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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 2
David Dorey
September 10, 2007
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tony Romo 345 5
Eli Manning 312 4
Tom Brady 297 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Joseph Addai 143 1
Travis Henry 183 0
Adrian Peterson 163 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Plaxico Burress 144 3
Randy Moss 183 1
Reggie Wayne 115 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 107 1
Heath Miller 35 1
Jason Witten 116 1
Placekickers XP FG
Jason Hanson 3 3
Adam Vinatieri 5 2
Lawrence Tynes 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Vikings 2 6 2
Texans 1 3 4
Steelers 0 6 5

Week 1 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Nothing too bad yet though most of these remain to be fully diagnosed.

Chester Taylor (MIN) - Bruised hip
Eddie Kennison (KC) - Strained hamstring
Carnell Williams (TB) - Rib injury - left game
Chad Pennington (NYJ) - Sprained ankle
Brandon Jacobs (NYG) - Sprained knee
Jesse Chatman (MIA) - Bruised knee
Eli Manning (NYG) - Bruised shoulder
DJ Hackett (SEA) - Ankle sprain

Oh yeah, I got your Hester right here

The Patriots only led the Jets 14-7 at halftime and when the second half opened, the Jets kicked off. Ellis Hobbs had been returning kicked for two years and only scored once so when he fielded that kick eight yards deep in his own endzone, reason said that he should down it. But he didn't, he took off running and when he finally stopped he had set an NFL record for the longest kickoff return ever.

Like the Patriots needed the help anyway...

Preseason is over, right?

The NFL spent the last five years with having the opening week be one of the highest scoring weeks of the year if not the highest. The majority of games would exceed the over/under by a large margin. And then last year that all reversed with most the games under-delivering. And 2007? We waded through five games that could neither opponent could score more than 16 points. Seven different teams could not score more than ten points though none were shut out. The Falcons, Saints, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Bears are still waiting for their first offensive touchdown of the year. The two highest scoring teams from 2006 were the Bears and the Chargers who combined for a total of 17 points in the same game.

Not to worry. Half a dozen teams did top 30 points and it's only a question of mixing the right good offense with the right bad defense for more fantasy fun.

Well, it's probably not the country music

The two best rushers on opening weekend were Chris Brown of the Titans who ran for 175 yards on 19 carries on the road in Jacksonville and Travis Henry of Denver (who played for the Titans last year) who rushed for 139 yards on 23 carries on the road in Buffalo. Makes you wonder what Eddie George was doing yesterday.

Okay, so explain why we added reception points again?

Reception points are added to league scoring primarily because it makes the wide receivers much more valuable if not equal with running backs. Yesterday there were 25 players who had more than five receptions - six were running backs and three were tight ends. That means almost half of the most heavily used "receivers" were not even wideouts.

Huddle Player of the Week

Tony Romo -This was a tough one this week because cases could certainly made for either Plaxico Burress or Randy Moss since neither was really seen much this summer and their expectations had been falling. But Romo gets the award this week not only because his last real game ended with his infamous bobble of the snap in Seattle, but because he was the only player this week credited with five touchdowns - four passing and one rushed in. He starts the year with this one big eraser and immediately makes Jerry Jones question the decision to wait before he pays Romo what he is worth. With road games coming up in Miami and Chicago this probably is not going to last, but for opening Sunday - it was a thing of beauty to all who started him this week.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Josh McCown 313 2 QB Drew Brees 192 0
RB Derrick Ward 116 1 RB Thomas Jones 48 0
RB Chris Brown 178 0 RB Brandon Jacobs 26 0
WR Ronald Curry 133 1 WR Deion Branch nope 0
WR Shaun McDonald 90 1 WR Lee Evans 15 0
WR Drew Carter 19 2 WR Santana Moss 28 0
PK Jason Hanson 3 XP 3 FG PK Nate Kaeding 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 126

Huddle Fantasy Points = 18

Sunday's Couch Commentary

NO 10, IND 41
Unfortunately for the rest of the league, The Colts are not interested in merely resting on their laurels and allowing team dissension and general malaise to ruin a good thing. Last Thursday the Colts looked better than last year. All the usual suspects were scoring and Joseph Addai ran well enough to wonder why they bothered with Rhodes last year at all. However... the Saints were throttled for the entirety of the game. Brees threw for 192 yards but roughly 191 yards came after the game was decided. The Colts defense was good on all three levels and only late in the game would allow Brees to play catch with Eric Johnson. While it was euphoric for the owners of IND players and unsettling for anyone holding a Saint on their team, it was just one game. One who's-your-daddy, "you forgot your bike" ass-whooping, The Colts head to Tennessee where they have had problems before while the Saints remain on the road against the Buccaneers.
DEN 15, BUF 14

For some inexplicable reason, the Broncos usually start their season like they just noticed they were playing the day before. In 2005, the Dolphins beat them and almost no one else. Last year the Rams spanked them in STL. This year the Bills almost pulled the trifecta of opening fiascos and Jason Elam did his part by missing two field goals. Cutler had a career best 309 yards and Henry ran for 138 yards but the Broncos could not finish drives and Elam couldn't tack on threes when they failed. Marshawn Lynch managed to have a successful debut though with 90 rushing yards and one score but he was the only Bills player with any decent stats. Losman only had 97 passing yards in the game and Lee Evans just turned in two catches for five yards. The game ended with a frantic run on of the field goal unit for Denver and Elam nailed the game winner as the clock expired. Denver returns for their home opener against the Raiders while the Bills get to go to Pittsburgh where it is not going to get any easier.

The game was made all too somber when second string tight end Kevin Everett was knocked unconscious and taken from the field by ambulance. He had a helmet-to-helmet hit that is suspected to have caused a cervical spine injury. Last word was that he was brought into surgery at a nearby hospital and that "what we heard is not so good". Send your hopes and prayers to Everett.

TEN 13, JAC 10

Perhaps merely a continuation of last year, the Titans won another game as underdogs in a way that was really just a head-scratcher. Vince Young only had 78 passing yards and no receiver had more than 26 yards. Young scored the only Titans touchdown and had 11 runs for 22 yards as a symbol of how much he still ends up running and how much defenses really want him to stop it. The player of the game was clearly Chris Brown (surprise!) who ran for 175 yards on just 19 carries making your draft pick of LenDale White (18-66) seem like much less of a sleeper pick. The move to David Garrard obviously did not light any offensive fires and the Jags vaunted rushing game must still be in the box because it never showed up for either Fred Taylor (6-16) or Maurice Jones-Drew (7-32). The starting wideouts from last year were Reggie Williams (inactive) and Matt Jones (no catches). Dennis Northcutt (4-57) and Ernest Wilford (2-20) are the starters now though the results so far are no better. The bitterly disappointing thing here is that the Jaguars lost at home. They should turn it around next week when the Falcons visit. The Titans return home to face the all-world Colts. Yes, the Jags intend to continue their spilt backfield just as soon as they locate the real Taylor and Jones-Drew.

MIA13, WAS 16
Here's a game that helped answer many questions. Yes, Portis (17-98, 1 TD) and Betts (17-59) are the picture of a perfectly split backfield. Yes, Santana Moss (3-28) is still only capable of monster games or total flops. Yes, Antwaan Randle El (5-162) would have a career best game (I know you did not ask but I guess we all should have). Ronnie Brown (11-32) will share the backfield with Jesse Chatman (7-15) but at least both are going to be used in the passing game as well since both had six catches. And finally no, Chris Chambers is not going to be less than the best receiver with six catches for 92 yards. Let's be serious, this was a pretty boring game with one run by Portis and a couple of catches by Randle El to remind the fans they were watching a football game. The Skins opened with a win but it's not really a big celebration against a rebuilding team with a new head coach on the road. The Fins return home to host the Cowboys while the Redskins head to Philly for their first loss of the year.
CAR 27, STL 13
Okay, okay - now THESE are the Panthers that were supposed to show up LAST year. Jake "Keep the Carr in the garage" Delhomme threw for three touchdowns and DeShaun Foster ran for 94 yards on 17 carries. DeAngelo Williams pitched in 15 carries for 62 yards and Steve Smith had his obligatory seven catches for 118 yards and one touchdown. Drew Carter only had three catches for 19 yards but two were for scores. The Panthers defense came up big by holding Steven Jackson to only 58 yards on 18 carries and even more troubling was that the Rams only competed one pass to him. Just one. Brian Leonard had three receptions. Jackson - just one. The only Rams wideout receiver who had any production was Torry Holt (8-73, 1 TD). The Panthers held Bulger to only 167 yards and that one score. The second year offense of the Rams should get more on track next week with the 49ers coming to town and the Panthers home game against the Texans is looking more like a blowout than an even game. Only one week of course, but the Panthers played as well as they ever had as a team. Then again... it was always injuries that did them in previously.
KC 3, HOU 20
This was easily one of the saddest games of the day because now the Texans are playing like they have a defense and your players will not get automatic HOU points anymore. Damon Huard may not be the next great QB but he's usually better than 168 yards and two interceptions. Larry Johnson may have taken the summer off but 10 carries is about one third his normal total from last year. The only bright spot, which is purely a relative term, was that Dwayne Bowe had three catches for 42 yards so the future may hold some promise. The Texans greeted their new quarterback who threw for 225 yards and one score with one interception. The lone touchdown came on a 77 yard connection with Andre Johnson (7-142) who just loves his new quarterback. Ahman Green ran for a healthy 73 yards on 16 carries and the Texans looked exactly how they always wanted to look and yet so very rarely ever did. Just one game but a nice start against an established team going in the opposite direction. The Texans have to head to Carolina this week which apparently will not be pretty and the Chiefs head on to Chicago where they will still be searching for their first touchdown of the season when they leave. After that they host the MIN defense. Then go to SD. Then host Jacksonville. Man... they really missed an opportunity this week and by a rather large margin.
ATL 3, MIN 24
<insert dog analogy here> This was a somewhat boring game outside of Oklahoma where they went nuts cheering for Adrian Peterson (19-103) when he turned a juggling catch into a 60 yard touchdown. Chester Taylor only had three carries before hurting his hip and if pure excitement counts the most, Taylor would have carried his last this year (just kidding). The Vikings defense looked every bit as good as last year when they held Joey Harrington to only 199 yards and two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. The Falcons steadfastly stuck with Warrick Dunn (22-55) even though Jerious Norwood (5-33) was much more successful. In case you wondered which ATL wideout would be stepping up, so far it is just Roddy White (4-29) and the rookie Laurent Robinson (3-32) but those are still Vick-quality wideout numbers. The Vikings still have an anemic passing attack with no one catching more than two passes of for more than 28 yards other than Peterson. You know Peterson was still on a couple of benches out there this week but next week in DET will be VERY hard to keep the rookie out of any starting lineup. The Falcons get to travel to JAC where things will not be getting much better.
PIT 34, CLE 7
The new Steelers offense looks pretty deadly, at least against the Browns. Ben Roethlisberger only completed 12 of 23 for 161 yards but four of those went for touchdowns - a nice difference maker. Willie Parker rambled for 109 yards on 27 carries but all the scoring went to the receivers. Santana Holmes (2-55), Hines Ward (3-51), Heath Miller (4-35) and even TE Matt Spaeth (1-5) all had touchdowns. After all that coin-flipping by Romeo Crennel ended with Charlie Frye as the starter, he was yanked after going just 4 of 10 for 34 yards and one interception so that Derek Anderson could throw 184 yards and one score. Jamal Lewis only gained a whooping 35 yards on 11 carries so his sub-4.0 YPC remains in place. The CLE offense became little more than pitch and catch with Kellen Winslow (4-83) and Braylon Edwards (3-49) which means nothing has changed from 2006. The Steelers get to return home to face the Bills while the Browns host the Bengals next week. This game was just a fun sort of blowout. Afterwards, Crennel said he wasn't going to throw Brady Quinn into the fire but about three or four more of these and he'll need to look like he's still trying to find an answer.
PHI 13, GB 16
Likely the biggest upset of the day, the Eagles left Green Bay as losers when Mason Crosby kicked a field goal with two second remaining. Donovan McNabb looked a little off throwing for only 184 yards and completing just 15 of 33. He had one score and one interception and basically that is about a third of what he was doing last year at this time. Brian Westbrook was just as good as always running for 85 yards on 20 carries and adding six receptions for 46 yards. Not unnoticed was Reggie Brown only turning in one catch for 14 yards at the end of the game while Kevin Curtis (2-53) was outplayed by slot guy Jason Avant who had three catches for 54 yards and the lone touchdown. Favre didn't do that much either though, only throwing for 206 yards and one interception and Brandon Jackson ran for 40 yards on 15 carries though it seemed like more if you were watching. He added four receptions for 35 yards as well. This was a surprisingly defensive game on both sides and the Packers just had the ball last. We can only pray this is not indicative of what to expect from both offenses. The Eagles return home to host the Redskins while the Packers head to New York to face the Giants.
CHI 3, SD 14
Points. Where fore art thou sweet points? This yawner had two of the highest scoring offenses from 2006 disappear in the face of two of the better defenses from last year. We saw the same old Rex Grossman throwing 12 of 23 for 145 yards and an interception. Cedric Benson took his first start as "the man" and only gained 42 yards on 19 carries. Bernard Berrian (5-83) was the lone CHI offensive player that pulled his weight in this game. But the Bears defense played incredibly well in a tough venue when they limited LaDainian Tomlinson to only 25 yards on 17 carries (it was like they knew he was coming) and forced Tomlinson to throw a touchdown pass in order to have his standard two scores per game. That was more than Rivers could do with only 190 yards and an interception in the game. Antonio Gates (9-107) remains clearly the best tight end in the game and league and Tomlinson had seven receptions for 51 yards just to repay everyone with the first pick in their fantasy draft. The Bears return home to face the Chiefs so expect the offense to start looking much better and the Chargers go up to New England where they face their nemesis from the playoffs last year. That is one game you HAVE to watch. Fights, shoving, hurt feelings, the whole nine yards. Plus a lot more points than the game this week had.
DET 36, OAK 21
Funny thing happens to the #1 passing defense from last year. When opponents actually feel like they need to throw to win, they can. Jon Kitna threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns against the "least tested" secondary of last year. Roy Williams scored first and had just four catches for 20 yards while Calvin Johnson opened his NFL career with four receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. While the Oakland corners were worried about those two, Shaun McDonald (6-90, 1 TD) was the guy they should have watched better. Tatum Bell ran well with 15 carries for 87 yards and a score which is higher end for what most Martz tailbacks usually do. The Raiders may have been beaten at home by a team with virtually no defense, but at least they start the year out with points which is more than they did last year. Josh "take that CPep" McCown was the starter and had 313 yards and two scores but also threw two interceptions. Ronald Curry had his career best game with 10 catches for 133 yards and one score but Jerry Porter (2-26) apparently remains in hiding. What no doubt warmed the hearts of drafter who waited too long to grab a running back was that Lamont Jordan ran for 70 yards and a score and rekindled 2005 when he had nine catches for 89 yards. Yo Art Shell! Did you never watch old game films last year? Granted this all happened against one of the softest defenses in the league and they were on the road where they have the worst record in the world over the last decade, but hey - after last year seeing 21 points on the scoreboard is reward enough. Now the Lions return home to host the Vikings while the Raiders head to Denver.
TB 6, SEA 20
The Buccaneers should feature an improved defense this year which coupled with their offense produces yawner games like this one. Jeff Garcia threw for 201 yards but got blasted on one play and had to sit out a series. Get used to that, Jeff. You're not getting any younger and it will not hurt any less in the future. Carnell Williams left in the third quarter due to a rib injury that happened when he saw he was averaging five yards per carry and then had a violent hyperventilation. Actually he was just plain tagged on one play but was looking better than last year which was not all that hard to do. The Buccaneers passing game is still little more than catches by Joey Galloway (5-72). The Seahawks really didn't do all that much here other than having Shaun Alexander run 27 times for 105 yards and a score and he also had two catches for 12 yards which is unusually high. Deion Branch never had a catch though he learned how to dirty dance with Ronde Barber during the three passes thrown to him. The Seattle defense looks improved but the same cannot be said of the offense. The Seahawks now head to Arizona while the Buccaneers return home to face the Saints.
NE 38, NYJ 14
This was a great game for fantasy fans that produced points and answered a few questions as well. After completing 22 of 28 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns it is safe to say that Tom Brady likes his new set of receivers. Randy Moss merely had nine catches for 183 yards and a score or roughly the same as two years in Oakland produced. Donte Stallworth (1-19) didn't add much but Wes Welker (6-61, 1 TD) was another favorite target for Brady. Laurence Maroney ran well with 72 yards on 20 carries but it was lower than expected and he was 'gasp' still slated to share carries with Sammy Morris (11-54). Morris had two catches as well while Maroney only was a runner and a pass not-catcher. This offense barely broke a sweat. The Jets had Chad Pennington score twice but he left the game with a bad ankle. He played all 16 games last season for the first time ever and this year he gets knocked out of his first game. Laveranues Coles (7-59, 2 TD) had a big game and Jerricho Cotchery matched him (6-57) except on the touchdown thing. Thomas Jones played and gained 42 yards on 14 carries. He was no more effective than the slew of runners last year but he's still possibly recovering from a calf injury and the Pats were fired up after losing to the Jets in NE last year. Randy Moss was the story of this game and no doubt made his owners ecstatic for what was likely the tenth or later wideout taken in their fantasy draft. The Pats head home to host what should be a feisty Charger team while the Jets head to Baltimore where it will not get any easier.

Game-O-The-Week

There were many close games but when neither team can score more than a couple of times, they fall well short of Game-o-The-Week honors. As it worked out, the NFL saved the best for last and the long-awaited points bonanza happened when the Giants went to Dallas in the late game. Any game that goes 36 points beyond the "over" is always a good thing. This game had everything dear and to fear in the fantasy football world.

NY Giants 35, Dallas 45

How sweet was this? Plaxico Burress has a bad back and barely practices during the summer. He falls in the draft. then he merely catches eight passes for 144 yards and THREE touchdowns. Amani Toomer was supposedly modeling for the cover of the October issue of "AARP Monthly" but comes up with nine catches for 91 yards - and for the want of a few inches of grass at the back of the endzone he would have scored again. Eli "the lesser" Manning threw for 312 yards and four scores. And that sleeper pick in each league of Brandon Jacobs ran six times for 26 yards before bending his knee to the left and leaving the game to Derrick Ward who gained 89 yards on 13 carries and added four catches for 27 yards and a score for virtually no one on this planet this week.

When Tony Romo was last seen he was bobbling "the" snap on a field goal attempt last year (ironically it was the Giants who did the same to open the game). He was not given a contract extension in the offseason because Jerry Jones wanted him to prove he was worth the money. So how much is 245 passing yards, four passing scores and one rushing score worth? Last season repeated with Julius Jones taking all the early action and he gained a decent 16 carries for 66 yards so that later Marion Barber could score a touchdown and total 65 yards on just 11 runs. Jason Witten had six catches for 116 yards and a score while Terrell Owens only managed three catches but gained 87 yards and scored twice. Even Sam "Of who no one has" Hurd caught a 51 yard touchdown to seal the game late.

The prognosis on Jacobs is not known and while it did not appear to be season ending, it also did not look like he'll be 100% next week. Now Derrick Ward will be the waiver wire darling this week by either the Jacobs owner who is cussing about owning Reuben Droughns for nothing or by someone else in the league who never really cared for the Jacobs owner anyway. It was scary to watch game after game end around 13-14 in the afternoon and it was a treat to be able to watch just the one national game that just scored and scored and scored. Nine offensive touchdowns. Four players with multiple scores. The kickers never missed a field goal. This was everything that fantasy football is about.

We'll no doubt be subjected to many more of those 13-14 games this year with many teams still trying to find their identity (or at least one besides the bad one they have currently). But you know there will be more games like this one that lights up the scoreboard and the hearts of the fantasy football world. The 2007 season has started with the biggest gun coming last on Sunday and all those questions from the summer are starting to get answered along with a few new ones like "who has first choice on the waiver wire this week?"

Oh yes, and one more question - are you ready for more?

Now get back to work...

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