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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 11
David Dorey
November 14, 2005
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Peyton Manning 297 3
Gus Frerotte 360 2
Chris SImms 279 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Shaun Alexander 174 3
Sam Gado 108 3
Tiki Barber 206 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Roy Williams 117 3
Larry Fitzgerald 141 1
Joey Galloway 131 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Ben Watson 37 2
Tony Gonzalez 81 0
Randy McMichael 81 0
Placekickers FG XP
Ryan Longwell 4 3
Josh Scobee 3 3
John Kasay 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Minnesota 3 2 5
Carolina 1 3 6
Jacksonville 1 4 3

Week 10 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Pretty short and delightfully light unless you are a rookie RB in your first start.

Cedric Benson (CHI) - Probable blown-out knee
Kelly Holcomb (BUF) - Concussion
Ernest Wilford (JAX) - Sprained shoulder
Charlie Batch (PIT) - Broken hand

What's the worst that could happen?

The 49ers mounted a drive to end the first half and with fourth-and-nine from the Bears 34-yard line, they went for a 52 yard field goal in the hopes they could go up 6-0 by halftime. The extreme wind in Chicago had already been a problem in the game but it was the final play - what could happen really?

Evidently just an NFL record. The kick sailed wide right and Nathan Vasher caught it at the back of the endzone and hesitated for a moment but realized that since time had already expired - what's the worst thing that could happen with a return? In this case, nothing. Vasher ran out to a collection of most the 49ers kicking team around the 20-yard line, gave a beautiful spin move and scooted down the right sideline for a 108 yard touchdown return of a failed field goal. Hello record books!

Just to head off a few emails - it was a special teams play. It should be credited as a special teams touchdown if the league scoring rules state all special teams touchdowns are credited. If the league only mentions the typical sources - touchdown returns of interceptions, fumbles, blocked kicks or punts and yet does not stipulate this scenario, then you have what we call a quandary on your hands. In my opinion, it is absolutely a special teams touchdown and is no different than a returned kick-off.

Welcome to the Special Olympics

The Vikings were almost completely unable to move the ball offensively and ran for only 12 net yards against the Giants. Brad Johnson only managed to throw for 144 yards and the offense only kicked one field goal in the game. Were they blown out? Nope - in fact they won 24-21 thanks to a first in NFL history. They scored touchdowns on returns of an interception (92 yards), kick-off (86 yards) and punt (71 yards). The offense only gained 156 yards in the game but the defense and special teams moved the ball for 394 yards and three touchdowns.

On Monday during game film review, it will be pointed out by the special teams coach of the Giants that not everyone wins in this brand of the Special Olympics.

Did you miss "IT"?

After endless commercials by EBay touting the importance and desirability of "IT", we now know that "IT" was the 28 yard completion from Cody Pickett to Brandon Lloyd in the game against the Chicago Bears. "IT" came at the start of the third quarter and "IT" was the ONLY completion by the 49ers in the entire game. Pickett only attempted 13 passes and he did actually complete another to the safety Mike Brown though it doesn't count. Only Lloyd managed to actually catch a ball thrown to him. Hopefully the 49ers will recognize the accomplishment by placing the ball into a glass case with the big, bold letters "IT" written on the ball to honor the feat.

League Memo regarding parity received

The NFC North, from which only the Bears have risen from the ashes, entered the weekend with three teams sporting 3-5 records or worse. The Packers were 1-7. By Sunday night, all four teams had won their games. The NFC East, where no team has a losing record had both Washington and the NY Giants lose their games with Dallas and Philadelphia left to play each other. The Giants loss now means if the season ended today that the Panthers and Seahawks would have homefield advantage in the NFC.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Gus Frerotte 360 2 QB Name 0 0
RB Sam Gado 108 3 RB Willis McGahee 66 0
RB Adrian Peterson 120 1 RB Cadillac Williams 20 0
WR Matt Jones 117 1 WR Steve Smith 34 0
WR Edell Shepherd 87 1 WR Laveranues Coles 30 0
WR D.J. Hackett 78 1 WR Muhsin Muhammad 3 0
PK Ryan Longwell 4 FG 3 XP PK Rian Lindell 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points =

Huddle Fantasy Points =

Sunday's Couch Commentary

ARZ 21, DET 29 Life without Boldin in the lineup means literally throwing every other pass to Larry Fitzgerald who ended with nine catches for 141 yards and one touchdown. J.J. Arrington scored his first NFL touchdown and racked up 28 yards because by now he is on a different roster than originally drafted in every league. Joey Harrington came to life and actually looked flawless in throwing for 231 yards and three scores with no interceptions. Each of those passing scores went to Roy Williams (7-117) who evidently is finally healthy again. Even Kevin Jones (14-81) ran very well giving hopes that he really is only good in the second half of the season. Then again, maybe all this DET offense is because the Cards were visiting and the Lions wanted to show something before going to Dallas next week.
HOU 17, IND 31 The Colts perfect season remains intact and Peyton Manning (297 yards, 3 TD) is looking very 2004ish once again. James rambled for 122 yards and a score while Harrison, Stokley, Wayne and Dallas Clark all had good games. Quick - someone get a camera. The Texans remain in contention for the first pick in the NFL draft by having David Carr only throw for 138 yards and Andre Johnson led the team with only 42 yards just because you thought it was safe to start him again. Dom Davis was a game time scratch so Jonathan Wells benefited with 58 yards and one score. This was a nice match-up between the toast of the league and, well, the league's only team that already is toast.
BAL 3, JAX 30 Kyle Boller finally took over the starting reins again and showed the layoff did nothing to change his skills by throwing for 142 yards, three interceptions and four sacks. Jamal Lewis turned in runs as long as seven yards enroute to his 44 yards on 14 carries as the Ravens offense continues to remain in hiding this season. Greg Jones (106 yards, 1 TD) was an ample replacement for Fred Taylor and the star of the game was Matt Jones who had five catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Boller has played in two games this year and now has only one touchdown and that went to MLB Mike Peterson. Remember back when we thought that Brian Billick was an offensive genius? Feels good to be clean and sober now, huh?
NE 23, MIA 16 In what can only be considered standard Patriot play now, Corey Dillon played for exactly one snap and left the game so that Heath Evans could shoulder the load for 17 carries and 84 yards. The Patriots pass defense was horrible and yet Brady at the end of the game was able to snatch a win from the jaws of disaster by finding this week's waiver wire star Bubba Watson for two scores in the game (and who will be the first player turned back in next week). Frerotte threw for 360 yards and two scores which is roughly twice his normal game and the Fins showed willingness to adhere to a game plan by splitting carries between Ronnie Brown (14-64) and Ricky Williams (11-13). Let's make this clearer - that's splitting carries between Brown (64 yards) and Williams (13 yards). Let's make this even clearer - what in the heck are they trying to accomplish?
SF 9, CHI 17 Joe Montana is now rolling in his grave after the news that the 49ers only completed one pass in an entire game as a sign that the degeneration of the West Coast offense has come to a complete demise. True - Montana is alive but once he hears of this it will likely kill him. The entire game produced only 95 passing yards by both teams combined as the windy conditions and general inability to throw forced both teams to an exclusive use of the running game. The Bears no longer need to explain why Cedric Benson is not receiving more playing time because chances are he'll have no more carries this year after his lower leg made a nasty "L" to the right of his body starting at the knee. Adrian Peterson ran for 120 yards and one score behind the great blocking of the CHI line. The good news here is that the 49ers only allowed 67 passing yards and got to lower their league leading passing yards allowed. They are still worst in the league but worst no longer means quite as bad. Searching for the positives here...
KC 3, BUF 14 After centuries of practice slaughtering bison, you would think the team with the Chiefs mascot would be able to handle the Buffalo Bills but that doesn't take into account that Trent Green would throw three interceptions and would be outplayed by J.P. "Love me now?" Losman who had two scores after Holcomb left the game injured. Larry Johnson ran for 132 yards but no scores in the post-Holmes era (Part II). The difference in the game were those three interceptions by Green since McGahee only had 66 yards - exactly half what Johnson ran for. Lee Evans had three catches for 66 yards and two scores and once again sends owners scrambling for the sock drawers of their roster to see if they still have him .Consider this the Revenge of the Buffalo because they scalped the Chiefs chances of catching the Broncos.
NYJ 3, CAR 30

That whole "happy with Bollinger" thing didn't last very long. Brooks only managed to throw for 98 yards and four interceptions against the Panthers which now makes Laveranues Coles the #1 fantasy player for "he's back, he's gone, he's back, he's gone". The Panthers only had 119 passing yards and 101 rushing yards but a 27 point win becomes possible when the opponent has six turnovers including a pass interception returned for a touchdown. Just sort of stand back and let it happen. Steve Smith was held to only 34 yards in the game but he was missing the chance to be a part of any long drives since the Jets only punted three times in the game and yet gave away nice field position with six turnovers.

STL 16, SEA 31 The Rams finally got back Bulger, Holt and Bruce and went back to losing games after winning their last two without them. Bulger had his standard 304 yards and one score to Holt and Jackson ran for 70 yards but that couldn't begin to match the power of Shaun Alexander who ran for 165 yards and three scores. Alexander is on a pace to sign one very obscene long-term contract somewhere and every handoff for a touchdown now likely is costing the Seahawks thousands of dollars if they think they are going to keep Shaun. Seattle is now 7-2 and has a three game lead on the Rams with the tie breaker. The only factor that doesn't make them reach for the autopilot now is that they are tied for the best record in the NFC and a home berth throughout the playoffs.
GB 33, ATL 25 The Packers pull off one of the bigger upsets of the season when they finally notch their second win of the year by beating down the Falcons in Atlanta. Samkon Gado is the fifth Packer back to run the ball this year but now is first in the hearts of all cheeseheads. He ended with 103 rushing yards and two scores and added another score via a pass reception, He may not be another Shaun Alexander, but yesterday he almost was one for the day. The Packers jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and entered the fourth quarter already ahead 23-14 and the Falcons were unable to keep up. Sure, Dunn and Vick had some success running the ball but it sure would have been nice for Vick to have started to pass well prior to the very end of the game, that's all I'm saying. Vick's 209 yards and two scores came largely when the game was out of reach and yet still is one of the worst performances against the Packers secondary this year, that's all I am saying too.
DEN 31, OAK 17 Like the last three games, the road team took the win in this match-up that usually defies records and standings when these two teams meet. Denver handled the Raiders with little trouble despite being in Oakland and had a 24-0 lead going into the fourth quarter. Lamont Jordan had trouble running and only gained 48 yards on 14 carries but added 60 yards on seven catches but the Oakland offense couldn't get in synch until trash time and all their points and a good portion of the yardage came in that final quarter. Anderson (65 yards, 1 TD) and Bell (44 yards) were just good enough to control the ball but the main difference here were the three interceptions thrown by Kerry Collins - one being returned for a touchdown during the fourth quarter when the Denver offense already had left to go play poker in the locker room. Moss (87 yards, 1 TD) was the lead receiver but again - everything that was good never happened for the Raiders until the fourth quarter when they had already lost the game.
WAS 35, TB 36 This would be a guaranteed GOTW in almost any other week. This qualified in every way and was eked out by the Viking's win that was nothing short of incredible in how it happened. Tampa Bay led 21-13 at halftime but Cadillac coughed up the ball on the first play of the second half to allow the Redskins to tie the game with a pass to Sellers who has only caught ten passes this year but five were for touchdowns. The Skins took the lead with a pass to Betts that had Simms lead a drive on the next play for a touchdown to Hilliard. The Skins took the lead back in the fourth quarter on a Portis run and finally with two minutes left to play, Simms led a drive to the WAS 30-yard line with 1:05 left to play and hit Edell Shepherd for a touchdown. The tying extra point was blocked but the defense was offsides. The ball was moved from the two yard line to the one yard line and Gruden evidently had seen Vermeil last week and decided to go for the two point conversion. Alstott bulled his way in for the winning score. This was a great game with a great ending and every bit as good as the GOTW between the Giants and Vikings. Just not nearly as screwy or record setting. Portis shredded the best rush defense in the NFL with 144 yards and one score while Cadillac only had 10 carries for 20 yards and Alstott scored twice. A great game that richly deserves to be the "B side" to the GOTW.
CLE 21, PIT 34 What wonderful trash time numbers we had this week. The Steelers allowed the Browns to march down and score on their first possession and then stopped them cold while Pittsburgh scored 24 consecutive unanswered points until four minutes left in the fourth quarter when a field goal attempt was blocked and the Browns ran it back for a touchdown. The Steelers responded with a touchdown by Vernon Haynes since he is the only Steeler tailback with no chance of being started on any fantasy team and then allowed the Browns another cheap touchdown before the final gun. Charlie Batch looked sharp throwing 13 of 19 for 150 yards until he broke his hand and Tommy Maddox entered the game to a chorus of boos. Hines Ward had already set the franchise record for receptions so Maddox mainly just handed the ball off and hoped that no one would key his car in the parking lot. The score seems to suggest this was a game with a lot of offense but that only happened from the first drive and the final drive of Cleveland. Otherwise - nothing but Steelers in the game.

Game-O-The-Week

Nice week in the NFL for scoring since 8 teams topped 30 points in a game and while there were good fantasy numbers all around with few injuries, there were two teams that literally screamed GAME OF THE WEEK. I hate having more than one but each of these games were incredible to watch and had major impacts on the playoff runs of both losers. The winning teams - not likely to be playing come January but both the losing teams had everything to play for in the NFC East.

Minnesota 24, NY Giants 21

The Giants were favored by around ten points in this game and even that seemed low. The Vikings were on the road where they had not won a game this year and Mewelde Moore was injured. Culpepper now long gone. The Giants entered the game healthy with a full cast that had been one of the highest scoring teams in football after almost every week this season. Come to think of it, the Giants and Vikings had sort of swapped places from a few years back.

The tone was set on the initial kick-off when Willie Ponder fumbled the ball and the Vikings recovered at the NYG 27-yard line. After three plays, they tried to kick a 40-yard field goal that was wide right. A few series later, the Giants had the ball on their own 12-yard line and on third down Manning threw an interception that game the Vikings the ball on the NYG 7-yard line. Three fruitless plays led to a 32-yard field attempt. It was blocked. The Giants were trying to give the game away and the Vikings offense twice was unable to turn great field position into any points.

After each team had four down series, the Giants finally pit together a drive starting at their own 28-yard line and when the second quarter started, it was second and six yards to go from the MIN 11-yard line. Manning passes to Burress but the Vikings safety cut in to intercept the pass and turn it into a 92-yard interception return touchdown. Somehow the Vikings now led 7-0 despite having only 20 yards of offense and already missing on two field goals.

The Giants managed to complete two remaining drives in the first half with field goals to trail only 6-7 at the half. By this point in the game, the Vikings only had eight rushing yards and 11 passing yards. And yet they were ahead of the Giants who had rushed for 82 yards and passed for 114 yards and had missed one field goal themselves.

When the second half opened, it was assumed that a normal game would begin with the clearly superior Giants waking up and dominating the Vikings the rest of the way. The Giants had already beaten the Vikings everywhere but the scoreboard thanks only to several turnovers most of which were not even turned into points. It was time for the Giants to turn it up and get out of the game with a win.

But the opening kickoff went to Koren Robinson who ran it back 86 yards for a touchdown. It suddenly was 14-6 and the mismatch between the scoreboard and how well each team had played just grew bigger. On the next series, Manning led a drive from his own 15-yard line and ended with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer. Finally, FINALLY, something made sense in the game. The Giants just went for the extra point and trailed 13-14 because seriously - the Vikings offense could not move the ball anyway.

To show what folly it would be for the Vikings, they finally put together a drive that reached the NYG 27-yard line and Brad Johnson threw a touchdown to Travis Taylor that was called back on offensive pass interference. Mike Tice had a disagreement with the call and ended up getting an additional 15 yard penalty on himself for unsportsmanlike conduct. Instead of a touchdown, the Vikes were shoved back to first and 35 yards to go from their own 48-yard line. They ended up punting.

Surprisingly the Giants offense had an ineffective run by Barber (one of his few) and Manning threw two incompletions before the Giants punted the ball back. Problem was that Mewelde Moore had fielded the punt on his own 29-yard line and did not stop running until 71 yards later when the scored the third touchdown by the Vikings that came from special teams or the defense. The VIkings took a 21-13 lead. In a game that should have been a shutout according to the box score, the Vikings actually led by eight points. When Moore ran past the final Giants player, it was evident that the punter was not intending to actually try to make a tackle and his half-hearted attempt at stopping Moore looked more like he was trying to shake his hand as he ran past.

Manning threw his second interception and the Vikings took over at mid-field but only could gain sis yards before giving the ball back. Finally, mid-way in the fourth quarter, Manning threw a five yard touchdown to Barber but there was an ineligible man downfield and the Giants had to try again. On second down, Manning threw his fourth interception. Not to worry - the Vikings yet again went four and out and punted.

With only 3:17 remaining in the game, the Giants took over on their own 33-yard line and Manning threw five straight completions to reach the MIN 26-yard line at the two minute warning. Two plays later, a short dump pass to Barber went to the three yard line where Barber ended up rushing in a touchdown. The two point conversion would tie the game and force overtime and the Giants relied on the tried and true - run Barber who scored and knotted the scoreboard finally at 21-21 with only 1:15 left to play.

The Vikings had only passed for 98 yards in the first 59 minutes of play. They only had 12 net rushing yards in the game. They took over on their own 28-yard line and Johnson was promptly sacked for a four yard loss. Then he hit Wiggins for 21 yards and a first down. Then he hit Marcus Robinson for 11 yards down to the NYG 44-yard line with only 46 seconds left to play. He found Taylor on an out pattern down to the NYG 33-yard line with 39 seconds left. The drive stalled with only a three yard completion to Wiggins and two incompletions that drained the clock to only 19 seconds left.

Edinger trotted on to try a 48 yard field goal. He had already missed a 40-yarder. He already had a 32-yarder blocked. On the only offensive drive in the entire game that covered significant ground, Edinger nailed the 48-yard field goal right down the middle. After the Giants tried one razzle-dazzle lateral play that failed, the Vikings had secured a win over the best record in the NFC and division leading Giants. The Vikings were out gained in rushing 12 to 126 yards. They were out passed 144 to 291 yards. The Vikings offense only managed to successfully kick one of three field goals and no touchdowns and yet won the game 24-21. Sometimes fate says one team must win even if it means having to help the game along over and over and over.

Like the Giants, many fantasy teams cannot afford a loss in their quest to reach the playoffs. You can have the better team and match-up better in every position. You can have home field advantage and every reason to win the game. And sometimes - you won't. Making mistakes like Manning's four interceptions cannot be overcome. Making mistakes like allowing three long touchdowns from an interception, punt and kick return for the first time in NFL history eventually does happen and you have to accept it. Learn the lessons, accept the defeat and move on.

Just don't look like you are trying to shake their hand when they run past.

Now get back to work...