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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 9
David Dorey
October 31, 2005
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Jake Plummer 309 4
Jake Delhomme 341 3
Drew Brees 324 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Tiki Barber 211 1
Marion Barber 142 2
Steven Jackson 200 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Steve Smith 201 1
Jerry Porter 123 2
Terrell Owens 154 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 145 3
Tony Gonzalez 97 1
Bubba Franks 73 1
Placekickers XP FG
Jay Feeley 3 5
Joe Nedney 0 5
Olindo Mare 1 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Raiders 1 6 2
Giants 0 5 4
Cowboys 1 3 2

Week 8 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Anquan Boldin (ARZ) - Possible torn meniscus again
Daunte Culpepper (MIN) - Right knee injury, looks bad
Mark Bradley (CHI) - Sprained right knee
Ken Dorsey (SF) - Ankle injury
Priest Holmes (KC) - Possible concussion
Tyrone Calico (TEN) - Strained calf
Ernie Conwell (NO) - Sprained knee
Thomas Jones (CHI) - Bruised ribs
Patrick Pass (NE) - Hamstring strain
Koren Robinson (MIN) - Concussion
Ben Troupe (TEN) - High ankle sprain

And it only took eight weeks

The tight ends have been spotty in their performances this season but finally the top five were all names we expected. On Sunday, the best tight ends were Antonio Gates (145, 3 TD), Tony Gonzalez (97, 1 TD), Bubba Franks (73, 1 TD), Jeremy Shockey (39, 1 TD) and Jason Witten (71, 1 TD). Okay, so maybe Franks snuck in there but Favre is getting close to just passing to himself each play.

Speaking of Brett

Cheeseheads off to Mr. Favre who has now assumed second place for all-time career passes and yards in the NFL. Favre has thrown 7264 times for 51,754 yards. That's over 29 miles worth of passes in his professional career. Favre now trails only Dan Marino who set the bar very high with 61,361 yards.

Favre remains farther down the list with only 239 interceptions and trails the NFL leader of George Blanda by a full 38 picks. Since Favre just threw five interceptions against the Bengals and he has nine games left... times five and carry the four...hey - this record setting thing may not be over yet!

The Crying Game

There's nothing like when an entire audience experiences the same fear and utter horror that fantasy football has doled out to team owners this year with wide receivers. Sure, you may think it is bad with all the injuries that have befallen the wideouts this year, but do you really know just how bad it has been? In my 16 years of playing fantasy football, this season is nothing less than historic.

Let's take a quick spin through the top 17 drafted wide receivers this season according to average draft position at MyFantasyLeague.com.

1 Randy Moss Injured week 6, playing but still hurt 10 Nate Burleson Missed 5 games, still not healthy
2 Terrell Owens Playing with injury but no effects 11 Hines Ward Missed week 6 game
3 Marvin Harrison Healthy! (Just not as productive) 12 Darrell Jackson Out since week 4
4 Torry Holt Out since week 6 13 Steve Smith Healthy! And VERY productive
5 Chad Johnson Healthy! And VERY productive 14 Michael Clayton Healthy but no one has seen him
6 Javon Walker Out since week 1 15 Roy Williams Out since week 5
7 Joe Horn Injured since week 2 16 Drew Bennett Out since 6
8 Reggie Wayne Healthy! (Just not as productive) 17 Anquan Boldin Possible season ending injury this week
9 Andre Johnson Out since Week 4      

So, not quite to the midpoint of the season, there have been only six of the top 17 wideouts drafted last season who have remained healthy and of those, only two that have truly met or exceeded expectations. Oh yeah, load up early on the wideouts in 2006, just make sure you start by the fifth round before the first one is taken. There have been numerous injuries in other positions as well though not to the catastrophic extent of wideouts. Culpepper may be out for the season as the #2 quarterback drafted and Marc Bulger has missed time as the #4.

For tailbacks, we've seen McAllister, Dillon, Julius Jones, Green and Carnell Williams already miss time if in fact they are not already on injured reserve. And just because the injuries are historically extensive doesn't mean it hurts any less. Oh yes, and this just in - we have over half the NFL season left to pray play.

Okay, who stole the lunch bag clearly marked "Gruden"...

The Buccaneers defensive end Simeon Rice was deactivated and sent back to Tampa Bay before the game against the San Francisco 49ers for "undisclosed violation of club policy". The Bucs then proceeded to lose the game and allowed Kevan Barlow to rush for 101 yards. The team is not commenting on the exact indiscretion but I've worked in a big organization before and this has all the hallmarks of a grub grab.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Chris Simms 264 1 QB Mark Brunell 65 0
RB Marion Barber 129 2 RB Clinton Portis 22 0
RB Tony Fisher 58 1 RB Priest Holmes 53 0
WR Ernest Wilford 145 1 WR Randy Moss 26 0
WR Courtney Roby 83 1 WR Jimmy Smith 27 0
WR Todd Devoe 59 1 WR Santana Moss 34 0
PK Joe Nedney 5 FG PK Shayne Graham 3 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 111

Huddle Fantasy Points = 19

Sunday's Couch Commentary (with the obligatory Halloween flair)

CLE 16, HOU 19 The Exorcist - While David Carr had been sacked so many times this season that his head spinning and spewing was considered normal, the Texans finally killed the demons of losing by relying on four Kris Brown field goals and the rookie Jerome Mathis who caught a 34-yard pass from David Carr for a touchdown and also has turned into one of the better punt returners in the league. What's that? Okay, okay. a "pass from David Carr" means a play where David Carr throws the ball to another player who catches it. Hopefully you saw the play since it may not be repeated again with two road games at Jacksonville and Indianapolis coming up next. Domanick Davis turned in his standard 116 total yards and David Carr was sacked only twice in the entire game. This was essentially the same game played by both sides except Houston had the last field goal. At least now the Texans have been exorcised from the demons of futility and can progress to the demons of relative obscurity.
CHI 19, DET 13 Dead By Midnight - Here's a game that started out boring, ended regulation boring and anyone watching figured it would take until midnight before a winner would be determined. Of course that winner had to come on an interception return for a touchdown instead of any actual offense occurring. Orton had 230 yards and one score to Muhammad while Garcia had 197 yards and one very costly interception. Thomas Jones only gained 72 yards on 22 carries while Kevin Jones only had 66 yards on 18 runs but at least Jones managed one score. Like the previous game, this was effectively the same game played on either side that went into overtime with a 13-13 tie and finally was broken only because of an ill-advised pass. The Bears are now all alone in the NFC North with a tie breaker over the 3-4 Lions. Culpepper is gone for the year. The Packers are 1-6. Can we just all agree to give them the division title now and not have to watch the next nine games that will all come in as "unders"?
ARZ 13, DAL 34 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Since the Cowboys got the memo that said only Boldin and Fitzgerald matter in the Cardinals offense, the game was already well in hand by the second quarter as it ended up. Since Dallas has a habit of letting teams back into the game, they brought the Cardinals to the Barber (127, 2 TDs) and sent them home with half of their offense seriously injured (Boldin). If opponents can beat Arizona by covering just Boldin and Fitzgerald, what will it be like when there is only Fitzgerald to cover from now on? Class? Anyone? Anyone at all? Yes - you... Correct! It will be 2004 all over again.
GB 14, CIN 21 Misery - The second most prolific passer in NFL history is sort of sad to watch now. Favre still managed to pass for 279 yards and one score against the Bengals but needed Antonio Chatman and Bubba Franks to step up to get there. Favre even had two rushes in the game as a sign of how easily covered the receivers are now. Tony Fisher (17-51, 1 TD) actually was just as good as Ahman Green though that remains "not a big help". Palmer threw for three scores but mostly the Bengals just dropped back in coverage and waited for Favre to throw five interceptions for good field position. The Packers only punted three times in the entire game since they had problems getting to a fourth down and still possessing the ball. Watching Brett Favre struggle to a 1-6 record is like going into McDonalds and seeing Donald Trump wearing a paper hat and an Assistant Manager badge.
MIN 13, CAR 38 Dawn of the Dead - Well. On the plus side no one is talking about the Love Boat anymore. This is yet another example of why you should never ask "what more could possibly happen?" Daunte Culpepper appears to have blown a knee and with that any chance for the Vikings to return to the glory of the previous seasons. Brad Johnson not only threw for 162 yards and one score, he was also the leading rusher for the Vikings with only 30 yards on four runs. In fantasy terms, the most wonderful aspect of the Panthers is that just because they have a big lead is no reason to stop using what is working and simply enough is Steve Smith. Sure, the Panthers could have won this game without him but why pass up on the chance for him to have 11 receptions for 201 yards and a score? With all the flops and injured receivers in the NFL this year, at least one player is paying some respect to the fantasy world and for that I say Viva La Steve! Oh yeah, and Vios con dios, Daunte...
BUF 16, NE 21 Scream - Did you hear that Tedy Bruschi is playing again? Did you? Did you know that Tedy Bruschi had a stroke and there he is again making tackles again? Look, Bruschi almost made another! The Patriots pulled out a close win over the Bills because Tedy Bruschi wasn't on the field to tackle teammate Corey Dillon who scored twice and gained 72 yards which Bruschi cannot do because he is a linebacker that had a stroke but he is playing again, look! The Bills took an early lead despite Tedy Bruschi playing and Willis McGahee ran for 136 yards when he was not being tackled by Tedy Bruschi, the linebacker who was in a hospital only nine months ago but now he is back playing again - look! Eric Moulds had 125 yards on nine catches since they were thrown over Tedy Bruschi who is an inspiration to every person who ever had a stroke and yet still wants to play in the NFL. The Patriots and Tedy Bruschi are now safely in first place in the AFC Bruschi division and Tedy Bruschi had not one but two solo tackles in the game. Bruschi also had five assists which are four more than he has had strokes that he has overcome to play once again in the NFL because he is Tedy Bruschi, greatest linebacker ever and stroke victim. That's Bruschi, boy...And.... cut to commercial...
JAC 21, STL 24

Nightmare on Elm Street - It never fails. You know that no matter how big a slasher Freddy is (22-165 yards, 1 TD), that eventually the kids will get out of the house alive. Steven Jackson gained 175 yards on 25 carries for the main difference in the game. That, an 83 yard touchdown by Curtis and the blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown by the Rams. Basically, it is losing because of two horrific plays that gave up 14 points. Reggie Williams appeared to finally have the matchup and opportunity for a breakout game and thereby was injured on his first play. He violated the main rule on Elm Street - never fall down while running. Ernest Wilford stepped in and ended with 145 yards on six catches. This was a bit of a twilight zone of a game and Bulger, Bruce and Holt all watched from the sideline. You just cannot write a believable script like this.

WAS 0, NYG 36 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - The biggest surprise in quarterbacks this season was Mark Brunell who ranked #3 for fantasy quarterbacks and this week he faced the #30 pass defense in the NFL. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to do the math and come up with a very nice game for Brunell and Santana Moss. So rather unnaturally Brunell only manages to complete 11 of 28 for 65 yards before getting yanked from the field and Santana Moss settled down to only 34 yards in the game. The Giants #25 defense against running backs held Clinton Portis to only nine yards on four carries. The weak Giant defense held the Redskins to only 165 total yards in the game, leaving every Brunell and Moss owner to run down the street yelling "Come back Dr. Jekyll! Come back!!" Tiki Barber went against the stout Redskins defense and shredded them for 206 rushing yards. Now we know. Mr. Hyde can totally kick Dr. Jekyll's ass.
KC 20, SD 28 The Gates of Hell - The Chargers hosted the visiting Chiefs and watched in horror as Trent Green suddenly turned into Trent Green and threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns using almost entirely Eddie Kennison (115, 1 TD) and little known secret weapon Tony Gonzalez (97, 1 TD) instead of just rushing every down. Priest Holmes got a major conk on the noggin and left the game and Larry Johnson ripped off a 46 yard run but ended with only 55 yards on six carries. They held LaDainian Tomlinson to his second consecutive game without a touchdown (if you do not count passing scores since they apply to no other NFL running back). The Chiefs could have won this game were it not for the GATES OF HELL. Antonio GATES OF HELL turned in 10 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns, scoring more fantasy points than any other NFL player in most league scoring scenarios. Sure, Tomlinson is a force to reckon with even on passing downs, but don't make them open the GATES OF HELL. Unless he is on your fantasy team of course in which case he would be "Heaven's Gates".
MIA 21, NO 6 Roadkill - The Dolphins had never won on the road and the Saints were finally back in their home state this week. Joe Horn was slated to return. Instead of a joyous reunion with their fellow cajuns, the Saints were instead completely run over by Ronnie Brown (23-106) and even could not stop Ricky Williams (17-82) who has never looked that good rushing in the state of Louisiana despite playing a good chunk of his career there. While Ricky appeared in a wedding dress when first drafted by the Saints and he later went through a painful divorce when he was sent to Miami, this was his little way of saying "look what I can do" to his ex-employer. Horn had 99 yards on seven catches but the Saints have no rushing game presently and Brooks (181 yards, 1 INT) forgot to do anything beyond look for Horn. Now 3-5, the Dolphins return home while the Saints helmets have a new logo - a tread mark.
TB 10, SF 15 Revenge of The Living Zombies - There are trap games and then there are trap games. And then there are games where everyone knows it will be a trap game and figure it still would not matter. The 49ers only managed to throw for 50 yards in the game using the #3 and #4 quarterbacks from the depth chart that started the season. This is the team which just lost 52-17 last week. The Buccaneers were 5-1 on the season and were cruising to a divisional title. Carnell Williams (13-20) could not run and Chris Simms threw for only 186 yards and two interceptions plus one 78-yard touchdown by Joey Galloway that literally had about 75 "yards after catch". Kevan Barlow is not merely the only player to rush for over 100 yards against the Bucs this year, he is now the only player to rush for over 58 yards against the Bucs. The 49ers had to use Cody Pickett as the quarterback when Dorsey was injured. Pickett is an ex-rodeo cowboy. It's like the Bucs just got whipped by the Village People.
PHI 21, DEN 49 Sometimes They Come Back...Again Oh yeah. like we haven't seen this a hundred times before (a couple anyway). The Eagles fell behind 28-0 looking like they were completely inept on both sides of the ball. McNabb only completed 4 of 18 passes for 74 yards by halftime. And then in a way that makes opposing head coaches wet their pants, McNabb got hot and hot Owens with a 91 yard touchdown and Westbrook with a 14 yard score to make the game 28-21 with a quarter left to play. Ah, but Denver wasn't willing to drop any more candy into the Eagles bags and reeled off 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to complete the rout. The game was all Denver, then all Philly, then all Denver. The Eagles flutter down to a 4-3 record with WAS, DAL and NYG up next and those NFC East opponents know that the Eagles will be playing the best 20 minutes of football in the NFL.

Game-O-The-Week

Okay, so we had an overtime game in Detroit but 13-13 is hardly anything to find exciting. And the Texans finally notched a win by taking first place in the field goal contest in Houston on Sunday. The Rams win over the Rams is a contender for the GOTW though it happened thanks mainly to two plays - one offensive and the other special teams. The G-Men sent Mara off with an amazing tribute that the picketers against the Redskins logo may not show up next week for fear they would be somehow associated with the team. The 49ers win the "caught you sneaking out of work early" award with their win over the Buccaneers and Tedy Bruschi led the comeback win over the Bills, scoring on a pass, run, catch, punt return, kick return, safety, extra point and eventual 72-yard winning field goal. But none of them seemed to scream GOTW. It had to have big points. It had to have studs turned into duds and unusual names turned into stars.

It had to be a true CLASH OF THE TITANS.

Oakland 34, Tennessee 25

Just as Halloween reminds of our past, this game harkened back to 2004 when the two teams met for a majestic 40-35 win by the Raiders that had 862 passing yards and nine receiving touchdowns. True, there would be no Derrick Mason or Drew Bennett this time. The Raiders now have an actual rushing game and the Titans are down to relying on a bevy of tight ends and handful of rookie wideouts. The expectations were low, like Halloween on rainy night. The results were like getting a full-sized candy bar when you expected a tooth brush.

The Raiders jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter by throwing scores to Lamont Jordan who could not gain yards rushing and to Jerry Porter who had not scored this season even though he has been "the wideout who is not Randy Moss". Just when all seemed over after fifteen minutes of play, the Titans put together an 80-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown to rookie wideout Courtney Roby, his first in the NFL. After a three-and-out by the Raiders, the punt was returned to the Oakland 34-yard line by Pacman Jones. McNair lost four yards on a sack and then handed off to Chris Brown who ran for 38-yards down the right sideline for a touchdown and a respectable 17-12 deficit.

This game could not continue as a normal one, so the Titans held the Raiders and made them punt and Pacman Jones ran it back 82 yards for a touchdown. Only there was that personal foul on Tank Williams that gave the Titans the ball back on their own 9-yard line instead. On third and 12, McNair was roughly introduced to Warren Sapp and lost the football which was recovered by the Raiders in the endzone. 24-12. Oops.

The Titans used up most the remaining time going down to the Raiders 21-yard line where they settled for a field goal and a 24-15 deficit. With only 44 second left before halftime, the Raiders began on their own 28-yard line and reached midfield before Collins threw to Porter. The ball was intercepted by Renaldo Hill who ran it 52 yards for a touchdown and a 24-22 score at half time.

The Titans opened the second half with a nice drive that ended on the Oakland 35-yard line when McNair lost yet another fumble. The Raiders drove for a field goal. The Titans drove to the Raiders 6-yard line but settled for a field goal, once again behind by two points, 27-25 at the start of the fourth quarter.

The Raiders only needed to reach just past midfield on the next drive when Collins connected again with Jerry Porter on a 44-yard touchdown for the final score of the game, 34-25.

This year the matchup had the Raiders with a rushing game, but it only saw Lamont Jordan gain 67 yards on 20 carries. The Raiders also had Randy Moss but he only managed three catches for 26 yards. The Titans had the better runner with Chris Brown (19-97, 1 TD) and that specter of Travis Henry returning? Never happened - he never had a single carry in the game. The stars of the game were Jerry Porter (123 yards, 2 TDs) and Courtney Roby (83 yards, 1 TD). This game once again provided the most points of any game this Sunday.

And so we head into Halloween tonight with perhaps the scariest thing of all - watching the Ravens offense on Monday night football. Wellington Mara got his big sendoff by the Giants shutting out the Redskins and Brett Favre becomes only more elite despite steering a ship with perhaps the least crew of his career. We had low scoring close games and a few big blowouts, a great week indeed for the owners of Steve Smith and any running back named Barber.

Have fun on Halloween and be safe with all those kids out running around the streets. It's the scariest day of the year and even more so for those of you who still have healthy wideouts. There's nine more weeks left to play...

Now get back to work...