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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - 2008
David Dorey
December 29, 2008
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2008 Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
wk12 - Matt Cassel 429 4
wk4-Brett Favre 289 6
wk11 - Matt Cassel 462 3
wk10 - Jay Cutler 447 3
wk17 - Drew Brees 386 4
Running Backs Yards TD
wk13 - Brian Westbrook 130 4
wk3 - Ronnie Brown 122 4
wk12 - Michael Turner 117 4
wk7 - Steven Jackson 176 3
wk16 - DeAngelo Williams 108 4
Wide Receivers Yards TD
wk2 - Anquan Boldin 140 3
wk14 - Antonio Bryant 200 2
wk12 - Randy Moss 125 3
wk4 - Laveranues Coles 105 3
wk12 - Terrell Owens 213 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
wk16 - Vishante Shiancoe 136 2
wk10 - Tony Gonzalez 113 2
wk10 - Kellen Winslow 111 2
wk8 - Dallas Clark 94 2
wk15 - Dallas Clark 142 1
Placekickers XP FG
wk12 - Rian Lindell 6 4
wk16 - Stephen Gostkowski 5 4
wk13 - Rob Bironas 5 4
wk11 - Phil Dawson 2 5
wk17 - David Akers 5 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
wk4 - Jets 1 5 7
wk2 - Packers 2 5 3
wk12 - Buccaneers 2 4 3
wk12 - Vikings 1 4 5
wk17 - Eagles 2 4 5

Crack Open that Record Book

There is bad. There is horrible. And then, about four months later there are the Detroit Lions who have finally turned in the 0-16 record that no one thought would be possible in the NFL. Perhaps now Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith and the five different quarterbacks can meet each year to share some barbecued donkey rump roast when the last team finally gets a win. Amazing, noteworthy and sadly a huge "L" stamped on the forehead of Rod Marinelli, Matt Millen, et al.

Generally speaking, it does hurt fantasy value

The Browns end the season with an NFL record six game streak (24 quarters) without an actual offensive touchdown. On the plus side, the new coach in 2009 will be a success the first time the offense scores, provided it will again in the future. Assumedly. I mean it has to, right?

Veterans are Over-rated

There were only four new head coaches this year and three of them - Mike Smith (ATL), John Harbaugh (BAL) and Tony Sparano (MIA) all lead their teams to the playoffs in their first season.

Remember too that these teams had the Ravens (5-11), Dolphins (1-15) and the Falcons (4-12) at the bottom of their respective divisions last year. Those three teams improved their collective win totals from 10 to 33 victories this year. And two of them did so with rookie quarterbacks.

17 weeks later, the actual contenders...

The Chargers just became the first team in NFL history to be 4-8 and end up winning their division. There were plenty of pretenders this year - Cowboys, Broncos, Jets, Bears and Buccaneers. Now we know the teams that were either the best or at least the best situated.

Bye Weeks: Titans, Steelers, Giants and Panthers

WIldcard week:

Saturday: ATL at ARI (4:30 PM) and IND at SD (7 PM)

Sunday: BAL at MIA (1 PM) and PHI at MIN (4:30 PM)

Would you be shocked if 3 or 4 visitors won next week?

10 Best Free Agents for 2008

Not a chance any of these go undrafted in 2009

QB Matt Cassel - As soon as Tom Brady went down in week one, everyone ran to the waiver wire to grab his unknown back-up in the off chance it really was just the system. Apparently it is not all system, but it definitely helps a good bit.

QB Tyler Thigpen - Another unknown player that fell into starting job when the Chiefs decided to have no veterans and then Brodie Croyle was injured. Thigpen threw better than any QB there since Trent Green and gave Gonzo another monster year.

RB Steve Slaton - Probably a free agent only in smaller leagues but the short guy finally gave the Texans their first decent running back since Dominick Davis. And mercifully the Ahman Green experiment is over.

WR Antonio Bryant - The guy that was a flop on three teams, once threw a shirt into Bill Parcel's face and was out of football last year came roaring back with Joey Galloway leaving a talent void that Bryant filled admirably. He is now a poster child for every malcontent head case with talent finally getting it together.

WR Eddie Royal - The rookie wideout sent everyone running to the waiver wire in week one and then held onto about WR3 value in most games. For a rookie wideout, Royal was a nice surprise for a team that had mostly bad surprises all season long.

WR Lance Moore - We all knew that there would be fantasy value in the passing game but ends up it wasn't Robert Meachem or David Patten or even Devery Henderson. Ends up Lance Moore was the new Marques Colston who was... well not really himself most of the year.

RB Mewelde Moore - Another one of those surprises since everyone was busy drafting Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall. Ends up it's always the quiet guy who starts out #3 on the depth chart.

RB Le'Ron McClain - The Ravens used their converted fullback as a running back despite already having Willis McGahee and drafting Ray Rice. Yeah, it's always the quiet guy who starts out #3 on the depth chart. McClain was never used consistently but ended the season on a tear.

WR Steve Breaston - Slot receivers rarely have much fantasy value but the Cardinals rarely bothered with running and had more passes to distribute than even Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald could catch. And whenever either of them are injured, Breaston is a must start.

TE Vishante Shiancoe - It was a down year for tight ends but Shiancoe was the best success story about the position. His two touchdown game in week 16 won a few fantasy championships.

The Huddle Awards - 2008

Best Waiver Wire Pick-up - Matt Cassell (Steve Slaton in smaller leagues)

Worst Hyped Player - Ryan Torain who got hurt and did not play until late in the season and then got hurt in that game. Considering the amount of fantasy football material written in articles and message boards about him, no one compares to the one game wonder. And it starts all over next year.

QB Rookie of the Year - Matt Ryan. He actually erased the name of Dog-Boy and brought the Falcons to the playoffs.

RB Rookie of the Year - Chris Johnson barely edges out Matt Forte but you could make a case for either. This was the Year of the Rookie Running Back with Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Steve Slaton, Kevin Smith, Jonathan Stewart and Tim Hightower all ending up in the Top 30 for most leagues. The only losers in the bunch were the first three drafted - Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Rashard Mendenhall who all had injury problems.

WR Rookie of the Year - Eddie Royal. It was a year without any wideouts being drafted in the first round and overall they had almost no impact but Royal was slightly better than DeSean Jackson for the Eagles. Then the rest were mainly worthless.

TE Rookie of the Year - John Carlson made an immediate impact for the Seahawks and posted top ten numbers.

Huddle MVP QB - Drew Brees broke the 5000 passing yard barrier despite falling just short of Dan Marino's record. With Peyton Manning and Tony Romo slight disappointments and Tom Brady injured, Brees was the magic quarterback to own this year.

Huddle MVP RB - Adrian Peterson becomes the first player drafted in almost all fantasy drafts next summer. And deservedly so.

Huddle MVP WR - Larry Fitzgerald wins it but this was not a year of any dominating wideouts and Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and even Anquan Boldin all had elite numbers.

Huddle MVP TE - Tony Gonzalez not only ended up as the best tight end, but he probably was the most dominating player compared to all others in his position. The old man is picking up all-time records and is a first ballot lock five years from when he retires.

Best Guy in a New Place - Michael Turner is paving the way for every second string running back dreaming of picking up a starting gig.

Worst Guy in a New Place - Brett Favre started the year as a media firestorm, then turned into a media darling and now just ends with a whimper looking like an old man needing a blanket and a chair by the window.

Huddle Player of the Year

Drew Brees - Tough call with Adrian Peterson sitting there saying "but I am a running back". Brees almost set a new NFL record for passing yards in a season but even falling short still left him #1 in passing yards (5069) and #1 in passing touchdowns (34). He has multiple scores in 11 games including the last six. He was never bad this year and he had two great games to end the year when fantasy teams needed him most. Maybe next August you will remember why it is good to have a dome quarterback in late December.

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Matt Cassel 3693 23 QB Tom Brady 76 0
RB Le'Ron McClain 1025 11 RB Reggie Bush 844 6
RB Mewelde Moore 908 6 RB Joseph Addai 750 7
WR Antonio Bryant 1248 7 WR Plaxico Burress 454 4
WR Lance Moore 928 10 WR Chad Johnson 540 4
WR Eddie Royal 980 5 WR Marques Colston 760 5
PK Stephen Gostkowski 36 FG 40 XP PK Josh Scobee 19 FG 33 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 1183

Huddle Fantasy Points = 583

Sunday's Couch Commentary

What a wonderfully strange and oddly different season. We kicked off with Tom Brady going down injured in week one and LaDainian Tomlinson just not looking right. The Cowboys were a lock for the Super Bowl and by midseason we knew the Jets would be there too. As with all years, there were seasons within seasons and players that shined in the first half of the year tailed off and new players took their torch.

Tight ends became just tight ends again this year. Gonzo had a nice year and Dallas Clark and Jason Witten will deservedly go higher in drafts but there are no tight ends that you'll draft next year and think you pulled one over your league. The position tailed off badly this year.

There was massive turnover for running backs. Top ten runners for yardage included Michael Turner (1699), DeAngelo Williams (1515), Steve Slaton (1282), Matt Forte (1239) and Chris Johnson (1228). Williams was a fascinating one since he nearly lost his job to Jonathan Stewart around week four but slowly started to catch fire. That turned into an inferno in the second half of the year.

There were 11 running backs that ran for 10 or more touchdowns this year - only six did it in 2007. Four runners (Peterson, Turner, Portis and Williams) gained more rushing yards than anyone did in 2007.

Wide receivers were the same mixed bag except for a sign that a transition is finally happening. The old guys of Marvin Harrison, Joey Galloway and even Torry Holt have passed the baton to Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Roddy White. There was a lot of passing this year but it didn't seem to usually favor many players. Only ten players had more than 1100 receiving yards this year but 15 did so in 2007. Six players had 100+ catches last year but only three managed it in 2008. Ten players had 10+ passing touchdowns last year but only five did in 2008. It was about half as studly for wideouts this year.

It was a transition year of sorts in the NFL though they all are to some degree. Running backs became more valuable again and the passing game decreased outside of New Orleans. And after 17 weeks of competition, we can be sure that we'll take all the great great knowledge, perspectives and preferences from this season and draft in 2009 knowing that 2008 will not just repeat itself and that next year, like all years, will have it's own unique characteristics and features and surprises. We'll finally figure it all out just in time to relearn it in 2010. And so one. There in lies the beauty of fantasy football - it is always new, always challenging and always fun if you let it be. Hope your season was successful and your experience a great one. And most of all - I wish you the happiest of new years and much prosperity after a tough 2008.

Keep the sun on your face and the wind at your back, amigo.

Now get back to work...

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