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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 3
David M. Dorey
September 20, 2004
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
David Carr 313 2
Aaron Brooks 279 3
Michael Vick 288 1
Running Backs Yards TD
Curtis Martin 144 2
Edgerrin James 127 2
Kevan Barlow 123 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Hines Ward 151 1
Roy Williams 79 2
Torry Holt 121 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Daniel Graham 21 2
Randy McMichael 93 0
Chris Baker 20 1
Placekickers XP FG
John Carney 3 3
Phil Dawson 0 4
Matt Stover 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
NY Giants 1 4 7
Detroit 1 5 3
Baltimore 1 4 3

Week 3 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Mark Brunell (WAS) - Strained hamstring
Drew Brees (SD) - Concussion
Todd Heap (BAL) - Ankle sprain
Tommy Maddox (PIT) - Elbow injury
Deuce McAllister (NO) - High ankle sprain
Warrick Dunn (ATL) - Sprained left knee
Kellen Winslow (CLE) - Probable fibula fracture
Deion Branch (NE) - Knee sprain
Kevan Barlow (SF) - Bruised ribs
Dallas Clark (IND) - Ankle sprain
Brian Finneran (ATL) - Ankle sprain
Eddie Kennison (KC) - Hamstring strain
Edgerrin James (IND) - Hamstring strain

Yes, but he doesn't drive with the turn indicator always on... yet

After 274 games played over the past 20 seasons, Sunday was the first time you could ever watch a game with Jerry Rice and yet not see him catch a pass. Nada. In the post game interview, QB Rich Gannon was told of the consecutive reception records demise and initially gave one of those Homer Simpson "I-need-to-slap-my-forehead" looks before explaining it away with saying "now he can start on a new record."

What record would that be, RIch?

Like a newspaper to the nose of a Waiver Wire Hound

In the hunt for that next "Anquan Boldin" that pops up on the waiver wire after week one and richly rewards the prudent Waiver Wire Hound, let's see how they profited after only one week. From the best wide receiver performances of last week compared to this week:

Wide Receivers Week 1 Week 2
Cedrick Wilson 7-94 yards , 1 TD 0 catches, bit of a hamstring problem too
David Terrell 5-126 yards 0 catches, -15 yards on one rush. One fumble. And here's your sign...
Deion Branch 7-86 yards, 1 TD 7 yards on one catch, hurt knee in first half
David Patten 4-86 yards, 1 TD 2 catches, 39 yards. You thought it would last?
Doug Gabriel 3-81 yards, 1 TD 0 yards, 0 catches but no negative rushes like Terrell
Brandon Stokley 4-77 yards, 1 TD 2 catches, 27 yards and he's just a #3 receiver - get over it
Eric Parker 2-25 yards, 1 TD 2 catches, 19 yards and one fumble

Granted, Wilson and Branch were injured but come on - after three years you really thought David Terrell was all that after one game? Bet those blind bids kinda sting now, huh?

Maybe Wide Receivers should be named Left-Outs

The top eleven in receiving yardage for the NFL now includes Randy McMichael (172 yards), Domanick Davis (165 yards) and Antonio Gates (162 yards). That means the top eleven in receiving yardage is being invaded by players much closer to the center than we're used to seeing..

Well, you know in pinch maybe...

If you're searching for a running back, any running back really, maybe those fullbacks aren't such a bad thing after all. There were only 19 running backs that scored a touchdown on Sunday and four of them - Justin Griffith, Jerald Sowell, Bryan Johnson and Cory Schlessinger - all were fullbacks. All four did the end zone dance after catching a pass and by now we know that catching passes is hardly just for wideouts anymore.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB David Carr 343 2 QB Jeff Garcia 105 0
RB De'Shaun Foster 174 1 RB Shaun Alexander 45 0
RB Justin Griffith 81 1 RB Deuce McAllister 1 0
WR Roy Williams 73 2 WR Chad Johnson 45 0
WR Ronald Curry 89 1 WR Darrell Jackson 50 0
WR Tim Carter 63 1 WR Peerless Price 18 0
PK Phil Dawson 4 FG PK Jeff Reed

1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 123

Huddle Fantasy Points = 21


Okay, so I pick up Ernest Wilford first...

As the epitome of "economy of motion", Ernest Wilford only has two NFL catches - both of them for touchdowns that won their games. Basically, in only two plays Wilford has been the Jaguars offense for 2004 (at least when it counted most). Maybe all Cris Carter did was catch touchdowns, but all Wilford does is win games.

After you snap him up from the waiver wire, you could also consider Jeff Robinson, tight end for the Cowboys. In three seasons with Dallas, he only has three catches. All for touchdowns. Hope their parents are watching the right games.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

DEN 6, JAX 7 Well Quentin Griffin was a nice surprise week one, and he still did gain 95 yards against the Jaguars but that one fumble in the red zone at the end of the game is the one play that will stick with him. The Jaguars are only averaging 10 points per game and yet are 2-0. In Tennessee next week, the Titans will likely call a time out whenever Wilford enters the game.
CHI 21, GB 10 Here's a lovely way to thin the herd in survivor pools. Ahman Green runs for 124 yards, Brett Favre has 252 yards passing with one score. But they combined for three very costly turnovers. The Bears had no passing offense and yet Thomas Jones is determined to become Priest Holmes-lite. After 159 yards and one score, maybe even the "lite" does not apply since this was in Green Bay. At home in Lambeau. Is nothing sacred? Let's not get too comfortable with this season quite yet.
HOU 16, DET 28

Domanick Davis is now specializing in spiking the ball but no longer waits until he is in the endzone. With two fumbles lost in each of the past games, it is time to admit - "Houston, we have a problem." Roy Williams waited until the second half to poke his head out of the hole but ended with two scores that pretty much said "Charles who?" What's more exciting is that the Lions are now 2-0 and on top of the NFC North. Drink all the champagne now since the Eagles fly in next week. And don't worry Domanick - you get the Chiefs next!

PIT 13, BAL 30 Following the approved gameplan, Roethlisberger entered the fray on Sunday and ignored all receivers not named "Ward" while the Steelers caught the Ravens at home at a really, really bad time. They'll call before they drop in next time. Lewis had two touchdowns and Boller threw for 98 yards - yep, offense back to form all right. Next week we get to see what happens when Heap is gone and Boller struggles to reach double digit passing yardage.
STL 17, ATL 34 Michael Vick turned in 109 rushing yards on Sunday - 9th in the league counting all players.That was plenty to make the Rams look silly grabbing at air which was Vick the instant before. The Rams prove that if they throw enough times at Holt and Bruce, we can win our fantasy games even if they lose their own games. When Dunn went out, T.J. Duckett actually got to touch the ball and averaged almost 6 yards per carry. Now every league has the Duckett owner wishing bad things on Dunn.
IND 31, TEN 17 Here's a stamp of things changing. Reggie Wayne had 119 yards and one touchdown - on the road. 3rd best in the NFL yesterday and could have been even bigger if he cures that whole balance thing. Sure - he dropped some but on the road he was a definite factor. Once again, Chris Brown had 100 yards by halftime but stuck around this week to add 52 more. Now both these teams are 1-1 and looking up at Jacksonville. Judging by his interception of a McNair pass to Derrick Mason, if you ever meet Nick Harper put your wallet in your front pocket and hold on to it. His pick-off was one of those "you gotta be kidding me" sort of things.
WAS 14, NYG 20 Welcome to the NFL, Mr. Gibbs. It really is not all that easy. Particularly when you lose a QB and your replacement throws three interceptions and Portis loses two fumbles. Even against the G-men, that doesn't get you into the "W" column again. After Ron Dayne turns nine carries into 12 yards, we can finally point at the TV and say "Yeah! Yeah! I remember that guy. Sure..." After week two, the whole Bailey for Portis trade is not quite so even-steven in appearance.
NE 23, ARZ 12 What a great way to remember 2003. The Cardinal offense combined for only 210 yards and two interceptions while the Patriots defense had five sacks, two interceptions and scored one touchdown. Sure, Emmitt scored in a consecutive game but Corey Dillon became the workhorse with 32 carries for 158 yards - each one a nail in the Cardinal coffin. The Pats take a week off at 2-0 while the Cardinals fly 0-2 to Atlanta where Mach 3 Vick is warming his jets.
CAR 28, KC 17 While so much changes from season to season, we can all thank the Kansas City defense for remaining perhaps as the worst rushing defense of any team that does not pay players in snowcones. They gave up 174 yards to De'Shaun Foster last weekend and the Wheel-o-Fortune stops on Domanick Davis this weekend. Foster even set a team record with his 71 yard run. While they cannot all be the KC rush defense, at least one of them actually is! Maybe it's just me, but I swear Steven Smith is still playing with a jersey that reads "Colbert". Hmmm... now about that "who is the next Boldin thing..."
SEA 10, TB 6 Sure, Alexander did play and managed to screw the hopes of every Alexander AND Morris owner out there but the important thing here is that Seattle won. On the road. Again. This means the Seahawks not only have two consecutive road wins in their first two games, they've already equaled how many road wins they had in total last year. Hasselbeck may not have rewarded FF teams so far considering his draft spot, but with games coming up against SF and STL in Seattle, his time is coming. In Tampa Bay, you know when Brad Johnson is replaced by Chris Simms "just because" in the second quarter that the game is not following the plan unless the plan reads "redefine inept". Maybe McCardell is not so crazy after all... nah... still seems nuts...
CLE 12, DAL 19 Evidently the Cowboys are after the #1 defensive ranking again. They held Jeff Garcia to only 71 yards passing and three interceptions and Jeff managed the much elusive perfect QB rating (0.0). Vinny had his own three interception afternoon as well, but managed to throw for yet another 300+ yard game that included only one touchdown. Wonderboy Kellen Winslow may have held out longer than he will actually play in 2003 and there's a few million bucks the Browns will never see again. In a day of kicker "doinks", Cundiff was the only one that did not make the carom shot inside the goal posts. Julius Jones only had five carries for 16 yards and lost one fumble so his rib injury next week may be the size of Parcells' fist. "Coach wants to see you in his office. I suggest wearing phone books..."
NYJ 34, SD 28 Granted, it was against CIN and SD but Curtis Martin has got his groove again and a bye week now to enjoy it. The San Diego defense returned to hiking up its' skirt again for the visiting sailors but the offense posted 21 second half points to make this look almost like a real game. Once Brees was knocked silly with a concussion, Flutie rallied the team and scored on a run. Next week the Chargers should have a lead again before losing to the Jaguars 12-10. The Jets are 2-0 and historically are supposed to be 0-2 right now. The only possible explanation is that Herm Edwards changed all the calendars at headquarters so that the players think this is week 12.
BUF 10, OAK 13 The MLB has more points than the NFL so far. The Raiders hold on to win while Tyrone Wheatley's two game total is roughly what he had on each run in August. Lord Jerry was held without a catch and the star of the game was Ronald "I don't eat" Curry. However, this was actually enough to win since the Bills were incapable of moving the ball until the final minute when Bledsoe noticed a wide open Lee Evans for 65 yards and then Eric Moulds caught a batted pass for a score. Sadly there was more offense in those two plays than the Bills posted in the other 47 playsthat they had the ball. These sort of games just make you want to take a shower afterwards.
MIA 13, CIN 16 Sadly this game score was only this high scoring thanks to a monster 13 point explosion in the 4th quarter. Gordon gained 22 yards on only 19 carries and had positive yardage for much of the game in this snooze-fest. When your defense has allowed only one offensive touchdown on the season and yet the team is 0-2, it is an indicator that the offense is not pulling their own weight. Chances are that the offensive linemen will return to Miami inside the luggage compartment. The Bengals sigh a collective "whew" before they realize they play the Ravens next.

Game-O-The-Week

Well, 2004 is ending up to be a feast or famine season. There were 19 of the 30 teams that played on Sunday that could not score more than 20 points. Seems each 50+ point game is sandwiched between two stinkers of less than 30 total points. Thankfully there was at least one game in which defense simply never got in the way.

San Francisco 27, New Orleans 30

This was a game that posted a 17-20 advantage by the Saints by halftime but how it got there was half the story. Deuce McAllister went down grabbing an ankle to start the game and suddenly the Saints were without their best weapon from 2003. After several tense moments, someone on the sideline remembered that McAllister actually did have a back-up in Aaron Stecker though his role thus far had been to pour gatorade and crack cajun jokes on the sidelines.

The Saints faced an offense without its' best receiver (Cedrick Wilson and think about that one) and without their starting quarterback and yet, still, gave up a total of 205 passing yards to Ken Dorsey who made Curtis Conway (8-112) into a temporary star worthy of immediate fantasy free agent acquisition this week before returning to the heap in week four. That preseason sleeper Brandon Lloyd has now totaled one catch for seven yards in two games. He's now a very, very deep sleeper.

Kevan Barlow ran wild, gaining 114 yards on only 20 carries ( 5.7 YPC) and scoring two touchdowns compared to Aaron Stecker's 41 yards on 15 carries ( 2.7 YPC) .

That left Aaron Brooks to lead the way and the 49er defense did little to stop him. Forced into the role of winning the game, Brooks responded with 279 yards passing and three touchdowns even dispersed over Donte Stallworth, Joe Horn and Jerome Pathon. While Boo Williams has now become officially invisible, every wide receiver Brooks threw to had a touchdown. Only RB Aaron Stecker (6-19) failed to score on a pass. After New England and Oakland passing to the entire 53 man roster, it is nice to see a team that only uses four players on passes and three catch touchdowns.

This was a game that featured defenses bad enough to make two average offenses look pretty good, particularly for the 49ers. Kevan Barlow left the game with bruised ribs in the fourth quarter and Jamal Robertson came in to lead a scoring drive that ended with him busting in from the one-yard line. When they scored with 7:11 left to play, they had the lead 27-23 on a day that saw several big upsets. Had this stayed, most survivor pools would have already emptied.

The Saints got the ball back with 7:01 to play and needed to run Stecker twice for six yards before Brooks was sacked back at his own eight yard line. Six of the eight morning games had ended in an upset and with 5:14 left to play, the 49ers had a four point lead and the ball on their own 46-yard line. On first down, Robertson ran for 16 yards to the Saints 38-yard line. On the next down he lost two yards and on the next - he fumbled. This from a guy that had lost the #2 spot to Terry Jackson, with 3:47 left to play, all he had to was fall down. But instead 'cough' he lost the ball. Saints recovered.

On his own 41-yard line, the Saints finally came to understand that Aaron Stecker is not actually a "same same" running replacement for McAllister and started throwing. Mixing passes to Stallworth and Stecker, Brooks brought the Saints down to the 49ers 32-yard line with 1:25 left to play. On second and ten, he hit Joe Horn for 16 yards by the sidelines that killed the clock and produced a first down.

On first down they ran Stecker for no gain (go figure) and burned a timeout. On second down, Brooks finally threw his third touchdown by finding Donte Stallworth wide open in the endzone for a 16-yard touchdown and a three point lead with only 1:07 left to play.

Amazingly, with only 56 seconds left to play and with the 49ers on their own 29-yard line after the kick, the Saints still let Dorsey throw to Eric Johnson for nine yards, then Curtis Conway caught a 24 yard pass with 32 seconds left to play to reach the Saints 38 yard line. After an incompletion, Dorsey hit Terry Jackson down the left side and he RAN TO THE ONE YARD LINE. He almost scored. He almost did everything except prevent back-up tight end Brian Jennings from committing offensive pass interference.

In retrospect, a bad move by Jennings. With only 12 seconds left in the game Dorsey lofted a desperation pass that was near no player other than Ashley Ambrose and he intercepted it to mercifully end the comeback bid.

There were no last minute wins Sanday other than Jacksonville over the Broncos but with a final score of 7-6, it was a fantasy wasteland of a game as so many others were on Sunday. Scoring is down yet again this week and almost only running backs are churning out decent fantasy numbers. And several of them are fullbacks. There will be only seven teams out of 32 that were able to win their first two games and a similar seven teams at 0-2. Parity has rather quick results.

Take heart though. We've already seen a surprising number of injuries to big names in only the first two weeks and many more are to come. If you have depth, you'll end up needing it more than likely and if not - check out all those players released on the waiver wire the past two weeks because the season is only getting started. There was a reason why those dumped players were drafted in the first place. It wasn't for what they were going to do for only the first two weeks.

Some of the best players on your wire might be ones that just returned to the pool. It's like your career - the past doesn't mean nearly so much as the future does. And the last two weeks may weigh the most heavily but it is the next two weeks that matter most.

Now get back to work...