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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 9
David Dorey
November 7, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Aaron Rodgers 247 4
Philip RIvers 385 4
Tim Tebow 124p 118r 2
Matt Ryan 275 3
Matt Moore 244 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Willis McGahee 163 2
Arian Foster 150 1
Reggie Bush 142 1
Mike Tolbert 142 1
Marshawn Lynch 143 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Vincent Jackson 141 3
Julio Jones 131 2
Brandon Marshall 106 1
Jordy Nelson 105 1
Jacoby Ford 105 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Rob Gronkowski 101 1
Antonio Gates 96 1
Anthony Fasano 38 2
Jason Witten 71 1
Jake Ballard 67 1
Placekickers XPT FG
David Akers 1 4
BIlly Cundiff 2 3
Neil Rackers 3 3
Dan Bailey 2 3
Nick Folk 3 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Packers 2 2 3
Cardinals 1 4 1
Dolphins 0 5 0
Colts 1 1 1
Giants 0 2 4

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Miles Austin - Hamstring injury
Nate Washington - Hip injury
Greg Salas - Broken leg
Dallas Clark - Leg injury

Ten random observations

1. Not sure why but for some reason, this is my year of the two TE set. On several fantasy teams, I ended up with two really good tight ends either in drafts or waiver wire scoops and it has worked better than you would think. Fred Davis and Jermichael Finley. Brandon Pettigrew and Greg Olsen. Brandon Pettigrew and Rob Gronkowski. You have to be in a league that offers the lineup flexibility but I have never done this before. And it is working. You get later rounds of your draft and see a good tight end -grab him as your #2. There position is not only deep but tight ends are starting to offer some consistency too.

2. TIm Tebow had a terrible week eight in NFL terms though he still ran for 63 yards and passed for 162 yards and one score on the Lions. Once again the speculation flew that he was not NFL-quality. This week he passed for 124 yards and two scores and also ran for 118 yards on 12 runs in Oakland. In most leagues, that the same as just passing for 360 yards. Sure, it smacks of a college attack but now Tebow is 2-1 as a starter. As long as you only care about results, it seems he is a good thing. And if he ever does anything before the third quarter, he would be downright dangerous.

3. The Dolphins won in a game where they just did not look like the Dolphins. When they reached 28-3, I thought "man, this is going to hurt when they lose." But they did not crumble. Had to think it was going to happen eventually because it is hard to get up to play against a winless team with no apparent play makers. That now leaves the Colts as the only team without a win and my prediction - 0-16 will happen. The Colts are just talent laden enough to merit preparing to play and no one will take them quite lightly enough to lose to them.

In other news, the Packers go 16-0. Heck, this is the same team that won the Superbowl last year only this time they have all their players healthy.

4. Why do we even bother drafting running backs so early? Consider this week that the top ten running backs were: Roy Helu, Willis McGahee, Arian Foster, Mike Tolbert, Reggie Bush, DeMarco Murray, Marshawn Lynch. Michael Bush, Darren Sproles and Brandon Jacobs. Seriously. And in that order. And how many times have Helu, Tolbert, Murray, Bush, Lynch and Jacobs been on your league waiver wire? How many did you put there yourself?

There were four teams on bye but still - the running backs do not deliver nearly so well as we want to remember every year.

5. I have to be fair in admitting that Chris Johnson did not outright suck this week and that he apparently only needed everyone to give up on him (including, I suspect, the defense) to gain 64 yards on 14 carries (4.6 YPC) and add 46 yards on four catches. That is 110 total yards and while not a huge game, I'd take it. We'll see how long this lasts but I am ready if it doesn't to use his name-in-waiting of CJ2YPC.

6. Just to refresh your memories, the New York Giants typically play well and post nice stats which then all fall apart in the second half of the season when they lose games and Manning suddenly just halves his stats each week. One year when he didn't, they won the Super Bowl. Seems though like something is different this year though, something good. The development of Victor Cruz and now Jake Ballard who has become a top ten tight end for the last month. Granted it all goes through Green Bay, but the Giants are looking like contenders and just beat the Pats in their stadium. Remember at the first of the season when teams attacked the Giants corners? Tom Brady just threw 28 of 49 passes and completed just two to a wide receiver other than Wes Welker- both Deion Branch for only 21 yards. No other catches by any wideouts.. It was sort of sad to see Chad Ochocinco miss all five passes thrown to him because he was just too well covered.

7. Julio Jones recorded his first 100+ yard game in week three (6-115) against the Buccaneers. The next week he had 11 catches for 127 yards on the Seahawks. Then he was injured in the Packers game with a hamstring strain and did not return until this week when he posted 131 yards and two scores on three catches against the Colts. That is not only scary good but he's eclipsing Roddy White every game. For White, this must be like working at a company and your boss tells you he is getting a Harvard MBA in to help out with the workload. He's a peer sure of but he's taking all the glory.

8. I am still impressed each week with Antonio Brown who racked up 102 yards against the Cardinals and then turned in nine catches for 67 yards and a score versus the Patriots last week. He went against the Ravens and ended up leading the team with 109 yards on five receptions. He had 11 targets. I cannot wait until 2012 to see what Brown will be like in his third year across from MIke "The Machine" Wallace. Makes me want to get him on all my dynasty teams. The Steelers passing game is already good and should hit another level, particularly if they would ever throw to Rashard Mendenhall.

9. Roy Helu not only gained 41 yards on ten runs, he added 105 yards on 14 receptions. That was on 17 targets. No running back this year had more than 14 targets in a game (Matt Forte) and he only had ten receptions as the other season high mark for the position. Since target stats have been kept, there have only been 2 running backs with 18 targets (Brian Westbrook and Earnest Graham) in a game and none with 17. In NFL history, Helu tied with Westbrook and Marshall Faulk with 14 receptions. Rickey Young set the record with 15 catches in 1979. When you can match or near a record that covers all of the NFL history, you know you have been busy. And in your first start no less. The question is - will it be good enough for Mike Shanahan or do we all drop our jaws when Tashard Choice takes over?

10. It may mess up the Cowboys fantasy prospects in the long term, but DeMarco Murray is real. And by now, the question has to be - what were the Cowboys waiting for? Over the last four weeks he has gained 466 yards on 55 carries for a 8.5 YPC. Against the stout Seahawks rush defense, he gained 139 yards on 22 carries (6.3). Even in Philly when all else was failing, Murray gained 74 yards on ten runs. Let Felix Jones return so he can help massage Murray's calves and get him water between series. By now, the only question is if he'll still play hard in 2013 when he gets a pay raise. And how much he affects the fantasy prospects of the passing game.

To the waiver wire!

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

Laurent Robinson - He scored and went 5-32 on the Seahawks. But Miles Austin is out with a hamstring again and early speculation is that he will miss at least one game. Robinson has been good when used and the Bills are coming to Dallas this week.

Jacoby Ford - Carson Palmer's first full game in Oakland and he preferred Ford (5-105, TD). He started over Darius Heyward-Bey for reasons not really disclosed to anyone's satisfaction. But undeniable - Ford looked sharp and should be acquired.

Lavelle Hawkins - Caught five passes for 63 yards and a score. Forget him - no way he is consistent let alone productive.

Anthony Fasano - Yes, he had two touchdowns on Sunday but those were his only two catches. He never has more than two catches in a game either so forget him and his one game wonder.

Sunday Snippets

NYJ 27, BUF 11 The Jets never win on the road and the Bills never lose at home. So naturally the league leading scorer Bills could only muster 11 points in trash time and the Jets won handily even though no player had a good game. The Jets best runner was Shonn Greene with only 76 rushing yards while Mark Sanchez only passed for 230 yards and one touchdown that was caught by Santonio Holmes (3-29). Fred Jackson managed 120 total yards and no score while Ryan Fitzpatrick only threw for 191 yards and one score to David Nelson (4-36). The game was pretty much everything it was not supposed to be and now both teams are tied at 5-3. This was a reverso game where most did opposite what was expected.
SEA 13, DAL 23

Not nearly the points that was expected but the Cowboys kept getting to the goal line and settling for field goals until the second half. Statistically they were strong with Tony Romo passing for 279 yards and two TDs while DeMarco Murray ran for 139 yards on 22 carries. Miles Austin was hurt early but Dez Bryant only ended with 76 yards on four catches while Witten (4-71) and Laurent Robinson (5-32) both scored. Tarvaris Jackson (221 yards) could not score and had three interceptions to seal their demise. But at least Marshawn Lynch (23-135, TD) ran surprisingly well. This was basically a game that went the way expected only without all the points to get there. Murray remains a nice mid-season find. The Seahawks fall to 2-6 while the Cowboys are 4-4.

CLE 12, HOU 30 Texans had no trouble with the Browns and the rushing game was so good between Arian Foster (19-124, TD) and Ben Tate (12-115, TD) that there was nearly no passing game and Matt Schaub only threw for 119 yards. The Browns had nothing going on offensively thought Josh Cribbs caught the one touchdown. This ended up such an easy win that there was zero fantasy value in anyone besides Foster and Tate. The win keeps the Texans atop the division at 5-3 and the Browns drop to 3-5.
ATL 31, IND 7

Atlanta spent their second bye in Indy where the rookie Julio Jones (3-131, 2 TD) was everything that IND used to be. Michael Turner (19-71, TD) did not have the monster game expected because the Falcons opted to go with Matt Ryan (275, 3 TD) instead. This was an even worse than usual game for the hapless Colts which is personified by Joseph Addai who has dressed out and yet not played for two weeks now. Rumor is that each time the offense goes out onto the field he is always stuck on some phone call or has a broken shoelace or cannot find his helmet. The Colts are - I am serious - as bad as any team I can remember seeing. Their stadium is nearly empty by the fourth quarter. It is a very hard time to be a Colts fan. It is almost not even fun to play against them. Almost.

MIA 31, KC 3

What the hell? Is this how every survivor pool ends?

I figured the Fins would win a game but on the road and stomping their opponent? This is not something the Chiefs wanted on their resume. It is the NFL equivalent of saying you drive a truck for a living but once sort of drove a load of Mercedes cars off a cliff. The only Chiefs of note were Steve Breaston (7-115) who was thought to be fading away and Dwayne Bowe (6-88). The Fins played like they were 7-0. Matt Moore passed for 244 yards and three scores that went to Anthony Fasano (2-38, 2 TD) and Brandon Marshall (8-106, TD). Reggie Bush gained 142 total yards and one score. Tomorrow morning, each player will awake, roll over and grab the nearest person and say "Tell me I played football yesterday! Tell me this is not Groundhog Day!"

TB 16, NO 27

Sort of a standard game. Drew Brees (258, 2 TD) was good but not great. Pierre Thomas (91 total yards , TD) and Darren Sproles (99 total yards, TD) were enough to win the game and no players had a big game. LeGarrette Blount was back and gained 72 yards on 13 carries but only caught two passes for eight yards while Kregg Lumpkin turned in 31 yards on four receptions so forget the whole "Blount stays on the field" proclamation of last week. This was a fairly unexciting game and the Bucs scored ten points in the fourth quarter when no one cared anymore. The win gives the 6-3 Saints a half game lead on the Falcons and the Bucs fall to 4-4.

SF 19, WAS 11 The 49ers continue to impress with their sixth straight win. As always, they played nearly error-free ball and only Frank Gore (19-107) had a decent fantasy game. The Skins really did nothing other than make Roy Helu be the surprise starter and he only only gained 41 yards on ten carries, he caught 14 passes for 105 yards while being almost the entire offense. That would suggest that Helu would be a starter now that he was so successful but in a Shanahan world, those dots do not always connect. That was one heck of game in a reception points league. Now the 49ers are 7-1 and have a five game lead in the NFC West. At midseason no less. The Skins fall to 3-5.
DEN 38, OAK 24

What a great game and a contender for the GOTW. I mean come on - 62 total points from these teams? Tim Tebow only passed for 124 yards and two scores but ran for 118 yards. Willis McGahee was coming back from hand surgery and could only use one hand but apparently both feet because he rushed for 163 yards and two scores on 20 carries. Carson Palmer may be a loser this week but he passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns in his first start for the Raiders. That mostly benefited Jacoby Ford (5-105, TD) and Denarius Moore (4-61). Michael Bush gained 129 total yards and one score. There were plenty of fantasy points in this game just not often for the guys that were started in fantasy leagues. What happened to Darius Heyward-Bey? I am still trying to find out though it smacks of either disciplinary moves or an injury and not the "he wasn't in the packages we used" excuse I did hear.

CIN 24, TEN 17 Another solid game with minor fanfare that ended up as expected. Andy Dalton (217 yards, 3 TD) remains the best rookie quarterback willing to remain in the pocket. A.J. Green (7-83) had a nice effort but really no other Bengals player had much of a notable game. Cedric Benson gained 78 yards on 20 runs. Matt Hasselbeck passed for 272 yards and two scores but the lead receiver was Lavelle Hawkins (5-63, TD). The only surprise here was that Chris Johnson rushed for 64 yards on 14 carries and added 46 yards on four catches for a legitimately decent game. No - not a monster game but for Johnson... maybe this is. The Bengals are 6-2 and tied with the Ravens in the AFC North. The Titans drop to 4-4 and trail the Texans by two games.
STL 13, ARI 19

This was an overtime game and just as ugly as was expected. Sam Bradford (255 yards) played and relied on Brandon Lloyd (5-80) but Steven Jackson (29-130) was the most effective Ram. John Skelton started with 222 yards and one score that ended up with LARRY FITZGERALD!!! Granted, he only had four receptions for 43 yards but Fitz needed a touchdown. Beanie Wells seems to have turned back into a pumpkin again with only 20 yards on ten carries. This was a predictably boring game that went into overtime and was won when Patrick Peterson was so stupid to catch a punt at the one-yard line that he returned it 99 yards for the game winning score and tied an NFL record for longest score to end an overtime period. Get this - there was only the one offensive touchdown in this game. Otherwise five field goals and TWO safeties and the punt return.

NYG 24, NE 20 This could be the GOTW. The Patriots home field magic was undeniable for 31 straight games but those pesky Giants that beat them almost the same way they did when they last played - in the Superbowl. And the Giants were without Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks. Eli Manning threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and Brandon Jacobs turned in 100 total yards and one score. Victor Cruz (6-91) led the Giants as expected. Tom Brady (342 yards, 2 TD) threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. He spent most of the game connecting with Wes Welker (9-136) and Rob Gronkowski (8-101, TD) while the Pats largely abandoned the running game. This was 0-0 at the half and just 10-3 going into the fourth quarter. This is only the third time in the last ten years that the Pats have lost back-to-back games. Now the Giants are 6-2 on top of the NFC East while the 5-3 Pats are suddenly tied with the Jets and Bills in the AFC East. This was a very good game to watch.
BAL 23, PIT 20

For two teams that pride themselves on their defenses, there were a lot of passing yards going on in this game. Joe Flacco posted 300 yards and one touchdown to win the game with eight seconds left to play. Torrey Smith (5-71) caught that game winner after dropping other game winners. Anquan Boldin (7-88) was effective as well while Ray Rice scored once on his 18 runs for 43 yards but added another 43 yards as a receiver. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 330 yards and one score that went to Mike Wallace (4-68) and Antonio Brown (5-109) is still on a hot streak. Even Rashard Mendenhall scored once on his 13 runs for 52 yards. This was a great game that almost saw the Steelers pull out the win with a 14 point fourth quarter. Now the win boosts the Ravens to 6-2 and the Steelers fall to 6-3.

Huddle Player of the Week

Vincent Jackson - Many owners were hanging their heads when Jackson went three straight weeks with sub-50 yard performances with no touchdown. Some actually benched him this week. Most played him with waning expectations. BAM! He's back. Jackson merely had seven catches for 141 yards and three touchdowns to lead all players this week. Even if he goes three more weeks with bad games, owners will fondly remember this week.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Matt Moore 244 3 QB Matt Schaub 119 1
RB Marcel Reese 51 1 RB Beanie Wells 33 0
RB Roy Helu 146 0 RB Cedric Benson 78 0
WR Jacoby Ford 105 1 WR Darius Heyward-Bey 0 0
WR Lavelle Hawkins 63 1 WR Pierre Garcon 12 0
WR Laurent Robinson 32 1 WR Miles Austin 53 0
TE Anthony Fasano 38 2 TE Fred Davis 42 0
PK David Akers 1 XP 4 FG PK Adam Vinatieri 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 112

Huddle Fantasy Points = 38

Sunday's Couch Commentary

What a weekend. The Jets cannot win on the road, the Bills always win at home. But no more. The Colts look like a prison team that is playing only for a chance to jump the fence and run. The Dolphins not only won their first game, they won huge and clobbered the Chiefs in the process. The Broncos and Raiders are cranking out points even if you can't predict what is going to happen next and the Cards won in overtime with a 99-yard punt return. The Ravens took down the Steelers in an exciting fashion and now the Patriots no longer have their home game mojo.

The Game-O-The-Week? Several good contenders but in fantasy football, we love games that end with 83 total points. It is like hitting the fantasy pinata

Packers 45, Chargers 38

Rather than do the 26 pages of play-by-play, consider this - the first punt in the game came five minutes into the third quarter. Here is how fun this game was for the scorekeeper and statisticians:

The Offensive Series

1. SD goes 80 yards in 8 plays, ends with 23-yard TD Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson.
2. GB goes 63 yards in 8 plays, ends with 5-yard TD Aaron Rodgers to Jermichael Finley
3. SD has three plays and Rivers throws an interception returned for a 40-yard TD.
4. SD has five plays and Rivers thrown an interception returned for a 43-yard TD.
5. SD goes 66 yards in six plays, ends with an 8-yard TD run by Mike Tolbert.
6. GB goes 52 yards and stalls at SD-36 yard line when 4th and 2 has an incompletion.
7. SD goes 30 yards in 12 plays and Nick Novak kicks a 52-yard FG.
8. GB goes 74 yards on 13 plays and ends with a 16-yard TD pass Rodgers to Jordy Nelson.

HALFTIME GB 28, SD 17

9. GB goes 51 yards in 12 plays and Mason Crosby kicks a 47-yard FG
10. SD goes 84 yards in 14 plays and ends with an 11-yard TD pass Rivers to Antonio Gates
11. GB goes 73 yards in seven plays and ends with a 21-yard TD pass Rodgers to James Jones.
12. SD goes three and out and punts. What the heck is this?
13. GB goes 68 yards in three plays and ends with a 4-yard TD pass Rodgers to Greg Jennings
14. SD goes 80 yards in seven plays and ends with a 5-yard TD pass Rivers to Jackson.
15. SD recovers onside kick, goes 55 yards in three plays and ends with a 29-yard TD pass Rivers to Jackson.
16. GB goes three and out and punts. Really?
17. SD goes 8 plays and punts.
18. GB goes 7 plays and punts.
19.. SD gains 28 yards and with 333 seconds left, Rivers throws his third interception which effectively ends the game.

Let's review - 11 touchdowns, 2 field goals and two interception that were pick-sixes.

Aaron Rodgers (247 yds, 4 TDs) spread the wealth with on touchdown each for Jordy Nelson (5-105), Greg Jennings (6-46, TD), JermiChael Finley (5-44) and James Jones (1-21). Philip Rivers (385 yards, 4 TDs) was a bit more selective in rewarding just Vincent Jackson (7-141, 3 TD) and Antonio Gates (8-96). This was a beautiful point explosion and basically it was a fantasy pinata where everyone got candy.

We're past the mid-point now though one more set of byes remain in week 11. Chris Johnson may be better and the Pats home reign is dead. The Colts are all alone in being the worst and the Packers are the only unbeaten best. And know this - in your darkest hour where all has fled and your season is starting to smoke and and go up in flames - you still need to start Vincent Jackson.

Now get back to work...


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