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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 10
David Dorey
November 14, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
John Skelton 315 3
Tom Brady 329 3
Tony Romo 270 3
Matt Ryan 351 2
Drew Brees 322 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Arian Foster 186 2
Michael Bush 242 1
Chris Johnson 174 1
DeMarco Murray 171 1
Marshawn Lynch 167 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Larry Fitzgerald 146 2
Denarius Moore 123 2
Laurent Robinson 73 2
Damian Williams 107 1
Vincent Brown 97 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Rob Gronkowski 113 2
Ed Dickson 79 2
Jimmy Graham 82 1
Tony Gonzalez 71 1
Vernon Davis 40 1
Placekickers XPT FG
John Kasay 2 4
Robbie Gould 4 3
Steven Hauschka 1 5
David Akers 1 4
Steven Gostkowski 4 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Bears 3 2 6
Titans 1 5 2
Cowboys 1 1 4
Patriots 1 5 3
Jaguars 0 5 3

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Jacoby Ford - Ankle injury
Ryan Mathews - Groin injury
Jeremy Maclin - Hamstring strain
Frank Gore - Knee injury
A.J. Green - Twisted knee
Willis McGahee - Hamstring injury
Knowshon Moreno - Knee injury
Leonard Hankerson - Hip strain
Sidney Rice - Concussion
Doug Baldwin - Concussion

Ten random observations

1. I can buy replacing John Beck with Rex Grossman. Beck never had many yards, never more than one score. Three starts were three losses. Sure. Grossman is usually a better fantasy factor as well. But Shanahan opted to start Ryan Torain this week instead of Roy Helu. The same rookie back who had 10 carries for 41 yards in his first start and then set a franchise record with 14 catches for 105 yards in the 49ers loss. Torain had one decent game in St. Louis like everyone else in St. Louis. Since then he rushed 21 times for 42 yards over the last four games.

So Shanahan kicks Helu to the curb so that Torain can gain 20 yards on ten carries (the same 2.0 YPC from the previous four weeks). Helu came in later and ended with six runs for 41 yards and added three catches for 33 yards. The question is why would Shanny remove the only positive performer from last week? The Skins are swirling in the bowl and Shanahan seems intent on jiggling the handle more.

2. Marshawn Lynch is one tough nut to crack. This is the guy that scores in week five (8-24) and six (12-98) so in the Sirius Salary Cap Game I play, I use him in week seven when he gets hurt and hangs a big ZERO. That alone is all I need to hate the guy. He returns in week eight and at home against the Bengals only runs for 24 yards on 16 carries with no receptions but he did score once. He then posts 135 yards and a score in Dallas which seems really quirky since he rarely has more than 16 carries in a game and broke 100 yards for the first time this season.

So against the mighty Ravens, he gets 32 carries for 109 yards and one score - no run longer than nine yards - and added 58 yards on five receptions. You watch. This week he goes to St. Louis where reason says he should have a great game. Sounds like another set-up to me.

3. Continuing on the theme of "Really? Now?" is Chris Johnson who had three straight home games of HOU, IND and CIN where he combined for 38 carries for 118 yards. So naturally on the road in Carolina he gains 130 yards on 27 carries with one score and adds 44 yards on four receptions. Fortunately he was untradeable in most leagues and owners were starting him anyway from a lack of other options. Is he turning the corner? Oddly enough his best two games of the year were the last two road games. Perhaps the partisan booing in Tennessee is making him sad.

4. Drew Brees threw for two scores in Atlanta and with that passed Brett Favre for the second most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (37). The record belongs to Johnny Unitas with 47 straight scores so we have to wait until next year for it to happen. If there is anything I like, it is guaranteed touchdowns.

5. I know it happened last Thursday, but don't forget about the monster game of Denarius Moore against the Chargers where he caught five passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He had a team high seven targets from Carson Palmer and last week he also led the team with 12 targets for four catches and 61 yards. Palmer likes this guy and he made some amazing catches too. If he is on the waiver wire - grab him. If not, consider he might be worthy of a trade. This kid is for real and Palmer already knows it.

6. Tim Tebow is becoming high entertainment in winning games without passing much (or not well until the fourth quarter). He keeps winning games and that is a good thing, right? Does it matter that he had two completions this week? But to watch John Elway watching the game, you can just sense he wants to get Tebow out of there and replace him with a "true quarterback". Elway said last week they were ready with the hook at the earliest sign in the Oakland game but he won. And Tebow is picking up more fans along the way. It's feeling like "Talladega Nights" where the owner eventually instructs a driver to take out one of his own cars. You have to think Elway and John Fox do not want him there but he is growing stronger every week.

Shake-n-Bake, Ricky Bobby - you don't need sponsors.

7. Some weeks just make you sigh. The top ten wide receivers this weekend were Larry Fitzgerald, Denarius Moore, Laurent Robinson, Damian Williams, Harry Douglas, Vincent Brown, Mario Manningham, Dez Bryant, Marques Colston and Leonard Hankerson. Aside from Fitzgerald and Bryant and maybe Colston, none of those guys were drafted as fantasy starters if they were even drafted. This follows the wackiness of the season because typically the later into the year you go, the more the top wideouts remain the top wideouts every week. Not so this year.

8. Seems like to me that Arian Foster and Ben Tate are becoming the new DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. But those two only had big seasons in 2008 (DW 1637 / 20 TDs and JS 883 / 10 TD) and 2009 (DW 1369 / 7 TD and JS 1272 / 11TD). The Texans already had the duo combine for 1426 rush yards and 485 receiving yards with a total of 11 touchdowns. That is a pace to end with 3057 rushing yards and 776 receiving yards with 17 touchdowns. That is even more than what the Panthers did with their running backs. The question is how long can the Texans sustain this? It only lasted two seasons with the Panthers and now that Cam Newton is there the rushing will never again reach those levels. But the runnign game in Carolina was already on a downturn in 2010. It just seems like such a good thing in Houston that it simply cannot last that long.

9. The 49ers havea two game lead over the entire league besides the Packers and with a looming schedule unlikely to be that challenging, it seems they are the odds on favorites for the #2 seed and a playoff bye which means one win and they head to Green Bay for the NFC Championship. The Saints, Giants, Lions and Bears are all but certain to reach the post season but in the NFC, it just seems like a near done deal. But in the AFC where the past has served up dominating teams, there are none. No team in the AFC has a record better than 7-3. There are currently 11 AFC teams that either lead or are within one game of their division leader. Looks like the Packers and maybe 49ers are the only teams likely to rest players late and even then they may be fighting each other.

10. It felt like there has been more passing than previous years so I had to find out. Using just the first nine weeks from each season, I totaled up the stats for the three positions and sure enough, it just keeps creeping upwards.

  Quarterbacks Wide Receivers Tight Ends
YEAR PASS CMP PYDS PTD TRGT CMP PYDS PTD TRGT CMP PYDS PTD
2007 8528 5262 59571 345 4941 2873 38216 230 1661 1095 11726 88
2008 8369 5144 58724 323 4934 2857 37559 224 1614 1034 11555 66
2009 8526 5216 59576 356 4909 2815 37172 215 1810 1158 12656 104
2010 8841 5395 61640 380 5159 2974 38921 246 1839 1167 13002 95
2011 8948 5397 64526 375 5106 2932 40227 231 1907 1187 13658 107

To the waiver wire!

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

Lance Ball - Remains to be known how injured Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno are but Ball had 30 carries for 96 yards after they left. The Broncos play on Thursday against a tired and dispirited Jets team so Ball is not a bad grab if the other runners cannot get healthy.

Damian Williams - Big 5-107 game against the Buccaneers for his best game ever. But the second year player is coming on lately and has scored four times over the last six games. Better dynasty pick than a redraft pick but does have a decent schedule left - @ATL, TB, @BUF, NO, @IND, JAC.

Harry Douglas - Big game of 8-133 but was replacing Julio Jones for the most part. Was a career best over three years but he's done little in the past even though he had replaced Jones then as well. Leave him for someone else.

Vincent Brown - Went 5-97 and scored in the Raiders game and he had 4-79 the previous week against the visiting Packers but too deep on the pecking order to worry about this year.

Sunday Snippets

OAK 24, SD 17 Whatever is wrong with Philip Rivers is still wrong and Carson Palmer (299, 2 TD) still looks better than any QB in silver and black for a while. Michael Bush was the difference maker here with 30-157 and a TD while Denarius Moore (5-123, 2 TD) sends everyone rushing back to the waiver wire where they dropped him a week or two ago. Bush also added 85 yards on three catches while we still wait to hear what the ransom demands are on Darius Heyward-Bey. The Chargers got a big game from Vincent Brown (5-97, TD) but that's the problem - Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson were nonfactors. The Raiders are now all alone atop the division at only 5-4 while the Chargers have lost four in a row. DARIUS! WE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR YOU! IF YOU ARE LOCKED IN A TRUNK, DISCCONECT THE BRAKE LIGHTS SO THE CAR GETS STOPPED! BE STRONG!
ARI 21, PHI 17

Speaking of teams that are inexplicably bad and losing home games, welcome to Philly. Seriously? They lose to the visiting Cardinals using John Skelton? This is the fifth time the Eagles have blown a fourth quarter lead. This game came off like the Eagles had something else better to do. Michael Vick (128, 2 INT) was completely out dueled by Skelton (315, 3 TD) and guess what - the Cardinals relied on secret weapon Larry Fitzgerald (7-146, 2 TD) while no other offensive player much mattered. Apparently the Eagles do not read the game programs before they play. LeSean McCoy did set the franchise record for most consecutive games with a touchdown (9) but only had 81 rush yards. DeSean Jackson was benched for valuing sleep more than meetings and then Jeremy Maclin hurt his shoulder and hamstring and could not finish the game. The bottom line - Eagles were outscored 14-3 by the Cardinals in the fourth quarter. Even the Cardinals players looked like they could not believe it. The Cardinals record just their third win of the year while the Eagles fall to 3-6.

TEN 30, CAR 3 The Titans continue their wildly inconsistent play and this time look really good again. Chris Johnson gained 130 yards on 27 carries and one score plus had 44 yards on four catches which can only mean he turns in only negative yardage next week. Almost all of it came in the second half. Damian Williams (5-107, TD) also shined in this roll up of the Panthers. Cam Newton (292, 1 INT) rain for 55 yards as the league runner for the Panthers but Steve Smith (5-33) was held in check and that was enough. The Titans have never looked this good and the Panthers have never looked so bad. The Titans are 5-4 and two games back in the AFC South while the Panthers are just 2-7.
PIT 24, CIN 17

No major surprises here. The Steelers reminded the Bengals that their schedule had been pretty light until this week and Rashard Mendenhall (16-44, 2 TD) still could not run but managed to score twice and Antonio Brown (5-86) still impressed. Any Dalton (170, 2 TD 2 INT) had a mediocre game and no Bengals had a big stat game. A.J. Green caught one pass for a 36 yard score but twisted his knee and was no longer a factor. This was the Steelers way of telling the Bengals to know their place. The Steelers are 7-3 and one game behind the Ravens while the Bengals fall to 6-3.

STL 13, CLE 12 Stupid game. The Rams won because the snap was bad and Phil Dawson missed a 22-yard field goal with 2:13 left to play. That is only three yards longer than an extra point. It is stupid because I predicted the Browns to win. There was only one touchdown in this game - Brandon Lloyd who had 48 yards on four catches. Steven Jackson rushed for 128 yards but had no catches and lost one fumble. Chris Ogbonnaya ran for 90 yards on 19 carries and added 19 yards as a receiver and other than Greg Little (6-84) there was nothing happening on the Browns offense either. Now that both teams have their defenses working well they have almost zero fantasy value when they meet. Cleveland is 3-6 while the Rams rise to 2-7.
BUF 7, DAL 44

The Cowboys are becoming bullies as long as they never leave Dallas. This was one of those magical wins where all the red zone problems disappeared and everything worked. DeMarco Murray (20-135, 6-36, TD) had another big game and Dez Bryant (6-74, TD) finally had a nice showing too. But Laurent Robinson (3-73, 2 TD) was the biggest surprise replacing Miles Austin and posting bigger stats than Austin has all year. Tony Romo (270, 3 TD) says he is finally completely healthy and looked like it. Fred Jackson (13-114) was still effective but underused in the blowout. The Bills were down immediately in the game and it just never got better. Now both teams are 5-4 but the Cowboys feel better about it.

JAC 17, IND 3

There is more excitement at an Amish wedding rehearsal than any game involving the Colts this year. And it just gets worse. They had a players meeting, a "man up" moment and it just gets worse. Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 114 yards on 25 carries and scored once but no other player in this game did much. Joseph Tamme gained 75 yards on six receptions. Fans are wearing Colt's jerseys to the game with the name "LUCK" on the back. Again, by the fourth quarter the stands are almost empty. Man. So bad that it is literally getting pathetic but there are still six more games to play. The Jaguars are only 3-6 but the 0-10 Colts head to their bye week. The biggest question for the coaches is if they players will show back up after a week off or if they will have to go hunt them down and make them play. This is the first time anyone has considered a team mate on IR as the lucky guy.

DEN 17, KC 10

You have to love it. When has a QB who cannot pass won three of four games? Tim Tebow completed 2 of 9 for 69 yards and one 56-yard touchdown to Eric Decker as the game winner. Only two completions. This is High School ball played on the biggest stage. It's not even good High School ball. The Broncos lost both starting running backs and ended up giving Lance Ball 30 carries for 96 yards. Tebow rushed for 43 yards and a score as well. The Chiefs could mount no offense in this game. Matt Cassel only passed for 93 yards and one score and was too beat up to go out for the final series so Tyler Palko was the losing closer. Jackie Battle only had nine carries and yet gained 64 yards. This was just a really, really ugly game. The stats make you think this was played in gale force wind during a freezing rain but it was sunny and 67 degrees with a light breeze. This is a killer in fantasy terms but amusing in a football sense. How does this happen and since Tebow keeps winning, that is all that matters. Now the entire AFC West is 4-5 and one back of the Raiders.

WAS 9, MIA 20 How bad is it for the Skins when they get manhandled by a 1-7 team? Ends up plenty bad, sort of "soul searching" bad. The only good for the Skins was the rookie Leonard Hankerson (8-106) who only had five other catches this season. The Fins were able to connect with Brandon Marshall (7-98) and Anthony Fasano (3-60) while Reggie Bush (14-47) scored both touchdowns. This was a boring. low scoring game but at least the Fins got another win. Now they are 2-7 on the season and marginally more respectable while the Redskins are 3-6 and on a five game losing streak.
HOU 37, TB 9

The Texans continue to assert themselves in this major spanking of the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Arian Foster combined for a blistering 186 yards and two touchdowns and still left over plenty for Ben Tate (13-63, TD) and Derrick Ward (11-36, TD). Jacoby Jones opened the scoring with a 80-yard touchdown catch but the passing game here is just a sideshow to a dominating rushing attack. The three runners combined for 183 yards and three rushing scores. The Bucs had no success at all, from Josh Freeman passing for only 170 yards and one score with three interceptions to LeGarrette Blount only gaining 34 yards on ten runs. The Texans are just the premier rushing team right now and the defense is showing up big time lately. The win makes the 7-3 Texans two games up in the division while the 4-5 Bucs are on a three game losing streak.

NYG 20, SF 27

Good game and GOTW contender. The 49ers have been winning with Frank Gore as their only star player. Now they proved they do not even need him. Both Mario Manningham (6-77, TD) and Hakeem Nicks (2-41, TD) played though Victor Cruz (6-84) was the leader and Eli Manning ended with 311 yards and two scores but two interceptions. Without Gore, the 49ers had a total team effort to win. Kendall Hunter (6-40, TD) filled in for Gore and Alex Smith threw a score to Vernon Davis but the stats were all low for the 49ers. The Giants ended up on the SF 10-yard line with a minute to go but could not score and lost the ball on downs with 37 seconds left. The win gives the 49ers a 8-1 record and a six game winning streak. The Giants fall to 6-3 but still remain on top of the NFC East.

BAL 17, SEA 22

The Ravens are just not that big and bad away from home. How else can you explain this loss? (or the TEN loss or the JAC loss?). Joe Flacco passed a personal record 52 times but only had 255 yards, a score and an interception. Somehow Ray Rice only received five carries though he gained 27 yards and added 8 catches for 54 yards. The only other effective Raven was the tight end Ed Dickson (10-79, 2 TD). Amazingly, the Seahawks won this game without Doug Baldwin or Sidney Rice after their injuries and the only touchdown was scored by Marshawn Lynch (32-109). Lynch also led the team with five catches for 58 yards. Seattle scored a touchdown in the first quarter and then tacked on five field goals. Even with the win the Seahawks are just 3-6 and the Ravens fall to 6-3 a half game behind the Steelers.

DET 13, CHI 37 The fact the Bears won this is no surprise, but the complete ease they had was unexpected. The Lions had beat the Bears earlier this season using mainly Jahvid Best. This time around it wasn't so much that the Bears were a powerhouse offensively, It was that the Lions could not stop making errors. Matt Stafford (329, TD) threw 63 passes and had four interceptions. The Lions also lost two fumbles. Calvin Johnson was held to 81 yards on seven catches and Stafford had to spread the ball around so that no one had a big game. The Bears only passed for 123 yards and no scores and Matt Forte (18-64) rushed in one score but only had one catch. But Devin Hester returned yet another punt for a touchdown and the defense scored twice on interception returns. That was plenty enough and the Bears were plenty happy to benefit from the Lions implosion. The Lions and Bears are both tied at 6-3 and trail the unbeaten Packers.
NE 37, NYJ 16 The Jets lost their big chance to move ahead and claim the division in a game where they could not stop Tom Brady (329, 3 TD) and Mark Sanchez (306, TD, 2 int) could not produce drives ending in touchdowns despite facing arguably the worst secondary in the NFL and at home no less. Rob Gronkowski (8-113, 2 TD) owned the Jets but no other Patriot had big stats in the game. Santonio Holmes (6-93) was the best for the Jets and Shonn Greene (13-61) was never able to get into a groove in part thanks to sharing with LaDainian Tomlinson (7-38). The Patriots avoided a three game losing streak with the win and now enjoy a one game lead over the Jets and Bills. The division is starting to familiar again.

Huddle Player of the Week

Arian Foster - For a guy who was a scary draft pick and who did not really play until week four, Arian Foster has been making up ground with a vengeance and coming into this week he had scored five times in the last three weeks and totaled 508 yards in those matchups. This week on the road in Tampa Bay, all he could do was gain 84 yards on 17 runs with a score and add four catches for 102 yards and a second touchdown. In the last four weeks, Foster has gained 694 total yards and scored seven touchdowns. That's what a difference maker looks like. Foster has also tied Walter Payton as the only running backs who have two 70+ yard touchdown receptions in the same season.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB John Skelton 315 3 QB Michael Vick 207 0
RB Lance Ball 96 0 RB Frank Gore 14 0
RB Derrick Ward 36 1 RB Darren Sproles 3 0
WR Denarius Moore 123 2 WR Jeremy Maclin 6 0
WR Damian Williams 107 1 WR Julio Jones 9 0
WR Vincent Brown 97 1 WR Wes Welker 46 0
TE Ed Dickson 79 2 TE Fred Davis 28 0
PK Steven Hauschka 1 XP 5 FG PK Ryan Succop 1 XP 1 FG

Huddle Fantasy Points = 128

Huddle Fantasy Points = 19

Sunday's Couch Commentary

We had ten road teams win this week and seven were not favored to win. Plenty of unrest in the league that seems driven towards inconsistency disguised as parity. We had major blowouts by the Titans, Cowboys and Texans. There were plenty of upsets and a few on stupid plays like the Browns missing a 22-yard field goal. Tebow is a winner again and Vick is still struggling.

The Game-O-The-Week? Several contenders but the winner was an important game with its own brand of bad moves.

Saints 26, Falcons 23 OT

I'll be honest. This was like excitement in slow motion. If you fast forwarded through the game, it was pretty good. In reality, it was slow and one of the least thrilling Games of The Week.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Saints led 17-13 and intercepted Matt Ryan on the first play of the quarter. That gave the ball to the Saints on the ATL-26 yard line but they went no where and ended up kicking a 48 yard field goal for a 20-13 lead. After the Falcons had to punt, the Saints drove nine plays and ended with a 44-yard field goal and a 23-13 lead with 7:18 left to play. So yeah, not that inspiring.

But finally, the Falcons drove 81 yards on nine plays and Matt Ryan passed to Tony Gonzalez for a 20-yard touchdown and a 23-20 game. The Saints then drove to the ATL 27-yard line where they kicked a field goal but a holding call negated it and they punted.

With 1:55 left to play, Matt Ryan drove to the NO 9-yard line where three plays did nothing and the Falcons kicked a field goal to tie the game and send it into over time. 23-23.

The Falcons went three and out and punted to the Saints.

The Saints went three and out and punted to the Falcons.

The Falcons went three downs and had fourth and about a half yard for a first down on their own 29-yard line. THEIR OWN 29-YARD LINE. Make the first down and it may mean nothing. Miss it and the Saints get the ball on the 29-yard line already in field goal position. Now every rational line of reasoning says you punt there. Probably in more than a few coaching books too. You have almost nothing to gain and everything to lose.

HC Mike Smith said he remembered in the past how the Saints got the ball in the final three minutes of a game and they never saw it again and lost to them. He thought and thought in that time compressed moment. It happened before. It cannot happen again. They cannot give them a punt so they can kill us! We have to get this first down! The Saints! They beat us when we punted to them last time. Punts =bad. A moment of immediate clarity. A coaching epiphany. DAMN THE TOPEDOS -FULL STEAM AHEAD!

And of course running it right up the middle where EVERYONE IS ON THE DEFENSE meant no first down and the Saints defenders are looking at each other like "Really? We thought this was a ploy to draw us offsides. Wow - that was really stupid!"

Of course they ran three plays and kicked the winning field goal. The Falcons now trail the Saints by two full games. One decision may mean no chance for the division.

The week was a lower scoring one by most fantasy players and NFL teams. We now know you cannot set up an employee to fail so you can fire them because when they succeed you have to smile and accept the ugliest wins ever - but wins all the same in Denver.

And more than anything, we are reminded a truism in fantasy football and in life -

Don't over think decisions that have to be made in a hurry anyway. There is a reason why the right thing is the right thing. Plus you look really dumb.

Now get back to work...


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