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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 12
David Dorey
November 23, 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Matt Stafford 422 5
Brady Quinn 304 4
Ben Roethlisberger 398 3
Eli Manning 384 3
Brett Favre 213 4
Running Backs Yards TD
Ricky Williams 138 3
Kevin Smith 149 1
Jason Snelling 89 2
Ryan Grant 145 1
Mike Bell 80 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Terrell Owens 107 1
Calvin Johnson 161 1
Sidney Rice 89 2
Wes Welker 192 0
Hines Ward 128 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Kevin Boss 76 2
Vernon Davis 108 1
Heath Miller 95 1
Tony Gonzalez 82 1
Vishante Shiancoe 78 1
Placekickers XP FG
Nate Kaeding 2 4
Mason Crosby 3 3
Robbie Gould 0 4
Lawrence Tynes 4 2
Phil Dawson 3 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Patriots 1 2 5
Chiefs 1 3 3
Saints 0 3 4
Raiders 0 3 4
Chargers 0 3 3

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

LaDell Betts (WAS) - Torn MCL
Tony Romo (DAL) - Back strain
Matt Stafford (DET) - Shoulder injury
Brady Quinn (CLE) - Swollen sense of "Nothing I ever do matters"
Marshawn Lynch (BUF) - Shoulder injury
Brandon Jacobs (NYG) - Leg injury
Kurt Warner (ARI) - Possible concussion
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) Possible concussion

the North heads west and then goes south

Tough time to be in the AFC North. The division leading Bengals went to Oakland for an easy win and got beaten. And the Steelers went to Kansas City for an even easier win only they couldn't even with overtime thrown in. The Browns came really, really close to beating the Lions but showed divisional solidarity by losing on the final play. The Ravens wrapped up their weekend by letting the Colts retake the lead late in the fourth.

For the want of a total of nine points, the entire division went 0-4. Close doesn't count in the AFC North.

Playoff Picture still partly cloudy, chance of reign

In the AFC, the Patriots, Bengals and Chargers are all alone atop their divisions. The Colts are 10-0 and are in a class by themselves so far. The AFC wildcard is currently open to the Steelers (6-4), Jaguars (6-4), Broncos (6-4) and maybe the Texans (5-4) if they win tonight. One game back are the Ravens (5-5) and Dolphins (5-5).

In the NFC, the Cowboys and Cardinals are both 7-3 and lead their divisions while the Vikings (9-1) and Saints (10-0) are a step ahead of all others. The wildcard is currently open to the Giants (6-4), Packers (6-4), Falcons (5-5) and Eagles (6-4).

In the end, for all the tie-breaking and gnashing of teeth between now and the end of January, you have to know that there are two games that will happen and likely will be the only two games that mean anything. The Vikings at the Saints for the NFC Championship and then that winner against the Colts in the Superbowl.

Ah, but it never seems to follow the script in the past...

I think it still counts

Peyton Manning came into the Ravens game already owning a record of eight games with 300 yards passing which is even more impressive since he only played in nine games so far. This week he falls from the mark regrettably and now can end with no better than 14 games over 300. In Baltimore, he only passed for 299 yards. He deserved the day off.

Gee, thanks Mean T.O.

We tend to forget that the NFL has a pecking order and that younger players do look up to the older stars in their position. In a showing of "man, I still cannot believe I am here", Mike Sims-Walker met Terrell Owens near mid-field and asked if he could have his jersey. Owens graciously pulled it off and gave it to him though without a sharpie it went unsigned.

Have to think Coke really missed a marketing opportunity with that one.

10 Random Thoughts

1. I've never been much fan of Matt Forte and his rushing stats this year are among the worst of any full time running back. Of course we all figured it was mostly because of the offensive line. He can catch dump off passes to save his fantasy value but as a runner, he rarely gets past the line. This week was standard with 14 rushes for 34 yards and four catches for 20 yards. But the undrafted rookie Kahlil Bell from UCLA had four runs for 81 yards that included a 72-yard scamper. Consider Mr. Bell as your free agent of the week. Too early to say if Bell gets more use but seeing a Bears running back screaming down the field is sort of hard to forget. There's nothing to compare it to in the recent past.

2. I am liking Robert Meachem, at least as much as you can like any Saints wideout outside of Marques Colston. With Lance Moore out, Meachem has been making some waves quietly and has scored in each of the last three games. Granted - not a ton of yards in most games but scoring weekly is a nice perk for a player who was on the edge of being a bust. He may never be more than a WR3 for a fantasy team but that's more than we thought he would be.

3. I always have three thoughts about Steven Jackson when I see him play. First, I am usually impressed with what he does on a horrible offense when the defense is all but harpooning him every play. He rushed for 116 yards and a score against the Cardinals today. My admiration for him is followed by a sigh, since I think back how the Dallas Cowboys had him fall into their laps in the NFL draft but they traded back because they knew Julius Jones was going to be such a stud. Then lastly, I always wonder if he suffered a cut on a play, would blood be a glowing neon green? Because with a huge set of dreadlocks poking out of his helmet and wearing pads on a huge, muscled frame he looks like the guy from the movie Predator. Except instead of shooting fireballs from his shoulder he just plain runs over people.

4. As an Adrian Peterson owner in one league, I take umbrage - nay great offense - at Brett Favre for throwing touchdowns that could be just as easily rushed in. Peterson had no scores today but Favre threw four of them from 23, 8, 3 and 7 yards. The Vikings had five plays inside the ten yard line. One run by Chester Taylor and four passes by Favre. What the heck? Perhaps the best goal line runner in the NFL and he never has a carry inside the ten yard line? Why would you not run it with Peterson?

5. It always pays to backup your best running backs. Most people do not and some who do eventually cut the guy to make roster room. But consider the best 13 runners on Sunday included Ricky Williams, Jason Snelling, Mike Bell, Laurence Maroney, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Bernard Scott and Justin Forsett. Only five of the top 13 were starters from week one. Wideouts do not change much. Running backs do - mine that waiver wire!

6. I hate to be the bearer of early bad news but what are we to think about the 10-0 Colts? They currently have a three game lead over the entire AFC. They have a fairly easy schedule remaining. What exactly will they be playing for in weeks 15, 16 and 17? They know already you cannot rest players too much or they are rusty after the playoff bye. But the Colts may not have meaningful game for a stretch of four weeks including a bye. Will they yank YOUR player from the game early? At least the Saints and Vikings have to keep winning for homefield advantage but the AFC is not nearly so challenging for the Colts.

7. Hope you didn't bench Terrell Owens. His nine catches for 197 yards and one score (98 yard catch no less) was double his previous high (85 yards) and his last two weeks were more than the previous eight games combined. That's a product of playing the weak secondaries of the Titans and Jaguars. With the Dolphins and Jets up next, now may be a good time to dangle Mr. Owens in the trade winds.

8. Wes Welker had 15 catches for 192 yards on Sunday and that gives him a total of 79 catches in the league. He now overtakes Reggie Wayne who has 76 catches but had been leading Welker until this week. Welker is on a pace to catch 126 passes this year and Wayne... well... he'll probably slow down later in the year. But in a point-per-reception league, Welker continues to be a goldmine that gets drafted too late.

9. Kurt Warner owners had a rude how-do-you-do when Warner was pulled from the second half of the Rams game. After the game he said he was fine and indicated that he would be back next week. Warner has a dream schedule as we have discussed in the past but it means nothing if he is sidelined. If you own Warner - grab Leinart plus have another option. If you have roster room, you could always steal Leinart. He completed 10 of 14 for 74 yards in St. Louis and while he is a step down from the future Hall of Famer Warner, he could surprise down the stretch if Warner was to miss games.

10. I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgiving to you and yours! The NFL slate will be the Packers at Detroit in the 12:30 PM EST game, then Oakland at Dallas in the 4:15 PM game and later at 8:20 it will be the Giants at Denver. So short of an upset in either of the two early games, sleep off the tryptophan and watch the final game that should be more competitive. But more than anything - pick up those kids and give 'em a hug, sit down and listen to your relatives and maybe even offer to help out in the kitchen. Hopefully you get to meet with family on Thursday and think about this - imagine yourself ten years from now with kids grown up and maybe some older relatives sadly absent. What would you wish you had done on this Thursday? So do it.

Huddle Player of the Week

Matthew Stafford - The rookie discovered that being the best player means getting drafted by the worst team and he's delivered a freshman effort that has been positive and an upgrade from previous seasons. More than anything, he gives hope for the future but he has not done a lot with the current since the Lions were only 1-8 going into their game against the Browns. All Stafford ended up doing was to throw for 422 yards and five touchdowns that included a comeback final drive in which he threw for final game winning touchdown on the final play with a probable separated shoulder. Oh yes, and no rookie in NFL history had ever thrown for five touchdowns in one game.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Matt Stafford 422 5 QB Philip Rivers 145 1
RB Jason Snelling 89 2 RB Darren McFadden 35 0
RB Mike Bell 80 2 RB Jonathan Stewart 43 0
WR Mohamed Massaquoi 115 1 WR Roy Williams 0 0
WR Chansi Stuckey 76 1 WR Steve Breaston 0 0
WR Mario Manningham 126 0 WR Brandon Marshall 26 0
PK Phil Dawson 3 XP 2 FG PK Nick Folk 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 137

Huddle Fantasy Points = 21

Sunday's Couch Commentary

MIA 24, CAR 17 Who needs Ronnie? Delhomme went from bad-Jake to good-Jake and now is just inadequate-Jake
NO 38, TB 7 NO is hosting NE this week so no gimmee. Bucs temporary near competitiveness has expired.
ATL 31, NYG 34 Almost GoTW. Giants finally win but Falcons still never good enough on the road. Snelling encourages.
SEA 9 , MIN 35 Trading a field goal for every two TDs never ends well. Now I am mad about Peterson not scoring again.
PIT 24, KC 27 Almost GoTW. Overtime has Chiefs beat Superbowl champs. PIT outscored 20-7 in second half / OT. Wow.
BUF 15, JAC 18 MJD versus #32 rush defense = 66 yards on 25 carries? Really? You do not deserve the win.
SF 24, GB 30 Crabtree has first NFL TD. Gore only ran seven times. 49ers could never catch up in second half.
WAS 6, DAL 7 Neither team deserves this win. Suisham picks bad day to kick 2 of 4 FG. Yep. "Affect your career" bad.
IND 17, BAL 15 Colts win ugly but keep winning. IND Rumored to be taking a team vacation in December "because they can"
ARI 21, STL 13 No Warner in second half and Rams were 10-0. Luckily he had already killed Rams in just two quarters.
CIN 17, OAK 20 Like coming across a wreck on the interstate. "How did that happen?" Just another senseless accident.
NYJ 14, NE 31 Wes Welker just caught 3 more passes in the time you took to read this.
SD 32, DEN 3 Ends up that the Chargers are better and the Broncos are worse this time. Orton to the rescue...not.
PHI 24, CHI 20 Look at Forte go! Wow ! He's... he's... not Forte. Who in the heck is that? Philly opened and closed the game.


Lot of great games on Sunday! Two overtime games and nine of them were decided by a touchdown or less. There were several games that would qualify as the Game-of-The-Week in other weeks but this one had a clear winner.

Cleveland 36, Detroit 37

How great is this game? Seriously. 73 total points in a unbelievable finish with a ton of fantasy points to go around. Granted, most fantasy teams had not loaded up on Cleveland players but anyone who did was richly rewarded. This game was a barnburner from the start.

The Lions were favored by 3.5 points but in this sort of game - you never really know. The Browns took the opening kickoff down to the DET 36-yard line and settled for a field goal. The Lions saw Kevin Smith catch a 63-yard completion on their first offensive play but stalled and settled for a field goal as well. On the Browns next offensive play, Brady Quinn connected with Mohamed Massaquoi for a 59-yard touchdown. Six minute into the game and it was 10-3 in favor of the Browns.

After the Lions went three-and-out, the Browns only needed seven plays for Chansi Stuckey to catch a 40 yard touchdown. On the Lions first offensive play to follow, Matt Stafford threw an interception that was returned to the DET 6-yard line. On the second play, Quinn hit Josh Cribbs with a four-yard touchdown for a 24-3 lead. Then the Lions marched 78 yards down the field in five plays and Aaron Brown caught a 26-yard touchdown making the score 24-10.

IN THE FIRST QUARTER. With 37 seconds left and 34 points had already been scored.

The Browns somehow went three-and-out to start the second quarter and the Lions responded with a six play drive that had Kevin Smith catch a 25-yard touchdown for a 17-24 deficit .The Browns then were unable to score again and the Lions took over from their own 6-yard line. Five plays later and Calvin Johnson scored a 75-yard touchdown. With five minutes left to play in the second quarter, it was 24-24.

The first half ended with a 14 play drive by the Browns that had a 29-yard field goal as time ran out for a 27-24 lead.

After both teams had to punt in the third quarter, the Lions went 84 yards on ten plays and had Stafford connect with Will Heller for a touchdown and the lead, 31-27. After the Browns went four-and-out, Stafford was called for intentional grounding in the end zone making it 31-29 as the fourth quarter opened.

Both teams had stalled drives but the Browns then went 75 yards on 15 plays and Quinn hit Michael Gaines for a 2-yard touchdown. Adding on a two point conversion by Jamal Lewis gave the Browns a 37-31 lead with only 5:44 left to play.

Matt Stafford had his chance to lead his team on a game winning drive and he went from the DET 40-yard line and on 4th and one he ran up the middle for the first down. After a pass to Brandon Pettigrew for 11 yards, he threw deep to Calvin Johnson which came to no surprise and was intercepted. WIth 3:49 left to play, the Lions had to get the ball back.

The Browns threw to Stuckey on a third-and-six for a first down. On third-and-five with two minutes left to play, Quinn threw an incompletion to Massaquoi and the Browns punted to the DET 12 yard line.

Stafford the rookie had 1:46 left to play and was 88 yards away and needed a touchdown. Two passes to Calvin Johnson and one to Smith reached the DET 46-yard line where Stafford spiked the ball with 45 seconds left to play. He hit Pettigrew for 11 yards to the CLE 43-yard line and then spiked the ball with 27 second left. After an incompletion, he hit Will Heller for an 11 yard gain to the CLE 32-yard line and spiked the ball with only 8 seconds left to play.

There was only one play. He had to throw it to the end zone. On the "everyone go deep" play, Stafford rolled left to avoid the rush and then ran back to the center to get away from a tackler. He was crushed when he released it deep into the endzone where it was caught... by safety Brodney Pool. Interception. Game over. Except Hank Poteat opted to cover Calvin Johnson by pushing him out of the endzone and was called with pass interference. It was the untimed final down after a penalty only Matt Stafford went to the sideline in excruciating pain from his shoulder and Daunte Culpepper went in for his only play in the game.

Before the ball was snapped, the Browns called a timeout they may regret now. Because it allowed Stafford to re-enter the game, bad shoulder and all, and throw the dart to fellow rookie Brandon Pettigrew for the 38-37 win.

For a team that has been short of excitement and positive events, Stafford probably earned his entire signing bonus on that one play. Wincing in pain but playing regardless, he led his team 88 yards for the win (thanks and a tippo to pass interference being called as well).

Here's a game between two 1-8 teams that ended up as the best one of the weekend. In fantasy terms - bonus time. Quinn passed for 304 yards and four scores while Stafford threw for 422 yards and five touchdowns (all-time NFL rookie record). Kevin Smith had 149 total yards and a score while Calvin Johnson turned in seven receptions for 161 yards and one score. Brandon Pettigrew (6-72), Aaron Brown (1-26) and Will Heller (2-12) all scored. Mohamed Massaquoi had 115 yards and a score while Chansi Stuckey ended with 76 yards and a touchdown.

It was a great game where no one thought one would exist. That's the beauty of the NFL - two bad teams had a great game. That's the beauty of fantasy football - a bunch of us watched just to see our players and all were rewarded with fantasy points and a big finish.

This was another great week in the NFL and for that I am thankful.

And I am thankful for what will be plentiful bounty and family at the table. And for getting to watch football because we always do.

And I am thankful for you giving me a small slice of your Monday to hopefully inform, entertain or at least give you something to do besides work first thing on Monday morning.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and don't be squatting on that pumpkin pie. Pass to the left.

Now get back to work...

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