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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 7
David Dorey
October 19 , 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Tom Brady 380 6
Matt Schaub 392 4
Drew Brees 369 4
Ben Roethlisberger 417 2
Joe Flacco 385 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Maurice Jones-Drew 178 3
Ray Rice 194 2
DeAngelo Williams 172 2
Thomas Jones 220 1
Steve Slaton 145 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Randy Moss 129 3
Wes Welker 150 2
Marques Colston 166 1
Hines Ward 159 1
Sidney Rice 176 0
Tight Ends Yards TD
Zach Miller 139 1
Owen Daniels 78 2
Visanthe Shiancoe 48 2
Heath Miller 80 1
Greg Olsen 57 1
Placekickers XP FG
Ryan Longwell 3 4
Mason Crosby 2 4
Ryan Succop 0 4
Stephen Gostkowski 8 1
Rian Lindell 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Buccaneers 2 1 3
Browns 1 3 4
Rams 1 3 3
Packers 0 5 3
Bills 0 2 6

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Jordy Nelson (GB) - Bruised knee
Donnie Avery (STL) - Hip injury
Jim Zorn (WAS) - Partially torn work contract
Jerious Norwood (ATL) - Hip flexor
Trent Edwards (BUF) - Concussion
Anquan Boldin (ARI) - Sprained ankle
Adrian Peterson (MIN) - Sprained ankle
LenDale White (TEN) - Leg injury

Welcome Back

For those fantasy team owners who spent a first or second round pick on Drew Brees this summer, it has been a pretty painful two weeks. Brees started out red hot but never had more than 190 yards and did not score for the last two games. Not to worry, on Sunday he was back in the saddle with 369 yards and four scores against the formerly unbeaten Giants.

Brady was usually the second quarterback off the board and while he only had one game without a score, he went four weeks without more than 277 yards or two touchdowns. Yesterday, Brady bombed the Titans for 380 yards and six scores almost all of which came in the first half.

Brees now has 13 touchdowns in five games played. Brady has 12 scores.

And yes. We all hate you again. You have to like that.

And Then There Were Four

Those hot start teams are hitting harder times here lately with the Jets losing their last three games, the Bengals losing to the visiting Texans, The Giants dropping from the ranks of the unbeaten and the Eagles losing to the Raiders (regardless of previous standings, that always hurts).

Now there are only four unbeaten teams - the Saints who beat the Giants and thereby lay claim to being a legitimate bad ass team. The Vikings who squeaked past the Ravens because everyone on the left side of the stadium sucked in a breath at the same time and drew the 44-yard Hauschka field goal attempt too wide. And the bye-week Colts remain 5-0 because Peyton Manning is on a kick to prove his greatness again.

The Broncos round out the group at 5-0 but play tonight in San Diego which they are favored to lose same as most of their other five previous wins. Coming into week seven, having four or even three undefeated teams is unusual.

And Then There Were Three

The Chiefs won on the road against the Redskins which really does nothing more than speed the production of the catapult that Danny Schneider will use to get rid of HC Jim Zorn. But that win leaves still three teams looking for their first win. The Buccaneers are plenty bad, but not that much worse than any bad team and probably not deserving the 0-6 record. They are just always a score or so behind at the end of the game with no way to really catch up.

The Rams fall to 0-6 with their loss to the Jaguars and while they are plenty bad, they have been competitive in a few games. They are suffering with a near total lack of firepower but have not given up in any game so far.

The Titans are the most curious team that has gone from being the cream of the AFC South to just being creamed every week. Losing 0-59 is not something anyone wants on their resume but at least Jeff Fisher has plenty of previous success so that we just marvel at how badly the Titans have turned. Snow and wind? No matter. The Titans secondary would give up 300 passing yards if the stadium was ablaze in the middle of a tornado during a flash flood. Really the Titans have never given so much to fantasy football even though it is just their opponents.

10 Random Thoughts

1. Intellectually I know that upsets are good for the game and that if it were all predictable it would not be any fun. But spending dozens and dozens of hours ever week predicting and projecting, it never fails to floor me when games go off like the Eagles getting thumped by the Raiders or that the Redskins offense can really be that bad. The lack of consistency is sometimes hard to fathom like how the Seahawks can pummel the Jaguars 41-0 last week and then lose 27-3 to the Cards while still at home. It's like Jekyll + Hyde = Hasselbeck. We had five upsets yesterday and almost had three more. Every season has an "upset week" but it is generally not this early in the season so beware. We also will have road week where 10+ teams on the road will win coming up because it always does. The random and inconsistent way that some games go off is really what makes it fun. But I have to keep telling myself that.

2. I'm starting to think maybe total points leagues are the way to go. How else can you live through the feast or famine games of players like Maurice Jones Drew who has two monster 3-TD games and then four others mostly mediocre? Or Randy Moss who just gained 129 yards and three touchdowns but who only had one score and two decent yardage efforts over the first five weeks? Every player has productivity swings naturally but this year the swings are bigger and sharper it seems. Just ask Drew Brees owners who only know laughter or tears each week.

3. Okay, so last week all the fantasy owners of Mike Sims-Walker were upset that he violated a team rule while in Seattle and was a healthy surprise scratch from the game. But come on - he's a player drafted as the 74th wideout taken in the average draft on a team that throws poorly and who has been injured almost the entire time since being drafted in 2007. And now you have to admit he is for real. His last four games had him with no less than six catches for 81 yards and he comes off a career best nine receptions for 120 yards. He's one of the best surprises at wideout this season.

4. I am really liking Hakeem Nicks. He was drafted with the 1.29 pick by the Giants and he has good size - 6'1" and 212 lbs. And he has scored in each of the last three games. While still early to anoint him the next great Giants receiver, he's certainly not done anything to disprove that. Even more impressive was when the Giants were in their toughest matchup of the year, Manning went to Nicks for five catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. That was more than Steve Smith ( 4-44) or Mario Manningham (4-50, 1 TD) managed in the game but was a function of the coverage to some degree. I just have to get used to the fact that Nicks will probably be disappearing later in the year like most New York receivers do thanks to the weather.

5. I am a big fan of revenge. Some of my favorite movies include "V for Vendetta" and "The Count of Monte Cristo". I have no particular axe to grind in this world but it is always so satisfying to get back at someone who bested you no matter how small. So I always like to see how players perform against their old teams which let them go. Edgerrin James was a disappoint in Indianapolis in week three but the Colts had a nice video show celebrating the time when James was a Colt that probably discharged the tension. But this week we have Jeremy Shockey playing his old Giants and catching four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown (a bit better than usual) and Torry Holt turned in five receptions for 101 yards when the Rams came to visit which was his first 100 yard effort in the last 45 games he has played. If you can't beat 'em, leave and join the opponent. Then beat your old team. Everyone else has.

6. They have removed the play calling from HC Jim Zorn but how long can he possibly survive as the head coach for the Redskins? Wrap your head around this - the Redskins have played six games. Every team they have played did not have any wins when they played them. Giants opened the year and then the Redskins have played STL, DET, TB, CAR and KC. That is the most ridiculously easy stretch of opening games ever as it ended up. And yet the Redskins are 2-4. They gave up the first win to the Giants, Lions, Panthers and now Chiefs. Their last four opponents have a combined record of 4-25 and two of those were wins over the Skins. The offense has not scored more than 17 points in any game despite playing against (and being a part of ) the dregs of the NFL. Danny Schneider did not spend money to buy a Corvette that drives like the final economy rental car left on the lot.

7. So how did it fall out in your league this week? Once again - about half a dozen really big scorers meant a lot of fantasy teams posted big wins and in one of mine there was no team that won by less than 35 points and the biggest delta was 84 points with an average winning margin of 57 points. Not exactly a nail biter of a week. At least we can all watch Monday night football and not worry about our teams in that league.

8. This is not about football per se but I must print it somewhere. I had a blog post last year about how much I hated all the Pizza Hut commercials that tried to induce people to try their new pasta by inviting in a group of average people and deceiving them into thinking that it was real food that they were eating. Then - surprise! - they announce that it was really Pizza Hut and this somehow delights the audience that they have been made to look like fools on national TV. Now Pizza Hut is back with the same delightful concept whereby they pimp their chicken wings as real food to an unsuspecting audience who is appreciative they are eating free food. Then a squadron of Pizza Hut delivery men march onto a stage where a man tells the audience that they have all been fooled and that it is not award winning chicken wings but instead the stuff that Pizza hut sells. Once again, the audience is delighted to look like idiots. "What?" smirks one semi-cute girl. Me? They'd be wearing the chicken wings after that. Maybe that is why they had that squadron of Pizza Hut brownshirts employees there holding boxes so they could shield themselves just in case. I watch a lot of television during football season. I see the same commercials over and over. I even got a marketing degree in college. But I never will understand how making customers look like idiots is suppose to be good for business. Whew... better for now.

9. Throwing a 300 yard game just isn't the feat it once was. On Sunday with 26 teams playing, there were eight quarterbacks with a 300 yard game and that makes 38 for the year with Rivers and Orton left to play. That's 22% more than last year at this time. It appears the NFL is stuck on "pass happy" and "run first / smash mouth" is a thing of the past. Everything goes in cycles but seems impossible to ever imagine the NFL swinging back to the old days of single back offenses that throws mainly to just one stud receiver.

10. I got Kurt Warner kind of cheaply on about half my teams because I loved what he did last year and what his schedule looked like this year. And while I hedged my bets by drafting Matt Leinart of most of those teams it appears I will not need him and that Warner is very much back in shape. He's topped 300 passing yards twice already and had 276 yards and two scores against the Seahawks. Starting in week 10, he faces SEA, @STL, @TEN, MIN, @SF, @DET and week 16 ends with STL coming to town. So far my evil plot is working... must keep Leinart just in case though..

Huddle Player of the Week

Tom Brady - Okay, so maybe it took the #32 pass defense showing up to make it happen but at least the Patriots are not shy about running up the score and we now know that HC Bill Belichick is not comfortable until he has a 50+ point lead. Brady started the year with a 378 yard, two touchdown game but he had not topped 300 or had more than two scores in a game since week one. And then along came the Titans and Brady barely broke a sweat when he threw for 380 yards and a career best six touchdowns. Imagine what would have happened if he did not leave with about 25 minutes left to play.

Salute!

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

Comedy Free Agents Yards TDs Tragedy Drafts Yards TDs
QB JaMarcus Russell 232 1 QB Matt Hasselbeck 112 0
RB Laurence Maroney 133 1 RB Brandon Jacobs 35 0
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 78 0 RB Matt Forte 60 0
WR Hakeem Nicks 114 1 WR Steve Smith CAR 4 0
WR Mohammed Massaquoi 83 0 WR Terrell Owens 13 0
WR Lance Moore 78 1 WR Steve Smith NYG 44 0
PK Ryan Succop 4 FG PK Jason Hanson nope

Huddle Fantasy Points = 91

Huddle Fantasy Points = 18

Sunday's Couch Commentary

I am oddly tempted to make the Patriots-Titans tilt as the Game-O-The-Week because 59-0 just never happens let alone in the wind and show. If you own Maroney - sell now! The Raiders winning is always notable but never very exciting let alone have many points involved. The Texans winning in Cincy just muddles up what we were thinking about either team. The Bills could not beat the visiting Browns but can win in New York against the Jets? Oh yeah, I need another beer. It doesn't help me understand it all but it makes me willing to accept it. And it makes me yell at the commercials more too. Have I mentioned about that Pizza Hut commercial yet?

The Giants - Saints game was a candidate for GOTW even before it was played and with 75 total points it did not disappoint. It was never as close as expected but was a great game to watch and had major NFL and fantasy implications. We even had two overtime games but both had few points and the favored team won anyway. The GOTW goes to the one that was much more exciting than was expected:

Baltimore 31, Minnesota 33

We figured this one was over early on. The first drive saw the Vikings march down the field and Brett Favre hit Vishante Shiancoe for a 19-yard touchdown. After the Ravens went three-and-out on their first series, the Vikings just marched down again and Favre found Bernard Berrian for a 4-yard touchdown. I know, you are probably wondering why they would thrown on first down from the four yard line with Adrian Peterson. It is because Brett Favre hates you and he wants to bury his touchdown record more so that Peyton Manning cannot catch up. Even though I do kinda like the Favre commercial when he cannot decide on which television to buy at Sears.

The Vikings scored a 37-yard fumble return touchdown but it was called back when the fumble was reviewed and made into an incomplete pass. After back and forth series went on and on, the Ravens finally got a29-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka to go into halftime down 14-3.

Midway through the third quarter, Ryan Longwell hit a 40-yard field to go make in 17-3 but the Ravens put together an eight play drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice. At 10-17 it was no longer a certain win but the next series saw the Vikings get a 65-yard completion to Sidney Rice that resulted in a 22-yard field goal for a 20-10 lead. When the fourth quarter started, it got really interesting.

The Vikings had their first drive in the quarter end with a one-yard touchdown pass to Vishante "I got two!" Shiancoe instead of Adrian Peterson because Favre hates you and loves his TD record. That made the score 27-10 and this was a yawner again.

Only the Ravens drove 75 yards and had a 32-yard touchdown pass to Mark Clayton who we almost forgot played for the Ravens. 17-27 and there was 8:42 left. After Adrian Peterson peeled off a 58 yard run, the drive stalled and Longwell kicked a 29-yard field goal for a 30-17 lead.

But Flacco hit Ray Rice for a 63-yard gain and then found Derrick Mason for a 12-yard touchdown with 5:12 left to play and a 24-30 deficit. The Vikings went three and out and punted from their own 6-yard line and even though Ed Reed muffed the punt, they still recovered on the MIN 33-yard line, On the next play, Ray Rice ran off left tackle for a 33-yard touchdown and a 31-30 lead with 3:44 left to play.

The Vikings drove 80 yards in this sudden point-fest and at the two minute warning kicked a 31-yard field goal for the 33-31 lead.

The Ravens were not done. Taking the ball from their own 33-yard line, Flacco led the team downfield until reaching the MIN 26-yard line. With two seconds left to play, Steven Hauschka lined up the 44-yard field goal that would win the game after the Ravens had once trailed 10-27. But... it was wide left. Never curved in. All that and the same outcome resulted as if the Ravens would have just rolled over in the second half.

But the game produced plenty of fantasy value with Flacco (385, 2 TD) out passing Favre (278, 3 TD) and Ray Rice had 194 total yards and two scores. Derrick Mason turned in 97 yards and a score. Sidney Rice gained 176 yards on six catches and Shiancoe scored twice. Peterson never scored but gained 166 total yards. It was exciting and improbable but in the end the Vikes pulled through for a 6-0 record that maybe was a little lucky thanks to Hauschka.

Another big week is in the books and we have six teams have their byes during each of the next three weeks. Scoring is bound to go down with that many players out but make sure you are covered in those games.

Me... I think I am going to head out and grab me some chicken wings. Have a sudden urge to eat some... chicken wings.. damn them! damn them all!

Now get back to work...

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