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Tunnel Vision - Week 12
David Dorey
November 21, 2005
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Drew Brees 339 4
Byron Leftwich 258 4
Peyton Manning 365 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Larry Johnson 217 2
Mike Anderson 129 3
Chris Brown 129 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Chad Johnson 189 1
Jerry Porter 142 1
Donte Stallworth 76 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Dallas Clark 125 1
Antonio Gates 77 1
Alge Crumpler 49 1
Placekickers XP FG
Shayne Graham 4 3
Joe Nedney 1 4
Matt Bryant 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Denver 0 4 5
Tampa Bay 1 3 2
Kansas City 1 1 3

Week 11 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Brooks Bollinger (NYJ) - Concussion
Marc Bulger (STL) - Shoulder bruise
Doug Gabriel (OAK) - High ankle sprain
Antonio Gates (SD) - Foot injury
Vinny Testaverde (NYJ) - Leg injury
Kevan Barlow (SF) - Concussion
Frank Gore (SF) - Groin strain
James Thrash (WAS) - Hamstring strain

The 50-50-50-50-50-50-50-50 Club

Tony Gonzalez is now the first tight end in the history of the NFL to have at least 50 catches for eight consecutive seasons, passing Shannon Sharpe who had seven between 1992-98. Gonzalez leads all NFL tight ends with 54 receptions this season other than Antonio Gates (56). Now if he can just work on that one touchdown scored for the season stat...

Your RBBC Cheatsheet

The committee approach to running backs is only getting worse every season and while it does water down what a single tailback could go, it sometimes produces two viable fantasy prospects from the same backfield. Sure, it is sharing the wealth but at least it helps with filling bye weeks.

Here is the current run down judging by last weekend:

RBBC with value for both: NE, DAL, MIA, ATL, DEN, CIN,
RBBC with little value: NO, DET, CAR, BAL, ARZ, SF,
No-RBBC, no value: JAX, STL, PHI, BUF, NYJ,
Normal one good back: CLE, CHI, TB (maybe), PIT (maybe), TEN, OAK, WAS, NYG, SEA, SD, IND, KC (now), HOU

That makes only about half of the teams using one back only and being successful. Now if only those six teams with "value for both" would just stick to only runner, we could fill out our starting lineups with some confidence.

The Playoff Race is shaping up

The slate of contenders is coming into focus now though mathematical possibilities still abound. Considering how teams have been playing, here's a stab at the most likely ending for the end of the season.

East - New England (6-4). No doubt. Maybe no left healthy by then, but the Pats will take the AFC East. Again.
North - Pittsburgh (7-3) and Cincinnati (7-3) will duke it out until the end.
South - Indianapolis (10-0). Pretty confident here.
West - Denver (8-2)
Wildcards - Either Steelers or Bengals and then likely Jacksonville or San Diego. Probably Jacksonville with that schedule.

East - Dallas (7-3) and NY Giants (7-3) will fight this one out until the end of the season.
North - Chicago (7-3). Easily.
South - Carolina (7-3), Tampa Bay (7-3) and Atlanta (6-4) will fight this one until the end of the season.
West - Seattle (8-2)
Wildcards - Tough one. Between Cowboys or Giants, Tampa Bay, Atlanta or Carolina. Could be any of them.

The tight races in the AFC North and NFC East and South will be decided likely in the next month when all the teams play each other but towards the end of the year, teams usually fall to the wayside much more than suddenly kick it into gear and win more than have been.

And the watch is on

Sure, the Colts are 10-0 and spawning the natural question - Can they go undefeated? While that is interesting and certainly not out of the question, that has already been done before by the 1972 Miami Dolphins who assemble annually to get drunk and laugh at the final team that loses a game during the season. This is because their undefeated record is intact and they get a chance to meet again next year and get drunk while slurring about "those young punks this year".

The real watch is on for Neil Rackers who scoots even closer to something that has never been done. Rackers kicked three more field goals yesterday which bring his total up to 31 on the season. He is averaging over three field goals per game and is only eight successful kicks from tying the all-time record of 39. He has six games left and needs only to kick one field goal per game to equal the record which seems almost hard for him to merely stop there. If his average was to continue, he'd end up with 49 field goals on the year and an unbreakable record indeed. At least until the next kicker comes along with a team that specializes in "close but not close enough".

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Mike McMahon 298 2 QB Drew Bledsoe 110 0
RB Maurice Hicks 87 1 RB Stephen Jackson 22 0
RB J.J. Arrington 68 1 RB Curtis Martin 8 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 119 1 WR Chris Chambers 12 0
WR Andre Davis 60 1 WR Joey Galloway 0 0
WR Roddy White 108 0 WR Randy Moss 40 0
PK Joe Nedney 4 FG 1 XP PK John Kasay 1 FG 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 102

Huddle Fantasy Points = 15

Sunday's Couch Commentary

NO 17, NE 24 The Patriots extend their lead over the AFC East while the Saints extend their losing streak to six games. This time Dillon was made inactive before the game instead of on play #2 and Heath Evans had a 95 yard game while sharing with Patrick Pass (13-53). Aaron Brooks had 343 yards and two scores and became the all-time leading touchdown passer for the Saints by passing Archie Manning. The Saints have no rushing game and relied on Stallworth for the two scores. The Patriots consistently scored in each quarter while the Saints posted 10 points in the last five minutes to make it look much closer than it was. On a sad note, after the game HC Belichick told the team that his father had passed away on Saturday night so they dedicated the game to him.
DET 7, DAL 20 Drew Bledsoe had only 110 passing yards and no scores but the Cowboys opted for a committee approach for rushing and Julius Jones (21-92) and Marion Barber (15-53, 2 TD) both had good fantasy games though half what they would have assumedly had by themselves. That big time passing game of the Cowboys has evidently fallen with all the leaves on the trees. Kevin Jones only gained 29 yards but scored once. Dallas now has only four days to prepare themselves to play on Thanksgiving against the Broncos, one of only three teams with a better record than Dallas.
MIA 0, CLE 22 SHUTOUT! Neither Sage Rosenfels (14 yards, 2 INT) or Gus Frerotte (53 yards) were able to do anything in one of "those games" that started out with Rueben Droughns running for a 75-yard touchdown on the Browns' first offensive play. Hard to believe the Dolphins had no defenders that could run down the big man. Droughns ended with 30 carries for 166 yards and the one score - take away the initial run and the production is nothing remarkable. It didn't have to be since the Dolphins could not mount a decent drive. Ricky Williams (13-83) actually ran better than Ronnie Brown (12-56) in the RBBC scheme that just won't go away. Most interesting - Charlie Frye got his first taste of the NFL by coming in and going 6 of 11 for 58 yards and one interception. Frye is the future and make sure that you do not ask Dilfer about it, because he's snapping at all the reporters that bring it up.
CAR 3, CHI 13 The Chicago Tourist's Board is sending an urgent "cease and desist" order to the Bear's organization because at this rate, no one wants to visit Chicago anymore. Jake Delhomme was sacked eight times and threw two interceptions and the duo of Foster and Davis combined for only 47 rushing yards. Since the Panthers were never within one foot of the goal line, Davis was of no use in the game. Steve Smith, however, turned in 14 catches for 169 yards as the only feature of the Panthers offense that actually was working (though not scoring). Smith had 21 of the 38 passes thrown to him and Keary Colbert once again is playing with his hands tied behind his back. The Bears offense didn't do much really, but they did not need to. Jones ran for 87 yards on 25 carries and Muhammad had the touchdown. But outside of those two and Justin Gage (7-81), everyone pretty much spent the entire game watching Delhomme get blasted.
TB 30, ATL 27 Okay, so now the NFC is just getting weirder all the time. The mighty Falcons drop a home game against the Bucs despite - and I am seriously not kidding here - Vick throwing for 306 yards and two touchdowns that included Roddy While (a wide receiver) gaining 108 yards. Get up - I am not kidding here. Vick threw for 306 yards. Really. And they lost. He only had 17 yards rushing and threw 38 passes for 306 yards. No dammit - stop laughing. I am being truthful here. Carnell Williams ran for 116 yards and one touchdown and - what? NO! I am not on crack. And Galloway did not have any catches. Why are you looking at me that way? What's so funny? Hey - where you going? Come back! I AM NOT KIDDING HERE! Oh, just forget it. I wouldn't buy it either... Go figure
PIT 13, BAL 16 OT In keeping with the theme of unbelievability, the Steelers were unable to run against the Ravens even though Lewis and Reed were gone this time and had to rely on the passing of Tommy Maddox who only threw one interception and lost one fumble. Not to worry though, Jamal Lewis (13-28) still could not run to the bathroom without getting tackled. Chester Taylor was finally given equal time and had 59 yards on 19 carries. The Ravens finally scored a touchdown after waiting 12 quarters and it was enough to beat the Steelers. There was no scoring in the second half until the Steelers tied it up with a pass to Parker. The Steelers reached the BAL 46-yard line in overtime but then Maddoxism kicked in and he was sacked for nine yards. After one more fruitless series by each team, The Ravens drove for the winning field goal by mixing Lewis and Taylor with a couple of passes to Hymes and Heap. Steelers lose on the road for the first time and the Ravens actually scored a touchdown. Go figure.
JAC 31, TEN 28 The Jaguars could never reach 30 points in 58 straight games and now have done so for the last two consecutive weeks. This was fortunate since the defense gave up 28 points to the Titans. Fred Taylor was nice enough to ignore being listed doubtful all week and not practicing by starting the game and sending many fantasy owners to make a quick lineup change. Good thing too because he only gained negative eight yards on six carries before bruising his right thigh and leaving the game. He could have ended up with significant negative yardage but only lose you, what? - about a point? The Titans stacked the line and dared Leftwich to throw which in retrospect was not a great gameplan since Leftwich had a career best game of 258 yards and three passing scores with one more touchdown rushed in as well. "Errr.. we dare you to stop now." The interesting aspect to the Jags game is that Leftwich is no longer relying on Jimmy Smith (5-89) and scored by throwing to Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford and Kyle Brady. Leftwich looks great against a soft secondary which should happen next week in ARZ too. Chris Brown only ran for 60 yards but he scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown (his first ever) and gained 58 yards on only four receptions. Almost an upset here. Go figure.
OAK 16, WAS 13 Okay, so another weird one. The Redskins were at home against the Raiders who cannot win anywhere and suddenly the Redskins cannot move the ball anymore. Brunell only threw for 155 yards and no scores. Portis gained 92 yards. Santana Moss only had 53 yards. It's like the Skins are morphing into... into... into what we thought they were going to be when the season started. Washington has lost four of their last six games and is only 5-5 now. Evidently midnight has already happened and the only thing Cinderella has left behind is a glass slipped named Santana. The Raiders could not run and even Jordan only had 37 yards receiving alone with Randy Moss who had only 40 yards. The only player in the game worth noting was Jerry Porter who had 142 yards and one score. Two Moss's and one Jordan were roughly equal to one Porter except Porter actually scored. Go figure.
ARZ 38, STL 28 Sure, that was hardly the first time that Warner had ever thrown for 285 yards and three scores in the Edward Jones Dome, but it was the first time he was not wearing a Ram's uniform. Both Boldin (8-105) and Fitzgerald (9-104) scored touchdowns thereby disproving last week's rumor that the Rams actually had a secondary. Stephen Jackson cruised for a big six yards on twelve carries and was clearly outdone by J.J. Arrington (11-45, 1 TD). Rub your eyes and drink some more coffee, I can wait.... hmmmm....hmmmm.. awake now? Yes, Arrington has scored in each of the last games which no doubt delights every owner in every league because they just grabbed him two weeks ago off of the league waiver wire. Bulger was having a big game but left before the end of the third quarter. Jamie Martin could not salvage the win because he had to use Holt and Bruce instead of Curtis and McDonald. Go figure.
PHI 17, NYG 27 Finally - something that was expected. Eli Manning threw for 218 yards and three scores - one each for Burress (6-113), Toomer (6-56) and Shockey (1-1). Barber ran for 112 yards on 21 carries and the Eagles could not mount a rushing attack (Part XII). Westbrook had 66 yards on 16 carries but McMahon ran in the one rushing score. Reggie Brown had 88 yards and one score and did not, this week, drop a potential game tying pass so there's some progress going on in Philly. Mike McMahon actually exceeded all expectations by throwing for 298 yards and one score but the Eagles have lost five of their last six games which is not exactly "NFC Champ" good. The Eagles get to host the Packers next week so maybe, just maybe, Philly can mount an assault to end at .500. The Giants now have to play in Seattle and then at home against Dallas. Big games to be sure.
SEA 27, SF 25 This is clearly the biggest upset of the day. Hands down. I mean sure, the 49ers lost by two points but Ken Dorsey threw for 249 yards and one touchdown. For a bit of perspective, consider that is roughly the same amount as was gained in the last four games combined. It was the first passing score since week three. Brandon Lloyd had 119 yards and the touchdown. That is more yardage than he had in the last five games combined. The 49ers lost Gore in pregame warmups and later lost Barlow to a concussion and yet Maurice Hicks ran 11 times for 83 yards and one touchdown. WHAT?!?!? Sure Alexander had 115 yards and two scores and the Seahawks won, but the 49ers scored two touchdowns, Dorsey threw for 249 yards and Lloyd was a top 5 wideout yesterday. I still contend this was the biggest upset of the day regardless who won. HC Mike Nolan became the first coach to ever look giddy in the post-game press conference describing a loss. Go figure.
BUF 10, SD 48 This was a "feel good" game for the Chargers at least until Gates left with a sprained foot. Drew Brees threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns against the normally effective Bills secondary and those went to four different receivers - McCardell (6-88), Gates (5-77), Parker (4-69) and even Neal (5-22). The Bills focused on stopping Tomlinson who only had 67 yards on 19 carries but scored once. That was much better than McGahee's 39 yards on ten carries anyway. This was a "everything feels bad" game for the Bills who just do not travel well. This was definitely a week for "start your Chargers". It probably doesn't help the Bills that Losman resembles a long-haired Adam Sandler since he doesn't give out water to anyone - or touchdowns for that matter.
NYJ 0, DEN 27 SHUTOUT! The equation here is "Mike Anderson > 53 Jets" Anderson ran for 113 yards and three scores while Tatum Bell only had 34 yards before getting hurt and leaving the game. Curtis Martin only gained 7 yards on four carries but did add four yards receiving. The Jets spun through Bollinger, Testaverde and eventually Kliff Kingsbury thanks to even more injuries to the position. It was a mile high spanking with less players healthy than when it started. Denver now gets the short week since they play in Dallas on Thursday. The Jets get to host the Saints next week, so all is not lost. Probably. Maybe anyway.
KC 45, HOU 17 "And the best goes on..." The Chiefs had little trouble in dispatching the Texans and Larry Johnson may be a suitable replacement for Priest Holmes since he just gained 211 rushing yards for a franchise single game record. Man - we told you to get the hand cuff and now it just hurts really bad, doesn't it? Now don't speed this week because there are a lot of cops out. Trent Green threw three scores to Samie Parker and Kennison (2). Tony Gonzalez led the team with nine catches for 98 yards and also injured his foot but returned to the game. The Texans offense was better. Sort of. Andre Johnson had six catches for 50 yards, tried to get into a couple of fights and has perfected a masculine pout on the sidelines. Domanick Davis was the star, of course, since he had 110 total yards and the only offensive score. The Texans had a special teams score when Jerome "Speedy" Mathis ran back a kickoff and he's so effective that the Texans should just let their opponents score more to get the ball into Jerome's hands more. The Texans are now 1-9. "And the best goes on..."


Every season has two odd weeks that typically occur between weeks ten and thirteen. I have done this for ten years and it always holds true. One week is the "visitors win" when well over half the games go to the road team. Typically it always slants toward the home team in even matchups. The other week is the "upset" week when seemingly most games make you say "go figure". We had notable upsets this week with losses to the Panthers, Falcons, Steelers, Redskins and Rams. There were nearly major upsets by the Titans and 49ers. Hopefully this will be the annual "go figure" week with upsets abounding though it was a little less than the usual upset week. I mean we had the 49ers throwing and scoring, the Ravens beating the Steelers, two shutouts, several blowouts and Vick threw for 300 yards and lost.

But next week could end up the upset week too for a good reason. As a freak of the schedule, the Bengals play the Ravens and that is the ONLY inter-divisional game of the week. All other match-ups are against teams that normally do not play each other. That could be interesting. And ripe for surprising endings. Let's just all agree the upsets are over and hope we're right.

The slate of games this week had some very odd production but it was all great in the fantasy sense. There were three teams with over 40 points and 13 teams had 27+ points with three or more touchdowns scored. Seven quarterbacks had three or more touchdowns. Seven running backs had two or more scores and the top three backs were Larry Johnson, Anderson and Droughns - all drafted later last summer. There were some big games by stars and even bigger games by the rising players. It was a great week in the fantasy world to be sure and the Game-of-the-Week is not a hard choice to make:

Indianapolis 45, Cincinnati 37

What is not to love about a game that had scored 62 points by half-time? After a furious slew of touchdowns and field goals, the first two quarters gave the Colts a 35-27 lead. Manning had already thrown for 272 yards and three touchdowns and Palmer had 162 yards and one score. That's 434 passing yards and four scores in just the first 30 minutes of play.

The second half cooled down with both teams scoring ten points for the rest of the game. The Bengals went for a fourth-and-one at the IND 27-yard line and had no gain. Later on the Bengals went for it on fourth-and-four at the IND 45 and threw an incompletion. And the Colts reached the CIN 7-yard line with a first down and had to settle for a field goal but man - that first half was a thing of fantasy beauty.

Manning ended with 365 yards and three scores and Palmer had 335 yards with two touchdowns. Edgerrin James needed to include receiving yardage to break 100 yards but he had two touchdowns. Rudi Johnson had 85 total yards and two scores as well. Even Chris Perry had 123 total yards and Dominic Rhodes scored once.

Okay, so Marvin Harrison only had 42 yards and no score but Reggie Wayne went for 117 yards and a touchdown while Dallas Clark had a career best 125 yards and a score. Chad Johnson was able to check another box on his list when he had 189 yards and one score. If sadly cooled down in the second half but the game had 82 total points for a season best in the NFL.

Maybe it wasn't a GOTW with a big ending, but it was clearly the "first half of the season" and fantasy teams reaped the many benefits. The season is starting to head into the stretch run for the playoffs as undoubtedly your fantasy league is and having a week with so many big games by big players is what fantasy football is all about.

We saw many of the stars of the first half of the season flop this week and a few of the players that started hot and then cooled suddenly got hot again - like Brandon Lloyd and Cadillac Williams. Priest Holmes, Terrell Owens, Daunte Culpepper and maybe Donovan McNabb are gone. In their place new players are stepping up and making a difference. As we head into the final stretch those teams that have done well may have already seen their season peak while others are getting stronger. Anything can still happen. Anything at all. Even to the extent that Michael Vick can use his wideouts to produce over 300 passing yards in a game and yet still lose.

Go figure.

Now get back to work...