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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 12
David Dorey
November 19, 2007
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tom Brady 373 5
Tony Romo 293 4
Jason Campbell 348 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Chester Taylor 202 3
LaDainian Tomlinson 155 1
Willis McGahee 126 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Terrell Owens 177 4
Randy Moss 128 4
D.J. Hackett 136 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Donald Lee 49 2
Chris Cooley 89 1
Antonio Gates 54 1
Placekickers XP FG
Sebastian Janikowski 1 5
Phil Dawson 3 4
Mike Nugent 1 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Cleveland 1 6 4
Arizona 2 1 5
Tampa Bay 1 4 4

Week 11 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

This was ankle week, which is far better than ACL week or Achilles week.

Donovan McNabb (PHI) - Ankle sprain
Brandon Jacobs (NYG) - Hamstring strain
Laveranues Coles (NYJ) - Ankle sprain
Santonio Holmes (PIT) - Ankle sprain

Missing the middle

As an unusual event with major fantasy football impact, Sunday served up just one running back that had more than one touchdown and it was Chester Taylor who had three. There were only two wideouts that had more than one touchdown and Randy Moss and Terrell Owens both had four. Throw in Tony Romo (4) and Tom Brady (5) and no doubt your league had several teams with monster scores and all the others trying to scratch out a win.

And just in time for trying to make the playoffs no less...

When it worth the wait

Of the top ten wideouts for week 11, three were all players that were not around just a few weeks ago. D.J. Hackett (9-136, 1 TD) was injured in week one but since returning in week nine, he has scored in all three games. That's seven long weeks. Andre Johnson went missing starting week three and just returned, finally and had yet another great game with six catches for 120 yards and a score. That's seven weeks of waiting as well. And there's Chris Henry who sat out the first eight games of the year thanks to prior indiscretions and he just caught eight passes for 81 yards and a score. That's three players that would have killed you for almost half the year but now are outperforming the majority of all other fantasy starting wideouts.

Now if we can just get Deion Branch onto the same bus...

The Playoff forecast

There are still six games left to play in the NFL but it's never to early to form some expectations.

AFC

East - Pats are already FIVE games ahead of the Bills who they just violated in biblical ways. Lock for #1 seed.

North - Steelers are a game ahead of the Browns and looking rather mortal now. Browns are the 2007 version of last year's Saints. I bet they take the division because their remaining schedule is rather kind while Pittsburgh still has to play in New England and just flops against soft teams. Steelers end up a surprise wildcard.

South - The Colts will outlast the Jags in this one but the Colts are not the 2007 Colts. Week 13 in Indianapolis between those two teams decides the division but the Colts will win it. Jags are a wildcard. Titans are likely a wildcard as well.

West - Chargers will likely outlast the Broncos but week 16 in San Diego will decide the winner here. Too messy here to expect a wildcard bid.

NFC

East - Cowboys will win it but week 13 against Packers decides if they get the #1 seed. The 7-3 Giants should be a lock for a wildcard.

North - Packers win this easily and need to beat Dallas for Favre to host the NFC Championship. Lions still a long shot to get a wildcard but in the NFC this year, they could be good enough. Because few others are any good.

South - Buccaneers are no powerhouse but should be plenty good enough to take this division. Panthers and Saints struggle too much to get a wildcard.

West - Seattle takes the division yet again but hosting Arizona in week 15 could be interesting. Arizona may actually be wildcard good this year in a stripped down NFC.

Huddle Player of the Week

Chester Taylor (MIN) - Sure, I could have gone with Tom Brady or Terrell Owens or Randy Moss. But by this point, their performances are only more of the same (though they combined for 13 touchdowns on Sunday). No - it has to be Chester Taylor who came over to the Vikings last year as their new starting running back and had a great year as the only decent weapon of the offense. He was rewarded by the Vikings using their high draft pick on Adrian Peterson who nudged, cajoled and then just shoved Taylor out of the picture. With Peterson out this week, Taylor rewarded all who still had him with a big game of 202 total yards and three touchdowns. And he knows once Peterson is healthy, yet again it will be "thanks and all - there is the bench". But on Sunday, Taylor was outstanding.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Jason Campbell 348 2 QB Donovan McNabb 28 0
RB Kolby Smith 51 0 RB Rudi Johnson 27 0
RB Najeh Davenport 61 0 RB Clinton Portis 45 0
WR Devard Darling 107 1 WR Reggie Brown 18 0
WR Adam Jennings 11 1 WR Hines Ward 47 0
WR Jason Avant 4 1 WR Plaxico Burress 47 0
PK Sebastian Janikowski 5 FG 1 XP PK Morten Anderson 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 81

Huddle Fantasy Points = 17

Sunday's Couch Commentary

WAS 23, DAL 28
The Skins put up a far tougher game than expected and Jason Campbell ended with a career-high 348 yards and two scores - roughly twice his normal effort. Clinton Portis had his hot streak abruptly end with only 36 yards on 12 carries but Santana Moss not only was able to play, he caught nine passes for 121 yards and one score. Chris Cooley had 89 yards and the other touchdown and the Redskins brought this game down to the wire. Neither Marion Barber (15-53) nor Julius Jones (9-27) could gain much but Tony Romo once again came up with a monster game of 293 yards and four touchdowns - each one went to Terrell Owens who had his biggest game as a Cowboy with eight catches for 174 yards. Witten still managed to gain 67 yards on eight receptions but this game went down to the wire because Dallas could score touchdowns while the Redskins had to settle for field goals. The 9-1 Cowboys host the Jets on Thanksgiving while the 5-5 Skins head to Tampa Bay.
STL 13, SF 9
Okay, so maybe this game was entirely devoid of the fireworks of any previous match-up. All stats here were about half of what the teams did earlier this year and March Bulger only had 155 passing yards and one score that went to Torry Holt (7-55) of course. Steven Jackson ran for 92 yards on 23 carries and even added four catches for 20 yards but what a yawner. Frank Gore only gained 32 yards on 15 carries but had 31 yards on five catches just to salvage his fantasy value. Trent Dilfer did his best Alex Smith impression by throwing for 231 yards and two interceptions though Arnaz Battle had a decent enough game with 86 yards on six receptions. Vernon Davis turned in 50 yards on four catches and probably should have caught a pass in the endzone in case your league awards points for "close". But this was just a brutal game to watch that had only one touchdown scored. Gore at home against the Rams only has 32 rushing yards? Pitiful. Now the 2-8 Rams return home to host Seattle while the 49ers head to Arizona where their only other win of the year will be avenged.
CHI 23, SEA 30
The Bears drop yet another game and Rex Grossman had no scores and yet threw for 266 yards. Cedric Benson had one of his better games of the year with 89 rushing yards and one score on just 11 carries that included a 43 yard touchdown to open the game. Why he was limited to 11 carries when he finally looked like he was running well is merely known as "the Chicago way". Adrian Peterson also scored on a short run and had five carries for 11 yards. Why Benson didn't just get 16 carries appears to be just to ensure that he didn't get a big head from actually having a nice run. Bernard Berrian (9-102) and Muhsin Muhammad (3-71) both enjoyed big games without any touchdowns and the rookie Greg Olsen had seven catches for 43 yards because you benched him after his week 10 goose egg. But the Bears could not keep up with Matt Hasselbeck who carved up the Bears for 337 yards and two scores that saw D.J. Hackett continue his hot hand with nine receptions for 136 yards and a score and even Deion Branch played a bit with four catches for 31 yards. Shaun Alexander was fortunately inactive this week while recuperates from being over the hill and Maurice Morris ran well with 87 yards and a score. Now the Bears fall to just 4-6 on the season and return home to host the Broncos while the 6-4 Seahawks hit the road to St. Louis.
PIT 16, NJY 19
The Steelers follow their trend of dropping the easiest games on their schedule and went down in flames against the Jets in overtime no less. Ben Roethlisberger only had 195 passing yards and a score to Santonio Holmes (5-75) who left the game with a sprained ankle. Hines Ward only managed two catches for 47 yards and that was better than any other Steeler receiver. Willie Parker faced one of the worst rushing defenses in the league and only turned in 52 yards on 21 carries. Trap game? Yes, but then again could it be the Steelers maybe are not as good away from Pittsburgh as we thought? The Jets only got 162 yards and a score from Kellen Clemens but in a reversal of fortunes, Thomas Jones went against one of the toughest rush defenses in the NFL and yet gained 117 yards on 30 carries for his biggest game of the year. He helped move the ball much more than any receiver since Laveranues Coles was tops for catching one pass for 56 yards. This was a classic trap game with the Steelers flat across the board and the Jets as motivated as they can be. Now the 2-8 Jets head to Dallas to play on Thanksgiving while the 7-3 Steelers return home to play the Dolphins wondering whatever happened to that #2 seed they were angling to get.
NO 10, HOU 23
He's baaaack. After missing seven games, Andre Johnson picked up right where left off with 118 yards and a score in his 2007 debut (part two). Owen Daniels came to life as well with five receptions for 74 yards and Johnson's presence helped Matt Schaub to throw for 293 yards and two scores. Ron Dayne (21-89) was generally effective which was more than could be said for Reggie Bush who only gained 34 yards on 15 carries. Not to worry though, he still had 12 catches for 70 yards and was bettered only by Marques Colston with 118 yards on nine receptions. Drew Brees only had one passing score and ended with 290 yards but threw two costly interceptions. The loss drops the Saints back to 4-6 and now they head to Carolina where the Panthers hate to win. The Texans rise to 5-5 on the season and head up to Cleveland for what should be another good game for Andre Johnson.
CAR 17, GB 31
The Packers continue to speed towards their week 13 meeting with the Cowboys by taking down the Panthers with little effort needed. Brett Favre only threw for 218 yards but had three touchdowns while Ryan Grant ran for 88 yards on 20 carries. Donald Driver led the Packers with 83 yards on five receptions though he yet again had no scores. Donald Lee had two touchdowns along with five catches for 49 yards and Greg Jennings, of course, had the other scoring catch on his seven receptions for 48 yards. The Panthers had decent enough stats but mistakes continually spelled their doom. Vinny Testaverde passed for 258 yards and two scores but also two interceptions. Without Steve Smith, Drew Carter stepped up with a career high 132 yards on five catches and one score while no other receiver had more than 39 yards. Foster was able to gain 87 yards on 20 carries but too little, too late in a game that needed deep passing scores. The win propels the 9-1 Packers into Detroit this week for a Thanksgiving Day match-up while the 4-6 Panthers return home to host the Saints.
ARI 35, CIN 27
Viva La Bengals! The Cardinals had Kurt Warner throw for 211 yards and two scores split between Larry Fitzgerald (8-93) and ANquan Boldin (4-71) while Edgerrin James rushed in a score on his 22 carries for 52 yards. Antrel Rolle also scored twice on his three catches in the game though all were thrown by Carson Palmer. And this was at home no less. Palmer did throw for 329 yards and two scores but had a total of four interceptions. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (8-87) and Chad Johnson (8-86) had almost identical games except Houshmandzadeh had his one obligatory touchdown. Chris Henry also had eight catches for 81 yards and a score as well but the trio were dropping a surprising amount of passes. The rushing game now seems to feature Rudi Johnson (8-25) starting out in games until finally Kenny Watson (9-45) comes in and just looks better. Sort of the Cowboys plan. The win boosts the Cardinals to 5-5 and sends them home to face the 49ers this week and almost certainly a winning record afterwards. The Bengals slip down to 3-7 and they host the Titans this week. You could say that this was a painful loss for the Bengals but with seven such games, it is pretty hard to say which was the most painful.
KC 10, IND 13
The Colts are certainly making it look like the Patriots are heading to the Super bowl on a golden street paved with rose petals. After two losses, the Colts survived - yes SURVIVED - the Chiefs led by Brodie Croyle and Priest Holmes. Croyle only had 169 yards and one score, but had no interceptions unlike that other quarterback in the game. Holmes only gained 55 yards on 19 carries and even Kolby Smith was given eight carries to game 17 whole yards. Surprisingly, Dwayne Bowe had a nice game here with six catches for 74 yards and a score but TOny Gonzalez only caught four passes for 46 yards. But things were not that much better on the other side of the field where Peyton Manning only completed 16 of 32 passes for 163 yards and one interception. Fortunately, Joseph Addai scored once but only gained 72 yards on 21 carries while Reggie Wayne converted four catches into 75 yards. Dallas Clark? Just three catches for 15 yards is all. The 4-6 Chiefs put up a nice fight here and now return home to host the Raiders. The 8-2 Colts head to Atlanta this week and hope to rekindle some of that magic that seems all but lost recently.
SD 17, JAC 24
The Jaguars won this week thanks to a opportunistic defense and the return of David Garrard who threw for 189 yards and two scores with no turnovers. Fred Taylor had a solid day rushing with 85 yards on 20 carries and Maurice Jones-Drew scored once on his 12 carries for 33 yards. Reggie Williams led the Jags receivers with 62 yards and a score on just two catches because each week he either catches a longer touchdown or he does almost nothing. The Chargers had decent stats but Philip Rivers two interceptions counteracted his 309 passing yards and one score. LaDainian Tomlinson only gained 62 yards on 16 runs but had one score and he added five receptions for 93 yards to leave his mark on week 11. Chris Chambers also had a nice game with 93 yards on just four catches while Antonio Gates finally caught fire later in the game and ended with 54 yards and a score on four receptions. The win keeps the 7-3 Jaguars just one game behind the vulnerable Colts and the Bills come to Jacksonville this week. The Chargers fall to 5-5 but that is still good enough to lead the AFC West. They return home to host the Ravens this week.
OAK 22, MIN 29
Somehow the Giants-Lions tilt only totaled 26 points while this game had 51? Daunte Culpepper tried his best to stick it to his old team with 344 passing yards and a score but one interception as well. Ronald Curry (4-120) had the rare big game away from Oakland while Jerry Porter (5-88) also turned in a better than average effort. Even Justin Fargas gained 60 yards on 22 carries. But they could not end drives with touchdowns and settled for Janikowski kicking five field goals. The Vikes got a better passing effort from Sidney Rice on two trick plays that saw him complete both passes for 94 total yards. Tarvaris Jackson threw 20 more passes than Rice did but only ended with 171 yards and one interception. The Vikes were carried again by the rushing game but this time it was not Adrian Peterson. Instead, Chester Taylor took what is becoming a rare chance to shine and gained 164 yards and three scores like he was a hot rookie or something. At least Culpepper made it easy for the Minnesota crowd to recognize him since he threw for a lot of yards in a losing effort where he was sacked four times, threw an interception and lost two fumbles. Oh yeah, I remember that guy! Now the 2-8 Raiders remain on the road and go to Kansas City while the 4-9 Vikings head to New York to face the Giants.
MIA 7, PHI 17
In the NFL world of tag, the Eagles nearly became "it" this week when they allowed the Dolphins to go into halftime up 7-3. Donovan McNabb was injured and only had time to throw for two interceptions but A.J. Feeley managed to score once and turn in 116 passing yards with one interception. The Brian Westbrook show continues to be the only one in town with 148 yards gained on 32 rushes and amazingly he had only one catch that gained no yards. 33 touches and only one was a catch? It's not what fantasy owners in "point per reception" leagues thought they were buying in August. Whether this team has McNabb or Feeley or Rocky Balboa as the quarterback it will not matter. It is all about Westbrook. And half the time even that is not enough. The Fins gave the rookie John Beck his first start and he only completed 9 of 22 passes for 109 yards but he had no turnovers and gave Tedd Ginn (4-52) one of his best games of the year. Jesse Chatman only gained 72 yards on 22 carries but remains the primary runner with almost no sharing. Now the 0-10 Dolphins have broken the double digit loss barrier and head to Pittsburgh who was just taught a lesson about underestimating their opponent. The 5-5 Eagles head to New England this week which is the NFL equivalent of hazing for a college fraternity that is run by the mafia. (hint - Westbrook maybe not going to be enough this week).
NYG 16, DET 10
In one of the bigger disappointments of the week, the Giants won in Detroit because Manning did not have any interceptions during his 283 passing yards and threw for one score that went to Brandon Jacobs who gained 49 receiving and 54 rushing yards. Hopefully that will hold his owners for a while since he just strained his hamstring. He's like a pickup truck with a corvette engine. It runs great when it runs but the parts will always keep breaking down. Plaxico Burress only gained 47 yards on four catches as that red hot scoring streak to start the year starts to fade from memory. Jon Kitna had 377 passing yards and one score but threw for three interceptions which killed the Lions. Kevin Jones only gained 25 rushing yards but Shaun McDonald (7-113) and Roy Williams (6-106) had great games though the score went to Calvin Johnson on his three catches for 45 yards. On the plus side (literally), Jones is back to rushing for positive yardage. The loss drops the Lions to 6-4 and they host the Packers in the first game on Thanksgiving Day. The Giants rise to 6-4 to keep at least wildcard hopes alive and return home to host the Vikings.
TB 31, ATL 7
This was the perfect place for a trap game to happen but none of the Falcons got the memo. Instead, HC Bobby Petrino showed his NFL grit by benching Joey Harrington after two consecutive wins and instead went with Byron Leftwich who only completed 15 of 28 passes for 106 yards, two interceptions and two fumbles. Evidently Petrino never had time to check out Jacksonville games last year. Harrington came in later in the game and threw for 139 yards and a score with no turnovers. Warrick Dunn (15-32) had no fun but Michael Jenkins had a big game (relative term) with nine catches for 73 yards. Roddy White only gained 28 yards on four catches because he was the only receiving weapon until Leftwich showed up. Jeff Garcia was efficient since all he had to do was wait for Leftwich to give them great field position and he only had 159 passing yards but threw for two scores. Earnest Graham gained 102 yards on 17 carries and scored once to further prove how interchangeable the running back position truly is. Joey Galloway scored once on his two catches for 63 yards while Alex Smith (3-51) caught the other score because non-Galloway wideouts are not allowed in the endzone. The win boosts the Buccaneers to 6-4 and very much in the driver seat in the NFC South. They host the Redskins this week while the 3-7 Falcons remain home to face the Colts while Petrino searches for an even worse decision to make for starting quarterback.
NE 56, BUF 10
The Patriots won convincingly this week when they throttled the <Bills> by an amazing score of <56-10> which had Tom Brady passing for an obscene 3<73> yards and <5> touchdowns. Of course it was surprising when the blowout barely used Laurence Maroney who settled for <19 yards but one touchdown> which was actually less than <Kyle Eckel> gained and he had a touchdown. Randy Moss was unbelievable when he snagged a total of <10> catches for 1<28> yards and <4> touchdowns and there was still enough left over for <Ben Watson> to also score. Wes Welker had a nice game with <7 catches for 78 yards> and <no> scores. The <Bills> were completely embarrassed and <only had Anthony Thomas gain 31 rushing yards because he ain' t no Marshawn Lynch and Lee Evans only turned in 40 yards on four receptions while Roscoe Parrish scored on his one catch in the game that went for 47 yards. Kind of downhill from that for the final three quarters. Now the unbeaten Patriots are <10>-0 on the season and decimate the <Eagles> this week while the <5-5 Bills head to Jacksonville wondering why their collective butt hurts so much>.

Game-O-The-Week

Kind of a weird week with a handful of players doing most of the scoring and nearly everyone else just having an average sort of game. Not many injuries this week is great but surprisingly the rushing games are not showing up as king yet despite the year growing old. That should start to happen from here on out but with the passing games in NE, GB and DAL, this could very well be an odd "year of the pass" since it already has been the most injurious year for fantasy football in memory. This was not a good year to be an NFL running back.

The best game of the week was already decided before the goofy ending threw it into overtime.

The Browns are easily one of the biggest surprises this year and playing in Baltimore has historically not been a treat. But this is a different year and the Ravens have declined as much as the Browns have improved. Case in point - the Browns were favored by 2.5 points in Baltimore.

But they brought along their defense too and that meant trouble. It meant that the Ravens had a chance to post some points after struggling for the last month to score any. By halftime, it was 13-7 in favor of the Browns thanks to Kellen Winslow's incredible ability to catch passes and then get tackled on the one yard line. In trots Jamal Lewis to score yet another short touchdown and this time against his old team. This is the fourth time in the last three games that Winslow has ended up close but not close enough. He only has four scores on the year.

In the third quarter, the Browns extended their lead to 27-14 and the Ravens were only that close because Ray Lewis returned an interception for a touchdown. But as the Browns were packing up the equipment boxes, the Ravens drove the field and kicked a field goal to make it 27-17. After Josh Cribbs returned the kickoff to the BAL 43-yard line, they gave the ball back on a failed field goal attempt and the Ravens drove down the field and settled for another field goal to draw within 27-20 with 7:24 left to play.

The Browns burned up a couple of minutes but only reached their 38-yard line where they punted to the BAL 17-yard line with 5:12 left to play. And Boller did the unthinkable. He connected with Devard Darling for 42 yards, then hit McGahee for 11 yards and after one run by McGahee for a couple of yards, he went back to Devard Darling for a 27 yard touchdown. Four plays and the score was tied 27-27.

A little freaked out by this point, the Browns took over on their own 22-yard line with 3:26 left to play and go nowhere. They punt to the BAL 22-yard line with 1:49 left to play.

But then Boller again did the unthinkable. He led an 11 play drive that reached the CLE 29-yard line where Stover kicked a 47-yard field with only 31 seconds left to play. The Ravens had come back to lead the game 30-27.

And yet the Ravens opted to kick to Josh Cribbs who ran 39 yards to reach the CLE 43-yard line with 26 seconds left to play. A pass for six yards to Jurevicius was followed by an 18 yard strike to Braylon Edwards standing in the middle of the field with three defenders standing around him. The Browns called a time out with only three seconds left to play and Phil Dawson came out to try a 51 yard field goal. In the wind.

I have watched football for most of my 47 years. I have sat around many a living room or sports bar discussing crazy "what if" scenarios. This was a new one on me.

The kick had the height and veered on a straight trajectory for the left crossbar. It was a little outside and then curved inwards until it hit the goal post - doink!

And then it fell downwards, almost straight down and hit the crossbar - doink. A double doink. It then bounced up in the air, looked like it was momentarily suspended there by the collective breath of the crowd and then lazily fell in front of the crossbar. The referees standing on either side of the goal posts looked at each other, sort of shrugged their shoulders and signaled no good. The kick was short. The Ravens began running to their locker room but what those watching on television and later the replay booth both saw was that the ball actually fell behind the crossbar, hit the piping immediately behind it and then bounced forward back over the crossbar.

The first double doink was good! And I knew it would be good because one of my "what if" scenarios argued over a pitcher of beer in the past was about just that scenario (though it had to do with a hurricane blowing a duck into the ball which bounces it back through).

The Browns took the overtime kickoff down to the BAL 19-yard line where Dawson secured the win. But man... what a way to go into overtime!

What a great game and a sign of the changes in the NFL. The Browns are favored in Baltimore and win. And all it took was a double doink and a replay camera.

Hopefully most of you are heading towards your league playoffs and the Browns just showed proved what we all know. It doesn't matter how you got there - you just gotta get there.

Now get back to work...

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