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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 2
David Dorey
September 14 , 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Drew Brees 358 6
Tony Romo 353 3
Joe Flacco 307 3
Matt Hasselbeck 279 3
Ben Roethlisberger 363 1
Running Backs Yards TD
Adrian Peterson 198 3
Thomas Jones 107 2
Julius Jones 136 1
Willis McGahee 75 2
Maurice Jones-Drew 123 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Reggie Wayne 162 1
Patrick Crayton 135 1
Santonio Holmes 131 1
Devery Henderson 103 1
Brandon Stokley 87 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
John Carlson 95 2
Jeremy Shockey 31 2
Todd Heap 74 1
Tony Gonzalez 73 1
Chris Cooley 68 1
Placekickers XP FG
Lawrence Tynes 2 3
Nick Folk 4 2
Ryan Longwell 4 2
Neil Rackers 1 3
John Carney 6 1
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Eagles 2 5 5
Falcons 0 4 4
NY Giants 1 3 2
Vikings 0 4 2
Titans 0 4 3

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Anthony Gonzalez (IND) - Strained knee ligament
Donovan McNabb (PHI) - Broken rib
James Davis (CLE) - Shoulder sprain
Danny Ware (NYG) - Dislocated elbow
Hakeem Nicks (NYG) - Foot injury

Maybe we'll get by

The Cowboys enter into their Post-Terrell era and Tony Romo's draft stock took a hit without his start receiver there anymore. All Romo could manage this week was to throw for a career high 353 passing yards with three touchdowns. Now that Dallas has no decent wideouts anymore, they'll somehow have to make get by Roy Williams (3-86, 1 TD), Patrick Crayton (4-135, 1 TD) and Miles Austin (1-42, 1 TD).

Yeah, they're going to miss that what s-his-name guy.

It is Only Week One...

Before you freak out that your newly drafted players suck, consider some week one performances last year:

Aaron Rodgers - 178 yards, 1 TD
Kurt Warner - 197 yards, 1 TD
Santonio Holmes 1-19
Antonio Bryant 3-43
Roddy White 2-54
Wes Welker 6-51
Bernard Berrian 3-38
Marques Colston 3-26
Steve Slaton - 49 total yards
Maurice Jones-Drew - 50 total yards

Far better things were to come for each player.

It is Only Week One, really...

Before you get a "GENIUS" tattoo after some of your players went off this week, consider some of the big scorers in week one of last year:

Jon Kitna - 262 yards, 2 TD
Chad Pennington - 251 yards, 2 TD
JaMarcus Russell - 180 yards, 2 TD
Willie Parker - 138 yards, 3 TD
Ernest Graham - 118 yards
Reggie Bush - 163 yards, 1 TD
Lee Evans - 4-102
Jerricho Cotchery - 3-80, 1 TD

Yeah, how did they work out for ya?

It's called Karma and apparently it hates you

The Rams got slapped around by the Seahawks about every way that can be done. Marc Bulger only managed 191 pass yards and no scores in a game that was over all too quickly for the Rams. Josh Brown missed a 37 yard field goal. About all the team did right was when they blocked a 49-yard field goal attempt by Olindo Mare and Quincy Butler scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown. All except they had 12 men on the field. That gave the Seahawks a first down and three plays later was the touchdown by Nate Burleson. Sort of hard to get the players to buy into yet another scheme when the Rams open with a shutout.

So, Like, Where's the Catch?

Leagues that use a point per reception find that it makes wide receivers and even tight ends much more comparable to running backs in value. And of course, it makes certain running backs even more valuable because they add receptions to their rushing totals. Let's check on how well those pass catching running backs did this week:

Matt Forte - 2008 NFL leader with 63 receptions last year, had zero catches this week.
Brian Westbrook - Had three catches for eight yards but did score on one of them

Steven Jackson - Zero catches
Maurice Jones-Drew - Five catches for 26 yards
Marion Barber - Zero catches
Steve Slaton - three catches for 35 yards but only 17 rushing yards

Seems like the top receiving backs from last year are all starting out slowly other than Jones-Drew. Oh well, they cannot all be Tim Hightower.

10 Random Thoughts

1. The Lions are still on an 18 game losing streak and all. And their defense defies any and all attempts to improve it. But Matt Stafford showed me something when he passed for 205 yards. Sure, he had three interceptions and he got 64 yards out of one connection with Calvin Johnson. But he already looks like an upgrade over the recent cast of characters under center the last couple of seasons. It'll take a while to be sure but Stafford did not really disappoint. Heck, he even rushed in his first NFL touchdown.

2. Mark Sanchez also looked like a great pickup by the Jets. Only whereas Stafford looked like a rookie with a promising future, Sanchez looked more like a veteran already comfortable in the NFL. He threw for 272 yards and one score in Houston in his first ever start. And let's remember - he hardly has an all-star cast of receivers. He certainly has no Calvin Johnson equivalent. I started liking Sanchez a few weeks ago even though I tried to convince myself I'd only get hurt later in the season. I recently picked up Chansi Stuckey (4-64, 1 TD) and Dustin Keller (4-94) in recent drafts and auctions on a hunch. It won't always be this easy of course and he really is a rookie. But a very impressive one so far and Keller and Stuckey should be on no league's waiver wire anymore.

3. What the hell? The Ravens beat the Chiefs and do it because of their passing game? The Chiefs on the road scored 24 points in Baltimore? Joe Flacco threw for 307 yards and three scores. Are we to buy into Mark Clayton (5-77, 1 TD) and Todd Heap (5-74, 1 TD) as being viable fantasy options now? That just smacks of future disappointment. I'll buy into this when it is not the Chiefs lining up on the other side. Still, the Ravens defense allowed 24 points? It really was never close but it sure looked like it.

4. Why is it that going to the Super Bowl so often produces teams that start the next year out flat? The Cardinals looked like circa 1999 when Kurt Warner struggled to hit the same guys he made superstars for the last two seasons. Granted Boldin was gimpy and Breaston was out but he looked completely lost by halftime and only came to life some in the second half. Beanie Wells ran for 29 yards on seven carries but ran the wrong way on his first play and Warner had to eat the ball. The hunger that the Cards had last year wasn't absent from the game, it just belonged to the 49ers defense.

5. For those of you who expected Ronnie Brown to take over a heavier load, he had ten carries to seven for Ricky Williams. He caught three passes for 10 yards but it all looked a lot like 2008 all over again.

6. There were 21 changes at defensive coordinators between last year and this year. You would expect that to cause a few more sloppy defenses during opening week and some better rushing yardage because of it. Not so really. Consider the effectiveness of some of those studs running backs that we drafted: Michael Turner (22-65, 2.9 YPC), Matt Forte (25-55, 2.2 YPC), Frank Gore (22-30, 1.4 YPC), Brandon Jacobs (16-46, 2.9 YPC), DeAngelo Williams (14-37, 2.6 YPC), Steve Slaton (9-17, 1.9 YPC), and Kevin Smith (15-20, 1.3 YPC). Is it that only the defensive linemen were actually practicing this summer? Or did almost every running back in the league do something to piss off his offensive linemen? It was a very weak showing by most rushers.

7. I swore off Denver and Tampa Bay running backs this year because committee backfields are a headache I want to avoid. Denver went against the Bengals and true to form used four different running backs. Correll Buckhalter (8-46), Knowshon Moreno (8-19)m Lamont Jordan (2-5) and even Peyton Hillis (1-2) ensured none of them had any fantasy value. The Buccaneers did get a touchdown from two of their running backs but they too used four in the game. Carnell Williams (13-97), Derrick Ward (12-62), Clifton Smith (1-4) and Ernest Graham (1-1) all showed up. Williams ran rather well as did Ward but they share it so they had only decent showings which will no bought become below average when they hit the road and opponents are less forgiving against the run. Man - four backs for each team. A true split for the top two runners on each team. You have to hate that.

8. Ex-Defensive Coordinator JIm Johnson has passed but his legacy is still very alive with the Philadelphia Eagles who completely dismantled the Panthers in Carolina. If that defensive showing is a sign of things to come, the rest of the NFC East better start worrying. Make that the entire NFC. He was probably watching and smiling.

9. For many years, I used the game center at NFL.com and liked it. Granted, it made you go a page back to see who actually scored the touchdowns after games were over, but it was good during the games and easy to navigate. I have no idea what they are trying to do with their redesign other than run off every fantasy football fan there is. You know, the guys most likely to be camping out on their game center. It looks like a developers solution if he never actually spoke to anyone who used it and took direction from senior executives who also never actually used them. They are horrible - it's worth checking out the one time to see how badly they have screwed up a good thing. Fox Sports and CBS Sportsline were wise enough to leave well enough alone.

10. I have to admit that I am 49 years old, have been following football all my life and have been dedicated to fantasy football since 1991. This is all I do. And yet, on opening Sunday I still cannot help yelling and laughing and making a host of sounds I do when I watch football. When Adrian Peterson broke his long TV, the dog bolted from my office and ran away when I went to primal screams (I have him in one league). When my favorite team scored three times, I make a noise that is like a cross between a gunshot and a lazer sound. You have to love football. It's a beautiful thing. Non-football people cannot be around me. I gotta be me.

Huddle Player of the Week

Drew Brees - How sad is this? Is it not predictable? This was a toss-up between Brees and Adrian Peterson who humbled the Cleveland Browns more than they already were since they were the Cleveland Browns. I imagine Peterson will be back in contention soon enough. But Brees was simply a fantasy delight. In the first six minutes of playing time against the Lions, Brees went 5 of 5 for 99 yards and two touchdowns. He ended with 358 yards and six touchdowns. That's twice as many scores as any other quarterback so far. They won't all be the visiting Lions, but will it matter anyway?

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Joe Flacco 307 3 QB Brett Favre 110 1
RB Mike Bell 143 0 RB Matt Forte 55 0
RB Heath Evans 35 1 RB Steve Slaton 52 0
WR Brandon Stokley 87 1 WR Andre Johnson 35 0
WR Chansi Stuckey 64 1 WR Steve Smith (CAR) 25 0
WR Mario Manningham 58 1 WR Anquan Boldin 19 0
PK Lawrence Tynes 2 XP 3 FG 3 FG Josh Brown 0 FG 0 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 90

Huddle Fantasy Points = 26

Sunday's Couch Commentary

What a great opening weekend!

We had some monster games from Reggie Wayne, Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson. A lot of other players who maybe did not pay you back for where they were drafted. A ton of running backs had problems gaining ground nd really not all that many players had big games. No wideouts with two scores, only a handful of players with over 100 yards. It was a "spread the ball around" kind of day for many quarterbacks. We have to remember that 1 out of every 16 players probably just had their best game of the year and considering injuries and last season slides, even more players coming off their top game. There was plenty of change in the air with all the new coaching staffs in the league but one game in particular was indicative of the weekend.

You had to like the Detroit-New Orleans game for the fantasy perspective. Dallas at Tampa Bay had some nice fireworks and the Vikings in Cleveland was also a fantasy gold mine but the Game of the Week just has to be:

Denver 12, Cincinnati 7

Granted - not a lot of fantasy points here. Not a lot of NFL points either. But what a wonderfully stupid game.

Carson Palmer is back and he passed for 247 yards but could not connect on a score. And he had two interceptions. Chad Ochocinco was productive (5-89) but Laveranues Coles had just one catch after dropping three passes. Apparently at three, even the Bengals stop throwing to you. Chris Henry - that favorite super sleeper for some people had a big one catch for 18 yards. The Broncos have two very good cornerbacks so a #3 or #4 wideout would seem more attractive. But Henry's first game as the reborn wideout who has seen the light was just one catch. Whoopee.

Cedric Benson had a decent game with 21 carries for 76 yards and a score but when Denver visited other teams last year they'd usually have twice as many rushing yards.

The Broncos were busy not rushing or passing well in the game. Brandon Marshall had four catches but only gained 27 yards. Eddie Royal had just two receptions for 18 yards. It was like, oh, I don't know. Like Kyle Orton was playing the same short game he never got past in Chicago. His two most productive receivers until the end were the two tight ends. It just all really, really smacked of what happens when you import a wildly productive offense from New England and then hand it over to a game manager quarterback who shies away from throwing anything actually down the field.

This was a pretty hard game to watch and I tried to tune in for as long as I could take it. The Broncos kicked a field goal right before the half to break the 0-0 tie. By that point,. it seemed maybe enough to win the game. Prater kicked another one at the end of the third quarter and a seemingly insurmountable six point lead with only a quarter left to play.

But the Bengals took over on their own nine yard line with six minutes left to play and suddenly it all came together. Between completely ineffective runs by Benson, Palmer started moving the team down the field and was at the Denver 32-yard line at the two minute warning. with 50 seconds to play, the Bengals had reached the Denver 7-yard line. On the next play Andre Caldwell reached the one-yard line. Then Benson bulled over with only 41 seconds to play.

The Bengals had their first lead (heck - first points for that matter) in the game and all they had to do was to keep the Broncos out of the endzone for 41 seconds. We all know that Orton has no deep ball - how hard could this be?

To top it off, Eddie Royal took the kick off and instead of downing it and saving time, he ran it out, slipped in his cut and was tackled on the 17-yard line while wasting seven seconds. On first down, Orton badly threw a deep pass to Brandon Marshall since half the secondary was surrounding him. On second down, he tried to hit Eddie Royal but it was batted away. Only not away so much as batted up and back to where Brandon Stokley was running. He collected it in stride and raced 87 yards untouched into the endzone for his only catch in the game. Orton's only decent completion should have been an interception or an incompletion but a carom shot that had nothing to do with him almost doubled his passing yards.

It must suck to be a Bengals fan. They had it and then had every fan's heart stomped when Stokley scored. Suddenly Orton in Denver is a good thing (as the announcer said - teams win with him).

The Broncos cannot count on that happening every week.

But can the Bengals?

Football is a joy, A very cruel joy.

Now get back to work...

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