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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 6
David Dorey
October 6 , 2008
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Aaron Rodgers 313 3
Kyle Orton 334 2
Kurt Warner 250 2
Eli Manning 267 2
Peyton Manning 247 2
Running Backs Yards TD
DeAngelo Williams 148 3
Brandon Jacobs 145 2
Clinton Portis 158 1
Steve Slaton 96 2
Ronnie Brown 133 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
T.J. Houshmandzadeh 85 2
Roddy White 132 1
Andre Johnson 131 1
Lee Evans 122 1
Randy Moss 113 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Chris Cooley 109 1
Jason Witten 79 1
Greg Olsen 87 0
Dallas Clark 81 0
Tom Santi 27 1
Placekickers XP FG
John Carney 5 3
Stephen Gostkowski 3 3
Shaun Suisham 2 3
Matt Prater 1 3
Neil Rackers 5 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Chicago 1 4 2
Indianapolis 1 2 3
Arizona 0 5 4
Patriots 0 1 3
49ers 0 5 2

Week 5 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Bit more injuries than usual though none seemed to be really bad.

Chris Chambers - Leg injury
Trent Edwards - Concussion
Brian Griese - Elbow injury
Lamont Jordan - Leg injury
Domenik Hixon - Concussion
Eddie Royal - Sprained ankle
Jon Kitna - Back spasms
D.J. Hackett - Sprained knee
Dan Orlovsky - Sprained ankle
Matt Schaub - Flu
Matt Hasselbeck - Hyperextended knee

Wait... now who is that?

In fantasy football, most leagues have only one starting quarterback per team so your points tend to be higher if you can get a guy that actually plays for the entire game. Unfortunately, that obvious fact was lost on seven NFL teams that opted for a different quarterback by the end of the game (and make that eight if you Schaub owners want to count Rosenfels).

BUF - Trent Edwards only lasted for three passes and then J.P. Losman took over to throw for a score and rush in another.

DET - Jon Kitna made it though almost half the game before back spasms sent him to the sideline so that Dan Orlovsky could come in and basically do no better.

KC - No one started Damon Huard unless they had dreams of a game with all trash time but Huard finally was just replaced by Tyler Thigpen in the shutout. Wow. Ugly game.

NYG - Eli Manning was efficient and threw for 267 yards and two scores while Brandon Jacobs ran for two more. David Carr came in to throw just one pass for a five yard touchdown.

SEA - Matt Hasselbeck had Bobby Engram and Deion Branch back but Matt Hasselbeck had to leave in the third quarter and was replaced by Seneca Wallace.

TB - Brian Griese hurt his elbow early in the third quarter and let Jeff Garcia replicate the mediocre showing. No scores here despite playing against Denver.

WAS - Jason Campbell played the whole game and had 176 yards and no scores. Sure, there was a passing score but that was Antwaan "I did this in college!" Randle El throwing to Chris Cooley.

Unsafe at Any Speed

It's bad enough that there are so many committee backfields out there where the primary back has his stats watered down by another running back each game. While it is tough to get those decreased points, what is worse is how many backfields there are where you cannot even rely on who the primary back is week to week.

Carolina Panthers - Since week one, the safe player to use was the rookie Jonathan Stewart who had scored at least once in each of the last three games and had looked more productive coming in later in the game and tearing up the tired defense. All DeAngelo Williams did was to never score and average around 40 yards per game. And then on Sunday against the visiting Chiefs, Williams racked up 148 yards and three touchdowns versus Stewart's 80 yards and no scores. And this after reports that Stewart would be used to open games. Next week? Flip a coin.

Detroit Lions - After two weeks of minimal success by the rookie Kevin Smith, the Lions opted to use Rudi Johnson who exploded against the 49ers. Smith only had three carries for 14 yards that week while Johnson rushed for 83 yards on 14 carries and added three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. That sent everyone scurrying to the waiver wire to pick up Johnson during the Lions bye week. And on Sunday - Smith still the starter with eight carries for 31 yards and one touchdown and four receptions for 25 yards while Johnson only had five runs for 23 yards and three catches for nine. There wasn't that much here anyway and now it's just a guessing game.

I'm not even going to bother with the Patriots since Corey Dillon took all consistency with him when he retired. Kevin Faulk? Two scores? Man...

Early Bird Free Agents / Persons of Interest

Before you write a comment or send me an email, discussing free agents is always hard since a 10 team league with rosters of 16 uses 160 players and a 16 team league with rosters of 18 uses 288. So what is a free agent in one league may have been drafted mid-draft in another. I am just talking about interesting guys here - you decide if this is a free agent or not in your leagues.

Marc Bulger - The Trent Green experiment left with Scott Linehan and Bulger is the starter again. He was dropped in a lot of leagues and maybe he will continue to offer sub-par numbers but the offense is being installed and Steven Jackson is getting better. Bulger knows how to play. Plus all I would care about is owning him in the fantasy playoff weeks when he has @ARI, SEA, SF. Maybe he won't suck by then.

Kevin Faulk - He just scored two touchdowns and ... Just kidding. He'll do that again in about a year. But someone in your league will grab him off the waiver wire. If I were there, we could roll our eyes at each other and then spend the rest of the day constructing trades that tries to rob the other person out of a good player.

Warrick Dunn - I would say it is a lock that he would be taken in every league but in a small one I play in he was there on the waiver wire last week and I ended up grabbing him and using him. He got me 87 yards and three catches. I'd rather have him than Earnest Graham but for some reason no one wants to believe in Dunn.

Cedric Benson - He is a running back so he probably was scooped from every waiver wire last week but he looked at least as good as Chris Perry, didn't fumble and Perry is running on borrowed time by staying healthy for five weeks already.

Steve Breaston - Figure Anquan Boldin will miss at least one more week and the Cardinals play Dallas next week. Dallas is plenty scared of Larry Fitzgerald (with good reason) so ergo Breaston is interesting next week. He had six catches for 96 yards against the Bills being not-Fitzgerald on Sunday.

Huddle Player of the Week

DeAngelo Williams - Talk about a surprise. Over the last three weeks, Williams had seen the rookie Jonathan Stewart take over a more primary role with four touchdowns scored and a 4.4 yard rushing yard average. Williams had only managed 36 carries for 115 yards and no scores with a 3.2 yard average. So on Sunday against the Chiefs, fans expected a nice game out of Stewart with enough left over for even Williams to do something. And all Williams did was to rush for 123 yards on 20 carries for two touchdowns and add a 25-yard catch for a third score. It was like nothing he had done this year and perhaps he will not repeat it but on Sunday, he was better than every NFL player in fantasy points. And probably on the bench for most leagues too...

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Kyle Orton 334 2 QB Donovan McNabb 196 0
RB Kevin Faulk 61 2 RB Fred Taylor 25 0
RB Tim Hightower 45 2 RB Larry Johnson 2 0
WR Domenik Hixon 102 1 WR Calvin Johnson 16 0
WR Sinorice Moss 45 2 WR Brandon Marshall 25 0
WR Greg Camarillo 68 1 WR Chad Johnson 43 0
PK John Carney 3 FG 5 XP PK Jason Hanson 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 117

Huddle Fantasy Points = 17

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Ten Random Thoughts about this week:

1. I think the Titans have some major good mojo going on this year and that is a great thing. They are legitimate playoff contenders with a 5-0 record and are getting it done largely with a great defense. The only problem to me is that this is too early to have good mojo on your side since it never lasts for 20 weeks. The Titans win but it always takes a bit of time figuring out how.

2. The Chiefs look like they might have some life this year but then laid face down for the Panthers. I don't mean they just lost. I mean Larry Johnson ran for two yards on seven carries and they quit trying. The Panthers never had won by so many points ever (34-0). The Chiefs have to be deflated after that. They have their win on the season - what do they have to look forward to now? I might start one at home if I had not options but the Chiefs are swirling clockwise down the bowl. The Texans are still fighting. The Bengals are still fighting (which is astounding really). The Lions are probably still fighting but it's so hard to tell anymore since they are mostly fighting each other. No wait... The Rams are not fighting yet. Not really. They are on bye devising some way they can prevent opponents from scoring 31 points. No luck so far.

3. Have to be very impressed with Matt Ryan. 16 of 26 for 194 yards and two scores in Green Bay. Looked composed and threw very accurate passes. He's not Peyton Manning quite yet but then again neither is Peyton laely. Kind of wish I had grabbed Ryan in my dynasty league but I swore off rookie quarterbacks. Yeah, Michael Turner is good but that Ryan kid looks like "the franchise" already.

4. Why is Marvin Harrison playing? It is pretty clear by now that he is not even Harrison-lite. Sure he had eight catches for 76 yards in week one and since then he had nine catches for 88 yards over the last three games. Anthony Gonzalez needs the work and Harrison is merely playing out the twilight of his twilight. Twinkle, twinkle little star, move the heck over and let Gonzalez start. It's just weird to watch. Like seeing a Muhammad Ali interview.

5. Okay, okay, okay. Take everything I just said about Marvin Harrison and then apply it to the entire San Diego Chargers team. What happened here? It's like watching an old world war II movie where the hero is flying a B-29 loaded with bombs over Berlin and some guy keeps poking his head into the cockpit - "just lost an engine...There goes another... and make that three.... wow - we are like the the most explosive glider ever!" Not to disrespect the Miami Dolphins who were - let's remember - 1-15 last year. But Tomlinson runs for 35 yards on 12 carries? Rivers passes for 159 yards and one score? Gates has one catch for 12 yards? Really? For the record, they were just spanked by Pennington, Brown and Camarillo.

6. The Washington Redskins are doing no favors to every other team that has a new coach and new schemes being installed. They looked horrible - almost laughable - during the preseason and were whooped by the Giants in the opener. But they are on a four game winning streak that includes both Dallas and Philly and their next three games are against - get this - STL, CLE and @DET. Outside of Clinton Portis the offense has been good but never great and yet the defense has been solid at worst and surprising more often than not. Have to tip the hat to what they have accomplished in a short amount of time. Imagine - what if Danny Snyder actually got it right finally?

7. Now the question of the week in Houston will be if Sage Rosenfels should remain as the starting quarterback when Matt Schaub gets over the flu. Rosenfels connected with Andre Johnson for nine catches and 131 yards with one touchdown. Sure, he lost two rather critical (AKA "game losing") fumbles but he passed for 246 yards and got the ball to Andre Johnson finally. In fairness to Schaub who is currently throwing up into a hospital bucket right now, it was the Texans first home game. Five weeks into the season, the Texans finally played at home. Matt's got a job just as soon as he can hold down solid food.

8. Matt Cassel may have saved his job with that one 66-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss. See - that wasn't so hard. You just throw it farther than the defenders can run and see if Moss can get to it. Cassel passed for 259 yards and two scores and even got Wes Welker eight receptions for 73 yards. WIth @SD, DEN and STL coming up, Cassel should continue to throw with some success.

9. Rod Marinelli's post game interviews are only slightly less uncomfortable to watch than when your mom used pencil and paper to explain to you about menstruation (just so you would know and be traumatized). He joins Herman Edwards and Gary Kubiak as the head coaches least likely to take a phone call from the owner. If I were one of them, I would come out wearing a suit of armor. Either that or a shirt that read "CALL MY AGENT AT (555) ..."

10. This is shaping up to be a fun yet frustrating year. Lot less consistency across the board from players and teams and the biggest newsworthy event so far has been the reintroduction of the single wing formation. I'll be reviewing the data in a few weeks, but it appears that there is a bigger than usual difference between playing at home and on the road than we had last year.

Wow - some nice upsets on Sunday and a few near misses. Seven road teams won versus six home teams and the Saints can even it up on Monday night. The Titans are on a roll and the Falcons are for real. The Chargers and Seahawks and Packers and Jaguars are not rising up to last year. The Cowboys and Colts won but neither team is gloating about it. The Chiefs turned in the first shutout of the year.

Game-O-The-Week

There were six contests that had at least 30 points scored by one team and that Miami win over the Chargers is mighty tempting though short on points. The GOTW has to be the most representative game from the weekend, the one that makes you say "this ain' t the NFL I knew last year."

Atlanta 27, Green Bay 24

The Packers were favored by seven in this game and only that few because Aaron Rodgers was going to play with a bad shoulder. Here was a chance for Rodgers to gut out a start just like "he with no name" would have. The Packers were at home and faced a rebuilding Falcons team that had looked good against bad teams visiting Atlanta but that shouldn't be too much trouble to dispatch. This was a great chance for Ryan Grant to finally get back on track at home against a below-average defense. Plus this could make up for the loss to the visiting Cowboys back in week three.

But this game started with the Falcons driving 81 yards and scoring a touchdown when Matt Ryan connected with tight end Justin Peelle. Just like that, the Packers were already down by seven points. And the Falcons had the audacity to go for it on fourth and one instead of taking the field goal.

Not to worry. The next series had Aaron Rodgers getting sacked and Ryan Grant gained three yards. It was three and out and the Falcons took over on their own 39-yard line. And after four runs by Michael Turner and a few receptions by Jerious Norwood and Roddy White, the Falcons settled for a 42-yard field goal. They were ahead 10-0 with 4:20 left to play in the first quarter. There is sad, and then there is sad wearing a hat that looks like cheese.

The Packers went three and out on the next series because Ryan Grant had two runs for four yards. They punted. The Packers finally held the Falcons and took over on their own 13-yard line when suddenly Grant and Brandon Jackson started running better and they reached the Atlanta 44-yard line where Favre Rodgers hit Donald Driver for a touchdown. 10-7 and a collective whew from the stadium.

Yeah, but those pesky Falcons drove 90 yards and hit Roddy White for a 22 yard touchdown. 17-7.

The Packers reached the Atlanta 30-yard line where they had to accept a missed field goal by Mason Crosby. Wide right. That would actually figure in at the end. The first half concluded with the Falcons series that ended around midfield. Roddy White did not have a catch in the second half but turned in eight receptions for 132 yards and the one score from just the first half.

The Packers took over from the opening kickoff at their 9-yard line and they reached as far as the ATL 44-yard line before a holding penalty backed them up and they eventually punted. Falcons held it for a few minutes and punted. The Packers took over at their own 2-yard line and drove to the ATL 32-yard line where Mason Crosby hit a 50-yard field goal.

The fourth quarter opened with the Falcons leading 17-10 and Matt Ryan threw an interception that the Packers recovered on their own 20-yard line. A quick strike to Tory Humphrey went for 37 yards then Grant ran for 13 yards. Rodgers hit Humphrey again for five yards and then found Greg Jennings standing in the endzone for a 25-yard score. This knotted the score 17-17 and appeared to be the final turning of the tide.

Except the Falcons returned the kickoff 54 yards to the GB 48-yard line and after six plays had Jason Elam kick a 41 yard field goal for a 20-17 lead with only 7:23 left to play. Time for Rodgers to step up.

Taking over at the GB 20-yard line, the Packers gained 28 yards but lost 27 yards on three different penalties to reach the GB 21-yard line with 4:42 left to play. This is when Rodgers threw an interception that gave the Falcons the ball on the GB 19-yard line. After three plays, Michael Turner bulled in from the two-yard line for a 27-17 score with 3:39 left to play.

Rodgers led a nine-play, 72 yard drive to throw a touchdown to Donald Lee with 2:00 left to play. Now with the score 27-24, the Packers needed to get the onsides kick and then get at least a field goal. Or a touchdown to win. Or they could ... no wait.

Crosby kicked the worst onside kick ever and it was recovered by Atlanta. That crafty bounce high into the air never happened - it just went about 15 yards in the air directly to a defender. And all they needed to do was have Michael "I am bigger than you" Turner get one first down and the game was over. In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, they called it a trap game. Yeah... uh-huh... go with that why don'cha?"

It is doubtful that the Packers were all looking ahead to next week when they go to Seattle. I'll call it what it was. A team that played over their head with a good schedule last year is settling back while a bad team is not only playing far better, but much hungrier as well. These are not the Packers or Falcons from last year. Nor are the Dolphins, Chargers, Patriots, Titans and so on. We don't have the clear cut best anything this year so far. Who is the best RB? Peterson? Tomlinson? Turner? Portis? The player with the most receptions right now? #1 Jason Witten (35), #2 Brandon Marshall (34 and missed a game), #3 Reggie Bush (31 and plays tonight).

Yeah, it is a transition this season but where ever we end up, you can be sure there will be the studs in each position - we just may not quite recognize them yet even though it is five weeks into the season. And just think - Ryan Grant was still on the waiver wire this time last year.

Now get back to work...

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