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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 11
David M. Dorey
November 15, 2004
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Daunte Culpepper 363 4
Peyton Manning 320 5
Brett Favre 236 4
Running Backs Yards TD
Derrick Blaylock 224 1
Domanick Davis 152 2
Curtis Martin 124 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Muhsin Muhammad 123 3
Brandon Stokley 132 2
Joe Horn 167 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Dallas Clark 102 2
Alge Crumpler 118 1
Jermaine Wiggins 94 1
Placekickers XP FG
Adam Vinatieri 2 5
Josh Brown 0 4
Jeff Wilkins 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Indianapolis 2 5 4
Chicago (plus safety) 2 3 3
Pittsburgh 1 4 4

Week 10 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Injuries are pretty light lately.

Najeh Davenport (GB) - Hamstring strain
Torry Holt (STL) - Possible concussion
John Kasay (CAR) - Calf injury
Daunte Culpepper (MIN) - Bruised knee
Chris Brown (TEN) - Reaggravated turf toe

Either get the early sports bar seat or...

The Steelers-Browns game began memorably this week with an apparent spit-in-the-face during pregame warmups that quickly escalated into some fisticuffs (as such actions often do - you'd think there is no need to think that one through). After the teams were separated and the principal league officials were consulted, the game began on time without the presence of Pittsburgh LB Joey Porter or Cleveland RB William Green.

In the case of William Green who was undoubtedly started by at least a few fantasy teams, his ejection was announced a full three minutes before kickoff.

Always carry the phone number for your commish.

Catering to the good seats in the middle

The Bears-Titan game produced 36 total points with four touchdowns and two field goals. Neither team had a play inside the opponent's ten yard line and no touchdown was less than 29 yards in length. Other than the final safety that won the game, this was not the right weekend to pay for field level endzone tickets.

So maybe sometimes it is really 90%, not 25%

As any special teams coach will gladly point out, the play of the kicking and punting teams is a critical and yet often overlooked component of a winning team (plus it makes them look better so they can get a better job). In Jacksonville this Sunday, Eddie Drummond fielded a punt after it had hit the ground and was almost downed by a Jaguar player. He did not stop running for 55 more yards until he scored the first points for the Lions even though it was already two minutes into the fourth quarter. After both teams had gone through three series, there was only 1:03 left to play when the Jaguars had to punt again.

Yep.

83 yards later Drummond had only the 11th time in NFL history that a player returned two punts for a touchdown in the same game.

I am furious yellow

Ed Reed had an NFL record 106-yard interception return for a touchdown last week against the Browns and on Sunday, only seven days later, Lamont Jordan proved why he was not a quarterback when he threw a very ill-advised pass directly to Reed who was only four yards deep in the endzone this week. Reed dashed for the 104-yard return yet again but a defensive holding call on the return negated the score.

R.W. McQuarters fielded a punt at his own 15 yard line and returned the ball the entire 85 yards for an apparent touchdown that would have made the score 21-7 in favor of the Bears. However, an illegal block above the waist kept the ball back on their own 20-yard line.

Remember - don't celebrate early.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Billy Volek 334 2 QB Matt Hasselbeck 172 0
RB Derrick Blaylock 224 1 RB Chris Brown 68 0
RB T.J. Duckett 53 2 RB Michael Bennett 21 0
WR Drew Bennett 148 1 WR Torry Holt 32 0
WR Clarence Moore 45 2 WR Darrell Jackson 33 0
WR Dallas Clark 102 2 WR Marvin Harrison 22 0
PK Josh Brown 4 FG PK Martin Gramatica

2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 143

Huddle Fantasy Points = 24

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was an incredible week for close games with a few interesting upsets as always. Selecting just one Game-of-the-Week proved impossible.

KC 20, NO 27 Now here's an excellent reason why you just never know, until you know. The Chiefs had not scored less than 31 points in the last three games and appeared to be back to their obscene scoring ways with an average of 45 points the last three weeks. The Saints had been giving up about 37 points a game during that time and are currently beleaguered with speculation that Jim Haslett will just suddenly be "no longer with the company". Priest Holmes was out this week but Derrick Blaylock did a wonderful impression of him by gaining 224 total yards and one touchdown to lead all NFL running backs yesterday. However, the Saints ended up collecting four turnovers and beat the Chiefs 27-20 and allowed Kansas City to remain tied for the second worst record in the NFL. To add to the unpredictable nature of the game, the lead receiver for the Chiefs was actually a wideout - Eddie Kennison (7-121) who also scored his first touchdown of the season.
HOU 14, IND 49 Here was one game yesterday with the least amount of drama and intrigue, thanks to David Carr's four turnovers that could best be described as a Carr wreck that just continued to bash into things for the entire game. Carr threw three interceptions with one being returned 77-yards for a touchdown. He lost one fumble that was also returned for a 37-yard touchdown. Despite trailing for the final 53 minutes of the game, the Texans still decided that running Domanick Davis 31 times was the ticket for a comeback in spite of the fact he never gained more than 12 yards on any run. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning was busy throwing for five touchdowns and 320 yards which included a 69-yard score by Stokley (who is very fast) and an 80-yard score for Dallas Clark (who is not very fast but evidently is "Houston secondary" fast). When your defense allows about 60 yards after the catch to a tight end, maybe the scheme needs some work. Just to punish fantasy football in general, the only two notable Colts without any scores were Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison (who only had 22 yards on two catches - got ya!).
PIT 24, CLE 10 Nothing like a scrum before kickoff to get the announcers ready to work. William Green missed the game (though possibly picked up some promotional opportunities for smokeless tobacco) and Lee Suggs only gained 38 yards on 18 carries. Jerome Bettis scored twice and gained 103 yards on 29 carries to basically ensure the Browns' would spend little time with the ball. The biggest news to come out of this slugfest was that Ben Roethlisberger did not throw for many yards (134) and he never scored and he had an interception. But he's 7-0 and has a whole lot more to crow about his winning streak than that Krenzel kid over in Chicago. The only passing score in the entire game went to Aaron Shea and the Browns finally put Kelly Holcomb in during the final quarter just so they could say "Oh man - NOW I remember". The Steelers are now 8-1 and have won their last seven games. That's nothing to spit at. Least not before the game anyway.
TB 14, ATL 24 The interesting aspect of watching the Falcons play is not if they will score, but exactly how they will and yet still not offer up much fantasy value that you could count on happening. Although Warrick Dunn had 81 total yards, he never scored. Instead, T.J. Duckett scored twice and gained 53 yards on only 12 carries as the much more effective yet less-used runner in the game. The entire Falcon wideout crew managed three catches for 24 yards and Alge Crumpler ended up with the big game thanks to a 49-yard touchdown since yesterday was "tight end bomb" day in the NFL. Michael Clayton had 90 yards and one touchdown but the rest of the Bucs wideouts had only two catches for seven yards in a game they trailed for the final 55 minutes against a secondary that had allowed Plummer to throw for 499 in the previous game. Dilger scored a 22-yard touchdown though he had no catches in the previous game.
SEA 12, STL 23 The Seahawks are openly embracing mediocrity in spite of starting the season as one of the favored teams for January play. Against the Rams, Hasselbeck only completed 15 of 36 passes for 172 yards and one interception mainly because the receivers apparently are practicing for offseason volleyball. Shaun Alexander had 176 yards rushing but decided to practice bowling after running for 35 yards to the Rams' 15-yard line. This was a brutal game to watch for two reasons. First - the point potential of this game was well over the 35 points produced and last year was 49 points in St. Louis. Secondly, there were two Rams touchdowns scored in the first eight minutes and the next 52 minutes of two explosive offenses only produced seven field goals. It's like watching a really slow basketball game with nothing but midcourt shots. Torry Holt - two catches for 32 yards and both he and 30,000 fantasy owners were woozy after that knock-out route over the middle. Let's hope this nonsense ends before fantasy playoffs.
CIN 17, WAS 10 If you thought the Rams-Seahawks game was hard to watch, this matchup was about the same only without the field goals. The Bengals scored two touchdowns by two minutes into the second quarter and then only one field goal the following 43 minutes which was, as it ended up, plenty enough to win. It finally happened though. After Mark Brunell had completed 1 of 8 passes for six yards and one interception, Patrick Ramsey was finally called into play mid-way into the second quarter. That only took about seven games too long. Ramsey ended with 210 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions in little more than a half of play. That was more yardage than Brunell had thrown in all but one game this entire season. Using Ramsey who can actually complete passes to Gardner and Coles? Like that Guinness commercial I cannot get out of my head - BRILLIANT! The same may not be said why it required half a season to make that decision.
NYG 14, ARZ 17 This was like a close game that just did not want to happen. The Giants rolled up to a 14-3 lead during the second quarter with scores by Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey. Emmitt Smith scored a touchdown with only 44 seconds left in the first half and then again at the end of the third quarter to take the lead 17-14. And then neither team crossed midfield for the fourth quarter. The Giants lost in spite of having no turnovers, out passing the Cards 193 to 91 yards and out running them 147 to 104 yards. It was like they reached the scripted score in the late third quarter and then just ran out the clock. Approaching midfield... and punt. Bet Coughlin wishes that the 44-yard field goal attempt that opened the third quarter was not blocked. Ends up those things really do matter.
CAR 37, SF 27 The only certainty in San Francisco is that no 49er dares utter "it can't get any worse". The Panthers came to town without Steve Smith or Stephen Davis. The only healthy runner was the fullback Nick Goings. They lost their kicker during the game. The Panthers were only 1-7 on the season and the only win for the 49ers all year was at home. So, then, of course Jake Delhomme has his best game of the season throwing for 303 yards, three touchdowns (all to Muhammad in the second half) and no interceptions. Muhammad is a big guy and not particularly fast and yet he scored from as far out as 40 yards. The Panthers lead the league with 11 players on injured reserve. To make sure things got worse, Barlow threw the ball at a Carolina player and had a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty which led to getting ripped by HC Erickson on the sideline which then led to him only having five carries in the second half. Tim Rattay threw four interceptions and since the 49ers head to play an even better defense in Tampa Bay this week, the answer is "yes". Things can get worse. They can always get worse. And in San Francisco, they do so on a weekly basis. The quirky aspect here is that in two weeks, the 49ers host the Dolphins with an excellent chance that it will be a game to decide who gets the elusive first pick in the NFL draft next April. The only people watching that game, however, will be sports agents.

Game-O-The-Week

You want an oddity? There was only one overtime game in the first four weeks and then three during week five. There was only one overtime game during the next four weeks and then three more on week ten. Remember not to bet the over/under in week 15.

While previous weeks have had some good games and even one week with three GOTW (of course in week five), this time around there were four very close games that all qualify this week. While the GB-MIN game had excellent points and likely would be most worthy, the other three games cannot be ignored. This was a great week to see close games and most of them did not even happen in a traditional way. It was an odd, weird and wonderful Sunday for the NFL and the first official four game tie for GOTW.

Minnesota 31, Green Bay 34

Entering the fourth quarter, the Packers still led 24-17 and had never trailed in the entire game. In less than two minutes, Favre threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game for a safe 31-17 lead. Or so it seemed when the Vikings could do nothing on their next series.

The Packers went three and out on their next possession but the clock was already drained to less than nine minutes in the game. Then Culpepper in the shotgun took over and led the Vikings down the field using Burleson and Robinson until finally throwing a touchdown to Onterrio Smith with only 2:59 left to play. The score was 24-31 and interesting only if the Vikings could hold the Packers on their next possession.

They did.

When Culpepper got the ball back there was only 2:18 left to play with 66 yards to cover for the tying score. After a Culpepper 9-yard run, second down saw a 40-yard completion to Robinson to the Packer 17-yard line with only 1:29 left to play. The next play was Moe Williams scoring on a nifty screen pass to tie the game with only 1:11 left to play.

Of course at home, Favre needed to make amends to the fans after dropping three games at Lambeau Field this season. On the kickoff, Robert Ferguson blazed upfield until reaching the 46-yard line where he was stripped of the ball. Replay indicated that a Viking player was on top of the ball when it was last sighted. The next time it appeared was when the referee took it from rookie tight end/special teamer Ben "I believe that's mine" Steele and awarded the ball to the Packers.

One pass went to Tony Fisher for 25 yards to the MIN 29-yard line. After bleeding the clock to 37 seconds, Favre hit Bubba Franks for 7 yards and then Green ran for seven more to the MIN 15-yard line where Longwell split the uprights as time expired.

No doubt the only play still on the minds of the Vikings will be the fumbled kickoff by Ferguson. And that one guy giggling in the corner in the Packers locker room will be Ben Steele. Ironic name, huh?

Detroit 17, Jacksonville 23 Overtime

This was clearly one of the strangest games of the year.

The Jaguars led 17-0 and were just attempting a simple punt from their own 29-yard line with about 13 minutes left to play. The punt was shanked to the right and only went 26 yards when a Jaguar player attempted to down it and all of a sudden Eddie Drummond appeared from nowhere to snatch the ball and run fairly unhindered and very quickly for 55 yards and a touchdown to make the score 17-7. So big deal. Lucky score.

The Jaguars took the ball down to the DET 39-yard line on the next series and were about to punt when the Lions were charged with encroachment and made it fourth and one from the DET 34-yard line. That's a 51-yard field goal attempt but with fourth and one so far down the field, what the heck? A simple one yard run would get the first down, help burn time off the clock and secure the win. This is why the Jaguars instead threw an incompletion to Troy Edwards.

The Lions had their one good series for the entire game when a Jacksonville penalty and a Roy Williams 46-yard catch brought the ball to the JAX 5-yard line. But no - two incompletes and a failed run by Kevin Jones led to a field goal in spite of three attempts from the five yard line. 10-17 - would it be an actual game? There was only 6:34 left to play and the Lions basically had the one catch by Roy Williams to hang their offensive hat on.

Fast-forwarding here, both teams had two "three and out" possessions and the Jaguars failed for a third time to get a first down. They punted to the DET 17-yard line because really - what are the chances that Drummond can return two punts for scores? Other than the 100% that it soon proved to be with only 46 seconds left to play?

With only 46 seconds left to play the Jaguars punted to a player that had already scored once on them. BRILLIANT!

Not to worry. The Jaguars won the coin flip in overtime and then marched down to the DET 36-yard line where Garrard hit the streaking Jimmy Smith for the touchdown. The Lions had forced overtime with one 46 yard completion that led to a field goal and two returned punts for scores. Otherwise, the Lions only had 81 yards rushing and 75 yards passing in the entire game.

Chicago 19, Tennessee 17 Overtime

Craig Krenzel has never lost a game he has started. That's three straight wins. He's never thrown for more than 168 yards and in those three games has two touchdowns against five interceptions and one lost fumble. He has completed 31 of 74 passes for a completion ratio of 42%. Whether it is because of him or in spite of him, the Bears keep winning. It's like Kyle Boller all over again.

In the third quarter, the Titans punted to the CHI 25-yard line where R.W. McQuarters fielded the ball and then ran 75 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 Chicago lead. The only reason that Chicago had any points in the game was due to the interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter. Now they led 14-7 with all points from the defense or special teams.

After the Titans were unable to advance the ball on their next series, they punted to McQuarters again and this time he ran it back 85 yards for a touchdown. Only the flag for an illegal block to the waist prevented McQuarters from doing the unthinkable - returning two consecutive punts for a touchdown and a 14 point lead in a game that no Chicago offense had appeared.

After a few fruitless series by each team, the Titans finally managed a field goal to start the fourth quarter because they could not produce a first down from the CHI 20-yard line. A few possessions later, Volek hit Drew Bennett for a 47 yard touchdown and the 17-14 lead which seemed insurmountable as long as they never had to punt again.

Two series later and with only 2:51 to play, the Bears had the ball on their own 20-yard line because the Titans punted all the way into the endzone from mid-field. Touchbacks are better than touchdowns.

At this point, Craig Krenzel had only completed 6 of 21 passes for 51 yards in the first 57 minutes of play. Yes, I am serious and no - I wouldn't have worried much either.

But on the final drive he completed four of six passes for 65 yards to reach the TEN 11-yard line with 56 seconds left to play on fourth and six. Timing is everything. No one would have reasonably seen it coming. They kicked the tying field goal and then Titans took over with less than a minute to play. Suddenly interested, Billy Volek threw two completions to the CHI 34-yard line with eight seconds left to play where "Big Leg" Hentrich tried a 52 yard field goal that was blocked. Overtime!

The Bears won the coin toss but having exhausted every ounce of luck on the previous series, ran Thomas a few times, threw a six yard completion and then an incompletion before punting to the Tennessee 9-yard line.

The bad part here was that Chris Brown was out and with no confidence in Antowain Smith, the Titans threw an incompletion and then got sacked on second down. For the third time, Volek went back to pass again - FROM THEIR OWN NINE YARD LINE - and was hit, fumbled and the Titans recovered in the endzone so that they could lose 19-17 instead of giving up their third score to the Bears defense/special teams.

It doesn't matter how it gets there, the scoreboard is the thing. Just ask Krenzel.

Baltimore 20, New York Jets 17 Overtime

Not unlike several other games yesterday, most of the scoring happened in the second quarter when the Jets took a 14-7 lead thanks to Curtis Martin's two touchdowns against Clarence Moore's first ever touchdown as an NFL receiver.

The Jets squandered a chance for an even bigger lead when they reached the BAL 17-yard line after Santana Moss had caught a 47 yard pass. On the next play, Lamont Jordan was given a trick play where he rolled right and threw the ball but in his excitement, he forgot to actually throw it at any player wearing green. He just chunked it into the endzone where Ed Reed came up with the interception and almost a 104-yard return for a score were it not for a penalty during the return. The best play in the entire game was one that never happened officially thanks to a penalty.

The third quarter went by with all the excitement of a quilting bee though the Ravens did kick one field goal when first and goal to go from the NYJ 6-yard line for some reason meant they should not run and instead allow Boller to attempt three passes. He completed two for zero total yards. BRILLIANT!

Not unlike the Bears-Titans game, the Ravens waited until the fourth quarter to put together a drive that used equal parts of Jamal Lewis with good passing by Kyle Boller who completed all four attempts - the final one from the 16 yard line on third down and 11 that went to Clarence Moore for his second NFL touchdown and a 17-14 Ravens lead.

On their final drive of regulation, the Jets used what worked best and had Curtis Martin running, Carter throwing incompletions and Lamont Jordan told expressly to never again pass the ball. The Jets had to settle for a tying field goal in spite of having two plays from the BAL 4-yard line.

Overtime saw each team with two possessions and there was only one first down when Boller hit Kevin Johnson for a 21-yard gain on third down to reach the NYJ 30-yard line. One run and two passes gained only six yards before Stover came in for the winning field goal.

 

It was a very screwy, hard fought week 10 in the NFL. While there had been many big point games in the past few weeks, yesterday only saw three games with scores over 30 points and 12 teams failed to score at least 20 points. There were three overtime games and three teams that scored twice on special teams or defense.

The 49ers are proving that dumping an entire set of offensive starters means losing almost every game while the Chiefs are showing that never getting any defenders is just as disastrous. The Packers have resurrected after a 1-4 start to share the NFC North lead with the same Vikings that they just defeated. Both the Bears and Lions are only one game behind them with 4-5 records. Half of the NFL divisions are currently tied between two teams.

It was another great, weird and dumb-founding week in the NFL and the home stretch starts now that the bye weeks are over and the playoffs are still in reach for so many teams. We've seen pre-game fights, teams winning without offense and the odd reality that if a player has never done something before, chances are pretty good he might do it twice in the same day.

And somehow through all the chance plays and random events, the Patriots remain 8-1 and tied for the best record in the NFL even though their team has been decimated by injuries and they ran out of cornerbacks last week. Relying on the "it takes one to know one" axiom, they lined up Troy Brown to cover Eric Moulds yesterday.

Brown now has his first NFL interception.

BRILLIANT!

Now get back to work...