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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 15
David Dorey
December 12, 2005
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tom Brady 329 3
Drew Brees 279 3
Drew Bledsoe 332 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Larry Johnson 171 3
Tiki Barber 195 1
Domanick Davis 189 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Terry Glenn 138 2
Marvin Harrison 137 2
Chris Chambers 121 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 123 1
Jason Witten 93 1
Jeremy Shockey 107 0
Placekickers XP FG
Mike Nugent 2 4
Mike Vanderjagt 2 4
Jay Feeley 2 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Washington 1 2 4
NY Jets 0 6 4
New England 1 2 3

Week 14 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Pretty light, eh?

Deshaun Foster (CAR) - Unspecified injury
Willis McGahee (BUF) - Possible concussion
Chris Perry (CIN) - Ankle injury

Little Big Man

The Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare made a 39-yard field goal after the first series of the third quarter to pull the Dolphins to just a 6-7 deficit. On the ensuing kick-off, Darren Sproles ran up to the 24 yard line where he was hit and fumbled. Once the pile was disassembled, the Dolphins had recovered the kick - by none other than Olindo Mare.

Three plays later, the Dolphins scored the go-ahead touchdown to Chambers and never looked back. And you thought they all just kicked and ran...

The Dominator

The Texans continue to lose close games and last Sunday was no exception but you can hardly blame Domanick Davis. He rushed 22 times for 139 yards and caught seven passes for 50 yards and the only Houston touchdown. That gave him 29 touches as compared to only 14 for all other players. Davis had 189 yards of the 268 total yards in the game. If you consider that David Carr lost 34 yards on six sacks, that means that Davis had 189 of the 234 yards gained in the game or 81% of all production.

Sure, Reggie Bush is attractive but maybe the other 21 starting slots could use an upgrade first?

United Postal Workers Strike

This time of year is always fun as teams make playoff pushes and many are either coming off a big emotional game or about to go play one the following week. The result? Mailing those games in just when fantasy fans need that production the most. Consider:

Bengals - coming off a huge win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Bengals stumble to a 23-20 win over the visiting Browns despite having already beaten them 27-13 in Cleveland. The fantasy bite from the previous meeting between these teams? Carson Palmer ( 280 yds, 2 TDs down to just 93 yards and one score) and Chad Johnson (91 yards down to just 22 yards).

Denver - at home only manage to rush for a total of 96 yards divided over four players with no scores for any of them. Best runner was (spinning roulette wheel... and... 26 black) Tatum Bell with 63 yards. Broncos barely manage to win 12-10.

San Diego - started the week as the team with the greatest point spread (13.5 points) and ended with a two point loss to the visiting Dolphins with Tomlinson rushing for just 75 yards. And yes, same Dolphins that were shut out on the road by the Browns.

NY Giants - squeaked out a three point in overtime over the same Eagles that lost 0-42 last week. Manning threw for 312 yards and a score but had three interceptions and Burress (37) and Toomer (54) did little. In the previous match-up this year, Burress had 113 yards and a score while Toomer had 56 yards and a touchdown as well.

No time for a breather in the NFL, no matter how tempting it is to try to mail the game in.

Huddle Player of The Week

Larry Johnson (KC) - Priest who? Johnson has been nothing short of incredible while Priest Holmes has been gone and he went against his toughest match-up to date on Sunday when he had to face the Cowboys defense in Dallas. Not a problem. Johnson ran 26 times for 143 yards (5.5 YPC) and three touchdowns and added three catches for 28 more yards. If Holmes retires in the offseason - not too hard to make a case for Johnson being a top three pick in fantasy drafts next year. Not too hard to make the case he should be #1.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB David Garrard 269 2 QB Carson Palmer 93 1
RB Ryan Moats 114 2 RB Willis McGahee 5 0
RB Cedric Houston 74 1 RB Mike Anderson 21 0
WR Mark Clayton 105 1 WR Randy Moss 18 0
WR Josh Reed 76 1 WR Chad Johnson 22 0
WR Justin McCareins 45 1 WR Larry Fitzgerald 23 0
PK Mike Nugent 4 FG 2 XP PK Rian Lindell 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 119

Huddle Fantasy Points = 17

Sunday's Couch Commentary

CLE 20, CIN 23 GOTW contender. Carson Palmer (93 yds, 1 TD) was outgunned by Charlie Frye (138 yds, 1 TD) and apparently Chad Johnson won't be checking off his list this week since he ended with only two catches for 22 yards. This was a cold game played with some wind but the Bengals just played much flatter than was expected - it wasn't that the Browns had an offensive explosion. Chris Perry hurt his ankle and left the game on crutches but Rudi Johnson was the star of the game with 30 carries for 169 yards and one touchdown. The Bengals had to drive from their own 38-yard line on the final offensive series of the game to kick a 37-yard field goal as time expired to take the win and avoid overtime.
IND 26, JAC 18 Make no mistake here. The Colts won their 13th game of the season by leading 26-3 in the fourth quarter before the Jaguars took advantage of trashtime to make this one look like it was an actual game. It was not. Manning threw for 324 yards and two scores that both ended up with Marvin Harrison (6-137). David Garrard ended up with 250 yards and one score but it all came after the trainers were starting to pack equipment trunks. The Colts host the Chargers next Sunday, then go to Seattle and end up back at home against the Cardinals. Looks like that road trip to the Great Northwest will be the test. Forget the slow start to the season, Manning is now tied for the most passing scores in the NFL (27), James is the #3 highest scoring fantasy back so far and Harrison has now become the lead wideout for touchdowns in the NFL (12). Oh yes, and their defense kicks ass too.
STL 13, MIN 27 Mike Tice should be considered for coach of the year, or at least for the biggest turnaround coach. The Vikes have won their last six straight games by playing great defense and using a shell game where fantasy owners have to guess which running back is under the cup this week. The answer this time was Michael Bennett (18-70, 1 TD) and not Mewelde Moore (1-0). Koren Robinson ran in a touchdown as did Ciatrick Fason while Ryan Fitzpatrick is making fans look at their watch and wonder when Marc Bulger will return. Fitzpatrick threw five interceptions but did not lose a fumble. The only good thing here is that he always throws to Torry Holt (10-95). While Stephen Jackson may have brought a few fantasy teams to the playoffs, he ain't dancing with anyone now since he only had 67 yards on 19 carries and Marshall Faulk was given five totes for 25 yards and also reeled in four catches for 32 yards. And you thought he was gone? Nope.
OAK10, NYJ 26 The Vikings lost Culpepper and are winning every game so now the Jets have decided to follow suit by deactivating Curtis Martin and finally snapping their seven-game losing streak. Sadly Martin has finally given in to his ailing knee and will miss the rest of the season, along with his streak of 119 straight starts and 11 straight 1000 yard seasons. In his place Cedric Houston ran 28 times for 74 yards and a score. Lamont Jordan was expected by some to have a big game against his ex-team but 14 carries for 49 yards later it was still bigger than he used to get as a Jet. The switch from Kerry Collins to Marques Tuiasosopo (124 yards, 1 TD, 2 int) did not go well, but then again Collins had not been setting the world on fire either. Tuiasosopo was able to hit a wide open Ty Law with relative ease but there was one other player to watch here - some tall kid named Randy Moss who had two catches for 18 yards - a portend of bigger games to come? The wonderful thing here was that in the press conference after the game, Lamont Jordan noted that he only had 14 carries to 28 by the rookie Houston with the Jets. Pass them sour grapes down this way, Lamont...
CHI 9, PIT 21 Okay, so maybe not having an offense does eventually catch up to the Bears. It just takes nine games to finally happen. This was one of those wonderfully nasty cold games with falling snow and the Steelers were able to return to their ground game with Jerome Bettis (17-101, 2 TD) and WIllie Parker (21-68) controlling the game. Parker even added a 45-yard catch as well. Kyle Orton did not score but he did not have a turnover. He even hit Muhsin Muhammad for 8 catches for 91 yards while Thomas Jones (14-72, 1 TD) continues to crank out those sub-100 games. This was a must-win game for the Steelers and they did. Now next week and each following one will be a must-win game and the Steelers have to head into Minnesota where all rules pertaining to space and time have eventually been suspended.
HOU 10, TEN 13 Hopefully many of you taped this game and can use it in conjunction with disciplining your children ("hit your brother one more time and you'll have to watch the entire game before your timeout is up"). The Texans (AKA "Domanick's entourage of 52 guys") could do nothing besides hand-off or pass the ball to Davis who ended with 189 total yards, or as noted, 81% of the offense. He had the only offensive score in the game while the Titans relied on a punt return by Pacman Jones for the Titan's touchdown. Andre Johnson had three catches for 27 yards. And yes, it still hurts. Sorry. The Titans offense had been mainly throwing to tight ends this year but now is first about throwing to the running backs, then the tight ends. Henry, Brown and Payton combined for 110 receiving yards, much better than the tight ends (40) or wideouts (43 yards). The important thing here is that the Texans maintain their one game lead over the 49ers for the first pick in the NFL draft. These teams actually meet each other in San Francisco in week 17 for the final determination of draft slot which could be interesting to watch each team try to throw the game. It could end up like the Chip and Dale cartoon chipmunks - "please, do take the fumble... Oh no, I insist, after you!... on no, I just couldn't pick that up, go ahead and score...
TB 20, CAR 10 If you can disregard the middle of the season, these Buccaneers are really good. Carnell Williams gained 112 yards on 29 carries for two touchdowns while DeShaun Foster finally made Stephen Davis smile by only gaining 46 yards on 14 carries. Steve Smith was able to gain 103 yards but no other Panther player had any real significance which is actually sort of like the rest of the season just without those short touchdown runs by Davis. With the win, the Bucs now pull to an even 9-4 with the Panthers and both teams have tough schedules remaining. The NFC South won't likely be decided until week 17.
NE 35, BUF 7 This loss thrusts the Bills coaching staff into a spotlight they likely do not want and they might want to start looking over their shoulders for a big old hook coming their way. In a strategic disciplinary move, Eric Moulds was suspended along with the rest of the passing game and Losman could only throw one score against three interceptions and since it came after the Pats led 35-0, it really didn't count much. Willis McGahee got blasted and only ended up with eight carries for three yards. He was laid out for several minutes on the field but later came back in the second half for two meaningless carries. While Tedy Bruschi was not in on the blast that laid out McGahee, rumors are that he used his vast mental powers to cause the injury. Dillon ran for 102 yards and one score while Brady (329, 3 TD) continues to be a great fantasy quarterback. This game is not necessarily saying that the Patriots are back. It is saying that the Bills are done.
DET 13, GB 16 OT GOTW contender. If there had been maybe 52 more points in the game, then this would likely be the GOTW. The Lions jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the first quarter that likely should have been 21-3 but then they recalled what year this is and did little for the rest of the game other than drop passes. Kevin Jones had a nice 40 yard run at the start of the game but then got hurt and was rarely used for the rest of the game. Samkon Gado continues his surprising penchant for gaining yards (29-171) and score and fumbling though he did not actually lose one this week. Dick Jauron has received a big vote of confidence by the team management letting him know that they'll "put in a good word" for him with the new head coach next year.
SF 3, SEA 41 Now this - THIS - is what the NFL should be about. Not mailing in games when a team thinks they can win. Not under preparing and trying to be just good enough. It is about thrashing the opponent in every way possible and rolling up an obscene score in the process. Seattle never even punted until they already led 31-3. Matt Hasselbeck threw for four touchdowns and Alexander ran in another while gaining 108 yards on 21 carries. Up by 21 points at the half, do they start to pull players? Not until Engram catches his second touchdown and Alexander runs in a score. The 49ers actually lost 25-27 to the Seahawks earlier this year but with Alex Smith under the center again, there was to be no similar ending here. Smith only completed 9 of 22 for 77 yards and one interception. Gore, Barlow and Hicks combined for just 42 yards on 15 carries. Here is the big thing to remember - the Seahawks have won their last nine games and have a two game lead over the rest of the NFC for homefield throughout the playoffs. Seattle is the team to beat in the NFC and they are just about to get back their #1 wideout who has been missing most of the year. Indy vs. Seattle... hmmm....
WAS 17, ARZ 13 The Cardinals actually won this game all except for that 91-yard kick return for a touchdown by the Redskins in the third quarter. Mark Brunell the "great passer" has been replaced by just plain Mark Brunell. He only threw for 122 yards and three interceptions. Clinton Portis ran for 106 yards on 26 carries but little else was working for the Redskins offense. Moss only had 56 yards and Cooley collected four catches for just 25 yards. Boldin had 114 yards while Fitzgerald only managed 23 yards and Leron McCoy had the receiving touchdown. Just another boring game really and the Skins now return home to host the Cowboys and then the Giants when their dreams of a winning season likely end. HC Denny Green said last week that J.J. Arrington was getting close to his first breakout game. He ran for 26 yards on nine carries, so we're still waiting...
MIA 23, SD 21 GOTW Contender. Even though the Chargers were heavily favored and the Fins are hardly a good road team (nor even a good home team for that matter), this game was all about a 17 point third quarter by the Dolphins who snapped Chris Chambers streak of having one big game every year. Now Chambers (121 yds, 2 TD) not only has two, they came in back-to-back weeks. This is a fortunate time for the passing game to get a spark since both Ronnie Brown (11-30) and Ricky Williams (11-28) are mainly just using up the clock. Tomlinson was held to just 75 yards on 21 carries but at least Antonio Gates came through with 123 yards on 13 receptions for one score - that'll help win a fantasy game. The Chargers really screwed the pooch on this one since they remaining schedule (@IND, @KC and DEN) should prove far more challenging.
KC 28, DAL 31 GOTW contender. Then again, most of the games involving the Chiefs are contenders for being the GOTW. Very nice fireworks here with Green (340, 1 TD) and Bledsoe (332, 3 TD) both highly productive. Larry Johnson ran for 143 yards and three scores and by now we're thinking maybe it wasn't just that Holmes was the reason they running game worked so well in KC. Johnson has been stellar in all his starts - he has not had a bad game yet. Gonzalez (5-94) and Witten (7-93, 1 TD) both made the tight end spot shine while Glenn (6-138, 1 TD) and Kennison (4-92, 1 TD) both made the wideouts valuable. What more could you want? The game ended with the Chiefs driving 80 yards for the go-ahead score of 28-24 and then Dallas drove 68 yards for the "oh yeah, taste this" score. Just to make it exciting for the hometown fans, the Chiefs took over on their own 29-yard line with only 16 seconds remaining and in two plays reached the Dallas 24-yard line where Lawrence Tynes missed a 41 yard field goal as time expired.
BAL 10, DEN 12 The Ravens decided to put their best players on the field this week and that did not include Camel Jamal Lewis. The Broncos evidently had not made any wagers on their 14 point spread and barely showed up this week (or did they actually bet against... nah). This was a mail-in game that was made temporarily interesting when Mark Clayton (7-105, 1 TD) scored in the fourth quarter to bring the Ravens within two with two minutes left to play but Lelie ran an end-around for a first down and the Broncos killed the rest of the clock with knee downs. Next Sunday the Broncos visit the Bills who just got slammed by the Patriots. Wonder if they'll mail that game in as well?

Game-O-The-Week

Great week for the NFL that killed a few fantasy teams when Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and others came up light just when you needed them the most. We saw the changing of quarterbacks not work for the Raiders and perhaps the final passing of such greats as Curtis Martin and Brett Favre. The bad weather was limited to teams that know how to play in it and there were nine teams that failed to score more than 10 points in the game. But we did have two overtime games and eight games were decided by 4 points or less. And above all, the Texans have continued to find ways to snatch a loss from the jaws of victory, even if it means that Kris Brown has to horribly miss a 31-yard chip shot field goal on the final play.

The Game of the Week defines what Sunday was all about

New York Giants 26, Philadelphia 23 OT

The Giants came into this game knowing that the Eagles had lost 42-0 last Monday night and also had Brian Westbrook finished for the year with a Lis Franc injury. That meant that even less of a team would face the mighty Giants. The rookie Ryan Moats would have to take over for Westbrook after only gaining 26 yards on 10 carries the previous week. Mike McMahon was named the starter again after his monster crash and burn last week. This was just not a pretty picture.

The game started out as expected with the Giants taking their first series down for a four yard touchdown run by Tiki Barber. The whipping was on.

The Eagles took over and one their first series, McMahon completed a 22 yard pass to L.J. Smith and on second and five from the Giants 40-yard line, Ryan Moats took his first carry rather quickly down the left sideline for a touchdown. The score was tied 7-7 and his run was pretty much just "cute".

After trading series, the Giants marched down to the Eagles one-yard line when the second quarter had started and after three unsuccessful tries, they decided to go for it on fourth and one. Eli Manning sliced in for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead. So the blowout was going slower than expected. After the Eagles were forced to punt, the Giants once again marched down and ended with a field goal for a 17-7 lead with five minutes left in the half. 'Yawn'...

Suddenly the Eagles went from their 20-yard line to the Giants 18-yard line using a 20 yard pass to McCants, a run by Moats for 20 more and a pass to Reggie Brown for 19 more. On first down, that Moats kid took off again and score an 18-yard touchdown. The Giants led 17-14 but it was no longer as much fun and that Moats guy was getting annoying.

With just 1:46 remaining, the Giants had to punt after five plays and the Eagles took over with 1:06 left to play. Reno Mahe returned the punt to midfield and Mahe gained 27 yards on two runs and one catch, the Eagles ended the first half with a 41-yard field for a 17-17 tie. Huh?

The Eagles opened the second half with a long drive that ended with Akers bouncing a field goal off the goal post. The Giants than took over and drove to the Philadelphia 4-yard line where they spent six plays (thanks to defensive penalties) being denied a touchdown and opted for the field goal and a 20-17 lead.

When the fourth quarter opened, the Giants had the ball back and drove down the field for an eventual 27-yard field goal and a 23-17 lead with 10:42 left in the game.

But the Eagles would not go away. They drove to the Giants 19-yard line and kicked a field goal. On the next possession, Eli Manning threw an interception that had the Eagles drive down to the Giants 32-yard line where Akers kicked a 50-yard field goal to tie the game right at the two minute mark.

Manning took over at his own 20-yard line with 1:52 left to play and reached the Eagles 46-yard line with 37 seconds left to play before throwing another interception. The Eagles could not gain any yardage and ran out the regulation clock.

The Eagles won the toss but could gain nothing. The Giants took over at their 33-yard line and reach the Eagles 35-yard line before Manning threw yet another interception. The Eagles were unable to gain any yardage and on third down, McMahon was hit, fumbled and the ball recovered by the Giants at the Eagles 27-yard line. After three runs for positioning, Feely nailed a 36-yard field goal to win the game.

Case in point - no matter how easy your match-up seems, it can always go bad. Sure, the Eagles were waxed 42-0 and then lost their star running back (which followed losing their start quarterback and wideout) but there are no easy games really. In your fantasy playoffs, you have to scratch and plot for every possible point because you never know when some unknown rookie is going to pop for 114 yards and two scores against you. And you can never know when your own star players like Palmer and Chad Johnson will suddenly disappear.

Best of luck in your playoffs and for those of you who did not reach the post-season in your league, take heart - at least you are not the Houston Texans.

Now get back to work...