yards and one score but added a second touchdown on a run. Ryan Mathews gained 125 yards on 24 carries but left with a calf injury. Malcom Floyd gained 100 yards and a score on just three passes but Vincent Jackson only managed 34 yards on three receptions. The five field goals from Nick Novak were key to the win. The Broncos somehow stayed in the game even though Kyle Orton only passed for 34 yards before finally giving way to fan favorite Tim Tebow. The Broncos had maintained that Tebow was #3 on the depth chart but not when it comes down to actually needing a #2. And at least the Denver fans had something to cheer about. Tebow only passed for 79 yards and a touchdown while completing just four of ten passes. He also ran six times for 38 yards and scored on the ground as well. Willis McGahee gained 125 yards on just 16 carries and that was the first time he had back-to-back 100 yard games since he was a rookie. The wideouts combined for only three catches for 16 yards, so Tebow may not be the season savior the fans are looking for but guaranteed he will be whipped off waiver wires this week even though he goes on bye.
NYJ 21, NE 30 Not a lot of surprises here. Tom Brady passed for 321 yards but only one touchdown and the Jets did not blanket Wes Welker (5-124) or even Deion Branch (7-74, TD). This week it was BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushing for 136 yards and two scores but Steven Ridley only gained 13 yards on seven carries and had no catches, The backfield remains an ever-changing ratio for workload and results. The Jets only passed for 166 yards and two scores which is about half what most teams have gained on the Pats. But the best Jets receiver was Santonio Holmes with only four catches for 60 yards and one score. Shonn Greene was better than he has been when he gained 83 yards on 21 carries and scored once. It was hardly a break-through game but it was the best he has looked all year. This was a game that just went as expected without any fireworks or much excitement outside of the Green and Ellis families.
GB 25, ATL 14 This looked like an upset when the Falcons took a 14-0 lead to start the second quarter but it was all Packer5s from there on. Aaron Rodgers ended with 396 yards and two scores thanks mainly to James Jones (5-140, TD) and Greg Jennings (4-82, TD) but the Packers generated no rushing with only 19 runs for 59 yards. Rodgers had completions to 12 different players. The Falcons were held in check for most of the game and Matt Ryan only passed for 167 yards and one score with Tony Gonzalez (6-60) as the top receiver. Roddy White (6-50, TD) was the only other with any appreciable stats in part because Julio Jones left with a bad hammy. The Falcons fall to only 2-3 on the season and the Packers rise to 5-0.

Huddle Player of the Week

Adrian Peterson - Considering the lackluster results of Chris Johnson this year, it is hard to argue with Adrian Peterson not being the best pure runner in the NFL - size and speed and moves. Against the visiting Cardinals, Peterson scored three times IN THE FIRST QUARTER for only the fifth time in NFL history. He ended with 122 yards on 29 carries for the biggest game of the week.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Curtis Painter 277 2 QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 193 1
RB Jackie Battle 140 0 RB Joseph Addai 25 0
RB Jonathan Dwyer 113 0 RB Darren McFadden 68 0
WR Doug Baldwin 136 1 WR Percy Harvin 23 0
WR Jason Hill 118 1 WR Vincent Jackson 38 0
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 99 1 WR Sidney Rice 36 0
TE Joel Dreesen 112 1 TE Rob Gronkowski 39 0
PK Nick Novak 2 XP 5 FG PK Nick Folk 3 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 145

Huddle Fantasy Points = 35

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Our first week with byes played out as a normal week of upsets and oddly flat performances. The Eagles keep on just losing games and the Saints keep just winning them. The Raiders normally would have lost their game but apparently Big Al pulled some favor from God in thanks for operating the Isle of Misfits all these years. The Colts are the only 0-5 team and could not beat the visiting Chiefs. The Rams and Dolphins are both 0-4 but on bye.

The Giants flopped against the Seahawks while both the Vikes and Steelers took home games to finally look like they were finally hitting on all cylinders. The 49ers are still bending reality even more and the Chargers can only claim to be "good enough". It was a great weekend with not as many big performances as we have been used to seeing but with six teams out - get used to it for the next month and a half.

The Game-O-The-Week? Several contenders but the winner is the one no one would have ever guessed.

Seahawks 36, Giants 25

Coming into this game the Giants were 3-1 and while not a powerhouse were still having a decent season that seemed to be on the upswing after winning in Philly and Arizona. The Seahawks were just 1-3 with their only win being a home game against the Cardinals. Easy enough to favor the Giants.

It was a bit surprising to see the Seahawks score on a Tarvaris Jackson pass to Ben Obomanu on their first series but the Giants responded with a seven play drive that covered 80 yards and ended with a Eli Manning pass to tight end Jake Ballard.

The Seahawks had to punt on their next series and while Eli Manning was sacked and lost a fumble on his own 11-yard line, the Seahawks had Marshawn Lynch fumble it right back two plays later. The Giants ended up punting again and when the Seahawks started on the NYG-47 yard line, they handed off to Marshawn Lynch (the one that is on your waiver wire and who was sent there by a previous owner with the dictum "burn in hell slug"). Lynch ran 46 yards to the one-yard line and then punched it in for a score and the 14-7 lead.

After a couple of series, the Seahawks again made a drive from their own 13-yard line and after 14 plays were on the Giants 2-yard line where they once again lost a fumble. Both teams were sloppy for the rest of the half either having to punt or throwing an interception. Finally the Giants got the ball with 51 seconds left and ended up with four straight completions and a 19 yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks. Tied 14-14 at the half, no reason to worry. Giants could certainly pull this out at home.

But the only scoring in the third quarter was a safety when Danny Ware was tackled in the endzone. Then the fourth quarter opened with a Steven Hauschka field goal for a 19-14 lead.

That was short-lived though as Manning found Victor Cruz for a 68-yard touchdown and a "everything is all right" lead of 22-19 when the two point conversion failed.

But two series later, Victor Cruz lost a fumble at the NYG 25-yard line. Charlie Whitehurst was playing since Jackson was injured and he went no where with the ball. The field goal tied the score 22-22 with 10:20 left to play.

The Giants responded with an 11 play drive that could not score a touchdown with first down on the Seattle seven-yard line and kicked a field goal for a 25-22 lead.The Seahawks only had 4:49 on the clock when they started on their own 20-yard line. But seven plays later they had reached the 27-yard line where Whitehurst found Doug Baldwin for a 27 yard touchdown catch. With only 2:37 left to play, the Giants were behind 29-25.

This is exactly what you want. Home field. Two minutes left. The better team. Manning took over on his own 20 yard line and hit Ahmad Bradshaw for 15 yards. After an incompletion came a 41 yard connection with Victor Cruz and another for 19 yards. On first down on the SEA 5-yard line and a false start pushed it back to the ten-yard line. No matter - with a minute left to play there was plenty of time. Only Manning went to the well one too many times. He threw behind Cruz at the four yard line and what Cruz sort of did in the process of trying to catch it was to slow the pass down and sort of hand it to DB Brandon Browner so he could race 94 yards for a touchdown and the final 36-25 score.

The Giants had one more series but only reach the 44-yard line before Manning threw his third interception. Game over and the Giants drop to 3-2.

Now get back to work...


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