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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 10
David Dorey
November 6, 2006
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Drew Brees 314 3
Ben Roethlisberger 442 1
Peyton Manning 314 3
Running Backs Yards TD
LaDainian Tomlinson 192 3
Steven Jackson 221 1
Kevin Jones 140 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Javon Walker 206 3
Marvin Harrison 145 2
Devery Henderson 111 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez 63 2
Jeremy Shockey 66 1
Chris Cooley 66 1
Placekickers XP FG
Phil Dawson 1 6
Matt Stover 2 4
Josh Scobee 4 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Miami 1 3 6
Buffalo 1 2 4
Denver 0 4 6

Week 9 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Berrian and McGahee going out hurt their owners, but at least the list is pretty light this week.

Willis McGahee (BUF) - Injured ribs
Tony Fisher (STL) - Sprained knee
Bernard Berrian (CHI) - Injured ribs

Were the season to end today...

Half the games have been played by all teams now (exception OAK and SEA but let's give that to SEA for argument's sake). If the playoffs were going next week, here's where they stand:

AFC:

Byes - IND and one of BAL, NE, DEN.
First round - Two of BAL, NE, DEN against JAX, KC (or SD)

NFC:

Byes - CHI and one of NO or NYG
First round - (NO or NYG), SEA, ATL and one of DAL, PHI, MIN, CAR, STL

Going to be a a battle for that final wild card in both divisions, particularly the NFC.

And then there was one...

The disappearing act the Bears had in Chicago this week left the Colts as the final undefeated team. And thanks to wins by the Dolphins and Lions, now the Cardinals can clearly claim to be the worst team with a 1-7 record all by themselves. The only team that the Colts face that currently has a winning record is Jacksonville in week 14. The Colts already beat them 21-14 in Indy in week three this year. Games against DAL, PHI and CIN will also prove challenging though the Colts have already beaten the division leading Giants, Broncos and Patriots - all on the road no less.

Well... it's deja vu all over again

Those ever coveted first three draft picks last summer netted LaDainian Tomlinsion, Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson in some varying order in almost every league on the planet. Alexander owners are less than pleased to wait for him to end his mid-season vacation but those owners that have Johnson and Tomlinson have been more than a little happy lately.

Tomlinson currently ranks as the highest scoring running back in most leagues (short of odd scoring rules) since he has 828 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 323 reciving yards and two receiving touchdowns. That's a grand total of 1151 yards and 14 touchdowns so far. Since he has played eight games now, let's double that for a season and he would end with 1656 rushing yards, 646 recieiving yards and 28 total touchdowns.

Johnson started the year as "hands off" by some fantasy owners because he had lost his fullback and two linemen and had a new head coach. Currently Johnson had 816 rushing yards, nine rushing scores, 329 receiving yards and two receicing touchdowns. That's a grand total of 1145 total yards and 11 touchdowns. Double that for a season and he would have 1632 rushing yards, 658 recieving yards and 22 total touchdowns.

Currently no other running back has more than eight touchdowns. No wideout has more than seven scores. The duo of Johnson and Tomlinson is making the delta between themeselves and whoever ends up #3 each week greater and greater. And rushing goes up as the season progresses and passing declines thanks to weather if nothing else.

Kinda makes the case for auction leagues really. That way anyone can own either back - long as you are willing to lose a huge chunk of your salary cap. For teams that drafted either back and ended up with McNabb - ask them how first place feels.

It's all such, you know, upsetting...

Mid-season - those games which come around weeks eight until eleven or so - almost always offer two different theme weeks. One is where a majority of road teams all win, usually because that is just the way the schedule works out. The other is what I like to call "upset week" where most games are lost by the favored teams and at least a few are absolute head scratchers because teams at this point in the season get tired and think they know their opponent well enough to mail in their effort and expect a win. This week - upset week.

Atlanta (-5.5) lost to Detroit in a game that makes Vick look like the last two weeks never happened,
Dallas (-3) lost to the Redskins who were banged up and without Santana Moss.
St. Louis (-3) lost to the Chiefs because they could not stop Larry Johnson while Torry Holt was almost invisible.
Chicago (-13.5) got spanked by the Dolphins in every phase of the game. In Chicago. Seriously.
Minnesota (-6.5) lost to the 49ers in a game that no one could even score an actual touchdown.
Pittsburgh (-2) lost to the Broncos because Big Ben can never limit open receivers to being on his own team.
New England (-1) got beat by Indy in New England again. Brady can talk about Super Bowls but not about this match-up anymore.

Out of 13 games, seven went to the underdog and in the case of Chicago, Minnesota and Atlanta - those are going to leave a mark.

Consider too that the Giants barely snuck past the visiting Texans and the Chargers were losing to the Browns and this was a brutal week to call. Only four teams covered the line.

Now that we have that out of our season, let's hope the favored teams start to take games a bit more seriously. Before they no longer are the favored teams...

Huddle Player of the Week

Javon Walker - While a couple of other players were candidates this week, the award has to go to Javon Walker who alone was responsible for sending the World Champion Steelers to an embarrassing 2-6 record when he had six catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns to lead all Bronco receivers. He also added one end around that turned into a 72-yard dash to the endzone for a third score and with just the one run, he also was the Broncos leading rusher in the game. Makes you wonder - can he can throw too?

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB David Garrard 191 3 QB Tom Brady 201 0
RB Anthony Thomas 101 1 RB Willis McGahee 15 0
RB Noah Herron 82 0 RB Carnell Williams 44 0
WR Devery Henderson 111 2 WR Torry Holt 50 0
WR Ernest WIlford 44 2 WR Chad Johnson 32 0
WR Kevin Curtis 59 1 WR Antonio Gates 22 0
PK Phil Dawson 1 XP 6 FG PK Jay Feely 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 120

Huddle Fantasy Points = 27

Sunday's Couch Commentary

TEN 7, JAX 37 The Jaguars had no problem dispatching the Titans and the game came within three minutes of being a shut out. Young looked every bit the rookie QB on a bad team when he threw three interceptions and ended with 163 passing yards which included the 32-yard touchdown deep in trash time. Travis Henry (19-67) was unable to get much going though Young did finally revert to using Bo Scaife who had 70 yards on five receptions to lead the team. David Garrard ended with just 177 yards but had three touchdowns including two to Ernest Wilford. But Fred Taylor only gained 79 rushing yards and Maurice Jones-Drew had just 56. Pretty boring blowout when no player can reach 100 yards and both quarterbacks turn in less than 180 yards. Just a standard butt-whooping that the Jags defense usually delivers when at home against a weak team. The Titans now return home to host the Ravens while the Jaguars stay home to play Houston this week and likely replicate this game all over again.
ATL 14, DET 30 Somehow Vick had turned in two great passing games against the Steelers and Bengals but once they faced the mighty #28 defense of Detroit, he withered back into the same old Vick that we have long known - 163 passing yards, one score and two interceptions. Of course he led the team in rushing with 80 yards but mainly because Warrick Dunn (11-51) hasn't had a big game in a month now. Crumpler caught the only touchdown pass, of course, and Crumpler led all receivers with 47 yards, of course. Those Falcon wideouts? Back into the box sealed with packing tape. Jon Kitna had yet another big yardage game with 321 yards and one score while Kevin Jones continues his march into the elite level with 110 yards and two scores. The Lions had released Az-Zahir Hakim so there wasn't anyone else to throw to but Roy Williams (6-138, 1 TD) and Mike Furrey (4-72). In a day of upsets, this was but one of several. Now the Falcons go home to host the Browns while the Lions remain home to face the 49ers.
MIA 31, CHI 13 About those upsets... The Bears fall from the ranks of the unbeaten in one of those "you have to kidding me" showings that many teams produced on Sunday. The once awesome Bears defense gave up 157 rushing yards - AT HOME - to Ronnie Brown and allowed Joey Harrington - that's JOEY HARRINGTON - to throw for three touchdowns on just 137 passing yards. Grossman had three touchdowns and ... no wait... those were interceptions. He had just one score, one lost fumble and the three interceptions and looked very much like the Arizona Grossman. Thomas Jones could only gain 69 yards on 20 carries and even Cedric Benson was allowed to play with 34 yards on eight carries. Bernard Berrian was lost to a rib injury and the Bears just played like they were Bearskin rugs. It was the annual trash game for the Bears and they let a team that was 1-6 come into Chicago and kick their butts. On the plus side, those tiresome comparisons to the '85 Bears should quiet down for now. The Bears now go to New York to play the Giants who could be a bigger challenge than the 1-6 Dolphins were but no guarantees anymore. The Fins return home to face the Chiefs and have roughly seven days to still feel good about themselves this year.
GB 10, BUF 24 The Packers made this a 10-10 game in the fourth quarter before the Bills remembered that Green Bay has the worst secondary in the league. Evans saved his fantasy day when he caught a 43 yard touchdown mid-way through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately Willis McGahee left the game on a cart after only four carries and Anthony Thomas stepped in to gain 95 rushing yards and one touchdown. Bet you recently dropped Thomas too, huh? Favre threw for 287 yards and one score but had two interceptions while Ahman Green ran 23 times for 122 yards. Greg Jennings (5-69) was able to play but Donald Driver (9-96, 1 TD) outplayed all receivers in the game. This was a coin flip game to start with that the Packers let get away from them late in the match-up. The Packers had the better stats in this game but two interceptions and two lost fumbles were enough to ensure the loss. Now the Packers travel to Minnesota this week while the Bills head into Indianapolis.
CIN 20, BAL 26 Close game that was Game of the Week material since this was such a screwy week. Carson Palmer threw two touchdowns though only one went to his own team and he had two costly interceptions as he completed only 12 of 26 for 195 yards that included a 71 yard completion to Chris Henry. Rudi Johnson was a mild surprise by gaining 77 yards on 18 carries and scoring once but Chad Johnson flopped with only Tres-Dos receiving yards and no scores on four catches. Even Houshmandzadeh only had 66 yards on three catches though he did score once as his contract mandates. McNair had 245 passing yards but no scores or turnovers and Jamal Lewis ran for 72 yards on 23 carries which will slightly decrease his previous 3.4 YPC average. He did score once while Musa Smith only had 46 yards on three carries because he is much fast and more elusive than Lewis but evidently always runs when HC Brian Billick happens to be looking away. This is a very bad loss for the Bengals in a game they could have won - but didn't. Now the Bengals return home to host the Chargers while the Ravens head into Tennessee to maintain their AFC North lead.
HOU 10, NYG 14 This game was very nearly an upset, as amazing as that seems (though less than, say, the 1-6 Dolphins going into Chicago and spanking a 7-0 team). Houston led 10-7 in the third quarter since the Giants thought that their first quarter score by Barber was enough to win the game. Burress was a gametime scratch thanks to his balky back so Shockey stepped up to eight catches for 66 yards and one score with a couple of bad drops along the way. Barber ran for 115 yards and added 40 more on three receptions. It was, overall, a rather boring game that had the Giants trying to mail this one in and almost getting caught. David Carr had 176 yards but no scores and Wali Lundy away from Houston only managed 43 yards on 20 carries. That rabid run on the waiver for Owen Daniels last week netted a mere 34 yards on three catches and Andre Johnson turned in nine catches for 83 yards. The only Texans score came on a run by Carr just to ensure that Lundy would flop this week. Now the Texans travel to Jacksonville where they hope no one remembers how they demolished them in week seven in Houston (fat chance there) while the Giants stay home to host the Bears defense and possibly their offense as well.
NO 31, TB 14 The answer to the question - "who should I pick up for week nine?" was actually Devery Henderson who turned in 111 yards and two touchdowns on just three catches. The Saints burned the Buccaneers and sent them reeling despite only beating them by a field goal back in New Orleans in week five. The Saints had no rushing game with McAllister scoring once but only gaining 32 yards on 15 carries while Reggie Bush would be better off if he just kept his monster contract money and donated all his carries to someone else. Bush ran 11 times and netted a five yard loss which is actually less than you would expect from someone described as "a rare talent" and an automatic "#1 overall" kind of guy. But the Saints struck gold in the draft - at the other end when they took Colston who, yet again, incredibly and almost inexplicably, had 11 catches for 123 yards and one score. If he never caught another pass, he still might be the greatest 7th round wideout of all time. He came within four picks of never being drafted - wrap your head around that one. Bruce Gradkowski threw for 185 yards and two scores but that was nothing more than pitch and catch with Joey Galloway (4-97, 2 TD). No other wideout here had more than 39 yards. Swamped on the scoreboard, the Bucs abandoned the running game so Cadillac Williams only had 39 yards on 12 carries. Now the Saints go into Pittsburgh this week where ain't no body smiling lately.
KC 31, STL 17 Another upset. This was an outstanding game for fantasy football, less so for Rams season ticket holders. Marc Bulger threw for 354 yards but only one score and he only managed to get three completions for Torry Holt for 50 yards. That left Isaac Bruce (3-61) and Kevin Curtis (7-59, 1 TD) and that just wasn't enough. Steve Jackson ran reasonably well with 86 yards on 19 carries with one rushing touchdown but he added a career high 13 catches for 133 yards to grant him astronomic fantasy value in point per reception leagues. The Chiefs were content to run Larry Johnson 27 times for 172 yards and one touchdown whole Damon Huard continues to make his bid to keep Trent Green on the sideline by completing 10 of 15 for 148 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. Tony Gonzalez (5-63, 2 TD) has enjoyed a big revival in recent weeks and no other Chiefs receiver had more than one or two catches. This boiled down to the Rams not being able to stop Johnson running the ball and slips the Rams down to 4-4 on the season. The Rams next travel to Seattle where they face the replenished Seahawks while the Chiefs head down to Miami to face the only team that is "Chicago good".
MIN 3, SF 9 This game probably made it pretty hard to justify sitting there for three hours to watch it instead of cleaning out the garage. This is what happens when both teams pick Sunday to give up caffeine. Brad Johnson only had 136 passing yards and no score while Alex Smith only managed 105 yards and no score. Both had one interception. No Viking player had more than 33 yards in total other than Chester Taylor who had 96 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards. No 49er player had more than 24 yards in total other than Frank Gore who had 41 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards. The only real difference in this game was that Brad Johnson lost two fumbles and the 49ers had none. The Medicare program is looking into paying for videotapes of this game to be made available to patients requiring sleep aids. And yes, this was an upset of the most boring kind imaginable. Now the Vikes brings their dink-n-yawn offense back home to face the Packers while the 49ers head to Detroit.
CLE 25, SD 32 The Chargers tried pretty hard to let this game turn into yet another upset this week but finally woke up later in the fourth quarter. The Browns led 12-10 at the half while the only Chargers touchdown was a defensive fumble recovery in the endzone. As an example of what trying to mail in a game looks like, consider that Tomlinson only had 43 rushing yards at halftime (he ended with 172 and three second half touchdowns). Rivers only threw for 211 yards and no scores and Antonio Gates had just two catches for 22 yards. The Browns kept coming back and Frye ended with 236 yards and one score that went to Braylon Edwards (6-61). Kellen Winslow went to the home of his famous father and led all receivers with 11 catches for 78 yards even though he was constantly booed in the game. This would have been an upset and no one had much fantasy value in this game except for Tomlinson who single-handedly carried the game for the Chargers (and with 192 total yards and 3 touchdowns - more than a few fantasy teams as well). Now the Browns head to Atlanta while the Chargers head to Cincinnati.
DEN 31, PIT 20 Another upset though by this time, who really blinked twice when the Steelers dropped another game? Willie Parker scored once and had 70 yards on 14 carries but as always the story was Ben Roethlisberger who not only passed for a career best 433 yards, he decreased his turnovers to only three interceptions this week. Hines Ward had seven catches for 127 yards while Parker added 67 yards on seven catches with the lone Steeler passing score. Ward lost one fumble right as he was about to cross the goal line for a touchdown - it has been that sort of year for the Steelers. Jake Plummer was as good as he has been this season when he threw for 227 yards and three scores with no interceptions. Rod Smith snared one touchdown while Javon "I'm everywhere you need to be" Walker had two scores and 134 yards on six catches. Walker also was the leading rusher for the Broncos when he turned a simple end around into a 72-yard up the middle run for a touchdown. The win keeps the Broncos atop the AFC West and sends them to Oakland this weekend while the Steelers fall to 2-6 and host the Saints. The amazing fact with Pittsburgh is that they are playing about as well as last year in every aspect save one - Roethlisberger throwing interceptions. And by now it is inescapable - he's addicted.
IND 27, NE 20 Sure, everyone knew the soft Colts run defense would be exploited (though getting Bob Sanders back had to help some). The Patriots went for the perfect split with both Maroney (63) and Dillon (48, 2 TD's) getting 13 carries in the game along with Kevin Faulk turning in 24 yards on just four runs. That's 135 rushing yards and two scores - shame you could get that out of just one running back, eh? The Colts only had 42 yards on 18 carries by Joseph Addai though he scored once. There were two main differences in this game. First, Peyton Manning had 326 yards and two scores with just one interception. When it came time to move the ball, it mostly relied on Manning who only threw to four players in the entire game - Harrison (8-145, 2 TD), Wayne (6-90), Clark (2-42) and Utecht (4-49). Effective and fairly efficient. The second determining factor in the game was Tom Brady, only not for the same reason. Brady did hit eight different receivers so that none had more than 54 yards in the game. But he also completed four passes to three different Colt defensive backs. Add in a lost fumble by Dillon and the Patriots could not over come the turnovers. And Brady ended with just 201 yards, no scores and four interceptions. Now the Colts are the last unbeaten team and return home to face the Bills while the Patriots remain atop the AFC East and remain at home to host the Jets this week.

Game-O-The-Week

This was the standard "upsets rule" week but there were some monster fantasy scores and some big time flops. While passing touchdowns were healthy enough - seven quarterbacks turned in three, the passing yardage was down with only seven quarterbacks topping 250 yards. We had huge games from both Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson again only proving that those early draft picks are ultra-valualble (though do not mention this to Shaun Alexander owners). It was a really strange week with some surprising endings and the Game of the Week is a perfect representative of just how weird it can get in mid-season.

Dallas 19, Washington 22

The Cowboys were favored in this game and that was before the news that Santana Moss was inactive this week. That meant the one receiver that Mark Brunell regularly relied on would be out. Brunell was suffering from bruised ribs and Clinton Portis was getting over an ankle sprain. And the Cowboys were coming off a dominating win in Carolina. Seemed like a slam dunk.

But the Redskins recorded a safety and a field goal in the first quarter to take a 5-0 lead.

Dallas answered with a touchdown pass to Terry Glenn but then made the surprising decision to go for the two point conversion evidently on the premise that they next 43 minutes might be scoreless and they would need a three point cushion. They missed of course. One 38-yard touchdown run by Clinton Portis and a Dallas field goal later, the game was surprisingly tied 12-12 at the half.

In the second half, Tony Romo led the Cowboys on a 75-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens and a 19-12 advantage. Looked like the Cowboys were going to get it into gear and like many teams on Sunday, wake up in the second half and take their win. Owens even laid down in the endzone and pretended to be asleep on the football as a joke which amused the refs so much that they threw an unsportsmanlike penalty flag.

But after trading series twice with no success, the Cowboys were marching down the field and from their own 26-yard line, Romo threw a perfect lob deep to Owens with nothing between him and the endzone but grass. Unfortunately, he did not actually catch the perfect pass and dropped it. Certain 76-yard touchdown, back-breaker and he dropped it. Booble-booble-kerplunk. The Cowboys would reach the 41-yard line of Washington but punted.

The Redskins enjoyed a 48 yard pass interference penalty that landed them near the Dallas 20-yard line. Two plays later, Brunell found Chris Cooley for an 18-yard touchdown and a 19-19 tied game. While Dallas did not allow any big plays, they did give one away with that penalty and it all works just as badly.

Both teams reached the other's side of the field but had to punt. The both teams had a "three and out" to bring the clock down to just 3:52 left to play. The Redskins got a 17-yard punt return by Antwaan Randle El and started on their own 45-yard line. On third and seven, Brunell hit James Thrash for 17 yards to reach the DAL 35-yard line. After three plays only reach the DAL 31-yard line, Nick Novak came on to kick the 49-yard field goal with only 35 seconds left to play. Game winner - had he made it. But he didn't. The tie remained and Dallas had all their timeouts left with the ball on their own 39-yard line.

Romo hit Fasano for 11 yards and killed the clock at 31 seconds. Then Owens caught a five yard pass - 25 seconds. Then an incomplete and a completion both to Witten for 28 yards that reached the WAS 17-yard line with only six seconds left. Mike Vanderjagt has struggled a bit but any field goal kicker should be automatic from 35 yards out. Maybe he would have too had it not been blocked.

The ball bounded past the line of scrimmage where Sean Taylor grabbed it and started running. Early during the run, Kyle Kosier tried to grab the weaving Taylor and touched his face mask. It was anywhere from incidental to head jerking depending on who you ask but regardless, the referee like the more severe penalty and tacked on 15 yards to place the Redskins at the DAL-29 yard line with no time remaining. But the game cannot end on a penalty.

This time Nick Novak tried to kick wide right once again but got that hook left enough to squeak the 47-yard field goal in for the win on an untimed, free play. Cowboys went from a chip shot field goal to win the game to watching the Skins nail a long one with no time on the clock.. Sometimes - stuff just happens.

The game had everything in it - an upset, a flat first half by the favored team who retook the lead only to lose it in one of the worst sort of ways. The Skins were banged up and without their best wideout. In the end, sometimes the vagaries of fate prefers one side to the other. Sometimes it just hates one side. And by the middle of the season when teams are getting tired and thinking that they can win without a complete effort, upsets happen.

Now get back to work...