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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 5
David Dorey
October 3, 2005
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Josh McCown 385 2
Eli Manning 296 4
Donovan McNabb 369 3
Running Backs Yards TD
LaDainian Tomlinson 168 2
Lamont Jordan 148 1
Tiki Barber 143 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Plaxico Burress 204 2
Terrell Owens 171 1
Marvin Harrison 109 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
L.J. Smith 67 1
Jeremy Shockey 57 1
Antonio Gates 108 0
Placekickers XP FG
Neil Rackers 1 6
Jay Feeley 5 3
John Carney 1 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
San Francisco 2 3 3
Philadelphia 1 3 4
Atlanta 0 9 0

Week 4 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Roland Williams (OAK) - Knee sprain
Carnell Williams (TB) - Hamstring strain
Joey Galloway (TB) - Leg cramps
Michael Vick (ATL) - Right knee sprain
Bobby Engram (SEA) - Cracked ribs

He's just plain Rack-a-matic

Neil Rackers set an NFL record by kicking16 field goals in his first four games of the season - no other kicker has every managed to kick more than 15. Perhaps having only kicked two extra points in four games indicates that the Cardinals are having a red zone problem, but Rackers has averaged over 12 points per game so far. He is on a pace to kick 64 field goals on the season which would bury the old record of a mere 39 successful field goals.

He has to cool down but the heat in Phoenix doesn't seem to be subsiding anytime soon.

And back to zero...

The Patriots last home loss was to the NY Jets 17-30 back on December 22, 2002. The Chargers win ended their 21 consecutive home wins and sent the fans home wondering if losing most of their players actually does matter in the alternative universe that New England has been in for the last few years. Just to make it smart a little more - Belichick has never given up that many points while coaching in New England.

They are mortal after all. At least this week.

Uh - I want to play them. Every week. Please.

The 49ers brought in head coach Mike Nolan from Baltimore to add a bit of defensive nastiness to the punchless team and the results have been just that - nasty. But not a good nasty. It is a bad nasty that could be getting even uglier and send the NFL record book geeks to their calculators at this rate.

So far the 49ers secondary have played four games and allowed an astounding 1568 passing yards. That is an average of 392 passing yards per opponent with almost three touchdowns allowed in each game. They have allowed six wideouts to exceed 100 yards in only four games and one tight end. They need a break after the wax job in Mexico City and maybe this season they finally get lucky,

Week 5 - they play Peyton Manning and the rest of the Indianapolis Colts. Or not...

It helps me focus really

Donovan McNabb injured his chest and later was diagnosed with a painful sports hernia. In the three games since his health became an issue, he has thrown for 342, 365 and 369 yards with a total of 10 touchdowns in only three games. Perhaps the defensive game plans should remove all blitzes so McNabb can get healthy again and give the rest of the league a chance.

There's Philly... Atlanta... uh, Tampa Bay... oh...

The NFL rules mandate that there will be four division winners and two wildcards from each conference. In the NFC, there may be some major tie-breaker rules employed at the end of the season to determine which six teams advance. The NFC East doesn't have a team with a losing record but the NFC West doesn't have any teams with a winning record. In the NFC North, there isn't even a team with a 2-2 record. Each team has one win on the season against either two or three loses other than the Packers who are still hunting for that elusive first win on Monday night.

That's not only called a wide-open division, it's also called mediocrity advancing to the playoffs because it has to happen.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Josh McCown 427 2 QB Kerry Collins 218 0
RB Michael Pittman 126 1 RB Fred Taylor 27 0
RB Moran Norris 4 1 RB Carnell Williams 19 0
WR Donte' Stallworth 129 0 WR Deion Branch 0 0
WR Patrick Crayton 63 1 WR Ashley Lelie 13 0
WR Shaun McDonald 121 0 WR Laveranues Coles 16 0
PK Jay Feeley 3 FG 5 XP PK Rian Lindell 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 107

Huddle Fantasy Points = 14

Sunday's Couch Commentary

BUF 7, NO 19 The Saints finally, sort of, played a home game this year and Deuce McAllister ripped the Bills suddenly mushy rush defense for 130 yards to control the game. Joe Horn was a gametime inactive thanks to a balky hamstring but Donte Stallworth stepped up plenty with eight catches for 129 yards or roughly four times as much as all other Saints receivers combined. Just Pathetic Losman only competed 7 of 15 passes for 75 yards and the obligatory interception and was replaced with Kelly Holcomb at the end of the game. Holcomb entered the game mainly in order to make sure that Losman would be healthy enough on Monday so he can meet with HC Mike Mularkey and hear "what in the hell is wrong with you, boy?"
SD 41, NE 17 And with that, the magic was gone. The 21 game winning streak that extended back into 2002 is now over and the Patriots evidently can no longer suffer extensive injuries and still create good players out of only gatorade cups and ace bandages. The Chargers stuck to their game plan of using Tomlinson (168 yards, 2 TD) and Gates (108 yards) which was plenty enough to hand the Patriots the worst spanking since HC Belichick came to town. Dillon only gained 63 yards but scored once and finally Brady had no bag of tricks at the end of the game. Deion Branch remarkably had no catches and no Patriot wideout managed more than the 66 yards by Givens. Playing at home, the Patriots had little offense or defense. And so we turn the page...
DEN 20, JAX 7 Mike Anderson noticed a 115 yard effort here but Tatum Bell had 60 yards as well to prove that you cannot rely on any Denver back being the full-time runner this year. Plummer had only 136 yards passing but two scores to Dwayne Carswell because quite simply no one had thought to cover the tackle eligible player. Not even the second time they used him. Fred Taylor covered more yards walking from his locker to the showers than he did in this game and Jimmy Smith (109 yards, 1 TD) showed he has plenty left even if no one else does. The Broncos defense is looking very good and that opening loss to the Dolphins looks more amazing with every passing week.
HOU 10, CIN 16 After dismissing their offensive coordinator and huddling for the past two weeks, the results are now in. After scoring only 7 points in their first two games, the Texans have now added a field goal to their high-scoring repertoire. Carr ended with 174 yards and one score to FB Moran Norris (yes, I thought the same thing). Andre Johnson has taken a major leap in production finally with three catches for 38 yards (as opposed to only two reception for seven yards in the first two games - hey, it is progress). Where the game was disappointing was the lackluster offensive showing of the Bengals who had their only touchdown pass go to their fullback as well. Houshmandzadeh had 8 catches for 105 yards and Chad Johnson turned in seven catches for 67 yards. This game was actually tied 10-10 until the fourth quarter when someone noticed that they were playing the Texans.
SEA 17, WAS 20 OT Great game that almost made Game-of-the-week. The Seahawks tied this game 17-17 with only 1:23 left to play, then intercepted the ball and three plays later Josh Brown went for the game winning field goal on the final play from 47 yards out and 'doink' - it hit the left upright. In overtime, Nick Novak had his Kodak moment with a 39 yarder that went true. Alexander had 98 yards and one score while Hasselbeck ended with 242 yards and a touchdown. Portis ran well with 90 yards and Brunell continues his headlock on the starting job by throwing for two scores and 226 yards. This was a great game and only the lower scoring caused it to miss being the GOTW. Bobby Engram played much of the game with cracked ribs and still had 106 yards on nine receptions.
IND 31, TEN 10 Last week Culpepper finally caught fire and after three weeks, finally, the old Peyton Manning showed up with 264 yards and four touchdowns. Marvin Harrison had 109 yards and two scores while Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James also caught touchdowns. For those who had lost the faith in Manning, it was a tough week to give up hope. The Titans looked predictably overwhelmed and Drew Bennett (2-20) was outplayed by not one, not two, but three different Titans tight ends who combined for 18 catches and 115 yards. It's not RBBC, it's TEBC and it is not very pretty. Also does not seem to win many games either.
DET 13, TB 17 The Detroit defense decided to show up this week and sadly gave Cadillac Williams a hamstring strain that ended the historic start to his career. Williams only had 13 yards on 11 carries and Michael Pittman made the most of his playing time when he gained 30 yards on five carries and added six catches for 96 yards and one score from 41 yards out. Galloway ended with a gaudy 166 yards and one touchdown thanks to a critical 80 yard score in the third quarter. Kevin Jones scored once but continues to confound by only gaining 38 yards on 12 runs and Harrington only managed 137 yards this week. Nice showing by the Detroit defense and only two long plays sunk the Lions in the game. Of course, having any help from the Lion offense would have gone a long ways yesterday.
NYJ 3, BAL 13 Oh yeah, lot's of offense here. Consider that the Jets scored three points but only because they returned a fumble to the Ravens ONE-YARD LINE and after three tries that netted a one yard loss, they kicked the field goal which they probably just should have done on first down. Curtis Martin gained only 30 yards on 13 carries and the official answer to the biggest question last week was "YES!" (Will the loss of Pennington kill Coles fantasy value?). Jamal Lewis scored a touchdown and rushed for 81 yards but needed 29 carries to get there. Coles - the big one catch for 16 yards.
DAL 13, OAK 19 Evidently both teams decided not to take advantage of their opponent's terrible secondary and they both rushed more than passed. Unfortunately, it only worked for the Raiders since Lamont Jordan had 26 runs for 126 yards and one score while Julius Jones only netted 76 yards on his 22 carries. Coming into this game, it seemed that both quarterbacks would top 300 yards but they both ended around 210 yards passing and Bledsoe had the only passing score. Moss had 123 yards in the game but otherwise this was like going to a fireworks show that ends up to be only some guys twirling sparklers in the air. On the final Dallas play, Bledsoe threw an incompletion to Terry Glenn and did not notice that Jason Witten was standing wide open - in the endzone.
MIN 10, ATL 30 The Falcons managed a paltry 88 yards passing but when a team runs for 285 yards nobody complains much. Vick had a score to Crumpler and ran for 58 yards before hurting his knee when a defender fell on it. Matt Schaub came in but no one changed the play calling so Schaub ended up with 56 yards rushing as well. Duckett scored for the fourth straight game and had 40 yards rushing. Culpepper wasn't as good as last week, but he wasn't as bad as the first two games either. He ended up with 250 yards and one scoring pass to Troy Williamson. Mewelde Moore gained 57 yards rushing but added 63 yards receiving to lead the team in both rushing and receiving yardage. His lock on the starting job got even tighter when Bennett had only one carry for a four yard loss.
STL 24, NYG 44 A great game for the fantasy world. Bulger threw for 442 yards and two scores but had three interceptions while Eli Manning had 296 yards and four scores. Barber ran for 128 yards and a touchdown and Burress ended with 204 yards and two scores. Even fantasy teams scrapping the bottom of the free agent barrel found a bye week filler good as gold if they used Dane Looker (8-90), Shaun McDonald (9-121) or Kevin Curtis (6-78). This was a top notch fantasy bonanza and almost was the GOTW. Maybe everyone expected that the top five fantasy quarterbacks would have a Manning, we just did not expect it would be Eli.
SF 14, ARZ 31

(AP - Mexico City) Los 49ers realmente el sucko este año. La defensa está muy, muy terrible si no non-existant. ¡Permitieron 383 yardas freaking a Josh McCown! ¡Freaking a Josh McCown! (wait...wrong channel)

The 49ers have hit a bad stretch of the year we like to call the NFL season. They are allowing any quarterback to throw for over 340 yards and at least two scores. Josh McCown threw for 383 yards and two touchdowns and after the final play he was seen sprinting with the football that will go into his trophy case at home. That post-game activity will likely be repeated 12 more times this season by opposing quarterbacks and McCown has a shot at getting another ball like that in week 13 when they play the 49ers again. Just to appease the Mexico City fans who are used to watching soccer, the Cardinals stopped short of the endzone six times to allow Neil Rackers to kick field goals. Both Boldin and Fitzgerald had over 100 yards receiving which now makes seven receivers over the century mark in only four games. And this with the Colts coming to town next week. The Cardinals finally get their first win of the year and if nothing else - they play the 49ers again in week 13.

Game-O-The-Week

There were several games this week that were fantasy flops - BUF/NO, HOU/CIN, DET/TB, NYJ/BAL and DAL/OAK. Defenses showed up in unwelcome proportions in those match-ups and more than a few expectations were crushed but we had some great games as well - STL/NYG, SD/NE and even the Colts scoring four touchdowns finally. The game of the week goes to a great game that had plenty of points and a comeback that fed many fantasy teams on Sunday.

Philadelphia 37, Kansas City 31

The game started out with the Chiefs rushing the ball at will and Holmes scored a touchdown on the first drive. The Eagles stalled out at mid-field and the Chiefs once again marched down the field and ended up kicking a field goal for a 10-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles fumbled on the return and the Chiefs recovered on the Eagle 27-yard line. Six plays later, Eddie Kennison had an 8-yard touchdown reception for a 17-0 lead at the start of the second quarter. This would be a laugher. The Eagles were clearly not prepared to play and were getting plucked on every drive.

After both teams had "three and out", the Eagles mounted a drive that stalled on the KC 23-yard line and Todd France attempted a field goal which was blocked. The Eagles could not even kick a field goal successfully. On the next series for the Chiefs, Green tried to throw a pass to Kennison but Sheldon Brown stepped in front and scored a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown. 17-6 because the Eagles could not even successfully kick an extra point. The shutout was over but only because of an interception, not a defensive lapse by the Chiefs.

On the next kick-off, Dante Hall streaks 96 yards for a touchdown and suddenly the Chiefs are back up 24-6.

They held the Eagles to a "three and out" and then on second down, Larry Johnson goes up the middle and fumbles - Eagles recover. This blowout was getting slowed by turnovers but at least the Eagle offense was being held in check. Then McNabb hit Owens for a 28 yard gain down to the KC 7-yard line and on the next play, hits Owens again for the score with only 1:18 left to play in the first half. With a 24-13 lead, the Chiefs decided to just run out the clock and return in the second half to add to their lead.

On the first series of the third quarter, Philly ended up with a field goal to make the score 24-16. The two teams trade series and when Philly takes over on their own 40-yard line with 3:35 left to play in the third quarter, McNabb decided to fire up what got them there - Terrell Owens. He hit Owens for 30 yards, then 28 yards and finally tossed a three yard score to Mike Bartrum and the two point conversion succeeds to Westbrook and the score suddenly is knotted at 24-24. The blowout is no longer happening. In fact, the game is not nearly so much fun for the hometown fans.

After the Chiefs cannot move the ball they punt to the PHI 15-yard line to start the fourth quarter. Big gainers by Greg Lewis and Lamar Gordon get the ball to the KC 19-yard line before they have to kick a field goal for their first lead of the game, 27-24. Tables have turned. In fact, the ensuing kickoff is fumbled by Dante Hall and recovered by the Eagles at the CK 25-yard line. After six plays, McNabb finds L.J. Smith for a one-yard touchdown with nine minutes left to play. The Eagles now lead 34-24 after having trailed 24-6 back in the second quarter.

With no time to waste, Trent Green goes to work and after only five plays, he throws an interception to Sheldon Brown who returns it to the KC 41-yard line. The Eagles worked their way down the field slowly and took the clock down to only 3:31 before they kicked another field goal for a 37-24 lead.

The Chiefs managed a 75 yard drive that ended with Trent Green hitting Dante Hall with a 15-yard touchdown pass that survived review by the booth but the clock was down to only 1:33 left to play and the Chiefs were still down 37-31. An onsides attempt goes straight to Reno Mahe who smothered it. Kneel, kneel, kneel, see ya...

The Eagles are still the team to beat in the NFC and although they started slowly, they stuck to their game plan and despite a painful injury, McNabb caught fire in the second half and turned the early massacre into yet another Eagle's win. The Chiefs played great at first and ran at will. They enjoyed a kick return touchdown and watched as the Eagles were initially unable to kick either a field goal or an extra point. No matter - McNabb and Owens proved enough to take the win along with their replacement kicker.

Just goes to show the world that you can never count out McNabb and you know, eventually, France will finally come around and just ruin everything.

Now get back to work...