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Tunnel Vision - Week 9
By David M. Dorey
October 27, 2003
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Hasselbeck 347 3
Peyton Manning 269 3
Kerry Collins 375 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Stephen Davis 195 2
Jamal Lewis 162 1
Domanick Davis 136 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Torry Holt 174 1
Randy Moss 125 2
Ike Hilliard 100 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Daniel Graham 110 0
Itula Mili 80 2
Billy Miller 37 1
Placekickers XP FG
Gary Anderson 3 3
Mike Vanderjagt 3 3
Matt Stover 2 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
St. Louis 0 2 4
Chicago 1 1 2
Kansas City 0 3 7

Week 8 Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Drew Bennett (TEN) - Strained calf
David Carr (HOU) - Sprained ankle
Jeff Garcia (SF) - Ankle injury
Brian Westbrook (PHI) - Ankle injury
Tim Couch (CLE) - Sprained right thumb

Oh just keep it in your pocket this time

In the second quarter of the Ravens-Broncos game, Todd Heap caught an 11-yard touchdown from Kyle Boller that ended with Heap losing the ball when he hit the ground. The play was challenged by Mike Shanahan and reversed, taking away the touchdown and considering it an incomplete. Two plays later, Heap caught a seven yard pass to the one yard line but it was called back due to a false start.

In the third quarter, Heap was blasted as he tried to catch a pass and it was so obvious that he caught it that Brian Billick challenged the call. After further review, it was still an incomplete. If statistical averages mean anything, Heap is now in line for getting a favorable challenge. Then again, perhaps a catchable pass would be even better.

The 100 yard Symphony

Randy Moss caught seven passes for 125 yards and two ridiculously easy-looking touchdowns against the Giants. Torry Holt had seven receptions for 174 yards and two scores as well. Moss is now the gridiron equivalent of Amadeus Mozart - brilliant in his field, beautiful in his work even if the person has been grating during his childhood. Holt is developing into an NFL version of Ludwig van Beethoven that just improves with age and never hits a sour note any more.

The duo have been on their "A" game this season and more than a little entertaining to the fantasy world. Then again, perhaps we can all appreciate the poetry in motion a little more on Sunday when Sunday's opening act was Michael Irvin interviewing Warren Sapp.

Amending previous reports

As we discussed a few weeks ago, players that are listed as questionable on the injury report were turning in career best games. There is a change to that now - apparently being listed as probable as in the case of William Green actually means "out" and in the case of Corey Dillon, until all players arrive safely to the parking lot of the Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati you cannot consider them as a starter. Dillon was in a car wreck on the way to the stadium and was held out of the game. After his comments about wanting to be traded last week, we are still awaiting word to see if the police report lists the event as Automobile vs. Common Sense.

Hey coach, I think I am ready now

Marshall Faulk was ready to play as the #3 emergency running back yesterday in the Rams-Steelers game. As he watched, undrafted rookie Arlen Harris only gained 2.7 yards per carry but that racked up fairly well on his 34 carries - a new Rams rushing record. Oh yes, and he shared a mirror day with Priest Holmes (83 yards rushing) as both had three touchdowns.

Of course Faulk and Holmes were both top five picks in most leagues last summer whereas Arlen Harris joins Domanick Davis in providing waiver wire hounds with a week they can crow "oh yeah, I knew that was going to happen".

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Jon Kitna 240 2 QB Quincy Carter 140 0
RB Domanick Davis 136 2 RB Troy Hambrick 36 0
RB Arlen Harris 96 3 RB Fred Taylor 69 0
WR Justin Gage 58 1 WR Terrell Owens 53 0
WR Kelley Washington 42 1 WR Koren Robinson 35 0
WR Dante Hall 107 1 WR Rod Smith 23 0
PK Matt Stover 4 FG, 2 XP PK Billy Cundiff

nada

Huddle Fantasy Points = 117

Huddle Fantasy Points = 26

It's amazing what a few million doesn't buy these days

In the four full games that Emmitt Smith had as a Cardinal he gained a total of 218 yards and had a rushing average of 3.3 yards per carry. In the two full games for Marcel Shipp, he has gained a total of 277 yards and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. It all begs the question - who will Arizona bring in next year for Shipp to yet again replace?

Gimme #83... no make it #88... how about #85?

The Eagle's fullback Jon Ritchie only has nine catches for 45 yards this season and only twice has he had more than one reception in a game. However, Ritchie now has two receiving touchdowns which makes him the team leader for such and twice as many as the #2 touchdown receiver of Duce Staley (1). In fact, since the McNabb has only thrown three scores this entire season, Ritchie should consider rewriting his contract to give him incentives for leading the team in receiving scores or at least grab a new player number that better reflects his role.

There are guys on the line of scrimmage, split out away from the tackles and tight ends. No one yet knows who they are or why their jerseys keep showing up in the laundry.

On the plus side it really hurts their hands

During the first seven weeks of the 2003 NFL season, the special teams have been taking a beating. Dante Hall is setting team records and tying all-time NFL records. The Giants have lost two games thanks to their inept special teams. The Bucs lost a game when their field goals could not get beyond the line of scrimmage. The one area that has been almost acceptable has been with the actual punters (AKA the last guy to dive at Dante Hall).

Up until this week, there had been 1029 punts in the NFL over the span of seven weeks. Special teams are now under a microscope and as a result, there had only been five blocked punts in the first seven weeks. There were only 22 blocked punts in all of last season - about 1 per week. So what happens?

Yesterday there was not one blocked punt. There were FIVE of them. The Giants, Panthers, Jets, 49ers and Chiefs all managed to let the one guy through that caused that wonderful double WHAP sound on the punt. Five times the average in one week. Not to worry though - there were only two field goals blocked this week and that was just under twice the average.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

NYG 29, MIN 17 Who would have guessed that the Vikes unbeaten streak would end when the Giants suddenly discovered the endzone? While Moss is still boss, the MIN secondary apparently never did return from their bye week.
TEN 30, JAX 17 You know it is Halloween week when Eddie George shows up as a running back and scores twice while league passing leader Steve McNair only throws for 187 yards and never rushes. The Titans string of five consecutive games with 30 or more points ends next week only because they are on a bye.
SEA 24, CIN 27 Fright week continues with the Bengals logging CONSECUTIVE WINS and are still only one game back in the AFC North. Here's a hint - cover Chad Johnson on every play. And no, it does not matter if they are on their own side of the field. Seahawks in need of refreshing their Mili-Vanilla offense.
DET 16, CHI 24 Yes, they were on the road for the 20th time and by now all the opponent needs is Brock Forsey and Justin Gage. The other best players in the game were Dustin Lyman and Bobby Wade. We should all be terrified of this if only we could understand it. The box score reads like a college rugby team showed up and still won by 8 points. By this point, Mariucci's Halloween has gone on for seven weeks and he would be better off staying at home and getting egged.
DEN 6, BAL 26 I was going to post a link to a scary picture of Kanell throwing a pass but could not find one that did have Raven defenders obscuring the shot of Danny. If you thought Denver's affection for Plummer seemed odd, picture Shannon Sharpe and Rod Smith now begging Jake Plummer to heal.
DAL 0, TB 16 Well. At least this time when Parcells discusses the ways in which the Cowboys stink he will mean it. Except this time it may take a lot longer to be comprehensive. Probably was a lot more fun to play against the Lions last week than it was to be Lionesque this week (Hmm... Hands off "Lionesque" until I can register the trademark). 17 people were injured in the stampede when someone shouted "last guy in the Jet has to sit next to Bill".
STL 33, PIT 21 If you can ignore Marc Bulger, Arlen Harris, Torry Holt and three interceptions by Tommy Maddox, the switch to Jerome Bettis was a big success. It had been three weeks since a Steeler rusher had visited the lands of 41+ yards rushing. Pittsburgh now looks up at the entire division in the standings. For Halloween, Plaxico gets to be the invisible man and while Cowher stands out on the street and wonders why the car just won't start. Oh! There it goes!.. Nope. Died again. Everybody help push it to the next house.
CLE 3, NE 9

If Butch Davis was to ever get a case of laryngitis, man - this would be a great week. Kobe Bryant may look forward to press conferences more than Davis right now. Since the Browns are inept on offense, have no quarterback and are starting James Jackson once again, it is like Butch Davis has gone full circle. With only one field goal to show for the trip to New England, he almost had the circle on the scoreboard too. Browns reach their bye week just in time to enroll in the resume' writing class at Cleveland Community College.

NYJ 17, PHI 24 The flea-flicker to Santana Moss was a treat. Curtis Martin gaining 110 yards rushing was like getting a full-sized Snickers bar in your bag. The trick is not to give Correll Buckhalter the best game of his career or allowing McNabb to actually move his arm quickly and cause the football to be propelled through the air to another Eagle player (Ritchie) who is running into the endzone. In some areas, this is considered a "pass" or even a "touchdown pass" but in Philly it just seems downright magical.
HOU 21, IND 30 At some point the Texans must learn that having an actual rushing game is really cool and all, but so far it has just added up to two losses. Just because they found the hammer does not make everything a nail now. And when the punter gains more rushing yards (12) than Stacey Mack (7), it pretty much signals that the last run of the Opportunity Express just left the station without the Mackster.
BUF 5, KC 38 The drug problem in America could be solved by placing the KC defense at all borders. When Bledsoe tired of throwing three completions to the secondary, Alex Van Pelt came in and was a perfect 4 of 4 passing with two of those actually being to members of his own team. Travis Henry gained 87 of his 124 yards rushing in the second half because most teams actually throw the ball when they are trailing by 23+ points. Then again, both teams were trying to run out the clock the entire second half.

GameS-O-The-Week

In true Halloween fashion, there is not one but two teams that qualify as the GOTW. We have a trick and a treat.

The Treat : Carolina 23, New Orleans 20 OT

At the half, the Saints led 17-10 after a seventeen point explosion in the second quarter. These were the visiting Panthers, the team with a lofty 5-1 record going against the 3-4 Saints who were fresh off a thrilling trounce over the Falcons.

The Panthers took the opening kickoff in the third quarter and drove the field but stalled at the Saints 11-yard line and had to settle for a field goal making the score 13-17. After a long series of punts, punctuated by one Aaron Brooks interception at the CAR 22-yard line (doh), the Panthers took over on their own 42-yard line with six minutes left to play.

After seven plays, the Panthers allowed Stephen Davis to take the one yard plunge for the 20-17 lead with only 3:41 remaining to play.

The Saints get the ball on their own 31-yard line and then instead of rolling over and dying like we all have come to expect, they drive the field using McAllister runs and Brooks incompletions until they stall out on the CAR 25-yard line where they kick the tying field goal, 20-20! With only 30 seconds remaining, Carolina lets the clock run out for an overtime game!

On the coin flip, the Saints win (tails) and Brooks shows actual emotion and fire in the way he demands to receive the kick. Can it be happening? Michael Lewis returns the kick all the way to the CAR 46-yard line! Can it be happening? Deuce runs for three yards, then Brooks gains two more. On third and five, McAllister gains four yards. On fourth and one at the Panthers 37-yard line, the Saints must choose - go for the first down or attempt a 54 yard field goal knowing a miss gives up good field position to the Panthers.

Instead, they use the third option - let McAllister get tripped up by Julius Peppers in the backfield and fumble the ball away. Oh yes, it is happening all right.

Carolina wastes no time in feeding Stephen "I'm tired but what the heck" Davis the ball three times and he gains 43 yards. Kasay kicks the field goal and the Panthers get the treat - another win, in overtime on the road. That makes for the hat trick - the last three road games for the Panthers have all been overtime games that they have won by a field goal. What a treat!

The Trick: San Francisco 13, Arizona 16 OT

The 49ers would have been better served last week to not have ventured out from their own neighborhood. It was a tricky weekend for them indeed. It all started with a standard Garcia touchdown run for the lead at 7-0 in the first quarter. Nothing unusual. I mean - it is against the Cardinals.

But then the snap on the extra point is bobbled and ends up as an incomplete "Yikes! Here - catch it" pass to Jed Weaver. So it is really only 6-0.

The Cardinals then go against the fifth ranked rushing defense in the NFL and on the next drive, Marcel Shipp gains 50 of the seventy yards to the goal line where Jeff Blake imitates Garcia and he too scores a touchdown only their holder actually held it. The Cards took a 7-6 lead.

The 49ers took off on the next drive for the eventual score and - there it goes. Garcia to Owens for 37 yards! The score is now - no wait! Play is challenged and reversed into an incompletion. Huh? When Owen Pochman (and do not commit the name to memory) lines up the 45-yard field goal, he sends it wide right. This is no way to start the blowout. They just beat the Bucs for goodness sakes!

The rest of the quarter is dotted with stalled drives and one Blake interception. Finally on the last drive of the first half, the Cards reach the SF 35-yard line and Tim Duncan (don't commit that one to memory either) nails a 53 yard field goal for a 10-6 lead.

Problem here is also that Garcia gets his ankle turned on their final drive in the first half so Tim Rattay plays in the third quarter. They go three and out to open and the Cardinals go back to Shipp and reach the SF 23-yard line before missing a field goal. Tim Duncan proves ineffective inside the 36-yard line.

The 49ers get the ball back and have gone to letting Kevan Barlow not gain yards while Rattay does not complete passes. They go to punt and WHAP - it gets blocked! Cardinals take over at the SF 11-yard line. What kind of blow out is this anyway?

After reaching the two yard line, the Cardinals opt to not press their luck and kick a field goal for a 13-6 lead.

After trading series of punts, the 49ers reach their own 25-yard line and throw a 13 yard pass to Jed Weaver who then fumbles it - oh no! But an inadvertent whistle allows the 49ers to keep the ball - whew! The next play Barlow celebrates this by fumbling the ball away on the SF 39-yard line.

This is not right. Marcel Shipp gains 20 yards on five consecutive runs until Tim Duncan trots on the field to miss a 37 yard field goal. What sort of range is that? Only very short or very long field goals? Oh yes - Cardinals.

Garcia is back in the game and brings the 49ers from their own 27-yard line down to the Arizona 4-yard line where he attempts to rush in his second score. What's up with that? Terrell Owens cannot be pleased. Garcia gets sandwiched at the one yard line and the ball pops out into the hands of OT Kwame Harris who scores a touchdown. Talk about a treat! Owen Pochman makes the extra point to tie. Double treat!

Then the Cards end up punting and the 49ers drive the field for a 35 yard field goal that Pochman misses wide right. He is consistent at least.

The Cardinals take over at their own 25-yard line with only 2:25 left to play and Jeff Blake drives the field all the way to the SF 32-yard line where on the last play Tim Duncan can miss a 50 yard field goal. This guy has no range now. We're going into overtime! Does anyone want to win this game? Is there a kicker in the house?

On the overtime kickoff, Owen Pochman decides to remove any shred of doubt regarding his employment status by pulling the kickoff out of bounds and giving Arizona the ball at their 40 yard line, thereby driving his popularity just below that of Gray Davis.

The Cardinals drive the field in nine plays to the SF 22-yard line where Tim Duncan - hold your breath and cross your fingers - is good! The Cardinals beat the 49ers 16-13!

It was another whacky week in the NFL where too often little made sense and guys like Arlen Harris became stars while Minny fell from grace. The Chiefs are perfect and Bill Parcells is not the messiah. The Lions lose on the road, the Browns can't score, the Steelers cannot win and the Bengals are on a win streak.

It just gets weirder all the time and it is not even half over for this season.

Have a great Halloween week and if Tim Duncan and Owen Pochman show up to your door with bags, be kind.

Now get back to work...