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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 5
David Dorey
October 1 , 2007
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tony Romo 339 4
Daunte Culpepper 103 5
Peyton Manning 193 4
Running Backs Yards TD
Ronnie Brown 207 1
LaDainian Tomlinson 155 1
Joseph Addai 146 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Patrick Crayton 184 2
Dwayne Bowe 164 1
Santonio Holmes 128 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Dallas Clark 76 2
Jason Witten 71 1
Tony Gonzalez 71 1
Placekickers XP FG
Morten Andersen 2 4
Mason Crosby 2 3
Ryan Longwell 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Lions 2 6 3
Bears 1 6 2
Giants 1 12 1

Week 4 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Tough loss for the Bucs who likely won't have Cadillac for the rest of the year and notable stars left games once again this week making 2007 one of the most injury-plagued seasons in fantasy football history so far.

Lamont Jordan (OAK) - Back injury
Isaac Bruce (STL) - Hamstring strain
Alex Smith (SF) - Shoulder sprain
Carnell Williams (TB) - Knee injury
Marvin Harrison (IND) - Bruised knee
Joseph Addai (IND) - Bruised shoulder

And this year - tickets for the cousins too!

After encouraging first seasons as starting quarterbacks during 2006, it would only be natural for the young signal callers to want family watch them play. You know, guys like Jay Cutler (131 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception in a loss), Philip Rivers (211 yards, 2 interceptions in a loss) and Matt Leinart (93 yards in a win that had nothing to so with him). Those second year quarterbacks are struggling and only one has Kurt Warner to turn to in case of emergency.

And the First Quarter TPS Reports are in...

With four weeks played in the NFL, we are a quarter of the way through the NFL season. The holes have been dug and the magic dust has been sprinkled. Let's take a quick look at the divisions to see what's changed from 2006 with my guess at division winners:

AFC East - Nothing new here. The Pats are undefeated with a vengeance while the rest of the division has a losing record. The three other teams have a combined record of 2-10 which are less wins than the Pats already had last week. Out on a limb - Pats win this division.... by Halloween...

AFC North - Steelers have a one game lead over the Ravens and Browns (yes, tied for second place). Steelers at home are going to be nearly impossible to beat and if Roethlisberger can stop hitting cornerbacks with his passes, they have a great chance to win this division. The Ravens look diminished from last year and the Browns look definitely improved with Derek Anderson but likely not enough to challenge the Steelers. Steelers win this division.

AFC South - Colts take this one of course but the 2-1 Titans are going to make them stay committed to get there. Jacksonville is also 2-1 but haven't impressed anyone with their offense. Colts take this one again.

AFC West - Once the strength of the conference and now no team even has a winning record. Broncos can run but cannot stop the run and are 2-2. The Chiefs offense may be getting better but hard to accept their 2-2 record improves dramatically. The Raiders are 2-2 as well even without a passing game and could be changing quarterbacks for the third time when Russell is ready. The 1-3 Chargers amazingly are the cellar here. Any of these teams have a shot at the division but my guess are the Broncos. None of these teams are going far in the playoffs but the Broncos could be just good enough to take this weak division. I still would not count out the Chargers though. Then again, I would not actually bet money on them either.

NFC East - Dallas has a 4-0 record and the highest scoring offense in the NFL. It's like waiting for a wheel to fall off while they are quickly becoming a dot in the distance. The Redskins are 2-1 but don't seem playoff ready and the Giants are 2-2 and looking like maybe they are going to play this year. Only the Eagles are 1-3 thanks to McNabb spending Sunday trying to make snow angels in the turf at Giants Stadium. Dallas takes this one with three weeks to spare.

NFC North - The Packers are 4-0 and are deemed the new Saints. They have the magic and the story line and the NFL wants them to win. But the Lions are going to make them work for it, unlike the Bears who have lost a gear from 2006 or the Vikes who have an offensive playbook but no one knows why. They should just tell Peterson which hole to hit each play and then everyone else blocks. Packers take the division but the Lions will make it interesting.

NFC South - This is the NFC version of the AFC West. A division that makes you say aloud "what the heck?" The Buccaneers are atop the division currently at 3-1, the Panthers look awesome about once every three games, the Falcons are still trying to distance themselves from Michael Vick and the Saints have turned back into a pumpkin which was stepped on by some drunk guy on Bourbon Street. What a mess. But the Panthers take this one as long as Delhomme doesn't miss any more games.

NFC West - Seattle leads this one at 3-1 but the new Cardinals are going to make them work for it. Everyone gets two wins this year from the 49ers and Rams anyway and Seattle takes the division again but not until the final week.

Divisional champions from 2006 include Philadelphia (1-3), New Orleans (0-3), Chicago (1-3) and San Diego (1-3). And only the Chargers have different coaches from last year. And none of them have different players. The winds of change blow a gale force sometimes...

But I have to play in week 11 coach, I just gots to!!!

Daunte Culpepper got the start this week with Josh McCown still recuperating his injured foot and had the good fortune to start against his old team of the Miami "You Dissed Me" Dolphins. Culpepper only completed five of 12 passes for just 75 yards but threw two touchdowns. He also ran seven times for just 28 yards - for three more touchdowns. The Raiders waxed the Dolphins 35-17 and Culpepper had a little fun with the crowd (oh, let's be serious. He probably wet his pants laughing). While McCown will return and eventually JaMarcus Russell will start playing, no doubt Culpepper would love to get just one more start - week 11 in Minnesota.

"Remember me?"

This is why there are no professional Suicide League players

There are leagues know as Suicide or Survivor Leagues where you simply pick a team that will win their game and advance when they do. You lose, you are out. Week four of the NFL season served up a surprising nine of thirteen underdogs winning their games on Sunday. The Chargers were favored by 13 points and still lost. The Steelers were supposed to win by six and lost. Usually upset week comes between weeks nine and thirteen each season and maybe we'll just get two this year.

Here's another reason why favored teams and betting lines are hardly indicative of reality. There are four NFL teams that have never been favored in any game this year - Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo and Cleveland. All four won yesterday and the Cards and Browns are both 2-2 on the year. There were, finally, three teams who were favored for the very first time last week - Houston, Miami and the New York Jets and all three lost.

Safest bet is take logic and consider the trends and then just do the opposite.

Huddle Player of the Week

Patrick Crayton (DAL) - Finally the player of the week is someone that was very likely not even started in many if not most leagues this week. Playing second fiddle to Terrell Owens is more like playing the flute next to a tuba but this week Crayton did everything that is expected from Owens. He feasted on the soft Rams secondary who must have believed stopping Terrell Owens was the only priority in the game. Crayton caught seven passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. May not happen again this year or even in his career, but Sunday was solid gold.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Daunte Culpepper 103 5 QB Marc Bulger 114 1
RB Justin Fargas 179 0 RB Willie Parker 66 0
RB Kenton Keith 84 0 RB Carnell Williams 41 0
WR Jerheme Urban 53 1 WR Marvin Harrison 8 0
WR Troy Walters 36 1 WR Terrell Owens 33 0
WR Quinn Sypniewski 34 1 WR Chris Chambers 21 0
PK Mason Crosby 3 FG 2 XP PK John Kasay 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 102

Huddle Fantasy Points = 26

Sunday's Couch Commentary

HOU 16, ATL 26
Our first upset of the day comes in Atlanta. The Falcons finally get their first win of the year with Joey Harrington again looking good with 223 yards and two scores with no interceptions. Michael Jenkins, that guy who was dumped on most waiver wires, will now be coming off after catching six passes for 64 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Warrick Dunn gained 62 yards on 18 carries while Jerious Norwood was supposed to get more work (Part XIV) but only had nine carries for 29 yards. Roddy White continues to matter with three catches for 64 yards as well. Matt Schaub returned to Atlanta but without his two starting wideouts and still threw for 317 yards and one score. Andre Davis (5-117, 1 TD) is still trying to reinvigorate his career and Kevin Walter (6-77) still wants to have one. Ahman Green was replaced by Ron Dayne who gained a respectable 62 yards on 15 carries and Owen Daniels acted as a pseudo-wideout for five receptions and 69 yards. Still wasn't enough playing from behind for almost the entire game. Now the 2-2 Texans return home to host the Dolphins while the 1-3 Falcons head to Tennessee. This was a surprisingly good game by an injury-decimated Texans team.
NYJ 14, BUF 17
One of the upsets of the weekend came when the Bills managed to outlast the Jets. Yes, the Bills who had no offense outside of Marshawn Lynch and that lost J.P. Losman won their first game of the year by using secret weapon Lee Evans (6-72). Trent Edwards had his first start and threw for 234 yards and the one score with just one interception. While Losman will get his job back, one more game of "whatever happened to Evans" could make the team rethink their depth chart. Edwards completed 22 of 28 passes. He was that good. Lynch ran for 79 yards on 23 carries with one touchdown and still is not used as a receiver. Chad Pennington threw for 290 yards and one score but had two interceptions. Jerricho Cotchery (8-106) and Laveranues Coles (8-65, 1 TD) carried almost the entire receiving load as always which was needed since Thomas Jones went against the worst rush defense in the NFL and yet could only manage 35 yards on 12 carries because the Bills controlled the ball. The two interceptions by the Jets proved to be the turning point - the first one set up the second Bills touchdown and the second pick killed the comeback bid. Mike Nugent's missed 37-yard field goal was also no help. Now the 1-3 Jets hit the road against to play against the Giants while the 1-3 Bills host the Cowboys this week.
BAL 13, CLE 27
Yet another upset came when the Ravens were thumped in Cleveland and now we may all have to rethink how bad the Browns are - or are not. We definitely need to re-examine how good the Ravens defense is this year because Derek Anderson threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns despite only needing to throw 18 passes in the entire game. Braylon Edwards scored once on a 78-yard catch and Kellen Winslow's shoulder held up long enough for him to catch four passes for 96 yards. Of course no other receivers did much for the Browns other than Joe Jurevicius catching a touchdown pass during his only two receptions for ten yards. Jamal Lewis no doubt took some glee in beating his old team even if his 23 carries only produced 64 rushing yards though he did score once. Steve McNair went to a heavy passing load and threw 53 times in this game as a sign of just how far behind the Ravens fell on the scoreboard. He completed 30 for 307 yards and one score by using Derrick Mason (10-78), Demetrius Williams (5-63) but not a lot of Todd Heap (4-36). Willis McGahee ran great but only had 14 carries in the game that covered 104 yards, He added 32 more yards on two receptions but these Ravens couldn't get their offensive punch going until the game was already out of reach. Now the 2-2 Ravens head to San Francisco while the WHAT??? 2-2 Browns travel to New England this week.
STL 7, DAL 35
FInally, a "more of the same" game. The Rams started out playing good defense but still had no offense. Marc Bulger only completed 11 of 24 passes for 114 yards and one interception before getting so abused that they stuck in Gus Frerotte at the end of the game. Torry Holt only had five catches for 52 yards while Isaac Bruce had just one catch for 24 yards before leaving injured in the first half. Brian Leonard replaced Steven Jackson and turned 16 carries into 58 yards since the Cowboys played prevent defense during the second half. Even Jeff Wilkins missed his only field goal attempt of the night and the lone score came on an 85-yard punt return by Dante Hall. Just to make the night more complete, the Rams lost Bruce, another offensive lineman and two linebackers to injury. Tony Romo continues to assault the future bank account of Jerry Jones by turning in 339 passing yards with three scores and he ran in a fourth one. Patrick Crayton led all NFL receivers on the day with seven catches for 184 yards and two scores while Jason Witten had 71 yards and a score as well. Terrell Owens only turned in 33 yards and - get this - acted like he did not care. This was such a rout that Julius Jones scored a touchdown and Marion Barber did not. Now the 0-4 Rams return home to face the Cardinals while the 4-0 Cowboys head to Buffalo.
OAK 35, MIA 17
The Fins were finally favored in a game so naturally they were upset by the visiting Raiders that plain and simple ran over them. To the tune of 299 rushing yards allowed. There was Lamont Jordan (15-74) who left the game injured, and Daunte Culpepper who delighted in gaining 28 yards on seven carries and, oh yes, three rushing scores. Then Justin Fargas wound up turning 22 runs into 179 yards. Daunte Culpepper only threw 12 passes in the entire game, completing five of them for 75 yards and two scores that both went to Jerry Porter (3-52). Ronald Curry (1-16) still apparently does not travel well. The Fins got another huge game from Ronnie Brown who rushed for 134 yards on just 15 carries and added six receptions for 73 more yards. Brown pretty much was the entire offense which was what every Brown owner was hoping the year would bring. Chris Chambers only had two catches for 21 yards though since the wideouts here were silenced. Trent Green's 158 yards and one score were balanced by two interceptions and not nearly deep enough passes to make this game competitive.. This game was capped off when Culpepper scored in the third quarter on a run and then pointed to his knee and gave the "OK" symbol to the fans. It was not receiver nearly as well as it did for the Oakland fans watching on TV. The 0-4 Dolphins missed perhaps their best chance at a win for the year and now head to Houston while the 2-2 Raiders go onto their bye week feeling pretty good about the Black and Silver for the first time in quite a while
GB 23, MIN 16
The Brett Favre Victory Tour hit its fourth leg when the Packers dispatched the Vikings in Minnesota thanks to nothing but a passing game and good defense. Favre threw for 344 yards and two scores to grab the all-time TD record from Dan Marino. That required using Donald Lee (4-66) and Donald Driver (7-58) while throwing scores to James Jones (4-49) and Greg Jennings (3-43). There is no rushing game here to get in the way of Favre's quest for records since DeShawn Wynn only gained 20 yards on ten carries and Ryan Grant gained 15 yards on on run so they stopped using him. Kelly Holcomb threw for 258 yards and one score while looking more like an actual NFL quarterback than has been seen in Minnesota for almost two years. Bobby Wade had 83 yards on five catches and will come back off your waiver wire for at least a week and Sidney Rice caught six passes for 75 yards and a score so he too will land on someone's roster for at least a week. Adrian Peterson ran for 112 yards on just 12 carries because the Vikings wanted Chester Taylor to run eight times and gain 40 yards. Hopefully the Vikings prefer production and stick with Peterson more when he is hot which is pretty much all the time. Now the 4-0 Packers return home to host the reeling Bears and the 1-3 Vikings head into their bye week so they can reminisce about their season opener that they won.
TB 20, CAR 7
Just another upset. The Panthers picked up David Carr in the offseason and some already questioned if he should not replace Jake Delhomme. Then Delhomme looked great to open the year before hurting his elbow last week. David Carr stepped in and completed just 19 of 41 passes for one score and one interception. Steve Smith had five catches for just 32 yards which almost entirely came at the end of the game. DeAngelo Williams caught three passes for 37 yards and the lone touchdown but otherwise no Carolina receiver had more than 17 yards in the game. DeShaun Foster only gained 64 yards on 15 carries and this game was nowhere near as close as the score may suggest. Jeff Garcia only had 176 passing yards but no turnovers and he ran in a score. Carnell Williams was running well but appears to have blown his ACL when tackled and his knee was caught awkwardly beneath him. Consider him likely gone for the season and scamper out to grab Michael Pittman from the waiver wire since he gained 90 yards on 15 carries or even Ernest Graham who had 17 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. And realize that the two will likely continue to share the ball. Ike Hilliard was nearly forgotten last year but has reclaimed a starting role and comes off a seven catch, 114 yard game. Joey Galloway only managed to snare one pass for a paltry seven yards since he attracts all the coverage. Now the 3-1 Buccaneers (yes, seriously, 3-1) heads into Indianapolis this week while the 2-2 Panthers go to New Orleans.
SEA 23, SF 3
The Seahawks had little trouble taking down the 49ers on Sunday and the rout started out with Alex Smith getting knocked out of the game on the third play from scrimmage. Trent Dilfer showed why he is a journeyman back-up quarterback by completing 12 of 33 passes for just 128 yards and two interceptions. Frank Gore ran for 79 yards on 16 carries and he was the leading receiver with just three catches for 42 yards. Nothing else worked here and the absence of Smith probably didn't change much what was going to happen anyway. Seattle got 281 passing yards and two scores from Matt Hasselbeck. Deion Branch (7-130) had another big game but the scores went to Bobby Engram (4-53) and Marcus Pollard (2-23). Shaun Alexander only gained 78 yards on 25 carries but when the 49ers could not score, it was enough to eat up the clock and get this boring game over with. Now the 3-1 Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh and the 2-2 49ers host the Ravens this week.
PIT 14, ARZ 21
Another upset. The Steelers fall from the ranks of the unbeaten mostly by standing to the side while the Steelers make mistakes. The biggest difference in this game was that the Cardinals returned their first punt for a touchdown in 14 years and Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions - one was at the Arizona two-yard line instead of scoring and the other ended the game. Willie Parker finally had a bad game when he could only gain 37 yards on 19 carries (there goes the old YPC average) and the only offensive star for the Steelers was Santonio Holmes who had six receptions for 128 yards and scored twice. Hines Ward was inactive, the Cards knew Holmes was going to get the passes and could not stop him - though they clearly stopped everything else. Now the Cardinals have taken to playing QBBC by mixing in Matt Leinart (7/14-93) and Kurt Warner (14/21-132, 1 TD) during the game even though Warner has been far more productive the last two games. With Anquan Boldin out with a bruised hip, Larry Fitzgerald had 11 catches for 123 yards since he, like Holmes, was the only receiver that the opponent could not cover. Jerheme Urban did catch the lone passing score while Edgerrin James ran for 77 yards on 21 carries with one touchdown. The Steelers could not get a rushing game going and Roethlisberger threw a couple of interceptions. Throw in the returned punt and the Steelers lost their first game. Now the 3-1 Steelers return home to host the Seahawks while the 2-2 Cardinals head to St. Louis.
DEN 20, IND 38
The Broncos leaped out to a 10-0 lead in this game before the Colts woke up and skipped to another easy win. Travis Henry ran for 131 yards on 26 carries and Selvin Young also gained 81 yards on just eight carries but the passing game could not make any difference here with Jay Cutler only passing for 131 yards and one score against one interception. No Bronco receiver had more than 35 yards in the game and only Brandon Marshall (3-23) scored. The Colts got big numbers from Joseph Addai (19-136, 1 TD) before he left injured and Kenton Keith (10-80) was just as productive. Marvin Harrison only had one catch before he was hurt but Reggie Wayne caught a touchdown pass during his five receptions for 38 yards. The star of the Colt's receivers was Dallas Clark with two touchdowns and 76 yards on six catches. Clark having a big game is no major surprise since he has occasionally done that in past seasons. He just never had them every week before. Apparently the Colts without Harrison are way better than the Broncos without Javon Walker. Now the 2-2 Broncos return home to face the Chargers while the Colts remain at home to play the Buccaneers.
KC 30, SD 16
Perhaps the biggest upset of the day came when the Chargers were ahead 10-0 in the second quarter and then were beaten 30-6 for the rest of the game. LaDainian Tomlinson finally came back to life with 132 yards on 20 carries for one score and five receptions for 22 yards. Standard fare for Tomlinson last year. But Philip Rivers only had 211 passing yards and two interceptions and seemed to get worse as the game wore on. Tomlinson only gained 16 yards in the second half while Larry Johnson gained over 80 of his 123 yards. Dwayne Bowe has become clearly the top rookie wideout and ended with eight catches for 161 yards and one score. Tony Gonzalez tied Shannon Sharpe as the highest scoring tight end in NFL history when he caught a touchdown during his five receptions for 71 yards. This was a tale of two half's and really a great first quarter for the Chargers who then backslid into their same offensive funk while the Chiefs came to life more than any time this year. The frustration is boiling over and the post game interviews are hard to watch. The Chargers suddenly look very much as they did - in 2003 when everyone assumed Drew Brees was a bust and Tomlinson was the only weapon that they had (in fairness, Gates remains the elite tight end). Now the 1-3 Chargers have to fix things before they play in Denver this week while the 2-2 Chiefs host the Jaguars.
PHI 3, NYG 16
What a difference a week makes. The Eagles scored 49 points against the Lions in the first half and this week they could only manage one 53-yard field goal. Donovan McNabb took his brace off against the Lions and everything looked like it was 2006 again. On Sunday, McNabb only completed 15 of 31 passes for 138 yards and was sacked 12 times while fumbling three times and losing one for a Giants touchdown. Brian Westbrook was held out with his abdominal strain and Correll Buckhalter did gain 103 yards on 17 carries but this team without Westbrook looked completely different, particularly in the passing attack. No wideout had more than 21 yards. Everything that was bad from the first two weeks came back and got worse. The Giants really did nothing special on offense with Eli Manning throwing for only 135 yards and one score with one interception and Derrick Ward did start and gained 80 yards on 19 carries but otherwise the offense for the Giants was pretty flat. It's just that they could protect Manning whereas McNabb was constantly getting sacked, bashed and pulled down. Now the 1-3 Eagles head into their bye week wondering if they have to wear blue and yellow uniforms for the rest of their lives while the 2-2 Giants host the Jets this week.

Game-O-The-Week

This was upset week in the NFL and more players left injured - not just scrubs but big names that were prized fantasy starters. Teams that were great in 2006 either are still great or inexplicably suck this year with no teams in the middle. Change is the constant in the NFL though and that was never more apparent than in our Game of the Week.

Chicago 27, Detroit 37

In 2006, these teams were mirror images of each other. The Bears had a dominating defense and a surprising good offense that went 13-3 on the season. The Lions had a feeble defense and a surprisingly bad offense that went 3-13 on the season. The Bears were a picture of controlled ball playing while the Lions couldn't do much more than make an NFL Follies clip each week. And then came 2007...

This game was highly entertaining and contained the highest points scored of any game this week. The highlights:

First Quarter

11:56 - CHI Gould attempts a 52-yard field goal which is blocked.
10:11 - DET Hanson good on a 49-yard field goal which is not blocked.

Detroit 3, Chicago 0

Second Quarter

8:41 - DET Hanson attempts a 39-yard field goal which is blocked... DOH!
4:23 - CHI Griese completes a 15 yard touchdown pass to Muhsin Muhammad who no one remembered until then.
0:34 - CHI Griese throws a pass from the DET 6-yard line which is intercepted.... DOH!

Detroit 3, Chicago 7

Halftime - what a yawner game. Chicago playing well enough and Detroit not hardly playing.

Third Quarter

12:55 - DET Kitna loses fumble on his own 15-yard line. Whoops.
12:09 - CHI Griese throws an interception at the Detroit 9-yard line. Double whoops.
5:13 - CHI Gould kicks a 49-yard field goal that is not blocked.
0:54 -CHI Gould kicks a 41-yard field goal. This is easy.

Detroit 3, Chicago 13

Fourth Quarter

15:00 - DET First play of fourth quarter, Kitna hits McDonald for a 4-yard touchdown.
13:27 - DET Griese throws a pass to Berrian which is intercepted and returned for a 64-yard touchdown. WHAT??!?
13:15 - CHI Ensuing kick-off is returned by Devin Hester for a 97-yard touchdown. Wow.
10:12 - DET Kitna throws 15-yard touchdowns to Troy Walters
3:40 - DET Kevin Jones runs in a 5-yard touchdown
0:55 - CHI Griese pass to Desmond Clark for a 1-yard touchdown
0:45 - DET Onside kick is caught on a hop by Casey Fitzsimmons who runs 41 yards for a touchdown

Final - Detroit 37, Chicago 27

After being down13-3 entering the fourth quarter, the Lions scored an NFL-record 34 points in the fourth quarter to win the game. They only had three points in the first three quarters and then set an NFL record for points scored in the fourth quarter by one team of all time.

For those of you with losing records on your fantasy teams, remember what the Lions just showed after a poor start to their game:

it only matters how you end.

Now get back to work...

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