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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 12
David M. Dorey
november 21, 2004
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Donovan McNabb 256 4
Peyton Manning 216 4
Shaun King 343 1
Running Backs Yards TD
Nick Goings 142 3
Edgerrin James 215 1
Reuben Droughns 191 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Muhsin Muhammad 131 2
Reggie Wayne 106 2
Donald Driver 148 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Mark Campbell 37 3
Alge Crumpler 47 2
Antonio Gates 101 1
Placekickers XP FG
Rian Lindell 4 3
Mike Vanderjagt 5 2
Jason Elam 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Buffalo 1 6 4
Seattle 1 4 4
Denver 1 2 4

Week 11 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

After some lighter injury Sundays, Week 11 was unkind to several of the bigger running backs - right when their fantasy owners likely need them the most.

Plaxico Burress (PIT) - Hamstring strain
A.J. Feeley (MIA) - Hip injury
Jeff Garcia (CLE) - Shoulder injury
Ahman Green (GB) - Rib injury
Jamal Lewis (BAL) - Ankle sprain
Musa Smith (BAL) - Broken Leg
Curtis Martin (NYJ) - Knee bruise
*Walter Williams (GB) - Sprained shoulder

*don't pretend you knew who he was until Sunday night

Just to be clear

After witnessing, over and over and over, the Pacers-Pistons fiasco where visiting players and hometown fans mixed it up in perhaps the ugliest sports event ever, it is notable that nothing of the sort happened in the NFL on Sunday. Unless you can count the emotional toll that Peyton Manning is bringing to the stadiums of opposing teams.

There are safeties in numbers

This entire season has only witnessed a total of six safeties through the initial ten weeks of play, well behind the pace of last season that witnessed 21 safeties during the 2003 regular season. Yesterday had three safeties - Detroit, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. Throw in some bad weather and enough games against the 49ers and we'll get back to normal.

The San Francisco Treat

There were six non-quarterbacks with at least two touchdowns yesterday. Muhsin Muhammad was coming off a three touchdown game against the 49ers the previous week, so gaining two more yesterday is no shock. But Pittman did not score against the Falcons in week 10 and yet rang up two scores against the 49ers (hint - this seems to follow around the 49ers). Joe Jurevicius - again versus the 49ers - had two scores this week but had no catches against Atlanta last week. Nick Goings scored three times against the Cardinals yesterday though he had no scores against the 49ers last week - must have been residual good mojo he forgot to use in week 10.

All these multiple scores related to the 49ers defense means that the Dolphins have a chance to surprise this coming weekend - and to think most of them are still on your waiver wire.

If the season ended today

The AFC division winners would be the Patriots, Steelers, Colts and a tie between the Broncos and Chargers. The other wildcard would go to either the Jets and Ravens. Only Jacksonville currently looks like a contender to steal away a wildcard.

The NFC division winners would be the Eagles, Falcons, Seahawks and a tie between the Packers and Vikings. The other wildcard would go to either the Giants (5-5) or Rams (5-5) but the NFC is much less clear. And not from a multitude of powerful teams either.

So much for the bell curve

Out of the 15 games on Sunday, seven were decided by a winning margin of at least 20 points. The other eight games were all decided by a touchdown or less and four were by only a field goal. One of those weekends where either you knew the winner by halftime or couldn't be comfortable until the final gun.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Shaun King 343 1 QB Steve McNair 213 1
RB Nick Goings 142 3 RB Jamal Lewis 8 0
RB Antowain Smith 109 1 RB Marshall Faulk 19 0
WR Joe Jurevicius 82 2 WR Hines Ward 15 0
WR Donte Stallworth 122 1 WR Rod Smith 26 0
WR Mark Campbell 37 3 WR Eric Moulds 29 0
PK Rian Lindell 3 FG 4 XP PK Jay Feeley

2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 139

Huddle Fantasy Points = 22

Sunday's Couch Commentary

NYJ 10, CLE 7 While the Browns looked natty in their "hunter orange" jerseys, even losing Curtis Martin and relying on Quincy Carter could not stop the Jets from realizing their seventh win of the season (nor the Browns from their seventh loss of the year). Jeff Garcia separated his shoulder and couldn't play in the second half when, assumedly, he could have improved on his 88 passing yards. The Browns scheme of having Suggs and Green share carries the entire game might need to be swapped out next year for just one running back that can actually score a touchdown. While the Jets are not looking nearly as good without Pennington and Martin, the Browns still look every bit as bad as ever. Butch Davis should add to his Christmas list a nice dark blue or gray "interview suit".
PIT 19, CIN 14 The Steelers overcame a 14-10 halftime deficit using the same plan that has allowed them to win their last eight games. Good defense, an offense that makes no mistakes or turnovers and a rushing game that is effective enough to warrant 30 carries a game. The difference in the game was that Roethlisberger only threw one touchdown and Palmer threw three (but one was to LB James Farrior) and the Steelers had a safety and one field goal. Roethlisberger had no magic on Sunday since Burress was out injured and realistically his allergy to Hines Ward remains untreated, but he never hit a Bengal's linebacker for a score either.
IND 41, CHI 10 All that stuff about matching up the defenses and offenses for some notion of how a game will end up involving either the Bears or Colts is just a pipe dream. Let me close my eyes and tell you what their next matchups will be without looking at the schedule... Okay... coming clear now... Manning will throw for tw..thr.. four touchdowns and the Colts will score around... fog is clearing.... ah yes - they will score somewhere between 31 and 97 points. The Bears will play another team and they will ... oh gosh... looks like score between 10 and 20 points and the runner will be either Anthony Jones or Thomas Thomas who will... what's that?... oh - provide the only real offense in the game. And... and... last vision coming through... okay. Looks like Craig Krenzel will throw around 150 yards with one score and two turnovers. Apparently whether he is facing the New England Patriots or the Cougars of Bennington Middle School. Why do either of these teams bother traveling? They should just both play the game in their respective stadiums without an actual opponent on the field and it wouldn't likely change the outcome. Just do it by phone or something.
ARI 10, CAR 35 Each week there must be at least one game that evokes a "SAY WHAT?". This is the "say what" game of the weekend. Now then, last year - sure. Awesome Panther defense, terrible road Cardinal team. Panthers running like it is a track meet and throwing the occasional touchdown with ease. But that wasn't this year - at least until yesterday. Coming into the game was Jake Delhomme with a broken thumb who still threw for two touchdowns. The Panthers have lost running backs on a weekly basis and Nick Goings - who has not rushed in a touchdown this season ends up with three touchdowns (in the first half no less). The Panther defense had been allowing almost 130 rushing yards and two scores to opponent ground games but Emmitt Smith was held to 26 yards on 11 carries. The only solace in this is that the Cards return home and the Panthers face the Bucs next week so likely everything will be back to normal. The Cardinals made the switch to Shaun King who reprised his traditional role of throwing for good yardage and two many interceptions.
STL 17, BUF 37 The Bills came off a pasting by the Patriots and turned around with their best effort of the season. Drew Bledsoe threw for three touchdowns for the first time in two years and all of them went to Mark Campbell, tight end and temporary touchdown machine. Getting that third score is always tough since the first two are usually a clue to take notice. The Bills offense worked like a charm by somehow completely ignoring Eric Moulds. The Rams had Marshall Faulk match a career worst game with a total of six yards on 13 carries (which incidentally was really one carry for six yards and twelve for zero yards). This was almost the Game-of-the-week because of the way that Bulger played at the end of the game. In his first series of the fourth quarter, the Rams reached the BUF 9-yard line and he threw an interception. On his next series, they reached the BUF 1-yard line and he again threw an interception. There must be something in the Rams' Employee Manual about avoiding that. Just makes it really hard to win in retrospect. You'd think he would know that.
DAL 10, BAL 30 The Cowboys will be feeding the stadium fans free turkey this coming Thursday and with so many turkeys to cook for 65,000 people, there just is no time to cook that many turkeys for 12 hours each. So instead, they'll just leave each turkey inside Bill Parcells office for about, oh, ten or fifteen minutes to receive the appropriate amount of heat. The Cowboys dropped their third loss by 20 points or more. They did this to a team that was without the only two offensive stars they've ever had - Heap and very quickly Lewis. When Kyle Boller throws for 232 yards and two scores, it's time to just drop all 11 defenders back into pass coverage and take their chances against the run. The Cowboys face the Bears on Thanksgiving. That's no defense going against no offense. And you thought it was the turkey making you sleepy.
SF 3, TB 35 Blaming the 49ers record on Dennis Erickson is sort of like expecting a soap box derby car to place at the Indy 500. The 49ers are now into their crash and burn phase with all vestiges of offense now gone. The next phase entails pretending they are playing soccer and advancing the ball via kicking it downfield. The best rusher was Maurice Hicks, not Kevan Barlow (who can only now dream of once sharing actual yardage with Hearst). Rattay's arm is bothering him and the best receiver for the 49ers was, once again, Maurice Hicks ( 37 yards). As noted, the nice thing about scoring against the 49ers now is that it increases your chance of scoring again. The Buccaneers have won three of their last four games which would be great had they not been 0-4 at one point. This week is the greatest matchup of the season. The Dolphins visit the 49ers to see which one will fall to 1-10. This one is for all the marbles in the 2005 NFL draft. If you have been waiting to start <insert MIA player here>, then this will be the weekend for it.
DEN 34, NO 13 The last anyone actually witnessed, the Broncos were leading 27-3 midway through the second quarter. Evidently they continued to play and the ironic part was that Donte "I'll never start you ever again" Stallworth had 122 yards and one touchdown while Rod Smith only managed 26 yards against a secondary comprised of Bourbon Street waiters wearing fleur-de-lis helmets. Reuben Droughns ran for 51 yards and a touchdown on the very first play for Denver. And then it got worse for the Saints.
DET 19, MIN 22 The great news is that the Lions had Eddie Drummond open the game with yet another kick return touchdown and added a safety while Kevin Jones recorded his first 100 yard game in the NFL when he gained exactly 100 yards on 19 carries. The bad news was that Harrington only threw for 91 yards against a secondary that has usually allows that many yards on one play - two tops. The answer to the question "which Viking RB do I use?" is now clear and it's "nobody". The Vikings won but they looked much better back when they had that one receiver... tall guy... big hair... man - it's been a long time.
TEN 18, JAX 15 Okay, okay. So maybe David Garrard is not Byron Leftwich. At least Fred Taylor continues his mantra of "all he does is not score touchdowns". The Titans basically won by a safety with a two point conversion for an extra buffer. Antowain Smith actually looked good with 95 yards and a score but this was a defensive ho-hum game that was designed to show the Jaguars they still are not "all that". Not to worry - the Titans don't think they are either.
MIA 17, SEA 24 In the much anticipated matchup between Trent Dilfer and A.J. Feeley, the winner ended up to be Jerry Rice and SS Michael Boulware - those are two players that are pretty hard to forecast to have touchdowns (okay, so maybe not Boulware so much). Alexander did NOT gain 100 yards but scored of course. Both Minor and Morris were mixed to produce nothing and while the Dolphins fall to 1-9 on the year, there remains the nagging suspicion that the Seattle offense is actually just pod people that hatched before the season started and assumed these identities. Except for Shaun Alexander who now seems more interested in leaving in the offseason instead of remaining with the Zarzox-834 Mother Ship Seattle.
SD 23, OAK 17 Drew Brees finally cooled but had a healthy Tomlinson there ( 37 - 164, 1 TD) to make handing the ball off fun once again. As a complete surprise, Antonio Gates ended up scoring his sixth touchdown in the last three games to open the game and evidently Tyrone Wheatley (12- 42) is redefining what "power running" is all about. The big news here was that the Raiders did not get creamed this time, Collins threw two scores against no interceptions and yet there still is not one fantasy relevant player on the entire Raider team. Hopefully the Broncos will go easy on the visiting Raiders this weekend.
WAS 6, PHI 28 The Redskins finally broke their nine game string of games that always scored between 10 and 17 points because they forgot to score the Washington lone touchdown (pat. pend). They also forgot to cover Brian Westbrook when he goes out for a pass. Terrell Owens only had 24 yards on two catches with only one touchdown. This was like an actual game until the fourth quarter when an assistant coach up in the skybox put his binoculars down long enough to phone the sidelines "Oh for crying out loud - these guys are just THE REDSKINS!". Always read the schedule.
ATL 14, NYG 10 Eli Manning opened his NFL career showing that those nine weeks on the sidelines were not just shooting dice with the trainers - he was paying attention. Just like Kurt Warner, he only threw for 162 yards, one touchdown to Shockey and two interceptions. Just like Warner, he mostly heard his helmet speaker say "oh.. well.. heck. That didn't work. Just give it to Tiki this time". Michael Vick won the game by rushing for more than Dunn and Duckett combined and throwing scores to Crumpler only while Peerless Price had no catches. This was the only game this week that pitted two teams that both had winning records. At least it is was before the game was played. Vick now has the record with five 100 yard games by a quarterback-who-thinks-he-is-a-running-back.

Game-O-The-Week

This week we saw three stud runners leave with injuries - Ahman Green, Curtis Martin and Jamal Lewis and yet their teams won anyway. This week was a perfect mixture of half blowouts and half close, low scoring, boring games. New England and Pittsburgh have commanding leads in the AFC while Philadelphia and Atlanta hold down the NFC. The rest is still wide open for contesting and this year like most - you have to know that one of those Super Bowl teams will be a surprise.

The GOTW goes to a good game that wasn't a blowout. It was a low scoring affair that shouldn't have been but mirrors what the more competitive games were like across the league on Week 11 Sunday

Green Bay 16, Houston 13

The Packers lost Ahman Green to a rib/chest injury - no wait, he's back now... oops - gone again on a cart. In the spirit of Reuben Droughns and Mewelde Moore, they tried trotting out previous practice squad player Walter Williams just to penalize every fan who did not buy a game program but even he was injured. The Texans led 13-3 at halftime thanks to a Domanick Davis touchdown catch and a couple of Andre Johnson receptions that reached Kris Brown range.

There was no scoring in the third quarter. The only time either team crossed midfield was when the Packers reached the HOU 46-yard line and Favre threw an interception. It was a day that had precious few upsets and finally it looked like this was going to be the one. The Packers could not move the ball and was missing their starting running back just like the Jets and Ravens. But they still had Brett Favre who refuses to believe that the NFL is not supposed to be fun when you get older.

Favre hit Donald Driver on a perfect 24-yard lob in the endzone to make the score 10-13.

The Texans went three and out.

Favre continued to use Driver and then reached the HOU 21-yard line when the Texans stopped Driver one yard short of a first down. Ryan Longwell tied the game with a 39-yard field goal.

The Texans went three and out.

Favre got the team near midfield with 3:16 remaining to play when he threw an interception intended for Antonio Chatman instead of Donald Driver.

The Texans went three and out.

With two minutes remaining, Favre took over at his own 31-yard line and then slyly did not throw to Driver and marched the Packers down to the Houston 40-yard line with 20 seconds to play when he went back to the well one more time and found Driver on the Houston 28-yard line. Fortunately he noticed the clock was still running and took the final timeout with four seconds left and Ryan Longwell trotted on the field to kick the field goal that literally kissed the inside of the right goal post for the winning score.

It was sort of dramatic. It had no star running back for the winning team. It had the better record team winning. It extended the streaks for both teams. It was week 11 all wrapped up in one easy to watch game.

There are 20 NFL teams with current streaks of anywhere from 2 to 8 straight games won or lost. We're setting ourselves up for a big upset week which commonly happens around week 12 or 13 each season. Nature abhors a vacuum, the NBA ensured that violence in sports continues even without the NHL and above all - the NFL is not about extending winning or losing streaks. This must and will change soon.

Happy Thanksgiving in advance and hopefully you'll get to spend some quality time with either family or at least a turkey. This Thursday we get to see the Cowboys try to "turn the thing around" against the punchless Chicago Bears or the post-game interview with Parcells may resemble a Pistons-Pacers game. We'll also be treated to the Colts playing against the Lions and in light of the already jam-packed airports across the country this week, I contend my "play by phone" idea would work for the Colts-Lions matchup.

Ring...ring...ring

"Hello, Mooch speaking."

"Yeah, hey - it's Tony again. Look, our game clock here in Indy says it's half time now. What's happened since the last call?"

" Well, we had some nice throws to Williams and Jones got off a 15 yard run but Joey threw another interception as time expired."

"Ohhh - really sorry to hear that. Our defense isn't usually this good. Look - we got Peyton with a 10-yard score to Clark and then another one of about... uh... looks like 33-yards to Harrison. We're thinking about taking an extra 15 minutes to eat some pie. Let's start the second half in like 45 minutes - okay?"

" Yeah - that's fine. This is easier but it still sucks. You know, we don't even get to play the 49ers this year..."

Now get back to work...