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Tunnel Vision - Week 12
David Dorey
November 17 , 2008
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Cassel 400 3
Shaun Hill 213 3
Kerry Collins 230 3
Peyton Manning 320 2
Kurt Warner 395 1
Running Backs Yards TD
Joseph Addai 153 2
Marion Barber 153 1
Steve Slaton 156 1
Frank Gore 114 2
Pierre Thomas 144 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
T.J. Houshmandzadeh 149 1
Anquan Boldin 186 0
Justin Gage 147 2
Larry Fitzgerald 151 0
Dwayne Bowe 53 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Ben Watson 88 1
Dustin Keller 87 0
Donald Lee 33 1
Jerramy Stevens 84 0
Zach Miller 67 0
Placekickers XP FG
Adam Vinatieri 3 4
Neil Rackers 2 4
Mason Crosby 4 3
Matt Bryant 1 4
Stephen Gostkowski 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Oakland 1 3 2
Carolina 0 3 4
NY Giants 1 1 2
NY Jets 1 3 1
Arizona 0 2 4

Week 11 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Chatman was a scare but should be okay but otherwise the injuries didn't seem like much this week.

Brandon Jacobs - Sprained knee
Antonio Chatman - Neck injury
Earnest Graham - Leg injury
Jamarcus Russell - Leg injury
Tony Gonzalez - Sprained ankle

Okay, SIs, let's get this over with

The Eagles and the Bengals played to a 13-13 tie which is mind-boggling on at least four different levels. It was the first tie in the NFL since 2002 when Tommy Maddox (473 yards, 4 TDs) and Plaxico Burress (9-253, 2 TD) could not beat Michael Vick (194, 1 TD) and Shawn Jefferson (9-131, 1 TD) in a 34-34 game. If you are going to tie, at least make there be plenty of points involved. 13-13 is like you stopped trying after the first quarter.

Half a dozen of one, 186 of the other

Seattle showed the NFL that you do not have to pick which Cardinals wide receiver that you want to focus on and which one you will give lesser coverage because it just doesn't matter. Both Larry Fitzgerald (10-151) and Anquan Boldin (13-186) turned in monster games and the Cardinals got a bit of revenge for 2007 when the Seahawks ran up the score 42-21 in Seattle last year. Both receivers over 150 yards? Not a good day to be a cornerback.

The exact same thing only different

The Lions went to Carolina searching for their first win and of course they did not get it. But what they did get was cleat marks over the entire defense compliments of DeAngelo Williams (14-120, 2 TD) and Jonathan Stewart (15-130, 1 TD). That's not only 250 rushing yards between them, it only required 29 carries for a healthy 8.6 yards per carry allowed.

Gonna make it hard to get that first "W" giving up over eight yards per carry.

10 Random Thoughts

1. The divisions are really up for grab everywhere except for the AFC South, NFC East and NFC West (though nothing is guaranteed yet). The weird part of that is during week 16 when you have to worry about teams resting players for the NFL postseason, you might be without Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Kurt Warner, Brandon Jacobs, Plaxico Burress, Chris Johnson and LenDale White. When we drafted in the summer, shying away from Cardinals, Titans and Giants was not a common concern.

2. The nice part of later season is that some guys - particularly running backs - start to get into their groove and this year there were two players that were huge disappoints only to become one of the better performers here lately. Thomas Jones is ranked #5 in rushing yardage currently and has scored nine touchdowns but he only had one score in his first four games and had averaged only 60 yard per game. Now he has topped 100 yards in three of the last four including in New England last Thursday. Ryan Grant has been another player that was a dog to start the year but has picked up the pace with a score in three of the last four games and never less than 75 rushing yards in the last six games after a rather inauspicious start to the year. The weather is turning and both the Jets and Packers will be relying more on their ground game in the coming months.

3. Let's see - TB, TEN, MIN, @IND, NO and @GB. Now you tell me where the Lions are going to get a win. They do have four home games which would seem more likely (if anything seems likely at all) but how far below them does TB, TEN, MIN and NO need to play to drop a game to the Lions. Better yet, could the Titans be 11-0 and then lose in Detroit? Man... that would just be so... so.... hard to fathom. My guess is that it either happens with the Saints or the Lions grab that 0-16 record.

4. The Giants just look scary good. Like they are not really trying that hard. They waxed the Ravens defense by rushing 31 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns. That's 6.8 yards per carry. The Ravens had averaged only 56 rushing yards allowed per game until this week. The Giants are just cruising to the playoffs and there's nary a bump in the road so far.

5. I said it before, I say it again. The Titans are all about mojo. They trailed the Jaguars 14-3 at half time and ended up winning handily 24-14. Now Kerry Collins is just going to start throwing touchdowns every game? He only had three passing scores over the first eight games and now that they had two tougher road games in Chicago and Jacksonville, Collins has thrown five touchdowns in the last two weeks. The league has plenty to do just keeping up with the Titans rushing game so adding in some passing just hardly seems fair when the Titans already have the winning mojo this year. I still say week 16 against the Steelers is where it happens. If it happens.

6. HC Mike Singletary got his first win when the Rams showed up in San Francisco and laid an egg. The final score was 35-16 but it was 35-3 at halftime and the game was nothing but slop yards and scores for the Rams offense. That only leads to my wondering how the Rams got so bad so fast. Marc Bulger cannot get it done without the defense shuttling in third stringers and Torry Holt bears no resemblance to his old self. Remember how Holt was one of the best fantasy wideouts? Well, it is getting pretty dang hard to remember.

7. Start your Christmas shopping now. Get it out of the way. There - now when you wait too long at least it is not my fault. I told you to start shopping now like six weeks before Christmas so no excuse. And yes, that other guy on December 24th looking over a store display that appears to have been the site of a wrestling cage match will be me and I too will be mad I waited so long. But I thought about it now and want some meaningless credit for it.

8. We finally had a nice snowy game in Pittsburgh even though it did not really stick to the ground. But it serves as a reminder that maybe you should think about getting a dome or warm weather kicker before the waiver wire is closed. Kickers rarely have been big games in driving snow and wind. Don't lose your championship by 2 points because of a kicker.

9. The top six fantasy quarterbacks this week were Matt Cassel, Shaun Hill, Tyler Thigpen, Kerry Collins, Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper. Manning was the only one that was drafted this summer and that's because the others are all replacing the original starters. The waiver wire is your friend if you will use it. It is also a pretty sad statement on the passing game in the NFL when old studs are all duds.

10. For those of you in reception point leagues, this week was a big one for receptions with Boldin (13), Houshmandzadeh (12), Ward (11) and Fitzgerald (10) all hitting double digits. That's another argument for why to include receptions into your fantasy scoring rules because they are among the most predictable characteristics for wide receivers and therefore rewards skill more than random dumb luck that comes from catching a 75-yard touchdown because the safety and cornerback ran into each other. It makes for fairer leagues with less random luck involved in winning.

Early Bird Free Agents

Shaun Hill - The 49er quarterback has thrown for over 200 yards and two scores in each of the last two games. Not a bad guy to have on the roster for your fantasy playoffs since he'll face NYJ, @MIA and @STL so in the rest of your quarterbacks have to face some monster blizzard, at least he'd offer some warm weather points.

Gus Frerotte - Same as Hill in that he has been throwing for around couple of scores in recent games and has a really nice out schedule during the fantasy playoffs of @DET, @ARI and ATL. That could be tempting even if your normal starter has good weather.

Ronald Curry - The wideouts in Oakland have been nothing more than pathetic this year and the depth chart there keeps changing but at least Ronald Curry had six catches for 73 yards in Miami for a decent showing. Worth watching, maybe not buying into quite yet. Curry had lost his starting job earlier this season but may get it back,

Huddle Player of the Week

Matt Cassel - It just seems really wrong to award someone who backs up Tom Brady and the Patriots did lose their game to the Jets. But in the process, Cassel passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns largely on fantasy benches since it was the first time he actually turned in Brady-esque stats. And since it happened on Thursday, everyone was treated to the game. He may not repeat it again and he's hardly making anyone forget Brady, but for one week he was the guy to have.


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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Shaun Hill 213 3 QB Philip Rivers 159 0
RB Pierre Thomas 144 1 RB Willis McGahee 25 0
RB Peyton Hillis 70 2 RB Brian Westbrook 71 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 86 1 WR Marques Colston 30 0
WR Bryant Johnson 56 1 WR Chad Johnson 34 0
WR Brandon Jones 23 1 WR Antonio Gates 15 0
PK Neil Rackers 2 XP 4 FG PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG, 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 112

Huddle Fantasy Points = 26

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was just a screwy week that had no major upsets and yet the first tied game in the NFL since 2002. The Bengals could only tie the Eagles after five full quarters of play. How sad is that? Graham misses a 47-yard field goal at the end and the Eagles have the ignominy of apparently being just as good as the Bengals and yet no better.

The Saints were the only team in their division cellar that won this week. It was a kind of cruel week that way considering how close some of those worst record teams came - CIN (tied), HOU (+5), OAK (+2) and SEA (+6). This was a breather week of sorts since nothing that surprising happened and the best got a little better and the worst just stay worst. As a precursor to bad weather games in a month perhaps we saw five games end with neither team breaking 20 points. There are nine different teams that are on winning or losing streaks of four games or longer - that is amazing.

The Game-of-the-Week was hard to chose. There were plenty of close games but mostly without many points by either team and that doesn't play well in fantasy football. The overtime game between the Jets and Pats would be an outstanding choice but it was played back on Thursday so that happened four days ago by now. The Denver-Atlanta game was pretty good though the scoring was over with six minutes left to play. As it ends up, this was lull week for everyone to get ready for the run to the playoffs. I have to give a split award to two games this week that stood out for entirely different reasons. I feel dirty about this since the scoring was so scant but both games are worth some water cooler banter at work.

1. Philadelphia 13, Cincinnati 13

You have to recognize the only tie in the last six years. How stupid was this game? The score was a brutal 13-10 in favor of the Bengals with 9:35 left IN THE THIRD QUARTER. That means the successive 35 minutes and 25 seconds left to play only resulted in the field goal by David Akers with 5:22 left to play in the fourth quarter. The final 20:22 had no scores. It only featured a 47-yard field goal attempt by Shayne Graham that went wide left.

It was only appropriate that the game ended in a tie since truly neither team deserved to win this. Donovan McNabb threw for 339 yards and a score but had three interceptions. Brian Westbrook only ran for 60 yards and had just three catches for 11 yards. The only touchdown by the Eagles was scored by L.J. Smith while Houshmandzadeh (12-149) had the lone Cincy touchdown. Pretty much all the players sucked in this game though Cedric Benson had six catches for 37 yards with his 42 rushing yards in case you get receptions points. But hey - this was just a brutal game to watch and ended in a tie. A tie. That stupid column in the standings that now gets filled for the first time since 2002.

2. San Diego 10, Pittsburgh 11

This was not a great fantasy game, obviously, but served as a notice that global warming does not always work in the North Eastern U.S. where so many teams play. It snowed here and that always adds a fun element to watch but it only underscored how LaDainian Tomlinson (18-57, 1 TD) has just lost a gear. Philip Rivers had been throwing 300 yard games better than everyone but only had 159 yards and no scores with two interceptions. Hines Ward (11-124) was the start of the game along with Willie Parker (25-115) and yet the Steelers never had a touchdown. Just three field goals and a safety.

The Chargers opened the game with one of the best interceptions you will ever see by Troy Polamalu but then had Tomlinson score on the second series. They did not score again until a 17-play drive in the fourth quarter that stalled at the Pittsburgh four yard line and Nate Kaeding kicked a field goal since three tried inside the six-yard line were unsuccessful. But the Steelers then had a 15-play drive that stalled out at the San Diego four yard line and Willie Parker's touchdown run was nullified because of an offensive holding penalty.

The beauty of this game was that the Chargers got the ball on their on 21-yard line with five seconds left to play and once the Chargers were running their lateral-lateral-lateral play as the clock expired, Troy Polamalu came flying in to hit the ball and then score a 12-yard touchdown. But one of the laterals were deemed an illegal forward pass and the game was over.

Were you holding a betting ticket for the Steelers who were favored by four points, you probably did not like that last second ruling.

This was a good week with a lot of close games but not that many upsets. That could be because we are getting comfortable with who we think is good and who we think is bad.

And we should never be comfortable with that.

Now get back to work...

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