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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 9
David Dorey
October 29, 2007
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tom Brady 306 5
Drew Brees 336 4
Derek Anderson 248 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Joseph Addai 108 3
Brian Westbrook 92 2
Willie Parker 134 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Marques Colston 85 3
Braylon Edwards 117 2
Reggie Wayne 168 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 92 2
Vernon Davis 71 1
Greg Olsen 59 1
Placekickers XP FG
Matt Bryant 2 3
David Akers 2 3
Stephen Gostkowski 7 1
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
San Diego 2 1 5
New England 1 3 4
Jacksonville 1 2 3

Week 8 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Tough time to be a quarterback in the NFL. Unfortunately, we have had so many injuries this year that now players are getting hurt for the second time this season.

Steven Jackson (STL) - Back injury
Vinny Testaverde (CAR) - Sprained ankle
Marc Bulger (STL) - Thumb injury
Kelly Holcomb (MIN) - Neck injury
Matt Schaub (HOU) - Possible concussion
Trent Edwards (BUF) - Wrist injury
Laveranues Coles (NYJ) - Unspecified injury
Frank Gore (SF) - Sprained ankle
Reggie Bush (NO) - Hip pointer

About that whole parity thing

Eight weeks into the season and there are still two teams that have yet to lose a game AND two teams that have yet to win one. As far as I can determine, that has never been the case this deep into the season and if it ever happened before it was a long time ago. But this cannot last with the Patriots heading to Indy this week so that week nine will greet just one team with a "0" on the right.

Ends up that parity is just an illusion and what we now have is a few really good teams, a few very bad teams and a slew of mediocrity.

The Rams and Dolphins are both winless of course and their respective outlooks are incredibly poor since injuries have reduced their teams nearly to practice squad quality. And these two teams do not play against each other this year so they'll have to get their first win the American way.

Wait until someone is not expecting it and hope to steal it before they know it is gone.

I hereby deem week eight of the NFL season as the fantasy bye week

It's bad enough that six teams were off on bye this week and that alone sent owners scurrying for replacement players. But the week served up 14 NFL teams that only scored one touchdown in the entire game. Of 24 teams which played on Sunday, only ten managed to have more than one touchdown. Thirteen teams only had 13 points or less. Unless you had Marques Colston, Braylon Edwards, Reggie Wayne, Antonio Gates, Joseph Addai, Brian Westbrook, Tom Brady, Derek Anderson or Drew Brees, you probably did not have much for a score this week. That's nine players to distribute out among all the teams in your league. And at least Colston if not Brees could have been on some fantasy benches. With such a dearth of good scoring players this week, I am going to make a motion that we just consider this week as a fantasy bye.

Just as soon as I can figure out how to get an exclusion for Tom Brady. No reason really. And, uh, maybe that Westbrook guy.

Breaking the Streak

The NFL is all about an ever changing league where no team can hang their hat on being good or bad for too long before their streak ends. But this year is not like most years. There are currently 12 teams that have either won at least their last three games or have lost at least their last three games. Of course MIA, STL, IND and NE are all on eight game streaks but the Jets and 49ers have lost their last five and the Giants have won their last six.

For those of you playing in survivor leagues where you guess winners or losers, a word to the wise is that we are now about to enter "the month". From weeks nine to thirteen each year there are numerous upsets including one week where a large majority of the games will end up with the underdog winning - happens every year. So does the week where mostly just road teams win - happens every year. And it almost always happens between weeks nine and thirteen when teams are either trying to take a week off or catching an opponent mailing in a game.

Still Wide open outside of the Colts and Patriots

If the Broncos beat the Packers on Monday night, the AFC West will be in a three way tie at 4-3 for the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers. That would also make the Lions tied with the Packers for the NFC North lead at 5-2. The Browns and Ravens are only one game behind the Steelers and the Cowboys are just a half game ahead of the Giants. The Saints (3-4), Buccaneers (4-4) and Panthers (4-3) are close in the NFC South. With eight or nine games left to play, it is entirely wide open to see who the Colts and Patriots will beat in the AFC playoffs and who they take down in the Super bowl so chin up!

Huddle Player of the Week

Drew Brees - Sure, Tom Brady had more points than any other player but that 's getting old hat. Drew Brees opened the year so badly that he was dumped or traded in many leagues by owners sadly shaking their head. After showing some life in the last couple of games, Brees came up with and NFL -leading 336 passing yards and four touchdowns to torch the 49ers like it was last year all over again. Part of the packaged set was Marques Colston who not only scored three times but also did so from many fantasy benches. Brees faces Jacksonville next week which will be tough, but for Sunday he was outstanding.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Alex Smith 190 1 QB Vince Young 53 0
RB Kenny Watson 114 0 RB Lamont Jordan 16 0
RB Chris Henry 48 1 RB Frank Gore 41 0
WR David Patten 109 0 WR Plaxico Burress 14 0
WR Greg Olsen 59 1 WR Steve Smith 18 0
WR Vishante Shiancoe 50 1 WR Laveranues Coles 13 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 XP 3 FG PK Robbie Gould 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 77

Huddle Fantasy Points = 11

Sunday's Couch Commentary

IND 31, CAR 7
Just another standard win by the Colts who were not caught looking ahead to next week much to the dismay of the Panthers and all their fans. Peyton Manning threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns which almost all went to Reggie Wayne (7-168, 1 TD) because Marvin Harrison was held out to rest for next week and Dallas Clark (2-22) turned back into just a tight end for the week. Joseph Addai topped all NFL running backs with three touchdowns and 109 total yards. The Colts actually trailed 7-0 before tearing off 31 unanswered points. Vinny Testaverde lost his magic when he only threw for 82 yards and one interception before his own lineman stepped on his ankle and made David Carr (103 yards) come in and remind everyone why Testaverde was playing in the first place. Deshaun Foster had the lone Panthers score and ended with 19 carries for 62 yards while DeAngelo Williams only managed to gain 14 yards on five runs. Jeff King enjoyed the game with ten catches for 82 yards because Steve Smith turned in a stinker with only two catches for 18 yards. Now the 4-3 Panthers head to Tennessee where another good defense will make them miss Jake Delhomme and the 7-0 Colts return home to host (turn on echo machine) the New England Patriots...triots...triots...
DET 16, CHI 7
Okay this was the scariest game in honor of Halloween. The Lions won on the road against a divisional opponent for the first time in four years. That Lions secondary intercepted Brian Griese four times while giving up only one touchdown. That's Brian Griese - not Rex Grossman. And that was the Detroit Lions secondary - not the Jaguars. Cedric Benson gained 50 yards on 13 carries which was better than usual for his rushing average but the best receiver was even a wide receiver for the Bears, it was Greg Olsen with six catches for 59 yards and the one touchdown. Bernard Berrian only had 45 yards and Muhammad was held to just 23 yards. Are they sure that Grossman wasn't playing? As if that wasn't bad enough, the Lions won because of the rushing game. Kevin Jones ran for 105 yards and one score while Jason Hanson nailed three field goals. Jon Kitna threw for 268 yards but had no scores and no Lions receivers were better than Roy Williams 77 yards on eight receptions. The Bears no longer can run, pass or play defense. The Lions had, by far, the superior defense on Sunday which just boggles the mind. Now the 5-2 Lions return home to host the Broncos while the 3-5 and just plain out of it Bears go onto their bye to view game film from 2006. It's not to learn anything, it's just to reminisce and sigh a lot.
PIT 24, CIN 13
That the Bengals are orange is appropriate given that they are a pumpkin that is not going to change into a golden carriage anytime soon. This was the big chance for the Bengals to step up and make something - anything - out of this season and stop all the locker room squabbling. Instead, it was just another beat down by the Steelers who had Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 230 yards and two scores to Hines Ward (8-88) and Santonio Holmes did his part with six catches for 87 yards. Willie Parker cruised for 126 yards and one score on just 22 carries. The Bengals did get 88 yards on 19 carries from Kenny Watson which has to be considered a big success against the Steelers but the passing game, as always, was little more than Carson Palmer (205, 1 TD) connecting with T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the seventh consecutive game with a touchdown. Houshmandzadeh led all Bengals receivers with seven catches for 81 yards while Chad Johnson only had five receptions and 51 yards. This is the game that cements the Bengals downward spiral. At only 2-5 on the season, they are now just playing for next year and head to Buffalo this week. The 5-2 Steelers return to host the fairly punchless Ravens this week.
NYG 13, MIA 10
What a yawner to force onto a friendly country. The steady rain and slippery field did no favors to either team and at least in theory, the missed field goal by Lawrence Tynes would have tied the game. Brandon Jacobs ran for 131 yards on 23 carries and somehow finished the game without an injury while Eli Manning only completed eight of 22 passes for 59 yards - that's all. Cleo Lemon was the better quarterback throwing for 149 yards and one score to Ted Ginn for his first in the NFL. But the best Miami receiver was tight end Justin Peele who was not the planned replacement for Chris Chambers. This was a rain-soaked game that amazingly had no turnovers and little production from either side. Now the 6-2 Giants and the 0-8 Rams both head into their bye week. It was a lot more hype that went into this game than there was excitement coming out of it. The highlights of the game were when the cameramen would shoot the field with a toy phone booth or double decker bus in the foreground. Toys? They couldn't find a real one to photograph? We make fun of soccer for low scoring so we send an 0-7 team there to play a game that ended 13-10? Maybe we'll shut up about soccer from now on... okay probably not but we should...
PHI 23, MIN 16
The Eagles pick up a much needed win in Minnesota when Donovan McNabb threw for 333 yards and one score with no turnovers. Reggie Brown (8-105) is showing up in the box scores again and Kevin Curtis (3-76) made the best out of his few catches. But the real work was done by Brian Westbrook who ran for 46 yards on 21 carries and score one rushing touchdown and added four catches for 61 yards and one receiving touchdown. Basically the offense really is just Westbrook. The Vikings couldn't muster a passing game with Kelly Holcomb knocked out of the game after only 88 yards and a score and Brian Bollinger's 7 of 10 for 94 yards was still better than what Tarvaris Jackson usually does in a full game. The problem for the Vikings was that Adrian Peterson was held to only 70 yards on 20 carries because by now defenses just focus on him every play. The loss drops the Vikings to only 2-5 on the season and hosting San Diego this week likely will not be any better. The 3-4 Eagles return home to host the Cowboys in a game they will not lack for motivation.
CLE 27, STL 20
A closer game than expected (by me anyway) but all is still on track in the NFL. The Browns yet again had another big game from Derek Anderson who turned in 248 passing yards and three scores that went to the only two Cleveland receivers that matter - Braylon Edwards (8-117, 2 TD) and Kellen Winslow (2-26, 1 TD). Jamal Lewis is perfectly healthy again because he gained his normal 61 yards on 17 carries and did not score. Jerome Harrison ran for 32 yards on five carries and once again adds a different kind of spark. The Rams came out and looked very much like they were finally tired of losing, full of motivation and were ready to win. Only they didn't. Instead Marc Bulger threw for 310 yards and one score but left the game with a new injury to his throwing thumb. Steven Jackson finally made his much anticipated return and rewarded patient fantasy owners with 41 yards on eight carries and one score before injuring his back and missing the second half of the game. Oh yes, and the Rams lost yet another offensive lineman to injury when Richie Incognito sprained his knee. The saddest part of the game was that the Rams led 14-0 in the first quarter but were outscored 27-6 from then until the end of the game. Torry Holt managed 110 yards on eight receptions and scored once and even Isaac Bruce had 70 yards but this is the Rams and until they can play all four quarters without losing players, then the losing will continue. Sadly the 0-8 Rams now head into their bye week and you get no freebie in your survivor pool (since the Fins also are on bye). The 4-3 Browns return to Cleveland to host the Seahawks this week.
OAK 9, TEN 13
Wow. The score makes this seem more exciting than it was. The only touchdown in this entire game came when Chris Henry took one of his four runs to the endzone. That makes two games played and two touchdowns for Henry who is becoming a nice complement to LenDale White. The Titans got 133 yards on 27 carries from White which was really fortunate because Vince Young only completed six of 14 passes for 42 yards in the entire game. He also only gained 11 yards on seven runs. Oh sure, he's healthy again. But as mediocre as the Titans offense was, they still managed to score a touchdown unlike the Raiders who relied on Dante Culpepper to throw for 167 yards and one interception and Lamont Jordan covered only 16 yards on 12 carries. This was just a brutally boring game brought to you by the Titan defense and rushing attack. The Raiders fall to 2-5 and will host the Texans this week while the 5-2 Titans remain home to greet the Panthers.
BUF 13, NYJ 3
The only part of this game that made it worth watching all happened on one play when Lee Evans caught a deep pass and the two defenders collided into each other, leaving him to prance the full 85 yards to the only touchdown in the game. Marshawn Lynch had 80 yards on 21 carries while Evans only had four catches for 53 yards outside of that one catch. Both teams had to call up their back-up quarterbacks because Trent Edwards injured his wrist and forced the Bills to go back to J.P. Losman who threw the touchdown. The Jets started out with Chad Pennington (106 yards) but decided to try to win the game and called up Kellen Clemens who threw for only 67 yards and two interceptions. Thomas Jones gained 70 yards on 16 carries but Laveranues Coles was injured on his only catch and Jerricho Cotchery (5-47) alone is not enough to keep drives alive. The Bills have now swept the Jets this year and nothing is working during Eric Mangini's second season. The 1-7 Jets remain at home to host the Redskins this week while the 3-4 Bills (and two wins were the Jets) host the Bengals this weekend.
HOU 10, SD 35
Houston's constant battle to keep healthy players on the field continues to undermine their chances to win games. Matt Schaub started this week despite his hip injury and left the game after tossing for 77 yards and two interceptions when his head was blasted on a play. That allowed Sage Rosenfels to throw for 176 yards and one score with two more interceptions proving that his fourth quarter comeback bid last week was very much an aberration. Kevin Walter (7-77) and Jacoby Jones (5-51) led all receivers and the rushing game was as anemic as ever with Ahman Green inactive and Ron Dayne only gaining 47 yards on 17 carries. Adimchinobe "Joe" Echemandu gained 62 yards on ten carries which was about the only interesting part of the Texans effort and he did get carries earlier in the game before the beatdown was complete. The Chargers enjoyed thoroughly dominating the Texans and didn't really use LaDainian Tomlinson to get the job done. He never scored and had 90 yards on 17 carries and only one catch for one yard. It was all about Philip Rivers throwing for just 130 yards of which three of the seven completions went for scores. Antonio Gates had three catches for 92 yards and two scores and Chris Chambers turned two catches for 35 yards into a touchdown as well. With the Texans serving up four interceptions and one lost fumble, the Chargers didn't need to do all that much. The 4-3 Chargers now head to Minnesota this week while the 3-5 Texans head to Oakland.
JAC 24, TB 23
This is probably the game of the week since it was the only one that went down to the wire and had more than 20 points per team but only 47 points were scored in total and almost no fantasy value came out of this outside of Joey Galloway's 115 yards and one score. Jeff Garcia threw for 267 yards but his streak of no interceptions ended not once but three times in this game. Earnest Graham did well enough to gain 62 yards on 14 carries and Michael Bennett turned a sideways pass into a touchdown but only had three touches in the game. The Buccaneers took a 23-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter but Quinn Gray was just good enough to put together one drive when the team needed it. He only passed for 100 yards and threw the game winning score to Matt Jones who no one thought they had to cover anymore. Fred Taylor took the bulk of the rushing load with 24 carries that only covered 68 yards and Maurice Jones-Drew only had 10 runs that gained 48 yards in total. This was just a low scoring game with scores by Michael Bennett, LaBrandon Toefield and Matt Jones. None of those players had much yardage and while this was close fought until the end, it was just the same outcome as expected.
WAS 7, NE 52
Hosting the Patriots is like being the only girl in the village when the navy comes to port. It's not going to be pretty and it isn't going to be over nearly quick enough. The Pats turned in their highest score of the year while allowing the least amount of points. Nifty way to look vulnerable going into the Colts game next week. Tom Brady threw for his normal 306 yards and three touchdowns and added two rushing scores just for giggles. Of course Wes Welker (9-89) and Randy Moss (3-47) had touchdowns but so did Mike Vrabel. Laurence Maroney turned in 14 carries for 75 yards which is pretty amazing since he did not score during a 52 point effort by his offense. Now Brady is even stealing rushing scores from Maroney - is there no end to his greed? The Redskins were completely overmatched with Clinton Portis running for just 27 yards on 11 carries and also being the top receiver with five catches for 54 yards. Not much here in the way of trash yards and scores with Jason Campbell only managing 197 yards and one score to Chris Cooley as I wisely predicted because no one else catches touchdowns in Washington except Cooley (but shhhh - our secret, okay?). The 8-0 Patriots now head to Armageddon in Indianapolis while the 4-3 Redskins travel to play the Jets this week.
NO 31, SF 10
The Big Easy evidently is now San Francisco because the Saints have never looked as good this year as they did taking down the 49ers on Sunday. Drew Brees had a season high 336 passing yards and four scores and Marques Colston (8-85) caught three of them exactly as we expected before giving up on him and trading him away for a bye week defense to use. David Patten gained 109 yards on five catches and Reggie Bush turned in seven receptions for 49 yards along with 64 rushing yards on ten carries. Not only was the offense clicking for the Saints, but their defense also looked great against a decrepit 49ers team. Alex Smith returned this week and only passed for 190 yards and one score while Frank Gore ran for 41 yards on 12 carries. The only positive for the 49ers (by far) was Vernon Davis becoming the target they envisioned when he was drafted last year. Davis had a team leading six catches for 71 yards and the lone 49er touchdown. The win sends the 3-4 Saints back home to face the Jaguars while the 2-5 49ers head to Atlanta where someone has to win. Both Frank Gore and Reggie Bush left this game injured. Gore twisted his ankle again while Bush sustained a minor hip pointer.

Game-O-The-Week

This was an odd week since six teams were off and those that played were either locked into low scoring match-ups or it was just a complete blowout of a game. Not much in the way of exciting finishes unless you can count the third interception thrown by Jeff Garcia to end their comeback bid. It was a sort of a bye week for excitement and a roll up the score week for a handful of teams. This week I am breaking with tradition which has seen the Game of the Week be the highest scoring, closest game or even a tie between two or even three games when the competition gets hot. I am hereby declaring that the Week 7 Game of the Week is...

New England ?, Indianapolis ?

Yes. A game that is going to be played next week. Why not? This is the game that everyone pointed at last summer and with each winning week the tension has grown. it has grown into what has to be one of the most hyped games in the last decade or more. For a regular season game that may not prove all that important, it will be pimped like the Super bowl in November. This is the game that everyone will be talking about at the water cooler this week - not one of the dozen played on Sunday.

It is not like week nine of the NFL season has not seen two undefeated teams before. In 2006, both the Colts and the Bears were 7-0 at this point (and both, by the way, ended up in the Super Bowl). But they did not play against each other. Adding to the drama is that the Colts and Patriots have a lengthy history with each other and while they will deny it, they measure themselves against the other team.

This game could never meet the hype and will either end up as some surprisingly low scoring affair or a blow-out as these match-ups typically do. But let's review what is coming into this game:

Colts - 7-0 on the season and the #3 offense for scoring points (28 per game). Also the #2 team for preventing points (12.8 per game).

Patriots - 8-0 on the season and the #1 offense for scoring points (41.4 per game). Also #10 team for preventing points (15.8 per game).

The Patriots owned the Colts for years but have lost their last three meetings since 2004 including the 38-34 win by the Colts in the conference playoffs last January that propelled them into the Super Bowl.

The Colts have won all their games but squeaked out a two point win over the Titans in week two and just six points over the Texans in week three. Otherwise they have won by 18 points or more each week and the last two games were won 70-14 combined against the Jaguars and Panthers.

The Patriots have never won by less than 17 points and their last two games were won by a combined 101-35 over the Dolphins and Redskins. The Patriot offense has scored more points (331) in their first eight games than any other team in NFL history. There were only 14 NFL teams last year that scored that many points for the entire season. The Chargers were the offensive powerhouse last year with a total of 492 points on the season. At current rate, the Patriots would surpass that by week thirteen.

Forget the fact that both teams are undefeated because of their total teams - defense, offense and special teams. This game gets to be the match-up of Tom Brady against Peyton Manning even though they never are on the field at the same time. It's being trumpeted as Darth Brady against Peyton Skywalker. And you know that this game is all about the AFC Championship game and the loser runs the risk of playing on the road against the victor for the rights to reach the Super Bowl.

That may be a bit much to expect. And Tom Brady's amazing 30 passing scores in the first half of the season is on a pace to shatter all records but cannot be kept up... at least these sort of things never do. Then again, these sort of things have never happened before. It will be a great game to watch that hopefully will deliver at least some of the anticipated excitement. One of these teams is going to have their first loss of the year.

The other is probably going to win the Super Bowl.

Now get back to work...

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