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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 13
David Dorey
November 28, 2005
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
David Carr 332 3
Ryan Fitzpatrick 333 3
Steve McNair 343 3
Running Backs Yards TD
LaDainian Tomlinson 213 3
Lamont Jordan 144 2
Rudi Johnson 119 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Joe Jurevicius 137 2
Andre Johnson 159 1
Marcus Robinson 32 3
Tight Ends Yards TD
Alge Crumpler 104 2
Todd Heap 87 2
Jeremy Shockey 127 1
Placekickers XP FG
Rob Bironas 3 4
Lawrence Tynes 2 4
David Akers 1 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Miami 0 7 3
Minnesota 0 5 5
Jacksonville 1 3 2

Week 12 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Byron Leftwich (JAX) - Broken ankle
Trent Dilfer (CLE) - Knee sprain
Bubba Franks (GB) - Head/neck injury
Brandon Jones (TEN) - Knee sprain
Jamie Martin (STL) - Concussion

Attack of the Idiot Kickers

NFL teams often treat their kickers as little more than commodities to be bought and sold on a whim or tip. Some teams, say... oh... like Dallas, change their kickers every time they flip the calendar to the next month. I mean they are just kickers - right? How hard is it to have one job limited to kicking a ball for the gazillionth time for a kicker? Same ball, same field, same goal posts. Not like golf with a dogleg left or a water hazard. Sort of like bowling except with 11 guys rushing at the kicker.

And yet this weekend was the most kicker sensitive of any to recent memory. Consider the importance of kickers:

DEN 24, DAL 21 - Cundiff misses a 34-yard field goal with only 7:46 left to play. Game goes to overtime and Elam nails a 24-yarder for the win.

STL 33, HOU 27 - Kris Brown misses a 46-yard field goal in the third quarter. STL ties the game at 27-27 forcing overtime since Wilkins was good on both his attempts. Rams win in OT.

SD 23, WAS 17 - Redskins reach the SD 25-yard line but holding penalty moves it back to the 35-yard line. Two plays gain no yards so with 35 seconds left to play, John Hall misses a 52-yard field goal and game goes into overtime. Chargers win on second play in OT with Tomlinson's 41-yard touchdown run. (In fairness, Kaeding had missed two kicks previous to the fourth quarter).

CHI 13, TB 10 - Matt Bryant misses a 29-yard field goal with 2:51 left to play and Chicago runs out the clock.

NYG 21, SEA 24 - Last play of regulation, Jay Feely misses a 40-yard field goal and caused overtime. On the Giants first series in OT, Giants reach the SEA 31-yard line but lose five yards and Jay Feeley misses a 54-yard field goal. On Giants' possession, Barber scampers for 49 yards to the SEA 31-yard line. After three plays gain only four yards, Feeley has a second chance to redeem himself and kicks short on a 45-yard field goal. Seahawks take over and drive for a 36-yard game winning field goal by Josh Brown.

NO 21, NYJ 19 - Behind by two points, Jets drive to the NO 34 yard line with only 14 seconds left to play. Mike Nugent attempts a 53-yard field goal that falls about two feet short. Saints win.

There's six games that swung differently because of kickers missing a kick. If that's not enough to show how bad this week was for kickers, Neil Rackers only had one successful field goal on Sunday and - missed for the first time in 31 kicks this year.

Failing to get the parity memo

While most divisions are locked up in a tight race for the title, three teams stand out recently as being unwilling to bow to the powers that be who want everyone to end .500 on the season and then a massive coin flipping convention determines the teams to advance. The Colts play tonight with their 10 game winning streak that begs the question - "can they finally shut up the annual rant about the '72 Dolphins?". And both the Bears and Seahawks have won the last seven straight games. Chicago has to play in Pittsburgh in week 14 and the Colts and Seahawks play in Seattle on week 16, so this streak thing cannot go on for all teams.

One if by land, two if by sea, and oh, 300-ish if by air

Those wily patriots that found this country devised a method of communication using lanterns to inform the populace if the British were coming. The 2005 Patriots have devised a similar method of letting opponents know if they should attempt to pass or not. If the opposing team should not try to throw, there will be a swarm of locusts that obscures the field of all markings. If opponents should try to pass, the head linesman will blow his whistle signaling for the opening kick-off in the game. Trent Green threw for 323 yards against New England on Sunday, making it the fourth consecutive game that the Pats allowed at least 320 passing yards by the opponent. On the plus side for the Pats, Green only had one touchdown which is only the third time all season that an opposing quarterback did not have multiple scores. And the 49ers just gave up 343 yards and three scores, so the Pats can remain with only the #31 pass defense.

The NFC Least Likely to win a close game

The NFC East has been considered the toughest division in the NFC this season, at least until the Eagles lost McNabb and Owens and the Redskins turned back into a pumpkin three weeks ago. In week 12 of the NFL season, the only team in the division to win their game was Philadelphia Eagles. The others - Giants, Cowboys and Redskins - all went into overtime games when they had clear chances to win in regulation and each was killed by missed field goals. This week the Giants host the Cowboys while the Redskins play the Rams. All those teams were in overtime games this week. The Eagles were the only team not to spend time after the fourth quarter and they play against the Seahawks this week - another overtime team from week 12. Kind of weird really...

Huddle Player of The Week

Sure, it would be so easy to award this every other week to either LaDainian Tomlinson or Shaun Alexander, but this prestigious award that I just now thought of doing has to go to the player that defines the week and that truly made fantasy team owners go "whoa!".

Ryan Fitzpatrick (STL) - This rookie hails from Harvard where the last 120-odd years have not contributed a starting quarterback to the NFL. Fitzpatrick was drafted with the 7.36 pick in the NFL draft - 250th overall. He was the final quarterback drafted, right after James Kilian and Matt Cassell. Jamie Martin suffered a concussion and Fitzpatrick came into the game in the second quarter when the score was already 14-0 against the Rams and by halftime, the Texans led 24-3. Fitzpatrick had thrown 4 of 7 for 45 yards in the second quarter. He got a little better in the second half when he threw for 179 yards and two scores that tied the game at 27-27 and then in overtime, the Rams started on their own 10-yard line and combined with two runs by Jackson for only four yards, Fitzpatrick connected on three passes of 11, 19 and 56 yards for the win. That's 310 yards and three scores for a comeback that erased a 21 point deficit and sent the Texans surely into a monumental tailspin.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 310 3 QB Byron Leftwich 18 0
RB Sam Gado 122 1 RB Willis McGahee 53 0
RB Ron Dayne 108 1 RB Kevin Jones 32 0
WR Roydell Williams 95 1 WR Randy Moss 28 0
WR Arnaz Battle 75 1 WR Muhsin Muhammad 38 0
WR Dante Hall 66 1 WR Steve Smith 55 0
PK Rob Bironas 4 FG 3 XP PK Ryan Longwell 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 127

Huddle Fantasy Points = 20

Sunday's Couch Commentary

ATL 27, DET 7 It is typically indicative of a bad showing when immediate rumors fly that the head coach was fired. The team denied any and all reports that there were discussions of releasing Mariucci but everyone just sort of assumed that it was happening. For good reason - the Lions fall to 4-7 and are now using every-position-by-committee (EPBC). In the course of the game, Mariucci managed to use three quarterbacks, three running backs and three wideouts. There is no favoritism at play in DET, nor is there any shred of consistency despite Kevin Jones gaining 32 yards on only four carries while Bryson (6-26) was the most commonly used runner. Atlanta had a big rushing effort and Vick even threw two scores both to Crumpler, but mostly the Falcons just stood there thinking that the Lions were giving a Thanksgiving day showing of Keystone Kops.
DEN 24, DAL 21 OT Broncos and Cowboys fought a spirited battle down to the wire that included Plummer finally throwing an interception while Bledsoe finally passed well again. Dallas missed a 34-yard field goal to force the overtime after a nice comeback bid but in overtime they were run over by... OHMIGOD - RON DAYNE! He squirted through the line near midfield and ran 55 yards to set up the winning score in overtime. Denver rises to 9-2 and are likely now an official lock in the AFC West while the Cowboys get to continue to play close hard fought games that they usually seem to lose. Plus the Cowboys must go on the road now to NYG, then host KC and then wind up @WAS and @CAR which will make losing those close ones still just as painful. Just to repeat, Ron Dayne won the game and was the best runner on the field. This provided a weight loss benefit as most fans in Texas then threw up their excellent Thanksgiving day meal.
SF 22, TEN 33 What's not to love about the 49ers and their defense on the road? McNair threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns and Rob Bironas cranked up 4 field goals to take the game with relative ease. The 49ers are passing better lately (which also means that someone is catching the passes now) and Ken Dorsey threw for 192 yards and a score to Arnaz Battle who no one had started on their fantasy team including extended Battle family members. Barlow had a beautiful 75 yard touchdown run which was, of course, called back on penalty. Chris Brown had 105 receiving yards on three catches and was later injured. Henry came in and gained 86 yards on 13 carries because, of course, the "49ers on the road" thing. Nice fantasy points and a surprising good points by the 49ers thanks once again to a defensive score.
BAL 29, CIN 42 If this wasn't already a weird enough weekend, we got to see Kyle Boller throw for three touchdowns and Jamal Lewis run for 113 yards and a touchdown and yet the Ravens still could not pull off a win. Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards and three scores and it just doesn't matter who he faces. Palmer is now officially an elite stud because he is always better than his opponent is. Rudi Johnson did not really mind Ray Lewis being out and ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns while Houshmandzadeh gathered nine catches for 147 yards and one score - better than the mere 88 yards and a touchdown by Chad Johnson. The Ravens were in a game with 71 total points - sure... things have changed.
CAR 13, BUF 9 What a yawner. Steve Smith led all Panther receivers of course but only had 55 yards and no score. Foster got the call today and gained 77 yards on 23 carries, roughly what Stephen Davis might have done. McGahee only managed 53 yards on 21 carries and was entirely ineffective. Fortunately this game was not the second on on Thanksgiving or no one would have stayed awake. Late score to tight end Michael Gaines wins it.
CHI 13, TB 10 Okay, so the Bears won their seventh straight game but at least everyone expected a score like this one. Thomas Jones only managed 72 yards on 25 carries and Orton had his standard 134 yards and one score. Cadillac had a healthy 84 yards on 20 carries and really this game came down to one thing. Robbie Gould and Matt Bryant both had two field goal attempts and the only one that was missed was the 29 yarder by Bryant. You just cannot do that against the Bears. In fact you cannot do anything against the Bears.
SD 23, WAS 17 OT I'll see your Portis and raise you a Tomlinson. What - you don't have that much? The Redskins have perfected the late game collapse and eventual loss and this week they intercepted Drew Brees three times and yet still could not win. Then again, Tomlinson running for 184 yards and three scores including the 41-yarder in overtime is a bit much to try to make up for. Gates played but only had 39 yards. Brees - very little help. Tomlinson - unstoppable. The Skins played well enough to win, or so they thought, and Santana Moss scored once on six passes for 65 yards but Portis only could gain 87 yards on 29 carries. What? It's the fourth quarter already? And.... we all fall down...
CLE 12, MIN 24 Somehow the Vikings have won their last four games even though these Vikings do not look like the old Vikings. If this is the result, the Love Boat may become a part of training camps for all NFL teams. It's all about relaxing and having fun, really. The difference in this game was the Minnesota defense that held Droughns to only 73 yards on 19 carries and Dilfer lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions. Brad Johnson threw for three scores which all incredibly went to Marcus Robinson on the only three passes he caught in the game. The Vikings now use a rotation scheme for wideouts which meant that none of them were really any good - except for Marcus Robinson since his three catches all ended in the endzone. Sure - he'll do that every week. Oh yeah...
NE 16, KC 26 Ends up that the Patriots really are not all that great on defense since opponents only have to account for Tedy Bruschi and then run the other way for big gains every play. Larry Johnson rambled for 119 yards on 31 carries which actually went over the top of Bruschi a time or two while Trent Green threw for the obligatory 323 yards and one score because these are the Patriots 2005. Five different receivers caught passes from Green and all five had over 50 yards in the game. Brady is slowly becoming his own man, which is to say the rest of the team is disintegrating around him. He only managed 248 yards, one score and four interceptions. With Dillon still out, the Pats opted for the trio of Pass, Evans and Cloud because Belichick heard fantasy teams were starting Heath Evans and getting something reliable last week. The Pats lost, are 6-5 and yet still have an insurmountable two game lead in the AFC East.
JAX 24, ARZ 17 In week 11, fantasy owners found the faith when Leftwich was the highest scoring quarterback that week. So naturally, they were all kicked in the nuts this week thinking that his match-up against the Cards would last longer than two passes. Leftwich broke his ankle and will be gone a minimum of longer than you can afford to keep him even if you make the Superbowl in your league. Fred Taylor had the week off because of a card game with Del Rio last Thursday (hint - go all in on a ace high flush) and Greg Jones ran for 78 yards and one score. David Garrard only had 115 yards passing and only completed 12 of 26 but ran six times for 61 yards and one score. It's like Vick-lite only without the hype. Warner posted 315 yards and two scores but the Jaguars had already lost most interest by the fourth quarter when the Cards had both touchdowns.
MIA 33, OAK 21 The nice thing here is that the Raiders finally did not lose a close game, they fell behind and stayed behind. While Jordan has been a nice surprise this season, Oakland may want to, oh... I don't know... use someone else besides him. Jordan had 23 runs for 97 yards and two scores and caught a team high seven passes for 47 yards. What the Raiders seem to need is a game breaking wide receiver that can be relied on and become the center of the passing game. Someone who has been highly successful in the past... a difference maker... evidently Porter and the rest of the wideouts cannot be that guy. The Fins had a solid game in every area, rushing for 140 yards and two scores between Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and Frerotte even threw for two scores. Chambers led the team with six catches for 101 yards. Just a darn shame that the Raiders cannot find a guy like that... yep...
NYG 21, SEA 24 OT Sometimes fate is kind, it rewards you for living a good life and not being caught breaking any of the "front page" laws. And then sometimes you just seem to piss off fate and no matter what - fate is going to win. This occurred in Seattle where the Giants did everything possible to make the game go long, have tons of commercial breaks, make it seem like they could win when of course there was no way the G-Men were going to take the game. On the plus side, Manning threw for 344 yards and two scores and Barber ran for 151 yards including 49 free yards in overtime. Shockey had 10 catches for 127 yards and a score. Burress had 109 yards. Toomer went for 62 yards and a score. And you know - didn't matter. Alexander (31-110, 1 TD) and Hasselbeck (249, 2 TD) had solid games but nothing like the Giants had. The official score of this game - Giants 0, Fate 1. Don't go against nature, it only leads to heartbreak.
STL 33, HOU 27 OT What is the locker room like after a team is 1-9 and finally goes up by 24-3 at half time against a team that just lost their quarterback (who was a replacement himself). Up by 21 points, how could you lose it? Evidently, it takes overtime in Houston but it can be done. David Carr has easily his best game of the year with 293 yards and three touchdowns. Davis turned in 120 yards and a score. Andre Johnson - ANDRE FREAKING JOHNSON - had 159 yards and one score. And they lose. Because a rookie quarterback from Harvard named Ryan Fitzpatrick who was picked in the 7th round (AKA "last round") of the NFL draft outgunned the experienced first rounder Carr and threw for 310 yards and three scores including that really important one in overtime. Basically, the Rams outscored the Texans 30-3 from half time until the end of the game. Overtime was never kind to the state of Texas this last week. It was kind to a rookie from Hah-vard though...
GB 14, PHI 19 The Eagles took the home win over the Packers by running Westbrook a shocking 21 times for 117 yards and one score (no reason to save him for anything now) while Mike McMahon bumbled to a 91 yard effort that only had 12 of 28 passes completed. He did run for 29 yards. Favre only managed 171 yards and one score while throwing two interceptions while Gado go back to being a prized find by running for 111 yards on 26 carries with one score. In case you think "hey - I should start him this week and not miss out on that production" consider that the Packers next game is in Chicago. Now slowly back away from your starting lineup and go Christmas shopping.
NO 21, NYJ 19 Herman Edwards is genuinely a good coach and a good person. And for this reason even the reporters must cringe in post-game press conferences. The good news is that the Jets made it through an entire game without losing any quarterbacks but Aaron Brooks ended up with three scores to kill the Jets in the fourth quarter. The Jets did reach the Saints 34-yard line but Bollinger had an intentional grounding call and moved the ball back out of field goal range. Jerricho Cotchery was the leading receiver in the game with 72 yards but by this time you just have to know the Jets are going to lose, it is only a question of how they will lose. If the Jets lose any more quarterbacks, they'll have to hire a private investigator to search for the nearest living relatives of Testaverde, Pennington, Fiedler, Bollinger or Kingsbury to see who inherits the job.

Game-O-The-Week

This was a head-spinning weekend with four overtimes games. I cannot ever remember there being four overtime games in one week but perhaps it has been done. It was a week where the best quarterbacks were ones that no one started (or had even heard of before). Kickers took center stage in all these close games and it was not a flattering light for them. There were so many close games this week that there cannot be a GOTW for one or even two. Consider:

Denver 24, Dallas 21 - One of the closest Thanksgiving match-ups in recent history that had big implications. Great game if you hail from Colorado.

St. Louis 33, Houston 27 - A previously unknown Harvard quarterback steps in and leads the Rams to a win after trailing by 21 points to a team that really, really needs a win. Just ruined the whole big game by the Texans offense. Fitzpatrick said he had done the same thing when he was a freshman when he lead the Crimson to a win over Dartmouth after trailing 21-0. Now the Texans can't even win in the Ivy league of the NFL.

Baltimore 29, Cincinnati 42 - fantasy points everywhere. What's not to like?

San Diego 23, Washington 17 - Tomlinson scalps the Redskins who should lobby the NFL for 45 minute games.

New England 16, Kansas City 26 - It's admittedly sort of entertaining when the much-hyped world champs throw four interceptions.

NY Giants 21, Seahawks 24 - Overtime win that led to players in the Seattle locker room asking "exactly how did we do that?"

New Orleans 21, NY Jets 19 - At least one of these teams finally got a win. Now we only feel bad for the Jets.

About half of the games this week could be argued for GOTW status and in the end, I claim fantasy football as the winner since there were so many fantasy points scored this week.

It appears we have lost Leftwich and Franks at least for a few weeks if not more so those of you heading towards your league playoffs, stock up on those back-up players for when the waiver wire shuts down for the season and you "play what you got".

Oh yes - and don't forget about your kickers.

Now get back to work...