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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 11
David Dorey
November 13, 2006
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Carson Palmer 440 3
Steve McNair 373 3
Philip Rivers 337 3
Running Backs Yards TD
LaDainian Tomlinson 158 4
Willie Parker 225 2
Frank Gore 173 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Chad Johnson 260 2
Donald Driver 191 1
Donte' Stallworth 139 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Brandon Manumaleuna 14 2
Bo Scaife 61 1
Daniel Campbell 32 1
Placekickers XP FG
Joe Nedney 1 4
Shayne Graham 5 2
Dave Rayner 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
St. Louis 1 6 2
Chicago 1 2 3
Seattle 1 4 1

Week 10 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

The injuries are getting worse...

Clinton Portis (WAS) - Broken hand
Musa Smith (BAL) - Injured back
Eric Parker (SD) - Neck stinger
David Carr (HOU) - Bruised shoulder
David Givens (TEN) - Sprained left knee
Frank Gore (SF) - Mild concussion
Tony Gonzalez (KC) - Sprained shoulder
Tiki Barber (NYG) - Sprained thumb

Da-Da-Da-Dee-Dee...hmmm... zoom!

Devin Hester caught the failed 55 yard field goal attempt by Jay Feeley and casually walked forward in the endzone for a few seconds. Then he took off, speeding down the right sideline as the Giants scrambled unsuccessfully to try and catch him. Kudos to the Bears special teams who had obviously practiced that sort of return and into the record books lands Mr. Hester. He just tied the longest play in NFL history - 108 yard touchdown.

Of course he tied his own teammate Nathan Vasher who once did the exact same thing to the 49ers so evidently the Bears not only practice that play, they have perfected it.

Let's not get hung up on titles

Particularly when it is "starting running back".

On Sunday there were several big performances by the starting tailbacks but not in all cases. Consider these starters that first carried the ball for their teams:

Tm Had first carry...   Back-up/Relief RB  
HOU Wali Lundy 16-34, 1 TD Samkon Gado 17-67
JAX Fred Taylor 12-63 Maurice Drew-Jones 3-11, 1 TD, 56 yds rcv
IND Dominic Rhodes 14-72 Joseph Addai 13-78, 1 TD, 46 yds rcv
WAS Clinton Portis 6-25 Ladell Betts 20-83, 8 yds rcv
NYJ Leon Washington 9-35 Kevan Barlow 17-75, 1 TD
OAK Lamont Jordan 10-12, 1 TD Zack Crockett 7-40
DAL Julius Jones 15-45 Marion Barber 14-65, 1 TD

How many running backs can we start in this league anyway?

It's just a lovely autumn... again...

The Colts are the first team in NFL history to reach 9-0 in consecutive seasons. They reached 13-0 in 2005 before falling to the Chargers 17-26 and are heading that way this year. But the 2006 version has four wins by merely three points or less and 17-16 over the visiting Bills is hardly impressive. Maybe these Colts are going for a stealth mode, winning only by the smallest of margins.

Then again, they are also the only NFL team to have gone 14-0 and then lose their first playoff game as well...

Uh sure... just stick him in Mike Hass' room until we cut him

Marques Colston was drafted with the 252nd pick in the NFL draft, the 44th player taken in the seventh round as a compensatory pick in the supplemental portion of the NFL draft last Apri. He was expected to convert from being a wide out to a tight end because he is 6'4" and runs a 4.5/40. Might be a nice tight end after a good career at Hofstra University.

Nice indeed.

All he has done is to spend his first nine weeks in the NFL turning in 54 catches for 869 yards (#1 in the NFL) and score seven touchdowns (tied for #1 among receivers). He is currently the #1 fantasy wideout and most did not think he could be drafted. For humor's sake, here is a snippet of a scouts report on him:

Colston is going to be drafted because of his measurables and college production as a receiver, but should only be signed as a free agent because he is a 'Tweener' between receiver and tight end. He can make an NFL team now as a third tight end and special teams player and eventually could develop into a starter if he plays aggressively and raises his level of intensity on every snap...While he had outstanding size for a receiver, he is going to need to bulk up and add approximately 25 pounds to make it as a tight end.

Right now Colston is the most productive wideout in the entire league. And he wasn't even the first receiver the Saints drafted. They took Mike Hass out of Oregon State with their sixth round pick. Hass didn't even make the 53 man roster.

Just goes to show - you never know until you know...

Huddle Player of the Week

Chad Johnson - Of course this could be the weekly tribute to LaDainian Tomlinson, but given that he is "the chosen one" this year, this week honors the one player that has been much maligned this season from falling far below expected production in the first half of the season. Many owners finally tired of his weekly flop that they even traded him away for dime on the dollar recently. And of course, that meant that he exploded on someone else's starting line-up this week. Chad Johnson had not exceeded 100 yards in any game this year and only had two touchdowns on the season. So on Sunday, he certainly helped his overall stats when he still could not turn in 100 yards - he had 11 catches for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Basically about the same as he had totaled in the previous four games combined and he doubled his season touchdown total.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Steve McNair 373 3 QB Mark Bulger 215 0
RB Ovie Mughelli 44 1 RB Clinton Portis 31 0
RB Anthony Thomas 109 1 RB Tatum Bell 35 0
WR Mark Clayton 125 1 WR Randy Moss 8 0
WR Malcolm Floyd 109 1 WR Santana Moss 17 0
WR Terrance Copper 92 1 WR Marvin Harrison 21 0
PK Joe Nedney 4 FG 1 XP PK Neil Rackers 1 XP 1 FG

Huddle Fantasy Points = 124

Huddle Fantasy Points = 23

Sunday's Couch Commentary

HOU 13, JAX 10 Upset! The Texans, for reasons no one could possibly know, own the Jaguars this year and come off their second win over the otherwise tough team. Wali Lundy scored once but only had 34 yards on 16 carries and ended up sharing with Samkon Gado who had 17 runs for 67 yards. Since this is a derivative of the Denver offense, that means anyone may be the primary back next week. Gado played almost entirely in the second half when Lundy had only a couple of carries. Carr only threw for 167 yards and no scores and Andre Johnson ended with just 56 yards to lead all Texans receivers. The difference in the game? David Garrard throwing for four interceptions. The Jags only ran Fred Taylor 12 times for 63 yards and Maurice Drew-Jones had just three runs for 11 yards though he scored the lone Jaguars touchdown. Just 15 carries by the tailbacks compared to 34 pass attempts? Jacksonville was gaining 5 yards per carry on average - go figure. The loss drops the Jaguars to 5-4 and casts a shadow on their playoff hopes. The Texans are 3-6 and just won on the road. The Jaguars remain at home and host the Giants this week and the Texans return home to face the Bills. Too bad they can't all be Jacksonville...
BUF 16, IND 17 Not an upset but how close can you get to one? The only unbeaten team in the NFL playing at home against a 2-6 team that didn't have their starting tailback and they win by only one point? Peyton Manning only had 236 passing yards and one score and the Colts reverted to the split duty for Joseph Addai (13-78, 1 TD) and Dominic Rhodes (14-72) though Addai had seven catches for 46 yards as well. How sad is it when Reggie Wayne has just 42 yards and Marvin Harrison only 21 yards? Anthony Thomas had 109 yards on 28 carries and Lee Evans reeled in five passes for 70 yards. Beyond those two players, the Bills totaled only 15 other yards offensively. Just a boring game that only offered up the chance of an upset to make it worth watching. The Bills head off to Houston this week while the Colts will need to show more interest during their trip to Dallas.
SF 19, DET 13 Upset! Never mind that it's just the Lions, these were the road version of the 49ers, perhaps the most unfeared creature in all the league (along with the road Cardinals). The Lions came out flat - and yes you can tell - and fell behind 13-3 before mounting any sort of comeback. Jon Kitna only had 202 yards and one score while Kevin Jones was held to just 44 yards on 13 carries but he added a healthy nine catches for 71 yards. Roy Williams went against a usually horrible secondary but only managed five catches for 81 yards and Mike Furrey only came up with two catches for 13 yards. Against the 49ers. And yes, I am serious. Alex Smith only ended with 136 passing yards because Frank Gore was running wild until the third quarter when he got his bell rung and was relieved by Maurice Hicks. Gore still ended with 159 rushing yards on 22 carries with one touchdown. The best 49er receivers was Arnaz Battle with just 55 yards. Both defenses were top 5 worst in the NFL and yet there was just a total of 338 passing yards and one touchdown thrown? What a waste. The 49ers have quietly risen to a 4-5 record and may actually have to do research for their first draft pick next year. They return home to face the Seahawks while the Lions travel to Arizona where one of those teams will have to win the game.
KC 10, MIA 13 Upset! The Chiefs had scored over 30 points in each of their last three games and all went against quality opponents (SD, SEA and STL). So naturally when they face the 2-6 Dolphins they would only manage to score 10 points. Huard threw for 201 yards and no score while Larry Johnson was held to 75 yards and one touchdown. Tony Gonzalez had 84 yards on six catches and continues his secret love affair with Damon Huard. The Dolphins didn't do anything special here with Harrington also throwing for 201 yards and no score and Ronnie Brown gaining 89 yards and one touchdown. Just another woefully flat performance by both offenses that only produced two touchdowns in the game. Now the Chiefs return home to face the Raiders and the Dolphins remain home to go against the Vikings in a game that will have even less offense than this one.... shudder....
CLE 17, ATL 13 Upset! Okay, so now we know that lightning can strike twice but that after that, it's pretty much just the same old Michael Vick. He lost two interceptions, one fumble, his helmet and the game. He only completed 16 of 40 passes for 197 yards and that included one late 55 yard completion. When he fumbled, it was because he was holding the ball out as he ran and hit it with his own knee. Vick was the leading rusher for the Falcons with 74 yards since Warrick Dunn weighed in with just 73 yards on 21 carries. Crumpler was held to just 37 yards because someone in Cleveland figured out that all they had to do was to cover him. Reuben Droughns ran for just 54 yards on 21 carries but he did score once. Kellen Winslow had 90 yards on just five catches but the touchdown went to Braylon Edwards. This was another low scoring, boring flat game that brought out the worst in Vick and company and sinks the Falcons to 5-4 on the season with a trip to Baltimore coming up this week. The Browns merely return home to face the Steelers. Where fore art thou, sweet fantasy points? Where have you gone?
DEN 17, OAK 13 Not an upset but almost! In truly one of the most amazing Shanahanigans of them all, a completely healthy Mike Bell was made inactive so that Tatum Bell could run on his recovering turf toes and gain 37 yards on 14 carries while Damien Nash was called up from the practice squad so that he could contribute four carries for 14 yards. Even Cecil Sapp had two carries for six yards. All combined, Denver had 20 rushes for 57 yards. Shanahan said that it wasn't against Mike Bell who had gained 136 yards against the Colts two weeks prior, it was that Nash deserved, somehow, a chance to come in and gain 14 yards on four carries. Rumor has it that next week Mike Bell will start but he will be the kicker and Elam will be calling the plays while Shanahan does interpretative dances on the sidelines wearing a jesters costume. Plummer saved the day, sort of, since he had 210 yards and two scores against only three interceptions. The plan was to not use Javon Walker but he couldn't help himself and still had 62 yards and one touchdown with just two catches. The Raiders hung in for the entire game but in the end couldn't actually pull out a win. Now Denver returns home to face the Chargers who might actually score more than 13 points and the Raiders head to Kansas City. Oh yeah, points bonanza in this game. Randy Moss has one catch for eight yards. These teams played so flat they couldn't even think of a reason to start a fight. Andrew Walter is openly complaining that the Raiders offense is too bland despite only starting eight NFL games in his life.
NYJ 17, NE 14 Upset! The Patriots were at home, right, and the Jets came in with the worse rushing defense in the universe, right? And the Pats had Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney to throw at them. That's Maroney (12-37) and Dillon (11-98) who had a 50 yard run to pump his stats up. Ex-defensive coordinator Eric Mangini led the Jets to the win by putting the pressure on Brady who ended with 255 yards and one score to Reche Caldwell. The Leon Washington experiment is starting to go bad with only 35 yards on nine carries but Kevan Barlow had 75 yards on 17 carries and scored once on the wet, muddy field. When the best fantasy players from this game are Barlow, Reche Caldwell (9-90, 1 TD) and Cotchery (6-70, 1 TD), you pretty much know this was a dud of a game. Not only have the Patriots now lost two in a row for the first time in 57 games, they manage the trick in consecutive home games. That made the Jets 5-4 on the season and only one game behind the Patriots for the AFC East. Evidently the only way for the AFC East to become competitive is for the Patriots to drop down to the other three team's level. Now the Pats head to Green Bay while the Jets return home to host the Bears. I've seen baseball games with more points than this.
GB 23, MIN 17 Upset! But then again, the last time the Vikings had an actual offense it sure wasn't Brad Johnson (257, 1 TD) throwing to Bethel Johnson (2-75) and Billy McMullen (3-64, 1 TD). Chester Taylor was held to 75 yards on 20 carries while Ahman Green only had 55 yards on 22 runs. The difference in the game was Brett Favre throwing for 347 yards and two scores that heavily favored Donald Driver (6-191, 1 TD). Actually, when you boil this match-up down, it was really just Favre and Driver for a half dozen passes. The Vikings defense had been getting a little worse every week but stopped that trend by getting a lot worse. The Vikings have now lost their last three games and travel to Miami this week while the Packers host the Patriots. Ho-hum game unless you owned Donald Driver.
WAS 3, PHI 27 Finally, a game that actually played out as expected. At least in terms of the favored home team winning big. Nothing else really matched expectations. HC Andy Reid finally turned over the play calling to OC Marty Morinwheg who had more runs than passes for the first time this season. That left McNabb to throw just 12 of 26 for 222 yards and one touchdown. Take away that one long score to Stallworth and McNabb had only 138 passing yards. Brian Westbrook had 113 rushing yards but only three catches for 37 yards. L.J. Smith only had one catch. In fact, only four players caught a pass from McNabb. But they won and Andy Reid likes not getting into a shootout that they too often lose. McNabb's not going to turn back into a pumpkin necessarily, but then again - he will run the plays that get called. Mark Brunell threw for just 132 yards while Clinton Portis broke his hand that may require surgery. Sounds like multi-week recovery when a scalpel gets used. That makes Ladell Betts the waiver wire darling this week. The Skins go to Tampa Bay this week while the Eagles host the TItans.
BAL 27, TEN 26 Not an upset, but ridiculously close to one and really only the blocked field goal at the end of the game kept the Titans from shocking the Ravens who trailed by 19 points before mounting a comeback. That was the biggest comeback in the history of the Ravens so yes, this was almost an upset. Steve McNair (373 yards, 3 TDs) and Derrick Mason (64 yards, 1 TD) finally got to check out the visitors locker room at The Coliseum and get a bit of that wonderful revenge on their ex-employer. It certainly wasn't because Jamal Lewis (16-45) resembled a running back who had once broken the 2000 yard barrier. Mark Clayton had 125 yards on seven receptions with one score to lead the Ravens. Vince Young (211 yards) did not throw a score but ran in one on his eight rushes for 39 yards. Drew Bennett had six catches for 115 yards as it is was 2004 once again and Bo Scaife had 48 receiving yards and ran in a 13 yard touchdown. Ben Troupe was seen loitering outside the stadium gate trying to con a ticket taker into believing he was a Titans player. Travis Henry had 107 yards and one score in a surprisingly good effort. More points in this game though and the favored team did win even if it required a franchise record comeback plus a blocked field goal to end the game. The Ravens host the Falcons this week while the Titans go to Philly.
STL 22, SEA 24 Not an upset but close. And mainly because the game had an early 89 yard fumble return by the Rams and ended with a 38 yard Seattle field goal for the win. Whew... Seneca Wallace threw touchdowns to Darrell Jackson and Jerramy Stevens but mostly relied on Maurice Morris to gain 124 yards on 21 carries. Marc Bulger had only 215 yards and no scores which was a step down from the 360 yards and three scores he had against the Seahawks in week six. Torry Holt ended with only 73 yards on seven catches but Steven Jackson ran for 93 yards and one score while adding six catches for 40 yards. The game was much closer than it should have been but Wallace and Morris have had a decent run and everyone is ready for Hasselbeck and Alexander to show back up. Now the Rams head to Carolina while the Seahawks go to San Francisco. That one little field goal at the end of the game gave the Seahawks a two game lead in the NFC West and very possibly the title. Had he missed it, these teams would have been tied at 5-5 with a tie-breaker split in head-to-head games. Whew...
NO 31, PIT 38 Woo-hoo! Points! Lots of them! Not only did Ben Roethlisberger throw for 264 yards and three scores, but he had no interceptions. Not one. Good things happen when Ben limits open receivers to being only on his own team. And great things happen when Willie Parker gains 213 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. Hines Ward, Cedrick Wilson and Heath Miller all scored. But these teams were tied 24-24 to start the fourth quarter and it was never a given who would win. Marques Colston had 10 catches for 169 yards as potentially the most amazing player in the history of the NFL (or an example of just how bad scouting in college and the NFL really is). With Joe Horn out, HC Sean Payton opted for Cowboy's-castoff Terrance Copper as a replacement and he racked up 92 yards and one score. Deuce McAllister ran for 60 yards and scored twice and - get ready for this - Reggie Bush scored an NFL rushing touchdown though in fairness he was flying through the air for the final five yards. Absolutely a contender for game of the week. Now the Saints return home to host the Bengals and the Steelers travel to Cleveland.
DAL 27, ARI 10 What a difference a little Romo makes. Sort of makes you wonder why the Cowboys have been sitting on him for so long? Romo threw for 308 yards and two scores that went, with delightful predictability, to Patrick Crayton (5-104, 1 TD) , Terrell Owens (5-96, 1 TD) and Jason Witten (5-58). Romo has energized the passing attack and returned Witten in particular to fantasy relevance. Julius Jones and Marion Barber combined for 110 yards with the score naturally going to Barber. Matt "where in the hell am I?" Leinart had 216 yards and two interceptions in what has to be a completely surreal five game losing streak as a starter. Leinart hasn't lost five straight times since he was a kid and his brother was cheating in Candyland. Larry Fitzgerald (6-80) finally returned from injury but that wasn't enough to stem the tide of an NFL-leading eight game losing streak. Now the Cowboys return home to host the Colts while the Cardinals have a realistic chance at breaking their drought by hosting the Lions this week.
CHI 38, NYG 20 Upset! What a fitting way for Sunday to end! The Giants led 13-10 at the half but was outscored 28-7 in the second half when Tiki Barber's banged up thumb became an issue and Devin Hester ran back a field goal attempt 108 yards for a score. Rex Grossman came back to life and ended with 246 yards and three scores while Thomas Jones ran 30 times for 113 yards and a touchdown. Muhsin Muhammad had 123 yards on seven catches and one score. The Bears came out after half-time and the Giants never really did. Eli Manning had two interceptions and just 121 passing yards and Tiki Barber ran for 141 yards while Brandon Jacobs scored twice. The Giants had been cruising along and now have defensive players on the sidelines injured and Barber's thumb is a problem. Just yet another case of a home team falling apart and letting the road team have the upset. The Bears now go to New York to face the Jets while the Giants head to Jacksonville.

Game-O-The-Week

What a week! In 15 games on Sunday, eight were upsets and another four (BAL, IND, DEN and SEA) won but did not cover the spread. Only San Diego, Philadelphia, Dallas and Pittsburgh covered as favorites in their game. Ten road teams won and Baltimore, Seattle and Indy squeaked past with one or two point wins. Mid-season is always a brutal time for predicting games but it should start to clear up soon with teams either accepting their fate or striving every week to reach the playoffs.

Seven games ended with neither team scoring more than 19 points. It was a disaster for many fantasy players on those teams. But that wasn't true for all teams and it certainly wasn't the case in this weeks clear cut winner of Game of the Week. It was the sort of game that fantasy dreams are made of.

San Diego 49, Cincinnati 41 (AKA "nirvana")

Twice in this game the Bengals led by 21 points. At halftime, it was 28-7 in favor of Cincinnati. By the time the smoke cleared, there had been a total of 90 points, 12 touchdowns and 777 passing yards. The Chargers outscored the Bengals 42 to 13 in the second half. IN THE SECOND HALF! That was more points than any team scored in any of the 14 other games on Sunday. IN ONE HALF.

LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 104 yards, had 54 yards receiving and scored four touchdowns.

Rudi Johnson ran for 85 yards and scored once.

Philip Rivers threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns while Carson Palmer had 440 yards and three scores - neither quarterback ever threw an interception during the 78 passes in this game.

Malcolm Floyd had 109 yards and one touchdown while Antonio Gates turned in 69 yards on five receptions.

Chad Johnson had a game for the ages with 260 yards and two scores.

The Chargers had seven possessions in the second half and scored a touchdown in six of them. They punted only once.

Chad Johnson scored on passes of 51 and 74 yards. Malcolm Floyd's came from 46 yards out.

When Tomlinson scored his fourth touchdown near the start of the fourth quarter, the score was finally 42-38. The Bengals drove to the SD 45-yard line but had to punt. The Chargers, for the only time in the half, went four and out on their next series and the Chargers took over on their own 45-yard line with 9:37 left to play. They reached the SD 26-yard line but stalled and kicked a field goal to draw to 41-42 with 7:53 to play.

But the Chargers ran the clock down to 2:37 when they put together their sixth touchdown drive that ended on third and goal to go from the 5-yard line with Rivers flipping the ball to Brandon Manumaleuna for his second touchdown on the day. The Chargers incredibly led 49-41 after trailing 28-7 at the half.

Palmer drove the Bengals to the SD 15-yard line with 1:09 left to play but completed one pass for no game and threw three incompletions including the fourth and ten with 49 seconds left to play. The Chargers knelt twice to take the win,

It was an incredible game that should serve as a reminder that nothing is over at halftime or at mid-season for that matter. Owning Tomlinson has been a huge benefit for both the Chargers and every fantasy team but this one game dealt out some serious fantasy points all around.

It was a day of upsets and road wins. A day when the teams that seemed favored often lost even if they were division leaders. Bet it was the same in your league as well.

Time for our own second half comebacks!

Now get back to work...