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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 11
David Dorey
November 12, 2007
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Ben Roethlisberger 327 3
Donovan McNabb 288 4
Brett Favre 351 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Brian Westbrook 183 3
Steven Jackson 100 2
Warrick Dunn 140 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Terrell Owens 125 2
James Thrash 85 2
Reggie Wayne 140 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jeremy Shockey 129 1
Leonard Pope 52 2
Heath Miller 71 1
Placekickers XP FG
Shayne Graham 0 7
Jeff Wilkins 4 3
Jeff Reed 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Denver 2 2 6
Denver 1 4 4
Arizona 0 4 5

Week 10 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

This may be one of the tougher weeks of all if Peterson is out for any amount of time. He was angling for the history book for his rookie season, not just the one game. Interesting too is how many injured players came from teams that lost.

Lendale White (TEN) - Knee injury
Damon Huard (KC) - Undisclosed injury
Adrian Peterson (MIN) - Knee injury
Reggie Bush (NO) - Undisclosed injury
Marshawn Lynch (BUF) - Knee sprain
Brian Griese (CHI) - Shoulder injury
James Thrash (WAS) - Leg injury

Say it ain't so, Touraj

For the first time this season, after nine games played, the unthinkable has happened. T.J. Houshmandzadeh did not have a touchdown catch in the game against the Ravens on Sunday. For eight consecutive weeks, Houshmandzadeh owners were growing more and more smug knowing that they would at least get a touchdown from him. No more. After eight games and ten touchdowns this season, he only came up with six catches for 45 yards and no score.

Welcome to the rest of the world, T.J. owners...

And then there was just one ...

The St. Louis Rams shocked the NFL (and a few Survivor contests) when they took down the Saints 37-29 in a road game no less. That leaves only the Miami Dolphins as the lone "O-fer" team in the NFL. Hopefully this sets up what could be the greatest game ever played in week 16 if the then 0-14 Dolphins could hit the road and beat the then 14-0 Patriots. Of course that would mean lots more Don Shula on ESPN, but at least the Dolphins could hang their hat on something this year and get free food for the rest of the lives at the Shula Steakhouse.

This is why there is no public access to the roofs of tall buildings in Las Vegas

Those of the gambling persuasion probably didn't have much fun this week with eight underdogs not only covering the spread, but winning the game outright. Only Green Bay, Chicago, Dallas and Arizona were both favored and won their games. The Steelers were the only other favored team that won but won by three points instead of the 9.5 expected. They were lucky enough to win.

Every year between weeks nine and thirteen there is a week where underdogs rule and another where the road teams win big. This was a bit of both with only four home teams winning and nine road teams leaving their games smiling. What's even worse is that top dog Indianapolis lost and the Rams and Falcons won. it's shrinking back towards less dominate teams outside of the leaders of the standings - Dallas, Green Bay, New England and Pittsburgh.

The separation is starting

The Colts loss to the Chargers drops them to 7-2 and in a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They do not play each other in the regular season so all things remaining equal it will go into tiebreakers if it continues (though the Steelers still must play the Patriots who now have a two game lead over all teams for the #1 seed). The AFC Championship is almost certainly going through New England now and it may be the only time the Patriots are tested for the rest of the year.

The Cowboys and Packers rise to 8-1 in their divisions and both have a two game lead over all other NFC teams. Dallas hosts the Packers in week 13 in what should be a very important game - mark your calendar. It's still far too early to place much expectations on other teams and with seven games left to play, even those top teams could fall and lose players to injury.

Huddle Player of the Week

Brian Westbrook (PHI) - Forget about Donovan McNabb, the Eagles live and die purely by what Brian Westbrook does (and sometimes in spite of what he does). Simply put, there is no player in Philadelphia that remotely approaches how important Westbrook is to his team - arguably as critical for success as any other player in the league is for his team. Westbrook comes off the game against the Redskins where he ran for 100 yards on 20 carries, had five receptions for 83 yards and scored a total of three touchdowns.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Jason Campbell 215 3 QB Carson Palmer 271 0
RB Greg Jones 3 2 RB Lendale White 17 0
RB Aaron Stecker 34 1 RB Marion Barber 33 0
WR James Thrash 85 2 WR Plaxico Burress 24 0
WR Ruvell Martin 57 2 WR Anquan Boldin 25 0
WR Justin Gage 90 1 WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh 45 0
PK Shayne Graham 7 FG PK Matt Stover 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 110

Huddle Fantasy Points = 24

Sunday's Couch Commentary

PHI 33, WAS 25
The Redskins led 15-13 entering the fourth quarter but were swamped by Brian Westbrook who turned in 183 total yards and three touchdowns - two of them via receptions including a 57-yarder to gain the lead that was never returned. Donovan McNabb had one of his better games of the season with 251 yards and four touchdowns and Reggie Brown was the best wideout with 55 yards and one of the scores. The Eagles ruined one of the best offensive showing by the Skins this year. Clinton Portis ran for 137 yards on 30 carries and James Thrash caught two touchdowns passes - the first scores by a Redskins wideout this season. And later in the game Keenan McCardell scored as well which means the two starting wideouts still have yet to score but at least James Thrash is the leading scorer among all wideouts. Oh yes, and he is hurt now too. Santana Moss was inactive this week. The Skins had this game but let it get away at the end thanks mostly to Brian Westbrook. The 4-5 Eagles return home to host the Miami "YAH BABY" Dolphins while the 5-4 Redskins head to Dallas where their divisional aspirations are likely to be completely eliminated.
JAX 28, TEN 13
This is what happens when Vince Young has his best game as a passer. Vince Young threw for 257 yards and one score but had two interceptions. He also gained a team high 52 yards on eight runs in part because Lendale White only managed 12 yards on eight carries before leaving the game injured. Justin Gage had a season high 90 yards on seven catches with one score and even Brandon Jones showed up with 51 yards on five catches but the Titans could not come up with consistent drives without any rushing game. Even Chris Henry had three carries for a net two yard loss. The Jaguars rushing game had surprising success with Maurice Jones-Drew gaining 101 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown and added three catches for 28 yards as the lead receiver. Fred Taylor covered 45 yards on 16 runs and also had a rushing score while Greg Jones scored on both a run and a catch despite having four touches for a total of three yards. Now both teams are tied at 6-3 and the Jaguars head home to host the Chargers and the Titans travel to Denver.
STL 37, NO 29
Wow. I mean you had to know it would happen eventually but the Rams pull off their first win of the year on the road against a Saints team that had been playing great for the last three weeks. And the game was really never as close as the score may suggest. Marc Bulger threw for 302 yards and two scores while Steven Jackson gained 76 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown. Instead of Brian Leonard, the Rams let rookie Antonio Pittman play against the team that drafted him (and then dumped him like old coffee grounds) and he turned in 53 motivated yards on seven rushes. Torry Holt never scored but still had eight catches for 124 yards while Isaac Bruce (4-62), Randy McMichael (4-41) and Drew Bennett (4-37) all recorded a touchdown catch. The Rams led 34- 7 in the fourth quarter before the Saints reeled off three scores to make it look like they were not pummeled by an 0-8 team with no offensive line (psst - they were). Drew Brees did end up with 272 yards and two scores but threw for two interceptions. He only had 57 passing yards by halftime with no scores and both interceptions. Reggie Bush ran for one score but only had 17 rushing yards on seven carries before getting busted up. Marques Colston led all Saints receivers by a robust margin with eight catches for 129 yards while Eric Johnson's 38 yards was the next best. Both Johnson and Billy Miller had touchdowns as did Aaron Stecker who came late into the game. The win propels the 1-8 Rams (or 1-0 for you with short memories) into their next road game which is in San Francisco and could become "a winning streak". The 4-5 Saints head to Houston wondering whatever happened to that improved defense they thought they had.
BUF 13, MIA 10
Man. Close, so very close. Miami held a lead for the first 50 minutes of this game but finally relented to the inevitable. This game was not nearly as exciting as the score suggests. J.P. Losman only had 157 passing yards and one interception while Cleo Lemon threw for 131 yards but he did rush in one score. Jesse Chatman gained 124 yards on 27 carries in this snoozefest but still never scored while Marshawn Lynch ran for only 61 yards on 19 carries but did score. Lee Evans caught four passes for 65 yards which was more than any other receiver managed in this game from either side. The win gives the Bills a 5-4 record (a winning record no less) and they host the Patriots this week so back to .500 soon enough. The 0-9 Dolphins head to Philadelphia this week and hopefully get to visit the Liberty Bell or something educational to make this trip worthwhile.
DEN 27, KC 11
Okay, so maybe it wasn't 2004 all over again. Priest Holmes took the start but only gained 65 yards on 20 carries against the Broncos and Kolby Smith wasn't much used despite the ramblings of HC Herman Edwards. Damon Huard was knocked out of the game after throwing two interceptions and Brodie Croyle came in to only throw one interception. Tony Gonzalez went from having a great season to only catching three passes for 29 yards while Dwayne Bowe had a big game with nine catches for 105 yards. The Chiefs just had no spark outside of Bowe. The Broncos got 192 passing yards and one score from Jay Cutler who only threw one interception. With Travis Henry out this week, Selvin Young ran for 109 yards and one score and really looked just as good as Henry ever has. Brandon Marshall led the Broncos with six catches for 85 yards but Daniel Graham had the receiving touchdown. This win sort of reverses the trends in the AC West though much could be credited to the absence of Larry Johnson and eventually Damon Huard. The 4-5 Broncos return home to host the Titans this week while the 4-5 Chiefs travel to Indy.
MIN 0, GB 34
Oh yeah, this what they Vikings are like without Adrian Peterson. The hot rookie gained 45 yards on 11 carries before injuring his knee but the Packers laid it on them for the entire game. Brett Favre is still making it look easy with 345 yards and three scores while Ryan Grant proved undaunted by the big-time rush defense of Minnesota and just ran for 119 yards and one score from many fantasy benches who were more impressed with the Vikes defense than Grant was. The amazing part of Favre's game is that he hit ten different receivers and none had more than 63 yards. Ruvell Martin scored twice and Donald Lee had the third. This Packer team is everything that the 2006 Packers were not. Unfortunately, without Peterson, this does look like the 2006 Vikings with Brooks Bollinger only throwing for 176 yards and one interception in a game that was nothing but trash time. On a somber note, hopefully the MRI on Peterson shows no damage because he is a lock for Rookie of the Year otherwise and the most exciting thing to watch in Vikings game for the last three years. The Packers defense recorded a shutout and just has been far above expectations this year. Now the 8-1 Packers host the Panthers who just lost to the Falcons in Carolina while the 3-6 Vikings host the Raiders just as soon as the entire team breaks their huddle outside of the MRI room for Peterson.
ATL 20, CAR 13
Yet another WOW game. The Panthers just suck at home. I mean lose to the Falcons kind of suck. The Panthers have lost every game in Carolina including a pick-up basketball game against the cafeteria workers at team headquarters. Despite plenty of media rumors, Vinnie Testaverde did start and had 153 passing yards which was sort of "Carr-like" anyway. Steve Smith had 61 yards on five catches (decidedly better than Carr-like) but no other receivers did much. DeShaun Foster only gained 59 yards on 20 carries (at home against the Falcons no less) while DeAngelo Williams turned in 27 yards on seven runs. It was just a flat performance against the visiting Falcons who saw Joey Harrington throw for 192 yards and one score and Warrick Dunn rush for 89 yards and one score. Roddy White had six catches for 57 yards while Dunn also had three catches for 51 yards because he's always been a dynamic receiver other than the last six years in Atlanta where they never watched his old Tampa Bay tapes. The Falcons now rise to 3-6 and return home to host the Buccaneers this week. The Panther fall to 4-5 but at least hit the road where they can actually win a game... except for this week in Green Bay.
CHI 17, OAK 6
Here's a game that was reminiscent of 2006. The Bears take the win by Rex Grossman throwing a touchdown bomb to Bernard Berrian and Cedric Benson gained 76 yards and one score on 29 carries which did not seem anywhere near that productive. The Bears defense held the Raiders to just 108 passing yards and Justin Fargas only managed 81 yards on 23 carries. This game had the Raiders leading 6-3 until the final three minutes when Berrian scored from 59 yards out. This was every bit as boring as any Bears or Raiders game from last year would have been. The Bears rise to 4-5 and head to Seattle this week while the 2-7 Raiders travel to Minnesota and hope that Adrian Peterson has at least a one-week off sprain.
DAL 31, NYG 20
This was just a replay of the week one game except the Cowboys scored one less touchdown and the Giants were not allowed as many trash time points. Tony Romo tossed four touchdowns and 247 yards but the rushing game was far less productive with Julius Jones gaining 48 yards and Marion Barber held to only 34 yards when both had around a dozen carries. Terrell Owens was the killer with six receptions for 125 yards and two scores while Patrick Crayton turned in 66 yards and one score. Jason Witten gained OHMYGOD just 12 yards on two catches. The Giants turned into the Jeremy Shockey show since he had a career best 12 catches for 129 yards and a score and no other wideout gained more than 37 yards for the Giants. Eli Manning was far less effective this time with only 236 passing yards and one score against two interceptions. Brandon Jacobs ran very well and gained 95 yards on 23 carries but the Giants could not keep pace just using Shockey. The teams were tied at the half 17-17 before the Cowboys had their standard bigger second half. The win sends the 8-1 Cowboys home to face the Redskins while the Giants drop to 6-3 and head to Detroit. This was a big match-up for the NFC East and now puts the Cowboys up two games over the Giants and they also hold the first tie-breaker of head to head against them.
DET 21, ARI 31
This was an entertaining game with plenty of fantasy relevance - good and bad. Kurt Warner scored three times and had 259 passing yards and even Tim Rattay came in for one play to throw a score as well since the Cards do not want Warner playing inside the five yard line. While Anquan Boldin was held to only three catches for 25, the stars of the game were Larry Fitzgerald (8-74, 2 TD) and Leonard Pope (5-52, 2 TD). Edgerrin James was held to only 60 yards on 18 carries but that was a lot better than Kevin Jones who only had four rushes for a net four yard loss (he added eight catches for 36 yards though). The Lions as a team only had eight carries that combined for a loss of 18 yards. That's -18 yards rushing as a team. Jon Kitna threw for 294 yards and two scores but had two interceptions and both scores went to Roy Williams (6-45). The Cards actually trailed 7-3 in the second quarter before turning up the heat and this game was never close thanks to an opportunistic Cards defense and the inability of the Lions to run. The loss gives the 6-3 Lions a two game margin behind the Packers and they return to Detroit this week to host the Giants.
CIN 21, BAL 7
In case you have trouble remembering how bad the Ravens have become, just check out their weekly box score for a reminder. The Bengals as the visitor had Carson Palmer throw for 271 yards though he could never quite get a pass completed into the endzone. Rudi Johnson (22-46) and Kenny Watson (9-24) combined to take a lot of time off the clock but not much yardage and they too could not get into the endzone. Not a problem though when Shayne Graham was successful on all seven of his field goal attempts. Chris Henry's return was an immediate impact since he led all receivers with 99 yards on four catches and Chad Johnson gained 73 yards on four receptions. BUT - T.J. Houshmandzadeh did not score. For the first time in nine games. In case there still is any question in your mind, Steve McNair has officially lost it and only came up with 128 yards, one interception and two lost fumbles. He was replaced by Kyle Boller on the final drive that produced the only score by the Ravens. If there is not a quarterback controversy in Baltimore, Brian Billick must be on the take because nothing in McNair's performance this week or this season says he should be the guy. He finally succeeded in making Boller look like the better option and that takes time. Notables from this game were Mark Clayton catching eight passes for 107 yards and Willis McGahee rushing for 60 yards and the one score. The Ravens rushing defense is still good. Nothing else much is anymore. The 4-5 Ravens host the dangerous Browns this week while the 3-6 Bengals will host the Cardinals.
CLE 28, PIT 31

This was going to be the game of the week and certainly could be considered so. The Browns had the audacity to come into Pittsburgh and take a 21-9 lead at halftime. They still led 21-16 going into the fourth quarter before Ben Roethlisberger took the team on his back and made the comeback possible. On a third and ten from the CLE 30-yard line, Roethlisberger was trailing 21-16 and after finding no one open, took off on a 30-yard touchdown run for the first lead in the game. A two point conversion to Hines Ward put the Steelers up 24-21 with 11 minutes left to play but on the ensuing kick-off Josh Cribbs returned it 100 yards for a score and the Browns led 28-24. Starting on his own 22-yard line with 11:10 left to play, Roethlisberger once again drove the team down the field and threw a score to Heath Miller from two yards out with three minutes left to play. After both teams went three and out, the Browns drove to the PIT 35-yard line with ten seconds left where Phil Dawson missed his 52-yard field goal.

Derek Anderson ended with only 123 passing yards but three touchdowns and Kellen Winslow led the Browns with five catches for 46 yards and one score. Braylon Edwards also scored but only had one catch for 16 yards to do it. Roethlisberger ended with 278 yards and two scores that went to Hines Ward (7-80) and Heath Miller (5-71) while Willie Parker gained 105 yards on 25 carries. Incredibly, the Browns got the lead and tried to sit on it in Pittsburgh and relying on Jamal Lewis (16-35) wasn't going to make that a good idea. Great game that ended as expected with far more drama along the way than we would suspect. Now the 7-2 Steelers are tied with the Colts for #2 in the AFC and play the Jets in New York this week. The 5-4 Browns head to Baltimore where it isn't nearly so scary any more.

Game-O-The-Week

This was an upset special weekend and a painful one watching Adrian Peterson leave the field injured. Throw in Reggie Bush and Lendale White and finding a starting running back that you can count on every week is getting almost impossible. Injuries have been rampant this year like no other in recent memory and they have not stopped. We're finally past the bye weeks and our rosters should be well settled by now. Don't buy into that - more is bound to happen to keep you cruising the waiver wire and cursing the injury report. This week had several good games with the Browns near win in Pittsburgh as the best until that final game of the day. The one that said everything about football this season..

Colts 21, Chargers 23

The Colts had been pummeling opponents until week nine when they led the Patriots but could not hold them off at the end in part because of injuries to Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez to name but two. Naturally they would be motivated to get back on the winning track this week and went to San Diego to face the same team that was crushed 17-35 by the Vikings who no one previously knew had an offense. Sure, the Colts would be without Harrison and Gonzalez again, but the defense was still healthy and Peyton Manning always finds a way.

And then the game opened with an 89 yard touchdown return by Darren Sproles who runs like a bowling ball thrown by some jock trying to impress his girlfriend. The Colts took their first possession and reached the SD 14-yard line before Manning threw an interception. Okay, it was raining. Manning did not have his normal receivers other than Reggie Wayne, It happens.

After holding the Chargers to no yards and a punt, Manning started on the SD 44-yard line and two plays later threw another interception... hmmm... we'll look back later and laugh.

The Chargers got a field goal from that possession and after holding the Colts to no gain, Hunter Smith punted to Darren Sproles who promptly returned it 45 yards for his second touchdown and a 17-0 lead. It was only halfway through the first quarter for crying out loud!

Knowing that this would sharply focus and energize Manning, we watched as he went on a nine play drive that ended with ANOTHER FREAKING INTERCEPTION! Hey, Peyton, they deduct for that in fantasy football!

The lone saving grace to the entire first half was that Philip Rivers was on the IND 23-yard line and threw an interception as well at the end of the first quarter. That's right, the first quarter and the Chargers led 17-0 and Manning had three interceptions already. It had been five YEARS since Manning had three interceptions in a regular season game.

After the Rivers interception, the Colts took over on their own 23-yard line and on third and three, Manning thr... OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! FOUR INTERCEPTIONS???? Are you kidding me? Hold on... flip... flip.... It has been six YEARS since Manning threw four interceptions in a game. This is still the start of the second quarter!

The Chargers took over on the IND 45-yard line and using almost no one but Tomlinson on runs and catches, they drove down and scored a touchdown with 8:51 left in the half. Granted, Nate Kaeding had a botched extra point attempt but still the Chargers led 23-0.

"Honey - if a guy named Three Fingers Jack calls, tell him I moved to Canada, Tell him I will settle up with him whenever I return."

Okay, the Colts came in wounded, but 23-0?

But Manning then went on a 13 play drive that ended with him hitting Reggie Wayne (note - his own player) for an 8-yard touchdown. 23-7 means just two touchdowns and a couple of two point conversions away from a tie!

After the Charger had to punt, Manning went on a drive from his own 14-yard line with 1:30 left to play that ended with a Chinese fire drill with time expiring so Adam "Clutch" Vinatieri could kick a 42-yard field goal. WHAT? Wide left. Thanks Adam, you have reprised the Idiot Kicker again.

Going into the third quarter, you knew it was going to be different. The Colts took the opening kickoff from their own 27-yard line and Manning coolly led the team down the field. On second and nine from their SD 33-yard line, he hooked up with Aaron Moorehead on a - NO FREAKING WAY! FIVE???? FIVE INTERCEPTIONS???

Flip.... flip... flip... flip... He's NEVER thrown five interceptions before ever. Not even in his rookie year when we all made fun of him before we knew what he was going to end up being.

After the Chargers burned up five minutes and punted, the Colts went from their own 10-yard line and on the first play of the fourth quarter, Manning connects with Kenton Keith for a 7-yard touchdown pass mainly because you were starting Joseph Addai. And - Brian Fletcher caught the two point conversion so the game was only 23-15 which is one score and one two point conversion away from a tie with an entire quarter left to play.

The Chargers took over on their own 8-yard line because special teams is now playing "Kill the Sprole" and on third down, Rivers is sacked, fumbles and it is recovered in the endzone for a Colts score! Hallelujah! Now all that has to happen is... DOH! Why did they run Addai up the middle on the two point conversion? Why? Why? What the hell? Peyton Manning and they run up the gut with Addai?

The Chargers are bit shell shocked by now and the camera pans Norv Turner who is visibly swallowing hard every few seconds. They end up punting with 12:23 left to play.

The Colts take over with 12:11 and plenty of time to end this nonsense. After reaching the SD 42-yard line, they run Addai once for two yards and then Manning throws two incompletions (which are better than interceptions) and the Colts punt with 7:29 left to play.

After two plays, Rivers throws to Antonio Gates at the SD 33 yard line but it is tipped up and intercepted just like I knew it was going to be, baby. It's Peyton time.

Starting at the SD 42-yard line, the Colts drive down to the SD 9-yard line with two minutes left to play. Addai apparently gets the first down but a review by the booth says nope. So it is fourth down and 1:34 left to play which means as soon as Vinatieri - that clutch kicker - nails his ridiculously easy 29 yard field goal that the Colts have the lead and just have to stop the Chargers.

sigh....

Wide right this time. I mean they kick 29 yard field goals in JUNIOR HIGH. Vinatieri is Mr. Clutch. Mr. High Percentage. Mr. Idiot Kicker.

The Chargers do little but chew the clock down to 22 seconds when the Colts take over and Manning throws two incompletions from his 33-yard line. And then to end the game.

It's number six.

Time for me to go, eh?

Like so many fantasy teams, the Colts had to make do with so many injured players that they only dressed 44 instead of the 45 that they are allowed. And like fantasy teams, the Colts were not beaten by great play from Tomlinson (21-76), Gates (3-26) or Rivers (104, 2 interceptions). They were beaten by two lucky special teams touchdowns and having the best kicker in NFL history miss both attempts. Oh the horror....

But hey - it happens to everyone. All teams have that one really bad game or face that team with their one really great game.

Well... except for the Patriots and Dolphins. But there's always their week 16 match-up!

Now get back to work...

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