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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 7
David M. Dorey
October 18, 2004
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Daunte Culpepper 438 5
Byron Leftwich 323 3
Jeff Garcia 311 4
Running Backs Yards TD
Curtis Martin 131 2
Reuben Droughns 180 1
Corey Dillon 111 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Donald Driver 110 2
Andre' Davis 99 1
Brandon Lloyd 93 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jermaine Wiggins 56 2
Tony Gonzalez 81 1
Alge Crumpler 54 1
Placekickers XP FG
Josh Brown 0 4
Adam Vinatieri 3 3
David Akers 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Philadelphia 1 2 4
Cincinnati 1 1 4
Buffalo 1 5 1

Week 6 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Chris Brown (TEN) - Shoulder injury
Reche Caldwell (SD) - Knee injury
Randy Moss (MIN) - Hamstring strain
Domanick Davis - Bruised thigh

And still there was one

Of course that one is "Miami" - the only winless team in the entire NFL with an 0-6 record and still three more games to go before their bye week. After six games, they have yet to score more than 13 points in a game and coincidentally they have both scored four offensive touchdowns and allowed four defensive touchdowns which is not generally considered a winning formula.

In six games they have featured four different starting running backs and the "tempting yet sure to disappoint" player is Sammy Morris this week. The Dolphins have a homestand next against the Rams which should be tough given that allowing two touchdowns so far has meant the Dolphins cannot win. Then they go to New York to face the undefeated (so far) Jets. Finally, they host the Cardinals in week nine. Will they make it 0-8 by then?

Likely but not guaranteed so. Fans can find some optimism that two home games are against teams they might beat and by now, optimism is the new "Miami Vice".

Who shot J.R.?

Jerry Rice has been given the option of arranging a trade to another team which would be the first time in the NFL that he will not be within driving distance of the Golden Gate bridge. Steve Young commented earlier on the day that Jerry will likely not ever leave the game on his own but eventually be forced from it. Is it time for him to go? Seeing Rice on the sideline, in the rain with his team down by 28 points in a game he never had a catch.... Yep. He'll never leave on his own.

Rethinking the "Draft QB's late" plan

At least for Daunte Culpepper, anyway. He now has the NFL record with three games in a season of five passing scores. It is very safe to say that is also a record for the first five games of the year. Culpepper now has 18 passing scores and one rushing touchdown. He has thrown for 1766 yards for an average game of 353 yards per game which trends out to a season total of 5648 yards with 57 touchdowns. That's not likely since it would be nine more scores than has ever been done and almost 600 yards more than has ever been passed in a single season.

For a bit of perspective, there were only 11 quarterbacks last season who threw for more than 18 touchdowns and that considers the entire 16 game season. Not just five games.

Maybe it wasn't enough, but it was everything

For the first week this season, starting quarterbacks never shared the box scores with their backups. In spite of three blowouts, there was no mop-up duty handed out and all rushes and passes by the quarterback position were done by the starter. It also says that there were no quarterback injuries on Sunday and no lead is safe enough to give a secondary player a chance to mess it up.

Droughning all the summer hopes

This summer we all spent time deciding which of the Denver backs were most likely to shine this year. Was it the starter Quentin Griffin who had a big first game? Would it be Garrison "the vet" Hearst? How could we ignore the rookie running back of Tatum Bell who was drafted higher than any of the legendary Denver backs? Just to make it even more complicated, there was that specter of Mike Anderson hanging out there as well. So many runners but you knew getting the right one could be a gold mine.

Ends up it was the second string fullback! (slap forehead, act like you has ever considered him).

In only two games, Reuben Droughns has rushed for 369 yards on 68 carries. And he turned in the most productive games by a running back this season against both the Panthers and Raiders - teams that were designed this year to stop the run. And we never thought to look at the #5 running back this August. Who says there's no mystery in football? In the future, if you ever see Bruce Willis line up for the Broncos, here's a hint. He's just a ghost and will still gain 150+ yards rushing.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Jake Plummer 205 3 QB Donovan McNabb 215 0
RB Willis McGahee 142 0 RB Domanick Davis 25 0
RB Mewelde Moore 187 0 RB Chris Brown 57 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 85 1 WR Darrell Jackson 40 0
WR Eric Parker 76 1 WR Chad Johnson 37 0
WR Andre' Davis 99 1 WR Chris Chambers 26 0
PK Phil Dawson 4 FG PK Jay Feeley

3 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 114

Huddle Fantasy Points = 30

Sunday's Couch Commentary

CIN 17, CLE 34 Maybe it took six weeks, but Garcia finally delivered what the Browns thought they were buying last spring. He threw for four touchdowns and 310 yards in a game that the Browns not only won, they won easily. William Green ran much more effectively than Lee Suggs but even Suggs turned a late pass into a 59 yard touchdown. The starting wideouts only had one catch each and both were for scores including Davis now tying the 99 yard touchdown record. Here's a tip for your next bet - the Browns have won all their home games and lost all their road games. The Bengals? With Palmer aboard, it continues to be one step forward and three steps back.
WAS 13, CHI 10 Oddly enough, Clinton Portis does exist and evidently he's now on the Washington Redskins. He gained 171 yards on 36 carries just like expected (well, for a few weeks anyway). The rest of this game was merely to prove that neither Jonathan Quinn nor Mark Brunell should be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Both threw 22 passes and Brunell won with eight completions for 95 yards. Thomas Jones accounted for 119 of the 181 yards in the game for Chicago and Bobby Wade led all Bear receivers with 17 yards.
MIA 13, BUF 20 Since the Dolphins no longer have the consecutive win record thanks to the Patriots, they are now chasing down the consecutive loss record. They are the only NFL team without a win this season and are starting a new running back every week. The only real difference between the two teams this week was that Fiedler had yet another interception returned for a touchdown. Willis McGahee had 111 yards on 26 carries and now gets to make HC Mike Mularkey go "hmm.." The wind was a major factor in the game but in the case of the Dolphins, they were not "the winds of change".
SD 20, ATL 21 While the announcers wanted to imagine this was some revenge game against the team that could have drafted him but traded him away, the fact that the Chargers took LaDainian Tomlinson instead is still okay with them. He actually shows up every week. Vick finally threw for two scores this season by meeting the worst secondary while fantasy owners are really regretting that Dunn no longer catches passes since Warrick only managed 13 yards on five carries before giving way to T.J. "every other" Duckett. This almost made game of the week since the Falcons had to score 14 points in the fourth quarter to win but the fantasy value of the game was limited.
HOU 20, TEN 10 As a wonderful example of why predicting games will turn your hair gray, the Titans come off a huge thrashing of the Packers in Green Bay and looked like they finally had it all together again. They faced the Texans who had allowed great points to even average teams. So, naturally, McNair throws for four interceptions and Chris Brown gets busted up in the game. Domanick Davis had a great view of the field for when Jonathan Wells was scoring a touchdown and gaining good yardage. Davis did bruise his thigh while Brown hurt his shoulder. Tennessee is not only beneath Houston in the rankings, there is no one below the Titans in the AFC South.
GB 38, DET 10 The other side of that Tennessee blowout at Lambeau Field were the Packers who had managed to lose there three times, looking worse each effort. Heading into Detroit where they actually lost last season, the Packers somehow finally found the steering wheel again and ran over the Lions this week. The Packers had no turnovers and Favre was back to his old self. So were the Lions actually since they came off a big road win in Atlanta to lay down at home. This is not the year of the season ticket holder in the NFL. Roy Williams suited up but never actually played which was evident when Harrington only threw for 101 yards and had scores to Az-Zahir Hakim and Darren Sharper (GB safety).
SF 14, NYJ 22 The Jets were apparently looking past this week at their meeting in New England on Sunday. They trailed 14-3 at the half and the 49ers were looking like a team on the verge of two wins for the year. Sadly for Rattay and the crew, Curtis Martin decided to score twice in the fourth quarter and even Lamont "gasp" Jordan had some carries and a score. The game smacked of an attempted absentee ballot but finally Martin helped them make the meeting in New England the big battle between undefeated teams for the sole ownership of the AFC East this weekend..
SEA 20, NE 30 A very even game if you consider that the Patriots led 10-0 in the first half. Corey Dillon scored twice and gained 105 yards and Tom Brady shockingly failed to throw for two scores and only turned in one. Seattle had to settle for four field goals which just makes winning too tough in New England. Right now the Patriots continue to play football like they were at a family reunion and are delighting in holding the ball just above the reach of the little kids. While New England will lose eventually, smart money says "call me when something actually happens".
KC 16, JAX 22 Now that Leftwich has discovered that it's okay to throw a lot of passes and score touchdowns, the Jaguars are looking better and Leftwich doesn't seem to remember how to return to his old 170 yards and no scoring ways. Byron is now finding nine different receivers in games and when all else fails, he's running the touchdown in himself. The Chiefs bye week must not have been restful enough or they figured their big win in Baltimore meant more than it did. Green is finding his wideouts again but unfortunately, they are not in the endzone.
CAR 8, PHI 30 If the season ended today, we could all expect to see the Patriots defend their title against the Eagles. Philadelphia has an entire schedule that they could beat and nothing they have done in the first five games suggests that they've really even been tested yet. McNabb finally turned in a disappointing fantasy game but they did win by 22 points anyway. This week the Browns streak of home wins gets to end. The Panthers are finding it harder to win with Delhomme throwing four interceptions and the loss of Steve Smith shows up big time when they fall far behind in games.
DEN 31, OAK 3 What could be better in Bronco Nation than going to Oakland and waxing the stumbling Raiders? Reuben Droughns started running last week and still hasn't stopped. Jake Plummer only needed 11 completions to score three touchdowns. The only Denver players who did not partake in the merriment were Rod Smith and every other running back that had never been a second string fullback. Kerry Collins didn't kill Jerry Rice, in fact he can't hit much of anyone so far. In case you are thinking of dumping all your Raider players, maybe you should hang on to them for one more week since the Saints are coming to town.
PIT 24, DAL 20 The Cowboys led 20-10 going into the fourth quarter and this too was a game of the week consideration. Big Ben Roethlisberger threw two scores against no interceptions to help win and he recently discovered that even though he's a big guy, it still hurts when even bigger men slam into him. Once again the Cowboys might be regretting when they passed on Steven Jackson since an inability to chew up the clock in the fourth quarter will continue to haunt them. Testaverde returned to his high yardage ways but also remembered how to fumble the ball in the fourth quarter and lose the game.

Game-O-The-Week

After the fun of three overtime games the previous week, there were not quite the final-play fireworks on last Sunday. We got to watch Philly, Green Bay and Denver turn in blowouts and Tennessee, Seattle and Kansas City discovered they are still not there yet. The weekend was already an oddity when there were ten morning games and only two afternoon matchups which was made more surprising when by halftime it appeared the only running back with any success was going to be Clinton Portis who had been counted out by now.

Look back, the game we all wanted to see was the one to watch while holding your fantasy roster.

Minnesota 38, New Orleans 31

How could you not love a game that produced a total of 1021 offensive yards and nine touchdowns? Unless, of course, your opponent had players in the game.

Randy Moss had his obligatory touchdown and 89 yards by halftime but pulled a hamstring that would force him from the game. The Vikings led 21-7 and then Brooks threw a second quarter touchdown with only 21 seconds to ensure the game would remain close.

Daunte Culpepper already had 284 yards and three touchdowns by halftime and on the Vikings first drive of the third quarter, he drove the field and ended with Jermaine Wiggins' second touchdown catch of the day. In this wonderful matchup of two productive offenses with very little defense to get in the way, the Saints used their second drive of the third quarter to score on a McAllister run. Next series, The Vikings went and kicked a field goal which was matched by a Saints field goal on their next series.

This extended the game into the fourth quarter where the Vikings led 31-24. On their first series, Culpepper marched the Vikes down for a Marcus Robinson touchdown. Next series, the Saints drive the field and Brooks scores a touchdown on a run. Finally, with only 2:45 left to play the Vikings just ran Mewelde Moore and Moe Williams to run out the clock.

There were seven different players that scored touchdowns and Wiggins, McAllister and Robinson scored twice. If you want the most wonderful sign of all on what a great fantasy game this was, one statistic says it all -

The Vikings never punted.

The Saints punted twice in the first quarter and then only twice more in the rest of the game. Sadly these type of shootouts come too rarely but when they happen, big things can change on your league's leaderboard.

This was a very good week. The Patriots, Jets and Eagles still won. The Dolphins remain the symbol of what happens when you rest all of your fortune on a stoner. Only six weeks into the season and suddenly a back-up fullback in Denver is tearing up the league and the parade of old-timers that are doing well no longer includes Grand Marshall Jerry Rice. There's still at least half of the teams that cannot decide if they are good or bad so they alternate almost randomly. But we have almost two-thirds of the season left to play and many more changes coming down the road.

Is your fantasy team doing as well as the Eagles or Patriots? If it isn't, you can always rely on the new standard - " well, at least I'm not the Dolphins". And if, by some terrible scheduling quirk you happen to share the same record with Miami, at least you are playing the game and having fun.

After all, you can at least know that you're doing better than Jerry Rice.

Now get back to work...