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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 4
David Dorey
September 24, 2007
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Donovan McNabb 381 4
Tom Brady 369 4
Brett Favre 369 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Ronnie Brown 211 3
Brian Westbrook 221 3
DeShaun Foster 135 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Kevin Curtis 221 3
Anquan Boldin 181 3
Roy Williams 204 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 113 0
Alge Crumpler 63 1
Jason Witten 90 1
Placekickers XP FG
Matt Stover 2 4
Sebastian Janikowski 2 4
Jeff Reed 4 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Dallas 1 3 4
Philadelphia 0 9 3
Pittsburgh 2 1 1

Week 3 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Way too many names for this early in the year. These affected many fantasy games.

J.P. Losman (BUF) - Sprained knee
Calvin Johnson (DET) - Lower back bruise
Isaac Bruce (STL) - Concussion
Brian Westbrook (PHI) - Bruised ribs
Steve McNair (BAL) - Re-aggravated groin injury
Josh McCown (OAK) - Sprained ankle
Hines Ward (PIT) - Bruised leg
Ahman Green (HOU) - Knee injury
Jacoby Jones (HOU) - Shoulder injury
Jake Delhomme (CAR) - Elbow injury
Rudi Johnson (CIN) - Hamstring injury
Steve Smith (CAR) - Undisclosed injury

Whew! I was wondering when you would show up...

After waiting for two painful weeks, fantasy drafters were finally rewarded with some picks that had not felt that good until Sunday. We welcome back the following players to the world of fantasy football:

Donovan McNabb - 381 yards and 4 scores
Ronnie Brown - 211 yards and three scores
Philip Rivers - 306 yards and three scores
Steven Jackson - 133 yards
Thomas Jones - 111 yards
Tony Gonzalez - 96 yards

Now just stay around, okay. PLEASE don't go away again.

I see the punch line but what was the joke?

One of the most curious coaching decisions of the year was made by Mike Shanahan when the Broncos were down by six points, 20-14 to the Jaguars. With fourth and five from their own nine yard line with four minutes and 20 seconds left to play, Denver elected to go for the first instead of punting knowing that a failure would doom their chances since at worst the Jaguars would get a field goal to make it a nine point, "two scores" difference on the scoreboard. So when Daniel Graham could not catch the pass, the Jaguars ran it three times and then kicked the field goal to win 23-14. The Broncos still got the ball back with two minutes left to play, so what was that all about?

There's some faith in your defense - at home no less. No wait... it really isn't...

My team is doing so much better this year

Yeah, so are a lot of other teams too. Here's a look at the difference between 2006 and 2007 for the first three weeks (not including whatever happens when the Titans play the Saints in New Orleans on Monday night).

Performances with: 2006 2007
300 Yard Passing 17 19
350 Yard Passing 5 6
QBs with 3 or more TDs 9 18
QBs with 4 or more TDs 1 7
RBs with 100 Yards Rushing 20 25
RBs with 150 Yards Rushing 0 3
WRs with 100 Yards 35 31
WRs with 150 Yards 4 8
WRs with 200 Yards 0 3
WRs with 2 TDs 6 15
WRs with 3 TDs 0 3

It's not so much that good games are up, it's that monster games are way up this year.

I say that we just go for the touchdown, coach...

The Chicago Bears not only blocked a field goal attempt by the Cowboys on Sunday night, they have now done it in three straight games. So let's plan our next trip to Chicago... no kicking to Hester... no field goal attempts... big yes on the pizza...

Well, since everyone else is doing it

The Raiders lost in week two when they kicked a game winning field goal that was negated because HC Mike Shanahan called a last second time out. The second attempt hit the goal post and the Raiders lost. Yesterday the Browns visited the Raiders and on the final play of the game, Phil Dawson lined up and kicked a 40 yard game winning field goal. But wait - this time it was HC Lane "Learning as I go" Kiffen who called the last second time out. The second attempt was blocked, giving the Raiders a win for the first time in the last 11 games. Yelled Kiffen across the field, "hurt's don't it?".

Huddle Player of the Week

Kevin Curtis (PHI) - While Ronnie Brown was a heavy contender here, he actually has done well in the past before Cam Cameron showed up. Curtis came over from the Rams to provide a complement to Reggie Brown this year. Of course that was complicated by Donovan McNabb who started the year obviously hampered by his recovering knee injury. In his first two games combined, Curtis only had six catches for 81 yards. So it was more than a little surprise when he caught a total of 11 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions on Sunday. He already had nine catches for 209 yards and all three scores BY HALFTIME. That game will be tough to match.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Kurt Warner 258 2 QB Marc Bulger 116 0
RB Earnest Graham 75 2 RB Frank Gore 51 0
RB Kenny Watson 61 1 RB Larry Johnson 37 0
WR Roddy White 127 1 WR Steve Smith 16 0
WR Brandon Marshall 133 0 WR Javon Walker 8 0
WR Nate Burleson 76 1 WR Hines Ward 7 0
PK Sebastian Janikowski 4 FG, 2 XP PK Jason Elam 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 111

Huddle Fantasy Points = 15

Sunday's Couch Commentary

ARI 23, BAL 26
Great, now's there's a QB controversy in Arizona. Matt Leinart (9/20-53) just couldn't get it done and yet Kurt Warner (15/20 - 258, 2 TD) almost brought the Cards back in a game in Baltimore no less. Anquan Boldin was nothing short of phenomenal with 14 catches (yes, FOURTEEN catches) for 181 yards and the two scores. Larry Fitzgerald's five catches for 85 looked pretty small in comparison. Predictably, Edgerrin James only had ten carries but even he turned those into 57 yards thanks to one 27-yard scamper. The Cards threw for 311 yards against the Ravens which is not shabby - it just didn't much come from Leinart. In this two-for-one game, the Ravens used Steve McNair for 198 yards and one score but also had Kyle Boller come in and complete 8 of 10 for 83 yards to make for yet another potential QB situation. Willis McGahee ran for 98 yards on 21 carries and Derrick Mason led all Baltimore receivers with 8 catches for 79 yards and the lone offensive touchdown. Todd Heap was jacked up but managed 60 yards on 4 catches while Mark Clayton reclaimed his starting job but only had 34 yards on his five carries. The rookie Figurs returned one punt and Stover kicked four field goals to win this game. The 1-2 Cards now return to host the Steelers and the 3-1 Ravens get to go to Cleveland.
SD 24, GB 31
Hmmm... The Chargers only lose two games in all of last season and now they are 1-2. Maybe getting rid of Schottenheimer means better things in the playoffs but that is meaningless if Turner cannot get them there (who by they way does not have a sterling postseason record himself). The good news is that Philip Rivers threw for 306 yards and three scores but the one interception killed a game-tying drive. What is a concern is why LaDainian Tomlinson only gained 62 yards on 22 carries. Sure he added three catches for 31 yards and a score but Tomlinson isn't even half as good as he was last year. And this with a RB coach like Turner now. Antonio Gates (11-113) and Vincent Jackson (6-98, 1 TD) combined for most of the passing success though the rookie Craig "Buster" Davis had four catches and a score as well. But old Man Favre threw for 369 yards and three scores with no interceptions which was a lot of Donald Driver (6-126, TD) and Greg Jennings (4-82, TD) and even James Jones (6-79) was pretty big. Jennings late game 57-yard score is what gave the Packers their final lead for good. No problem deciding which Packers back to start any more - none of them were worth a fantasy start though Jackson had a rushing score. This makes... deep breath... the Packers 3-0 and ready now to head to Minnesota this week while the ... deep breath... Chargers are 1-2 and return home to face the Chiefs.
STL 3, TB 24
Nothing wrong with this Rams team that a time machine set at 2006 won't cure. Failing that, the 0-3 Rams are in big trouble and just were pelted by the Buccaneers. Marc "Hit Me Again" Bulger only had 116 passing yards and three interceptions but at least Steven Jackson gained 115 yards on 30 carries and added four catches for 18 yards. Holt reeled in five catches for 63 yards but no other Rams receiver had anything of note. Even Jeff Wilkins missed two field goals. These Rams do not travel well and they don't much care for teams that actually have pass rushers. Tampa Bay didn't do anything special other than not be the Rams in this game. Jeff Garcia only had 151 passing yards and no scores while Carnell Williams gained 46 rushing yards and one score. Earnest Graham later came in and racked up 75 rushing yards on just eight runs with two scores but the only decent fantasy starter from this team - Joey Galloway - only managed four catches for 42 yards. Other than Steven Jackson, this was a game devoid of fantasy value despite having several starters in it. Now the Rams get to get be beaten in Dallas this week and the Buccaneers head to Carolina.
SF 16, PIT 37
The 49ers did manage to score a touchdown yesterday when Alex Smith hit Taylor Jacobs but that was about all the fantasy value that came from that side of the field. Frank Gore only had 39 yards on 14 rushes with 12 yards on two catches for his worst game of the year while Darrell Jackson led the team with four catches for 69 yards. It was nice to finally see Vernon Davis (4-56) show up in a box score though. Predictably, the Steelers won thanks to Willie Parker (24-133) and a defense that scored on an interception return and a kickoff return. Big Ben only needed to throw for 160 yards and one score to Jerame Tuman who no one was covering because he is Jerame Tuman. Starting Hines Ward here netted you a cool one catch for two yards but at least Heath Miller easily led the team with four catches for 82 yards. Now the 2-1 49ers return home to host the Seahawks while the 3-0 Steelers head to Arizona.
MIA 28, NYJ 31
This game looks much closer than it was but a late fourth-quarter push by the Dolphins drew the score closer. The news of this game wasn't that the Fins lost their third game of the year but that Ronnie Brown is alive and well and can actually look great when Cam Cameron's bestest buddy Jesse Chatman is out of the game. Brown gained 112 rushing yards, 99 receiving yards and scored three times. Trent Green (318 yards, TD) only threw one interception and Chris Chambers caught six passes for 101 yards. It was still not enough. The Jets only got 124 passing yards from Chad Pennington but he tossed two scores and ran in a third while Thomas Jones finally showed up for the first time this year with 110 yards on 25 carries. Surprising points in this game and they benefited many fantasy teams. The 0-3 Dolphins now return home to host the Raiders while the 1-2 Jets head to Buffalo.
BUF 7, NE 38
Rolling, rolling, rolling... the Patriots machine continues to resemble a bulldozer with Tom Brady throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns and Randy Moss yet again turning in 115 yards and two scores. Ben Watson doesn't catch many passes but he's around the endzone most every game and Wes Welker (6-69) continues to shine. Laurence Maroney finally got into gear later in the game and ended with 103 yards on 19 carries. The Bills remain winless thanks to losing J.P. Losman and discovering that nothing is improved with Trent Edwards (10/20 - 97 yards) under center. As always, the only decent part of this offense was Marshawn Lynch who gained 74 yards on 20 carries and scored once though amazingly he never had a catch in the game. Then again, not many other Bills did either. The Patriots should already be given the AFC East crown or at least make them play their second string against their fellow divisional rivals just to make the game appear competitive. The 3-0 Pats now head to a near certain shoot-out in Cincinnati this week while the 0-3 Bills return home to host the Jets.
MIN 10, KC 13
This was very similar to an actual NFL game since it had uniforms, referees and a football. There were even fans in the stadium. However the scoreboard was little used thanks to two of the most punchless offenses in the league. Adrian Peterson had another fine effort with 25 rushes for 102 yards and one score and he added 48 yards on three receptions. The Vikes started Kelly Holcomb this week and he threw for 165 yards and no interceptions, so he was a minor upgrade from Tarvaris Jackson. But for whatever reason, the Vikings are going on two years now without any wide receivers. The best of any here was Bobby Wade for a whopping 35 yards. Even tight end Vishante Shiancoe managed 51 yards on three catches. The Chiefs finally get one in the win column but there was nothing here that spelled improvement in the KC offense. Larry Johnson finally was given a heavier load and rewarded the team with 42 yards on 24 carries. The blocking is still obviously not there. Damon Huard threw for 206 yards and one score which was marginally better since he found Tony Gonzalez for 96 yards and rookie Dwayne Bowe scoring once on five receptions for 71 yards. Considering the relative nature of Bowe's contribution to the team, he's been a great addition. The 1-2 Vikings now return home to host the resurgent Packers and the Chiefs travel to San Diego where they are more than a little pissed off right now. That makes three road games in the first four weeks for the Chiefs and this team is no road warrior.
IND 30, HOU 24
Much closer of a game than expected, the Texans had a punt return score by Jacoby Jones to open the game and help the Texans remain surprisingly close in this game without Andre Johnson and only four carries by Ahman Green before he was - 'gasp' - injured. Who would have expected a 30-year old back with a lengthy history of seasonal dings and early bow-outs? Evidently not the Texans management (they should have called me. Or you. Or anyone really). The Texans had virtually no ground game but Matt Schaub managed 236 yards and one score with two interceptions by using Andre Davis (4-70), Owen Daniels (7-56) and then merely eight other receivers in the game. Manning was held to just 273 yards and one score to Dallas Clark and the dynamic duo of Marvin Harrison (6-53) and Reggie Wayne (4-84) had fairly quiet games. Joseph Addai was enough to win this game with two touchdowns on 22 carries for 72 yards. The Texans lost, but there's no shame to say the least by challenging the world champs despite being without their #1 RB and WR in the game. These Texans are definitely improved and maybe more than just Andre Johnson after all. The 2-1 Texans now travel to Atlanta with a nice shot at another win.
CIN 21, SEA 24
Great game and definite contender for the Game-of-the-Week. If all you did was collect players each week that had to face the Bengals you would likely make your playoffs. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 248 yards and three scores while Shaun Alexander had exactly 100 yards on 21 carries. You just could not go wrong starting a Seattle wideout this week since Deion Branch (6-77), Nate Burleson (6-76) and Bobby Engram (5-62) all had yardage and a touchdown on Sunday. Carson Palmer did manage 342 passing yards but only scored once and lost his ground support when Rudi Johnson was ineffective and left the game injured. T.J. Houshmandzadeh reeled in 12 catches for 141 yards and one score while Chad Johnson turned in nine catches for 138 yards. Together they pretty much are the entire Bengals passing attack. Kenny Watson came into the game and gained 60 yards on just nine carries and scored one touchdown. This was an outstanding game for fantasy players other than Rudi Johnson owners who may still be weeping softly. The Bengals are a godsend for fantasy football - highly productive on offense and yet with no discernible defense to get in the way of their opponents doing well if not winning the game. Now the 1-2 Bengals return home to host the Patriots who may pass for some NFL record touchdowns while the 2-1 Seahawks travel to San Francisco.
CLE 24, OAK 26
Yet another contender for GOTW but CLE was there last week and consecutive GOTW's from the Browns may upset the time-space continuum. Derek Anderson didn't match last week's numbers (OF COURSE) but he came to life later in the game and turned in 248 yards and one passing score against two interceptions. He also ran in one score. Jamal "Back to a Pumpkin " Lewis ran for just 56 yards on 15 carries and did not score. Kellen Winslow turned six receptions into 88 yards and Braylon Edwards again scored on Sunday. Not a terrible showing by the Browns but not quite good enough to get the win. The Raiders lost Josh McCown to a sprained ankle and Daunte Culpepper finally was given some playing time which was neither that good or bad. Ronald Curry led all receivers with 62 yards and one score while Jerry Porter was held to one very late, rather critical catch for a first down. Lamont Jordan continues to look improved this year with 121 yards on 29 carries for one score and he had two catches for 32 yards. This was a great game to watch since it pitted two similar teams which have both improved on offense this year. Let them both be in the cellar at year's end but give us those fantasy points! The 1-2 Browns now get to host the Ravens while the 1-2 Raiders head to Miami this week.
JAC 23, DEN 14
Okay, okay. I'll say it. There's something very wrong with the Broncos. Two wins to start the year over bad teams via last second field goals and now the Jaguars march into Denver and squash the Broncos despite struggling at home against both TEN and ATL. Travis Henry managed only 35 yards on 11 carries though he scored once and Jay Cutler posted 222 passing yards with one score and one interception. When Javon Walker (2-10) was taken away, Brandon Marshall (7-133) stepped up very nicely but a lack of a ground game coupled with a three game streak of not being able to punch in enough scores sealed the deal for Denver. It wasn't that the Jaguars were any offensive powerhouse here. David Garrard only managed 154 passing yards and one score to Reggie Williams again. Fred Taylor had his best effort of the year with 84 yards on 17 carries though Maurice Jones-Drew still slogs along with just 37 yards on 15 carries including one nifty lost fumble at the goal line. The Jags rushed well because Garrard added 52 yards on the ground and now the "score challenged" 2-1 Broncos have to go to Indianapolis this week. The 2-1 Jaguars reach their bye now so they can concentrate on searching for the real Maurice Jones-Drew. And a productive passing game for that matter.
NYG 24, WAS 17
Here is a game that should teach you not to gamble. The Giants had not won a game this year and had the worst pass defense in the NFL. The Redskins had not lost a game and were home against said defense. So naturally, Jason Campbell only throws for 190 yards and one score to tight end Chris Cooley while Santana Moss (3-82) and Antwaan Randle El (2-32) apparently did not want to embarrass the previously softest cornerbacks in the league. Eli Manning threw for 232 yards and one score with two interceptions which itself was a success since Giants receivers now specialize in dropping even perfect passes. Plaxico Burress had 86 yards on five receptions with one game winning score and Jeremy Shockey held on to five of his passes to gain 79 yards. Derrick Ward tossed in 94 rushing yards on 16 carries just to keep the chains moving but stepped aside so that Reuben Droughns could run three times for three yards and two touchdowns. . Every reason was here to believe that the Redskins would win so they didn't. Welcome to the NFL 2007! Now the 1-2 Giants return home to face the ever-changing Eagles while the Redskins head into their bye week knowing they let one get away.
CAR 27, ATL 20
Yeah, I know. Steve Smith only had one catch for 10 yards. In and out of the lineup during the game with what so far is an undisclosed injury and DeAngelo Hall was all but violating Smith on every play (and was called for a couple of penalties for it as well). Jake Delhomme threw for two scores before leaving the game with an injured elbow. And yet - the Panthers still won. DeShaun Foster ran for 122 yards and one score with DeAngelo Williams adding 47 yards on 11 attempts. Jeff King scored once and led the team with four receptions for 56 yards. He in particular is one of the most interesting newcomers to fantasy tight ends and worth a look if he is still on the waiver wire. The Falcons got a monster game from Joey "don't replace me yet" Harrington who threw for 361 yards and two scores. Roddy White had 127 yards on seven receptions which included a 69-yard touchdown catch and even Michael Jenkins had 76 yards on six grabs for a surprisingly good showing against the Panthers secondary. Even more surprising that it came from the Falcons. Now the banged-up 2-1 Panthers return home to host the Buccaneers and the 0-3 Falcons say home to host the Texans.
DAL 34, CHI 10
So much for the Bears convincing themselves that they are the elite of the NFC. Now 1-2 and looking at a 3-0 Packers team, the Bears suffered through an embarrassing home loss on Sunday night when Cedric Benson could only gain 46 yards on 16 carries (though he scored once) and worse was Rex "Bet Someone Notices " Grossman throwing for 195 yards, three interceptions and no touchdowns unless you count the one that CB Anthony Henry returned for a score. The Dallas secondary is hardly the best in the league but Grossman could do little besides occasionally find Bernard Berrian (6-73) or throw an interception. Tony Romo just added a few more bucks to that looming contract extension when he had 329 passing yards and two scores in Chicago. Terrell Owens (8-145) had a big game as did Jason Witten (6-90, 1 TD) who is once again one of the most productive tight ends in the league. Julius Jones lulled the Bears to sleep with only 26 yards on seven carries so that Marion Barber could run for 102 yards and one score with a pass for a second score. The teams were tied at half-time 3-3 but only Dallas came back on the field in the second half. Now the Bears have to go to Detroit while the 3-0 Cowboys host the Rams this week.

Game-O-The-Week

After a high-scoring week two, it would seem reasonable to expect a cooling off of the scoreboard lights this week. That did not happen. Scores were high across the league and only eight teams failed to reach at least 20 points. In fantasy terms, that's like a cash register bell ringing over and over. There were many contenders for the GOTW. Arizona was edged out by the Ravens, The Packers took down the Chargers, the Jets nipped the Fins and the Seahawks clipped the Bengals. All great games. But this week the award goes to a game that represents all that is good - and bad - about fantasy football:

Detroit 21, Philadelphia 56

Other than Detroit fans, how could you not love a game with 77 total points and 56 points by one team?

For the Lions, Jon Kitna threw for 446 yards and two scores for the most yardage by a quarterback this season. And he only had one interception. Granted the Lions could not run but we saw Kevin "Will He Play ?" Jones score a touchdown to give hope for future weeks. Roy Williams had nine catches for 204 yards and one score including a 91 yard touchdown. Shaun McDonald maintains his place as the most productive #4 wideout in the history of the NFL when 76 yards and a score this week. Calvin Johnson only had two catches for 58 yards thanks to a back injury that forced him out of the game. It was chock full of trash time passing with plenty of fantasy points to share.

The Eagles came into this week reeling after two losses which included being beaten by the Redskins on national TV last week. Donovan McNabb was a shell of his old self and yet we only needed to wait for week three for him to rekindle 2006 by throwing for 381 yards and four scores without any turnovers.

Brian Westbrook gained 110 rushing yards and two scores and then added 111 receiving yards and another score. That makes19 touches that covered 221 yards or 11.6 yards each time he had the ball. Even Correll Buckhalter scored. Heck, even Tony Hunt ran in a score and we had never seen him before.

Kevin Curtis had his career best game by halftime and ended with 221 yards on 11 catches for three scores. At what point did the Lions realize he was going to be a problem? Have they yet? Other than Curtis and Westbrook, the Eagles only had five catches for 49 which includes Reggie Brown (2-23) who is not just the odd man out here, he's not even allowed to shower with the team.

It was monster performances across the board and the first time in NFL history that a single game featured 200+ receiving yards by a wideout ON BOTH TEAMS. It was great! And - it may only be temporary. Calvin Johnson and Brian Westbrook left the game injured which would put a dent into their respective teams offense. The Lions have to face the Bears this week and the Eagles head into New York to face the Giants that looked oddly better this week.

We've enjoyed some monster games by individual players this season - much more than we had by this point last year. Defenses are surprisingly allowing one player to kill them over and over. Games in fantasy leagues the last two weeks have had some jaw-dropping results - even I lost last week 158 to 156 in one league because I played the highest scorer. Maybe this will all calm down and the scoring will get much more "normal." Maybe we won't see nearly so many huge games by individuals the rest of the season since it is starting to challenge records. Maybe it was only a two week spree. But this is fantasy football and we love to see our players go off for the week.

I say we hope for the hat trick this weekend.

Now get back to work...

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