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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 13
David Dorey
November 24 , 2008
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Cassel 429 4
Trent Edwards 311 4
Chad Pennington 341 4
Tony Romo 341 3
Tyler Thigpen 269 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Michael Turner 117 4
Matt Forte 146 2
DeAngelo Williams 120 1
Warrick Dunn 127 1
Leon Washington 84 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Randy Moss 125 3
Terrell Owens 213 1
Isaac Bruce 125 1
Steve Smith 168 0
Kevin Walter 93 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez 113 1
Kevin Boss 48 1
Heath Miller 44 1
Jerramy Stevens 29 1
Derek Schouman 25 1
Placekickers XP FG
Rian Lindell 6 4
Nick Folk 3 4
John Carney 4 3
Ryan Longwell 3 3
Stephen Gostkowski 6 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Ravens 1 2 5
Minnesota 1 4 5
Tampa Bay 2 4 3
Chicago 0 5 4
Buffalo 1 3 2

Week 12 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Drew Stanton - Concussion
Marc Bulger - Concussion
Plaxico Burress - Hamstring injury
Greg Camarillo - Knee Sprain
Sammy Morris - Leg injury
Desmond Clark - Knee sprain
Correll Buckhalter - Knee sprain

The Beginning of The End? Or just The End?

After completing 8 of 18 for 59 yards and two interceptions against the Ravens, Donovan McNabb was benched and Kevin Kolb became the starter in the second half. He only completed 10 of 23 for 73 yards and two interceptions but managed to set an NFL record in his first playing time by throwing an interception eight yards deep into the endzone that was returned for 108 yards and a new record.

The switch just makes what we all knew official. McNabb is done in Philly and the Eagles will be moving into a new era next year. What that may look like remains to be seen but it won't look much like the last decade. McNabb didn't know teams could tie last week and has seven turnovers in the last two weeks. They just don't make a Chunky Soup for this kind of thing.

Oh yes, and we'll get to rehash this whole thing on Thursday night when they host the Cardinals. That is unless the turkey aftershock has us all asleep.

And then there were none... well... okay, still one.

The Titans finally fell from perfection when the New York Jets won easily 34-13 on the road in Tennessee. That leaves the Titans only three games ahead of the Colts and two games in the lead for the #1 bye in the AFC playoffs.

But the NFL still has perfection thanks to the Lions getting beaten 20-38 to the Buccaneers. Now there is a team that can continue their pursuit of a perfect 0-16 record and have a realistic shot at it. The Buccaneers ended 0-14 in their first season in 1976. It may have taken 32 years, but we may have a contender.

Tim... Tom... Bob.. what was that other guy's name again?

Matt Cassel has passed for over 400 yards in the last two games. That Tom Bundchen-Brady guy has never throw for 400 yards in an NFL regular season game. Never. The job is obviously Brady's when he returns but hopefully Cassel can give him a few pointers.

10 Random Thoughts

1. Every year we have a week where a shocking number of road teams win and it usually happens between weeks ten and 13. This year, it was week 12 since 11 of 15 games all went to the road teams. The week washed away the perfect record of the Titans, had the Raiders throttling the Broncos in Denver, and the Pats crushed the Fins in Miami after losing to them in Foxboro. Now that we have cleared that hiccup, the games usually become more predictable since the drive for the playoffs start to matter most in matchups.

2. I hate to say it but for once, everyone who drafted Brian Westbrook paid too much. Or picked him far too early. It is the first time this has ever happened since he's typically been an incredible value in drafts but 2008 has finally seen that go to the wayside. He's already missed three games instead of his traditional one. and his rushing yards are almost always under 60 yards and worse yet -he doesn't catch many passes anymore. For the last three weeks, Westbrook hasn't caught more than three passes in a game and that hurts bad in a PPR league. He's been a great one in the past but he's obviously more bothered by his knee than has been made public. And next year he turns 30 years old.

3. Okay, get this - the Lions led the Buccaneers 17-0 in the first quarter on Sunday and that was enough to scare the Buccaneers into running up five straight touchdowns to win 38-20 and avoid being "it". I can understand all that but what I do not get is why Calvin Johnson has scored in six of the last seven games. Why would any defense cover anyone on the Lions besides Calvin Johnson? This is nothing against Calvin who I personally own on my dynasty team but if teams would just triple cover him on every play - heck make it four guys to literally box him in - they would probably skunk the Lions every time.

4. Tony Gonzalez set the record for NFL tight ends with 25 games of 100+ receiving yards, surpassing Kellen Winslow Sr. when he turned in 113 yards on 10 catches against the visiting Bills. Unfortunately the Chiefs also gave up a franchise record 54 points - at home no less - and the Chiefs are now on a seven game losing streak.

5. Will there be anyone left in St. Louis next year that was there this season? Steven Jackson has to be contractually but bets are off on every other player. Torry Holt had an unusually high four catches for 84 yards and that is pretty sad that what was once a bad game for him now is a noteworthy positive.The Rams are 2 points from allowing the most points in the league and officially the lowest scoring offense in the NFL. Not a great combo. Jackson should fake an injury and stay out before he damages his future.

6. Fantasy owners were happy with Maurice Jones-Drew who turned in nine catches for 113 yards in the loss to the Vikings but he only gained four yards on three carries playing in Jacksonville. It is great that he scores touchdowns and contributes as a receiver but what ever happened to the Jaguars rushing game? They opened the year with offensive line problem but it is 12 weeks later and MJD is stuck in the funk of the 4-7 Jaguars. Just hard to see how it ever gets any better.

7. There used to be Jason Witten and then just the rest of the tight ends. Now the position has returned to pre-2000 levels of mediocrity with Witten dropping from sight with bad ribs. He has missed only two games but has no more than 34 yards in the last three games played. That's five week crying about what a great tight end you used to have and judging by the rib crunching hit he took against the 49ers, he may not be 100% healthy for a while. So next year, the tight ends go back to the end of the draft along with the kickers and defenses.

8. I have to be honest here. I hate the Broncos. Not so much the players since I own Cutler and Royal and Marshall on various teams. But because they they are the most wildly inconsistent team in the NFL and one that quite frankly I predict wrongly on a regular basis. They get creamed by the Patriots and then lose to the Jaguars who are not beating anyone. But they can beat the 8-3 Buccaneers. Oh, but they cannot beat the Chiefs who have beaten no one else. Lose at home to the Fins and then win in Cleveland. And then win in Atlanta to show that they can beat a good team. And then of course get waxed by the Raiders in Denver. And through the stench that is the AFC West, they still have a two game lead over the Chargers. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a Broncos ticket holder this year. They must have a big box outside the stadium for people to leave their expectations.

9. From just a football fan perspective, how can anyone not love the Falcons this year? To be 7-4 and one game behind the Panthers who they just beat and the Buccaneers who they can even up against in week 15. But Michael Turner is running wild and a rookie quarterback is playing better than about half the veteran starters in the league. Everything that was bad in 2007 has turned into good for 2008. When Michael Vick is released next summer, he won't even recognize the place anymore. But mostly because they won't let him back in.

10. My how things change over the season. Already the Colts have righted themselves from the early season and won four games in a row and at 7-4 are at the top of the pile of wildcard chasers. In a season that seems bent on tilling the soil and raising a new batch of best teams, the Colts, Pats and Ravens are all 7-4 and looking for at least a wildcard. Considering the best wildcard plays in Denver in the first week, that is a valuable spot to be. The Giants seem hell bent on rendering the rest of the NFC as non-contenders but there is still no big separation of teams yet there. The NFC South and NFC North both could end up with anyone of three teams in the division and almost none of those has as good a record as the Redskins and Cowboys (7-4). This is shaping up to be a messy playoff season but with so many games on the line, that should equate to better fantasy points all around.

Early Bird Free Agents

Domenik Hixon - Plaxico Burress has injured his hamstring again and in case he misses any time, Hixon would be the guy to own. He had six catches for 57 yards and a ran for 11 yards in Arizona. Might not be a bad guy for Burress owners to hold on to just in case.

Darren McFadden - He's probably held in most leagues but in some the owners got sick of him doing nothing and cut him loose. McFadden ran for only 38 yards on 10 carries but scored twice in Denver who apparently is the only team he can play well against. Next week he plays at home against KC and then the Texans visit in week 16 so you could get a couple of games from him potentially.

Kevin Kolb - He may be the starter from here on out since bring back McNabb may be awkward, but Kolb probably doesn't offer much fantasy value with a schedule that includes @NYG, @WAS and ARI coming up. He's worth owning in a dynasty league just on a whim but in a redraft league, let someone else grab him.

Huddle Player of the Week

Michael Turner - This week there were numerous contenders with Matt Cassell, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens all having a big day. But Turner ran for 117 yards on 24 carries and merely scored four touchdowns in the huge win over the visiting Panthers. The Falcons are just one game back in the NFC South at 7-4 on the season and Turner is an integral reason why. The people who drafted him this summer have been smiling ever since and after Sunday - they probably wet their pants after four touchdowns.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Trent Edwards 311 4 QB Donovan McNabb 66 0
RB Kevin Faulk 105 1 RB Frank Gore 32 0
RB Maurice Morris 113 1 RB Brian Westbrook 34 0
WR Harry Douglas 95 1 WR Eddie Royal 17 0
WR Ashley Lelie 92 1 WR Reggie Wayne 34 0
WR Steve Breaston 86 0 WR Hines Ward 37 0
PK Rian Lindell 6 XP 4 FG PK David Akers 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 125

Huddle Fantasy Points = 16

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Wow - what a week for points! There were 11 teams scoring over 30 points on Sunday and three of them went over 40 points. It was a "visitor wins" week to be sure and a number of big if not embarrassing upsets happened. There were a number of high scoring players that probably led to some lop-sided scores in most leagues since three quarterbacks had four touchdowns as did Michael Turner. Randy Moss caught three scores while Terrell Owens had 213 yards.

There are such rich offerings this week for Game-O-The-Week. The Jets took down the previously unbeaten Titans 34-13 but it wasn't close so much as it was just surreal. And now of course the media has jumped on the Jets as their new favorite AFC team which could last a while with DEN, @SF, BUF, @SEA and MIA the only games left for them to play. The Patriots reversed the wildcat loss to the Dolphins with a 48-28 pounding and it was interesting. Oakland beating Denver 31-10 is somewhat a perfect example of what happened this week. It was so mind-blowing stupid that it was hard to believe but there it was. Did you know that Jay Cutler only completed 16 of 37 passes for 204 yards and one interception? And that JaMarcus Russell completed 10 of 11 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown with no turnovers? If I read anything else about it I am afraid that I will be sucked into the vortex of a black hole that will shoot me to a new dimension where the Raiders have an unstoppable offense and Al Davis is drinking from the fountain of youth so he can be around forever.

The Giants won in Arizona without Brandon Jacobs or Plaxico Burress in a points bonanza but they were favored anyway. The Colts comeback burned the Chargers as time expired but the game ended only 23-20 from offenses that could have doubled that a year or two ago. The game of the week is one that says welcome to our Brave New World and do not get comfortable with anything.

Carolina 28, Atlanta 48

The game wasn't that close though the Falcons were favored by just one point. The Panthers were 8-2 with the second best record in the NFC and the Falcons needed a win to keep pace. This was a big game for the NFC South and in the previous meeting the Panthers had won 24-9 back in week four.

But this time was slated to end up differently. The Falcons opened with a field goal and on their second drive had Harry Douglas score on an end around from the seven yard line. The Panthers kept going three and out and the Falcons used their next drive to has Michael Turner score a one-yard touchdown. Carolina responded by going three and out. Once Roddy White lost a fumble on the ATL 48 yard line in the second quarter, the Panthers were able to drive to the ATL 1-yard line for three plays before kicking a field goal. At halftime, it was already 17-3 in favor of the Falcons.

The Panthers took the second half kickoff and used only six plays to have DeAngelo Williams score a touchdown to draw to 10-17. Then the Falcons went three and out and the Panthers went down and kicked a field goal. 13-17 is where the third quarter ended but on the first play in the fourth quarter, Michael Turner rushed in a touchdown for a 24-13 lead. But the Panthers responded right back and Jake Delhomme ran in a 12-yard touchdown with a successful two point conversion and they trailed only 21-24 with 11 minutes left to play.

Ah, but that Harry Douglas guy showed up again and caught a pass that went for 69 yards to the Carolina 6-yard line and Michael Turner ended up with his third touchdown in the game and a 31-21 lead. Then the Panthers could do nothing on the next series and punted to Harry Douglas who returned the punt 59 yards for a touchdown and a 38-21 lead with five minutes left to play. The Panthers drove the field and scored with a 16-yard pass to Muhsin Muhammad with 2:30 left to play but the onside kick was unsuccessful and the Falcons just fed it to Turner five times to cover the 36 yards to the endzone for his fourth touchdown and the 45-28 final score.

This was an exciting game with big points that announced that the Falcons are not only a surprise team but one that is getting better every week. Turner had a career best four touchdowns, Matt Ryan made no mistakes and the Falcons are better than they have been for years. The Panthers had a good game from Delhomme (295, 1 TD) and he also ran in a score for that extra fantasy bang in most leagues. Steve Smith ended with 168 yards on eight catches and Williams ran for 101 yards and one touchdown. It was a solid game where we would never have expected three months ago. Nor would we have figured on the Falcons being 7-4 at this point and challenging for the AFC South.

This was a wacky weekend with so many road wins and upsets, McNabb getting benched and a handful of players going off with season high games. It should settle down more from here until the end of the season but only enough to lull you into a false sense of security about how teams and players will perform. And then the Raiders show up to play the perfect game.

Go figure.

Now get back to work...

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