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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 12
David Dorey
November 28, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tom Brady 361 3
Ryan Fitzpatrick 298 3
Matt Ryan 262 3
Vince Young 440 1
Mark Sanchez 185 4
Running Backs Yards TD
Beanie Wells 228 1
Roy Helu 162 1
Marshawn Lynch 131 1
DeAngelo Williams 63 2
Cedric Benson 106 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Wes Welker 115 2
Johnny Knox 145 1
Laurent Robinson 79 2
Roddy White 120 1
Reggie Wayne 122 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Dustin Keller 61 2
Jermaine Gresham 68 1
Fred Davis 58 1
Rob Gronkowski 59 1
Antonio Gates 49 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Sebastian Janikowski 1 6
Rob Bironas 2 3
Shayne Graham 1 4
Mike Nugent 2 3
Olindo Mare 3 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Tennessee 1 2 5
Tampa Bay 1 1 4
St. Louis 1 3 3
Arizona 1 2 2
Baltimore 0 9 1

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Matt Leinart - Shoulder injury
Montario Hardesty - Pregame warmups reaggravation
Sidney Rice - Concussion
DeSean Jackson - Batted Ball Syndrome
Stevie Johnson - Loss of taste

Ten random observations

1. HC Mike Shanahan finally decided that maybe Roy Helu really was ready to carry the load and he responded with 108 yards and a score on 23 runs plus seven catches for 54 yards. Again dwarfing what anyone else did and in fact Evan Royster was limited to only one carry and Ryan Torain remained on the sideline where he belonged. Recall that Helu gained 41 yards on ten runs and set a franchise record with 14 catches for 105 yards in week nine in his only other start.

Will Helu remain the starter? We cannot even be sure if Shanahan knows. But he has three home games in the next four weeks - NYJ, NE, @NYG and MIN. Imagine having the RB against the visiting Vikings in week 16 in a fantasy championship.

2. November 27, 2011. The Day The Music Died. The day that there was only ONE game with more than 28 points in it. That 13 teams failed to reach 20 points. Where every game went off like the Over/Under was split into two and adjusted for the line. Six games were won by four points or less. There were only five QB's who passed for 300+ yards and those included only one of the four QB's who had three or more touchdowns.

It wasn't just that only eight wideouts had more than 100 yards, it was that most came out of the blue to record a decent game. Scoring was down across the board and there had to be some interesting results in your leagues. We've been spoon fed high points and lots of passing. And now we are being denied. There is no rehab for this sort of addiction.

3. Despite having a great name for a running back, Johnny White only had one carry for the Bills this week and C.J. Spiller was actually relied on to be a primary back. He gained 55 yards on 19 runs and had three receptions for 15 yards. Spiller had never been given more than nine carries in any game before Sunday. Coming up are TEN, @SD, MIA and DEN. Let's see if Spiller can do better than the 2.8 YPC as a full time starter. Bet he doesn't.

4. Once again, Chris Johnson had a great game - 190 yards on 23 runs - and it happen at home this time. The week was filled with running backs resuming a lead place in their offenses but Johnson went even further. Heck, Javon Ringer only gained 12 yards on nine runs in the same game. And yet last week Johnson only turned in 13 yards on 12 runs against the Falcons. So far he has three good games - CLE (23-101), CAR (27-130) and now TB (23-190). Those were against defenses ranked #23, #32 and #31 against running backs. He was limited to only 34 yards against the Colts (30th) though.

Left on his schedule - @BUF (29th), NO (25th), @IND (30th) and JAC (11th). Johnson has a nice slate ahead of him but using him is like petting a crazy dog. You're never quite sure if he is going to wag his tail or draw blood. All I know is his contract is up this year on my dynasty team and I will not be pursuing him next summer.

5. Without Terrell Owens or Chad OchoCinco in the league anymore (oh wait... ah... close enough), apparently the new breed of wide receivers are taking the end zone dance from being a silly expression of joy to being a tad bit mean spirited. Sure, Owens once stood on the Cowboys star and others mimic the Dirty Bird or Flying Eagle or whatever. But Stevie Johnson kicked it up to the next level. After scoring on a 5-yard pass in the second quarter, he apparently dedicated his dance to Plaxico Burress by pretending to shoot himself in the leg. Really? Johnson doesn't even play against Johnson directly since they are both wideouts. And he dug up something from three years ago when Burress made a mistake in his personal life and wasn't even playing for the Jets? Really?

Johnson apologized repeatedly after the game the Bills lost arguably because he dropped a few passes. What's next? Pretending to be someone's grandparent in a wheelchair? Celebrations? Sure. Ridiculing a random player on the opponent's team? Just kind of weird and mean spirited.

6. I am a major fan of the Patriots now. Not the offense - I like watching Tom Brady getting popped and looking indignant as much as the next guy. But the defense is such a thing of fantasy beauty. Brady and the boys shove the score up and make the opposing team abandon the run and start chunking the rock. Vince Young just passed for 400 yards and one touchdown. That was a career high for yardage in his first start this year. Four different Eagle receivers had over 70 yards in the game against them. That included DeSean Jackson who was benched during the game for dropping passes. Their next opponents - IND, @WAS, @DEN and MIA. Not sure I can buy into Painter regardless of the matchup but Rex Grossman looks more promising and suddenly Matt Moore in week 16 against the Pats? Hmmm....

7. There are committee backfields all over the place. They either feature two backs that complement each other (AKA Thunder and Lightning). Or they are just two similar backs that prevent each other from getting too worn down or scoring too many fantasy points. But then there is New England. This week they ran the ball 29 times with running backs. That was spread out like this: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (14-44, 2 TD), Danny Woodhead (4-20), Shane Vereen (7-18) and Stevan Ridley (4-4). Why? What is the point of carrying four active running backs on Sunday? Here's an idea- just use two and spend the empty spots on more defensive backs.

8. "There it is!" was said many times on Thanksgiving when people watched Kevin Smith injure his ankle the week after he burst onto the scene for the Lions this year. Smith ran for 36 yards on seven carries against the Packers and added 21 yards on three receptions. More importantly, he is being reported to only have a mild sprain and that he may play this week. The Lions ended up using the running backs for 16 carries and 16 catches last Thursday and those would have been mostly Smith's without the injury. And coming up, the Lions play @NO, MIN, @OAK and SD. Check out the Smith owner on Monday and see if he is willing to let his damaged goods go. Smith could be a nice add for the playoffs.

9. How sad is it when one of the most eye-popping stats of the day is Reggie Wayne turning five catches into 122 yards and one touchdown? He had not scored since the season opener nor had he topped 77 yards in any game since then as well. And granted, 56-yards and the score came on one play where the two defensive backs took each other out and let Wayne scoot for the score but we have come full circle now that any Colts player could have a good game.

10. Patrick Peterson of the Cardinals is a rookie punt returner who just set the NFL record with four touchdowns of over 80 yards each. His game on Sunday was an NFL first because never before had there been 80+ yard punt returns for a touchdown made by both teams in the same game. Adding to the surreal weekend, Beanie Wells (228 yards) and Chris Johnson (190 yards) both had big games that no one would have expected. Not only did Wells set a franchise record, but he and Johnson became only the fifth time in NFL history that two players rushed for over 190 yards and averaged 8.0+ YPC on the same day.

Sunday Snippets

GB 27, DET 15 Nice morning game but a bit short of the hoped for points. Aaron Rodgers only passed for two scores and 307 yards with no help from the rushing effort. Matt Stafford threw his only score with just 11 seconds left to salvage the fantasy value of his own (276, TD) and Calvin Johnson (4-49, TD). We did NOT want to see a decent defensive effort from either side let alone both. You know this was a disappointment when the story of the game was Ndamukong Suh's ejection from the game. No real fireworks, just one "stomp". The Packers are 11-0 and already two games up for the #1 seed in the NFC while the Lions drop to 7-4 and look more mortal every week. If Suh does that on a big national game like Thanksgiving, think what he might do if he reaches the Super Bowl. I bet it really hurts whatever it is.
MIA 19, DAL 20

Another game with more defense - at least by the Dolphins - than was expected. Laurent Robinson scored twice on his seven catches for 79 yards to lead the receivers and DeMarco Murray (22-87) was good without ever being great. The Dolphins yet again had impressive games from Matt Moore (288, TD), Reggie Bush (96 total yards) and Brandon Marshall (5-103, TD) and yet still getting beaten on the final play of the game. The FIns might be 8-3 instead of 3-8 if games only lasted 50 minutes. The Cowboys are 7-4 atop the NFC East and the Fins thank the Colts for having the worst record in the AFC.

SF 6, BAL 16 Okay, so forget the other two. This is even worse with 22 total points and nearly no way to keep anyone from falling into a Tryptophan-induced slumber. The Brother vs. Brother was more like a water balloon fight than a brawl for the offenses that both produced about half the stats that were desired. Alex Smith (140 yds, 1 int.) had minimal impact as did Frank Gore (14-39) and it was no better for the Ravens. Joe Flacco (161 yd, TD) was little better and even Ray Rice only gained 59 yards on 21 carries in a home game. We should petition the league to ensure that next Thanksgiving only teams with bad defenses are allowed to play. Normally including Dallas and Detroit does the trick but not this year. Now the 49ers are 9-2 and still in the lead for the #2 seed in the playoff while the 8-3 Ravens remain on top of the AFC North.
MIN 14, ATL 24

Game went as expected though Toby Gerhart (17-44) was able to run in a score and Percy Harvin (8-95, TD) was the only real weapon for the Vikes. Matt Ryan (262, 3 TD) thoroughly enjoyed the weak Vikings secondary and Roddy White (10-120, TD) turned in another big game. Michael Turner (19-60) was a disappointment though. Life without Adrian Peterson wasn't pretty but could have been a lot worse. Christian Ponder (186, TD) wasn't great but had no turnovers and exceeded expectations. Now the Falcons are 7-4 and hoping the Saints lose on Monday night to tie them. The Vikings waft slowly down to 2-9. Julio Jones did play and even congratulated Harry Douglas in the end zone when Douglas scored but Jones had a pass interference call on himself in the first quarter and Matt Ryan never looked at him again.

CLE 20, CIN 23 The the second time in three weeks, the Browns botched the snap on a field goal that would have given them a late lead in a game that they gave the Bengals all they could handle. Peyton Hillis returned to gain 65 yards on 19 carries and Colt McCoy passed for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Greg Little (5-57, TD) had one of his better statistical games though he dropped a few passes that could have been big. Cedric Benson rushed for 106 yards and a score on 21 carries and A.J. Green (3-110) made a 51-yard catch on third-and-eight to set up the game winning field goal. Green inspires so much confidence from Andy Dalton that he readily admits he'll just throw it up and let Green do the magic. At 7-4 the Bengals remain a game back of the Ravens in the AFC North and the Browns languish at 4-7.
CAR 27, IND 19

The Panthers finally cured their road woes by playing the ever-winless Colts and yet the game was closer than anticipated at least until the fourth quarter. Cam Newton only passed for 208 yards but rushed for 53 yards and one touchdown. The freakish parts of this game was that DeAngelo Williams rushed for a standard 69 yards on 15 runs but scored two touchdowns when he only had one through the first ten games. Also Reggie Wayne caught a 56-yard touchdown that gave him 122 yards on the day which was literally his first big effort since the season opener. Joseph Addai (7-23) is back though Donald Brown (14-80, TD) took the biggest load for this first week back. The win was good for the Panthers who had not won away from home and the Colts were somewhat more competitive in this game than recent weeks. Newton now has ten rushing touchdowns to rank fourth in the NFL among single season quarterbacks. Two more and he ties Steve Grogan for #1 with 12.

HOU 20, JAC 13 Ah, another low scoring game. The Matt Leinart era only lasted for less than one game though his broken collarbone may not rule him out for the rest of the year quite yet. The rookie T.J. Yates (70 yds) took over for Leinart while Blaine Gabbert was benched in the fourth quarter. The Jags were in this game only because of a fumble return for a touchdown along with Maurice Jones-Drew (18-99) who succeeds despite being the focus of the entire defense. Arian Foster (65 yards, TD) did not do much as a runner but added seven receptions for 24 yards to remain a stud in PPR leagues. The return of Andre Johnson only accounted for two catches for 22 yards and with the QBV situation imploding , his value is not getting any big bump. The Texans remain two games up in the AFC South and the Jaguars fall to 3-8.
BUF 24, NYJ 28

Go figure. The Bills were without their only weapon - Fred Jackson - and yet played one of their best games of the year. C.J. Spiller gained 55 yards on 19 runs and his 2.9 YPC is one of his best efforts so progress is being made. Steve Johnson (8-75, TD) flat out dropped a deep pass that could have been a game changer. For whatever reason, Johnson fared pretty well on Revis Island. The Jets gave up 264 yards and three scores to Ryan Fitzpatrick for his best game since week two of the season back when we thought he was good and the Bills were writing out a big check for him. Even more freakish was that Mark Sanchez passed for 180 yards and four touchdowns. And he mostly favored Dustin Keller (4-61, 2 TD). Weird game that the Jets had to pull out a win when most expected the Bills to lay down for the rest of the year. The win gives the 6-5 Jets the false illusion of being in the playoff race while the 5-6 Bills can only read old newspapers when they were still a contender.

ARI 23, STL 20 More bad teams behaving badly. Both teams had a punt return for a TD and while Beanie Wells re-aggravated his knee sprain, re-entered the game and ended with a franchise record 228 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown. John Skelton (114 yds, 2 int) mostly just gets in the way. The Rams only saw Steven Jackson gain 64 yards on 17 runs and the offense has degenerated to little more than Sam Bradford (203 yds, TD) throwing to Brandon Lloyd (5-74, TD). When the best part of the entire game is watching Beanie Wells run, it is not going to be one of those "Hey Bob, get in here. You have to see this play!" kind of games.
TB 17, TEN 23

This is like the ARI-STL game only with a kick return and an interception return for a TD. Like Beanie Wells, Chris Johnson had a monster game in the rain with 190 yards on 23 runs but Matt Hasselbeck only passed for 160 yards and one score for Damian Williams (3-33). LeGarrette Blount gained 103 yards on 20 runs and added 56 yards as a receiver. Mike Williams now has two good games in a row with 84 yards and a score that nearly mirrors last week against the Packers. Overall - a great big old "meh". Some running where no one really expected but that was it. The Titans rise to 6-5 for that theoretical "if we win out and..." fantasy and the Buccaneers fall to 4-7.

CHI 20, OAK 25 Competitive game that really turned into converting Caleb Hanie interceptions into field goals. The Raiders did not have Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford or Denarius Moore and Carson Palmer (301 yds, 1 Int.) mostly played pitch and catch with Marcel Reese (5-92) while Michael Bush (24-69, TD) was mostly bottled up by the Bears. Hanie passed for 254 yards and two scores but had three interceptions. Johnnie Knox (4-145, TD) had his second good game in a row and deserves grabbing off free agency to see if three times is the charm. Matt Forte (12-59) surprisingly shared equally with Marion Barber (10-63). Sebastian Janikowski had to kick six field goals to secure this win since the Raiders could not punch in the scores. The win makes the 6-4 Raiders stay one game up on the Broncos while the Bears fall to 7-4 and tie with the Lions and trail the Packers by four never-to-be-made-up games.
WAS 23, SEA 17

It's like the same game happening over and over and over. The Skins mounted a comeback that actually worked and Rex Grossman (314, 2 TD) had a nice showing along with Roy Helu who not only started, but played well AS HE HAD IN EVERY OTHER GAME. Helu gained 108 yards and a score on 23 runs and added seven receptions for 54 yards. He had all but one carry. Marshawn Lynch caught a 20-yard touchdown and rushed for 111 yards but that was the only fantasy notable for the Seahawks . Both these teams are 4-7 and out of contention. Santana Moss returned to the playing field but only gained 29 yards on four catches.

NE 38, PHI 20 At least this game had points. This should have been GOTW for that fact alone but this was well in hard by the Patriots starting in the second quarter and the second Eagles score was with only 32 seconds left and did not matter. Tom Brady had a strong game with 361 yards and three scores though he started slowly since BenJarvus Green-Ellis (14-44) ran in the first two touchdowns. Deion Branch (6-125) and Wes Welker (8-115, 2 TD) both finally out played Rob Gronkowski (4-59, TD) if only because Nnamdi Asomugha was sidelined. Vince Young (400 yards, TD) was a nice plug-in but this was a down game for LeSean McCoy who scored once but only turned in 61 total yards. Jason Avant (8-110, TD) was the most productive Eagle and DeSean Jackson (4-73) dropped two probable touchdowns and was benched making the team dynamics all the worse. The Pats remain two games ahead in the AFC East and the Eagles are 4-7 with their fans starting to turn on them by chanting "Fire Andy!" and booing Butter Fingers Jackson.
PIT 13, KC 9

Gosh, what an exciting way to end the day. WHY GOD? WHAT DID WE DO???? Ben Roethlisberger passed for 193 yards and a whole touchdown that went to the fantasy stud Weslye Saunders on his third catch this year. Mike Wallace (2-17) did nothing and Rashard Mendenhall (17-57) was little better. Tyler Palko only passed for 167 yards and three interceptions and yet the Chiefs were in it the game until the bitter end. This was a fantasy wasteland and your time probably would have been better spent online shopping for Christmas presents so have free time later when real games are on. The Steelers are tied with the Ravens at 8-3.

Huddle Player of the Week

Wes Welker - It is a sign of the ridiculous amount of inconsistency this year when Welker pops up here with eight catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns when last week he only totaled 22 yards on two receptions and he had only scored once over the most recent six games. Four of his five previous games had fewer than 50 yards. And yet it all comes back together like it was still the first five weeks of the season. Will this continue? Flip your coin.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Vince Young 440 1 QB Philip Rivers 188 1
RB Donald Brown 97 1 RB Frank Gore 47 0
RB Roy Helu 162 1 RB Michael Turner 64 0
WR Reggie Wayne 122 1 WR Vincent Jackson 25 0
WR James Jones 94 1 WR Mike Wallace 17 0
WR Jason Avant 110 1 WR Jordy Nelson 26 0
TE Jermaine Gresham 68 1 TE Jermichael Finley 38 0
PK Sebastian Janikowski 1 XP 6 FG PK Jason Hanson 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 141

Huddle Fantasy Points = 30

Sunday's Couch Commentary

It was the Day the Music Died. The scores were all mediocre across the entire NFL and only the Patriots stood out. Seemed like every game was won twenty-something to something-teen. Passing stats were down, the few who did well were mostly surprises and the running backs had a solid week like this was 2005 again. There were no major fireworks let alone a game with two high scoring teams.

The Game-O-The-Week? The last time I said there was no GOTW was about 12 years ago when I wrote up my son's peewee football game instead that ended with "and then we all got snowcones". But there was one game this week that will save the day and do so despite not being a fantasy relevant game much. Or even high scoring. Or even one that made any sense - what could represent the week better than this?

Denver 16, San Diego 13

I am not even sure why this entertains me so much. As a prognosticator, it is a nightmare to predict and project for the Broncos. They may have no passing yards at all by half time. The games go off so low scoring that any one play could shift the entire tenor of the game. But I have been predicting the Broncos to at least cover the spread if not outright win for the last four weeks for the very best of all reasons. Let this be my Christmas gift to you. Write it down, commit it to memory and share it with your closest friends.

#1 RULE TO LIFE - ALWAYS BET ON THE LUCKY GUY

It is about that simple. We can analyze games all we want, we can (and do) perform deep research on past performances, matchups, current dynamics and such to determine what the progression of the past through the future suggests should happen. And when you deal with a team like the Broncos and a guy like Tim Tebow, you throw it out the window and bet on the lucky guy. I'd like to believe that my analytical mind was once again verified by predicting the Broncos will win. But I could much more easily show why it is that the Broncos should not win than why they do. Let's be serious.

I'm not saying that the Broncos have no talent by any means. Their defense is quietly outstanding and getting better and that counts big. But beating a desperate Jets team in New York on the final drive that was pretty much the opposite of the 55 other minutes of the game? Wow. You just know when opponents get to their locker room after the game, all they can say is "You have got to be kidding me." Or "You have got to be S***ing me". Or "You have got to be F****ing S***ing kidding me" Or... you get the idea,

Tebow is like a combination of Blaine Gabbert and Maurice Jones-Drew (which incidentally does not work that well in JAC). But here is the distinction. Tebow believes in himself even if there is no reason to be that way. And by now, his team mates have joined the bandwagon because they, like me, figure why fight something that works?

The Broncos entered the fourth quarter in San Diego down 10-13 but all we wanted to watch was the final five minutes where Tebow does whatever to win the game. When he got the ball with 5:27 left to play, you figured it was just the script. He reached the San Diego 12-yard line with two minutes to play but a run, an incomplete and a run left fourth and four to go so they kicked the field goal to tie.

The Chargers went nowhere in their 1:33 remaining on the clock and in overtime, Denver won the coin toss. But they punted. And then the Chargers punted back. Denver went three plays and punted again.

The Chargers then marched to the Denver 31-yard line but lost four yards and tried for the 53-yard kick that was blocked but DEN HC John Fox called time out to freeze the kicker. No matter, the real kick was missed wide right anyway.

And that gave Denver the ball at their own 43-yard line. Tebow gained 16 yards on two runs and then Willis McGahee rumbled for 24 yards right up the middle to set up the 37 yard field goal that Matt Prater kicked to win. And of course they won - BECAUSE THEY ARE THE LUCKY GUY.

(In fairness, you could make a compelling and opposite case about how the Chargers are the UNLUCKY GUY as well).

Being the lucky guy doesn't mean magic happens all the time. Football is 11 on 11 and no one person is bigger than 21 others in the grand scheme. But now teams have to worry about the Broncos. Like a Jedi mind trick, at the end of the fourth quarter opponents have to start wondering what is going to happen.

And being the lucky guy never lasts. Never. Two bad games and Tebow is probably toast and that means two opponents who can just control the ball for the last five minutes of the game. But until that happens, ride the wind. We're all caught up in numbers and prediction in fantasy football and it is nice for just one game to sit back and know that what is about to happen defies rational explanation, has nearly no fantasy impact and yet is going to happen. The Vikings defense is already preparing for Sunday and they do not even know what to prepare for.

It was the Day The Music Died on Sunday and that sucked. But you know - bumble bees fly, Santa knows what you want for Christmas, Beanie Wells and Chris Johnson just went nuclear and the Broncos are going to win next week.

We don't always have to know why.

Now get back to work...


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