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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 13
David M. Dorey
November 28, 2004
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Kelly Holcomb 413 5
Peyton Manning 236 6
Drew Brees 401 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Willis McGahee 138 4
Michael Pittman 163 2
Rudi Johnson 207 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Marvin Harrison 127 3
Antonio Bryant 131 2
Jerry Porter 135 3
Tight Ends Yards TD
Steve Heiden 82 3
Antonio Gates 92 2
Erron Kinney 53 2
Placekickers XP FG
Shayne Graham 7 3
Phil Dawson 6 2
Jeff Reed 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Miami 1 8 3
New England 1 4 2
Dallas 0 6 4

Week 12 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Umm.. I really did look. It was a trainer's delight yesterday.

Travis Henry (BUF) - Broken right leg
Tyrone Wheatley (OAK) - Hamstring injury
Emmitt Smith (ARZ) - Aggravated sprained ankle
Clinton Portis (WAS) - Fractured ego

When safe becomes deadly

Peyton Manning has long been the safest quarterback to draft. You know he'll get 4000 yards passing. You know you'll get 30+ touchdowns. You know you won't get any rushing yards.

What you did not know was that you would be getting the greatest scoring performance in the history of the NFL.

Manning threw for six touchdowns against the Lions which already gives him an NFL record five consecutive games with four or more touchdowns thrown. There were only 19 such games in the entire 2003 season and Manning had three of them. He already has six this season and currently stands only seven scores behind Dan Marino for the NFL record 48 passing touchdowns in one season.

Manning has 41 so far which is an average of 3.7 per game. At that rate, he would end with around 60 touchdowns on the season. Can he get eight more scores in the next five games? In week 14, he plays Houston which is the worst defense in the NFL against quarterbacks. He might get those eight in one game unless he starts sitting out the final three quarters.

So much for "automatic"

Week 12 was a banner week for special teams - but not for those kickers. It was for those players rushing the kickers who know the odds are very low that they will snake in with an upreached hand and block the field goal, punt or extra point. Except for yesterday.

The week started out with Mike Vanderjagt having an extra point blocked in Detroit. Then Kris Brown, Martin Gramatica, Jeff Chandler and John Carney had field goals blocked. In the final game of the week, Sebastian Janikowski had an extra point blocked and when the game came down to the final play for the Broncos, Jason Elam had his field goal blocked as well.

There's nothing automatic anymore, not even Martin "Automatica" Gramatica who missed all three field goals that he attempted against the Panthers (one was blocked). They lost by seven points. The next thing you know, the Broncos will be favored by 11 points at home against the Raiders and... uh-oh...

Oh yeah, it was a gem of a draft last August

To witness how things change in the NFL, at least on a weekly basis, you only have to look to see which players were at the top of their position for fantasy points yesterday. And if you think that it necessarily means anything, consider what they did just the previous week:

Player
Week 12
Week 11
TD's Previous
 
QB Kelly Holcomb 413 yards, 5 TD's 32 yards, 0 TD's
1
 
RB Willis McGahee 142 yards, 4 TD's 127 yards, 0 TD's
3
 
TE Steve Heiden 82 yards, 3 TD's 19 yards, 0 TD's
1
 
WR Jerry Porter 135 yards, 3 TD's 63 yards, 0 TD's
1
 

While McGahee was likely a starter in most leagues, the other three had only scored once this entire season. Holcomb was a late addition with Garcia scratched and Porter had his worst matchup of the year once again versus Champ Bailey. He had gone against Bailey earlier this year when he had three catches for 21 yards with one lost fumble. This is why computers may take over everyone's jobs, but they can never take over fantasy football.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Kelly Holcomb 452 5 QB Tom Brady 172 0
RB Maurice Hicks 79 1 RB Clinton Portis 17 0
RB Larry Johnson 50 1 RB Shaun Alexander 39 0
WR Antonio Bryant 131 2 WR Reggie Wayne 37 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 96 2 WR Hines Ward 42 0
WR Steve Heiden 82 3 WR Darrell Jackson 45 0
PK Shayne Graham 3 FG 7 XP PK Martin Gramatica

2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 160

Huddle Fantasy Points = 23

Sunday's Couch Commentary

IND 41, DET 9

Perhaps the defenses should try snapping their fingers. Something has to affect Manning who has evidently been hypnotized to believe that he is actually playing backyard football with the younger kids and he wants to get the game done early so he go watch cartoons. Six touchdowns last week. 41 scores on the season. He's not even playing in the fourth quarter anymore. The only unknown each week is which receiver gets to merely watch the other two turn in monster games. Manning is becoming so deadly with throwing scores that he doesn't even get many yards anymore. The Lions running game is improving almost as quickly as the passing game is disappearing and playing against the Colts is no time to take solace in "but we can gain four yards per carry".

CHI 7, DAL 21 The Cowboys made two discoveries during Thanksgiving. They have an actual rushing game with Julius Jones and that Drew Henson is not hot enough to serve to opponents yet. Dallas needed the win and facing a truly terrible offense, the Cowboy defense looked as good as last year. The Bears offense never scored, Craig Krenzel was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury and since he did not have enough time to throw his standard two interceptions, Jonathan Quinn came in and threw both picks for him. The only thing that might make this offense even worse would be panicking and trying to grab a washed-up, malcontent free agent quarterback like.... what's this? You have got to be kidding me. Serious? Um, excuse me while I scan the waiver wire for the Minny defense this week... no reason really..
SD 34, KC 31 Definite contender for game of the week. How can you not love a game where Dante Hall returns a kickoff but fumbles the ball away untouched at the SD 10-yard line and then turns around and returns the next kick for a score? Holmes was still out, so now the Blaylock owners have to grumble about Larry Johnson stealing yards and touchdowns (hey - it's pretty funny to the rest of us). Brees, Gates and Tomlinson were the only scorers for the Chargers and all three had two touchdowns each - gosh, who would have guessed that would happen? The Chiefs are now 2-4 at home and teams are sending bribes to the league offices so they can play there next season. Trent Green never threw a touchdown in the entire game and only had 208 passing yards with one interception. In his post-game interview, HC Marty Schottenheimer said he was awarding the game ball to his his newly born grandson (true story) who was less than 24 hours old. When a team is awarding game balls to extended members of the coaching staff who were just born, you know that offense is really, really, really clicking.
TEN 21, HOU 31 The Texans come off the greatest comeback in franchise history (only 11 points - remember they haven't had many comebacks so far) and beat the Titans by scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half. Houston maintains their lofty status as the worst secondary by allowing McNair to throw for three touchdowns and while Carr threw for two scores, he still managed to keep all receivers under 55 yards. Domanick Davis had a big game but allowed Jonathan Wells to score once because Davis has a habit of getting winded after moving the ball all the way down the field. At 5-6, the Texans have a theoretical shot at the playoffs. At 4-7, the Titans have a chance to rethink about relying on Chris Brown and Steve McNair.
TB 14, CAR 21 If you squinted your eyes while watching, the game looked similar to last year for the Panthers with Steve Smith and Stephen Davis doing so well. If you were not squinting, you realized that the Panthers used Kerry Colbert and Nick Goings to beat the Buccaneers. The second best receiver in the NFL on Sunday was RB MIchael Pittman who only managed 29 rushing yards on 18 carries but gained 134 yards on eight receptions with two scores. This game ensured that the NFC South now has a three-way tie at 4-7 for the cellar where the Saints, Bucs and Panthers can all point at each other and say "yeah well, you suck too." The important thing in the NFC cellar is to wear a hat because the Falcon poop is dropping down from five games above and that stuff stains.
WAS 7, PIT 16 The Redskins have secretly constructed a Top 5 defense for preventing opponents from scoring this season but that sort of gets obscured when the Washington offense mistakenly believes they are playing golf and not only lead the league with the lowest points scored this season, they are 26 points behind #2 worst Miami. They have not scored more than 18 points in any game this year. Clinton Portis added the ultimate insult to injury for anyone who drafted him when he ran for only 17 yards on six carries while Ladell Betts had 34 yards on eight carries and played most of the second half. Ouch. And no, Portis was not injured. They haven't scored more than 10 points in the last three weeks. The Steelers roll to their ninth consecutive win behind The Bus who has ran for over 100 yards in the last four games. According to security cameras, someone resembling Hines Wards was seen in and about the stadium during the game but confirmation is still pending because no one actually remembers what he exactly looks like.
PHI 27, NYG 6 The Eagles should just replace the logo on their helmet with a man yawning. In recent games, they allow teams to appear to have a chance and then roll their eyes in the second half and whip out 20 points while holding the opponent scoreless. Eli Manning, AKA Manning-the-lesser, completed only 6 of 21 passes for two interceptions but is showing progress by fumbling so that his own players recover. It may not be much to hang their hat on, but it's a pretty expensive hat they have and if you leave it lying around eventually Terrell Owens will do a dance around it. After McNabb scored, he mimicked Michael Jackson's moon walk. Owens is a virus and must be stopped. Since the opposing defenses appear unable to do that, the Eagles might as well give up and hire a "scor-e-ographer" before we are eventually subjected to Dorsey Levens reprising Saturday Night Fever.
JAX 16, MIN 27 The amazing fact is that Fred Taylor can rush for so many yards and yet never score. Byron Leftwich returned to play with a brace on his knee and only managed 235 yards and one score even though his four previous games had all been at least 298 yards passing. Randy Moss is back, he is still hobbling, he is still not a big factor in the passing game and he still catches the only touchdown thrown by Culpepper. This week the Vikings pulled straws before the game and Michael Bennett was the one that has to wash the team bus instead of play. The Vikings remain at least tied with the Packers for the NFC North lead while the 6-5 Jaguars remain in the hunt for a wild care because this season, anything over .500 likely means January playing time.
NO 21, ATL 24 The Saints actually led in this game 21-17 until after the two minute warning when they completely forgot that Michael Vick never throws to anyone but Alge Crumpler who gained 47 yards in two consecutive passes to score the winning touchdown. Owners of Warrick Dunn (11-59) and T.J. Duckett (12-58) can at least agree that their cups are only half full while Michael Vick owners (212 passing, 2 TD, 10-69 rushing, 1 TD) all agree they will take a chance on starting him again once they figure out when they can live with a bad game. This was almost an upset but that would have made the NFC South standings look like there was anything more than six easy wins for Atlanta this season.
NYJ 13, ARZ 3 The much anticipated tag-team match of Brooks Bollinger and Quincy Carter versus Shaun King and Josh McCown would have been a draw had the Jets duo made a pact not to throw three interceptions in the game (live and learn King/McCown). Santana Moss had 109 yards and one score because no one relies on him anymore but McCareins only had 23 yards because a few fantasy owners thought maybe last week meant anything. Arizona was 4-5 a few weeks ago but have lost the last two games by switching to Shaun King and thereby ensuring a decent draft pick in 2005. Arizona had won their last three home games so it was obviously time to mess with a good thing.
BUF 38, SEA 9 This was a contender for game of the week if I had a special bracket for "what in the hell happened?" The Bills had not won a road game this entire season. Seattle had lost only one they should have won against the Rams. While every team has one "trash game" per season, they rarely are as monumentally bad as this. Sure, Hasselbeck did not play well but we've come to accept that. But Shaun Alexander only ran 13 times for 39 yards? Seattle had allowed only five rushing scores this entire season so it was only natural that Willis McGahee would score four touchdowns. This was the worst loss by Holmgren since joining the Seahawks. During the post-game interviews, the Seattle players and coach literally referred to the team in the third person ("that team") to distance themselves from what happened. The plan by aliens to take over the world starting with the Seattle Seahawks hit a noticeable snag but at least they finally cornered Alexander for a pod conversion before the game. The Seahawks are 3-4 in their last seven games and yet are still in the lead of the NFC West. Maybe this is just some reality show based on "The Twilight Zone".
MIA 24, SF 17 Finally there is a clear cut "worst team in the NFL" and they play home games at aging Candlestick Park. The 49ers are now 1-9 and the only effective player is Maurice Hicks who gets to run the ball late in games when the defense no longer cares. The 49ers gave up eight sacks and lost three fumbles including one recovered for a Miami touchdown. The 49ers can finally say "it can't get any worse" because all it can do is remain the worse which is likely. HC Dennis Erickson may find his job in jeopardy but can take some consolation in knowing every post-game interview is like a mini-audition for the County Coroner role on CSI ("This was a violent, traumatic death..."). The Dolphins win their second game of the year and players were actually smiling. A.J. Feeley threw for two scores but Travis Minor could only gain 47 yards on 22 carries and... and... oh who cares. The Dolphins won a game.
BAL 3, NE 24 The Ravens hung tough for three quarters and only trailed 3-9 before Corey Dillon scored a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. On the next play, Boller was sacked. On the next play, Boller was sacked and lost the ball which was recovered for a Patriot touchdown. Game over. New England added Dillon in the offseason for the last missing piece but on Sunday he was the only working piece and ran for 123 yards. All that talk about Kyle Boller starting to become a real NFL quarterback was answered on Sunday when he threw 15 of 35 for 93 yards against the now-feared cornerback Troy Brown.
OAK 25, DEN 24 This was a definite contender for the game of the week. It is a contender for another "What in the hell" category. The Broncos had already beaten the Raiders 31-3 in Oakland only six weeks ago. Kerry Collins threw for 136 yards and one interception that week. Jake Plummer had three scores and Reuben Droughns ran for 176 yards back in that game. Now in Denver, the Raiders had to play in the snow which is not a part of their life in Oakland. If the Broncos were looking past the Raiders at the matchup in San Diego this coming Sunday, they have made that game much bigger now. Collins threw for 339 yards and four scores as if he was suddenly Brett Favre playing against the scout team in Green Bay. Jerry Porter stepped up and then all over Champ Bailey. The Raiders even lost Tyrone Wheatley and only gained 61 total rushing yards in the blizzard conditions. The Broncos basically had little more than one 85-yard score to Rod Smith and an interception returned for a touchdown against their most hated opponent who was visiting Denver. The 11 point line was the biggest of any game on Sunday.

Game-O-The-Week

This week saw the best teams all increase the leads in their respective divisions - New England (10-1), Pittsburgh (10-1), Indianapolis (8-3), Philadelphia (10-1) and Atlanta (9-2) all won. They all enjoy commanding leads in their divisions. The rest? Oh, man.

The AFC West now has the Chargers in the lead by one game with a matchup against #2 Denver this weekend. The Packers have to win to stay tied with the Vikings at 7-4. The NFC West will have a divisional winner because it is in the rules but Seattle (6-5), St. Louis (5-5) and even Arizona (4-6) all have a shot at that coveted "first out" during week one of the NFL playoffs.

It was a big week with the great getting greater and the mediocre becoming a very crowded group. The game of the week honors the best of all fantasy situations - the second-highest scoring game in the history of the NFL between the bottom two teams in the AFC North.

Cleveland 48, Cincinnati 58

A total of 106 points in the game. A dozen offensive touchdowns scored. There were 664 passing yards and 329 rushing yards. There were 49 first downs and only six punts. Do you like short drives? There were no touchdowns that required more than seven plays and only one touchdown drive started in the opponent's territory which was when the Browns had their first offensive play in the game and threw a touchdown after getting the ball on an interception that ended on the CIN 7-yard line.

The Bengals led 27-13 at the half which was almost exactly the halftime score of the IND-DET game and yet it ended with over twice the total points. The Browns were without Andre Davis, Lee Suggs and Jeff Garcia. In the first half, they had eight drives which produced only one touchdown, three punts, two field goals, an interception and a knee down to end the half. But they were not done.

In the second half, the Browns scored a touchdown on their next FIVE consecutive possessions. They actually stopped scoring for the final ten minutes of the fourth quarter. That's 35 points in roughly 20 minutes of playing time.

The Bengals scored two touchdowns and a field goal to open the second half, then an interception and a punt before scoring their final touchdown with 4:41 left to play.

It was a game that contained almost no defense. The Bengals scored 58 points but allowed their visiting opponent to score 48 points using a back-up quarterback and with their best runner and receiver on the sideline. Steve Heiden had only scored four touchdowns during his previous six years in the NFL - he had three scores on Sunday. He had never gained more than 134 yards in any season but had 83 yards yesterday.

Antonio Bryant had a career best 131 yards and two scores as well. He was likely on most fantasy benches this week and Heiden undoubtedly has never left the waiver wire in six years.

Rudi Johnson ran for 201 yards and two scores. T.J. Houshmandzadeh had two scores as well. It was a veritable scoring frenzy that likely contained no more than three players that were on fantasy starting line-ups and six others that may not have even been on any roster.

The Browns are only 3-8 on the season and likely will go through a shake-up in the offseason. On the road, already far behind with their best players on the sideline they had every reason to tank and no one would blame them. But they didn't - they played a tremendous second half with 35 points scored and while they lost, they go down in the record books for one of the most explosive games in the history of the NFL and one of the most impressive performances by a team that had little to win and even less motivation to succeed.

Remember that if one of your fantasy teams is on the downside of the league standings. It's all about playing the game every week and what happens overall is only secondary. Just ask the Browns.

Better yet - go ask the Raiders.

Now get back to work...