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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 8
David M. Dorey
October 25, 2004
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Donovan McNabb 404 4
Peyton Manning 368 3
Marc Bulger 310 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Priest Holmes 180 4
Derrick Blaylock 136 4
Ahman Green 167 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Terrell Owens 109 2
Chris Chambers 143 1
Marvin Harrison 70 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jason Witten 112 1
Randy McMichael 78 1
Doug Jolley 72 1
Placekickers XP FG
Sebastian Janikowski 2 4
Josh Scobee 1 4
Neil Rackers 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Baltimore 1 4 5
Seattle 1 3 2
Arizona (plus safety) 0 1 4

Week 8 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Steve McNair (TEN) - Reaggravated sternum injury
Priest Holmes (KC) - Ankle sprain
Mike Alstott (TB) - Knee sprain/possible ACL
Casey Fitzsimmons (DET) - Knee sprain
Bubba Franks (GB) - Neck stinger
Terry Glenn (DAL) - Sprained foot
Andre King (CLE) - Leg injury
Brian Westbrook (PHI) - Chest contusion

Golden Handcuffs

There's a common perception that when you draft a super stud running back, you should also grab his back-up in case the starter goes down with an injury. Now for the first time since The Huddle began in 1977, one "handcuff" - namely Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock - were not only good to have but the best two running backs this week to start.

It's never happened since 1997. The best two fantasy running backs in the entire NFL were both from the same team. Priest Holmes (180 yards, 4 TD's) and Blaylock (136 yards, 4 TD's) both outproduced all other running backs on Sunday. It was the first time in NFL history that one team scored eight rushing touchdowns in only one game. The fact that they were facing the statistically stingiest rushing defense in the league only makes the feat even more surreal.

Evidently they are not the only profitable handcuff in the league yesterday. The 11th best fantasy running back was Lee Suggs ( 83 yards, 1 TD) and the 15th best was William Green (67 yards, 1 TD). In fact, if you had to start Jesse Chatman (14th best) you got 69 yards and one score from him and you could also have received 60 yards and a score (19th best) from his back-up LaDainian Tomlinson... No, wait... Huh?

Tag - You're IT!

The laws of probability said that the Dolphins could not go the entire season without winning a game, so the only question was which team would get to be "it". The rest of the league thanks the St. Louis Rams not only for being the only team to lose to Miami, but for doing it in such a decisive fashion (31-14) that anyone else that loses is very unlikely to trail by 17 points.

56... 57... 58... Okay, okay - let's do this

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 5-2 on the season and have a half game lead over the Colts they just beat for the best record in the AFC South. Their five wins have all come by six points or less and there's a very good reason. In all five victories they have taken the final lead in the last minute of the game. Don't ever plan on leaving early when the Jaguars are playing.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Kerry Collins 350 2 QB Steven McNair 2 0
RB Derrick Blaylock 136 4 RB Travis Henry 33 0
RB Sammy Morris 91 1 RB Shaun Alexander 57 0
WR Shaun McDonald 77 1 WR Tory Holt 4 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 73 1 WR Santana Moss 12 0
WR Jerry Porter 113 1 WR Peerless Price 21 0
PK Josh Scobee 4 FG 1 XP PK Jeff Wilkins

2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 137

Huddle Fantasy Points = 17

Sunday's Couch Commentary

JAX 27, IND 24 Yet another last minute win by the Jaguars and yet another big effort by Leftwich who is becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the league lately. Fred Taylor finally notched his first 100 yard effort of the season and amazingly only Jimmy Smith has profited from the passing yardage which has not dipped below 298 yards in the last four games. The Colts came off their bye like they'd been partying with Vanderjagt all week and ended the game with Wayne shoving Manning away on the sideline. Perhaps Peyton had mentioned that Reggie was only supposed to disappear in road games.
PHI 34, CLE 31 OT Okay, so it ended like we all figured but the Browns entered the week with no true starting wideouts and even lost Andre King during the game. Since the Browns had won all their home games so far, they neglected to give up immediately in the game and kept scoring tit-for-tat with the Eagles up until Jeff Garcia rushed in the tying score with only 30 seconds left. Both Suggs and Green were equally effective but until your league rewards team rushing, that means getting only half of what the Browns do. Still, there was that nagging sense that the Eagles were only trying as hard as they had to in order to win.
SD 17, CAR 6 While any team can win one game (thank you, Miami), getting two wins by now could mean that teams just did not take you seriously. Getting three wins by now means that opponents may not be preparing enough to beat you. By week 7, having four wins means you are undeniably better than most the teams you have played. The Chargers still have one of the highest scoring offenses in the league and just acquired two wideouts that may be better than any others already on the roster. Maybe they just had an easy schedule so far but the next three games are against NO, OAK and KC. The Panthers are now down to kitty litter level at 1-5 and Jake Delhomme only managed 155 yards and one interception against a soft secondary in a game they trailed for the last quarter and a half. It cannot get any worse in Carolina and... actually it could and probably will.
BUF 6, BAL 20 The Bills were basically beaten by one tipped pass interception by Deion Sanders that was returned for a touchdown. It was bound to happen since Bledsoe threw four in the game while Boller had none since he had the good sense to hardly ever throw the ball. In case you were wondering, Musa Smith was no threat to Chester Taylor and Willis McGahee is a definite threat to Travis Henry. Inevitably, the biggest danger in the game was letting Bledsoe drop back for a pass. The only bright spot in the game for Buffalo was when Deion Sanders came in on offense and promptly lost ten yards in an end around.
CHI 7, TB 19 Thomas Jones had a touchdown. After that, it pretty much all goes downhill for the Bears who fell behind 13-0 and finally yanked Jonathan Quinn (5 of 9, 47 yards) and went with the rookie Craig Krenzel who managed to complete 9 of 19 passes for 69 yards and one interception. The biggest challenge here was on incompleted passes trying to determine who they were actually thrown at. The Buccaneers still are enamored with Brian Griese and Michael Pittman had a big game in spite of a sore back. Oh yes, Alstott hurt himself but that is almost understood this time of season. Tampa Bay goes on a bye week feeling better and the Bears get to go home and hope the 49ers still have a worse record than the Bears at this time next week.
DET 28, NYG 13 It is very indicative of how random the NFL gets when the only team with a three year drought of road wins now has won every road game this season. Evidently Roy Williams is the key here since when he plays, both the offense AND the defense plays better. Kevin Jones comes off his first game in which he actually looked like a top rookie running back. While Barber was finally held to only 70 yards on 22 carries, he still had 102 yards and one score on seven receptions. The scary aspect to the score was that without Barber's 62-yard touchdown catch the Giants only managed two field goals in the entire game.
TEN 3, MIN 20 Oh yeah, suiting up Randy Moss just had the Titans shaking in their cleats. Actually throwing to him might had given more weight to activating him but then again it wasn't like the Vikes didn't know they could win anyway. McNair is back down and may actually take some time off to rest up and heal. This was one of those "nothing was going to work" games for the Titans since Volek came and and threw three interceptions while Chris Brown was limited to only 15 carries. The Titans remain in the AFC South cellar but with homestands up next against CIN and HOU should see better days than last Sunday.
STL 14, MIA 31 The Rams were ripe for a loss and the Dolphins were way overdue to win. With Bulger constantly banged around and yet Fielder finally back to looking average, this was an ambush that the Rams could not stop. When Tory Holt only has one catch for four yards, it's a safe bet the Rams were not allowed to follow a game plan. The worst thing about this game is that St. Louis gets to stew for their entire bye week about losing badly to a team with no wins. Wannstedt was happier about facing a microphone last night than will be the winner from the Presidential election on Tuesday.
DAL 20, GB 41 This game was no where near as close as the final score suggests (and it does not suggest that anyway). Ahman Green scored twice including a 90 yard touchdown run and Favre hit ten different receivers because the coverage was so bad the receivers could all steal each other passes. Dallas has no running game until they fall so far behind that they should not be running. They have no passing game until they are so far behind that the secondary is only trying to stop quick scores. The Packers now have two blowout wins in a row and head to Washington while the Cowboys return home drawing parallels to 2001 when the team was just showing up to get a paycheck.
NYJ 7, NE 13 This was the most important game of the week since it pitted two undefeated teams. Defenses ruled the day and there were no scores in the entire second half. The Jets were able to prove that they actually are a very good team and yet not quite as good as the Patriots. This should set-up a very interesting rematch in week 16 in New York.
NO 31, OAK 26 This almost was the game of the week. The Raiders ruled at first but could never score a touchdown, settling for a 9-0 lead in the second quarter until the Saints ran off a 21 point stretch up until the fourth quarter. The Raiders then scored 10 points and the Saints replied with 10 points, the touchdown coming on a fumbled kickoff return by Carlos Francis. Kerry Collins finally did some effective playing but his one interception was returned and set up a McAllister touchdown. Now the Raiders have a two game road stretch against SD and CAR. The Saints return home for their bye week while everyone is whispering about HC Haslet possibly getting called into the managers office and then searching for empty boxes.
SEA 17, ARZ 25 This was another consideration for the game of the week. How can the Seahawks, who beat the 49ers 34-0, lose to the Cardinals who could not beat the 49ers? Simple enough - it is just one of many desert ambushes that have happened every year in Arizona, thereby robbing them of the first pick in the NFL draft each season. Matt Hasselbeck threw four interceptions. He summed up the game well when he said "I have no answers." Emmitt Smith once again exceeded 100 yards while Shaun Alexander was held to only 57. This was a dream game for leagues that award distance kicks since all four field goals in the game were from between 50 and 55 yards.

Game-O-The-Week

Sure, there was an overtime game this week but the favorite won anyway. And the Cardinals did take down the Seahawks while the Dolphins finally won their first game. The Chargers and Lions both won and the league continues to be surprising and hard to nail down. But there was only one game that produced fantasy points that could thrill every fantasy owner. Well... at least the Priest Holmes owner and definitely the handful of fantasy teams in the country that were forced to go with Derrick Blaylock as a starter this week.

Atlanta 10, Kansas City 56

Eight rushing touchdowns. Eight. To put it into perspective, only New Orleans (9) and San Francisco (10) had allowed that many rushing scores all season as of yesterday. In one game, the Falcons allowed more rushing scores than 29 other teams had permitted in the first six weeks of the season. The only disappointing fact was that Holmes left with a mild ankle sprain because he could have had all eight.

At what point did the Falcon headcoach Jim Mora Jr. realize "we may have a problem?"

This was the #1 rushing defense going against the Chiefs. Priest Holmes already had 103 yards and four touchdowns by halftime. Derrick Blaylock scored once in the second quarter and then took over the rushing load in the second half when Priest was dinged up and the game was already 35-3.

To illustrate what a historic thrashing this truly was, consider that the Falcons actually led in the game 3-0 after their first drive thanks to a 32 yard run by Michael Vick. The only other Falcon score in the entire game was when Allen Rossum returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown. The Chiefs had the ball 39 minutes to only 21 for Atlanta and after the first drive, the Falcons only crossed midfield twice, ending with an interception and another failed fourth down effort.

Meanwhile, Derrick Blaylock scored again on three of the five second half drive. He ended with 90 yards and a total of four touchdowns himself.

It's only appropriate that the single best rushing effort by any NFL team actually only produced two players with any fantasy significance and one of them was a back-up player that was likely never used in most leagues. That has to hurt. 56 points on the scoreboard and the best receiver was Eddie Kennison with 52 yards and there were no passing touchdowns in the entire game.

There were not even any field goals by Kansas City.

The Chiefs now have the biggest score and blowout of the entire 2004 season and now will host the Colts this week. Will you start Blaylock? Maybe now you'll have to think more about those handcuff picks in your fantasy draft so that you, too, can have a player on the bench score four times and you can spend a week looking at his name on the roster and think "I wonder..."

While you're in the mood to choose between two guys this week, don't forget to vote. It's a small price to pay for the right to complain and realize that only our great democracy was capable of producing the NFL, fantasy football and that cool yellow first down line on the television. Things have changed in the past four years. In week 7 of the 2000 season, the Chiefs lost to the Raiders 20-17 in a game that saw Tony Richardson as the lead rusher with 5 carries for 25 yards. This week we were treated to the same Chiefs scoring 8 rushing touchdowns and Holmes and Blaylock combining for 229 yards on the ground. Oh yes, and Tony Richardson is still playing and had six carries for 29 yards four years later.

Maybe some things always change and some never will.

Be a part in deciding the score - vote!

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