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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 10
David M. Dorey
November 8, 2004
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Trent Green 369 3
Drew Brees 257 4
Jake Delhomme 299 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Michael Pittman 158 3
Shaun Alexander 160 2
Tiki Barber 131 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Darrell Jackson 114 2
Santana Moss 157 1
Torry Holt 111 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 56 3
Tony Gonzalez 123 1
Matt Schobel 84 1
Placekickers XP FG
Adam Vinatieri (plus a TD) 4 4
Shayne Graham 2 4
Matt Stover 1 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Chicago 0 7 5
Arizona 1 3 2
Baltimore 1 3 2

Week 9 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Looks like this is the week to have the Monday shift in the trainers room. Or is this the calm before the storm?

Jay Fiedler (MIA) - Sprained neck
Chad Pennington (NYJ) - Bruised shoulder
Marty Booker (MIA) - Sprained ankle
Priest Holmes (KC) - Bruised knee

So, like, what else ya got?

The Steelers lost to the Ravens 30-13 in Baltimore back in the second week of the season and evidently have completely forgotten how to lose games now. Perhaps they wrote it down and Tommy Maddox has it in his pocket?

If it wasn't enough that they ended the 21-game winning streak of the Patriots in week eight, yesterday they beat their second straight undefeated team when they plucked the Eagles 27-3. After beating the best records in both the NFC and AFC, they have a stretch coming up against the Browns, Bengals and Redskins.

The scary part is that they beat the Eagles without the use of Duce Staley. Big Ben just keeps on getting bigger all the time...

Road Trip!

We've already seen the Detroit Lions break their road woes this season where they actually strung together three straight wins as visitors. That left the Arizona Cardinals as the posterchild for futility involving an airport since they had lost their last 17 road games. In Miami against a team which has redefined desperate, the Cardinals squeaked out a last minute win over Dave Wannstedt's final shred of sanity.

That left the Raiders as the worst road team with 13 straight losses. Only they too won on the road yesterday, taking down the NFC Champions in their own lair. Now that all teams can win on the road again, the Lions reminded us that curses don't go away, they merely change form. They've now lost their last three home games. Be careful what you wish for, season ticket holders. Or at least be more explicit when asking for road wins AND home wins.

While the records are snapping like cheap chairs at a pie eating contest

Tim Brown finally had a game where he had no catches. After 179 consecutive starts, he did not manage to make a touchdown, first down or even keep the clock running. In fact, he never even had a pass the entire game. This was hard to see coming since his last four games contained catches and yards of 1-3, 1-6, 2-26 (but with a fumble) and 1-13. Records are made to be broken, but most of them are a bit more noticeable when they're being set.

Someone rip that page out of the playbook

In a day that had a few records fall, it was only appropriate that someone set a record. In the Baltimore game, Jeff Garcia led the Browns downfield on their final drive and with 45 seconds left and second down from the Ravens 5-yard line, he had an excellent chance to tie the score 20-20 and force overtime. Unfortunately, the pass over the middle pinged off Aaron Shea's hands and at the last instant before it hit the ground six yards deep in the endzone, the strong safety Ed Reed scooped it up and 106 yards later ran into the record books with the longest interception return in NFL history.

No word yet from Garcia about finally getting into the record books as well.

You have to get worse before you get better

In one of those frustrating moves by coaches, Darrell Jackson was on crutches last week with a sprained foot and was questionable to play. By Friday, the sprain somehow became even worse and he was downgraded to doubtful to play and would be a "game time decision" that appeared a mere formality for him being named inactive since he had not practiced and actually became worse as the week wore on. Seattle, of course, played in a late afternoon game so that the "game time decision" wasn't necessary until a couple of hours after the first kickoffs of the day.

Of course, not unlike Corey Dillon earlier this season, getting worse apparently means that a player is saving up his super powers for Sunday since Jackson led all fantasy receivers with 114 yards and the only two touchdown day by any wideout in the NFL this week. While perhaps the move was either a covert coaching strategy or the use of magic powder, wouldn't it make more sense this week against the Rams instead of last week against the 49ers? Hard to imagine the seven point spread scared them.

You know how those insurance fraud investigators take film of people bowling and playing tennis? Hmmmm....

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Jake Delhomme 299 3 QB Donovan McNabb 109 0
RB Michael Pittman 158 3 RB Curtis Martin 67 0
RB Anthony Thomas 115 2 RB Eddie george 26 0
WR Matt Schobel (TE) 84 1 WR Terrell Owens 53 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 92 1 WR Andre Johnson 28 0
WR Lee Evans 64 1 WR John Horn 21 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 XP 4 FG PK Jeff Wilkins

2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 140

Huddle Fantasy Points = 23

Sunday's Couch Commentary

NYJ 17, BUF 22 The Jets were favored and lost. The Jets had already beaten the Bills this season and had rolled up a 6-1 record against the 2-5 of the Bills. Of course on Sunday this meant that the Bills held Martin to 67 yards rushing, Pennington only had 141 yards and one score and Willis McGahee ran 37 times for 132 yards. There's a pace that likely will not continue. Santana Moss finally had a decent game and scored once with six catches and 157 yards but before you get all excited that your fourth round pick is finally showing life, realize that the score was a 51-yard bomb thrown by Quincy Carter when the defense forgot to cover Moss. Who could blame them by this point?
KC 31, TB 34 The Chiefs were favored and lost. The Buccaneers almost doubled their previous season high game score when they pulled a Chiefs on the Chiefs and Michael Pittman ran for 128 yards and scored three times. Brian Griese threw for 296 yards and two scores that went to tight ends and running backs instead of wideouts. It was like the Chiefs playing the Chiefs, except for the Tampa Bay version had a defense that held Priest Holmes to only 59 yards on 16 carries. Both teams are now 3-5 and we should all send thank you letters to Kansas City for making studs where ever they play.
DAL 3, CIN 26 The Cowboys were favored and lost, but it may be the last time they are favored this season. Against the soft Bengal defense, the Cowboys had no rushing game, threw three interceptions, never scored a touchdown and lost two fumbles. Bill Parcells has repeated how bad the Cowboys are playing so many times that he'll likely just record a cassette tape and play it on a boom box in post-game interviews to save his voice. 'click'... Hi, this is Bill and we're just stupid. We were poorly coached and could not play well enough to save our..." None of the Bengal players had a big fantasy day because they were too busy watching Dallas lose the ball. Hard to rack up yardage when you have to start out on the opponent 20-yard line so often.
PHI 3, PIT 27 The Eagles were favored and lost. Not sure why they were favored since they only had Donovan "109 yards and 1 INT" McNabb and not Big Ben Roethlisberger, owner of a six game winning streak and candidate for sainthood in the Pittsburgh branch of the Church of the NFL. They should rename the team to Stealers since they are robbing the hopes of every opponent this season, no matter how good they are and especially no matter how long they've gone without losing. Without Staley there, the running game naturally fell to only 149 yards by Jerome Bettis. Evidently stopping Owens is not only enough to beat the Eagles, it's enough to force a team-wide meltdown.
WAS 17, DET 10 The Lions were favored and lost. The Lions did not exorcise their road demons this season, they just keep them locked up in the dressing room at Ford Field. The Redskins won in spite of Mark Brunell throwing for only 58 yards in the entire game and Clinton Portis ran 34 times for 147 yards and yet still somehow never rushed or recevied a touchdown. The only thing in the favor of the Lions now is that they have two consecutive road games coming up against the Jaguars and Vikings and since they won't be favored, they have a chance to win. The only thing in the favor of the Redskins is that Portis is now the better quarterback as well.
OAK 27, CAR 24 The Panthers were favored and lost. Of course, they lose almost every game anyway. Tyrone Wheatley is back and though he cannot gain more than three yards a carry, twice he started close enough to cross the goal line. The Panthers were going to use secret weapon Joey Harris this week but forgot to unlock the handcuffs between him and the briefcase and instead opted for the tried and true method of letting Hoover and Goings not gain any yards instead. The good news is that the Panthers travel to San Francisco this week for a showdown to see who really is the worst team in the NFC. One team will be rising to 2-7. Theoretically, anyway.
CHI 28, NYG 21 The Giants were favored and lost. Sure, Barber had a big game and scored twice. But Warner was out-dueled by Craig Krenzel who only had 144 yards and one touchdown as opposed to Warner's two interceptions and two lost fumbles. Anthony Thomas had 110 yards and two scores, thereby cementing the handcuff rule for starting running backs on your roster. The Bears are varying between terrible and merely bad but they're smart enough to stand back and let someone self-destruct. Conversely, the Giants have zipped through the infancy of Coughlin's new regime and now are in menopause, alternating between hot flashes and cold sweats with plenty of occasions for Colonel Tom to meet the press and snap "what do you mean by that!?! We're a great team. We're a terrible team. I believe in Eli Warner. What do you mean by that?!?"
HOU 13, DEN 31 Finally. Someone won their game, covered the spread and played somewhat similar to last week. No... wait... Atlanta fiasco - doh. In any case, Jake Plummer continues to throw a ton of scoring passes and spreads them out enough so that no one player is that great. Reuben Droughns rushed for 120 yards but never scored. The Texans went back to 2003 form with Domanick Davis scoring twice but not gaining any yards while Andre Johnson drew the short straw and had to play against the real Champ Bailey. Here's a game that met expectations, had the favored team win big in a traditional manner and the Texans are still bad on the road for at least one week. Enjoy it while we have it.
SEA 42, SF 27 The Seahawks lifted a leg on Candlestick yesterday, even though Darrell Jackson went from doubtful and getting worse to leading the entire league in receiving. Jerry Rice returned home for the first time wearing a different jersey and was roundly applauded when he caught the ball because he only had one catch and was no factor in the game. That was hard to do with Hasselbeck having his best game of the season but thankfully Jackson kicked away the crutches long enough to kick some Bay area booty. Unfortunately, Jackson was not injured in the game and should only be downgraded to questionable this week against the Rams. Probably means he won't score. There is little doubt that when Rattay is the quarterback, these 49ers are a much improved team and yet still not good enough.
NO 17, SD 43 Okay - enough already. We said we were sorry for all the summer slams. We already said "Brees is king". We're already making a "Gates of Heaven" banner for the endzone. Now just stop throwing it in our face. It's like having a feud with a neighbor and finding out he won the lottery. "Nice Mercedes, Fred." ... " No, I don't want to meet the Olsen twins, Fred"... "No, you cannot park your boat there, Fred"... Martha. - We gotta move.
NE 40, STL 22 Let's see. The Patriots throttled the Rams using a wide receiver as a cornerback because "they ran out". They have linebackers catching touchdowns and kickers throwing them. The only positive out of this entire game was that Bulger finally remembered Holt in the fourth-quarter trash time and gave him 110 yards and a score. Whew! Dillon is not really hurt and the Rams are not really that good. Now on to poll my fantasy league to allow reception points for linebackers and interceptions by wideouts.
CLE 13, BAL 27 (Cue - "We almost made it this time, didn't we, baby"). The Browns opened the game with a kickoff return for a score by a guy who was selling cars this time last week. He remained their leading scorer. The Ravens welcomed back Jamal Lewis but didn't get serious about jamming him down Cleveland's throat until later in the game. They opened with four straight passes to fool the Brown's into thinking they were now a passing team but Cleveland took it as a showing of love and friendship since, basically, Baltimore cannot throw the ball according to every game film created in the last three years. Garcia single-handedly brought the Browns downfield on their final drive to try to tie the game but Ed Reed sort of ruined the fairy tale ending (though he did set a record). The Browns punted for seven yards before the Ravens scored their first touchdown and it's hard to believe that was by plan.

Game-O-The-Week

It was a week of records falling away, though mostly bad records stopping instead of good records continuing (like, for instance, having to see Terrell Owens score and dance). The Chargers are breaking team records that are so old that someone has to go to Dan Fouts' garage to see if he has any unmarked boxes they overlooked. The morning games saw all seven favored teams lose which is, admittedly, a bit unsettling when I only predicted two upsets.

The GOTW had many candidates - like every game on the morning schedule. But the one that stands the tallest mirrors the day because it sets records and broke records and was a close, last second win.

Arizona 24, Miami 23

The Dolphins had beaten the Rams in Miami this year (thereby strengthening the argument - the Rams are not that good) and immediately several players started thinking aloud about winning their next ten games. And then the Bills spanked them 41- 14 . Back at home with a 1-6 record, this week was a must win. It was a save-our-jobs week. It was a week to steal a moment and reflect "exactly how much would my soul go for these days?"

The Cardinals were 2-5 entering this week, feeling pretty good about two successful ambushes in Arizona earlier this season and knowing that they had the current longest road losing streak in the NFL with 17 flights home where the seat next to the head coach(es) were empty. No pressure. Josh McCown vs. Madison/Surtain. Bye week for the Fins coming up to reflect on their rare but almost certain win.

By halftime, The Dolphins already led 12-3. McCown had completed 8 of 16 passes for a gaudy 35 yards. Fiedler already had a touchdown pass. Only 30 more minutes on the play clock and then a week off to reflect on a lost season.

For most of the third quarter, it was boring. The Cardinals couldn't get beyond their own 33-yard line and the Dolphins crossed mid-field and punted. But Fiedler was injured and A.J. Feeley was sent in to keep the ship safely moored in Victory Bay. Until, at least, he attempted a pass on second down and five from his own 36-yard line. He threw it at Chris Chambers but Duane Starks intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown. Suddenly the Fins were only ahead 12-10.

After a fruitless series that extended into the fourth quarter, the Dolphins punted and it only took five plays for McCown to throw an interception to Sammy Knight. But no. Patrick Surtain was called for roughing the passer and the Cardinals were first and ten on the Miami 31-yard line. There is no margin of error when your team is only 1-6 on the year. This was evidently lost on Jason Taylor on the next play when he had an unsportsmanlike penalty that pushed the ball down to the Miami 16-yard line. In four plays, Emmitt Smith ran in from the five yard line for a 'gulp' - Cardinal lead 17-12.

And cue camera 4 - tight shot of Dave Wannstedt who has pretty much ran out of different looks of disgust by now. He winces and shakes his head. He looks up, searching for the lightning bolt which never comes.

Not to worry though. The Dolphins take the kick-off and A.J. Feeley wisely hits his own receivers until the Dolphins finally have to kick a 28-yard field goal to make the score 17-15 with 9:38 left to play. By the four minute mark, both teams have traded punts and since the Cardinal punter can only kick 35 yards when he is on his own four yard line, the Dolphins use up the clock down to the two minute mark when Sammy Morris rushes in a one-yard touchdown and finally regains the lead 23-17. They attempt a two point conversion to make it a seven point lead and fail. This proved significant.

So here's the situation. Arizona takes over on their own 30-yard line with 1:51 left to play. In Miami, against what has been one of the toughest secondaries over the last five years or more, they have to score a touchdown that is 70 yards away. This is the season for Wannstedt. If you cannot stop Arizona on a 70 yard drive in the final two minutes, then fate is not your "amigo".

At 1:23 left to play it is fourth and eight yards to go. McCown runs for nine yards before being shoved out of bounds. On first down, a pass to Bryan Johnson for eight yards. Then a pass to Fitzgerald for 48 back-breaking yards with only 77 seconds left to play. On the Miami 3-yard line, Emmitt tries to run and loses a yard. Then McCown quickly tries to hit Boldin but it's incomplete. There are only 35 seconds left. On third and four, McCown is sacked for an 11 yard loss but... but... Sam Madison is called for defensive holding. Ball on the Miami 2-yard line. Only 23 seconds left to play.

Larry Fitzgerald is the flanker on the right and as soon as he crosses the goal line, he deftly pushes off like a veteran and catches the high lob for the touchdown and the go ahead extra point. Game over. It was not meant to be. Dolphins fall to 1-7 - worst in franchise history. The Cardinals rise to 3-5 and no longer are the road weenies.

In the end, the Dolphins could not get out of their own way. As one nightmare ended for Arizona, another one just got that much worse in Miami. There were plenty of upsets yesterday but none quite so stinging to the home team as this one was.

Records are there to make and be broken eventually. Some are good and some are not. And while fate may not be your "amigo" all the time, it always comes back to you if you keep playing. Just ask the Cardinals. Or the Ravens. Or the Bears, Bills, Bucs or Bengals. They can't all include a 106 yard interception touchdown that saves the game, but eventually - you know that one will.

Now get back to work...