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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 6
David Dorey
October 17, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Aaron Rodgers 310 3
Josh Freeman 306 2
Matthew Stafford 304 2
Tom Brady 306 2
Drew Brees 404 1
Running Backs Yards TD
Ahmad Bradshaw 130 3
Michael Turner 147 2
Fred Jackson 168 1
Frank Gore 146 1
Rashard Mendenhall 146 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Marques Colston 118 1
Jordy Nelson 104 1
Arrelious Benn 83 1
Devin Hester 91 2
Anquan Boldin 132 0
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jimmy Graham 124 0
Aaron Hernandez 68 1
Jason Witten 48 1
Brandon Pettigrew 42 1
Brent Celek 42 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Billy Cundiff 2 5
Connor Barth 2 4
Robbie Gould 4 3
David Akers 2 3
Dan Bailey 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Bengals 1 1 3
Bears 1 5 0
Eagles 0 2 4
Cowboys 0 3 4
Raiders 1 2 1

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Sean Peyton - Broken leg. And yes, the Saints coach
Felix Jones - Ankle injury
Jason Campbell - Broken collar bone - gone for year
Rex Grossman - Lost creditability
Peyton Hillis - Hamstring strain
Devin Hester - Chest injury

Ten random observations

1. Call it a seventh-inning stretch. Call it a breather lap where the runner takes it easy. Call it whatever you want but this is a bad week in fantasy terms. After being treated to big points all over the league, now we only had two games where the team scored more than 30 points. Just two. Ten of 12 games ended with one team scoring less than 20 points. It looks like December. We had just one quarterback who passed for more than two touchdowns (Rodgers). Wide receivers only had three players with more than 110 yards and no wideout caught more than one touchdown. There were twelve games on Sunday and just 17 touchdowns scored by a wideout. Last week it was 32 and four had two scores. This was just a down week across the board like everyone just wanted to take it a little easier this week. Even the Patriots fell from their 30+ point per game record streak.

2. What a weird day for coaches. The infamous post-game clip of the Detroit-San Francisco game shows a giddy and victory drunk Jim Harbaugh bounding across the field and slap-shook Jim Schwartz's hand in that "damn glad to meet ya" way along with a hearty slap on the back. Ends up that is not appreciated by the losing coach who also thought he heard an expletive used in his direction. Like the time my brother alerted my mother that I wasn't really sick so much as just drunk, Schwartz came to the same conclusion as I did - "its on like Donkey Kong". Schwartz took off after Harbaugh in a running melee that included officials, players and some dude in a suit that lasted all the way into the tunnel. It was a delightfully messy way to end a really good game. Especially since it is hard to explain exactly how it was that the 49ers won.

Sean Payton looked up from his clipboard to see Jimmy Graham rolling up on his legs and now the Saints HC has a torn MCL and a broken leg. He's now doubtful for the sidelines next week, questionable to call plays from the booth and very probable to pay more attention to the field when the tackle is made right in front of him.

3. This season has already set a record. Through the first six weeks of the season, there have already been 19 times a team was down by ten points or more and rallied to win their game. Last week we set the record for the first five weeks of a season when we had seven games where a team trailed by 17 or more points and came back to win. So we not only do not have consistency week to week, we cannot even get it from quarter to quarter. Lots of close games and lots changing leads. Perhaps this is being done in honor of NBA fans with nothing to watch.

4. This week makes me weepy, with water-colored memories of the way things were. Like when there were no committee backfields. You give Ahmad Bradshaw all the work - BAM. What a stud. Michael Turner, Fred Jackson and Frank Gore - all "the man" for their team and all at the very top of performances this week. Even Rashard Mendenhall had 23 runs for 146 yards and a score. LeSean McCoy had a career best 28 carries and gained 126 yards. You take out Blount, you put in Earnest Graham who was unsullied by Kregg Lumpkin (2-13) and all he does is gain 109 yards rushing, 22 yards receiving and, oh yes, you beat the freaking Saints. Eight of the nine top running backs were in games that their team won. But it just gets worse every year.

5. The announcers of the Buccaneers-Saints game brought up an interesting question. Exactly why did the Saints bother with drafting Mark Ingram with their first round pick? Just last week HC Sean Payton said that he wanted to get Ingram more touches and that he hasn't been as worked because the team uses different offensive packages. So this week it was Ingram with nine runs for 22 yards and one touchdown (on a nice 12 yard run), Sproles with one run for 16 yards and Pierre Thomas with seven runs for 11 yards. Last week it was Sproles (11-51), Ingram (9-32), Thomas (7-18) and full back Jed Collins who caught a touchdown. Collins rushed one in the week before. Ingram was the best back in the draft by most all accounts and a workhorse at Alabama and yet the Saints still split up the load. Most running backs need volume to get into the groove and using the same back helps the blockers who know what to expect. But the Saints say they want to take the wraps off him and yet so far - never do. Even the Fins make Daniel Thomas into a workhorse and he was a disappointment in the preseason.

6. I am really warming up to Jahvid Best even though he just scares me. I am expecting him to be injured at any time but he has genuinely been a big plus for the Lions and even though he just had 12 runs for only 38 yards on the 49ers, he had a season best six receptions for 73 yards. I love dual threats. And Best has been turning in nice total yardage every week. With a powerful offense around him, Best is really in a good situation and shares very little. He's making good on his rookie year that was ruined by lingering foot problems.

7. It is only coming onto week seven and we may see eight different starting quarterbacks from who opened the season. That includes Tim Tebow (DEN), Curtis Painter (IND), Blaine Gabbert (JAX), Matt Moore (MIA), Christian Ponder (MIN), Kyle Boller (OAK), Charlie Whitehurst (SEA) and John Beck (WAS). A few of those situations are not definite but think how much a change in quarterback affects all receivers. Makes reliable starting decisions even harder to make. While the RB's and WR's are missing time with bad hamstrings, the quarterbacks are starting to change via injury or desperation. And for a season with the most reduced amount of time to prepare in the offseason, can it be that CAR, CIN, JAC and maybe even MIN all are willing to use rookie quarterbacks? No wonder this year is so inconsistent.

8. Okay, forget about the Ingram thing in New Orleans. Let's talk Jimmy Graham. For a team that has long been about a highly diversified passing attack, how is it that this year Drew Brees has opted to largely ignore the wide receivers and instead give Jimmy Graham four straight 100 yard games? Over the last three games he had 37 targets. Marques Colston finally had a big game today but that was the first time a Saints wideout has since the opener. Between Sproles and Graham, the Saints wideouts have been neutered and become just a group of guys who end up with 50 or so yards in a game. This is all made even more interesting when Brees threw his final pass to a spot in the endzone where TE John Gilmore was standing and TE Jimmy Graham was running to and it was intercepted to end the Saints chances. Unfortunately, about ten yards to the left of them was Robert Meachem quite literally jumping up and down screaming and waving his arms since he was all alone and uncovered. Have to wonder if 2010 Brees would have seen him...

9. When I predict a game score, the first question I ask is "how can the visitor possibly win this game". Overall, the home team wins more often than a road team which makes some sense. Actually, it makes a lot of sense since of the 12 games played yesterday, only two were won by the road team and one was an upset (SF-DET) and the other a pick'em game (PHI-WAS). That's a hole lot of hometown fans going home happy on Sunday. Not to worry, every season generally between now and week 13 there will be a week where nearly all the road teams win. And no, there is no way to tell when that happens far as I have been able to uncover.

10. Okay, you would think that in a season where the lockout put everyone behind a learning curve that rookies would just not matter much this year. And yet we are not only looking at maybe four different rookie quarterbacks, but the wide receivers are doing rather well for a position that has been nearly devoid of rookie standouts in recent years. Julio Jones was cashing in 100 yard games but missed this week with a hamstring strain. A. J Green has already scored four touchdowns with his own growing collection of 100 yard games. Torrey Smith scored three times when he gained 152 yards in St. Louis and he just posted 84 yards on the Texans. Titus Young has turned in a few decent games and has become a starter in a powerful offense. And now Greg Little is starting to show up with 6-72 in Oakland as the team leader this week. Seems like teams are more receptive to new players than in the past, even though you would think this would not be the year for it.

To the waiver wire!

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

John Beck - May take over for Rex Grossman but then you get to watch Mike Shanahan play musical quarterbacks. Leave him on the waiver wire. Grossman is not a bad fantasy quarterback but in NFL terms doesn't get the job done well enough. Plays @CAR and @BUF next if he is the starter.

Christian Ponder - May take over for Donovan McNabb so that the coaches can say "look, we are trying to find something that works." But the offensive line is bad and still losing players and Ponder is unlikely to be anything consistent or productive enough to merit much consideration. Will play visiting Packers this week if he is the starter.

Kyle Boller - Of course this is hands off even though Jason Campbell is probably out for the year. Terrelle Pryor might be interesting but he'd be super-raw. Hard to imagine much fantasy value here and probably will hurt what little Darrius Heyward-Bey was starting to do. Plays KC in Oakland this week and then on bye.

DeMarco Murray - Not a bad grab since it looks like Felix Jones will be out for a week or more and Murray is a dual threat but he's unlikely to be worth more than covering a bye week for you. Phillip Tanner would be his backup. Dallas plays STL, @PHI and SEA next.

Tashard Choice - Rumors are he may be traded in the next couple of days and no matter where he ends up, he'll be better off than buried in Dallas.

Jason Hill - I am not a fan and he is only #2 in Jacksonville but he has scored in each of the last two games and in a pinch could be a bye week guy. Caught scores against CIN and PIT. Has BAL and @HOU up next and then a bye.

Jacoby Jones - Just had 4-76 and a score on the Ravens but only two catches for nine yards over the prior three games. Unlikely he will do much again let alone have any consistency.

Naaman Roosevelt - He only had one catch but it was a 60-yard touchdown against the Giants. He's just a slot receiver who was on the practice squad a month ago. Worth watching but not acquiring. He is on bye this week anyway.

Danario Alexander - Turned in 6-91 against the Packers taking the place of Mike Sims-Walker who was made inactive for the game by a coaching decision. His next games are @DAL, NO and @ARI.

Sunday Snippets

CAR 17, ATL 31 And the Newton machine finally slows down to a crawl. Cam Newton only passed for 237 yards and three interceptions in Atlanta thought he did have the one obligatory rushing touchdown on his six runs for 50 yards. Apparently he is just a Muggle. If you haven't traded him away thinking you deserved back gold, you may have to lower your price a lot more now. Even Steve Smith was mortal with only 66 yards on five receptions. Matt Ryan delivered a little better than recent past when he threw for 163 yards and one touchdown and added a second score on a short run. Michael Turner was the difference maker in this game with 27-139 and two touchdowns. The Falcons are 3-3 and the Panthers are the most dangerous 1-5 team ever.
IND 17, CIN 27

The unthinkable continues to be reality. The 0-6 Colts have already locked in their worse season since Peyton Manning showed up. Curtis Painter (188, TD) finally did not score with Pierre Garcon (8-52) and instead made Dallas Clark (6-53, TD) suddenly have fantasy value just when he had hit most benches or even waiver wires. Garcon did manage to make a dumb fumble that ended up returned for a touchdown. Adam Vinatieri tried for a game tying field goal but it was blocked and it was returned for a touchdown to salt the victory away. Andy Dalton (264, TD) is still more promising than good but knows how to use his wideouts Jerome Simpson (6-101) and A.J. Green (5-51, TD). Cedric Benson (16-57) can score as long as you get it really close and had one touchdown. The Bengals are 4-2 and way better than anyone would have guessed including themselves and especially Carson Palmer.

STL 3, GB 24 Here's our weekly big stomp game. The Packers scored 21 points in the second quarter and then the entire second half was scoreless for yaaaawn both teams. But Aaron Rodgers still ended with 310 yards and three touchdowns that included the 93-yarder for Jordy Nelson. Greg Jennings (6-82) surprisingly did not score and Jermichael Finley had just one catch for 20 yards. Packers are at home against the Rams in a blowout and yet still use four different tailbacks who all never score or have more than 49 yards. Sam Bradford passed for 321 yards but no scores. Steven Jackson (18-96) was better than expected as was Danario Alexander (6-91) who replaced the benched Mike Sims-Walker. The Rams remain winless at 0-5 and the Packers are 6-0. And they both played like it until the Packers got bored.
BUF 24, NYG 27

Great game and contender for GOTW. The Bills started out hot with an 80-yard touchdown run by Fred Jackson (16-121, TD) who has become "the guy" this year like Foster last year. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 244 yards and two scores that were split between Naaman Roosevelt (1-60) and Stevie Johnson (5-39). Eli Manning (292 yds) had no scores because Ahmad Bradshaw (26-104, 3 TD) took all three in one yard increments. Hakeem Nicks (4-96) and Jake Ballard (5-81) were the best receivers for the Giants. Johnson scored for the Bills to tie the game in the middle of the fourth quarter and then the Giants could not get a touchdown from the Bills seven yard line with four tries and kicked the winning field goal with 1:35 left to play. This was a game to cool down the Bills and help the G-Men stay in contention.

JAC 13, PIT 17 This is the sort of game that you have to hate. Because does it say that the 1-5 Jaguars on the road are really this good now or that the 4-2 Steelers are not really that good? Blaine Gabbert only passed for 109 yards and one score while no receiver had over 36 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 96 yards but only had eight yards receiving and never scored. Ben Roethlisberger was no better with 200 yards and one touchdown that by contract had to go to Mike Wallace (2-76). The story of the game was that Rashard Mendenhall ran for 146 yards on 23 carries and scored once. But Mendenhall succeeding finally should not mean shutting down everything else on the offense. Maybe it does. The Steelers should have won big here but at home did just enough - and I mean just barely enough - to win the game.
PHI 20, WAS 13

Another game light on the points but one that the Eagles desperately needed after losing four in a row. Michael Vick passed for 237 yards and one score and ran for 54 yards on seven carries but he still has not notched a touchdown as a runner this year. Jeremy Maclin (5-101) was the only Eagle receiver that mattered and DeSean Jackson (3-46) was little used. LeSean McCoy had a record 28 carries for 126 yards and one touchdown. The Redskins saw Rex Grossman throw four interceptions before getting the hook and John Beck took over and scored on one run. The Eagles completely reversed their inability to stop the run and held Ryan Torain to only 22 yards on ten carries. Fred David (6-95) was the only notable receiver for the Skins. The game merely said the Eagles are not necessarily dead yet at 2-4 while the Redskins are maybe not really as good as 3-2 suggests.

HOU 14, BAL 29 This was a tight matchup until the Ravens ended the game with three field goals and one touchdown in the final 20 minutes of the game. The Texans played well without Andre Johnson but Matt Schaub only passed for 220 yards and one score that went to Jacoby Jones (4-76). Arian Foster rushed for 49 yards and gained 52 yards on six catches but Ben Tate (9-41) took a big chunk of the rushing as well. Joe Flacco passed for 305 yards but no scores and connected with Anquan Boldin (8-132) and Torrey Smith(3-84) and both receivers had one catch that gained over 50 yards. Ray Rice was the main success factor here with 123-101 as a runner and 5-60 as a receiver. The loss drops the Texans to 3-3 while the Ravens remain on top of the AFC North at 4-1.
CLE 17, OAK 24

This became a game in the fourth quarter when the Browns scored ten points. Colt McCoy posted 215 yards and two scores while the best receiver was Greg Little who is becoming a factor as a wide receiver - something that was thought impossible in Cleveland as we know it. Peyton Hillis only gained 14 yards on six runs and either left with a hamstring injury or was benched depending on who you ask. Montario Hardesty (11-35) did nothing more than ruin what little Hillis could have done. The Raiders have probably lost Jason Campbell for the year with a broken collarbone which leaves the job to Kyle Boller or Terrelle Pryor who is even less NFL-ready. This week had Jacoby Ford return a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown and then the punter Shane Lechler threw a touchdown to Kevin Boss on a fake field goal. Darren McFadden was a bit of a disappointment when a home game against the Browns only saw him run 20 times for 91 yards and one touchdown. The Browns remain at the bottom of the AFC North while the Raiders are only a half game behind the Chargers for the AFC West lead.

DAL 16, NE 20 Let's be serious - this was supposed to be the score at halftime. The Patriots pulled out a win with a final touchdown drive and Tom Brady ended with 289 yards and two scores with two interceptions. Rob Gronkowski (7-74) was the lead receiver and the Patriots used three running backs to ensure that none of them had any fantasy value. Tony Romo (317, TD) did not have a late gaff but mainly because when the Cowboys had the ball at their own 28-yard line with a 16-13 lead with 3:36 left to play, they elected to just run the ball three straight times and then punt to give the Pats plenty of time for their final game winning drive. Felix Jones left with an injured ankle but DeMarco Murray (10-32) was not a factor. Dez Bryant (4-78) and Miles Austin (7-74) were good but disappointed against the worst secondary coming into the game. Now the 2-3 Cowboys are scrambling and the 5-1 Pats go into their bye week on top the AFC East.
NO 20, TB 26

Another contender for GOTW. After being humiliated by the 49ers last week (48-3), The Buccaneers finally played like the 2010 version when Josh Freeman passed for 303 yards and two scores and Earnest Graham subbed for the injured Legarrette Blount and ran for 109 yards on 17 carries. Arrelious Benn was the lead receiver with 83 yards and a score on three catches and even Mike Williams had six catches for 59 yards though he, once again, did not score. Drew Brees passed for 383 yards and one score but had three interceptions. He is now the only person in NFL history who passed for 350+ yards in four straight games. Jimmy Graham (7-124) has his fourth straight 100 yard game as a tight end and Marques Colston (7-118, TD) finally had a big game. The Saints did not play up to the inspired Buccaneers and fall to 4-2 which now ties them with the Buccaneers for the NFC South lead.

MIN 10, CHI 39 The Bears had little trouble dispatching the Vikings when Jay Cutler passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns that went to Devin Hester (5-91 and scored on a kick return) and Dane Sanzenbacher (1-13) who never has any real yardage but usually has a touchdown. Matt Forte only ran 17 times for 87 yards but added six catches for 36 yards. The game was so well in hand that even Marion Barber was given 11 carries and gained 32 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings are apparently in change mode since Donovan McNabb got the yank and was replaced by Christian Ponder who threw for 9 of 17 for 99 yards against a Bears secondary that was already playing without any shoes or pads so they could get into the showers fast. Adrian Peterson (12-39) saved his fantasy value by scoring once. The 3-3 Bears are still way behind the Packers in the NFC North and the 1-5 Vikings may be in change mode even more as losses mount.

Huddle Player of the Week

Ahmad Bradshaw - The Giants had no Brandon Jacobs and look what happens - a running back is a true stud for at least one week. Bradshaw rushed for 104 yards on 26 carries and had two receptions for 26 yards and then scored three times - all from the one-yard line. It was the biggest performance of the day and a game winner for many fantasy teams. Now if we can just get the other half of every backfield tandem out for the week, we can all have some fun.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Colt McCoy 231 2 QB Matt Schaub 223 1
RB Donald Brown 51 1 RB Peyton Hillis 14 0
RB Ovie Mughelli 20 1 RB Ryan Torain 22 0
WR Arrelious Benn 83 1 WR Roddy White 21 0
WR Jacoby Jones 76 1 WR Desean Jackson 46 0
WR Naaman Roosevelt 60 1 WR Reggie Wayne 58 0
TE Brent Celek 42 1 TE Vernon Davis 8 0
PK Billy Cundiff` 2 XP 5 FG PK Neil Rackers 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 104

Huddle Fantasy Points = 30

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Okay - bizarre week with low scores all around, upsets and a lack of use of wide receivers. Coaches are not only hitting the injury list but hitting each other. Teams that have been inexplicably bad were good for the week and almost everyone at home won their game regardless. Even the mighty Patriots fell short of their 30 point and 'gasp' Calvin Johnson did not score.

The Game-O-The-Week? Sadly a bit lower scoring than I prefer but there was not much to choose from that had a lot of points. This game says a lot about this week and this year..

49ers 25, Lions 19

The Lions came into the game undefeated at 5-0 and the 4-1 49ers were just one overtime field goal away from being unbeaten as well. Both teams were a big surprise and the Lions finally had a offense that could compete and the 49ers may own the league's most underrated defense.

The Lions used the first half to get a 10 point lead when Matt Stafford completed a 16-yard scoring strike to Brandon Pettigrew and also had a drive end in a 25-yard field goal when four tries from the 2-yard line could not get a touchdown.

The second quarter started with an 80-yard drive by the 49ers and ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore. Midway through the quarter Stafford was sacked in the endzone for a safety and a 10-9 score. When the Lions had a drive stall at the SF 33-yard line, Jason Hanson missed his 52 yard field goal attempt. Five plays later as time expired for the half, David Akers nailed his 55 yard field goal for a 12-10 lead.

The Lions took their first series in the third quarter to the SF-6 yard line where three plays could not score and Hanson ended up kicking a field goal for a 13-12 lead.

The very next series, the 49ers had a 55 yard run by Frank Gore tack on a horse collar penalty (though pretty iffy) and ended up with a 31-yard field goal for a 15-13 lead.

After trading the ball on several series, the fourth quarter opened with the Lions scoring on a 5-yard pass to Nate Burleson for a touchdown but the two point conversion failed making the score a rather unusual 19-15 in favor of the Lions.

After two punts by either team, the 49ers caught a break when Ted Ginn returned a punt 40 yards to the DET 35-yard line with 5:29 left to play. Eight plays later it was fourth and six from the DET 6-yard line and all the Lions had to do was stop the one play and secure the home win.

Alex Smith to Delanie Walker for a touchdown that was upheld upon review. SF 22, DET 19

Four plays from their own 20-yard line only netted five yards and the Lions lost the ball on downs. The Lions burned up their timeouts so that there was still 1:02 left to play after the Akers 37-yard field goal make the score 25-19.

But once again - four downs and nothing with time running out. The Lions lost and the now infamous "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE" at midfield with the coaches ensued. This was a perfect game - two teams playing far beyond expectations and the upset happens to the undefeated team. Alex Smith only passed for 125 yards and one score which mostly all came at the end of the game. Frank Gore gained 141 yards and scored once. Calvin Johnson never scored. Stafford lost after passing for 293 yards and two scores.

It's a microcosm of this season - as unpredictable as they come. You think veterans would rule and yet rookies have never looked better. Just when you think high scoring and big yardage is here to stay, it disappears. And when the Cowboys and Pats meet and it all screams 65 point shootout, it flops into a game of field goals and a couple of scores.

Onward to week seven to see what changes next and if coaches can get along.

Oh yes and one more thing. If you see Jimmy Graham coming - JUMP!

Now get back to work...


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