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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 8
David Dorey
October 26 , 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Carson Palmer 233 5
Drew Brees 298 3
Tony Romo 342 3
Tom Brady 308 3
Philip Rivers 296 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Ricky Williams 92 3
Shonn Greene 144 2
Cedric Benson 189 1
Ryan Grant 151 1
DeAngelo Williams 139 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Miles Austin 171 2
Chad OchoCinco 118 2
Vincent Jackson 142 1
Wes Welker 107 1
Devin Hester 101 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Vernon Davis 93 3
Owen Daniels 123 1
Spencer Havner 59 1
Jeremy Shockey 105 0
Dallas Clark 44 1
Placekickers XP FG
Nate Kaeding 4 3
Nick Folk 4 3
John Carney 4 2
Dan Carpenter 4 2
Shayne Graham 6 1
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Steelers 2 4 2
Saints 2 2 3
Chargers 1 4 3
Cowboys 1 4 3
Patriots 1 3 3

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Donald Brown (IND) - Shoulder injury
Jermichael FInley (GB) - Knee injury
Andre Johnson (HOU) - Chest contusion
Leon Washington (NYJ) - Broken fibula
Bernard Berrian (MIN) - Hamstring

Great Things Come in Threes

The loss of the Vikings means that there are only three undefeated teams now and in NFL history that has never been done. Never. The Saints needed a heroic (or heartbreaking depending on your slant) effort to beat the Dolphins and the Colts may not have broken a sweat when they beat the Rams. The Broncos were on their bye week.

This week the Colts host the 49ers so there's a decent chance they remain unbeaten. The Broncos play in Baltimore which may be their biggest test yet and the Saints host the Falcons which is winnable but no "gimmee".

Bad Things Come in Threes

Three teams remain without a win this year. The Buccaneers are the only team which can claim an International Misery Tour after getting spanked in London by the Patriots who were never big on taking turns scoring. The Rams were just dismantled by the Colts and the Titans were spending their bye week sharing videos of last season when they went 13-3.

The Buccaneers go on their bye which is sad since they have been a gift to fantasy football so far (their opponents that is). The Rams head to Detroit where hope always springs eternal many head coaches have extended their careers by one more game before getting canned. The Titans host the Jaguars and could win that game. We mean it this time. Really.

Maybe anyway.

V for Vendetta

There is nothing like some subplot to a game to spice it up and we had that a couple of times this week. The Chicago "Begone Benson!" Bears finally caught up with the running back they jettisoned last year. Playing in Cincinnati, the Bears squashed their former back, holding him to only 189 rushing yards on 37 carries with one touchdown during the 45-10 loss. Matt Forte more than held his own by gaining 24 yards on six carries and added 25 more yards on four receptions.

Kurt Warner was an elite quarterback way back when in St. Louis but was released and landed in New York where he started nine games before giving way to the new kid on the block named Eli. That sent him down to Arizona the next year where three years later he was in the Super Bowl. On Sunday Night, the Cards played in New York where Manning more than held his own with 243 yards and one score with only three interceptions. Warner was held to 231 yards and a score with just one interception in the upset win.

Ricky Williams was the entirety of the Saints draft class in 1999 but was never loved in the Big Easy in part because of his erratic behavior and he was sent to the Dolphins after three years. On Sunday facing his original team, all Williams could do with nine carries was to gain 80 yards and had to settle for just three touchdowns.

New for next year - Non-compete clauses in NFL contracts. I see no other way.

Wait a minute... Say that again. Okay it still makes no sense.

Each NFL season has some unique characteristics that differ from the rest and this year is shaping up to be a little bit odd in its own way. For the four positions, let's track how many times players had a big game by week eight each year.

Year 300+ Pass Yd Gms 100+ Rush Yd Gms 100+ Rcv Yd Gms WR 100+ Rcv Yd Games TE
2009 43 41 54 10
2008 37 53 68 3
2007 37 49 69 10
2006 32 65 68 5
2005 31 59 69 10

I can accept that there are more 300 yard games and I should have done this last week when the difference was a little more pronounced since there were only four 300 yard games this week as opposed to the eight last week. Still we see significantly more 300 yard passing games than we have in the last five years and having been close to stats for about 15 years now - I can never remember so many 300+ yard passing efforts.

And with all those big passing games have come a significantly lower number of rushers gaining 100 or more yards in a game. There is more passing and less running. I get that. Do not like it, but I get it.

But - there have only been 54 times in the first eight weeks that a wideout has turned in at least 100 or more receiving yards in a game. What? There has been a very high number of 300-yard passing games. And a very low number of receivers turning in 100 or more receiving yards. I know it is Monday morning and I promised there would be no math.

My theory - and feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments section - is that it reflects that there are so many bad teams out there that their quarterbacks have to pass more than ever before. But bad teams usually do not have elite receivers (don't tell Detroit) so there are not more 100 yard receivers - there are even less because winning teams just run and do not pass... no wait... less 100 yard rushers. Okay, crap. Math and logic on Monday. Where's my coffee?

10 Random Thoughts

1.If we are going to play annually in London, and it appears so, then we should either make the game between two topflight NFL teams - like ones that went to the playoffs last year. Or ship them two of our worst teams so that they would look competitive and the game would be close and most of the Brits wouldn't know that six fumbles in a game is kind of high. But instead we send them a very good team (NE) and a very bad team (TB). At least the Patriots had the decency to run up the score and make it sort of exciting. I do feel shorted one long scoring play to Randy Moss though.

2. The NFL needs to do something and going into a non-capped season is probably not it. On Sunday there were 12 games played and six of them were won by 28 points or more. That is roughly double the highest NFL line you will see and is much more like watching the NCAA with a Top 10 team mopping the field with some horrible mismatch with a lower division school. This year has a wide divide between the good and not good. Parity is a drag because then all teams are about the same and the league loses personality. But having the NFL commandeered by a set of great teams while there are so many teams that struggle every week is just like the MLB not as much fun either. You'd think in a season where the Bengals finally pull themselves up anything would be possible. Not so though. Does make it easier to decide who to start though.

3. Here's what I hate. The Cardinals letting Anquan Boldin play and get 75 yards on three catches while hobbled with a high ankle sprain while Steve 'healthy dude" Breaston only caught one pass. Kudos to Boldin and he is a warrior. And the Cardinals did win the game. But is Boldin hopping on one foot that much better than Breaston? You know, another thing. Tashard Choice was spoken of at length around here in Dallas last week. How the Cowboys were going to use him more and how both Felix Jones and Marion Barber would play but neither was 100% healthy. And so Choice got no carries and only one catch? I know - Cowboys won the game and all. But what are they saving Choice for now?

4. I made the mistake of including Miami in my list of bad teams and that was not only incorrect, it did not go unnoticed. But here is a less debatable list. The bad teams - and I mean significantly more so than the rest of the league - now includes the Titans, Redskins, Buccaneers, Rams, Chiefs, Browns, Lions and the Raiders. The season is about half over and none of these really look like they are on any upswing. Seems like a lack of defense is the usual culprit though with the Skins and Raiders it is really just an absence of offense. But 25% of NFL teams being this bad? Again - it just makes fantasy football better and gives a lot of NFL fans a way to interact with the league instead of just watching the hometown team get kicked around every week.

5. Vernon Davis - go figure. After three disappointing seasons in the NFL, he suddenly "got it" and has been on a tear this year with six touchdowns scored thanks to his three on Sunday. This was a guy that was undrafted in many leagues but he is showing up every week now.NIce payoff in a dynasty league if you could actually wait until the fourth year to get some reward on drafting Davis. Bet you didn't.

6. Expect Shonn Greene to be the free agent of the week. He had a total of seven carries for 30 yards on the season and then turned in 144 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns during the beatdown of the Raiders this week. Leon Washington broke his leg and is out of the picture for a long while if not the season. Green could be of some use in the easier matchups of the Jets and could be golden if the aged Thomas Jones gets hurt.

7. Okay, so make this Rant Monday. But Chris Wells played the Texans at home and only gained 24 yards on seven carries while Tim Hightower scored once on his six runs for 17 yards and had five catches for 30 more yards. Then in week seven, Wells ran 12 times for 29 yards and had one catch for seven yards. Meanwhile Hightower had 13 runs for 32 yards and a touchdown plus four catches for 26 yards. If there was ever a safe time to bench Wells (if you even still had him) it had to be in New York against the Giants. And of course, Wells was given 14 carries that saw him gain 67 yards and a touchdown. He also had three receptions for 10 yards. Hightower only had four runs for nine yards and two catches for 11 yards and scored once. Since when do rookie runners break out in New York against the Giants? Ones that had a bad hip and was limited in practice? That's like playing roulette and betting on the green zero.

8. I know you can never know at this point which two teams are going to reach the Super bowl. I know that there is always one surprise team that shows up that represents the NFC the eternal hope that anyone can reach the playoffs. But if I was in Vegas right now I would be throwing banded stacks of $100 bills at the counter guy in the Sports book while yelling "Colts over Saints! Saints over Colts! Colts to cover! Saints to cover!". Then I would go over to the Rio and eat at their buffet because it is awesome.

9. Wow. Miles Austin was grabbed off every waiver wire after his 250 yard performance in week 6 and we all know that when you start a guy like that next that he'd only get a couple of catches for 18 yards and no touchdowns because the waiver wire is mainly the home to a bunch of teases. But his first game after his breakout saw him once again led every NFL wideout with 171 yards and two touchdowns. How often does the waiver wire work like that? It's like winning the jackpot on two successive pulls on the handle of a slot machine.

I have got to stop watching those Vegas commercials. Seriously.

10. Happy Halloween this coming weekend. No matter what, be careful driving around with all the kiddos running around on sugar highs. Since it is on Saturday night, might want to watch for drunk drivers later on as well. And please - don't be one of them. I need you all to return healthy for next year and back me in my quest to become the Fantasy Football Czar in Washington.

Huddle Player of the Week

Carson Palmer - Cedric Benson was a candidate with a monster game over his ex-employer that had to be satisfying on several levels. But Carson gets the nod with his 233 yard game that had five touchdowns and no interceptions while facing the Bears. That'll make him shoot up in the quarterback season stats and helped more than a few fantasy teams in the process.

Salute!

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Alex Smith 222 3 QB Ben Roethlisberger 175 1
RB Ricky Williams 92 3 RB Matt Forte 49 0
RB Shonn Greene 144 1 RB Frank Gore 47 0
WR Mike Wallace 99 1 WR Hines Ward 3 0
WR David Clowney 79 1 WR Braylon Edwards 14 0
WR Sam Aiken 66 1 WR Terrell Owens 27 0
PK Nick Folk 4 XP 3 FG PK John Kasay 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 129

Huddle Fantasy Points = 35

Sunday's Couch Commentary

We had more blowouts this week - Huge, monster, cry-yourself-to-sleep blowouts. As had some very good games like the Steelers finally beating the Vikings, the Texans squeaking past the 49ers, the Cowboys beating the Falcons and the Cardinals actually winning again on the road in New York no less. But there was no question which game was the Game-O-the-Week, None at all. This could be the Game-O-the-Month far as I am concerned.

Saints 46, Dolphins 34

Wow, what a great game. Seriously. This is why we watch football.

This was a tough matchup for the Saints in their quest to remain unbeaten and the Dolphins at home are always formidable and have been getting more dangerous as the season progresses. It started out with both teams trading series and then when Drew Brees had a third and 13 on his own four yard line, it was actually a poor time to throw an interception that was returned back to the four-yard line. on the first play, a direct snap went to Ricky Williams who scored. This was the first time all year that the Saints were actually behind.

The Saints responded with a drive that ended with a 46-yard field goal and a respectable 3-7 score that could be easily made 10-7 with a touchdown. Only that belonged to Ricky Williams the next time he touched the ball and ran 68 yards for his second touchdown of the first quarter. It was 14-3 and the Saints just went three-and-out.

The Dolphins opened the second quarter with a 32-yard field goal and a 17-3 lead. All the Saints needed was to get a touchdown, hold the Dolphins and then score again for a tie. No problem.

Except Drew Brees threw his second interception and the Dolphins had Ronnie Brown scramble for an 8-yard touchdown four plays later. 24-3 is not a favorable deficit in the second quarter. At least the Saints drove down for a field goal but John Carney missed from 49-yards out. It was happening. A perfect record was about to fall in a trap game of sorts that the Saints looked woefully under prepared to win. The Dolphins were playing for keeps. Figure every team has a trash game and this at least was a non-conference road game. As good as anywhere to let one get away from the Saints.

But right end the end of the second quarter, Drew Brees finally connected with Marques Colston for a 21-yard touchdown that was reverse and placed at the one-yard line. With just 12 seconds left to play in the half, Brees bulled over the goal line and went into the locker room down 24-10 at the half. At least it was more respectable.

The second half opened with the Dolphins getting the kickoff but on third and 11 from the MIA 16-yard line, Chad Henne threw an interception that Darren Sharper returned for a touchdown. 17-24 and suddenly this was a game again. The Dolphins went three and out and then Brees threw another interception. The Dolphins went three and out and Brees lost a fumble. The Fins ended up with a field goal and led 27-17 to give themselves some comfortable space.

And that lasted only until the next series when the Saints closed out the third quarter with a touchdown to Colston for a 24-27 deficit. The Saints were just in striking distance and only had to keep the Fins from letting Brian Hartline catch a 67 yard gain to the NO four-yard line. Ricky Williams scored for the third time and made it 34-24 with the fourth quarter about to begin.

Then Brees hit Jeremy Shockey for a 66 yard gain and two plays later Reggie Bush scored from ten yards out for a 31-34 deficit. This was getting really tit-for-tat. And the Dolphins were staying ahead each time. But they went three-and-out and punted.

The next series had the Saints driving 60 yards in eight plays that ended with Brees bulling over from the goal line again. He never runs at all. And he had two rushing scores where to the dismay of every Pierre Thomas owner. But with 8:38 left to play, the Saints took the lead 37-34 because Carney missed the extra point.

The Fins could do nothing and punted. The Saints end up getting a 20-yard field goal with 3:27 left to play for a 40-34 lead. The Fins were driving the field with three minutes left to play but they went for at the MIA 41-yard line on fourth down when Henne threw an interception that was returned for a 54-yard touchdown. The two point conversion failed and the Saints led 46-34. The Dolphins final drive ate up the rest of the clock without a score.

The Saints went from being down 24-3 to winning 46-34. That's the mark of a good team to come back and win a game that looked lost. That happens in fantasy football all the time and even the season that is about half over in fantasy leagues cannot say for sure who will be advancing in your playoffs. If you are winning - keep on winning. If you are losing - stick with it and you will turn it around. You can still win. Even down a lot, you can still win. Do not give up.

Unless you are in Vegas. Then forget all of that and just stick with the free cocktails.

Now get back to work...

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