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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 6
David Dorey
October 12 , 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Ryan 332 3
Matt Hasselbeck 265 4
Donovan McNabb 294 3
Peyton Manning 309 3
Matt Schaub 376 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Ahmad Bradshaw 165 2
Michael Turner 97 3
Ray Rice 143 1
Cedric Benson 136 1
Adrian Peterson 75 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Miles Austin 250 2
Roddy White 210 2
Jeremy Maclin 142 2
Andre Johnson 101 2
Nate Burleson 98 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Kellen Winslow 102 2
Heath Miller 54 1
Visanthe Shiancoe 49 1
Owen Daniels 94 0
Jeff King 30 1
Placekickers XP FG
Lawrence Tynes 5 3
Olindo Mare 5 2
Jason Elam 6 1
Nick Folk 2 2
Ryan Longwell 5 1
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Seahawks 1 5 2
Vikings 1 2 4
Giants 0 6 3
Steelers 0 7 1
Eagles 0 3 3

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Kyle Boller (STL) - Undisclosed injury
Calvin Johnson (DET) - Knee injury
Mario Manningham (NYG) - Bruised chest
Ben Watson (NE) - Concussion
Glen Coffee (SF) - Leg Injury

2 Legit 2 Bench

Cedric Benson was a pleasant surprise this season and he even paid off when the Bengals faced the Steelers and he gained 76 yards and a score on their previously impenetrable defense. But this week was a time when you could finally feel safe in benching Benson for some other option because running in Baltimore just doesn't happen much. The Ravens defense always played the part of cowboys roping calfs when opponents would dare to handoff to a running back. Except for Sunday.

Cedric Benson not only rushed for 120 yards on 27 carries and scored once, he not only was instrumental in the Bengals actually winning in Baltimore, he was the first opposing running back to rush for over 100 yards in Baltimore since 2006.

Steelers? Check. At Baltimore? Check. Start every week? Check!

But You Said to Cover the White Guy

The 49ers were spanked 45-10 by the Falcons in a surprisingly decided fashion and the beat was on early in the game when Michael Turner scored a touchdown in the first quarter. After a three-and-out by the 49ers, the Falcons were driving the field again and Mike Singletary called a timeout after Roddy White caught a 16-yard pass down to the SF 31-yard line. He brought the entire defense to the sidelines and gave a quick pep talk/death threat and sent them back to do their jobs. The next play, White caught a 31-yard touchdown.

Roddy White went on to score a 90-yard touchdown which concluded with a failed somersault and a penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. He ended 210 yards on eight catches which set the all-time franchise record mark of 198 yards set by Terance Mathis 11 years ago.

Double Trouble. Not Sure Why Though...

Through Week 4 there had only been five wide receivers who had scored twice in a game this season. In Week five, there were nine of them and Reggie Wayne dropped what would have been the tenth. One week had almost twice the number of big games for wideouts as the previous four combined. We even had two wideouts exceed 200 yards in a game. That does bring us up to the same level of 2008 when the first five weeks also produced 14 multiple score games for wideouts only they did not mostly come from just one week. Nine. In one week. But last year at this time there had been 44 instances of a 100 yard game by a wideout but it is only 34 this year so far.

Weirder yet is that we have already seen 31 games of 300+ yards passing but we only had 23 at this point in 2008. It's been a slow year punctuated by some monster games until this week when so many scored twice. After five weeks in 2008, the best game was only 167 yards and in one day we just saw two player exceed 200. Big weeks but a small year it seems.

10 Random Thoughts

1. The Good Teams to me - Bengals, Colts, Broncos, Giants, Vikings, Saints, Jets and maybe the Eagles, Patriots and Ravens. Those nine teams will all make it to the playoffs even though there are 11 more weeks to play because so many teams suck this year and these guys are only widening the gap between themselves and the rest of the league. Seriously - Bengals and Saints are two of the top teams? I personally pretend they are both new franchises this year and are not dragging the anchor of losing around anymore. This year is getting easier than most any to predict the winner of games unless one of the nine are facing each other. Consider that the Colts and Broncos already have three game leads in their divisions. I can tell you that next week will have the Game of The Week but the Saints versus the Giants. It's almost like watching two leagues playing intramural football. Another scary facet - both the Broncos and Bengals seem to be almost inexplicably just good enough to win. All their games other than when they played each other and Denver stole the win with the Stokley touchdown.

2. The Bad Teams to me - Bills, Dolphins, Browns, Titans, Raiders, Chiefs, Redskins, Lions, Rams, Buccaneers and Panthers. That is one third of the league that I am comfortable in saying that their year is already over and that they have zero chance to beat one of the nine Good Teams. I think it is an unprecedented amount of bad teams. The Titans, Panthers and Dolphins WON THEIR DIVISIONS LAST YEAR. All I can say is that the biggest competition will be who gets the early draft picks because it may end up with a lot of tie breakers to figure out the first ten teams to draft in the 2010 draft.

3. Here is the amazing thing to me. I strongly believed that DeAngelo Williams would not come close to his league leading production of 2008. Yes, he was the highest scoring running back in many leagues when he had 1636 total yards and 20 touchdowns and this year his schedule was going from one of the easiest to one of the worst. But when he falls back, he takes it serious. After four games, he has gained only 220 yards on 59 carries for an average of 3.7 yards per carry instead of the 5.5 he had last year. He has scored just twice. Basically, he's done in four weeks just a little more than he was doing per game last year. This week at home against the Redskins? 40 yards on 18 carries. Wow. Most people who drafted him did so while saying "and I just could not let him go by." Ends up you should have.

4. My opinion - the Cowboys should just use Tashard Choice as the primary back, Marion Barber on short yardage and Felix Jones becomes another Reggie Bush type who plays on third downs and catches 5 passes a game whenever he is healthy. Choice is the best runner the Cowboys have because he can run inside and outside and so far he does not get hurt. He was amazing at the end of last season when nothing else on the Cowboys could be described as "amazing" (at least not in a good sense). This week was just a standard game - Barber rushed 15 times for 53 yards while Choice ran only 8 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. Barber doesn't seem to run as hungry anymore to me. Choice just wants to play.

5. For being a malcontent who started the season with two forgettable games, Brandon Marshall has apparently seen the light since he has scored in each of the last three games including twice against the Patriots this week. His yardage is off his 2008 pace to be sure but scoring every week? Makes a difference. A big difference.

6. Remember back to 2004 when Peyton Manning had his career best season of 4557 passing yards and 49 passing touchdowns to set the NFL record (before Brady)? Well, seems that after the first five games of that year he had 1321 yards and 14 scores. Currently, he has 12 passing touchdowns and a mere 1645 yards. That is a pace to end with 5264 yards and 39 touchdowns. Manning has yet to fall below 300 passing yards so far and the Colts are 5-0. The year of the Manning seems to be happening again.

7. There were only five tight ends with a touchdown on Sunday thanks in part to Antonio Gates being on bye but overall seems like tight ends are not a big deal this year other than the one big game that a few have had. Consider that the best tight ends to use on Sunday were Kellen Winslow (9-102, 2 TD), Heath Miller (5-54, 1 TD), Vishante Shiancoe (4-49, 1 TD), Owen Daniels (8-94) and Jeff King (2-30, 1 TD). Just how late could you have drafted those guys in your league?

8. Plan ahead. We are coming into week six where DAL, MIA, SF and IND are on a bye week. That will affect many teams covering for players who are out. But use this coming week to prepare to cover weeks 7 and 8 when six teams are going to be off each week. This includes DEN, JAC, DET, BAL, SEA and TEN in week seven and CIN, TB, KC, NE, WAS and PIT in week eight. You'll already be going against others looking to fill holes in their rosters and if you get an injury to players on your roster this week, you could be in a very bad spot. Take a look at your rosters for week 7 and 8 bye week players and figure out what you need to do now.

9. We've already had four shutouts recorded this season. There were only a total of six in all of 2008. We are on a pace to more than double last year's mark because there are so many bad teams. Four teams remain winless and the Rams have already incurred two shutouts. Not a lot of fantasy points coming from a shutout. And we're not even counting the Browns winning 6-3 in Buffalo when Derek Anderson literally completed two of 17 passes for 23 yards and one interception and won the game. It boggles the mind.

10. I know I am in the minority. The miniscule minority. But I sort of feel bad for Terrell Owens. Yes, he was a loud mouth and a malcontent and a egocentric player. But he was also a hard worker and one of the most prolific wide receivers to every play in the NFL. He's now winding down his career in an apparent Siberia (just wait for the winter, T.O.) in Buffalo where he already broke his 185 game streak with at least one catch and by now has one touchdown and a total of 202 yards over five games. He is second to only Jerry Rice with 140 touchdown catches. So I maybe I do not feel badly toward Owens the man because I do not know him and his public persona is less than popular. But as a football player, it is a hard way to see someone end a prolific career.

Huddle Player of the Week

Miles Austin (DAL) - When Roy Williams was made inactive for the game against the Chiefs, it thrust Austin into a starting role. Recall Austin as the popular sleeper pick last summer that many fantasy owners had dumped since he only had five catches in the first four games and that included getting blanked by the Panthers in week three. Going into the game on Sunday, Austin had 81 receiving yards on the season. Thanks to overtime, Austin not only had a personal best of 10 catches for 250 yards and two scores, he also set an all-time record for the Cowboys. He had a 115 yard game as his previous best and almost no other decent games. It is a sure thing that Austin will not forget Kansas City and the Chiefs will not soon forget him.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Josh Johnson 280 2 QB Joe Flacco 195 1
RB Chester Taylor 69 1 RB Willis McGahee 2 0
RB Leonard Weaver 24 1 RB Marion Barber 53 0
WR Miles Austin 250 2 WR DeSean Jackson 1 0
WR Jeremy Maclin 142 2 WR Calvin Johnson 2 0
WR Austin Collie 97 2 WR Randy Moss 36 0
PK Olindo Mare 5 XP 2 FG PK Josh Scobee nada

Huddle Fantasy Points = 138

Huddle Fantasy Points = 21

Sunday's Couch Commentary

This season is an odd bird to be sure. Another shut out. The Browns winning 6-3 in Buffalo. The 49ers suddenly falling apart and the Falcons becoming a road warrior. The Bengals apparently think this is 1989 instead of 2009 because they are winning games as if the Super Bowl was a possibility. the Broncos may be the biggest "go figure" of them all though their constant minimizing of fantasy points is not appreciated. There were a number of blowouts this week as is becoming normal but the Game-O-The-Week with the best fantasy angle was clear.

Houston 21, Arizona 28

The Cardinals scored on their first possession when a solid drive reached the goal line and Tim Hightower stole yet another good chance to give the rookie Beanie Wells some work. The Cards reached the HOU 9-yard line near the end of the first quarter but Anquan Boldin lost a fumble. That led the Texans to march down the field and once the drive stalled at the ARI 16-yard line, Kris Brown had his field goal attempt blocked. The game was a bit short on excitement.

WIth only 1:50 left to play in the first half, Warner finally found Larry Fitzgerald for a 9-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead. The Texans got the ball and went three-and-out and punted with only 1:14 left to play. But that gave the Cardinals the ball around midfield and completions to Jerheme Urban and Boldin led to a 26-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald for a 21-0 lead. It was going to be a laugher. At least the Cardinal receivers were doing well.

After an uneventful third quarter, the Texans finally mounted a drive from their own 36-yard line to the four yard line where Steve Slaton gained three yards. That was much too close to being a touchdown so Slaton was yanked and Chris Brown bulled in the score for a 7-21 deficit.

Holding the Cardinals to a punt, the fourth quarter started with the Texans on the move again. Daniels had a 27-yard completion. Slaton caught a 23 yarder and David Anderson had a 15-yard reception. With 13 minutes left in the game, the Texans reached the ten yard line where Andre Johnson caught a touchdown. 14-21 and getting closer.

The Cards once again were ineffective and marched from their own 34-yard line with a four minute drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald - his second in the game and now a 21-21 tied game with only seven minutes left to play.

The Cardinals once again went three-and-out using all passes. The Texans got the punt and six player later with only 2:30 left to play, Matt Schaub threw his third touchdown only this went to CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who jumped the route and intercepted the ball. 28-21 in favor of the Cards again.

The ensuing kickoff had Andre Davis returning the ball 63 yards to the ARI 40-yard line. And once again, Schaub led the team down using short passes to five different receivers and a five yard pass to Slaton brought the ball to the 1-yard line and in appreciation, he was once again yanked fro Chris Brown who ran for no gain. Then Schaub missed Joel Dreessen on a pass and on fourth down it was right back to Chris Brown who once again was stuffed going right up the middle. Splat. He could not have hit that logjam any more squarely.

The Cards killed the clock with two runs and the Texans lost despite outscoring the Cardinals offense 21-0 in the second half. The Schaub interception was the difference in the game. It was an exciting finish even though the Cards won without showing up in the second half.

We all knew going into this matchup that sparks were bound to fly. And what is not to like about the game producing exactly what we were expecting? Both quarterbacks passed for over 300 yards and had two touchdowns. The #1 wideout for each team had a big game - Andre Johnson (8-101, 2 TD) and Larry Fitzgerald (5-79). Owen Daniels (8-94) had a great game as did Anquan Boldin (7-81). Both teams are apparently abandoning the run this year which is just good to know even if the truth hurts.

What was disappointing was that this would have been the greatest chance of the year to let Beanie Wells loose and with only seven runs in a game that they led 21-0 at the half, it is evident that they will never use Wells or even Hightower much. Short yardage score? Use Hightower. Sort of begs the question - why did you draft Wells, anyway?

And for Slaton - what a burn. He gets the team near the goal line twice and gets yanked for Chris Brown who comes up short on the most important play of the game. Slaton only had 13 runs in the game anyway but at least had six catches for 59 yards to salvage some mediocre fantasy value.

We know who is bad now. We know who is good. We know what to expect and that is precisely the problem because now is when things change and the season's best studs start to pull away and more than a few fall to the wayside. Throw in a lot of teams on bye in the next three weeks and the NFL and your league could look different by November.

Now get back to work...

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