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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 4
David Dorey
September 28, 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Peyton Manning 379 4
Aaron Rodgers 307 3
Kevin Kolb 328 3
Matt Schaub 300 3
Jason Campbell 361 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Maurice Jones-Drew 147 3
Pierre Thomas 126 2
Julius Jones 136 1
Willie Parker 129 1
Willis McGahee 67 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Santana Moss 178 1
DeSean Jackson 149 1
Reggie Wayne 126 1
Derrick Mason 118 1
Jerricho Cotchery 108 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Vernon Davis 96 2
Brent Celek 104 1
Daniel Fells 35 2
Dallas Clark 62 1
Greg Olsen 44 1
Placekickers XP FG
Stephen Gostkowski 2 4
Olindo Mare 1 4
Mason Crosby 3 3
Nate Kaeding 2 3
Matt Prater 2 3
Defense/Special Teams Sacks TDs TOs
49ers 2 1 1
Ravens 2 0 4
Chargers 1 1 2
Jets 2 0 4
Colts 4 0 3

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Lot's of players were already out injured this week and they were joined by a few more. The Gore injury will have the biggest fantasy implications and early word is a high ankle sprain that will last a couple of weeks.

Kevin Smith (DET) - Shoulder injury
Laurence Maroney (NE) - Thigh injury
Marc Bulger (STL) - Shoulder injury
Frank Gore (SF) - High ankle sprain
Chad Pennington (MIA) - Shoulder injury
Laurent Robinson (STL) - Leg Injury

And... You're... "IT"!

As with so many things in life, the 20th time is the charm. The Detroit Lions finally removed the sasquatch-sized monkey from their back when the Redskins amazingly continued their inability to show up offensively. No matter that Santana Moss just had his annual great game, the Redskins had to fly home knowing that they just lost to a team that had not won since 2007. That they could not convert a fourth-and-one because Clinton Portis is already banged up and playing like it's an old-timers flag football game.

After the win, the Lions left the locker room and went back out into the stadium to high five the remaining fans who were still sitting motionless in their seat with their mouths hanging open. Matthew Stafford may get a statue out of this.

No Best in the West?

Because nature hates anything perfect, the NFC West is being led by the 2-1 49ers. Otherwise, the seven other NFL divisions are all being led by a 3-0 team that is all alone atop its division. No division has two undefeated teams.

There are six divisions that have a single 0-3 team with no division having more than one. So far the Jets, Ravens, Colts, Broncos, Vikings, Giants and Saints have not lost a game. The Dolphins, Browns, Titans, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Rams and Redskins are 0-3 (The Skins would be 1-2 but losing to the Lions revoked their win over the Rams in week two).

Free Agent of the Week

Have to go with Glenn Coffee who was taken in some leagues but has actually been dropped in a few of those already. Gore has a strained ligament in his ankle and could miss a week or two. The 49ers have their next two games at home against the Rams and Falcons and then have their bye week. Lynell Hamilton was looking like he might be worthy of the first waiver wire grab when he scored against the Bills but later Pierre Thomas played and looked very good. Hamilton will be a part of a four man monster rotation at best. Let someone else take him and aim for Coffee who was a star at Alabama and has the talent.

Chin up, Little Buddy...

Three weeks in and maybe you think your team is already done. Maybe you think that you already have that whole championship thing wrapped up. But let's take a look back at who the 2008 top running backs and wideouts were at this time last season and where they ended up on the season.

Top Ten RB and WR after week three of 2008 and
how they ranked at the end of the season
Top Ten RB and WR after a full season
and how they ranked as of week three 2008
1 23
Reggie Bush
1 2
Anquan Boldin
1 3
Matt Forte
1 49
Andre Johnson
2 13
Marion Barber
2 17
Santana Moss
2 47
DeAngelo Williams
3 1
Anquan Boldin
3 1
Matt Forte
3 4
Brandon Marshall
3 15
Maurice Jones-Drew
2 4
Larry Fitzgerald
4 6
Michael Turner
4 2
Larry Fitzgerald
4 22
Thomas Jones
4 3
Brandon Marshall
5 14
Frank Gore
5 6
Calvin Johnson
5 7
Brian Westbrook
5 15
Roddy White
6 7
Adrian Peterson
6 62
Chris Chambers
6 4
Michael Turner
6 5
Calvin Johnson
7 5
Brian Westbrook
7 7
Greg Jennings
7 6
Adrian Peterson
7 7
Greg Jennings
8 9
Chris Johnson
8 12
Reggie Wayne
8 36
Steve Slaton
8 31
Wes Welker
9 47
Julius Jones
9 13
Terrell Owens
9 8
Chris Johnson
9 41
Steve Smith (CAR)
10 12
Marshawn Lynch
10 14
Hines Ward
10 18
LaDainian Tomlinson
10 36
Antonio Bryant

So a lot of those top ten players this year are going to be there still at the end of the year. But some are going to take a nosedive soon and others will start a meteoric rise now. Far too early to be comfortable yet.

10 Random Thoughts

1. Every single college quarterback who will declare for the NFL draft this season must be fighting off agents with baseball bats. Because 2008 had Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco literally turn around their respective franchises as rookie quarterbacks. This year has Mark Sanchez leading the 3-0 Jets and Matt Stafford just pitched a winning game for the Lions which may have been harder to do than anything the other three quarterbacks have yet done. Combined. No more drafting the new guy and letting him season on the bench for a year or two. Next year will see at least a couple more quarterbacks made instant mega-millionaires and the 22-year old quarterback will be given the simple directive "please, save our franchise now."

This would be a guaranteed thing were it not for two words - JaMarcus Russell. Then again, no team is going to think their draft is Raiderish.

2. Speaking of JaMarcus Russell, has there ever been a bigger bust at quarterback? Granted, I can only speak for the last couple of decades and the NFL had many years that a worse one could have existed. But it is safe to say that for $60 million, you'd think you would get more than the 12 completions on 21 attempted for 61 yards and two interceptions that he produced in a home game against the Broncos. There were three NFL quarterbacks who had more yardage that that with just one completion on Sunday. Maybe Big Al has gone whack-a-doodle but that was the sixth time in his three seasons that he has failed to pass for even 100 yards in a game. You know, most teams don't care when they play the Raiders. You'd think slop alone would make him look nearly average. On Sunday, he only completed two passes to a wideout. How can you average five yards per completion when the only real strength you ever had was throwing deep? Seriously, it is hard to watch and mostly because I do not make $60 million like him.

The question to all of you is when will the Raiders ever again have a complete, whole team that can compete? Figure Al is not going to die and if he did, his will probably stipulates something along the lines of "Weekend at Bernie's" to happen.... unless it already has... hmmm

3. How bad are the Redskins? Seriously. They lost in Detroit. They barely clipped the visiting Rams last week. Jason Campbell has posted some fantasy numbers but other than Santana Moss once a year, is there any fantasy value on this team? Clinton Portis has played three games including facing the Rams and Lions and has 47 carries for 183 yards and no touchdowns. It's like he's aging before our eyes. HC Jim Zorn brought promise that Jason Campbell would become an NFL quality quarterback but not really. Campbell has occasionally produced fantasy numbers but he hasn't moved the Redskins forward at all. Campbell really has only one failing. He doesn't have "IT". You know what I mean.

And one final potshot at the Skins who already feel plenty bad enough - what was up with that hook-n-ladder fire drill on the final play? With the ball on the DET 36-yard line, Campbell doesn't throw for the endzone? He has eight seconds. He could have had two passes for that matter. Instead he hits Santana Moss only six yards down the field and two laterals later it was dead on the DET 23-yard line. What???? You cannot throw 36 yards into the endzone? Favre had almost the exact same situation and he threw a touchdown with an arm that has thrown a gazillion more passes than Campbell. In fantasy football terms, its getting close to time for "you're dead to me now" for all Skins players this year.

4. Cedric Benson is for real. Hands down, you have to be impressed with the guy who almost never shares and has been averaging 4.4 yards per carry and just ran for 76 yards on 16 carries and scored once against the Steelers. He has 66 carries already with 292 rushing yards and a couple of catches as well. Compare that to Matt Forte's 59 carries for 151 yards and a 2.6 yard rushing average. What an eloquent statement on the changes in the NFL from year to year. Who knows what'll be like by the end of the year but for now, a change of fortunes to be sure.

5. I think I speak for the rest of the league when I say it is really amusing to watch the Super Bowl champion each year start to lose and the head coach has to give the same uncomfortable presser after the game. They have to be all stern like this was never supposed top happen and that he commends his opponent on a fine game when you know he doesn't mean a word of it. And he has to explain that sloppy execution will be fixed week for sure and yada-yada. Happens every year. And when that is HC Mike Tomlin explaining how they lost to the Bengals for the first time since helmets had face bars, it is kinda funny. I mean the two Super Bowl teams are both 1-2 right now. That's the Steelers and Cardinals in case you forgot.

6. Terrell Owens streak of 185 straight games with a catch is now officially over. He had to speak to reporters after the game because it is mandated by the league but he was as curt and succinct wearing his sunglasses and hat has he could be while relaying robotic answers. Granted, it was nothing like Brady whenever he loses to the Colts but it was something to see knowing inside Owens is freaking out. The reason I am not a reporter in the post game interviews is because I would be the guy asking him "so, do you think you will ever catch a pass again this year?" or " Josh Reed had six catches for 60 yards today, do you have any fears of him passing you on the depth charts?" The #2 scoring wideout of all time looks like he is ending with a whimper...

7. The best job in the NFL has to be running back for the Saints who scare defenses so badly with their passing ability that opponents happily give up eight yards on a run because it means there was no 40-yard touchdown pass. Pierre Thomas cleaned up last season when given the chance. When he was out to start the season, Mike Bell lit up the visiting Lions like it was hard to do and even looked good against a suddenly reeling Eagle's team in week two. Then Bell got hurt not unlike he has done much of his short, journeyman career. So Lynell Hamilton started the game this week to the dismay of Pierre Thomas owners and he had five carries for 24 yards and a touchdown. Another star is born? Nah, Thomas then came in and reeled off 126 yards on 14 carries and scored twice in Buffalo. Oh yeah, playing running back in New Orleans. It doesn't get much easier. Except maybe this week when the Jets come to town.

8. I am wondering why I even bother with drafting running backs in the first two rounds. It was always a mandatory law that you took at least one if not two with your first two picks. But that was then and this is now. How's that running back thing working out for you? Maurice Jones-Drew showed up this week but he was merely "okay" for the first two weeks. Consider the names of the running backs who made up the top 12 on Sunday - Pierre Thomas, Julius Jones, Willie Parker, Willis McGahee, Fred Taylor, Steven Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Brandon Jacobs, Knowshon Moreno, Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson. Where were those guys drafted? Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and other receivers have made their owners pretty happy so far. I predict even more mixing in of non-RBs in the first two rounds of drafts next year.

9. Kevin Kolb has set an NFL record by passing for over 300 yards in each of his first two starts. As soon as McNabb can play, Kolb sits. And there is Michael Vick and Jeff Garcia hanging around as well. His rookie contract expires in 2010 but he may be pulling a Matt Cassel by getting noticed. He could be a restricted free agent this year for a team who maybe doesn't have anyone who can throw for 391 yards in a game. If he does go elsewhere - pay heed. He's been in pass-happy offensive schemes everywhere he has played. At the University of Houston, he was a freshman starter. In High School, I actually saw him play once when I visited a friend of mine in Stephenville. He threw for some obscene yardage that night as happens in more than a few Texas high school football games but Kolb continued in college and the pros. Not a bad pickup for a dynasty league...

10. There is bad. There is really bad. And apparently there is spectacu-bad AKA the Buccaneers. They faced the Giants this week and produced a total of 86 yards of offense. This is the team that represents the U.S. in week seven when the Patriots and the Bucs play in London. The Bucs are horrible. We thought they were semi-bad when they lost 21-34 to the Cowboys or 20-33 in Buffalo. Getting waxed 24-0 in Tampa Bay by the Giants brought the team to a whole new low. Carnell Williams was the lead running back with eight rushing yards. They play in Washington next where the Skins need a patsy really badly after losing to the Lions. Spectacu-bad - only in Tampa Bay.

Huddle Player of the Week

Maurice Jones-Drew - The player drafted #1 or #2 in almost every league this year was a disappointment for the first two weeks playing for a team that seemed likely to just get worse. But the Jaguars turned it around last week and Jones-Drew helped lead the way with 119 yards on 23 carries and four catches for 28 yards. He scored three times including a 61-yard touchdown. He was the difference maker for week three and finally gave back to fantasy owners who had high expectations.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB Kevin Kolb 327 3 QB Drew Brees 172 0
RB John Kuhn 11 2 RB Frank Gore 4 0
RB Lynell Hamilton 24 1 RB Clinton Portis 48 0
WR Andre Caldwell 54 1 WR Tedd Ginn 0 0
WR Mike Wallace 102 0 WR Terrell Owens 0 0
WR Daniel Fells 35 2 WR Roddy White 24 0
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 XP 4 FG PK Shayne Graham 1 FG

Huddle Fantasy Points = 102

Huddle Fantasy Points = 15

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This week was fewer upsets than last week and the results had a lot of romps going on. Eight games were decided by 14 points or more. It was a week where the good got better and the bad became worse with the beautiful exception of the Lions win over the Skins. The Jaguars also managed to right their ship and surprisingly took down the Texans in Houston. No team scored more than 36 points so it was a slightly lower overall weekend.

The Game-O-The-Week could have been the Lions game and maybe it should since their fans redefine "long-suffering". But you have to go with the game that we knew was coming and was only a matter of time.

San Francisco 24, Minnesota 27

There is no disputing that the 49ers had a heroic effort in their loss and it seems almost wrong to celebrate a win when the loser just played so well. On the second series of the game, Frank Gore injured his ankle and left the field. That's basically the entire offense hopping to the bench. But the 49ers hardly gave up.

Brett Favre found Sidney Rice down the middle for a 30-yard touchdown during the first quarter and then went up10-0 with a field goal to open the second quarter. It seemed like an easy win in the making but the 49ers drove the field on their next possession and threw a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis because get real - who would cover that guy? What were the odds he'd even catch it?

Ryan Longwell added another field goal for a 13-7 lead and on the final play of the first half he lined up for his third but it was blocked. The 49ers scooped it up and returned it for 59 yards and lead changing touchdown. 14-13 at the half and the Vikings were mostly amazed at their bad luck.

The 49ers were relatively successful at slowing down Adrian Peterson and that stymied the Vikings' drives. With 4:51 left in the third quarter, Joe Nedney hit a 37-yard field goal for a 17-13 lead. That growing deficit didn't last long though since the ensuing kickoff saw Percy Harvin run 101 yards for a score to give the Vikings the lead 20-17.

A few series later and it was the fourth quarter. The 49ers drove 80 yards and ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis who now apparently really does require coverage because he apparently can catch passes. 24-20 with 8:17 left to play.

The Vikings next series was three and out. Peterson ran for one net yard on two carries and Favre threw a three yard pass on third and nine. The 49ers obliged with their own three-and-out.

With 3:26 left to play, the Vikings took over on their own 28-yard line with a chance for Brett Favre to show the Vikings what a come from behind drive could be.With two passes, he reached the 48-yard line. He then hit Sidney Rice for a 26 yard gain but no, he was across the line of scrimmage. Loss of down, five yards. He then hit Peterson for a nine yard gain and on third and five, it was incomplete to Bernard Berrian. On fourth down when it had to happen, Favre threw another incompletion with 1:55 left to play. The 49ers took over on downs.

But three straight Coffee runs only gained six yards and the punt sailed into the endzone. Brett Favre had 1:29 left to play with no time outs and 80 yards to go for a touchdown to win.Two short passes reached the MIN 41-yard line with 1:05 left on the clock. An incompletion was followed by a five yard strike to Harvin for the first down. After spiking the ball with 1:00 left, Favre threw incomplete and then found Harvin for 15 yards to the SF 39-yard line with 33 seconds left to play. He hit Berrian for seven yards and the clock stopped with 12 seconds left when Berrian ran out of bounds.

This is where the Redskins went for a whoop-whoop-whoop Three Stooges Hook-n-Ladder and failed. But Favre threw it downfield. I knew on that drive that Favre was going to win the game if only so we could hear Childress say something smug like "and that is why we brought him here". And Favre could say something like "I'm just trying to have fun". And the announcers could find their Favre-Love all over again like flowers in the spring.

Sure enough, streak across the endzone was Greg Lewis who made an incredible catch and tapped both feet in for the win. It was vintage Favre to be sure. It was also the first time in 63 games that the Vikings had a passer exceed 300 yards. The more things change, the more they remain the same only on a different team with different players. But you get the point.

It was a great weekend of football and there are 13 teams that have either not lost or not won a game this season. That's bound to change this coming week. And whether you are 0-3 or 3-0 so far it doesn't really matter because we got a whole lot of football left to play and this was a fairly "normal" week so that next Sunday will seem so much more surprising. Players are already dropping left and right - make sure your roster is keeping up!

Now get back to work...

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