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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 5
David Dorey
September 29 , 2008
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Brett Favre 289 6
Drew Brees 363 3
Matt Schaub 307 3
Tony Romo 300 3
Kurt Warner 472 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Larry Johnson 198 2
Steven Jackson 188 1
LaDainian Tomlinson 115 2
Adrian Peterson 101 2
Chris Johnson 75 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Laveranues Coles 105 3
Lance Moore 101 2
Greg Jennings 109 2
Muhsin Muhammad 147 1
Kevin Walter 76 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jason Witten 90 1
Zach Miller 95 1
Antonio Gates 58 1
Tony Gonzalez 47 1
Owen Daniels 87 0
Placekickers XP FG
Nick Novak 3 4
Shaun Suisham 2 4
Matt Prater 1 4
Rob Bironas 3 3
Josh Scobee 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
NY Jets 1 5 7
Tampa Bay 1 3 4
Cleveland 0 3 5
Buffalo 1 2 2
Tennessee 0 4 4

Week 4 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

The Boldin injury was plenty scary but appears to be okay.

Gus Frerotte (MIN) - Injured hand
Aaron Rodgers (GB) - Shoulder injury
Anquan Boldin (ARI) - Head trauma
Cliff Russell (DEN) - Sprained neck
Dane Looker (STL) - Concussion
Correll Buckhalter (PHI) - Lower back bruise

Like candy and flowers only from a dude

Steve Smith had his first big game of the year when he caught six passes for 96 yards and scored one touchdown and after his first score of the year, he emphatically spiked the ball which sent it into the stands. Smith then frantically tried to retrieve the ball which was amazingly tossed back to him. Having scored many times in his career, it wasn't that he wanted it for some trophy case. Instead he returned to the sidelines and presented it to Ken Lucas saying "This is for you".

The same Ken Lucas that was smacked in the nose by Smith and that was the reason for the two game suspension. Probably had Lucas crying all over again only they were happy tears this time.

A Tip of the Hat and a Piece of our Heart

Matt Bryant tragically lost his three month old son Tryson Bryant and had the funeral for him on Saturday which was attended by several members of the Buccaneer's organization. Bryant opted to play on Sunday and was true on all three of his field goals along with three extra points. For those of us who are fathers, you can imagine how tough that would have been and yet how determined that he was to do his job well.

Said Bryant after the game "I felt like this was the best way to come out and honor him... I wish he was here... he was here with me. He helped me out."

Hey, I remember you ... I... I ... I really missed you.

Many fantasy team owners wisely did not burn an early pick on quarterback and loaded up on other positions in their drafts knowing that they could grab a decent starter later. That worked pretty well for teams with Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler but several others have been disappointing until this week.

Matt Schaub - He only played in two games thanks to the hurricane and visiting the Titans and Steelers has made it hard to replicate his 260 yards per game from last year. Though he has yet to play at home this season, Schaub left Jacksonville with 307 yards and three touchdowns. Now all he has to do is remember how to connect with Andre Johnson and enjoy that his next three games are all at home.

Jake Delhomme - His offseason surgery wasn't a factor but not having Steve Smith was. After going against the tough defenses of the Chargers, Vikings and Bears, Delhomme finally faced the Falcons and came away with 294 yards and two touchdowns. Just like old times, Steve Smith caught six passes for 96 yards and scored a 56-yard touchdown while Muhsin Muhammad rekindled 2004 when he had eight receptions for 147 yards and a score. With three home games over the next four weeks, the Panthers can look forward to more classic Delhomme and Smith.

David Garrard - It did not help when the offensive line was rife with injuries and the dominating rushing attack went into hiding to start the season. Not did facing defenses like the Titans, Bills and Colts but at home against the Texans everything was all right again with Garrard who passed for 236 yards and one score and rushed seven times for 41 yards and another touchdown. Jerry Porter is starting to play after missing over a month with a hamstring injury and Matt Jones has already stepped up. An easier schedule after hosting the Steelers next week should ensure that Garrard posts consistent fantasy points each week.

Hey, isn't that him?

Since being benched by HC Scott Linehan, Marc Bulger has indicated that he will no longer play for Linehan and Bulger was the only active player for the Rams who did not play. But Bulger has refused to speak to the media which is probably in his best interest all things considered. After the game he managed to avoid the waiting media by leaving Edward Jones Dome by way of the visitors locker room. "Excuse me, pardon me, coming through..."

Early Bird Free Agents

RB Deuce McAllister - the Saints had been sitting on McAllister for three weeks but the power runner ran 20 times for 73 yards and one touchdown against the visiting 49ers. His only other playing time this year was in week two when he had two carries against the Redskins. Pierre Thomas has scored three times in the last two weeks but only had one carry for one yard with McAllister suddenly resuming a primary role. He also helped Bush turn in his worst game of the year.

WR Robert Meachem - The second year player had two catches for 99 yards and one score against the 49ers and while Lance Moore had seven catches for 101 yards and two scores, I would still prefer to have Meachem since Moore won't become more than a slot receiver at best while Meachem could displace David Patten at some point.

WR Reggie Brown - He's probably held in most leagues but in the smaller ones that cannot afford dead weight on the roster, it is safe to get Brown again. He had six catches for 79 yards to lead the Eagles against the Bears after failing to catch any passes in his return last week. If the Eagles keep losing running backs, McNabb is going to be throwing a lot from here on out.

Huddle Player of the Week

Brett Favre - The old man may not know how to say goodbye but sticking around for yet another year has allowed him a new personal best - six touchdowns in one game. Favre completed 24 of 34 for 289 yards against the visiting Cardinals and then peppered their secondary with scoring throws. He found Laveranues Coles (3), Jerricho Cotchery (2) and Dustin Keller all for touchdowns. He's never done this before and almost assuredly won't do it again but for those teams starting Favre on Sunday it was a six-pack of sweetness.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Matt Schaub 307 3 QB Philip Rivers 180 1
RB Montell Owens 41 1 RB Ryan Grant 16 0
RB Fred Jackson 55 1 RB Marion Barber 37 0
WR Lance Moore 101 2 WR Donald Driver 8 0
WR Steve Breaston 122 0 WR Andre Johnson 38 0
WR Arnaz Battle 120 0 WR T,J, Houshmandzadeh 50 0
PK Nick Novak 4 FG 3 XP PK Mason Crosby 3 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 112

Huddle Fantasy Points = 28

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Six teams were off this week and once again all but one morning game went to the home team and the three afternoon games all went to the visitor. Couple of nice upsets with the Chiefs beating the Broncos and the Redskins taking down the Cowboys. Before we get into the best game, here's ten random thoughts about Sunday.

1. I think last year was the YEAR OF THE DOMINATING TEAMS. You know, NE, IND, SD, JAX, DAL and GB all had 11 or more wins in the regular season. This looks more like the year of tilling the soil and figuring out who is good all over again. Just when you think Denver and Dallas might be a powerhouse this year, they lay down. Just when you think a team is chronically bad, they look better like the Chiefs or the Rams (for the first half or so).

2. Favre throwing for six scores means that the announcers are going to be talking about him for another month. They won't mention that the Jets have apparently lost all ability to rush the ball or even score the short touchdown.

3. After the first two weeks, there were plenty of people who came out as Larry Johnson or Steven Jackson haters. They knew that these two players were in bad situations that would not offer nearly the fantasy points that the stupid drafters would be getting. I just wonder what do those people talk about now? Where do those people go?

4. This has definitely been the year of the rookie running back. In all my 20 years of playing fantasy football, I cannot ever recall a season where so many rookie running backs were producing significant fantasy numbers. Each week there are at least four of them that should be starting in every league if not more. Steve Slaton is the newest rookie to start showing up in box scores and Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Jonathan Stewart are already automatic starters.

5. Ryan Grant's best game this year came in week one when he was still affected by his hamstring., In the successive weeks, he keeps getting healthier and running worse. Every week. Grant just rushed for 20 yards on 15 carries. In case you have forgotten (and no one would blame you) this is the same guy that scored 11 times last year though he only became a starter in week eight. Now if Aaron Rodgers ends up injured for any length of time Grant is going to become "benched until proven". Same offensive line though the schedule is a little tougher this year.

6. It's called a mixed bag. Kurt Warner passed for 472 yards and two scores which is outstanding unless you, like I, get negative three points per interception or lost fumble. Warner had three interceptions and lost three of the four fumbles that he had. 472 yards and two scores are great and -18 points for turnovers are killer. Actually it works that way in the NFL too.

7. Following your fantasy team during the day on Sunday is like checking on your stock portfolio - you should only do it once every great while and are probably better off not knowing until you need to know. Each week by halftime it seems we are all destined for out lowest scoring weeks ever and then the second half explodes. Seriously - check out the stats at half time on any Sunday and you will know what I mean. Earnest Graham had a nice 111 yard game with one score and a 5.6 YPC. By halftime, he had seven carries for eight yards and a 1.1 YPC. Tomlinson does that all the time. Scary stuff until the second half.

8. Maybe it was because six teams were on bye, but it did not really feel like a big fantasy week even though eight teams scored 30 or more points. Larry Johnson and Steven Jackson were the only running backs with a really big game and only five runners topped 100 rushing yards. None of the "stud" wideouts had a huge game though Owens, Boldin and Steve Smith did well. I am starting to think this is going to be the "Year of the Bench Points" because so often the top players in positions were likely not started this week. Lance Moore? Steve Breaston? Matt Schaub? It happens every week.

9. Herman Edwards had to get a little slack in the noose by beating the Broncos but I keep picturing that Russian Roulette scene from "The Deer Hunter" with Scott Linehan and Lane Kiffen sitting at the table and Al Davis is smoking a cigarette dressed in a Vietnamese military jump suit and screaming at them.

10. The winless teams are now the Rams (0-4), the Lions (0-3), the Texans (0-3) and the Bengals (0-4). I see it as a race between the Bengals and Rams for who is last to actually win a game, assuming both teams do because it always happens eventually. If I had to be a betting man, it would probably be the Rams since they still have yet to allowed less than 31 points in a game this year.

There were two big upsets this week and either could be argued as the game of the week but since we tend towards the biggest fantasy impact, there was only one game that clearly stood out in points. The over/under was 45 points and it missed that mark by only 46 points.

Game-O-The-Week

Arizona 35, Green Bay New York Jets 56

This was not only a points bonanza but it happened in a surreal way. Consider that the score at the end of the first half was 0-0 and the Cardinals had reached the Jets 9-yard line before Warner lost a fumble that was recovered by a team mate at the NYJ-32 yard line. The next play, Boldin lost a fumble. But the Jets just had Favre throw an interception so that they Cardinals could spend three downs trying to gain ten yards to score and settled for a field goal attempt that was blocked.

But the second quarter saw the Jets catch fire with Favre hitting Coles for a touchdown, then Warner threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and after a punt the Jets had the next Favre to Coles touchdown and then Warner threw an interception which led to a Feely field goal and then Warner lost a fumble that led to a Favre to Coles touchdown (III) and then since there was only ten seconds left, Warner immediately lost a fumble which let the Jets end the half with another field goal... whew... seriously that was a 34-0 run by the Jets thanks to a Cardinals continual turnover in every series but two - and one of those was a blocked field goal.

Now the weird part was that in the third quarter, the Cardinals took the first series and had Edgerrin James score a touchdown. The Jets punted and then the Cards had James score a touchdown (II). The Cardinals recovered an onsides kick and had Tim Hightower rush in a touchdown. By the end of the third quarter it was 34-21.

Then Favre finally got around to throwing his fourth touchdown of the game when he hit Jerricho Cotchery in the opening series in the fourth quarter so the Cardinals threw a touchdown to Anquan Boldin which forced the Packers to throw a touchdown to Cotchery (II) and prompted Warner to toss a touchdown to Jerheme Urban for a 48-35 margin which did not change because the next series saw Jay Feely miss a 44-yard field goal and then Warner lost a fumble so that Favre could throw a touchdown to Dustin Keller and add a two point conversion by Leon Washington. The game ended 56-34 when Warner threw an interception.

This was a tremendous fantasy game for all but the Thomas Jones owners who want to know how the Jets could score 56 points and yet he only had 18 runs for 46 yards and no touchdowns. You'd think that seven touchdowns would have at least one end up on the one-yard line. But no. Even the two-yard pass to Coles for one score never had a run on the eight play drive.

This just goes to show that everything happens in fits and jerks and never in a smooth way. This game was all Jets because Warner constantly lost the ball, then it was all Cardinals. Then it was an even game in the fourth quarter that produced huge fantasy points all over. But the game also ended with Anquan Boldin getting his helmet rocked when a Jet defender launched into him and knocked him unconscious. It was a very scary situation that required an ambulance to whisk him to the hospital and early reports have him recovering from this without lasting damage.

The Jets-Cardinals tilt shoveled out excitement, turnovers and points like it was a High School homecoming. And then Boldin's injury added a somber tone and showed in the end it is just a game and that caring for and about each other transcends everything.

And it was a week when Matt Bryant showed that the game can be used for bigger things even if it is only a game. There is more to football than just the points and there is more to life than just playing with a ball. It just takes scary and sometimes tragic things to remind us. We honor those around us by doing the best that we can because sometimes that is all that we can do.

Oh yes, and for Tryson Bryant - thanks for helping your Dad. He did really great.

Now get back to work...

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