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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 15
David Dorey
December 8, 2008
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Schaub 414 2
Matt Ryan 315 2
Peyton Manning 277 3
Seneca Wallace 259 3
Philip Rivers 214 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Brian Westbrook 203 2
Chris Johnson 166 1
Pierre Thomas 109 2
Ryan Grant 112 1
Reggie Bush 106 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Brandon Marshall 91 2
Kevin Walter 146 1
Vincent Jackson 148 1
Deion Branch 88 2
Roddy White 164 0
Tight Ends Yards TD
Tony Gonzalez 73 1
John Carlson 69 1
Vishante Shiancoe 65 1
Greg Olsen 52 1
Donald Lee 48 1
Placekickers XP FG
Robbie Gould 2 3
Stephen Gostowski 1 3
Nate Kaeding 4 2
Kris Brown 1 3
Neil Rackers 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Colts 1 5 4
Chargers 0 3 4
Cardinals 2 1 3
Steelers 1 0 5
Ravens 1 2 3

Week 14 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Fantasy Playoffs are starting and there are a few too many bigger names.

Brandon Jacobs - Sprained knee
Frank Gore - Sprained knee
Peyton Hillis - Hamstring / May be lost for season
Brandon Stokley - Sprained ankle
Daunte Culpepper - Sprained shoulder
Gus Frerotte - Lower back bruise
Joseph Addai - Shoulder stinger

Okay, there is this hand, right? And you are hungry...

Laveranues Coles has seen spotty play as the season starts to wind down and after three straight weeks of 40 or less yards, he finally had seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee during week 12. Then against the Broncos, he only had two catches for two yards. This week was just one catch for five yards in San Francisco in a loss. This sparked Coles to say that Favre was getting too much credit and that he thought that a Jugs machine threw harder than Favre. Alrighty then.

Ten years from now when you see the infomercial for the Coles School of Motivational Speaking, just change the channel.

Making January plans

Three more weeks but the post season is starting to come into focus:

AFC East - Who knows. All three teams are 8-5 with only Buffalo officially a sinker, not a floater.

AFC North - Steelers will win the title but 9-4 Ravens should end up with a wildcard

AFC South - Titans just clinched, Colts will take the other wildcard

AFC West - Denver will win it though none really deserve it.

So best bet - Titans and Steelers get byes, then AFC East and West champs both lose to the Colts or Ravens in the first round.

NFC East - Giants clinched and will be #1 seed. Dallas in wildcard contention.

NFC North - Vikes hold one game lead over Bears. Still like Vikes to win division but it is not a lock. Chicago probably misses out on a wildcard... maybe.

NFC South - Buccaneers and Panthers play tonight and winner has inside track on the #2 bye in the NFC and the loser will still should get a wildcard.

NFC West - Cardinals clinch. Yes, I am 100% serious. The Cardinals are HOSTING a playoff game.

So best bet - Giants and my guess Bucs get the byes, then Vikes and Cardinals host the wildcards that will be Carolina and maybe Dallas or Atlanta or it gets messier.

10 Random Thoughts

1. LaDainian Tomlinson is not done. He is just not an elite runner anymore and turns 30 next August when he will be drafted by guys figuring on they got a steal while the rest of us wouldn't touch him even when he should have. It's always hard to see diminished skills from a player that has long been elite. Tomlinson is not done... but he is at least medium rare.

2. The Jaguars will look very different in 2009 and other than Maurice Jones-Drew, who can you count on being there? David Garrard? Maybe, but a new coaching staff may tab a free agent or a rookie since Garrard has never taken " the next step". You can and should argue that the Chargers are the biggest disappointment of 2008 but the Jags have to be #2.

3. Get this, I went out and collected the IND defense in any of my leagues they were still available and reaped a monster day from them with the Bengals scoring just three points, totaling around 270 yards and throwing three interceptions, 1 fumble, 5 sacks and the Colts scored an 85-yard interception return touchdown in the fourth quarter. I got between 17 and 31 points from them depending on the league. Now this week, the Colts will be hosting THE DETROIT LIONS. As if that is not wonderful enough, Culpepper is banged up and if he cannot play, they will be down to using practice squader Drew Henson. Oh yeah, I will be starting the Colts defense again this week. You should too.

4. Titans have clinched the AFC South with a 12-1 record. They are two games ahead of the Steelers and four games up on the other divisions. This means all they are playing for anymore is the #1 seed instead of the #2 seed - which is something worth owning. But let's say they win in Houston this week and go 13-1. Steelers have to play in Baltimore which will be a very interesting game. If the Steelers win in Baltimore, then week 16 is actually the Steelers at Tennessee and a Titans win locks down the #1. A loss goes to tiebreakers only if TEN loses the last game of the season which is at Indianapolis. But - what if the Steelers lose in Baltimore? Then 10-4 plays at 13-1 with only two games left and the Titans have nothing to gain. And they have to know the chances are decent they meet the Steelers again in the AFC Championship game. So... week 16 will you get to use Chris Johnson and LenDale White with confidence? Or would you still use them with the Steelers involved? Better yet, would the Steelers (in that one scenario) be willing on using all players as well?

5. You have to like owning Pierre Thomas on a dynasty team because you got him cheap and his name sounds like someone from the French Quarter. Plus you almost certainly have the starting running back for the Saints next year. Thomas ran for 102 yards on 16 carries and scored once plus had a seven-yard catch for another score. McAllister is gone next year and the Saints could really use the draft and free agent money on buying a defense next year. Of course we all hope that plan fails as it has for years since the Saints are one of the top five greatest things about fantasy football.

6. Has to be a bitter time to be a Packers fan with the team falling to 5-8 and losing to the visiting Texans. Aaron Rodgers has proven to be as good as the old guy Favre was last year (but not as good as young Favre a while back) and even the rushing game is coming back to life with Ryan Grant. But the losses are still piling up when the offense doesn't appear to be that different from 2007 other than Rodgers using tight ends more and a bit less on the wideouts.

7. It is with great sadness I must report that the Cardinals won 34-10 against the Rams but Kurt Warner only passed for 279 yards and one touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald (6-73, 1 TD) and Anquan Boldin (5-62) had decent games but nothing big. Even Tim Hightower only gained 32 yards on 12 carries and scored one touchdown. I think this proves that the Rams have finally become such an easy matchup that they are now too easy. Give up 34 points and no one has a big game? That is just so wrong.

8. When the Jets beat the Titans the media-types proclaimed them the team to beat. Plus they had Favre and every announcer in the league has plenty of Favre material on hand anyway. But then the Jets got spanked by the Broncos 34-17 in New York, And now the 49ers beat them 24-14 and Favre passed for 134 yards. And Coles is essentially calling out his own quarterback for having a weaker arm. It's called peaking too early. And getting a lucky win in Nashville from a team tired of winning.

9. I have a personal theory that there are a lot of talented players who could be NFL and fantasy stars but for the lack of the right opportunity or situation, they never really get their shot. You never hear of them. They just fade away in a year or two or three when they are just replaced by younger and cheaper. One player I hope this does not happen to and yet it very well could is Tashard Choice for the Cowboys. He tacked up 88 yards on 23 carries in Pittsburgh and added five catches for 78 yards as well. He will be the starter until Barber is healthy (maybe this week) and then he will be a relief player until next year when Felix Jones is healthy. But since seeing his video on youtube before a game against Clemson, I always wanted to see him play and succeed. Hard to argue the kid doesn't have something.

10. I believe the Lions have finally done it. By missing out on the home win against the Vikings, they will go 0-16 for the first time in NFL history. The Buccaneers had a season with no wins but it was only a 14 game schedule. The Lions travel to Indianapolis where the Colts have to win and just smacked the crap out of the Bengals. Then they are back at home against the Saints which seems like another chance but seriously - the Saints need to win as many as they can just to feel good about the season. And the Saints have the best passing game to go against the worst pass defense. The last week is at Green Bay and while I have plenty of sympathy for Lions fans, the Packers at home in late December has to be a win here. So what a wonderful plane ride back that will be, eh?

Players that make me look forward to 2009

Shaun Hill - He may not be the starter in 2009 because the 49ers may end up over-spending on a rookie quarterback thanks to Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. But Hill has thrown for double scores in four of the last five games played and he hasn't bee turning over the ball like you are supposed in the Mike Martz offense. Then again, there is no guarantee that Martz will still be there.

Joe Flacco - He only had 139 yards and one score against the Redskins this week but he has thrown for double scores in four of the previous five games and come one - what does he have for receivers? Derrick Mason? Todd Heap? I want to see what the Ravens do in the offseason to get this guy better targets to throw to. I do not remember ever seeing an offense in Baltimore that was more than "just don't screw this up." What if a great defense gets a really good offense? In Baltimore? I gotta see it.

Calvin Johnson - The Lions have zero other threats for receivers and are down to using Culpepper as the quarterback (and he just got hurt). And yet Johnson has scored in seven of the last nine games and never had less than 65 yards in any game. THERE IS NO ONE ELSE TO COVER THERE. Imagine what Johnson could be like with better players around him and a real quarterback. Or at least a better one. A decent one. Heck - it doesn't much matter anyway it seems.

Huddle Player of the Week

Matt Schaub - No one wanted to start him in his first game back from being injured yet again. He was playing in Green Bay against a very good secondary as another red flag. But he left with 414 passing yards and one touchdown. Schaub has teased for two years now and has never been able to remain healthy but when he has played - the offense has scored well. We had to make him the POW before he got hurt again.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Seneca Wallace 269 3 QB Brett Favre 139 1
RB Tashard Choice 166 0 RB Willie Parker 25 0
RB Ahmand Hall 28 1 RB Clinton Portis 46 0
WR Deion Branch 88 2 WR Randy Moss 56 0
WR Bryant Johnson 49 1 WR Hines Ward 2 0
WR Jordy Nelson 25 1 WR Reggie Wayne 48 0
PK Robbie Gould 3 FG, 2 XP PK John Carney 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 101

Huddle Fantasy Points = 30

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This was a great weekend for football and we only really had a few upsets - Philly beat the Giants who still probably do not care and the Texans won in Green Bay which was mostly just embarrassing for the Packers. The 49ers took down the Jets who missing the shine of recent weeks. But scoring was down overall from recent weeks thanks in part to a cold front coming down from Canada. No scores over 35 points and only three games that had a team scoring more than 30 points.

Fantasy playoffs have started in leagues with six spots to fill and this next weekend should have every league active other than a two week playoff league that uses 16 and 17. Pretty rare though. And yet with all these games on the line the quarterbacks did not do much. Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, etc.. had mediocre games for the most part and the best passers on the day - Schaub, Ran and Wallace - were not started in many leagues if any. Only four wideouts had 100 yards and yet all were 134 yards or more (White, Jackson, Walter, Welker).

It wasn't even that big for running backs with only Westbrook scoring more than once and only five gaining more than 100 rushing yards. Let's hope week 15 is a bit more productive for the bigger players.

The best game of the week was probably Dallas-Pittsburgh in NFL terms but whole lotta nothing went on in that game until right at the end and not that many points besides. It is a toss-up this week with the Texans-Packers game a great contender that satisfied most the criteria of higher points and close finish but this is money time in fantasy football and no game helped out teams more than this weeks Game-O-the-Week.

Falcons 25, Saints 29

We had to know this would be a fun game with plenty of fireworks. The Saints at home are always tough (or at least tougher than they are on the road without a defense). The Falcons still have strong playoff aspirations. And this game delivered the goods.

The game started out with the Falcons driving down to the Saints 26-yard line where Matt Ryan threw an interception that was returned to midfield. Reggie Bush's first run went for 43 yards and two plays later Drew Brees hit Bush with a five-yard touchdown pass for the lead.

After trading several punts, the Saints reached the ATL 8-yard line where they stalled and had Garrett Hartley kick a 26-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. The Falcons had been playing well and it was a surprise that they had not scored yet. So Ryan hit Roddy White for a 59 yard gain on the second play of the series and three snaps later Michael Turner scored from the 5-yard line. 10-7 and a good game.

The Saints drove the field but ended up with a 46-yard field goal thanks to penalties that drove them back. But a 13-7 lead seemed safe enough until the next series when the Falcons needed eight plays to have Ryan fine Brian "yes I still play" Finneran for a touchdown and a 14-13 lead. Game on!

With only two minutes left in the half, the Saints ended up in the ATL 7-yard line with only four seconds left and kicked a field goal to lead 16-14 at the half.

The second half had both teams punting and the Falcons finally drove the field to get a 23-yard field goal from Jason Elam to regain the lead 17-16. But then the Saints drove the field and two minutes into the fourth quarter, Pierre Thomas caught a seven-yard touchdown pass to go up 22-17 because the two point play was unsuccessful.

At 12:55 left to play, the Falcons took over and Ryan led the team down the field and with eight minutes left to play, he ran around the right end for a 12-yard touchdown because who would think to stop that? A two point attempt to Michael Jenkins was successful and the Falcons reclaimed the lead 25-22.

The ensuing kickoff had Pierre Thomas run it back 88 yards to the ATL 16-yard line. Yeah, he's going to stick for next year.

The Saints needed to go for it on a fourth and one from the ATL-7 yard line because... no wait... a field goal would have tied it. Big cajones in the Big Easy when Karney bulled his way for the first down. Pierre Thomas rushed in the score on the next play and the Saints just kicked the extra point for a 29-25 lead.

The Falcons finally had a series where they punted and the Saints ran out the final three minutes on the clock with Thomas gaining 23 yards on five carries.

It was a back and forth game with a constantly changing lead and each quarterback scoring twice and Michael Turner (18-61) and Pierre Thomas (16-102) both scored as well. Reggie Bush had 106 total yards and a score and Roddy White turned in ten catches for 164 yards. About the only players involved that did not reward probable fantasy starts were the two starting wideouts Lance Moore and Marques Colston.

But I guarantee neither will compare Brees to a Jugs machine.

Now get back to work...

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