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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 14
David Dorey
December 3, 2006
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Trent Green 297 4
Vince Young 163/78 2
Marc Bulger 314 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Reggie Bush 168 4
LaDainian Tomlinson 192 2
Cedric Houston 129 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Marvin Harrison 172 1
Matt Jones 128 1
Santana Moss 123 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez 105 2
Antonio Gates 90 1
Steve Heiden 27 2
Placekickers XP FG
Jason Hanson 1 4
Martin Gramatica 2 3
Josh Brown 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Chicago 2 3 5
Houston 1 5 5
Seattle 1 3 5

Week 13 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Looks like a few flesh wounds...

Joe Horn (NO) - Re-injured groin
Laurence Maroney (NE) - Wind knocked out of him (?)
Charlie Frye (CLE) - Sprained wrist
Chester Taylor (MIN) - Bruised ribs
Jason Elam (DEN) - Possible hamstring strain

Uno... one...un...it... the...just....

It was a rarity to be sure. For the first time this year there were no wideouts with more than one touchdown and just nine wideouts that topped 100 yards. Only Trent Green passed for more than two touchdowns on Sunday and while there were four passers that threw for more than 300 yards, they combined for just four passing scores between them.

The passing numbers typically go down in the final month of the season and yesterday there wasn't any bad weather games to factor in. Maybe you've been riding those hot receivers and quarterback so far but when your fantasy playoffs are on, you may find a new reason to hate the running back pig in your league.

Okay, so that's just mean spirited...

Edgerrin James ran for a season high 115 yards on 26 carries against the Rams on Sunday and that was his game as a Cardinal with more than 100 rushing yards. But James had only scored three touchdowns on the season. Coincidentally, he now shares that scoring mark with Marcel Shipp who only ran three times for six yards this year until yesterday when he turned seven carries into 21 yards and three touchdowns. J.J. Arrington also had four carries - every one by the goal line. James had just two and was yanked.

Maybe James has a contract incentive that kicks in at four touchdowns?

Okay, so let's do this again. Now you are the starter, you are the back-up... No, wait...

It's bad enough to see your starting back-up not perform well, but even worse when his back-up ends up the better play. On Sunday, this was again driven home on more than a few teams:

Edgerrin James gains 115 yards but Shipp scores three touchdowns.
Warrick Dunn ran for 87 yards but Jerious Norwood gained 107 yards and one touchdown.
Thomas Jones ran for 32 yards while Cedric Benson gained 60 and scored one touchdown.
Wali Lundy had one score but only 33 rushing yards while Ron Dayne ran for 95 yards.
Deuce McAllister gained 136 rushing yards but Reggie Bush turned in 168 total yards and four scores.
Carnell Williams only gained 27 yards while Ernest Graham ran for 35 (okay, so that was a stretch).

The end of the year always brings the running game to the forefront, but who is it that is really out front?

Huddle Player of the Week

Reggie Bush - Evidently the rookie runners are all saving their best for last since Addai turned in four scores last week to become the POW and now Reggie Bush has blossomed. Before last Sunday, Bush had only run for one touchdown this season and had never scored on a pass. All he did on Sunday was to run for touchdowns of 1, 8 and 10 yards and score on a 5-yard pass as well. That's one game that quadrupled the number of touchdowns he had scored in the previous 11 games. Bush only gained 37 yards on ten carries but racked up 131 yards on nine catches when the rest of his teammates never had more than 18 yards or two catches in the game. It took 11 weeks to happen but the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft delivered.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Derek Anderson 215 2 QB Matt Hasselbeck 168 0
RB Cedric Houston 129 2 RB Thomas Jones 32 0
RB Marcel Shipp 21 3 RB Julius Jones 35 0
WR Steve Heiden 27 2 WR Joe Horn 18 0
WR Brandon Marshall 71 1 WR Anquan Boldin 32 0
WR Antonio Bryant 79 1 WR Andre Johnson 5 0
PK Martin Gramatica 2 XP 3 FG PK Matt Stover 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 121

Huddle Fantasy Points = 22

Sunday's Couch Commentary

BAL 7, CIN 13 Thankfully Torry James fell down so that Derrick Mason could keep the shut out from happening. In rainy Cincinnati on Thursday, Jamal Lewis ran for 15 yards on his first carry and then, remembering just who he was, he only gained 45 yards on the remaining 15 runs for his three yard average to remain intact. Mason ended with 90 yards and the score thanks to the one play and that saved McNair from getting blanked. Rudi Johnson only managed 47 yards on 16 carries but Palmer had a nice game with 234 yards and one score to Houshmandzadeh. Chad Johnson was the star in the first half but only had one catch after that to end with 8 carries for 91 yards. Houshmandzadeh turned in 10 catches for 106 yards and the touchdown but Chris Henry never had a catch. It was a low scoring game mainly since neither team wanted to make a mistake in the rain. Palmer was sharp, but only passed as much as he needed to in order to win. Now the Ravens head to Kansas City while the Bengals remain home to host the Raiders.
SD 24, BUF 21 Nearly a Game of the Week contender. Tomlinson was held to only 178 rushing yards and two touchdowns which lands him with 26 on the year and four more games left to break Alexander's record. Tomlinson has also ran for more than 1200 yards in each of his first six seasons, tying only Eric Dickerson with the feat. Philip Rivers only threw for 160 yards and one score which almost entirely favored Antonio Gates (9-90, 1 TD). No other receiver had more than 29 yards for the Chargers. The Bills only got 26 yards on 16 carries from McGahee who did score once. The Chargers rang up a 21-0 lead in the first half and the Bills climbed back in the game in the second half with touchdown passes to Robert Royal and Peerless Price at the very end of the game but no Bills player had a decent fantasy game and the very late score made this seem far closer than it really was. Now the Chargers are 10-2 and tied for the best record in the NFL. They return home to host the Broncos this week. The Bills fall to 5-7 and head to New York to play the Jets.
DET 21, NE 28 Here's a game that proved far more competitive than expected. The Lions led 18-13 heading into the fourth quarter but Tom Brady was able to bring the team down to the goal line so that Corey Dillon could end with just nine carries for 25 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Maroney was hurt "somehow" and never returned after just four runs. Reche Caldwell surprisingly still looks like a primary receiver when he had 112 yards on eight catches. No other wideout had more than 2 catches or 28 yards for the Pats as the game plan dictates. Kevin Jones gained 56 yards on 19 carries but added 86 yards on five catches just to salvage a few fantasy teams out there. Kitna had a solid game for being on the road in New England when he threw for 314 yards and one score but his three interceptions proved to be the key to the loss. Mike Furrey (9-123, 1 TD) was the biggest recipient since the entire Patriots secondary chased Roy Williams (3-50) during most of the game. The Lions looked like they might actually record a road win but fell apart at the end. Now at 2-10, the Lions season is swimming with the catfish and they have to host the Vikings this week. The Patriots rise to 9-3 on the season and head to Miami this week.
ATL 24, WAS 14 The Falcons fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter but then reeled off 24 unanswered points to take this win. Michael Vick threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns and added 59 yards on ten runs. Both Alge Crumpler (2-62) and Michael Jenkins (4-43) had touchdown catches. Warrick Dunn finally had a decent game with 87 yards on 21 carries but was shown up by Jerious Norwood who ran nine times for 107 yards and one score that came on a 69-yard run. The 31-year old Dunn has been mediocre this year while Norwood has shown both more power and speed when given the opportunity. Jason Campbell had 217 yards and one score with two interceptions and Ladell Betts covered 155 yards on 28 runs and scored once for a very solid showing. Campbell finally found Santana Moss useful with seven receptions for 123 yards and the passing score. Cooley was held to just two catches for 12 yards and this game was all Redskins at first and then the Falcons took over. Now Atlanta is 6-6 on the season and heads to Tampa Bay this week while the 4-8 Redskins host the Eagles this week.
ARI 34, STL 20 And the devil said "what's up with this snow? The Cardinals come off an actual road game and that gives Matt Leinart two wins in the last three games - pretty heady stuff for the rook. Leinart only threw for 186 yards and one score but had no interceptions. This was a reverso game since Larry Fitzgerald (5-46, 1 TD) and Anquan Boldin (2-32) were just average players and Edgerrin James gained 115 yards on 26 carries while kindly allowing Marcel Shipp to run in three scores just to piss off anyone still starting James. Bulger finally had a big yardage game when he threw for 314 yards and two scores but he had three interceptions. Torry Holt (7-115, 1 TD) and Isaac Bruce (5-75, 1 TD) had good fantasy games and while Stephen Jackson never scored, he ran for 96 yards and caught nine passes for 69 yards to maintain his value. The Cardinals can run and win on the road. Bulger throws for over 300 with two scores and the Rams get throttled at home. Oh sure. I bet even Leinart's mother lost money betting on the game. Now the Cardinals head home to host the Seahawks this week while the reeling Rams get to host the Bears this week. Things may not improve for the Rams quite yet...
SF 10, NO 34 At least the 49ers remembered they are a bad road team. Unfortunately, that included Frank Gore who only gained 40 yards on 13 carries and just 28 on five catches. Alex Smith threw for 171 yards and a score to Antonio Bryant (4-79) but he also had three interceptions and only used four receivers in the entire game. The only thing harder to imagine than Drew Brees throwing for only 186 yards and one score is that Reggie Bush would score four touchdowns on just 10 carries for 37 yards and nine catches for 131 yards. McAllister ran for 136 yards on 26 carries but gave way to Bush when the Saints got down near the goal line... wait a minute... really? Wow! The one team that had been an absolute goldmine for wide receivers this year had Joe Horn leading the group with just one catch for 18 yards. Devery Henderson had two catches for 14 yards. Terrance Copper had no catches. For anyone using a Saints wideout in an important game, this was not the finest moment for the Black and Gold. Then again, Reggie Bush owners likely wet their pants by the time the game was over (if they had, you know, actually started him this week). Now the 8-4 Saints head to Dallas for a big challenge since HC Sean Payton knows Texas Stadium (and the Cowboys) rather well. The 49ers return home in time to get an early Christmas present - the Packers are coming to town.
NYJ 38, GB 10 There is bad and, well, there is Packer bad. There's no other way to explain how the Jets could have Cedric Houston gain 105 yards and score twice. Or for Pennington to throw for 263 yards and two touchdowns himself. Jerricho Cotchery caught nine passes for 99 yards and one of the scores while Chris Baker (4-50) took the other. Laveranues Coles (3-28) did not partake in the fun much though the Jets switched to a heavy diet of rushes in the second half. Even Leon Washington (7-40) ran in a score. Ahman Green ran for 102 yards on just 14 carries but Brett Favre did the damage with 214 yards and one score against two interceptions and one lost fumble. The lack of wideouts have been a disaster to the passing game that used Noah Herron (7-51) and Vernand Morency (3-43) more than the wide receivers. Outside of Donald Driver (3-41, 1 TD), there is no fantasy value from a Packers receiver and he has been limited himself. Now the Packers hit the road to San Francisco while the Jets return home to host the Bills.
MIN 13, CHI 23 The game score obscures that this was one of the ugliest games played this season and perhaps during this millennia since it included both teams struggling. The Bears scored on a punt return and an interception return and together that outscored either offense. They also recorded a safety. The only offense the Bears managed in the game was allowing Cedric Benson to carry his standard nine times which led to 60 yards and a touchdown. Thomas Jones only ran 12 times for 32 yards and that included one 16 yard run. Rex Grossman is now the anti-Rex (or is that the true Rex) who completed only six of 19 passes for 34 yards and three interceptions. And they won. And that had nothing to do with their offense other than the running of Cedric Benson that they only begrudgingly allow to happen eight or ten times per week. The Vikings picked up a fourth quarter touchdown by Ciatrick Fason to make the game seem competitive, but it featured Brad Johnson who only threw for 73 yards and four interceptions. He was, finally, mercifully, replaced by Brooks Bollinger who threw for 70 yards and completed 7 of 9 passes without ever giving the Bears defense the ball. Even Tavaris Jackson completed 3 of 4 for 35 yards though he lost a fumble. Here's a hint - the Vikings had three quarterbacks active for the game. Chances are they were expecting it all to do down poorly. Chester Taylor gained 99 yards on 17 carries that included a 42-yard run but he left the game with bruised ribs. Now the Vikes head to Detroit while the Bears go to St. Louis.
JAX 24, MIA 10 The Dolphins four game winning streak ended when the visiting Jags held Sammy Morris to only 47 yards on 12 carries and Joey Harrington ended with 267 yards and one score with two interceptions. Harrington scored on the first Dolphins series in the game and then not again until Mare finally made a field goal late in the third quarter. Chris Chambers reeled in a season high eight catches for 121 yards and Marty Booker had five catches for 61 yards but no other offensive player did much. David Garrard had 229 passing yards and two scores while Fred Taylor (19-76) and Maurice Jones-Drew (5-46, 1 TD) combined in their traditional manner. Matt Jones comes off a monster outing with six catches for 128 yards and one score while George Wrighster grabbed the other touchdown pass. The Dolphins looked great - for one opening series - and then stumbled against a sound defense. Now the 7-5 Jaguars will host the Colts this week while the Dolphins host the Patriots this week.
HOU 17, OAK 14 I stand corrected. While I just mentioned that the MIN-CHI game was the ugliest game ever played, I was wrong and I will admit it. This was even worse. A pick-up football game between two sororities during "Keg Week" would be better played than this was. David Carr won the game after completing seven of 14 passes for 32 yards. Subtracting sack yards, he had a negative five yards passing. Wali Lundy scored once but only gained 33 yards on nine carries while Ron Dayne reared his head again and ran 18 times for 95 yards. Both teams returned fumbles for touchdowns. Aaron Brooks threw for 238 yards and had two interceptions. He no longer has a completion percentage, it is measured in passes not dropped. Four different Raiders fumbled the ball and their inability to hold on to the ball (when they even managed to catch it) meant that Brooks could not be blamed for this loss. At least not solely. The Texans won because Kris Brown made three field goals in the fourth quarter when the Texans could not score a touchdown after recovering yet another fumble deep in Oakland territory. Sebastian Janikowski missed all three of his field goal attempts including doinking two of them off the goal posts. Reshard Lee was the best receiver for the Raiders because he had 59 yards on five receptions and he only lost one fumble. Randall Williams was second with six catches for 46 yards and two lost fumbles. This just in - the game was bone dry and played in 56 degree weather with no reason why the ball should act like it was covered with butter. All you Andre Johnson owners may be disappointed with his one catch for nine yards yesterday but at least you had the best Houston wideout in the game. Now Houston returns home to host the Titans while the Raiders go to Cincinnati.
TB 3, PIT 17 The Steelers finally put together a win thanks to hosting the Charmin-soft Buccaneers in Pittsburgh and even then, WIllie Parker only managed to gain 61 yards on 22 carries. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 198 yards and two scores while only throwing one interception. Just one. In an entire football game. With Hines Ward out, Nate Washington filled in and led the team with three catches for 78 yards while Heath Miller (2-27) and Jermaine Tuman (1-2) both scored. Bruce Gradkowski again made a strong bid to not be the starter next year when he threw for 175 yards and three interceptions. The Bucs offense is a mess and the best runner was Ernest Graham with 35 yards after the Buccaneers had already thrown in the towel. Carnell Williams only gained 27 yards on 11 carries and lost one fumble. Joey Galloway ended with just 37 yards on three receptions. The Bucs now head home to host the Falcons while the Steelers remain home to face the Browns.
DAL 23, NYG 20 Definite contender for the Game of the Week since it was decided at the end on a field goal. Tony Romo finally failed to have a stellar game by throwing for 257 yards but no scores against two interceptions. Romo did connect well on the long completion to Witten at the end of the game to set up the game winning field goal though. Julius Jones only gained 24 yards on 11 carries and as always was overshadowed by Marion Barber who ran 12 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Owens had 84 yards on eight catches and a couple of drops while Jason Witten turned in three catches for 73 yards including the final 43-yard catch that helped make the win. Eli Manning played well, throwing for 270 yards and two scores with no interceptions and Barber ran for 90 yards on 23 carries and added five catches for 53 yards but Jeremy Shockey (6-65) and Plaxico Burress (6-43) both had touchdown catches. This was a very even game but the win by the Boys makes them 8-4 on the season and tied for the second best record in the conference. They now return home to host the Saints while the Giants slip to 6-6 and hit the road to Carolina. The loss shatters the Giants dreams this season and with that cast a shadow on the future of Coughlin even though the owner has already said Coughlin will remain. Let's see what he is saying in a month.
IND 17, TEN 20 Another definite contender for Game of the Week and an upset of the #1 team in the NFL no less. The Colts drop only their second game of the year when Peyton Manning threw for 351 yards and a score but had two interceptions. The rushing game did not carry over from last week since Joseph Addai only had 56 yards on 16 carries and Rhodes gained just 39 yards on 12 runs though he scored once. Marvin Harrison is back, finally, and he turned seven catches into 172 yards and one score while Reggie Wayne settled back for just 57 yards on three receptions. The Titans trailed 14-0 in the second quarter before catching fire. Vince Young once again mounted a comeback that saw him finish with 163 yards and two scores with two interceptions, and he ran for 78 yards on nine runs. Travis Henry gained 93 yards on 20 carries while no Titans receiver had more than three catches or 31 yards. Imagine what Young might be like if he had a top-flight receiver instead of ten no-name guys catching passes every week? The Colts were sending this game into overtime with a field goal at the 2:31 mark but the Titans ended up kicking a 60-yard field goal with only seven second left to win the game. It's like the National Championship game all over again for Young for the second week. It's all him and not that much any other individual player. And uncredited and undervalued has been the work of the Titan defense. Now the Colts may not cakewalk through the rest of the season to the delight of every fantasy owner with a Colt on their team. The Colts head to Jacksonville for a big match-up this week and the surprising Titans head to Houston.
SEA 23, DEN 20 The Jay Cutler debut could have gone better. The rookie's first interception was returned for a score and while he ended with 143 yards and two touchdowns, he threw two interceptions and gained almost half his yardage on the 71-yard touchdown by Brandon Marshall who turned a short pass into a very long score. Otherwise, Cutler would have thrown for a very Plummerian 72 yards in the game. Tatum Bell ran for 133 yards on 23 carries and looked healthy after missing games with bad toes. Other than the one Marshall catch (his only in the game), no Denver receiver had more than 17 yards in the game. Hasselbeck only had 168 passing yards and much of that came in the fourth quarter. He had no scores and one interception while Shaun Alexander ran for 90 yards on 26 carries and scored a one-yard touchdown. Darrell Jackson set up that score with two catches for 60 yards that ended on the one yard line. While the long touchdown by Marshall surprisingly tied the game, it left the Seahawks with 2:31 left to drive from their 14-yard line to the DEN 32-yard line and have Josh Brown tie the NFL record by winning a game in the final minute for the fourth time this season. The 50-yard kick was his third field goal in the game and he missed from 53 and 40 yards earlier. Now the Seahawks rise to 8-4 and play in Arizona this week while the Broncos sink to 7-5 and head to San Diego this week.

Game-O-The-Week

Plenty of surprises this week with the Colts and Chiefs losing and the Chargers and Patriots winning in far tougher games than expected. The Cowboys take the jump up by defeating the Giants and the Ravens fall back with the loss to the Bengals. Five different games ended with just a field goal difference in the scores and the passing game seemed to nearly disappear this week. While there were plenty of contenders for the GOTW - especially the Colts losing to the "never say die" Titans - the best game was indeed the most surprising if not downright shocking.

Chiefs 28, Browns 31 Overtime

Here's a wonderful example of why football is so thrilling and exciting and frustrating and punctuated with the occasional "you have GOT to be kidding me!". The Chiefs were in a "must win" game and brought the top runner in the league to this matchup with a passing game that had taken a backseat. That would change.

At half-time, these teams were tied 14-14 because the Chiefs had elected to pass for two scores instead of run and the Browns scored on their first drive with a pass to Edwards and Rueben Droughns ran in a score with only 23 seconds left in the first half.

But the Chiefs opened the second half with a drive led by Larry Johnson runs but when they reached the KC 6-yard line, Green tossed his third passing score of the game when he found Kris Wilson open in the endzone. On the ensuing kickoff, the Browns fumbled and the Chiefs recovered on the CLE 42-yard line. But three plays later Green threw an interception right before it seemed the game would blow open.

On the next series, the Browns lost Charlie Frye to a sprained wrist and went with Derek Anderson, the second year player that had never thrown a pass in the NFL. All was certainly lost now.

After the Browns punted on their next series, the Chiefs mounted a drive from their one 1-yard line that ended seven minutes later at the 12'37 mark in the fourth quarter with a fourth touchdown pass by Green, his second to Tony Gonzalez in the game. Now the Chiefs were safely ahead 28-14 with the NFL's most productive runner in Larry Johnson. No problem. 14 point lead and the opposing team's quarterback was gone to be replaced by a most inexperienced player.

On 3rd and 5 from the CLE 24-yard line, Anderson hit Jurevicius with a ten yard pass. On a 3rd and 4 from the CLE 40-yard line, he tossed a shovel pass to Jason Wright that produced a 54 yard gain to the KC 6-yard line. Two plays later and Steve Heiden had caught a touchdown and the score was 21-28 with nine minutes left to play.

The Chiefs took the next kickoff and only made it to the KC 14-yard line. Using liberal amounts of Larry Johnson runs, they ended up punting from their own 29-yard line with 5:27 left to play.

When the Browns took over on their own 30-yard line with 5:17 left to play, Anderson was faced with a third and one and Jason Wright gained 14 yards on a run. Then Anders ran for 11 yards. A pass to Droughns gained 16 yards. The next pass to Droughns gained another nine yards. with 1:19 left to play, Droughns ran for eight yards to the KC 3-yard line with 40 seconds left to play. Anderson then found Steve Heiden for his second touchdown in the game and a tied score.

The Chiefs took the kickoff to their own 27-yard line and after a 15 yard completion to Eddie Kennison, Green was sacked and fumbled. The Browns recovered on the KC 40-yard line with 20 seconds left to play!

But Anderson then throws an interception and the game went to overtime after a pass to Tony Gonzalez could not reach the sideline in time to kill the clock. For the want of one second, the Chiefs would have had the ball on the Browns 40-yard line and a chance for a 57-yard field goal to win in regulation.

The Chiefs won the coin toss and brought the ball from their own 20-yard line out to the KC 41-yard line before they needed to punt.

The Browns got the ball on their own 22-yard line and Anderson hit Kellen Winslow for 26 yards on Winslow's first reception in the game. After two plays, it was third and two from and Droughns gained four yards to the KC 44 yard line. After a five yard loss on a sack, it was second down and 15 from the KC 45-yard line. When Anderson went back to pass, he found no open receivers so he ran to the right sideline and was met by two defenders who missed their tackles. Instead of running out, Anderson ran down the sideline all the way to the KC 12-yard line for a 33 yard gain. After two meaningless runs by Wright, Dawson came in and nailed the game winning field goal. 31-28 - Browns win.

The best runner in the league (yardage) gained 110 yards on 28 carries and never scored. Trent Green (297, 4 TD), Eddie Kennison (7-117, 1 TD) and Tony Gonzalez (9-105, 2 TD) all had their best games of the year in a loss. The Browns won thanks to Derek Anderson who had never played a down in the NFL after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL draft.

Any given Sunday and any given player. You just never know until you know.

Now the fantasy playoffs are about to kick off in many leagues. Good luck to all Huddlers and may the few good quarterbacks and wideouts of December all be on your team!

Now get back to work...