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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 14
David Dorey
December 12, 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tony Romo 321 4
Matt Ryan 320 4
Mark Sanchez 181 2P 2R
Tom Brady 357 3
Eli Manning 400 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Maurice Jones-Drew 136 4
Shonn Greene 187 1
Ryan Grant 98 2
LeSean McCoy 71 2
Ray Rice 149 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Marques Colston 105 2
Julio Jones 104 2
Antonio Brown 151 1
Larry Fitzgerald 149 1
Nate Washington 130 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Rob Gronkowski 160 2
Antonio Gates 68 2
Brandon Pettigrew 57 1
Greg Olsen 53 1
Owen Daniels 100 0
Placekickers XPT FG
Mason Crosby 4 4
Mike Nugent 1 4
David Akers 1 4
Dan Bailey 4 2
Stephen Gostkowski 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Jaguars 1 3 7
Lions 1 4 6
Chargers 1 1 3
Eagles 0 9 3
Packers 1 1 5

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Matt Hasselbeck - Leg injury
Kevin Kolb - Concussion
Greg Jennings - Knee injury - torn MCL feared
Brandon Saine - Head injury
DeMarco Murray - Ankle fracture, high ankle sprain
Jeremy Maclin - Aggravated hamstring strain
Matt Moore - Head injury

Ten random observations

1. I am left wondering if Tim Tebow has any Mayan blood in him and is leading up towards a game on Friday, December 21, 2012 where he wins his 21st straight overtime and Tebow tears off his jersey to reveal some Mayan God ( say like Kuato from the movie Total Recall in that guy's chest) and the field splits open and all those Flying Monkeys from the Wizard of Oz stream out to kickoff Armageddon.

Maybe we find out that young TImmy was known to sleepwalk and announce to strangers "I am a horseman of the Apocalypse. Have you seen a white stallion anywhere?". This fast forwards to now where Tebow is being awarded the MVT (Most Valuable Tebow) award by ESPN and at the awards ceremony, Lucifer flies in like in that movie End of Days and Tebow kills him by boring him for 55 straight minutes and then nailing him with a perfect pass. No one saw it coming, much less Beelzebub.

We certainly should not discount the possibility that Tim has been sent back from the future. That he is just biding his time playing in the NFL until the MACHINES start to take over and he has to protect John Connor because he leads the revolution in 2025. If I ever ask Tim for a autograph, I will tell him to make it out to "John Connor" and then give him a knowing wink when he looks at me. Bet I get Bronco tickets out of it at the least.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I do not know where this whole Tebow thing is going. Maybe we are not supposed to know. But no matter what I am pretty sure it is going to end up being something big and probably involving Arnold Schwarzenegger. With any luck, also a Hollywood starlet with no sense of modesty. This is why I keep watching DEN games. I almost have my wife convinced it counts as Sunday School credits.

2. I know nothing lasts forever and that even when some player seems to be so ridiculously good, he is not going to last. His unstoppable performances will persist maybe a year or two if he is lucky. Lots of reason why those on top of the mountain go tumbling down. But what I cannot imagine is how that will happen to Rob Gronkowski. I know it will. There is no doubt. But every one knows he is going to score at least once and take over the game. The world knows he needed one more receiving touchdown to set the record for tight ends. And so he had six catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns against the Redskins.

He now has 1088 receiving yards, 71 receptions and 15 touchdowns (16 with the rushing score). And three more games to play that the Pats are going to want to win. He will be stopped one day, but man - ain' t gonna be in 2011. He's been one of the best fantasy surprises this season. For tight ends - of all time.

3. The Packers have scored 466 points this season which sets a new all-time franchise record. The old mark was 461 points in 2009 and yes, the Packers still have three more games to play. The only odd part is that all of a sudden they are getting hit with injuries since James Starks is out and now Greg Jennings injured his knee. No matter - this team is 16-0 unless they just do not show up in the last two weeks which is now possible.

4. Pretty amazing to think that this year there was no off-season and no way for rookies to be a part of the team until August when the lockout was lifted. And yet eight different rookie QUARTERBACKS have played from between one and thirteen games. That is every rookie quarterback drafted up until the 5.29 pick other than Ryan Mallett (NE - 3.10). And they have showed up playing very well in many cases. Cam Newton and Andy Dalton are old news. But Jake Locker and Christian Ponder are sure to start a full season in 2012 and so, sigh, will Blaine Gabbert. Taylor Yates no doubt sits down again when Matt Schaub returns but he is looking plenty polished as well. All these young quarterbacks join a set of very productive veterans and next season do not forget - not only will there be a few new hot rookies but a guy named Peyton Manning will be back as well.

5. On our radio show (Cowbell Thursday Night on SiruisXM) we discussed that favorite subject - what players will you never touch again having been burnt by them this year. Who is yours? My biggest names to never again grace Team Dorey include Rashard Mendenhall and that was before he could not punch it in at the goal line on Sunday. A good schedule does not matter. The Steelers cannot run well even if they wanted to which they clearly do not. I now hate Vincent Jackson as well because I detest highly inconsistent players. Just give me ten points a week and I will be okay. Not 35 points, then 3, 5, 6, 28, 2, 5... I am also happily going to dump Jermichael Finley from my dynasty team. It will be cleansing. I may make a ceremony out of it.

6. Another player I will be dropping from my dynasty team will Chris Johnson. There are contract years and salary cap implications anyway but just when he was getting back into my good graces I go into my playoff and BAM - 11 runs for 23 yards and thankfully five catches for 43 yards. He is gone mainly because his contract is up and I will not franchise him, but I will watch with a smile next summer when others bid his cost far too high. Definitely having a ceremony. Say goodnight, CJ2K. It was fun while it lasted which was NOT NEARLY LONG ENOUGH.

7. The Panthers signed DeAngelo Williams to a five-year, $43 million contract in the offseason that had $21 million guaranteed. And on Sunday against the Falcons, he ran for a 74-yard touchdown in the second quarter. You would think that might get you at least a few more carries than usual. But no. Williams only had seven runs for 87 yards, Cam Newton ran seven times for 36 yards and Jonathan Stewart led the team with eight runs for 29 yards. At least he cannot complain about being underpaid.

8. I think the saddest part of this season is that I have lost my child-like innocence and faith in rookie running backs which historically have been like crack cocaine to me in drafts. Once upon a time they were so powerful and flashy and scored all the time. Now they are rarely seen, constantly hurt and far less productive (am I the only person who sees himself in that description?). Consider the first eight running backs drafted this year - Mark Ingram (hurt, underused), Ryan Williams (IR), Shane Vereen (#4 in NE), Mikel LeShoure (IR), Daniel Thomas (hurt then upstaged by Reggie Bush), Demarco Murray (finally used, was great, now heading to IR), Stevan Ridley (#3 NE), Alex Green (GB somewhere). Roy Helu was next and he has not yet hurt himself because he was underused in WAS all year. But seriously - what a disappointing set of results.

And yes, hope springs eternal and we both know I am going to draft that rookie RB before you can get him. You'll thank me later.

9. The NFL needs an award category like "Luckiest Free Agent Pick" and give it to the Cowboys because Laurent Robinson has scored eight times for them and leads the Cowboy wideouts in receiving yardage (763) even though he joined them after the season started. And now that Miles Austin is back from his latest hamstring battle, Robinson is still the most productive wideout for the Boys. We don't need a reminder but just in case - always churn your roster looking for the next Laurent Robinson.

10. Just to compare, here are the top 5 players in their position as of week 13 in 2010 and 2011 just to see if there are any notable differences.

2010 QB RYD RTD PYDS PTD FF Pt FF Pt PTD PYDS RTD RYD 2011 QB
Aaron Rodgers 284 4 3243 23 352.55 446.9 37 3844 2 207 Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees -8 0 3634 25 330.9 393.75 30 4031 1 62 Drew Brees
Philip Rivers 44 0 3642 24 330.5 384.1 30 3920 0 81 Tom Brady
Peyton Manning -7 0 3709 24 328.75 372.65 13 3297 13 518 Cam Newton
Tom Brady 17 1 3029 27 321.15 344.75 27 3527 0 64 Matthew Stafford

Top three yardage rate 200 to 400 yards higher but the touchdown passes are the really big change. We've already had three break 30 TD's already and last year at this time none were better than 27. Rodgers, Brees, Eli Manning and Brady now have over 4000 passing yards to set a new record at this point in the season. It is a pass happy league to be sure.

2010 RB RYD RTD PYDS PTD FF Pt FF Pt PTD PYDS RTD RYD 2011 RB
Arian Foster 1230 13 479 2 260.9 231.1 3 277 12 1134 LeSean McCoy
Adrian Peterson 1123 11 332 1 217.5 213.3 2 547 9 926 Ray Rice
Peyton Hillis 962 11 436 2 217.8 202.6 2 510 8 916 Arian Foster
Maurice Jones-Drew 1177 4 276 2 181.3 172 1 125 11 875 Adrian Peterson
LeSean McCoy 823 7 534 2 189.7 179.4 1 297 5 1137 Maurice Jones-Drew

Not a huge change but a slight decrease across the board. Receiving yardage is a little higher this year. Less scoring.

2010 TE CMP PYDS PTD FF Pts FF Pts PTD PYDS CMP 2011 TE
Antonio Gates 50 782 10 138.2 170.8 13 928 65 Rob Gronkowski
Marcedes Lewis 41 517 8 99.7 152.6 8 1046 75 Jimmy Graham
Vernon Davis 44 674 5 97.4 115 7 730 66 Tony Gonzalez
Jason Witten 65 702 4 94.2 106 5 760 61 Jason Witten
Dustin Keller 42 555 5 85.5 96 6 600 42 Jermichael Finley

Increases across the board but maybe just the same with the new addition of Gronkowski and Graham at the top as the new Big 2.

2010 WR CMP PYDS PTD FF Pts FF Pts PTD PYDS CMP 2011 WR
Dwayne Bowe 58 885 14 172.5 181.2 12 1092 69 Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson 62 872 12 159.2 173.7 8 1257 93 Wes Welker
Greg Jennings 57 944 11 160.4 149.6 7 1076 62 Victor Cruz
Brandon Lloyd 60 1153 9 169.3 146.9 9 929 65 Greg Jennings
Terrell Owens 71 961 9 150.1 141.6 9 876 48 Jordy Nelson

Here is a weird one. Yardage is up and yet touchdowns are down. Go figure.

Sunday Snippets

CLE 3, PIT 14 Only surprise was that Big Ben got his ankle rolled but still played and yet the Steelers scored only 14 points in this yawner. Big Ben threw for 280 yards and two scores with Antonio Brown (5-151, TD) the main man. Rashard Mendenhall (18-76) could not jam it in with four tries from the two-yard line and just seems a constant disappointment. Browns have taken to using all three running backs to ensure they all suck. The Steelers rise to 10-3 and remain in a four way tie for the #1 seed and remain tied with BAL for the division.
IND 10, BAL 24

Standard Colts beatdown though the Ravens let them score a touchdown on their final drive to make it look more like a game. Ray Rice (26-103, TD, 6-46) was the only fantasy relevant player in the entire game really. The Colts only produced 186 yards. Joe Flacco (227, 2 TD) was decent but no receiver gained more than 57 yards for either team. The Ravens rise to 10-3 and remain in a four way tie for the #1 seed and remain tied with PIT for the division.

ATL 31, CAR 23 Contender for GOTW with the Panthers leading 23-17 entering the fourth quarter. But Matt Ryan (320, 4 TD) had one of his best games ever thanks to Julio Jones (3-104, 2) and Roddy White (7-84, TD). Cam Newton (276, 2 TD) did not score via a run so that record waits for next week. Steve Smith (6-125) had one of his best games in many weeks. The win makes the 8-5 Falcons remain in wild card contention.
HOU 20, CIN 19

Contender for GOTW that was won with a final drive by the rookie Taylor Yates (300, 2 TD) when he threw a touchdown to Kevin Walter (6-76) with just two seconds left to play. With that, the Texans clinch the division and head to the playoffs FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FRANCHISE HISTORY. It was a down game for Arian Foster (15-41, 4-33) and no Bengals turned in more than 59 receiving yards. Low scoring game but one that spawns some confidence in Yates as the quarterback. The 10-3 Texans are tied for the #1 seed in the AFC while the Bengals fall to 7-6 and are coming to grips with the fact that yet again they are turning into the Bengals.

MIN 28, DET 34 This was much closer than expected and even had a nice amount of points. It was a crazy game with turnovers and long plays. This too was a contender for GOTW that came down to the Vikings on the one-yard line of the Lions when Joe Webb lost a fumble just prior to being facemasked - it is a replay worth seeing. Matt Stafford only passed for 227 yards and two scores and Calvin Johnson was held to only 29 yards on three catches. Christian Ponder played with his bad hip and had 115 yards and two scores with three interceptions and Joe Webb also played and had 84 yards and one score passing and also 109 yards on seven runs with another score. Percy Harvin turned in 10 catches and 109 total yards with one touchdown. This was one of those interdivisional games that went a bit outside the normal lines but at least it scored more points than expected instead of fewer. The win keeps the 8-5 Lions in the hunt for a wildcard and the Vikings slip down to 2-11.
TB 14, JAC 41

Interim head coach Mel Tucker already has a win. The Buccaneers led 14-0 before it all went horribly wrong and Maurice Jones-Drew treated them like a discount rental car and gained 85 rushing yards, 51 receiving yards and scored a Jaguars record four times. Blaine Gabbert (217, 2 TD) was not terrible and the Buccaneers mostly stood by and allowed the Jaguars to score. The Bucs ended with three interceptions and four lost fumbles. This was a fantasy wasteland other than Jones-Drew who turned into a scoring machine. The Bucs fall to 4-9 and have lost seven in a row while the Jags rise to 4-9 and look forward to whatever the new coaching staff looks like next year.

PHI 26, MIA 10 The good Eagles made a rare appearance with Michael Vick (208, TD) back from rib injury and LeSean McCoy (27-38, 2 TD, 3-33) scoring twice to salvage his fantasy value. The Dolphins lost Matt Moore and J.P. Losman was less than adequate but at least Reggie Bush (14-103, 5-27) produced decent stats. But the passing stats were low for both sides and the fantasy value was pretty low across the board though DeSean Jackson (4-59) and Brandon Marshall (4-27) both had one touchdown. The win allows the 5-8 Eagles to feel good for a week and the 4-9 Dolphins reverse their recent winning trend.
KC 10, NYJ 37

The Jets finally had a nice, big beat down that saw the Chiefs rush for only 65 yards and throw just one touchdown pass. Mark Sanchez passed for 181 yards and two scores and added two more touchdowns on short runs. This was necessary or else Shonn Greene would have fancied himself as a big stud since he ran for 129 yards and one score and was already the leading receiver with 58 yards. He did well enough without two more short touchdowns. No other performances of note here and Jets rise to 8-5 which would be good enough for a wild card if the season ended today. The Chiefs sink to 5-8 on the year.

NO 22, TEN 17 This was also a contender for GOTW with Titans at the NO-5 yard line to end the game. Matt Hasselbeck was knocked out of the game and Jake Locker (282, TD) almost engineered a nice comeback but it fell just short. Chris Johnson (11-23) was back to running like a shackled prisoner but he added 43 yards on five catches. Nate Washington was injured and yet still ended with 130 yards and a score on six catches. Drew Brees passed for 332 yards but "only" two touchdowns. Marques Colston (7-105, 2 TD) was given his monthly turn at being the scoring wideout and Jimmy Graham (5-55) played although he was clearly not healthy in the game. The win now makes the 10-3 Saints tied with the 49ers for the #2 seed in the NFC while the Titans fall to 7-6 which makes a wildcard bid still possible and yet not probable. Drew Brees has passed for ten 300-yard games tying him for most in a single season in NFL history.
NE 34, WAS 27

Here's yet another game that was no surprise about the winner and yet lots of points were scored. Tom Brady (357, 3 TD) was his usual elite self and of course Rob Gronkowski (6-160, 2 TD) plays like there are no defenders. Wes Welker (7-86, TD) had the other touchdown and as usual, those three Pats were the only good fantasy plays and they were magnificent. The Skins got 252 yards and two scores from Rex Grossman and even scored on a 49-yard trick play when Brandon Banks threw to a wide open Santana Moss. Roy Helu (27-126) ran great but the Skins only passed to him twice. The win keeps the Pats tied for the #1 seed and remains two games ahead of the Jets for the division. The Skins slip to 4-9 and are just biding their time by now.

SF 19, ARI 21 Definite contender for GOTW because this was the biggest upset. The 49ers only threw for 175 yards and no scores from Alex Smith and Frank Gore gained 72 yards and a score on only 10 runs but the 49ers lost their starting OLT early and that impacted both rushing and passing. The Cardinals saw Kevin Kolb knocked ut of the game but John Skelton (282, 3 TD) was again very impressive, Larry Fitzgerald (7-149, TD) had another big game and Early Doucet (3-73, TD) also showed up big. The Cards took the lead at the start of the fourth quarter and the 49ers could never mount a scoring drive. This loss drops the 49ers to 10-3 and now ties them with the Saints for a #2 seed and a bye, The Cardinals are 6-7 but on a three game winning streak.
CHI 10, DEN 13

Here is what I am no longer going to say: The Broncos mounted an improbable comeback that should have not happened. Tim Tebow came to life in the final four minutes and threw a touchdown with 2:15 left to play for his first points in the game. Then Marion Barber saw the clouds part and a voice sad "run out of bounds" which he did even though it meant the Broncos had 56 seconds to go downfield and kick a field goal instead of the game being over. And Tebow used six plays to reach the 41-yard line where a highly improbable 59-yard field goal was made to tie the game. In overtime, Marion Barber made amends by catching a 16-yard pass to get the Bears in field goal range and then two plays later burst through the line with a clear path to the endzone only he forgot the football which was recovered by DEN. Seven plays later, Tebow has the team on the CHI 33-yard line and they kick a 51-yard field goal to win in OT again ... Marion Barber, thou hast been smited.

Where is what I am going to say: Broncos played.

OAK 16, GB 46 No real surprises here other than Ryan Grant (10-85, 2 TD) had a big game and Greg Jennings appears to have hurt his knee badly. Aaron Rodgers had a lighter game (281, 2 TD) than usual and Jordy Nelson (3-81, TD) scored because he always does at home. But Carson Palmer (245, TD) did not have the normal monster game playing in 45 minutes of trash time and even threw four interceptions. This was never a real game and yet did not produce any really big fantasy stats outside of Ryan Grant who no one even owns anymore let alone starts. The win keeps the Packers perfect but one small problem now. The 49ers lost and that means the Packers are three games up on the NFC. By week 16 and 17 there will be nothing to play for unless they want to pursue the perfect season which I think we all agree should be mandatory. The Raiders fall to 7-6 and now trail the Denver Tebows.
BUF 10, SD 27

Big old beat down. No shock - the Bills have lost six in a row and you would need a game program to prove they were actually at the stadium. Their only touchdown was a fumble recovery when RIvers was sacked. Steve Johnson ended with 116 yards on four catches only because I was facing him in a playoff game. Otherwise the Bills were devoid of fantasy impact. The Chargers had fun with Rivers passing for 240 yards and three scores and no interceptions. Antonio Gates (7-68, 2 TD) was the best receiver and Ryan Mathews gained 148 total yards. Now the Chargers are 6-7 with two straight wins and the Bills waft down to 5-8.

Huddle Player of the Week

Maurice Jones-Drew - Hard to argue with this one. MJD merely ran for 85 yards on 27 carries, caught six passes for 51 yards and scored a personal best four touchdowns that also set the Jaguars team record. He has been a top running back all year and was limited only be the entire offense around him and the fact he rarely gets any goal line carries. That was cured this week and the NFL's favorite fireplug just had himself a career game..

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB John Skelton 307 3 QB Michael Vick 217 1
RB Ryan Grant 98 2 RB Beanie Wells 30 0
RB Marion Barber 140 1 RB Arian Foster 74 0
WR Nate Washington 130 1 WR Calvin Johnson 29 0
WR Titus Young 87 1 WR Jeremy Maclin 13 0
WR Kevin Walter 76 1 WR Greg Jennings 20 0
TE Kevin Boss 43 1 TE Jermichael Finley 0 0
PK Mike Nugent 1 XP 4 FG PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 140

Huddle Fantasy Points = 31

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Most the games went as expected though the betting lines were mostly screwed up when teams did not win as big as they were expected. The Texans upset the Bengals and the Cardinals took down a visiting division leader for a second week in a row. There were plenty of games that could have been used for the GOTW. Initially I had decided to go with Denver versus Chicago (and no, I did not decide that last Wednesday. It was after the game was played). But that a GOTW should have plenty of points if possible and hopefully end in a last minute upset with some drama. By now, call me when DEN doesn't win in OT.

The Game-O-The-Week? A pretty good one.

Giants 37, Cowboys 34

The Cowboys and Giants always fight until the bitter end and it usually entails plenty of points and lots of yards. This year was no disappointment with 71 total points score and 721 total passing yards. Defenses are so over-rated.

The Cowboys went into halftime with a 17-15 lead and in the third quarter, the Cowboys kicked a field goal for a 20-15 lead. That evaporated when Eli Manning hit Mario Manningham for a 47-yard touchdown and the 22-20 lead for the Giants.

Once into the fourth quarter, Tony Romo hit Miles Austin for a short touchdown and a 27-22 lead. That was extended when the Giants threw an interception on their next series and Dallas only needed two plays to find a wide open Dez Bryant for a 50 yard touchdown and the 34-22 lead.

But the next series saw Manning hit Jake Ballard for a touchdown with only 3:20 left to play to close the gap to just 34-29. When the Cowboys had two runs and an incompletion next, they punted away the ball with 2:12 left to play. Maybe not so conservative there Dallas. Because it only took Eli Manning eight plays and a minute, 21 seconds to have Brandon Jacobs punch in the go ahead touchdown with 51 seconds left on the clock.

Tony Romo brought the Cowboys from their own 20-yard line to the NYG 29-yard line in just 38 seconds. And Dan Bailey then nailed the game tying kick but no. Timeout called by Tom Coughlin. Announcers state the obligatory "Icing kickers never works, it has been proven" and then watch the kick be blocked for the Giants win.

And so the NFC East again is in constant change.

It was a great week - lot's of big point games and enough big player performances to make the Championships in many leagues already exciting. No doubt a few made it in or not for their league playoffs this week. And this is what we play for - to win. Right? To rack up championships, spending cash and trophies. Or is it really just to have fun with friends and coworkers and compete in an enjoyable way. To integrate ourselves into outcomes of NFL games that we so love to watch. To make that day at work just a little better and get to know a few more people.

In the end, we're all as temporary as Rob Gronkowski will someday prove. We'll all pass from mortal form and meet at the Pearly Gates where it is not going to matter if you came in first or second or tenth in your fantasy league. What's going to matter is that we can all check the box "Saw Tebow play football" on the entrance exam to heaven.

Dibs on the recliner.

Now get back to work...


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