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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 9
David M. Dorey
October 25, 2004
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Peyton Manning 472 5
Jake Plummer 499 4
Drew Brees 281 5
Running Backs Yards TD
Priest Holmes 225 3
Shaun Alexander 208 2
Ahman Green 143 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Rod Smith 208 1
Reggie Wayne 119 2
Marvin Harrison 119 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez 125 2
Antonio Gates 63 2
Jason Witten 84 1
Placekickers XP FG
Josh Brown 2 3
Jay Feeley 5 2
Paul Edinger 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Pittsburgh 1 4 4
Detroit 1 1 3
Chicago 1 3 2

Week 8 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Randy Moss (MIN) - Hurt again, but who knows anymore?
Josh Reed (BUF) - Sprained knee
Jerry Rice (SEA) - Sprained ankle
Fred Taylor (JAX) - Hip pointer
Chad Morton (WAS) - Sprained knee ligament
Thomas Jones (CHI) - Sprained foot

22 (make that "0")

It finally happened and not even by a close score. The Patriots finally lost a game when they went on the road and faced a winning record. Ben Roethlisberger is quickly becoming a celebrity in Pittsburgh after only a handful of games and the Pittsburgh rushing game mixed Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis to produce 190 yards and a touchdown.

You knew it had to happen eventually and on the road with Corey Dillon on the sideline was enough with a banged up defense. We will likely never see another NFL team win 21 straight games in our lifetimes and there's 31 defensive coordinators happy to know that.

Meaningless sidenote

How can we have a NFL Sunday fall on Halloween and yet someone scheduled the Saints to have their bye week? Now what good are witty references to Boo Williams? It's not like he's doing anything worth mentioning other than his name.

Well, heck - we did win anyway

Vinny Testaverde may own many records in his lengthy career (most career losses comes to mind), but he likely added another on Sunday when he completed 19 of 24 passes for 235 yards and three passing scores. He only had five passes that were not caught by his receiver and yet he only had two passes that no one caught.

It may not be unheard of to throw more interceptions (3) than incompletions (2), but it's pretty hard to do that and win. Vinny also rushed in a score against the Lions but they probably knew that was coming as long as they had reviewed game film on Vinny all the way back to 1998.

Where For Art Thou Eric?

After leading the entire league for receptions, Eric Johnson had proved a major boon for fantasy owners this season. In only a two game stretch for weeks five and six, Johnson had 32 passes for 275 yards and one touchdown. There's some reliable production at least until you decided he was an automatic starter for you. In week six he had only four catches for 24 yards and last night, he ended with one catch for nine yards. That one catch came almost 57 minutes into the game on the final drive for the 49ers. He only had one pass in the first half (incomplete) and one other incompletion thrown to him on that final drive.

Maybe the Seahawks won't notice the effect of double covering Johnson next week in when they visit San Francisco?... Probably not.

Textbook perhaps, but only in clown college

There were two interesting bloopers yesterday. In the Houston game, Jabar Gaffney ran a 15-yard reverse in the first quarter but knowing that he was going to score, he starting preparing for his celebration a little early. While he did make it into the endzone untouched, he didn't actually have the ball still when he crossed the line. It took a challenge and review to determine it, but the score was erased from the scoreboard and the ball given back to the Jaguars on a touchback.

"Yeah, hey coach - that was a, um, a really good play you called. I'll just be over here if you need me"

Perhaps a bit more understandable and yet just as painful, Mewelde Moore (AKA The Man - weeks 6 and 7) rolled right for a quick pass and failed to come down with it. He just stood there and quickly mimicked a referee by making the incomplete sign but the fact he was actually behind Daunte Culpepper coupled with the absence of any whistle blowing should have been more of a clue that standing there while the Giants scooped up THE FUMBLE was not the proper action.

This was not lost on HC Mike Tice as well since Moore only had seven more runs and one reception in the game and the same player that had 355 yards in the last two weeks ended with only 55 yards while Michael "you go catch punts" Bennett had the only rushing touchdown.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Jake Plummer 504 4 QB Byron Leftwich 227 0
RB Anthony Thomas 144 0 RB Mewelde Moore 55 0
RB Mike Cloud 55 2 RB Fred Taylor 19 0
WR Darius Watts 86 1 WR Darrell Jackson 71 0
WR Bernard Berrien 49 1 WR Chad Johnson 67 0
WR David Kircus 50 1 WR Amani Toomer 31 0
PK Paul Edinger 3 FG 2 XP PK Morten Andersen

1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 126

Huddle Fantasy Points = 34

Sunday's Couch Commentary

JAX 6, HOU 20 After stringing together four straight games with touchdowns and no less than 298 passing yards, Leftwich faced the #3 worst defense against quarterbacks and left Houston with only 227 yards and two interceptions. Fragile Fred returned (or is that left) and the Jaguars fall to 5-3 and yet are still in the AFC South lead thanks to the Colts loss in KC. The Texans won the game not thanks to Domanick Davis gaining about two yards per carry, it was mostly thanks to the Texans not making any mistakes (other than GAFFney's fumble) and playing great defense. This is exactly opposite of any gameplan by the Texans since joining the league.
DET 21, DAL 31 Let's see if we can understand this. The Cowboys were without Terry Glenn. The Cowboys were also without Quincy Morgan since he had a hamstring strain and served no other purpose than to remind Dallas what a bad swap the Antonio Bryant deal ended up to be. With only Eddie George, Keyshawn Johnson and Jason Witten against a very good defense, Vinny threw for three interceptions and yet had three touchdowns to win. The Lions are 4-1 when Roy Williams plays and that included three road wins with the only loss to the Eagles. They are 0-2 when he is out. The best receivers were Hakim, Swinton and Kircus. That looked very 2003-ish as did the scoreboard.
ARZ 14, BUF 38 Thanks Travis, just sit over there... no - I mean over there - in the stands. Make yourself useful and get me some hot dogs. Willis McGahee scored twice and gained 102 rushing yards in a game that the Bills scored 38 points. That's more points than they scored in the first month of the season. Drew Bledsoe only had 81 passing yards but threw two touchdowns so PARTY BABY. This was a big win that the Bills really needed and with games against the Jets and Patriots looming next, those good feelings are on a seven day timer. The Cardinals welcomed back Anquan Boldin who had four catches for 50 yards which evidently came directly from passes previously meant for Fitzgerald since he had no catches in the game. Denny Green made good on his promise to use Emmitt more and The Legend ran 22 times for only 64 yards and no scores. Little bit-o-math and yep, now THAT was what we expected this year.
BAL 10, PHI 15 It was only fitting that Terrell Owens caught a touchdown against the Ravens and then did a Ray Lewis imitation in the endzone. Fitting because this is Halloween and that just screams to be something that comes back to haunt him. We now know that Kyle Boller can throw for more than 100 yards and it still is not pretty nor particularly effective and we also know that Westbrook's replacement is a platoon that is not really much of a replacement unless you can count McNabb which every defense should. Eventually someone will notice that only Owens actually gains yardage for the Eagles but at 7-0 and being the only undefeated team in the NFL, that little secret has not been figured out quite yet. The Eagles have never been 7-0 in their franchise history. Jamal Lewis will be back and so may Heap when they face the Browns this Sunday. And after the way that the Ravens lost in week one in Cleveland, there's a good chance that "the Browns" may also describe the seat of their pants. They're making fun of you Jamal! They're laughing at you, Ray! You going to take that?
GB 28, WAS 14 The Packers throttled the Redskins which evidently assures that Kerry wins on Tuesday since a loss in the last home game before the election has always been followed by a democrat winning. If there was ever a year that convention is broken, this is probably it but go vote regardless of your leanings and throw a point on your guy's side. The Packers were 1-4 but now they're 4-4 and only a game and a half behind the Vikings. The Redskins thought they were winning when Portis had a 43-yard reception for a score with only 2:35 left to play that would have made the score 21-20 but James "oops" Thrash didn't have his feet set before going in motion and a penalty killed the play. The next play was an interception and four plays later was an Ahman Green touchdown. Favre was bothered by his hand injury but still had one score and 289 yards to offset the three interceptions. Brunell is starting to get used to playing to the newest hit song in Washington "Ram-C, Ram-C, Ram-C".
CIN 20, TEN 27 Just to ensure that no one feels safe extrapolating out past performances to predict future results, the Bengals come off their big win over Denver last Monday night and went back into their pumpkin by allowing a banged-up Chris Brown to run 32 times for 147 yards and one score while Rudi only had 57 yards on 17 carries. Palmer is back to throwing an interception with no touchdown and Volek wasn't nearly as bad as he was against the Vikings only a week ago. Tennessee is only 3-5 but that's only two games back in the AFC South. The Bengals are 2-5 now and that's about six miles away from where Pittsburgh is in the AFC North. The Bengals now return home to host the Cowboys which will be like pitting an enigma against a riddle. And this time next week, we still probably won't have any answers.
NYG 34, MIN 13 Here's another head scratcher. The Giants come off a bad home loss to the Detroit Lions while the Vikings had spanked the Titans last week and looked very much like "eh, Randy Moss is nice and all but not like a necessity." Mewelde Moore set the tone on the first series when he wore that painful look that said "you know, maybe that really was a fumble after all". Culpepper broke the heart of every fantasy owner who thought five scores a week would be a standard while every Michael Bennett owner merely uttered an expletive when first noticing Bennett with a touchdown. Tiki Barber is back to his high-octane ways with two scores and 101 rushing yards and when that happens, might as well leave the game early and miss the traffic. Randy Moss did have an endzone catch but did not get both feet in just to make you starting him hurt a little worse.
CAR 17, SEA 23 The Seahawks were sweating bullets when they led by 23 - 10 in the fourth quarter and the Panthers scored a touchdown with 1:39 left to play. NO! NOT THE RAMS GAME ALL OVER AGAIN! NO! Fortunately Marcus Trufant recovered the onsides kick and the only result was a long line at the locker room urinals since the players almost had the pee scared out of them. The free agent most coveted and yet most likely to later disappoint is Joey Harris who had nine carries for 45 yards in an RBBC move with Hoover. Keary Colbert had a 62 yard completion to the two yard line but Muhammad took his second score at the end of the game. Alexander had 207 total yards and two scores and makes sure that Hasselbeck will continue to disappoint.
ATL 41, DEN 28

To redefine what a winning margin swing is all about, the Falcons went from losing to the Chiefs by 46 points to beating the Broncos by 13. Michael Vick finally had played so poorly this season that once all fantasy owners had sat him on their bench, he gained 115 rushing yards, 252 passing yards with two touchdowns. Surprise! It was only against the Broncos in Denver. Peerless Price follows the same MO as Vick, coming off a 21 yard effort against the Chiefs and then turning in two catches for 59 yards - both of them touchdowns and both his first scores of the season. The Droughns' owners are no longer laughing like Beavis since he only had 49 yards on 15 carries though he did have 63 yards as a receiver (pssst - most of those yards came in the final two minutes). Plummer turned in the 9th best passing yardage in the history of the NFL when he threw for 499 yards and four touchdowns but those three interceptions were definite factors. After two losses, the Broncos are now tied for first in the AFC West with... with.. 'choke'... this is hard. Why can't I say it? The Cha... Char... CH... I'm feeling dizzy. Just go on without me.

OAK 14, SD 42 While I do not know how much the preseason bet on the Chargers to win the AFC crown would pay off, it is safe to assume that both people who made that bet are having champagne wishes and caviar dreams right now. The Chargers now move into a tie for the AFC West lead with the Broncos... 'huuurrkkk'... (Man, I have to get used to this). Drew Brees threw for five touchdowns and 281 yards and looks every bit the quarterback that Rivers is supposed to be in three years. Oh yeah, and then there's Tomlinson there too. While you could argue that the Chargers have not played top teams so far, I would counter with the fact that only one of their next six opponents have a winning record and the Chargers have the most points scored this season in the entire NFL. While you are trying to digest that, realize that the Raiders are still bad, Collins is still throwing interceptions and in spite of 263 passing yards there still is no Raider receiver with fantasy relevance. Zereoue had six runs for a total of one yard lost. Okay - I'm ready now. The Chargers are... for real... and are... the highest scoring offense in the league. I like them. There! I did it! Talk about cathartic. The winds of change are blowing my hair back now. Must... hold on... to desk... Whhhoooosh!
NE 20, PIT 34 It was the perfect set-up. The Patriots were without Corey Dillon (which evidently counts very big) and are losing cornerbacks like opponents used to lose fumbles. The Steelers came into the game fresh from a bye week, at home and with a solid, healthy team. The greater Pittsburgh area is discovering that they cannot write-in Ben Roethlisberger for president tomorrow because his name will not fit on the ballot and "Ben Roethlis" is actually the name of a new burger at several Pittsburgh eateries. The Steelers led 21-3 at the end of the first quarter and the rest of the game was mainly filling out paperwork and closing a few record books. Staley and Bettis combined for 190 yards and one score while the Patriots only had four rushes for five yards in the entire game. Humpty Dumpty has fallen and while he may be back up next week in St. Louis, there's still a bit of egg on his face from only having the ball for 17 minutes on Sunday.
SF 13, CHI 23 The Bears were nice enough to make the game more even by losing Thomas Jones on the very first play to a foot sprain. Once everything was level and no one had any fantasy players in the game, the two played an even match that was controlled largely by the rushing of Anthony Thomas and the fact that the announcers were adamant about play challenges in the game and were always wrong (at least with what was determined by the referee after a minute at the peep show). There were some very generous spottings of the ball in the game and some arguable calls but they all favored the Bears so everyone left the stadium safely. When they show Kevan Barlow on the sideline, he looks like he got a shiny bicycle for Christmas but now realizes he has to ride through a gauntlet of bullies on his way to school every week. Ken Dorsey and Tim Rattay - not the same person.

Game-O-The-Week

The week was without any great comeback wins. But it featured underdog wins by HOU, ATL, BUF, PIT and NYG. This was the highest scoring Sunday this season and 11 teams had at least 27 points and there were even three teams with more than 40 points. Finally, it appears that defenses are getting dinged up and not killing the fantasy points like earlier this season. There were only four quarterbacks without a touchdown pass and it may be a record (at least for the recent past) since there were eight wideouts, two tight ends and six running backs that had two or more touchdowns on Sunday. That's 16 different players with major fantasy games. Is this a great country or what?

Appropriately, the game of the week has to be the largest single source of those big performances:

Indianapolis 35, Kansas City 45

The over/under for the game was 57 points and that was passed during the third quarter. There was thankfully little defense that got in the way of this matchup and both Trent Green and Peyton Manning turned in one of the better performances of their careers. Green ended with 389 yards and three touchdowns. Manning had an astounding 472 yards and five touchdowns. Four players (Harrison, Wayne, Holmes and Gonzalez) had multiple scores and those same four players all had 100+ yards of production.

There were only six punts total in the entire game and 11 touchdowns scored. There were 56 first downs. Both Harrison and Wayne ended with exactly 119 yards and two scores each. Eight different players had at least 50 yards receiving and the only aspect of offense lagging was when the Colts never had the time to run since they were behind from the second quarter onward. It was a tit-for-tat game that a 24 point second quarter by the Chiefs that made the difference. Imagine if all games could be like this? Evidently they could be if they all involved the Chargers.

It was a huge weekend that saw monster performances by 16 players and that doesn't count two quarterbacks with 470+ passing yards. This is like pinball scoring and why we love to play fantasy football. There are a few players falling under expectations but many more who are scoring like they actually can hear you screaming at the television. All those big individual performances yesterday rolled up into some big point games.

Make sure that you turn in your own individual performance tomorrow and vote if you haven't already. And please - only vote once. You can't rely on the same officials from the Bears game to be at the polling stations. Do it on your lunch hour if needed and just pick up something to eat back at your desk.

One Roethlis-burger please, and a side of freedom fries.

Now get back to work...