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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 3
David Dorey
September 21, 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Schaub 357 4
Philip Rivers 436 2
Kevin Kolb 391 2
Drew Brees 311 3
Carson Palmer 185 4
Running Backs Yards TD
Chris Johnson 284 3
Frank Gore 246 2
Darren Sproles 150 1
Marion Barber 155 1
Willis McGahee 89 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Andre Johnson 149 2
Marques Colston 98 2
Mario Manningham 150 1
Vincent Jackson 141 1
DeSean Jackson 101 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Kellen Winslow 90 1
Owen Daniels 72 1
Tony Gonzalez 71 1
Marcedes Lewis 62 1
Bret Celek 104 0
Placekickers XP FG
Rian Lindell 3 4
Nate Kaeding 2 4
John Carney 6 2
Joe Nedney 2 3
Kris Brown 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Arizona 1 4 3
New Orleans 1 2 4
Denver 0 4 3
Green Bay 1 2 2
NY Giants 1 0 4

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Jerious Norwood (ATL) - Concussion
Troy Williamson (JAC) - Shoulder injury
Lance Moore (NO) - Hamstring
Brian Westbrook (PHI) - Sprained ankle
Mike Bell (NO) - Sprained knee
Matt Hasselbeck (SEA) - Bruised ribs
Domenik Hixon (NYG) - Sprained knee

Dude, you gotta get one of those...

And the name is "Safety".

Like free safety or strong safety. Or just plain safety that can horse collar a guy before he single handedly decides fantasy games. It was all about long distance romance on Sunday when the scoring was hardly about bulling in from the one-yard line. Consider the touchdown distances of yesterday for Chris Johnson (57, 69, 91), Frank Gore (80, 79), Darren Sproles (81), Andre Johnson (72) and DeSean Jackson (71).

Yeah. Consider those game changers.

Okay, so explain what a bad defense is again?

The Baltimore Ravens, annual defensive darlings for a good reason, just gave up 436 passing yards to the San Diego Chargers. The Titans not only just allowed Matt Schaub to throw for 357 yards, they gave up 363 yards to Ben Roethlisberger last week. Just when we get comfortable with the Eagles defense being elite by holding the Panthers to 138 passing and 77 rushing yards, the Saints visit Philly and walk away with an easy win that included 311 passing yards, three passing scores and 133 rushing yards with two more touchdowns.

Ah heck - just start your studs. Long as you have figured out who they are.

Et Tu, Tome'?

Every year welcomes change aplenty in the NFL and most of what we do in fantasy football is to try to keep up with it or even, heaven helping, get ahead of it. Those few players who are consistently great every year are golden. No-brainer fantasy starts every week that are sure to give you a big return. Guys like, oh, Tom Brady.

You know, the guy who missed last year but in his most recent game in New York produced 297 yards and three touchdowns against the Jets. So it was a small disappointment when this week served up only 216 passing yards and one interception.

Hey wait - look! The Jets defense bandwagon! I gotta go...

10 Random Thoughts

1. So far this year it seems like you either have the magic guy or you struggle. In week one it was Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson and the Philly defense mowing down all fantasy opponents. This week it is Chris Johnson, Frank Gore or Andre Johnson making a huge difference. 200 yard rushing games or three scores in a week is a pretty rare occurrence. At least it used to be. We've already had six quarterbacks throwing for more than 350 yards in just the first two weeks. Seems like fantasy football has been rather feast or famine for a lot of guys.

2. How is it possible for the Redskins to only beat the Rams by two points and to not have any touchdowns in the game? The Rams were the visitors. Steven Jackson (17-104) ran better than Clinton Portis (19-79). There was only one turnover by the Skins. We could chalk this up to a trap game but the Rams won 19-17 there in week six of last year. The Rams are on a 12 game losing streak. Man. This does not bode well for the future. Maybe the Redskins were too busy preparing for their tough matchup in Detroit this week?

3. The Texans beat the Titans. Not by much, but these are the sort of games that they always lost in the past. Maybe as recent as just last week when they were whipped by the Jets. The Texans were without Kevin Walter and Andre Davis so armed with only their #1 WR and TE, they passed for 357 yards and four scores while Steve Slaton could only gain two yards per carry. The chances that every team is going to try and bomb the Titans appears very high. Not to worry though, the 0-2 Titans can correct their record with a simple road win against... the... uh-oh. They play the Jets next week. Mr. Sanchez, start limbering up that arm!

4. Is it possible - and just hang with me here - is it possible that Cedric Benson really did have first round talent when he was drafted but so alienated his team and entire fan base that his career was self-screwed before he ever tried to challenge Thomas Jones for the starting job? I say this because Benson was a mega-stud in high school and college and then a fairly impressive flop in Chicago. But in Cincy, could it be that he's going to deliver on that squashed promise of long ago? He ran 29 times for 141 yards in Green Bay for a 4.9 YPC. Oddly enough, Matt Forte of those Bears only managed 55 yards on 22 carries in Green Bay just last week. Benson gained 76 yards and a score on 21 carries against the Broncos and had four catches for 32 yards. If he is going to have over 100 total yards every week, doesn't that make him a fantasy starter? Next week is at home against the Steelers. He cannot possibly run against them... I think...

5. Mario Manningham. You know that guy that did nothing as a rookie, not much in the preseason but showed up in week one as a surprise starter with three catches for 58 yards and a score. Last night he had 10 catches for 150 yards and a score in Dallas. Safe to say he will be on no waiver wires this week if somehow he made it through last week. He's obviously making a huge splash on the Giants and as long as he keeps his Glock under his mattress like the rest of us, this guy is going to make some waves in New York where we thought Manning would be hurting for quality receivers.

6. Another wide receiver certain to be snapped up from waiver wires across the land is the rookie Julian "I even look like Welker" Edelman who did not have any catches in week one but Wes Welker was a scratch this week for reasons pertaining to his knee (which no one will ever know for sure about). Edelman and Sam Aiken were active but Edelman merely led the team with eight catches for 98 yards in a game that saw Randy Moss with only 24 yards on four catches. Get first in line and grab Edelman. And then play the "Will Welker play this week" game. That always seems like more fun than it turns out to be. Nice play in a dynasty league though since Joey Galloway is hardly a long term solution. Maybe Edelman can be everything that Chad Jackson never was.

7. Committee backfields are a drag in fantasy football - no question. They water down what could have been and while the do widen out the production to more players, we only want a couple good starters in each league anyway. But I am okay with the way the NFL world works for the most part. What I hate is when Ray Rice wins the first string job for the Ravens and is super-impressive in training camp and preseason games. Willis McGahee was not only slipped to #2, but he said he was okay with it which was troubling on a whole other level. And the season starts with all the owners holding their shiny new Ray Rice running backs. And suddenly McGahee has ten carries for 44 yards and a score in week one. And he had 31 yards and another score as a receiver. That sucked but at least Rice had 120 total yards. This week - McGahee ran 15 times to Rice's eight and scored both of the rushing touchdowns. Rice had 82 total yards but no more being okay with it. The Ravens spent the summer installing Rice and now are relegating him to third down back and relief work? Man. At least Denver and New England never pretended to tell us who was going to do what.

8. Remember back when the Buccaneers had an awesome defense? That's a pretty good memory you have. And all you Carnell Williams believers who are happy with your 65 yards, seven catches and a score from him this week, you realize he only had nine rushing yards on seven carries, right? What a mess this backfield has become. Derrick "Not the next Turner" Ward gained only 32 yards on nine carries but only had one catch. I was successful this summer with my Priority #1 (draft no TB running backs). These committee backfields are becoming a nightmare and are making all of you who drafted early wideouts look pretty smart by now.

9. Have to seriously wonder what Drew Brees is going to total this year in yards and scores. He already has nine touchdowns and three were in Philly where the defense, we thought, was outstanding. I would argue that maybe no player in the league aside from Peyton Manning is as central to the success of his team than Brees is. And he's doing it by spreading the ball around. No wonder Mike Bell is running well, each defense looks like a Chinese Fire Drill trying to just cover all the receivers. Mark my words and this is hardly that bold - Brees is going to shatter records again this year. You can remove any two or three receivers from the Saints and Brees would still be like this.

10. The 49ers defense appears to be truly better this year. And while Julius Jones just scored a touchdown against them, he only gained 11 yards on eight carries and his three catches netted a two yard loss. If Hasselbeck misses more time, most of the Seahawks can going to take a big fantasy hit. The 49ers have a defense and Gore blew up this week. The Cardinals won in Jacksonville and the Rams almost won in Washington but held them to nine points in the loss. What ever happened to all the fun in playing against the NFC West? I speak from a fantasy perspective when I saw no good can come from these upgraded defenses.

Huddle Player of the Week

Chris Johnson - No contest this week. Johnson had a game for the ages when he ran for 197 yards on 16 carries with two rushing touchdowns and nine catches for 87 yards and a third score. He was hardly a short yardage solution since his scores came from 57, 69 and 91 yards. After starting his season with just 57 yards on 15 carries against the Steelers, now he can accurately claim to rush 127 yards per game. His monster game yielded 46.4 points in standard performance leagues and 55.4 points in reception point leagues. That will win more than a few games for fantasy owners.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Kevin Kolb 391 2 QB Matt Hasselbeck 97 0
RB Jason Snelling 47 1 RB Steve Slaton 59 0
RB Justin Forsett 93 0 RB Thomas Jones 53 0
WR Mike Walker 106 1 WR Eddie Royal 20 0
WR Jason Avant 79 1 WR Randy Moss 24 0
WR Johnny Knox 70 1 WR Greg Jennings 0 0
PK Rian Lindell 3 XP 4 FG PK Jeff Reed 2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 103

Huddle Fantasy Points = 19

Sunday's Couch Commentary

Quite the weekend. Eight upsets straight up and ten considering the line. There are only eight teams that are 2-0 out of 32 (nine if the Colts win on Monday night). That's going to thin the herd quickly and likely make this another year of major tie breakers when we get to the end of the season without many dominant teams.

Both Super Bowl teams have lost already. Most games this weekend were either very low scoring or shoot-outs. Six games had over 55 points in total but nine teams had no more than one touchdown scored. So far this is yet another different season that is really trying to drive out the preconceived notions we brought last year..

The best game had many contenders. The Ravens win in San Diego was a high scoring affair. The Bengals win in Green Bay almost deserves it from the sheer "say what?" factor. The Texans win in Tennessee is a strong contender were it not for a boring second half. Even the Saints romp in Philly is deserving. But the Game of The Week has to go to the late game that showcased a new Stadium and some old problems in Dallas. Perhaps God really was looking down into Texas Stadium and was ticked there was no game there.

NY Giants 33, Dallas 31

The first points in the new stadium were supposed to be the Cowboys but Lawrence Tynes got to break in the regular season scoreboard first. When the Cowboys responded with a Marion Barber touchdown, it seemed like this could go the Cowboys way. After holding the Giants to a three-and-out, the Cowboys took over and on third down Tony Romo threw towards Patrick Crayton and, as happens so often on these passes, it was intercepted and returned for a score.

Dallas sought to reverse this bad luck trend by taking the ensuing kickoff and having Felix Jones fumble it right back to the Giants on the Dallas 27-yard line. The Giants accepted the gift and kicked a field goal for the 13-7 lead.

Romo sought to make amends for his mistake and ended up with a touchdown pass to Jason Witten for the 14-13 lead. That held for a few series of trading punts until Romo throws a pass slightly behind Witten who accidentally bats it down where it hits his heel as he is running. The ball caroms straight into the gut of the trailing Giants defender who would have needed to try to not catch it. He was surprised to suddenly find the ball sitting in his hands and ran for a touchdown but the whistle had been inadvertently blown. The Giants had to settle for when Mario Manningham caught a 22-yard touchdown for the 20-14 lead. The Cowboys ended the first half with a 47-yard field goal by Nick Folk and a 20-17 deficit.

The third quarter opened with a nice drive that ended with a missed 29-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes. After trading punts, Felix Jones tore off a 56 yard run and Romo rushed in a touchdown to make up for all those negative interception points he was giving to his fantasy owners. The Cowboys finally took the lead back, 24-20. After a punt by the Giants, Romo ended the third quarter by throwing another interception because YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF HIM. That and maybe Jessica Simpson potentially offered some relaxing activities he no longer enjoys (like rub his shoulders and stuff). Gotta be something.

After the Giants tack on another field goal, the Cowboys respond not be throwing another interception, but having Felix Jones score from seven-yards out for the 31-30 win with only 3:46 left to play. What a great ending for the first game in the Cowboys new stadium. Except for Eli Manning had three minutes left and only needed a field goal to win.

On third and six from the NYG 29-yard line, he hit Steve Smith for an 11- yard first down. At third and four at the Dallas 41-yard lien with 39 seconds left to play, he found Mario Manningham for eight yards and a first down. Drain the clock.. Timeout. Have Tynes kick a good field goal but the Cowboys called timeout. Then have Tynes kick another good field for the win.

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Ends up that there were 105,121 distributed tickets which qualified it as the biggest audience ever for an NFL regular season game. It is also a record number of pissed off Cowboys fans all in the same place which is not good when there are 105,121 of them all trying to get out to their car at the same time.

The well laid plans of Jerry and Tony often go awry. And the Cowboys spent $1.2 BILLION dollars for that heart-wrenching, gut shot of a loss. That has to make you feel better about playing against Chris Johnson this week.

Okay maybe not. But maybe next Sunday you get the magic guy. It could happen. Yeah, I am sure of it.

Now get back to work...

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