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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 7
David Dorey
October 17, 2005
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Mark Brunell 331 3
Aaron Brooks 259 2
Carson Palmer 272 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Shaun Alexander 142 4
LaDainian Tomlinson 179 2
Priest Holmes 118 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Santana Moss 173 2
Chad Johnson 135 1
Rod Smith 123 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jeremy Shockey 129 1
Desmod Clark 19 2
Todd Heap 79 1
Placekickers XP FG
Rob Bironas 2 3
Matt Stover 1 3
Jose Cortez 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Detroit 2 2 4
Atlanta 2 2 2
Jacksonville 1 2 4

Week 6 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Randy Moss (OAK) - Groin injury, bruised ribs
Brian Griese (TB) - Left knee injury
Michael Vick (ATL) - Aggravated knee sprain
Jake Delhomme (CAR) - Possible concussion
Drew Bennett (TEN) - Dislocated thumb
Mark Clayton (BAL) - Sprained ankle
Patrick Crayton (DAL) - Broken ankle

And a one, and a two, and just nothing else close

For the last five seasons, there have been no players more consistent than LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander. After the four touchdown explosion on Sunday evening, Alexander joined Tomlinson as the only two NFL running backs that have ever rushed for 10 or more touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. It's no surprise that the duo went as the first two picks in almost every draft that didn't try to get slick with Peyton Manning.

Tomlinson was the first pick for most leagues and while Alexander is an obvious great pick as well, Tomlinson scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and passing in the same game yesterday. He also scored a touchdown for the 18th straight game - an NFL record. Wonder who will be the first two picks in 2006? Don't bother speculating..

Finalists for the NFL Volleyball "best spike" awards

Sunday was a bit of an oddity in that there were four field goals that were blocked and the Falcons returned John Carney's 47-yard attempt for what proved to be a very critical touchdown. If you were watching the Panthers play the Lions and missed the 47-yard attempt by Jason Hanson get blocked, you just had to wait for about one more quarter before Detroit returned the favor and blocked the 52-yard attempt by John Kasay. Dallas tried for a 49-yard field goal by Jose Cortez that was also blocked.

Evidently, teams need to get closer than 47 yards to try a field goal. They probably already know this anyway, though.

And bonus points only for free agent quarterbacks

Week six was a low-water mark for the quarterbacks this season and only two managed to throw for more than 300 yards. Mark Brunell, who as the Redskin quarterback was only supposed to handoff to Portis, managed to toss 25 of 41 for 331 yards and three touchdowns. Drew Bledsoe was the only other quarterback with the big passing yards, ending 26 of 37 for 312 yards and one touchdown. Only Brunell had more than two passing scores and half the quarterbacks had one or less.

Just trying to get you ready for December is all.

Gimmee that freaking depth chart already

As everyone knows, there are primary rushers and then their back-ups who offer the occasional relief work to spell the over-worked starter. The primary back is the starter because as the superior runner, he will get the most yardage. Except in the case of Jamal Lewis (24-59) and Chester Taylor (8-92). And although Jerome Bettis took the lead last week, this time around he only had four carries for four yards while Willie Parker ran 21 times for 55 yards. Priest Holmes made it all right by adding a 60 yard catch for a score, but he only gained 18 yards on 14 carries while Larry Johnson ran for 53 yards on 13 runs. Mike Anderson is the starter in Denver, sort of, and had 15 runs for 57 yards but Tatum Bell gained 114 yards on only 13 carries.

A couple of primary runners were out this Sunday, finally giving owners a chance to use their back-ups. Like Fred Taylor missing the game so that Alvin Pearman (15-22) could play. But, so did Greg Jones (18-77, 1TD). Antowain Smith took over for McAllister and had 12 carries for 88 yards (and two scores) but Aaron Stecker also had 16 attempts for 86 yards himself. Julius Jones was out this week and instead of Tyson Thompson (3-13), the Cowboys opted to use Anthony Thomas (21-47) who was not particularly successful and hadn't even been active two weeks this season. Oh yes, Marion Barber also had 11 carries for 30 yards to add to the mix.

If that makes you in the slight bit dizzy trying to digest or predict, do yourself a favor and just do whatever it takes to get Alexander or Tomlinson next year. And if you miss on those two, at least grab Maurice Morris since he just had 104 yards and a score yesterday. No wait...

Yo, Vinny, thanks

In the game against the Buffalo Bills, Vinny Testaverde had only one rush for one yard. It did, however, gain the final yard and scored a touchdown, making him the only quarterback in the NFL for week six that rushed in a score himself. Quarterback rushing has become almost non-existent in the non-Vick world and each week this season had seen only one or two scores by quarterbacks rushed in each week - but always at least one.

Vinny Testaverde - you cannot stop him, you can only hope to contain him.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Mark Brunell 331 3 QB Daunte Culpepper 237 0
RB Patrick Pass 153 1 RB Kevin Jones 24 0
RB Greg Jones 87 1 RB Stephen Davis 27 0
WR Devery Henderson 53 1 WR Randy Moss nope 0
WR Ricky Proehl 50 1 WR Jimmy Smith 32 0
WR Wes Welker 97 0 WR Joe Horn nope 0
PK Jose Cortez 3 FG 1 XP PK Jason Elam 4 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 107

Huddle Fantasy Points = 20

Sunday's Couch Commentary

MIN 3, CHI 28 The Vikings docked the Love Boat long enough to turn in their fourth loss of the year against the Bears in a game that had to be painful for any Minny fan to watch. Sure, almost all their games have been painful but Culpepper had no scores and two interceptions while relying on passes to his tight end and running back. You can almost imagine Culpepper winking at Jermaine Wiggins in the huddle - "yeah, all you guys on the outside run real, real deep." The Bears struggled on the run but managed to get Jones into the endzone twice and Kyle Orton also threw two touchdowns that both went to little used, almost forgotten and now temporarily hot Desmond Clark. Like most teams have figured out, the Bears just stood back and let the Vikings defend against themselves. Rookie Cedric "bad dog, bad dog!" Benson's development now includes having one less run than Kyle Orton despite facing the worst rush defense in the NFL. The Bears decided it was better to use a RB coming off a knee sprain for the entire blowout rather than let Benson run more than three times. Either Chicago is being vindictive against him for the holdout despite giving him $17 million to be their future or they must not think he is very good. In either case, Benson is turning into little more than a trivia question in Chicago.
CLE 3, BAL 16 Finally the Ravens played like they had a great defense by forcing three turnovers and four sacks and relied on a rushing game that no longer is all about Jamal Lewis. Though Lewis did have 24 carries for 59 yards, he was upstaged by Chester Taylor who turned in 92 yards on eight carries thanks to a 52 yard romp. Dilfer has never looked worse (even when he was the Raven QB) and the Browns looked like a young team thrown together this season with all new coaching and schemes. Evidently when a defense stops Antonio Bryant (4-34) and they all now know to stop Bryant, the passing game stalls for the Browns. The Ravens yank Cleveland down for some cellar company in the AFC North.
CIN 31, TEN 23 Sadly, Chad Johnson's touchdown was not accompanied by a new dance celebration because of a flag that later resolved to be defensive interference. Johnson, being the true artist that he is, claimed "the moment" had passed by then and did not perform what he later said would have been a square dance with the goal post. Palmer (272, 2 TD) continues to be the magic that had been missing for years. Both Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry scored touchdowns while Chris Brown had one of his best games with 112 total yards and two scores to fuel the Titans offense that was otherwise drained by two interceptions of McNair. In a move toward something we can understand, the Titans passing attack actually focused on two wideouts - Brandon Jones (5-82) and Drew Bennett (7-61) finally paired to out gain the trio of tight ends. For those of you waiting for Norman Chow's offensive explosion, we haven't even gotten to the blasting cap yet.
MIA 13, TB 27 The Buccaneers decided to keep Cadillac on the curb and Pittman stepped in big with 127 yards and one score on only 15 carries. Pittman may not be Cadillac, but when called on this season he's been at least a Lincoln town car or a mid-range Lexus. Actually I am tired of car analogies as I bet you are too. Galloway (9-96, 1 TD) continues to be the only wideout that matters though Michael Clayton has reappeared but only for two catches and 27 yards. This was the big week for Ricky Williams return and he covered a cool 8 yards on his five carries though he did have six catches for 22 yards as one of the bigger celebrity third down backs. Ronnie Brown only has 22 yards on nine carries with one score as the Dolphins offense is ... well... just not quite "there" yet. Evidently, Ricky Williams may be just enough to water down Ronnie Brown until someone makes the trade call. Hallmark cards is now buying the rights to Ricky Williams post-game press conferences so that they can use his statements in their new product lines of "Love is", "I'm so happy that" and "resistance is futile" greeting cards.
WAS 21, KC 28 The Skins tumble the second week in a row with their loss to the Chiefs and what was supposed to be a dominating ground game with Portis now is just pitch and catch between Brunell (331, 3 TD) and Santana Moss (10-173, 2TD) with a dash of Chris Cooley (6-54, 1 TD). This was not a game that you could afford to look away from since scores came from a 78 yard pass, 80 yard fumble return and a 60 yard pass. Holmes (14-18, 1 TD) and Johnson (13-53) are back to sharing almost equally with running the ball but there was one rather large difference between them. Seems Priest Holmes (5-100, 1 TD) was also the leading receiver thanks in no small part to the 60 yard score that proved the game winner. Had Brunell just not lost that fumble that was ran back 80 yards - this score would have likely been reversed.
SD 27, OAK 14 Oh yeah, THAT'S what the Raiders look like throwing without Moss there. It means good yardage (292), 50% completion rate and no touchdowns against one interception (Collin's first of the year). Lamont Jordan must have been watching Stephen Davis, because he only gained 36 yards on 12 carries but scored two touchdowns. Ladainian Tomlinson hit the trifecta again with a touchdown rushing, receiving and passing. He was also the leading receiver for the Bolts with only 39 yards but his 31 rushing attempts (140 yards) left little time for anyone else to have fun, including Antonio Gates (2-17). San Diego never trailed and had the game won by halftime.
NE 20, DEN 28 When a team has won three of the last four Superbowls, no one is happy to see them lose a game, much less three of their first six. The Pats fans are not happy to see their team struggling when all they ever did before was win. The non-Pats fans are not happy to see them getting big scores rolled up on them, they are unequivocally, giggling and "wetting my pants" euphoric. The Broncos rolled up a 21-3 halftime lead thanks to the one-two punch of Bell (13-114, 1 TD) and Anderson (15-57, 1 TD). Brady (299, 1 TD) tried to rally them enough to put a temporary scare into the home team fans but Patrick Pass the fullback ends up to be solid when pressed into duty, but he was not Patrick Pass the Savior. And yes, Corey DIllon was active, was dressed in uniform and remained on the sidelines doing a crossword puzzle while Belichick kept shouting at the Denver bench "Yeah, I'm going to put DILLON in now. Yep, better get READY."
NYJ 17, BUF 27 Vinny Testaverde had two interceptions and only threw 12 of 26 for 161 yards but he knew enough to hand off to Curtis Martin who gained 148 yards and one score on 18 carries. But who would have guessed that here at week six, Domanick Davis, Clinton Portis and Ahman Green would be trailing Testaverde for rushing touchdowns (just one, but we did not know Vinny was playing until last week either). The Bills won with McGahee rushing for 143 yards and one score while Holcomb threw two interceptions but also had two scores, one going to Eric "I'M ALIVE! I'M ALIVE!" Moulds. The Jets looked like they were back to normal last week but now at 2-4 there are only two teams with worse records in the AFC. Then again, they are only one game behind the Bills and Patriots that lead the AFC East with only a 3-3 record. Ah, the times they are a'changing...
NYG 13, DAL 16 OT This would have been a contender for Game of the Week but GOTW prefers there to be actual points in the game. Eli the Great still only appears at home though he had a late game drive to tie the score with Jeremy Shockey (5-129, 1 TD). The Cowboys mostly relied on Keyshawn Johnson (8-120) and managed to take the opening kickoff in overtime down for a 45-yard field goal to win the game. Evidently when Julius Jones is out, there is no question who will replace him. Every running back on the roster will be playing. This was a great game but all those field goals needed to be touchdowns to become a GOTW.
HOU 10, SEA 42 The game initially turned for the worse when the Boeing 747 made a left into Gate 33 to let the Texans players off on Saturday. It only got worse from there onward. In fairness, this game was actually pretty even since Hasselbeck (168, 1 TD) and Carr (179, 1 TD) were relative equals but the difference was sort of made between Domanick Davis running 18 times for 40 yards versus Shaun Alexander gaining 141 yards and four touchdowns, tiring, and then allowing Maurice Morris to gain an additional 104 yards and another touchdown.The Houston rush defense was so bad that Seattle resorted to throwing occasional passes just to look like they were not trying to roll up the score (which, incidentally, proved impossible not to do). The Texans are now 0-5 and finally catch a break by hosting the Colts next week. At least then there will be absolutely no pretense that they have a chance to win and fans can admit they are only coming to see Skippy the Frisbee Dog at halftime. May be the only applause heard the entire afternoon.

Game-O-The-Week

This was a breathtaking weekend for football. Overall, there were not many high scoring games but there were several matchups that went down to the wire, including two overtime games. Chicago and Baltimore used great defense at home to hold the Vikings and Browns to only a field goal in their games. Tennessee gave the Bengals a scare and J.P. Losman can evidently keep clutching that clipboard while looking alert. The Broncos had a stampede over the Patriots and then tried to coast only to find that New England wasn't willing to stop trying. Just a great weekend really with so many exciting games that it would be unfair to only name one.

It was one of those weeks, the kind where there were three games that demanded watching and each ended with the realization "that's going to leave a mark."

Atlanta 34, New Orleans 31

The fourth quarter started with a 17-17 tie and even though Joe Horn had pulled himself back out of the game and McAllister was not playing, the Saints were not about to quit. Three minutes into the final quarter, a Falcon drive ended with a Vick pass to FB Justin Griffith for a touchdown and a 24-17 lead. But the Saints roared back and on the next drive, Brooks hit Donte Stallworth for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 7:02 left to play. Tied 24-24, Atlanta took their next drive only three and out and the Saints were kind enough to throw an interception on their first play that ended on the NO 11-yard line. After a holding penalty, Warrick Dunn ran 21 yards for a touchdown and a 31-24 lead with only 4:48 left to play. Going tit for tat in that way that always begs the question "why the hell were they waiting for three quarters to play like this ?", the Saints started on their own 15-yard line and drove the field. Brooks hit Devery Henderson for a 15-yard touchdown with only 51 seconds to play for the 31-31 tie.

Vick then hit Crumpler on two passes that brought the ball to the NO 39-yard line with 24 seconds left. Two passes that went to Roddy White and Alge Crumpler bought it to the 34-yard line and then Vick ran to the 28-yard line with only 14 seconds left. That is a 51 yard attempt. Vick tried to run up the middle for no gain but the Saints had 12 men on the field. From the 23-yard line, Todd Peterson, who has not missed a field goal this season, tried a 41 yard field goal and of course missed it. But - the Saints were flagged for defensive holding and with two seconds left, Peterson nailed the 36-yard field goal for the win.

The only explanation is that fate did not want the Saints to win. HC Jim Haslett said it was the referees, but I think it was fate. Or just universal forces at play that can only be described as anti-Haslett.

Carolina 21, Detroit 20

This was a wonderful game in the sense that looking at the score tells you absolutely nothing about what happened. The Lions entered the fourth quarter ahead 17-14 because Jake Delhomme had thrown four touchdown passes in the game. One went to Steve Smith, one went to Rod Gardner, one went to the LB Boss Bailey and the other went to SS Kenoy Kennedy. Make no mistake here, Joey Harrington was as awful as he has ever been despite playing the usually soft Carolina secondary. He ended with 201 yards only because Marcus Pollard had an 86-yard catch late in the game.

The Lions had the ball mid-way through the fourth quarter on their own 4-yard line which is like 2 miles away from scoring for Harrington but on second down, he hit Marcus Pollard who ran all the way down the left sideline to the CAR 5-yard line before getting caught. Since they were so close, they only lost two yards in the next three plays and settled for another Jason Hanson field goal and a 20-14 lead with five minutes left to play. After trading two unsuccessful series with the Lions, the Panthers got the ball back on their own 21-yard line with 3:13 left in the game. After Nick Goings ran for 11 yards, Delhomme tried to run up the middle on a pass play that broke down and was throttled as he slid to a stop. The Lions were flagged and the gall advanced to the DET 48-yard line after they finally found all the remaining pieces of Delhomme's head and body and brought them to the sideline. Chris Weinke came into the game looking like a 15-year old kid asked to drive the family car down to 7-11 and buy some beer. "Me? Really? Let me get my hat!".

Basically, Weinke did what Harrington could not. He systematically drove the field literally by throwing five straight passes to Ricky Proehl. Since the Lions are not keen on picking up patterns, his sixth straight pass went to - Ricky Proehl - for a three yard touchdown with only 36 seconds left to play.

Joey Harrington had 24 seconds left in his career to play in the game knowing he had to finally do something positive so that Mariucci might go just one day without calling Jeff Garcia to chat and ask his about his health. Thanks to a great return by R.J. McQuarters to midfield, Harrington had 24 seconds to cover only, oh, ten yards for a field goal attempt? What's he do? He zeroes in on Glenn Martinez, the rookie from Saginaw State that had never caught a pass in the NFL. He threw three straight incompletions at Martinez before noticing Mariucci pointing and yelling "not him, HIM!". By then, it was fourth down and one incompletion to Kevin Johnson ended the game.

Jacksonville 23, Pittsburgh 17 OT

Once upon a time, all really good teams made opponents fear coming to play in their stadium. And then it became 2005 and teams may start to request to visit the tougher venues instead of hosting the game. The Steelers led easily enough 14-10 at halftime and the only reason the score was that close was because "Touchdown Tommy" Maddox threw an interception that was returned to the Pittsburgh 7-yard line and became a touchdown in one play by Greg Jones. The first quarter had already seen Greg Jones gain 63 of his 77 yards in the game and finally the defense realized they needed to stop him after Jacksonville took the lead.

The Jaguars took the opening kickoff in the second half and starting at their own 29-yard line, Leftwich hit Reggie Williams for the ultra-rare long pass to cover 41 yards to the PIT 18-yard line. After Alvin Pearman reached the 10-yard line, Leftwich found Matt Jones for a touchdown and the 17-14 lead. The Steelers were not moving the ball well thanks to Bettis suddenly being phased out and Tommy Maddox proving why he had been only a back-up quarterback the last two seasons. But in the fourth quarter, the Steelers finally got close enough for a tying field goal with nine minutes left to play.

Steelers got close enough for a 46-yard field goal attempt but missed it wide right with 3:32 left to play.

Jaguars reached the PIT 32-yard line but Leftwich threw an interception with only 26 seconds left to play. He had tried to hit Reggie Williams again but with one 41-yard gain already to him, it was just one trip to the well too many. Overtime!

The Steelers won the toss and took the kickoff down to the Jaguars 26-yard line thanks to a great effort by Quincy Morgan. Kick the winning field goal now? Nah. Parker loses three yards and fumbles but recovers it himself. Field goal now? Nah, Parker gains two yards back. Now? Third down, time to let Tommy Maddox lose a fumble that is returned to the JAX 36-yard line. Field goal on third down - 'pshaw'...

Starting at their own 36-yard line, the Jaguars use a six play drive to lose 17 yards and punts to the Steelers 35-yard line.

Maddox finally had his moment of glory. Again. And after throwing an incompletion to Heath Miller, he tried to hit Quincy Morgan but zzzziipppp - Rashean Mathis slashes in front and streaks down the left sideline for a 36-yard, game winning touchdown in overtime.

Touchdown Tommy lives. Just on the other side of the street this week.

Week six is in the books now other than the Rams and Colts on Monday night. It was a week that had lower passing numbers and lots of blocked field goals, some which made the difference in the game. The backfields for many teams are become an undecipherable mess and quarterbacks are mattering less. Just remember, there are no back-up running backs as good as primary backs and calling up aging quarterbacks can spell disaster in overtime but can be downright handy from the one-yard line when the defense is thinking "the last thing they would do is..."

Oh yes, and no matter what next year - get Tomlinson and Alexander in your draft or auction. We cannot all own them, but by week six - most of us wish we did.

Now get back to work...