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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 9
David Dorey
October 27, 2008
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Philip Rivers 341 3
Drew Brees 339 3
David Garrard 342 2
Kurt Warner 381 2
Tyler Thigpen 300 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Brian Westbrook 209 2
Leonard Weaver 129 2
LaDainian Tomlinson 170 1
Leon Washington 101 2
DeAngelo Williams 123 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Santana Moss 140 2
Roddy White 113 2
Steve Smith 117 2
Donnie Avery 163 1
Anquan Boldin 93 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 96 1
Tony Gonzalez 79 1
Kevin Boss 34 1
Billy Miller 82 0
Chris Cooley 74 0
Placekickers XP FG
Shaun Suisham 1 4
Dan Carpenter 2 3
John Carney 1 4
Nate Kaeding 3 3
Phil Dawson 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
NY Giants 0 5 4
Seattle 1 5 2
Kansas City 1 1 3
Miami 0 2 4
Philadelphia 0 2 3

Week 8 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

There's bound to be more but a spin through all the games only found these and none are a big deal:

Jason Witten - Rib injury
L.J. Smith - Concussion
Josh Reed - Achilles Tendon injury

You are done here... and don't forget your bike...

The new interim head coach for the 49ers is Mike Singletary who lost in his debut but put a little stamp of "MINE" on the team when Vernon Davis was called for unnecessary roughness. Davis came off the field and apparently had a case of "the wrong attitude there Mister" and was sent immediately to the showers by Singletary. Davis was walking off when Singletary called him back - to get his helmet. Singletary even discussed it in his post game press conference as not wanting to have someone on the field that was not going to be someone he could rely on and that would have a negative attitude. Singletary explained it all simply enough - "I am old school".

This could be fun. Really fun. Catch his press conference if you can. You have to like this guy.

And what are you laughing at, Mister?

Clinton Portis joins O. J. Simpson as the only running backs who have ever gained at least 120 rushing yards over five consecutive games on two different occasions. Portis has been a rushing machine but when he was apparently sulking on the sideline because Shaun Alexander was in, he received a heated berating from head coach Jim Zorn on the importance of not being a greedy gus.

Congrats on your record, Clinton. Now shut the heck up...

10 Random Thoughts

1. I cannot wait for tonight. The Colts and Titans on Monday night football where in week eight the Colts could conceivably fall to 3-4 on the season and be FOUR games behind the Titans who have never passed the ball more than your average Jr. High football team. This should be a fascinating game and not just because I own Chris Johnson on almost every one of my fantasy teams.

2. Why teams passed on Kurt Warner in recent years and why the Cards tried to not use him is beyond me. Warner is in the perfect offense for his skills and has what could be argued to be the best three wideout set in the entire NFL. He passed for 381 yards and two scores in Carolina. That makes is six straight weeks with two or more scores. For a guy that the Leinart team took late in drafts (if they were smart), he has really paid off.

3. DeAngelo Williams had 108 yards on 17 carries and scored once against the Cards this week. Jonathan Stewart only had eight runs for 10 yards. That ruined the pattern that Williams was better on the road and Stewart had more fantasy value at home. Stewart has really stepped back lately in his quest to become the primary back while Williams continues to run better. Most fantasy owners wanted to see Stewart step up and claim the job outright but that is just never going to happen. He may become the primary at some point in the future but this offense will mix and match.

4. There have been eleven safeties so far this year. But there were only six during the first seven weeks and it is not uncommon to go a week or two without any defense recording a safety. On Sunday - there were FIVE. The Giants, Chiefs, Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers all had an extra two points on the scoreboard even though they are a combination of the best and worst defenses in the league. People in London are probably still wondering what the heck happened at the end of the game when Brees ran backwards and threw the ball out of the back of the endzone.

5. I sometimes wish I would just wait until games are over before looking at them. The first slate of games on Sunday had upsets happening in almost every game but then it settled down and the only real upset was Miami over the Bills. It never fails to amaze me how much scoring happens in the second half.

6. Now that the Rams are no longer under Linehan, are we supposed to buy that Marc Bulger is going to return to his old productive ways? Bulger had not thrown for more than 184 yards this year until his 301 yards in New England thanks in no small part to Donnie Avery's 163 yards and one touchdown that covered 69 yards. Nah - Torry Holt only had three receptions for 28 yards. And yet you know everyone that drafted him is still starting him every week.

7. The Chiefs have to be more disappointed than a blind man on a nude beach. Thigpen throws for 280 yards and two scores and the Chiefs post 24 points in a road game. Bowe has 102 yards and Gonzo turns in 79 yards and a score. And yet they still lose even though Brett Favre threw three interceptions and one was returned for a 91-yard touchdown. The Bengals have reached 0-8 but they are not really even in games so much this year. The Lions are 0-7 and are in games only because no one cares anymore and just wake up late in the game and beat them. But the Chiefs somehow have made several opponents work for their win.

8. The beauty of the NFL is that rookies come in with varying degrees of success and pedigree and sign a contract related to what they did in college. But what matters is what is produced and you have to love guys like Roddy White who was drafted in 2005 with the 1.27 pick of the Falcons. Behind Braylon Edwards, Troy Williamson, Mike Williams, Matt Jones and Mark Clayton. And he has blown those guys away. Other than Edwards, none can remotely touch White who was drafted to a team with Michael Vick as the quarterback. Last year he has 1202 yards and six touchdowns. This year he already has 679 yards and five touchdowns which puts him on a pace to gain over 1500 yards and 11 touchdowns with a true rookie quarterback still figuring out the NFL game.

9. Matt Schaub started out slowly as predicted - starting out @PIT, @TEN and @JAC was no cakewalk and the Ravens were supposed to be sandwiched in there until Hurricane Ike damaged Reliant Stadium. And there were some calls for Schaub to get benched but all he has done in the last four games played was to throw for nine touchdowns and remain above 268 passing yards every week. The schedule is about to get tougher but the Texans have their passing game down already. Schaub was a nice backup pick in the summer but has really shined this last month. And Andre Johnson over the last four games has caught 41 passes for 593 yards. This team may not win enough and there are plenty of questions about the defense and rushing game but Schaub to Johnson has been almost unstoppable.

10. Maybe it is time to put your J.T. O'Sullivan dreams to bed. True - he has a cool three letter name now (JTO) and he plays in a Martz offense that loves to throw. But he now has Mike Singletary who ignored the NFL high ten interceptions and five lost fumbles that JTO had spawned this year. At least until he threw a pass that was returned for a 75-yard touchdown by the Seahawks and Singletary had his "Oh, hell no" epiphany.

Early Bird Free Agents

Running backs are a mishmash this week with the only interesting free agents being short term solutions at best like Aaron Stecker in New Orleans (no rushing but five catches for 27 yards if you are in a PPR league. Antonio Pittman filled in for Steven Jackson and rushed for 83 yards on 19 carries in New England but is nothing more than a fill-in. What is actually worse is that some backfields are expanding from two to three player like in Baltimore.

Donnie Avery - Sort of a tweener. In a big league he is already taken and yet not consistent enough to warrant starting but in a small league he won't score enough to warrant a start either. But he is definitely worth owning to see if he progresses more and makes the shift to being a worthy WR3 each week. He has over 60 yards in three games in a row and scored in the last two so it is getting hard not to consider him a starter. Here is the deal though - you want Avery in the fantasy playoffs since he goes against ARI, SEA and SF. Maybe make a trade in a week or so. Ted Ginn Jr. had a monster week too but he hasn't given the signs he is actually ready to be an every week guy like Avery may become.

Reggie Williams - Matt Jones has been the primary there all year (such as it exists) and Williams has been really quiet after a big 2007 season where he led the team with receiving touchdowns. Williams just caught a score this week and that alone hardly compensates for being invisible until now. But keep an eye on him to see if next week the same thing happens. He had great chemistry with Garrard last year and is worth a casual eye to see if they reprise 2007.

Shaun Hill - As mentioned above, Interim HC Mike Singletary gave JTO the yank after his 11 interception of the year was returned for a touchdown. The 49ers have a decent fantasy playoff slate with NJY, @MIA and @STL coming up. If you have the room, Hill could be a prudent grab and wait. Playing for one half, Hill passed for 173 yards and one score against the Seahawks.

Huddle Player of the Week

Brian Westbrook - The NFL's favorite little guy once again proved the only small thing about him is the footprints he leaves on defenders' backs. Westbrook rushed 22 times for a league high 160 rushing yards this week, scored twice and added his obligatory six receptions for 42 yards. It could be argued that Westbrook has never been drafted too early by anyone every. The Eagles offense revolves around him and so do a number of fantasy teams.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Tyler Thigpen 300 2 QB Ben Roethlisberger 189 1
RB Leonard Weaver 129 2 RB Edgerrin James 17 0
RB Leon Washington 101 2 RB Julius Jones 31 0
WR Donnie Avery 163 1 WR Terrell Owens 33 0
WR Demetrius Williams 70 1 WR Hines Ward 30 0
WR Jason Hill 38 0 WR Plaxico Burress 15 0
PK Shaun Suisham 4 FG 1 XP PK Jeff Reed 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 121

Huddle Fantasy Points = 26

Sunday's Couch Commentary

It continues to be striking just how many home teams are winning games. Nine of 13 were home wins yesterday and for some reason the afternoon games had 3 of 4 going to the away teams and the early slate went 8-1 for the home team (and we all new WAS would win in DET anyway). The scoring was generally down this week with only three games featuring a score of 30 or more points. What was even odder was that seven games were decided by one touchdown or less and yet there were no overtime games or any team that won in the final minute. The winners got a lead and barely hung on. The Jets did win with just a minute left to play but that was only after Favre did what he could to give the game away with three interceptions against the visiting Chiefs.

I like the game of the week not because it was a furious win in the final second, but because it had plenty of points and after a gas crisis, stock market crash and negative political campaigning. this is how we should appear to the world at large.

San Diego 32, New Orleans 37 in London at Wembley Stadium

Well pass me the roast beef potato chips and draw me a pint.

The wonderful part of this game is that it was nothing like the 2007 game played there. A year ago, we sent the Giants (who we had no idea would win the Super Bowl) to play the Dolphins (who had become the worst team in the NFL and held the title until this year). Those teams played in the rain and the Giants went up 13-0 at halftime. Then they all drank warm beer and hit on Page 3 girls for the second half while the Dolphins scored 10 points to make it look like a game. It was not. This year, it was. Oh yes, and why doesn't the New York Times have Page 3 girls?

This year was a great game to symbolize american football. And a much greater difference between it and rugby than they saw in 2007. This was a passing extravaganza and the NFL could not have asked for a more exciting game for the fans who had no chance of understanding all the rules.

Soccer is the obvious sport of choice there and one that routinely comes up short on the scoring. The argument given is that we just give touchdowns six points instead of one but in this game there were 20 separate scoring events. How many seasons does it take to get 20 scores in soccer? True, that was eight touchdowns, three field goals, eight extra points and a safety. But you cannot consider the extra point as the automatic part of a touchdown because the Saints treated them to an actual botched extra point.

The first quarter was slow going with only a trading of field goals and those came on the first series for each team. But the second quarter had Devery Henderson with a 12-yard touchdown catch and later Deuce McAllister ran in another score for a 17-3 lead. The Chargers finally got a score from LaDainian Tomlinson but the Saints came back with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore. The quarter ended with the Chargers scoring a touchdown on a 12-yard catch by Antonio Gates. 23-17 at halftime should have been a far bigger treat than the 13-0 they saw last year.

The Saints extended their lead to 30-17 when Brees found Mark Campbell for a one-yard score and the Chargers closed out the third quarter with just a field goal to bring the score to 30-20. It went to 37-20 at the start of the fourth quarter when Mike Karney bulled in a touchdown.

The Chargers scored a field goal and a touchdown on the next two series for a 37-30 difference with 7:15 left to play. But where a big comeback big could have continued the Chargers threw an interception on the next series at the NO 32-yard line with 1:18 left to play and after four plays, Drew Brees had drained the clock to only 14 seconds left to play when he lined up on a fourth and two on his own 26-yard line and then ran backwards and then tossed the ball out of the back of the endzone for a safety before getting tackled. It was a heads up play that confuses a lot of American fans. Not sure that soccer has any sort of sacrifice play but I am thinking probably no.

It was a passing treat to the British fans and both quarterbacks passed for around 340 yards and three touchdowns. Tomlinson looked back in form with 19 carries for 105 yards and he finally showed up as a receiver again with five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. If you had a player in this game, you likely got some decent points all except for the Marques Colston owners (2-56 yards) who are getting plenty tired of waiting for their third round pick to start paying off.

It was a great game to show the world with plenty of scoring, long plays and pretty much every kind of scoring, rushing and passing play used. There was an interception and a couple of lost fumbles. The weather held and for a few hours in England, America was more than the source of bad mortgages, plunging stocks and a bickering political campaign that will affect the world. We were just a game played at a high level that hopefully they enjoyed more than the muddy slog of a game last year.

Another great week in the books and hopefully your fantasy team is steaming towards the playoffs. If not, then gather your team together and introduce them to their new coach, Mike Singletary.

"We're going Old School, Babeee!"

Now get back to work...

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