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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 15
David Dorey
December 14, 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Eli Manning 382 3
Peyton Manning 220 4
Drew Brees 296 3
Matt Schaub 365 2
Donovan McNabb 276 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Chris Johnson 186 3
Ray Rice 219 1
Ryan Grant 142 2
Adrian Peterson 137 2
Jamaal Charles 181 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Brandon Marshall 200 2
Andre Johnson 193 2
DeSean Jackson 168 2
Hakeem Nicks 110 1
Derrick Mason 94 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Dallas Clark 43 3
Fred Davis 50 2
Kevin Boss 70 1
Antonio Gates 44 1
Alge Crumpler 41 1
Placekickers XP FG
Rob Bironas 5 4
Jay Feely 2 4
Ryan Longwell 2 4
Rian Lindell 1 3
Kris Brown 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Eagles 2 2 4
Titans 1 1 5
Jets 0 3 3
Texans 1 3 1
Bills 0 4 4

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Correll Buckhalter (DEN) - Sprained ankle
Kevin Smith (DET) - "Serious" knee injury
Vince Young (TEN) - Hamstring strain
Bruce Gradkowski (OAK) - Sprained knee

I thought you had him

Brandon Marshall caught an NFL record 21 passes on Sunday in the losing effort against the Indianapolis Colts. He broke Terrell Owen's previous mark of 20. He had 27 passes thrown to him and yet only two by the end of the first quarter. Since no other Broncos receiver had more than three catches, at some point wouldn't Marshall rate a bump at the line and then, oh say, triple coverage?

That gives Marshall 86 catches on the year. He's good. But he's still no Welker (105).

And the beat goes on

Both the Saints and Colts continue their unbeaten streak though the Colts are acting like they no longer care since they have clinched homefield advantage in the AFC and have nothing to win. Fortunately the Saints have to win one more game before they can clinch but they want to win out anyway.

The Chargers have won eight in a row and at 10-3 are in the drivers seat for the #2 seed. The Bengals are 9-4 but looking mortal again but at least have a two game lead over the Ravens in the AFC North. The Patriots cling to a one game lead over the Dolphins and Jets in the AFC East. The AFC is going to be a mess after IND, CIN and SD. There are six teams with 7-6 or better that are chasing the AFC East title or the two wild card spots.

The Saints and Vikings are the top two seeds in the NFC and the Cardinals have a three game lead in the NFC West. That probably means that the NFC East will be won by the Eagles, and then the Cowboys, Giants and Packers will fight for the two wild cards. There is a chance that the Cowboys could go from leading the NFC East missing the playoffs.

I said get back in there! Are you listening to me? Hey! You!

The Indianapolis Colts have clinched homefield advantage throughout the conference playoffs when they beat the Denver Broncos 28-16. They also set an NFL record for most consecutive regular season wins with 22 (stemming from last season). They set a franchise record with 13 straight home wins and set an NFL record with most wins in a decade with 114.

They also now have no real reason to play anyone. HC Jim Caldwell has said that the impetus from now on is not chasing the perfect season record but instead ensuring that the team enters the postseason as healthy as possible. Considering that everything starts with Peyton Manning, it would take only him to rest t to change the dynamics of the team and players. Joseph Addai? What's the best way to make sure he is healthy for January? it is probably not 25 touches per game. Dallas Clark? Reggie Wayne? We may be entering some very sad times for playoff teams if they suddenly cannot rely on the main players that delivered them to the league's postseason.

10 Random Thoughts

1. What are the Jets going to do? Thomas Jones has scored 11 touchdowns this year and already broken 1000 rushing yards. He's been the core of their offense almost to the point that he has been their offense. They did draft Shonn Greene last April and given him 72 carries this year but will the Jets just keep using Jones next year when he is 32-years old? The records of 32 year-old backs is pretty bad though Jones has made 31 look pretty acceptable. Shonn Greene has been reasonably productive when given a chance and the biggest fear is that the Jets replicate this season with a bigger sharing load between the two runners. Be a way to ruin a good thing for Jones or Green.

2. I suppose it is just a changing of the guard but seeing the Steelers lose their fifth straight game - in Cleveland no less - is sort of surreal. I know, the Super Bowl winners have a hard time repeating but the Steelers are in freefall at 6-7 and yet have all but a couple of defensive players that delivered them the title less than 12 months ago. It's like it is all there but it doesn't work anymore. This is joined by the uninspired win by the Patriots over the Panthers. It looks like both teams are having 20 year reunions where the old veterans get together with some ace bandages and ointment and play a game again for old times sake. Now Randy Moss is back to being Randy "what's my motivation?" Moss? Bill Belichick is giving players time outs for getting stuck in traffic? Just hard to accept really. And it seems like more than just a temporary thing for both teams.

3. Trying to get a handle on Reggie Bush is not easy. He scored in three straight games with no yardage from weeks 6 to 8. Then he had a season high seven catches for 37 yards and 16 rushing yards but no scores against the Panthers. In week ten, he had 98 yards and two scores and then was hurt and missed two games. Almost nothing in week 13 with 28 yards on four catches. Then this week, he had 79 total yards and two touchdowns. He does have seven scores since week six but is just a little too inconsistent to warrant a fantasy start. And then you watch him score twice in Atlanta when Pierre Thomas had none. The Saints are highly productive obviously but getting the right person down every week is a challenge and with Bush it's downright terrifying. If Mike Bell is out next week, is it safe to start Bush who really has nothing to do with Bell the short yardage guy? Wait, what?

4. Early word on Kevin Smith is that he tore his ACL. Granted, the Lions backfield does not inspire much confidence regardless but Smith's departure would truly leave the Lions with nothing more than Megatron who will look like a an atom on every play as he runs down the field with six or eight electrons defensive backs circling around him. Assumedly Aaron Brown and his 21 carry NFL career will step up along with Maurice Morris but the results are bound to be disappointing. And before you scoff about "anyone relying on Kevin Smith..." just stop there. I had him on three teams that are in the playoffs next week. And maybe only next week.

5. Before you start your own chapter of the Quinton Ganther fan club, hold off on t-shirts and badges for a bit. Ganther was the free agent of the week when he became the starter over Rock Cartwright and he delivered a very healthy 93 total yards, three receptions and two touchdowns. But he only rushed for 50 yards on 14 carries for a 3.6 yard per carry average against the Raiders. By halftime, he only had 16 yards on five carries for a 3.2 yard average and no scores. It was in the second half that the Raiders lost Bruce Gradkowski and opted for Jamarcus Russell. It is the Raiders unavoidable switch to Russell that then signaled to the Redskins that the parents were gone and did not lock the liquor cabinet. The Redskins - and Ganther - enjoyed themselves much more in the second half while also rolling up eight sacks on JaMarcus "the white flag" Russell. Ganther has to play the Giants and Cowboys in the next two weeks. No Jamarcus on either roster.

6. When I saw Vince Young running free and then pulling up lame in the Rams game, my first thought was "oh no! Poor Chris Johnson!" Obviously it is too early to know what the prognosis is on Young but it matters for Johnson. Before Young reclaimed the starter spot, Johnson was still very productive with two efforts over 100 yards in those first six weeks. He had just one game with a score. Since Young took the reins, Johnson has never dipped below 100 rushing yards and scored ten times. The next two games are both at home and go against the Dolphins and Chargers. Maybe Young is not the only reason why Johnson went from good to unbelievable. As a Johnson owner, I do not want to find out. Get well, Vince, and suck it up if you have to soldier!

7. This was the first week in NFL history that featured three receivers who had 178 yards or more. Brandon Marshall (21-200, 2 TD), Andre Johnson (11-193, 2 TD) and DeSean Jackson (6-178, 2 TD) all topped the mark. The next closest wide receiver in fantasy terms was Hakeem Nicks (4-110, TD) with almost half the fantasy points. It was a very down week for wide receivers and you either had one of the top three or you needed help from elsewhere on your roster this week.

8. Jamaal Charles tore off a 76-yard run against the Bills and now has scored six times in the last five games. He had a career best 143 yards thanks to that touchdown romp up the middle of the defense. He's been thoroughly impressive and gets some benefit from rushing while the defense is looking for the pass since the Chiefs are usually losing. But Charles also figures in as a receiver and he doesn't turn 23 until two days after Christmas. Have to scoot him higher on the keeper list. He's only around 200 pounds but has the speed and plays in a spread offense. Larry Johnson will not be missed.

9. Have to love it. Matt Schaub has remained healthy and is having a great year. He threw for 365 yards and two scores against the Seahawks and even though the Texans won 34-7, they only ran 26 times and made the rookie Arian Foster the primary back with 13 carries for 34 yards and while Ryan Moats had the score, he only carries ten times for 43 yards. And Chris Brown only had three carries for seven yards. When you win by 27 points and yet throw for 365 yards, you have pretty much admitted that the run has no place on your offense other than for killing the clock and the occasional short yardage plunge. It's like committee backfields don't replace players when they are injured, they just go grab two more and split the work up even more.

10. Heads up - we not only have a Thursday game this week - IND at JAC - there is also a Saturday game at 8:20 P.M. EST when the Cowboys go to New Orleans. This is where the Saints go 14-0 and the Cowboys redefine Christmas blues. Note - the Thursday game may be the Colts at the Jaguars but that could be Curtis Painter throwing to Gijon Robinson and Hank Baskett ("Hey look, Kendra! I'm playing football again!" Ah, I gotta go put in my free agent bid for Mike Hart now.

Huddle Player of the Week

Chris Johnson (TEN) - Either Chris Johnson is having a magic year or the next 5 to 8 years can expect to see him in the top 5 for running backs. He rushed for 117 yards and had three catches for 69 yards against the Rams with three touchdowns scored. He now has ran for 1626 yards and scored a total of 13 touchdowns. Add in his 391 yards as a receiver and he has already totaled over 2000 yards. He has averaged 125 rushing yards per game which is a pace that would end up right at 2000 yards. What a gem for a guy usually drafted in the middle of the first round last August. Johnson also just set a franchise record for eight consecutive games with over 100 rushing yards, surpassing Earl Campbell.

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Chris Redman 303 1 QB Aaron Rodgers 180 0
RB Quinton Ganther 93 2 RB Steven Jackson 53 0
RB Chris Jennings 73 1 RB Matt Forte 68 0
WR Fred Davis 50 2 WR Calvin-Johnson 37 0
WR Devin Aromashodu 76 1 WR Reggie Wayne 43 0
WR Greg Camarillo 110 0 WR Randy Moss 16 0
PK Rob Bironas 5 XP 4 FG PK Matt Stover 4 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 113

Huddle Fantasy Points = 30

Sunday's Couch Commentary

PIT 6, CLE 13 Champs to chumps using almost the exact same players.By this point, there are no excuses.
NYJ 26, TB 3 Thomas Jones scores twice. Unverified rumor that Jets defenders were using stun guns.
CAR 10, NE 20 Pats win but it's like they are stuck in second gear. 7-0 at home, 1-5 on the road. Can 9-6 win AFC East?
CIN 10, MIN 30 Vikings too tough at home and Bengals realized it all too soon. Peterson allowed to score twice!
BUF 16, KC 10 Low scoring and boring but at least Jamaal Charles owners were smiling with 181 total yards and a TD.
MIA 14, JAC 10 Ricky Williams (108, TD) was only player not to disappoint. AFC wildcards will be a mess to figure out.
DEN 16, IND 28 And with this, every Manning, Addai, Wayne and Clark owner cringes. Turn out the lights... the party...
SEA 7, HOU 34 When Andre Johnson scored a 64-yard TD on first play, this was over. After that it was just to sell more beer.
GB 21, CHI 14 Only surprise was that Ryan Grant (137 yds, 2 TD) killed CHI while Rodgers ony killed his fantasy owners.
DET 3, BAL 48 Not really this close. Seven runners ran 40 times to gain 308 yards and 5 TDs. Hey you, wanna score?
STL 7, TEN 47 Chris Johnson (186 yds, 3 TD) may miss practice to get his wheels rotated and oil changed.
WAS 34, OAK 13 Gradkowski hurt and sack magnet Russell goes down 8 times. WAS scored 17 in 4th Q - Thanks JR!
SD 20, DAL 17 Gee, maybe the Curse of December can be broken next week... IN NEW ORLEANS.... maybe not...

Game-o-the-week

We've had so many great games lately that this seems like a down week. Nine teams only scored ten points or less. Four games failed to total 30 points between the two teams. Six games were decided by 20 or more points. The Game-O-The-Week was good, but even still not as exciting as many other games in recent weeks. WIth 83 total points, it was easily best of the bunch.

Eagles 45, Giants 38

While the game did not end on final play heroics, there were plenty of scores that came in plenty of different ways. Eleven different players scored a touchdown in this game and that doesn't include Donovan McNabb and Eli Manning who combined for five passing touchdowns. This was a delightful way to end the day that featured so many games that were hard pressed to score any points. There were 11 touchdowns and yet only two field goals.

The first series in the game saw Donovan McNabb hit Brent Celek for a 8-yard touchdown.

Three plays later and Brandon Jacobs fumbles and it is returned for a Philly defensive touchdown.

Giants take their next series and 16 plays later have a field goal. Big deal.

Surprisingly, the Eagles punt after a three-and-out series..

The Giants inch along for six plays until Eli Manning hits Hakeem Nicks with a 68-yard touchdown, making up for the dropped touchdown of the previous series. The second quarter has started and it is already 14-10 in favor of the Eagles.

The Eagles then drove 77 yards to settle for their only field goal when Akers punches in a 20-yarder because the Eagles could not score with first and goal to go from the two yard line.

When the Giants have to punt six plays later, DeSean Jackson returns it for a 72-yard touchdown. 24-10 in favor of the Eagles. After Domenik Hixon tried but fails to fumble the kickoff back to the Eagles, the Giants end up with an eight play drive capped off with a 3-yard Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown.

Though only 1:24 remains in the first half, the Eagles drive 70 yards and have Michael Vick run in a 1-yard score with 8 seconds left to play. Once again, Hixon fumbles away the kickoff but the half was over anyway. The Eagles lead 30-17 after only thirty minutes of playing time.

This punt-hating game started the second half with the Giants driving 74 yards in 11 yards with Brandon Jacobs bulling in a 1-yard score on fourth down. 30-24 with 24 minutes left to play.

Then McNabb throws an interception and on the next play Manning loses a fumble. This was not a game to walk away for much time without missing a lot.

After the Eagles had a rare punt, Manning connected with Domenik Hixon for a 61-yard touchdown. On the next offensive play for the Eagles, McNabb hit DeSean Jackson for a 60-yard touchdown. With five minutes to play in the third quarter, it was 37-31 in favor of the Eagles.

After two failed series, the fourth quarter trudged alone as the Eagles mounted a 12 play drive that ate up eight minutes of clock and ended with Leonard Weaver getting his turn to score a touchdown. McNabb topped that off with a two point conversion pass to Jason Avant and a 45-31 advantage with 5:41 left to play.

Of course the Giants next series saw him throw a 28-yard touchdown to Mario Manningham that was reversed. With 1:35 left to play, Manning hit Kevin Boss with a four yard touchdown in the back of the endzone for a 45-38 deficit.

But it was not meant to be. The onsides kick went out of bounds and the Eagles drained the clock and all the Giants timeouts so that only 28 seconds remains. Two plays later Manning was sacked and lost the fumble.

No fireworks at the end so much but plenty of scoring along the way. It would be hard to have a Giant or Eagle in this game that did not score.

The fantasy playoffs are in full swing this weekend if they have not already started in your league. This week was largely decided by the teams that started Dallas Clark, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Ryan Grant, Adrian Peterson, Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson and DeSean Jackson. Any two of those and you probably won unless your opponent had three.

This coming week could be decided by all those teams holding Colts players and wondering what to do. In the season opener against the Jaguars, Manning threw for 301 yards and a score, Addai had a touchdown with 77 yards and five receptions and Reggie Wayne posted ten catches for 162 yards and a score. Was a nice way to start the season for the fantasy owners. Be a shame for them to end it this week.

Now get back to work...

 
 
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