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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 16
David Dorey
December 26, , 2011
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Cam Newton 171p 65r 4
Aaron Rodgers 301 5
Matthew Stafford 378 3
Tom Brady 321 3
Matt Moore 297 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Arian Foster 174 1
Maurice Jones-Drew 124 1
Ray Rice 135 1
DeAngelo Williams 84 2
Rashard Mendenhall 151 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Jordy Nelson 115 2
Victor Cruz 164 1
Brandon Marshall 156 1
Larry Fitzgerald 105 1
Calvin Johnson 102 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jared Cook 169 1
Brandon Pettigrew 80 1
Brent Celek 52 1
Jermaine Gresham 56 1
Evan Moore 35 1
Placekickers XPT FG
Graham Gano 2 4
David Akers 1 4
Dave Rayner 4 4
Rob Bironas 2 3
Adam Vinatieri 1 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Bills 3 3 4
NY Giants 0 5 3
Lions 1 1 2
Bengals 0 5 3
Panthers 0 3 4

Bumps, Bruises and bowouts

Adrian Peterson - Knee injury
Tony Romo - Hand bruise/broken blood vessel
Delanie Walker - Head injury
Kyle Williams - Unspecified injury
James Starks - Bruised ankle

Eight random observations

1. The NFC playoffs will include the Packers, 49ers, Saints, Lions, Falcons and either the Cowboys or Giants depending on which team wins. The AFC playoffs will be the Patriots, Texans, Ravens and Steelers. The Broncos and Raiders will see which one gets the AFC West and the last wildcard could be the Bengals with a win or end up the Jets or Titans.

There is still a surprising amount of seeding left to do in the final week but it appears that only the Packers truly have nothing to play for in week 17. The Saints tonight could clear up the #2 seed with a win.

2. I was really comfortable thinking that C.J. Spiller was just another failed first round pick but he just gained 111 yards on 16 runs and scored once on the Broncos and he looked lightning fast. Not sure where that has been hiding for nearly two years, but he is making a case for himself in 2012 just in the nick of time.

3. Jordy Nelson was the tops for receivers this week with 115 yards and two touchdowns in the Bears win and that makes seven home games all with a touchdown. He has scored ten times at home - three of the last four were two touchdown efforts. Nelson has been money all year whenever he plays in Green Bay and yet was a bit more hit or miss away from home. The good news? The Packers just clinched two home games in the playoffs.

4. Victor Cruz is one of many reasons why I love fantasy football. The undrafted rookie had no catches in his first year and then started the year with only two receptions for 17 yards. And since then - pure bliss. Cruz has nine games over 90 yards and eight touchdowns. He and Laurent Robinson has been on a lot of championship teams for a good reason - he cost nearly nothing and yet a weekly difference maker. You cannot take a week off from hunting for better players because there are always more guys like Cruz and Robinson every season. Oh yes, and Cruz has 1358 yards on the season - the most in Giants history. Not too shabby for a nobody.

5. The Patriots came back from being down 17-0 to beat the visiting Dolphins. That made the 10th time this year that a team trailed by 17+ points and yet still on - the most in NFL history. Sure, we try to guess what is going to happen inside of games that cannot even be consistent for 60 minutes.

6. Cam Newton has been a dynamic fantasy scorer this year and his rushing yards and touchdowns have been huge difference makers. But realize this too - Newton is only a rookie and he just threw for a total of 3898 yards with one game to go. That shatters the previous rookie passing record of 3739 yards by some guy named Peyton Manning.

7. Season is winding down and that means hot seat coaches. Tony Sparano (MIA), Todd Haley (KC) and Jack Del Rio (JAC) have already hit the street but who is about to follow? Current "have to be candidates" include Jim Caldwell (IND), Mike Shanahan (WAS), Raheem Morris (TB) and Steve Spagnuolo (STL). Most years witness about six new coaches so we have a few for sure that will be happening.

8. We get so used to the way this season is that we forget what got us here. Namely what is going to happen in 2012 when assumedly Jahvid Best returns - big time committee backfield? Or will Kevin Smith turn back into a pumpkin. Here's a better one - what about Darren McFadden? Michael Bush has been no worse than solid and occasionally very good. But McFadden was red hot for a short time before his annual injury. I guess it just goes back to what it always is - a frustrating committee until injury finally clears up the backfield. Both Best and McFadden looked great earlier this year - but how can you rely on them?

Sunday Snippets

HOU 16, IND 19 Go figure. I hate these sort of games. Arian Foster had 174 yards and one touchdown but no other Texans did anything. Reggie Wayne (8-106, TD) was the only decent Colts player and may have been in his final home start with speculation about moving on in the offseason. Big upset but the Texans have already clinched their division but now fall back in the race for the #2 seed. This makes two straight losses for the Texans and two straight wins for the Colts. The Texans could not keep Dan Orlovsky from covering 78 yards in 1:24 using 14 plays and converting three third downs. He hit Reggie Wayne for the one-yard touchdown with only 24 seconds left to play.
CLE 14, BAL 20

The Ravens end with a perfect home record but this game was disappointing. The Ravens led 17-0 at the half and then mailed it in the rest of the way with only Ray Rice (135 total yards, TD) posting more than 45 yards receiving or rushing. Joe Flacco settled for only 11 of 24 for 132 yards and two scores. Peyton Hillis (24-112) actually ran far better than expected but did not score or have any receiving yardage. Now the 11-4 Ravens are in a position to win the division and a first round bye as the #2 seed Ravens win in Cincy this week and will be sitting pretty until the Championship game when their bad road record comes back to haunt them.

DEN 14, BUF 40

This is how you turn a fire hose on Tebow-mania. Timmay only completed 13 of 30 for 185 yards and one score with a career worst four interceptions. Tebow scored on one of his ten runs for 34 yards but this game was everything that past victories were not. The Bills scored on a punt return and two different interceptions and C.J. Spiller continues to befuddle with good play. He turned in 111 yards on 16 runs with one touchdown and added 27 yards on two receptions. Thems real running back stats but he spent his previous career proving that he was nothing more than an occasional third down guy. Steve Johnson posted 92 yards on four catches as well. The Bills ended their seven game losing streak while the Broncos now have lost their last two and at 8-7 are tied with the Raiders in the AFC West. The Broncos end by hosting the Chiefs and the Raiders host the Chargers. Nothing is decided yet in the AFC West.

TB 16, CAR 48

LeGarrette Blount fumbled on the first play and was benched for the first half. He ended with only 11 yards on two runs because the Panthers already led 27-10 before Blount was allowed to return. Josh Freeman only passed for 274 yards and one score in a game that was really nothing but trash time. Cam Newton threw for 171 yards and three scores and added a rushing touchdown as well. Jonathan Stewart (7-88) and DeAngelo Williams (7-66, 2 TD) both had no problems running other than a lack of opportunities. The Panthers are winding down the season on a good note now 3-1 in the final four games. The Buccaneers have lost an NFL worst nine straight games.

ARI 16, CIN 23 The Cardinals could not stop killing themselves and fell to 23-0 thanks to three interceptions. Larry Fitzgerald gained 105 yards and one score on six catches and John Skelton still ended with 297 yards and two scores. The Bengals had no big stars since no one had more than 57 yards in the game. A.J. Green was held to only 25 yards on two catches while playing with a separated shoulder. The loss drops the Cards to 7-8 and means they can do no better than 8-8 on the season with Seattle visiting this week. The Bengals rise to 9-6 and would be the #2 wild card if the season ended today. They host the Ravens though so the final week is no lock to send them into the playoffs.
OAK 16, KC 13 OT

Low score means low stats. The only notable Raider was Denarius Moore with four catches for 94 yards and one touchdown though Darrius Heyward-Bey's 70 yards wasn't that bad. Kyle Orton passed for 300 yards and one score that mostly benefited Dexter McCluster (5-89) and Dwayne Bowe (5-80, TD). Thanks to the Broncos loss, the 8-7 Raiders are tied for the AFC West with the 7-8 Chargers just one game back. The Raiders play the Chargers this week and the Chiefs go to Denver. This will be the big weekend to see which AFC West team gets to be beaten by a wildcard team in the first round.

NYG 29, NYJ 14 The Battle of New York was close for most of the game and there wasn't much in the way of flashy stats other than Victor Cruz (3-164, TD) who scored a 99-yard touchdown down the right sideline. Hakeem Nicks was held to only 20 yards on one catch. Ahmad Bradshaw was limited to 54 rush yards but scored twice. The Jets never had any player step up much and the best receiver ended up as Dustin Keller with 77 yards on eight catches. The Jets fall to 8-7 and travel to Miami for the final game. They now need help to reach the #2 wild card. The Giants rise to 8-7 and tie with the Cowboys who they host this week in what will be a "win the division or just go home" sort of game.
STL 0, PIT 27

Blowout. Steven Jackson somehow managed to gain 103 yards on 23 carries but otherwise the Rams were pathetic with only 94 total passing yards. The Steelers ran Rashard Mendenhall 18 times for 116 yards and one touchdown and he added a 35 yard catch for one of is best efforts of the year. Mike Wallace brought in 82 yards on four catches thanks to one 46-yard catch but there wasn't much going on here other than the continual rolling up of the score every quarter. The Steelers remain tied with the Ravens for the AFC North though they lost the tie breaker when they were swept by Baltimore. The Steelers end up in Cleveland.

JAC 17, TEN 23 The Jaguars are still little more than Maurice Jones-Drew (24-103, TD) and Blaine Gabbert is winding down one of the more painful rookie seasons seen in a while. When your best receivers are Jarrett Dilliard and Colin Cloherty, you can be sure Gabbert is getting no help. Chris Johnson continues to pump up out the typical underwhelming performance with just 56 yards on 14 runs while Jared Cook had a career best game with eight catches for 169 yards and one touchdown. Damian Williams is winding down his impressive rookie season with eight catches for 86 yards. The win give the 8-7 Titans a chance at a winning season
MIA 24, NE 27

GOTW Contender to be sure. The Fins jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half but then were outscored 27-7 in the second half. Matt Moore passed for 294 yards and three touchdowns and Brandon Marshall (7-156, TD) came through huge for fantasy owners. Reggie Bush ended with 139 total yards in yet another fine rushing performance. Tom Brady threw for five scores in the season opener but only managed one touchdown pass on his 304 yards in this meeting. Wes Welker (12-138) and Rob Gronkowski (7-78) led the receivers as usual. The Pats are now 12-3 and in the lead for the #1 seed with only Buffalo coming to town this week.

SD 10, DET 38 The Chargers three game winning streak was crushed by the Lions and officially seals their doom. Philip RIvers passed for 299 yards and a score but had two interceptions. Malcom Floyd was the leader with 6-95 and a score but no other receiver gained more than 41 yards. Even Ryan Mathews was limited to just 58 yards on 11 carries. Matt Stafford threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns that mostly went to Calvin Johnson (4-102. TD) though Nate Burleson (6-83) and Brandon Pettigrew (9-80, TD) both had nice efforts. Kevin Smith only totaled 61 yards but scored twice. In the weekend of fantasy championships, the Lions all did their part exceeding expectations. Now the Chargers go to Oakland to shoot for a .500 season while the Lions are 10-5 and have already clinched a wild card. The Lions also face the Packers who have already clinched and won't be putting a full effort into next week's game.
PHI 20, DAL 7

The Cowboys lost Tony Romo in the first series and combined with knowing the game was meaningless just took the wind out of the Cowboys sails. Michael Vick passed for 293 yards and two scores that went out to DeSean Jackson (5-90), Jeremy Maclin (5-72, TD) and Brent Celek (2-52, TD). But LeSean McCoy was held to only 35 yards on 13 runs and had only one catch for ten yards that probably killed a fantasy owner or two. Steven McGee stepped in for Romo but did nothing until the final drive when he avoided the shutout with a touchdown pass to Miles Austin. There was just nothing going on for Dallas despite being their final home game. The Eagles are 7-8 but out of contention now. The Cowboys go up to New York and the winner takes the division while the loser gets nothing.

SF 19, SEA 17 The 49ers had to pull off a comeback in this game and kicked the winning field goal with only three minutes left to play. Marshawn Lynch (21-107, TD) became the only runner to score or have over 100 yards on the 49ers this season. No other Seahawk really mattered and Tarvaris Jackson only passed for 163 yards and one score. The 49ers were no better really with Frank Gore (23-83, TD) and David Akers had to kick four field goals to take this win. The 49ers are 12-3 and continue to battle the Saints for the #2 seed.
CHI 21, GB 35

Nice game for fantasy and all alone on Christmas evening. Aaron Rodgers passed for 283 yards and five touchdowns and never looked like he actually broke a sweat. Jordy Nelson (6-115) and James Jones (4-50) both caught two touchdowns each and Jermichael Finley (3-20, TD) was not a replacement for Greg Jennings. Nothing much went on for the Bears other than Kahlil Bell who rushed for 121 yards and gained 21 yards and a score on three receptions but he lost a fumble at the goal line that was recovered by an offensive lineman. Still - a great game from Bell who filled in admirably for anyone relying on him this week. The Packers are 14-1 and have clinched the #1 seed so they have nothing to play for next week with they host the Lions.

Huddle Player of the Week

Aaron Rodgers - He probably took the lead for the league MVP with this performance that saw him pass for 283 yards and five touchdowns on the Chicago Bears. Rodgers also added 18 yards on four runs and has been golden pretty much every week this year except last week when you really needed him even more. If you made it through last week, Rodgers delivered the goods in fine fashion on Sunday night.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB John Skelton 303 2 QB Tony Romo zip 0
RB Evan Royster 147 0 RB LeGarrette Blount 11 0
RB C.J. Spiller 138 1 RB LeSean McCoy 45 0
WR Brandon Lafell 103 1 WR Steve Smith CAR 32 0
WR Donte Stallworth 59 1 WR Hakeem Nicks 20 0
WR Jerome Simpson 42 1 WR Laurent Robinson 5 0
TE Jared Cook 169 1 TE Jason Witten 24 0
PK Graham Gano 2 XP 4 FG PK Dan Bailey 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 132

Huddle Fantasy Points = 13

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Here we are at the end of the season and you would think that upsets would go away - teams either have something huge to play for or the games just do not really matter. And yet we see the Colts take down the Texans. The Pats barely escaped the Dolphins. Several teams won but why didn't the Ravens blowout the Browns? The 49er squeak past the Seahawks? There is still a bit of randomness floating through the league and that is a good thing... I think...

The Game-O-The-Week? Who would have possibly thought?

Vikings 33, Redskins 26

This is such a good example of how things change. Here we are in week 16 and you would hope that players drafted in the summer would still have some bearing. But not always.

The best runner in this game was Evan Royster who took over for Roy Helu as the final "Shanahan" move of the year since Helu was able to practice limited all week and was not ruled out until game time when he was expected to play at least a limited role as he did the previous week. Royster came through with 147 total yards in the game. Makes you wonder what this backfield will possibly look like next year if Shanahan remains.

The game was 10-10 at the half and Adrian Peterson was lost to a knee injury on the first play of the third quarter. That meant the game was certainly over. The Redskins could finally take control and finally win a game. Mike Shanahan could use a win. Did not happen.

Sure, the Skins kicked a field goal next to take a 13-10 lead but then Toby Gerhart gained 67 yards on a run to the WAS 8-yard line and two plays later, Joe Webb ran for a touchdown and a 17-13 lead.

But the Redskins responded with a kickoff returned to the MIN 43-yard line and seven plays later, Rex Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney for a touchdown and a 20-17 lead.

Then the injury depleted Vikings just did it again. It only required six plays to go 73 yards and end with a 17-yard touchdown pass to the rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph. The Vikes led 23-20 again. The Vikes and Skins in a shootout? And the Vikes were without Peterson and using a third-string quarterback.

When the fourth quarter started, the Skins were moving. Ten plays later and Graham Gano had to settle for a 25-yard field goal and a 23-23 time.

And yet on the very next series, the Vikings were at it again. 72 yards in six plays, Joe Webb found Percy Harvin for an 8-yard touchdown and a 30-23 lead with 10:13 left to play.

Four plays later, the Skins scored on a 59-yard end-around that was called back on a holding penalty. The next play was an interception trying to hit Santana Moss deep.

The Vikings did what they had done on every single drive. Six plays later Ryan Longwell kicked a 23-yard field goal for a 33-23 lead with 4:10 left to play.

The Skins had to get ten points to tie the game and marched from their own 20-yard line down to t the Vikings 28-yard line where the five stalled and they took the 47-yard field goal to pull within seven points, 33-26.

The Vikings finally were held and only the second punt in the second half pinned the Redskins deep with under a minute to play. They were unable to convert and time ran out. In the end all the wrong people scored in this surreal shootout. Christian Ponder played until the end of the first drive of the second half - right when it all blew up with Joe Webb. Those teams with Adrian Peterson did get a score and 38 yards before he left so he wasn't as big of a team killer as it could have been.

In the end, this is fantasy football. Frustrating, exciting, unpredictable and yet addicting. We're winding down a season that had no preseason and more changes and challenges than usual. If you won this week - congrats! If you lost - at least you got there. And if you just watched, there is not only next year, but there are ten next years before the labor problems can happen again.

Playoffs are looming and that means what so many of us want - a new year!!!

Now get back to work...


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