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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 7
David Dorey
October 24, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Drew Brees 325 5
Ben Roethlisberger 340 3
Aaron Rodgers 335 3
Cam Newton 315 2
Mat Schaub 296 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Arian Foster 234 3
DeMarco Murray 253 1
Adrian Peterson 175 1
Matt Forte 183 1
Darren Sproles 107 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Marques Colston 98 2
Greg Jennings 147 1
Plaxico Burress 25 3
Mike Wallace 118 1
Calvin Johnson 115 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jimmy Graham 54 2
Fred Davis 80 1
Heath Miller 59 1
Antonio Gates 50 1
Vishanthe Shiancoe 45 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Mason Crosby 3 4
Olindo Mare 3 4
John Kasay 8 2
Shaun Suisham 3 3
Matt Bryant 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Chiefs 2 1 6
Saints 1 1 3
Texans 1 2 2
Chargers 1 2 2
Panthers 0 3 3

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

In my 15 years of covering the NFL, I have never seen such a long list. And this during bye weeks - there are six teams not playing and two more tonight.

It is madness.

Tim Hightower - Knee injury
Ovie Mughelli - Knee injury
Santana Moss - Hand injury
Marshawn Lynch - Back injury ( pregame warmups)
Mohamed Massaquoi - Head injury
Ben Watson - Head injury
Matt Stafford - Ankle and knee injuries
Matt Ryan - Ankle injury
Percy Harvin - Re-aggravated ribs injury
Hines Ward - Ankle injury
Beanie Wells - Knee injury
David Dorey - Writer's cramp
Darren McFadden - Ankle injury
Willis McGahee - Fractured hand
Joseph Addai - Re-aggravated hamstring
Kevin Boss - Concussion
Earnest Graham - Ankle injury
Damian Williams - Headache
Mark Ingram - Ankle injury
Alex Green - Knee injury

Ten random observations

1. This was a week of oddities, injuries and extremes. There were six quarterbacks starting their first game of the year - Tim Tebow, John Beck, Charlie Whitehurst, Kyle Boller, A. J. Feeley and Christian Ponder. All but Tebow lost their game. We had both the smallest game of the year (6-3) and the biggest win (62-7). Six teams failed to score more than seven points. Six teams went over 30 points.

There were only three passers with more than 300 yards but they all had monster games. Each position served up a handful of big scorers and a lot of very small performances. Chances are the scoring in your league was all over the map between highs and lows.

2. The Panthers signed DeAngelo Williams to a five-year contract worth $43 million and $21 million was guaranteed including the $16 million signing bonus. All that so he only gets ten carries per game. Maybe the Panthers have too much money and do not care but getting a return on your investment seems lost on them. And that pales in comparison to Chris Johnson who signed a six-year $55 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. In his case the Titans very much want him to return to being a productive workhorse but he comes off the Texans game with only 18 yards on ten carries. He is now being booed by the Titans fans (rightfully so) and the Texans defenders said after the game that he was not the same player they went against last year when he ran for 130 yards on 24 carries. And while he can whine about the blocking, Javon Ringer ran for 31 yards on three rushes and looked far more explosive. Johnson's longest run was three yards.

What bothers the most is that Johnson does not appear that fazed by his struggles and isn't talking about working harder to get back to where he was. Instead he said " It's just things are not working right now ". Yeah,. we noticed. Now do something that doesn't look like you got paid and lost all of your hunger.

3. The Lions are still hoping to return Jahvid Best at some point but at least they had decent returns on Maurice Morris (9-50) and Keiland Williams (9-44). They ran well against the Falcons and Williams in particular could be the interesting one as the primary runner when they are not in passing formations. But with Matt Stafford now injured and everyone holding their breath, no reason to grab Williams quite yet.

4. The 49ers were on bye this week and yet pulled even further ahead in the division with all others losing this week. The difference? The 49ers are 3-0 on the road this season and yet the other three teams combine for a 1-9 road record. Could it be possible that Frank Gore is going to be rested in the final games of the season? Something to think about...

5. Cam Newton now has seven rushing touchdowns which ties him with Vince Young for most rushing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback in a season. Only Newton still has nine games left to play. He has calmed down in passing yardage and even passing scores, but no one has been able to keep him from scoring when he takes off in a run. Imagine how well that will work when he has cold weather games.... Oh wait.... his final seven games of the fantasy season are TEN, @DET, @IND, @TB, ATL, @HOU and TB. So forget your worries about snow and ice. One more record - no player has ever had seven rushing and seven passing touchdowns in the first seven games of the season.

6. Have to like Brandon Lloyd showing up in Dallas for the Rams and in his first game leading the team with 74 yards on six catches. And that was with A.J. Feeley as the starter. Now realize that Sam Bradford is coming back and the Rams remaining schedule is NO, @ARI, @CLE, SEA, ARI, @SF, @SEA, CIN and @PIT. Week 16 may be tough against the Steelers but the rest just might bring Lloyd and the Rams offense back to life.

7. Liked seeing Demaryius Thomas with ten targets and three catches for 27 yards and one touchdown. Granted Thomas badly dropped at least one pass and is going to naturally be rusty. But he returns from Achilles surgery that some worried would end or at least impact his career. The Broncos let Lloyd go for a reason and Thomas is one of them. Side note - Tebow spent much of the game throwing deep balls to both Thomas and Eric Decker. If he starts to connect on those - and a few times he missed a wide open player - this offense and those receivers will take a nice jump up in fantasy value.

8. Delone Carter ran for 89 yards on ten carries against the Saints in a game that essentially was about 50 minutes of trash time. Donald Brown gained 47 yards on nine runs. Since it was the evening game, most of the people in your league saw that. Now is the time to sell high for either IND back (assuming Addai misses another game) to someone needing to cover a bye week. Carter never had more than 46 yards in any other game. Trash time is a hard thing to rely on and that is about all the Colts have.

9. When Dallas Clark turned in six catches for 53 yards and one touchdown in Cincinnati last week and that emboldened fantasy owners to consider him this week against the Saints in a game that surely would call for more passing. Clark never had a catch, he never had a pass. You may drop him with full and complete disregard where he goes and what he does. The Colts have never looked worse and it feels like watching an airplane slowly losing bolts. You can feel very good about getting out of that plane completely and it doesn't matter what you paid to get on the plane if it is crashing and taking your team with it.

10. Here at week seven and I am feeling good about these predictions - The Packers will not lose a game this year. And there will be at least two teams without a win this year. Currently there is Miami (0-6), Indianapolis (0-7) and St. Louis (0-6). My guess - the Fins and Colts flip a coin for Andrew Luck.

To the waiver wire! Or not!

Here are some players sure to be coveted on the waiver wire - right or wrong. And mostly because of all the injuries.

Roy Helu, Ryan Torain - Probably taken in most leagues but Tim Hightower may have an ACL tear which means the Shanahan guessing game could be down to just two players now. That is the only way to rely on the backfield - you have to wait until everyone else is injured.

Jabar Gaffney - Santana Moss injured his hand and if he does not play, Gaffney gets more attention and just had 4-68 in Carolina with John Beck under the center. This week is a trip to Buffalo and a decent bye week filler in Gaffney.

Shaun Hill - If Matt Stafford is out this week, take Hill and piss off the Stafford owner who will already be grumpy. Hill was very serviceable last season and would play @DEN this week. Then comes their bye.

Chester Taylor - Beanie Wells may be out with a knee problem but ARI plays @BAL this week so why bother really? Hosting the Rams the next week would be sweet if Wells is out and remains so.

Michael Bush / Taiwan Jones - Darren McFadden hurt is ankle but the Raiders are off this week anyway. Bush is likely already owned.

Knowshon Moreno - Early reports are that Willis McGahee fractured his hand. Moreno is #2 for a reason but would be facing DET, @OAK, @KC and NYJ in the next four weeks. Bound to be someone desperate enough to cover a bye or replace an injured player to use Moreno. Lance Ball would also figure in as well and had six carries for 14 yards against the Fins.

Kregg Lumpkin - Earnest Graham injured his ankle early in London and Lumpkin had eight runs for 15 yards. You have to be pretty needy to want to take Lumpkin. Bucs are running out of backs so they will grab a free agent if Graham misses any time. Maybe whoever that is would matter.

Pierre Thomas - The Saints backfield is a total mess but Mark Ingram injured his heel so bad that they could not get his shoe back on. If he misses time, then all the rushing is only divided up into thirds instead of fourths. That still has fantasy value on the Saints.

Michael Jenkins - Probably back on your waiver wire now and he only had three catches this week but gained 111 yards and touchdown and more importantly - it all came from Christian Ponder. Worth picking up again to see what develops and Percy Harvin may be injured making Jenkins even more important.

Roy Williams - Yes, he scored and had 59 yards on four catches. But let someone else drink that koolaid.

Sunday Snippets

WAS 20, CAR 33 The John Beck era started well enough with 279 yards and one score plus a rushing score to completely screw anyone who relies on the WAS backfield. Ryan Torain had nearly no role at all while Tim Hightower (17-88) was the primary back this time but injured his knee late. Beck likes Fred Davis (6-80, TD) and Jabar Gaffney (4-68) though Santana Moss hurt his hand. Cam Newton (256, TD) rushed for 59 yards and one score to make sure he had good fantasy value and still only knows how to connect with Steve Smith (7-143). Jonathan Stewart (14-68, TD) took his turn as the RB du jour while DeAngelo Williams (10-35) again looks bad. The win boosts the Panthers to 2-5 and the Redskins drop to just 3-3.
SEA 3, CLE 6

I hate baseball.

This started with Marshawn Lynch hurting himself late in pregame warm ups after the inactives had already been turned in. This was the ugliest game of the year. Colt McCoy threw for 178 yards while Charlie Whitehurst passed for 97 yards. I'll stop here. This is my gift to you.

ATL 23, DET 16 The Falcons pull the upset with Matt Ryan passing for 218 yards and one TD while getting his ankle badly rolled but returning to the game. Michael Turner (27-122) ran surprisingly well in Detroit and Roddy White (5-52) caught the lone touchdown. Matt Stafford only passed for 183 yards and one score that went to Calvin Johnson (5-115) while no other DET receiver had more than 31 yards. The loss of Jahvid Best was compensated for with Maurice Morris (9-50) and Keiland Williams (9-44). The Falcons rise to 4-3 while the Lions drop to 5-2 and are on a two game losing streak.
DEN 18, MIA 15

This was a game that pretty much all happened in the fourth quarter. Just when it seemed that Tim Tebow haters would be dancing, he throws two touchdowns in the final minutes of the game and then adds the game tying two point conversion himself. DeMaryius Thomas (3-27, TD) had a few horrible drops but at least is back on the field for the first time after Achilles surgery last year. WIllis McGahee (18-76) played well before fracturing his hand. This was everything a Tebow hater hated and a Tebow lover loved. Horrible playing but somehow it all came together at the end to squeak out a win. Tebow's first start was an overtime win 18-15 when he never scored anything until 2:44 was left to play in the game. The FIns were ahead 15-0 and could not hold off the Broncos with less than three minutes to play. Matt Moore (197, TD) now has a forgettable first start while Daniel Thomas (19-53) had a bad game. The Broncos are 2-4 and the Fins drop to 0-6 and wonder if their first win comes before or after they lose their headcoach. My bet is after.

SD 21, NYJ 27 Charger fans should have just stopped watching at halftime when their team led 24-10 and it looked like a done deal. But it wasn't. The Chargers were hard pressed to maintain any offense and Philip Rivers ended with only 179 yards, one TD and two interceptions. Ryan Mathews is enjoying a big year but only managed 39 yards on 13 carries with four receptions for 26 more yards. Antonio Gates was back and led the Chargers with just five catches for 54 yards and one touchdown. But the Jets came to life in the second half and when it was all done, Mark Sanchez had passed for 173 yards and three scores that all went to Plaxico Burress (4-25). LT's big rematch with the Chargers went off with a whimper though he was said to be battling the flu or something like it. Shonn Greene even gained 112 yards on 20 carries. Exciting game to the Jets fans but not really so much anyone else. Now the Chargers are 4-2 and the Jets rise to 4-3.
CHI 24, TB 18

The London game delivered some excitement mostly thanks to Matt Forte (25-145, TD, 2-38 rcv) who is pricing himself almost out of the market as a pending free agent sure to attract a lot of attention. Jay Cutler was nothing special (226, TD) but at least Roy Williams (4-59, TD) finally had a decent game for the Bears. The Buccaneers mounted a two touchdown rally in the fourth quarter but it was too little, too late. Dezmon Briscoe (6-73, TD) and Mike Williams (6-75) were the busiest receivers but without Earnest Graham, the Bucs were limited to only eight runs for 15 yards from Kregg Lumpkin. Josh Freeman passed for 264 yards and two scores but his four interceptions proved to be the deadly difference. Now the Bears are 4-3 and the Buccaneers drop to 4-3 as well but are short one home game this year.

HOU 41, TEN 7 This was the biggest surprise of the day. The Texans come in without Andre Johnson or Mario Williams and just lay the wood to the Titans who appeared prepared to play against the Houston Symphonic Conservatory. Matt Hasselbeck went from top ten quarterback to only passing for 104 yards and one score with two interceptions. Chris Johnson is literally being booed by the hometown fans when he only gained 18 yards on ten carries thought he added six catches for 27 yards as the team's leading receiver. The new Chris Johnson (AKA Arian Foster) merely ran for 115 yards and two scores and added 119 yards and a third score as a receiver. Foster took over the game, had the biggest fantasy game of anyone and left Tennessee with the Titans manhood in his equipment bag. The win props the Texans up to 4-3 while the Titans are now just 3-3.
PIT 32, ARI 20

This game should have been about defense but it was everything but. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 361 yards and three scores that included the obligatory touchdown to Mike Wallace (3-118). Antonio Brown (7-102) continues to be a bigger factor but the rushing game has just stagnated away from home. Rashard Mendenhall (13-32) and Isaac Redman (6-29) are meaningless to the offense. Kevin Kolb (272, 2 TD) was better than expected but was helped by LaRod Stephens-Howling scoring on a 73-yard catch and run. Larry Fitzgerald (4-78) still cannot break out of his funk and Beanie Wells (12-42) is once again injured. The Cardinals are only 1-5 while the Steelers rise to 5-2).

KC 28, OAK 0 In case you wondered what the Raiders would be like without Darren McFadden, now you know. And it is not pretty. McFadden left early with a foot / ankle injury and Michael Bush could not score though he eventually ended with 99 yards on 17 runs. Carson Palmer and Kyle Boller combined for only 177 yards, six interceptions and two touchdowns for the defense. But in the middle of all the bedlam, somehow Darrius Heyward-Bey (5-89) still posted a decent game. Matt Cassel (161 yds) did not score and the joke was on the fantasy world because the rushing touchdowns did not go to Jackie Battle (16-76) or even Thomas Jones (9-19) but instead to Le'Ron McClain and Javier Arena on their only carries. Arena is a cornerback who came in for one play as the wildcat quarterback. The Chiefs are 3-3 and the Raiders fall to 4-3.
STL 7, DAL 34

As expected, the Cowboys finally found someone who would not battle them to the end and lit up the scoreboard if only because they could. As noted, DeMarco Murray was the big surprise with 253 rushing yards on 25 carries with one score and even Philip Tanner came in for his first touchdown as well. The success of the rushing game meant that Tony Romo (166 yards, 2 TDs) had a lesser outing and while Dez Bryant (5-90, TD) delivered the points, Miles Austin (2-16) just was never really needed. A.J. Feeley (196 yards) had no luck scoring though Brandon Lloyd (6-74) needed no time to become the leading receiver for the Rams. Steven Jackson (18-70) supplied the lone Rams touchdown. This was just a beatdown for the sake of winning big and Murray owners who started him are the ones smiling when you see them. The Rams fall to 0-6 while the Cowboys are 3-3.

GB 33, MIN 27 Definite contender for GOTW. The Vikings put up a very game fight and not only did Adrian Peterson (24-175) run well, but the rookie Christian Ponder (219, 2 TD, 2 int.) was genuinely impressive and hooked up with Michael Jenkins (3-111) for a 72 yard completion on his first pass. But the Packers were too much even when they stopped caring in the third quarter. Aaron Rodgers (335, 3 TDs) had another outstanding game and as always, Greg Jennings (7-147, TD) continued his ownership of the Vikings franchise. Jermichael Finley finally showed up again with a touchdown thought he only caught two passes for 13 yards. The win gives the Packers a 7-0 record while the Vikes fall to 1-6

Huddle Player of the Week

DeMarco Murray - Granted it took a home game against the worst rushing defense, but do not begrudge what the rookie Murray accomplished when the Rams showed up. He ripped off a 91-yard touchdown for second best in franchise history and the longest run in the NFL this season. By the time he was done, he gained 253 yards on 25 carries for a franchise record and ninth best in NFL history. It was the second biggest game by a rookie back ever. No doubt he was a bye week filler for most and rewarded fantasy owners beyond their wildest dreams.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Christian Ponder 250 2 QB Philip Rivers 179 1
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling 76 1 RB Darren McFadden 7 0
RB DeMarco Murray 253 1 RB Chris Johnson 45 0
WR Plaxico Burress 25 3 WR Vincent Jackson 15 0
WR Michael Jenkins 111 1 WR Miles Austin 16 0
WR Dezmon Briscoe 73 1 WR Santonio Holmes 24 0
TE Vishanthe Shiancoe 45 1 TE Dallas Clark 0 0
PK Olindo Mare 3 XP 4 FG PK Rob Bironas 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 141

Huddle Fantasy Points = 21

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Now that was interesting. I mean, come on. Really? Seven visitors won but only five home teams? The Raiders get shutout at home by the Chiefs. The Texans treated the Titans like they had been stealing their grandmother's social security checks. We had a game with a total of nine points. We endured unprecedented injuries that will have significant impact on your fantasy players and teams. The best game could be argued when the Broncos came back in the final minutes of the Fins game and ended up winning in overtime but there were only 33 points total scored.

The Game-O-The-Week? This is fantasy football and it needs to be something worthy of the water cooler talk on Monday.

Colts 7, Saints 62

Ouch. And it wasn't so much like they were trying to roll up the score so much, it was that the Colts could never stop them. Literally. Never. The proud Colts franchise that was stocked with high-value fantasy players suddenly less like a juggernaut and more like a rusted Winnebago abandoned on the road side. They are starting to redefine what bad is all about. And the Saints maybe could not help themselves a bit, but if you want to understand how quickly things turn in the NFL, consider this:

These teams met less than two years ago in the Super Bowl when the Saints won 31-17. Peyton Manning passed for 333 yards and one score then and they rushed for 95 yards and one score. Dallas Clark (7-86) was the most productive receiver. Less than two years ago the Colts were in the Super Bowl against these Saints.

On this Sunday, the Colts could only pass for 67 yards from Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky added 35 yards at the end of the game for a grand total of only 102 yards. Reggie Wayne led all receivers with 36 yards on three catches and Dallas Clark never got a pass. The Colts did rush for 136 yards and one score between Delone Carter and Donald Brown because they were just trying to run out the clock with every play. It was an utter and complete implosion for a team that will meet many others this year who would like a chance to beat up on the team that was elite for so long.

The Saints became a fantasy gold mine. Drew Brees passed for 325 yards and five touchdowns. The trio of runners combined for 36 carries and 234 yards with one score going to Darren Sproles who also scored on a catch as well. Marques Colston (7-98) and Jimmy Graham (6-54) both scored two touchdowns. Pierre Thomas ended with 125 total yards. The Saints defense scored a touchdown. John Kasay kicked eight extra points and two field goals.

Things change quickly in the NFL and while that is frustrating at times, it makes it always new and exciting. Throw in all the injuries lately and change is going to be the only constant. I imagine most of your leagues will bear that out with few "stacked" teams.

We have top running backs get rewarded for their past and then display all the ambition of a slacker with a trust fund. We have injuries everywhere and new quarterbacks all over. Change is not slowing down, it is accelerating. And it is crazy good for the league too because you cannot get too comfortable. Your team may be a week away from being stripped. Then again maybe you have week eight's version of DeMarco Murray already on your roster but don't know it yet. Keep on improving your team and having fun with your league and realize what a ever changing season we are having.

Happy Halloween to all and be careful when you are driving for there's little one's afoot.

Now get back to work...


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