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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 9
David Dorey
October 30, 2006
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Michael Vick 346 3
Drew Brees 389 3
Peyton Manning 345 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Larry Johnson 181 4
LaDainian Tomlinson 240 3
Mike Bell 140 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Reggie Wayne 138 3
Marques Colston 163 2
Joe Horn 126 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Owen Daniels 99 2
Desmond Clark 86 2
Kellen Winslow 76 1
Placekickers XP FG
Adam Vinatieri 4 2
Robbie Gould 5 2
Morten Andersen 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Tennessee 2 4 5
Oakland 2 5 4
Baltimore 2 2 5

Week 8 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

This is perhaps the most injury-free weekend that I have ever seen. I had to have missed something, but I looked extra hard to find anything. This is wonderful.

Reggie Bush (NO) - Sprained ankle
David Carr (HOU) - Bruised ego
Verron Haynes (PIT) - Knee injury

Why's everybody always picking on me?

The Broncos have the NFL's best defense by many measures and feature one of the true "shut down" cornerbacks in Camp Bailey. Most teams are so concerned with Bailey that they avoid him and throw elsewhere. Unfortunately for Darrent Williams who plays the other side from Bailey, they often look over his way. Doesn't really matter that Williams is good when Bailey is great. The comparison between the two was noted by the Colts this week.

Bailey drew the flanker Marvin Harrison on most plays and Manning only had five short completions to his star receiver for a paltry 38 yards. Over on the Williams side of the defense, Reggie Wayne merely had ten catches for 138 yards and three touchdowns. While less than comforting, Williams should just point at Bailey.

"Don't blame me - blame him!"

Yeah you - get in there!

The axiom says "always play your studs" and it has been proven true over and over. Until maybe this weekend. Of the 26 teams that played on Sunday, each one had a tailback that was not only considered "primary", they were undoubtedly started in many fantasy leagues. But was it that seven different back-up running backs who did not start their game ended up with top 26 fantasy scores for running backs? Mike Bell (143 yds, 2 TD) led the pack that included Marion Barber (56 yds, 2 TD), Brandon Jacobs (41 yds, 1 TD), Vernand Morency (101 yds), Maurice Jones-Drew (97 yds), Cedric Benson (29 yards, 1 TD) and Michael Turner (28 yrds, 1 TD).

Sorry owners of Tiki Barber, Warrick Dunn, Carnell Williams, Tatum Bell and Lamont Jordan - you gotta stop looking at the first names on the depth charts when you decide on your starters. This week anyway...

Sort of like habanero sauce really

You think you know what you are getting into before you face it. You think you can handle it even while it's going on. And afterwards, cannot stop sweating and know you are going to feel the burn all over again tomorrow. That describes the rookie wideout Marques Colston who currently is second in the NFL with 669 yards and also second in the league with six receiving touchdowns. Colston faced the Ravens on Sunday and merely turned in a league leading 163 yards on six catches. He has scored in five games and has two efforts over 130 yards already. He wasn't even drafted in some leagues. He is just a freakishly tall rookie so everyone can see him coming.

So when are they going to stop him?

Huddle Player of the Week

Larry Johnson / LaDainian Tomlinson (tie) - In most fantasy scoring systems, these two players ended Sunday only one or less fantasy points away from each other. With reception points, Tomlinson led 45 to 44.1. Without reception points, Johnson led 42.1 to 42. Regardless, both players easily topped any other running backs on Sunday with monster games. Tomlinson ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns while adding 57 yards on three catches with another score - that's merely 240 yards and three touchdowns in one game. Johnson gained 155 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and added 26 yards on two catches with another score - that's merely 181 yards and four touchdowns. And that, mi amigo, is why you cough up the big bucks in your auctions.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Seneca Wallace 216 3 QB Donovan McNabb 198 0
RB Mike Bell 143 2 RB Deuce McAllister 19 0
RB Reuben Droughns 133 1 RB Lamont Jordan 21 0
WR Troy Walters 54 1 WR Randy Moss 20 0
WR Owen Daniels 99 1 WR Marvin Harrison 38 0
WR Kevin Curtis 79 1 WR Anquan Boldin 47 0
PK Morton Andersen 3 FG 2 XP PK Neil Rackers 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 123

Huddle Fantasy Points = 23

Sunday's Couch Commentary

BAL 35, NO 22 The Ravens became midnight madness for this year's Cinderella team when they clobbered the Saints in New Orleans. This game was never as close as the score may suggest since the Ravens led 35-7 going into the fourth quarter and their cornerbacks evidently left the game early to grab a Hurricane down on Bourbon Street. There was no rushing game by the Saints with McAllister and Bush combining for only 27 yards on 10 carries. But Brees thoroughly enjoyed the ample trash time and ended with 383 yards and three scores. Marques Colston had six catches for 163 yards and two scores while Horn turned in five grabs for 126 yards and another score. When the beat was on, it was pitch and catch to Colston and Horn the entire game. McNair evidently enjoyed Billick as the OC since he ended with 159 yards and two scores. Even Jamal Lewis actually ran for 109 yards but it required 31 carries to happen and, of course, he never scored. The Ravens had two defensive scores in the game and controlled it throughout. This was exactly what the Saints were supposed to look like this year, it just took five wins to get there. The Ravens now head home to play the Bengals and the Saints hit the road to Tampa Bay.
JAX 13, PHI 6 In a trophy shop somewhere, there is an engraver who is trying to find a new plate for the MVP Trophy because maybe it's premature to hand it to McNabb here at mid-season. The Eagles have fallen to a surprising 4-4 record (like, oh, the Jets) and McNabb comes off his worst game of the year - less than half as much as he usually produces. He only turned in 161 passing yards and had no scores. Westbrook only gained 38 yards on 13 carries but did lead the team with 68 yards on eight catches. The Eagles were just stuffed by the Jaguars who simply ran the ball with ease to control the game. Fred Taylor had 103 yards and one score and Maurice Jones-Drew had 77 rushing yards and 20 receiving yards. This was actually every bit as boring to watch as the score indicated but we all continued to watch knowing that eventually McNabb would show up and win the game. Never happened. With 46 seconds left to play, McNabb had first and goal to go from the JAC 10-yard line. And he threw three incompletions. Akers kicked the field goal because HC Andy Reid thought it would be easier to get the field goal from the ten yard line and then try to score a 60-yard TD after recovering the onside kick (which incidentally they did not). The Eagles go to their bye week knowing that they could have been 8-0 for the want of a play or two each loss. But - four losses says there's a problem with getting that one or two plays right. The Jags get to play out a three week stay at home against TEN, HOU and NYG. Now is the time to trade for those Jaguars...
ARI 14, GB 31 About the only thing better than playing the Packers is playing the road version of the Cardinals. Brett Favre only had 180 yards and one passing score but ran in the rare rushing touchdown because the running lanes were clear and open. Ahman Green gained 106 yards and scored twice while even Vernand Morency gained 101 yards and he only had 11 carries. Matt Leinart only had 157 yards and one score to Troy Walters. Leinart will likely need therapy soon because he's never had to develop the coping skills necessary when playing for a team with seven straight losses. Boldin was held to only 47 yards on four catches but at least Edgerrin James scored once and gained 84 yards on 24 carries for an outstanding game (using the ARZ standard). The Packers now head to Buffalo in search of a .500 record while the Cardinals head into their bye week where the next 14 days will have all players trying to avoid eye contact with Denny Green.
ATL 29, CIN 27 Definite contender for the Game of the Week. You can thank the Steelers for this game since they were the ones last week that got Michael Vick thinking that he was a great passing quarterback all of a sudden. Vick had 291 yards and three touchdowns (passing scores - honest) in this game while the rushing was unusually ineffective with Warrick Dunn (20-57). Vick added 55 yards on nine runs because he is Vick but he had a great passing effort here with no interceptions and a 71% completion rate. Of course Alge Crumpler was the top receiver with 72 yards and one score, but Michael Jenkins scored as well - a wideout again. If Vick continues to throw to wideouts, it will really complicate the task of every opposing secondary who only had to watch Crumpler every play before last week. Palmer threw for 266 yards and scores to Chris "I'm Back for Now" Henry and OchoCinco. Houshmandzadeh was the third best receiver with 70 yards while Henry (81) and Cinco (78) did just a smidgen better and yet not quite good enough to win the game. Now the Falcons head to Detroit while the Bengals have to play in Baltimore.
SF 10, CHI 41 This game wasn't really all that close. The 49ers outscored the Bears 10-0 in the second half but evidently giving up 41 first half points put the 49ers into a bind. Grossman racked up 252 yards and three scores to make himself feel good again after the near fiasco in Arizona and Thomas Jones had 111 yards and one score. Cedric Benson was the most interesting player here since the Bears stated that he would be more involved this week and get into the game for the third series. He did - and scored a touchdown too. And he ended with a monster eight carry workload in a game that was over by the first quarter. If that's a heavier workload, no wonder why Benson is portrayed as moody. Desmond Clark turned in his best game of the year with two touchdowns and 86 yards. The 49ers were overwhelmed from the start and the best any player did was Frank Gore's 111 rushing yards that came thanks to a 53-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Bears now host Miami this weekend while the 49ers return home to greet the Vikings.
HOU 22, TEN 28 The Texans drop their 11th straight road loss and HC Gary Kubiak benched David Carr after he had thrown an interception and lost two fumbles (should have seen the 2005 version). Sage Rosenfels came into the game and put up an impressive 186 yards and three scores in the second half. That favored the rookie tight end Owen Daniels (9-99, 2 TD) and Andre Johnson (9-78, 1 TD). The offense actually clicked pretty well when Carr wasn't busy losing the ball and Wali Lundy looked sharp gaining 116 yards on 18 carries and adding five catches for 33 yards. Looks like the Texans have their own triplets - Johnson, Daniels and Lundy. Who knew? The Titans did very little on offense despite winning. Vince Young only threw for 87 yards and one score but added a team leading 44 rushing yards and scored on a run as well. Travis Henry slogged through the game with only 29 yards on 15 carries. But the defense scored on a fumble and interception return and that was enough. Before you run to get Rosenfels, Kubiak said that Carr would be the starter again this weekend when the Texans head into New York to face the Giants. He may not be the "ender" but he will be the "starter". The Titans take their two game winning streak and head into Jacksonville this weekend. Oh well. Two games in a row! That was pretty good!
TB 3, NYG 17 While it was a blustery game, the Giants defense took all the wind from the Buccaneers sails on Sunday when Gradkowski only completed 20 of 48 passes for 139 yards and the best production from any Tampa Bay player was Michael Pittman's 38 yards on five catches. Carnell Williams ran for only 20 yards on eight carries and Joey Galloway ended with only 32 yards. The Giants were not all that productive themselves, Manning had just 154 yards and one score because he didn't need to throw much in this snooze-fest. Barber only gained 68 yards on 26 carries while letting Brandon Jacobs score the lone rushing touchdown. Plaxico burress had the best game of all and that was just 86 yards and one score. Now the 2-5 Bucs return home to host the Saints while the NFC East leading Giants will host the Texans. Wonder what "yee-haw" sounds like with a New York accent?
SEA 28, KC 35 Whoa - this was a definite contender for the game of the week. Seneca Wallace took over for Hasselbeck and had 198 yards and three scores - but threw two interceptions. Still, it was a very impressive game on the road in Arrowhead without the benefit of Shaun Alexander. Maurice Morris only gained 25 yards on 12 carries and probably is nervously pulling on his collar hoping no one remembers all this next summer when he wants to remain on the payroll with the once-cushy job of backing up Alexander. Wallace played a solid game, spreading scores to Darrell Jackson, D.J. Hackett and Jerramy Stevens. Damon Huard ignored his strained groin to post 312 passing yards and one score to Larry Johnson which seemed rather excessive since Johnson also ran in three touchdowns while gaining 155 yards on 39 carries. Both Eddie Kennison (6-132) and Tony Gonzalez (6-116) had big games as well. The Seahawks have lost three of their last four games but were in this until the end. Seattle returns home to face the Raiders and there's finally a realistic chance that Alexander will be back. The Chiefs head into St. Louis where they hope to maintain their winning record. Great game with some monster numbers, but none so big as for Larry Johnson.
STL 24, SD 38 On this day of monster games, LaDainian Tomlinson did his part when he gained 183 yards on 25 carries and scored twice, and also added three catches for 57 yards and another touchdown. That's three scores and 240 yards. Cha-ching, baby. LT was so dominating that Rivers only threw for 206 yards and Gates ended with five catches for 66 yards and no score. When Tomlinson got a little tired, Michael Turner came in and scored as well. Playing from behind the entire game, Marc Bulger threw 27 of 40 for 327 yards and two scores which was great against a tough defense but only had five receptions for 48 yards by Torry Holt who was blanketed most of the time. Isaac Bruce had 105 yards and even the slot man Kevin Curtis (7-79, 1 TD) out did Holt this week. Steven Jackson ran effectively but with only 18 carries, he ended with just 84 yards and one score. Like the SEA-KC game, there were some great fantasy points that came out of this contest and other than Holt, all the studs stepped up. Now the Rams go home to host the Chiefs while the Chargers stay home to greet the Browns. Might as well get Michael Turner ready again because Tomlinson is going to need some rest periods this weekend.
PIT 13, OAK 20 Why is it whenever I see the boxscore from a Pittsburgh game, I keep hearing The Doors singing "This is The End" from Apocalypse Now? Here we have what many reasonably tagged as the worst team in the NFL (I am talking about the Raiders, FYI) who had to face the NFL Champion Steelers this week. Only these aren't your father's Steelers. They aren't even your one-year old son's Steelers. These are the 2-5, "we just got beat by Oakland" Steelers that are 0-4 on the road this year. Evidently the Steelers are into some very bad mojo now because they just lost a game where the Raiders only threw for 51 yards and one interception and only ran for 81 yards. They had no offensive touchdowns but - Big Ben to the rescue. With four interceptions to chose from, the Raiders ran back interceptions twice for touchdowns including a 100 yard return by Chris Carr when the Steelers could have tied the score 13-13. Instead it was 20-6 and Roethlisberger could only mount one drive that ended up with a touchdown (for the Steelers that is). HC Bill Cowher's loyalty to Big Ben is akin to a dog rescuing his master from a burning building while running past an overturned hot dog vendor's cart. The Raiders head to San Diego this week while the 2-5 Steelers finally get a home game - and face the sure to be ticked off Broncos.
NYJ 13, CLE 20 The winning record was just too much for the Jets to bear so they drop back to 4-4 with the loss in Cleveland. Ends up that Leon Washington (15-51) actually isn't the second coming of Curtis Martin and Chad Pennington (108 yards, 2 int,) really is Chad Pennington. Laveranues Coles has cooled in a big way lately and only had 40 yards on four catches while Jerricho Cotchery led the team with five receptions for 43 yards. Where this game was lost, as with most Jet's losses, was because the worst rushing defense in the NFL allowed Reuben Droughns to rekindle his Denver days and gain 125 yards on 33 carries and score an actual touchdown. Kellen Winslow had 76 yards on seven catches and one score and he must be happy that the Browns dumped their old offensive coordinator (less so all other wideouts that had less than 25 yards each). The Jets head into their bye week so the next team to run all over them will be the Patriots in week 10. The Browns head down to San Diego where Droughns will be reminded "this ain't Denver".
DAL 35, CAR 14 Completing this day of six significant upsets, the Cowboys came off their resounding loss against the Giants and showed up in Carolina playing the way they were always supposed to according to the Parcells plan. Tony Romo took his first start and threw for 270 yards and one score while adding a noticeable mobility to the quarterback spot. Terrell Owens had nine catches for 107 yards and Jason Witten has suddenly found all new purpose with Romo around when he ended with six catches for 80 yards and one touchdown. Julius Jones ran for 92 yards and one score while Barber came in late mop up duty and collected two touchdowns himself on only nine carries. The Panthers came out flat, played flat and were, of course, flattened. When the Panthers were not busy dropping passes, they were fumbling the ball away. Jake Delhomme only had 149 passing yards and Steve Smith led the team with only 55 yards on six receptions. Keyshawn Johnson's big chance to stick it to his ex-employer only netted one catch for 19 yards, a couple of penalties and a few dropped passes. Other than Smith, none of the Panthers were in synch or effective in this surprisingly down effort. That drops the Panthers to 4-4 just in time for their bye week. The Cowboys are 4-3 now and head to Washington for their rematch with the Redskins.

Game-O-The-Week

We're here at mid-season and there are two notable features to this time of year. Some players are turning in monster games that can win your fantasy week almost single-handedly (or beat you of course). And this is the time of the year, for about the next two weeks, that there are a lot of upsets because many teams just inexplicably show up flat or extra motivated each week. The Saints, Eagles and Panthers abandoned their normally winning ways and were just flat. The Falcons are suddenly a passing team. The Titans and Raiders won with almost no offense. It's weird and hard to call and will last, typically, for about two more weeks before teams either gear up for the playoff run or just wither on the vine.

This week had a great GOTW though. Hands down - this is why you watch.

Indianapolis 34, Denver 31

The best game this week is clear though several others might have won in other weeks. The undefeated Colts went into Denver as the underdog for the first time this year. Why wouldn't they? The road team going into Denver where no one scores much - not even the Broncos. This was the match-up of the unstoppable force (Colts) against the unmovable object (Broncos). In six games played, Denver had only allowed a total of two touchdowns this year. Both came in road games to separate teams. In Denver, no opponent had ever scored a touchdown. Most never even came close.

But the Denver offense had never scored more than 17 points in any game this year. Fortunately, they never had to outside of that six field goal loss handed to them by the Rams on opening week.

At the end of the first quarter, the Colts led 3-0. Standard game in Denver. Manning could get the team close but could not reach that endzone. By halftime, the Colts had only scored six points and Manning had 132 passing yards. But the Broncos showed some new life on offense and Jake Plummer had 128 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Javon Walker. He also ran in a score. With a 14-6 lead, the second half was shaping up like every other Denver game. No scoring. Boring. Not to be though.

On their first series in the third quarter, Peyton Manning decided to stop looking at Marvin Harrison dancing with Champ Bailey and hooked up with Reggie Wayne for a 12-yard touchdown pass. With the extra point, the Colts trailed only 13-14. The endzone curse had been lifted. An opponent actually scored a touchdown in Denver. The defenders looked at each other and asked "are they really allowed to do that?" The answer was yes.

Denver took over on their next series on on third and 13 from their own 17-yard line, Plummer was sacked and lost a fumble. Indy recovered and suddenly the offense was back on the DEN 12-yard line. After two runs by Joseph Addai gained seven yards, on third down Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne in the endzone AGAIN. The defenders looked at each other and asked "This cannot be happening, right?". Again, the answer was yes. And the score was 20-14 (big side = Indy).

On the next series, someone in the Denver booth finally read his pregame notes that said the Colts could not stop the run. Starting on their own 9-yard line, the Broncos used up almost nine minutes running Mike Bell and Tatum Bell . And Bell (Mike, not Tatum) ran the best, finally gaining the final yard for a touchdown. Denver went up 21-20 with the extra point. The third quarter was over. But the Colts were not.

On the next series, Manning peppered the secondary with mainly passes to Addai, Rhodes and Clark to reach the Denver 30-yard line where the Colts kicked a field goal. The score was 23-21 (big side = Indy).

With 11:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Broncos marched from their own 20-yard line using Tatum Bell (one run, five yard loss) and Mike Bell (5-57) to the IND 1-yard line again where Bell (Mike, not Tatum) scored his second touchdown with 6:57 remaining. The Broncos pulled ahead 28-23.

(author's note - they should have used a starting gun for the fourth quarter because this just turned into a track meet)

With 6:54 remaining, Manning took over on his own 20-yard line (because in Denver kickoffs land in row 14 behind the endzone) and immediately hit Wayne for a 28 yard gain. He later connected with Wayne again for a 14 yard gain. And a six yard gain. Add in a couple of runs and one pass to Dallas Clark, and the Colts were on the DEN 19-yard line with 3:41 left to play and a third and two to go. And guess what! Manning likes that Darrent Williams guy. Enough that he threw his third touchdown to Wayne which made the score 29-28. A two point conversion was in order to boost the lead to three points so where better to look? Reggie Wayne - complete. And the score was 31-28 (Indy = big side). The defenders looked at each other and asked "What the hell is wrong with Darrent Williams ?".

Denver took over with 3:35 to play from their own 20-yard line. And on first down, Bell (Mike not Tatum) ran for 48 yards. Then Bell (Tatum, not Mike) ran for no gain. Then Mike gained one yard and Plummer threw an incomplete so on fourth and nine from the IND 31-yard line with only 1:54 left to play, Jason Elam nails a 49-yard field goal. Tie game. 31-31. And yet almost two minutes left to play. And Darrent Williams was heard to bark something like "then switch sides with me, beeyotch!".

With 1:49 left to play, Manning started out on his own 20-yard line. A pass to Addai for nine and then a run by Addai for five. 1:22 left and first down on the IND 34-yard line. Manning finds Clark for 11 yards to the IND 45-yard line. Then a pass to Addai gains five yards. Now at midfield, Manning looks left and Wayne catches a 13-yard pass to the DEN 37-yard line. On the next play, Manning hits Wayne again for nine more yards to the DEN 28-yard line with 24 seconds left to play.

Darrent Williams: "CAN I GET A LITTLE (*#&$(*&#$ HELP OVER HERE?!?!?"

Joseph Addai takes the handoff and slices up the middle for ten yards. WIth only six seconds left, Adam Vinatieri splits the uprights with a 37-yard field goal. 34-31 (Big side = Indy for good).

This was a great game that had Peyton Manning had his absolute peak playing form. Heading into the mouth of the lion in Denver, Manning walked away with 345 yards and three scores and a win. No one else has ever come close. On a day that McNabb flopped, the league MVP trophy is no longer a lock for anyone. Manning was about as flawless as is possible. He completed 32 of 39 passes. He kept the Colts undefeated. He sent Darrent Williams into twice a week therapy.

Big games all over the league on Sunday. Upsets and monster performances. A handful of head scratching flops. back-ups stepping up and the media darlings of the Eagles and Steelers keep stepping down.

And one universal truth. When Peyton comes to town, don't play across from Champ Bailey.

Now get back to work...