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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Tunnel Vision - Week 16
David Dorey
December 21 , 2009
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Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Aaron Rodgers 405 4
Ben Roethlisberger 510 3
Peyton Manning 308 4
Joe Flacco 234 4
Philip Rivers 308 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Jerome Harrison 298 3
Maurice Jones-Drew 140 2
Jonathan Stewart 133 2
Jamaal Charles 170 1
Maurice Morris 161 1
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Vincent Jackson 108 2
Steve Smith 157 1
DeSean Jackson 140 1
Miles Austin 139 1
Mike Wallace 79 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Dallas Clark 95 1
Todd Heap 56 2
John Carlson 86 1
Jermichael Finley 74 1
Heath Miller 118 0
Placekickers XP FG
Jeff Reed 4 3
Matt Prater 1 4
Phil Dawson 5 2
Shayne Graham 1 3
Kris Brown 1 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Ravens 0 2 6
Lions 1 2 3
Browns 2 1 1
Cowboys 0 4 3
Eagles 0 3 4

Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Michael Vick (PHI) - Bruised thigh
Reggie Bush (NO) - Strained hamstring
Michael Turner (ATL) - High ankle sprain Part III (After one carry)
Charlie Frye (OAK) - Concussion
DeAngelo Williams (CAR) - Sprained ankle

and then there was one

Before breaking it down later on, let's take a look at the playoff picture since nine teams with chances of the postseason just lost this week.

AFC

East - Finally NE won and everyone else lost. NE is up by two games with two left to play. MIA and NYJ both lost and at 7-7 need help.

North - Bengals lost last two and now just one game up on BAL who is 8-6. PIT beat GB to go 7-7 and keep slim hopes alive.

South - Colts all alone and have clinched everything possible. Rest of division is all 7-7.

West - Chargers win division at 11-3 and DEN loss drops them to 8-6.

Most likely - IND and SD get byes, NE and CIN win divisions and wildcards are BAL and DEN or one of six teams currently 7-7

NFC

East - PHI remains a game up on DAL and NYG must win in WAS on Monday to reach 8-6.

North - Vikes drop to 11-3 but own division, Packers drop to 9-5 but still in hunt.

South - Saints drop to 13-1 and Falcons rise to 7-7 to keep faint hopes alive.

West - Cards win to go 9-5 but 49ers loss drops them out with 6-8 record.

Most likely - NO and MIN gets byes, Eagles and Cards host first round. Wildcards are Cowboys and Packers.

The good news here - a lot could actually happen in the last two weeks and only the Colts are in a position where they do not have to care about winning or losing. The Saints host the Buccaneers this week and can win, get homefield throughout and rest in week 17. There should be no teams resting players this week other than perhaps the Colts.

No matter what, there is one in every crowd of 74,502

The Broncos - Raiders game was halted for a few minutes in order for the stadium crew to determine who was shining a laser pointer on players in the south end zone when the Broncos were trying to score a touchdown near the end of the fourth quarter. They settled for a Matt Prater field goal instead once play was restored. No word on whether the offender was killed by marauding Broncos fans.

make it go away, mommy, please? i just want to go home

Without boring you too much with my fantasy fortunes, I must report that I have been having one of the best fantasy seasons in my 20 years of playing. I play in five leagues that have head-to-head schedules and traditional playoffs. I was the #1 or #2 team in all but one (because you must have at least one cursed league). I normally win one or two championships each season and pocketed as much as $13,000 in a year. I honestly thought I would have four championships this season. Last week two of my teams had first round byes while the other two played meaningless week 14 games since I had already clinched. Times were so simple then. Happy. Carefree. Full of hope and wonder and goodness and ... I just lost all four freaking leagues.

I said it. I do not feel better though.

One of these leagues includes a dynasty team that will end the season with the highest total points ever scored in the ten year history of that league. That team includes DeAngelo Williams, Chris Johnson, Cedric Benson, Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, Jason Witten and Jermichael Finley among others. That team has been built over several years and is now about to be torn apart by recalculated contracts and salary cap limitations. No championship. Four leagues. I won't bother to delineate how you go from the top in every league to losing in week 15 but we all know it happens. I am 49 years old, I do not need any more character building moments, I want to buy a new shotgun, maybe a cannon for the front yard and talk smack all during the offseason. But no. I do have a "best ball" league where I have the #2 team in a group of 36. But still, that excitement of starting a Super Bowl roster has been denied me. I just lost in SOFA Auction league that I won two straight years and was vying for my three-peat. I was going to ask league members to pay me rent next year because I was going to make a point to let everyone know I own that league. But alas.

I have to remind myself that while we certainly play to win and all that entails, I do play for the enjoyment of football. And the camaraderie of a league and the connection with friends and associates. And in some way I am happy that now there are four other people who are all wearing stupid grins right now. I cannot enjoy my past and future wins without allowing others to do the same. It is a long way to go to fall short though and I am feeling all Danny Marino now knowing I have done some great things this year, going to set some records and yet maybe I do not have that Championship ring (though in fairness I have them every other year... ahem... anyway).

I love football and everything involved in our fantasy football past time. Kind of a downer for me now but it's all part of the big picture. It is still the holidays with Christmas coming soon. Football is still on and I have some other teams in big contests. Plus we'll have our playoff game coming up as well. Things are good even with this soul crushing disaster setback.

I'll be back. Count on it. I get a little smarter every year. Beware.

10 Random Thoughts

1. In week 14, there were only 20 touchdown passes thrown to wide receivers. This week there were 33 plus three return touchdowns by a wideout and one game is still left to play. Whatever happened to ending the season with mostly rushing? Was it not cold enough for everyone?

2. Remember this next August. Write it down. Draft good wideouts and wait on running backs. This week had the top wideouts include Steve Smith, Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Chad Ochocinco, Brandon Marshall, Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald who were all starters. But for running backs, the top backs in order were Jerome Harrison, Maurice Jones-Drew, Maurice Morris, Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Charles, Rashard Mendenhall, Michael Bush, Marion Barber, Ricky Williams, Adrian Peterson and Chris Wells. Besides Peterson and Jones-Drew, where did those other running backs get chosen in your league? Were they even drafted? No position develops waiver wire players like running backs. No position delivers the deeper surprises like running backs. And now, no other position delivers as much disappointment by the fantasy playoffs.

3. How sad is it that Chris Johnson has what would be considered a bad game because all he had was 159 total yards and no scores? The NFL's top back now needs to average about 135 rushing yards in each of the last two games to hit the magic 2000 yard mark. He plays against the Chargers this week and then wraps up in Seattle. Maybe he'll just wait and get all 270 yards in the last game against the Seahawks. He seriously has a realistic shot at doing this and the Titans really have nothing else to play for other than pride.

4. There was nothing but praise coming out of the Packers training camp last summer for tight end Jermichael Finley and while he started slowly and was injured early on, get comfortable with him. Finley will be a resident top ten if not top five tight end for years to come with hotshot quarterback Aaron Rodgers starting to use him as a primary receiver. Finley missed three games with a sore knee but in the last five games since he has caught 31 passes for 302 yards and three scores. He's the real deal and a great young keeper for a dynasty team. Against the Steelers this week, he led the team with nine catches for 74 yards and one score.

5. Jamarcus Russell only completed 5 of 11 for 47 yards in Denver. All five completions came on the final drive of the Raiders who stared on their own 38-yard line and 13 plays later with 39 seconds left, Russell got the job done. He hit open receivers and connected with Chaz Schilens on second down from the ten yard line. Is this a sign of the apocalypse or did the Broncos just get the world's biggest piece of coal in their stocking?

6. Does the win by the Colts and the loss by the Saints change anything for you? We were heading towards a potential Super Bowl that would have two undefeated teams but now the Saints have changed that. The Colts are acting like going undefeated is not that big a of a deal too and facing the Jets this week won't be easy. The Vikings just lost to the Panthers though. Is there any doubt that the conference championships will be anything different than Chargers at the Colts and Vikings at the Saints? This just does not look like a year of the dark horse.

7. What would Andre Johnson be like if the Texans had a rushing game that concerned defenses? There is no #2 in Houston really though Owen Daniels filled that role of sorts until landing on injured reserve. He already has been thrown 155 passes and caught 90 for 1431 yards and eight touchdowns. That leads the NFL in yardage and he has almost twice as many passes as the second best on the team (Kevin Walter - 48). Imagine if the entire defense wasn't devoted to stopping him.

8. Dwayne Bowe was back in the lineup on Sunday but did little - four receptions for 56 yards. Meanwhile, Chris Chambers had his second game over 100 yards for the Chiefs. The weird thing is that had the Chargers just demoted him, Chambers would have no fantasy value and would be considered just another washed-up receiver. But getting cut by the Chargers has allowed him to actually showcase himself and looks better than he has since back in Miami. He signed just for this year and now stands to be a commodity in free agency. Thanks Bolts!

9. Have to like how good Beanie Wells looked when he ran 17 times for 110 yards and a touchdown with one catch for 13 yards. That was a solid effort to be sure but Tim Hightower had a rushing score while running six times for just four yards.And he caught six passes for 34 more yards. Just makes you wish for the old days when they'd hand the keys to the rookie. Wells looks about as good as any runner out there right now but the committee backfield trend is just ruining a good thing.

10. DeSean Jackson started the year as a desirable wideout to own but we all knew the second year player would be mostly inconsistent as has all wideouts in the Eagles offense outside of Terrell Owens. Jackson is wicked fast and a lock for at least a handful of big games. But there cannot be any question by now that he is one of the rare consistent wideouts even as an Eagle. He has scored in eight different games. Had over 100 yards five times. He is still tragically not above an absolute stinker on occasion - he had four games of less than 30 yards this year. But then again, he is only a second year player and wasn't supposed to be nearly this good this fast.

Huddle Player of the Week

Jerome Harrison - This was not all that difficult. Harrison turned in 286 rushing yards, 12 receiving yards and three touchdowns. That nearly reached the all-time NFL record held by Adrian Peterson of 296 yards set back in 2007. It did break the franchise single game record held previously by a guy named Jim Brown (237). This was a player that was not even expected to be more than the #3 rusher with Chris Jennings the starter and much talk about Josh Cribbs becoming a running back. If that doesn't speak enough about how surprising it was, consider that Harrison only had 301 rushing yards over the previous 13 games of the season. Over the last six weeks, Harrison only averaged about eight yards per game and almost breaking an all-time NFL record is a bit of a jump in production. Hope you had set your TIVO, Jerome!

Salute!

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

Comedy Yards TDs Tragedy Yards TDs
QB Matt Moore 299 3 QB Tom Brady 115 1
RB Jerome Harrison 298 3 RB Michael Turner 7 0
RB Maurice Morris 161 1 RB DeAngelo Williams 16 0
WR Mike Wallace 79 2 WR Roy Williams 14 0
WR Justin Gage 43 2 WR Wes Welker 45 0
WR Demetrius Williams 71 1 WR Calvin Johnson 35 0
PK Jeff Reed 4 XP 3 FG PK Robbie Gould 1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 163

Huddle Fantasy Points = 27

Sunday's Couch Commentary

IND 35, JAC 31
Yes, they all played. Yes, another close one. Yes, same drill next week.
DAL 24, NO 17
This was expected except for no Saints comeback for a win. Merely game #1 that prompted "really?"
MIA 24, TEN 27 OT
Titans will not go quietly into that good night. Dolphins may not be going anywhere.
HOU 16, STL 13
Kubiak once again Satan for benching Arian Foster and almost got beat by the Rams.
ATL 10, NYJ 7
Honestly, I am not sure how this happens. Neither does Thomas Jones (19-52). Really?
CIN 24, SD 27
Fortunately VJax is unstoppable at home and Chargers survive a scare.
OAK 20, DEN 19
Bush runs for 133, Moreno has 42. J. Russell saves the day win winning drive... WHAT??!?!?
TB 24, SEA 7
Saw the game, looked at the box score. Still no idea how this happened. In Seattle??? Wow.
NE 17, BUF 10
Brady and Welker are less than Fitzpatrick and Evans? Really? Where was that memo?
ARI 31, DET 24
Fitz has a TD and 42 yards? Warner 233 and just 2 TD? I waited all year for this? Seriously?
CLE 41, KC 35
There is real. There is surreal. Then there is Jerome Harrison rushing for 286 yards in a road game.
GB 36, PIT 37
Wow. 891 passing yards in this game. 73 total points. Who cares who won?
SF 13, PHI 27
This literally may be the only game this week you see and think "yeah, so what?"
CHI 7, BAL 31
Here's the good part - no Rice. Flacco threw four touchdowns but Rice was "meh". Surprise!
MIN 7, CAR 26
Am I being punked? Really? Stewart has 109 yards + TD, Smith has 9-157 + TD. Stop the insanity.

 

game-o-the-week

This is one of the most unbelievable weeks in the NFL that I have ever witnessed. It is by no means unheard of for nine of 15 games to be won by the road team. Six upsets are no big deal. But realize that weeks 15 and 16 of the NFL season are almost always the most predictable. We have gotten to know all these teams and players very well over nearly four months. Teams either have playoff motivations or not. This was easily the most unpredictable week 15 that I have ever seen both for players and for teams. Because of that, I am not naming a single game of the week. There is no way to call merely one game as the best. Let's consider just some of the great games this week:

IND 35, JAC 31 - Colts come from behind and win on a 65 yard bomb to Reggie Wayne with five minutes left. Garrard reaches IND 33-yard line before throwing an interception to conclude the game. All Colts stars get their fantasy points but Maurice Jones-Drew has 140 yards and two scores.

DAL 24, NO 17 - Saints get it in gear and draw to within seven with eight minutes left. Cowboys march down and Nick Folk misses a 24-yard field goal. It was like fate for another Saints win but then Brees stalls out around midfield and Cowboys win because pass rush makes Brees lose fumble. Saints get first loss. Brees only throws for one score. Reggie Bush is hurt. Both Lance Moore and Mike Bell score because they were the only two Saints that no one was relying on. Marion Barber punches in two scores to end his seven week scoring drought and still no one can stop Miles Austin.

MIA 24, TEN 27 - Dolphins force overtime with successful two point conversion but later Henne throws interception on first possession. Titans have Rob Bironas kick a 46-yard field goal to end overtime. Vince Young no lock to play with bad hammy but instead throws for three touchdowns - two for Justin Gage who everyone threw back on the waiver wire long ago and one for Nate Washington. Chris Johnson has decent yardage and no score.

CLE 41, KC 34 - Wow. 74 points is certainly game-o-the-week stuff. But most that went to Jerome Harrison who was owned in all my leagues and started by no one. I would suspect same for your leagues. Brady Quinn only had 66 passing yards. Jamaal Charles had 170 total yards and a score. The game was won when Harrison ran 28 yards for a score with 52 seconds left. He had already rushed for 258 yards - you think just maybe he might be getting the ball? Cassel did reach the CLE 26-yard line before time ran out.

ARI 31, DET 24 - This became a real game in the fourth quarter and Kurt Warner hit Anquan Boldin for a touchdown with two minutes left to play for the win. Somehow Larry FItzgerald only had 36 yards but did score once. Warner did have 233 yards and two scores but we all wanted twice that. Calvin Johnson? Only 35 yards on three catches and that was the best of all Lions receivers. Maurice Morris had a big game with 161 total yards and a score.

CIN 24, SD 27 - Spirited game with a comeback by the Bengals who kicked the tying field goal with 57 seconds left to play. But then Philip Rivers drove to the CIN 34-yard line with eight seconds left to play and had Nate Kaeding kick the game winner from 52 yards. Cedric Benson limited to only 53 rushing yards but Chad Ochocinco scored once and had his best celebration ever by dropping to his knees and undoubtedly saying a word to Chris Henry. Vincent Jackson started slow but ended with 108 yards and two scores.

GB 36, PIT 37 - What's not to like about nearly 900 passing yards? Against two top ten pass defenses? Packers went up with a 24-yard touchdown to James Jones with 2:12 left to play but then Roethlisberger salvaged their season with a drive that ended with the final play of the game when he eluded a sack, rolled left and hit Mike Wallace for a 19-yard touchdown. Both Grant and Mendenhall scored once. every receiver in this game had at least decent if not spectacular stats.

Any of these games could be game-o-the-week. And we are not touchdown weirdness like the Panthers destroying the Vikings or the Falcons somehow winning in New York.

This was a wacky weekend that should have been highly predictable but instead featured some of the most surprising games and players of the entire season. There were ten quarterbacks with 300+ yards. Roethlisberger passed for 503. Harrison ran for 286. Some of those players that got you into the playoffs were not there when you needed them most. And some of those guys you nabbed from the waiver ended up being the gems that let you win. As always, each game ends with one guy shrugging his shoulders and saying "I knew I could win" and the other going through the torture of figuring out what went wrong.

And I lost all four playoff games. Four super-teams. Four top dogs. Four point machines. Four losses. I'll get over it. Maybe not today or even tomorrow, but I will find my happy place once again. But with God as my witness, I shall never lose four playoff games again. I will work harder. Research more. Crunch the numbers and watch the film. Drink raw eggs, start jogging in the morning and climb the 72 front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and RAISE MY ARMS IN JOY AND EXHULTATION AS I CRUSH EVERY OPPONENT NEXT YEAR! I WILL RETURN! I WILL WIN AGAIN! I... Will..

Oh screw it.

Anyone up for a playoff league?

Now get back to work...

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