By Christopher Harris
October 22, 2006
My guess is there were some good, old-fashioned fantasy score-fests across the nation this week. There's nothing like a Chiefs/Chargers game (unless it's a Seahawks/Rams game) for some bonkers back-and-forth scoring. How about that Steelers/Falcons big-play festival? The Jets racked up 31. The Eagles pulled their fat out of the fire with a huge play from Donovan McNabb to Brian Westbrook, only to watch Matt Bryant nail a 62-yarder at the buzzer (only the third-longest field goal in league history). Green Bay and Miami took looks at one another's defenses, and decide to combine for 58 points. Let's take a look at the other highlights of a wild-and-wacky Week 7:
For ridiculous fantasy relevance, it would be tough to surpass Pittsburgh at Atlanta. Michael Vick registered his first career four-TD-pass game. Alge Crumpler caught three of those TDs. Hines Ward "pulled a Crumpler" and caught three scores of his own, to go with 171 yards receiving. Ben Roethlisberger (three passing TDs) got thonked on the head and leg, and had to leave the game, allowing Charlie Batch to enter and throw two scores of his own. Heck, Warrick Dunn even got a goal-line score. The only major fantasy player who looked horrible is Willie Parker, the guy everyone thought would bust out against an Atlanta D that had given Tiki Barber the moon last week.
Let's hear it for the big-blasting field goal kickers. Bryant, the former pawn-shop clerk, hit his 62-yarder a week after Shayne Graham missed a game-ending 62-yarder for Cincinnati in Tampa. Lawrence Tynes made a 53-yarder so the Chiefs could beat the Chargers. Michael Koenen missed a 57-yarder for the Falcons, but was run-into by Troy Polamalu, giving Atlanta another chance to win at the gun, but for some reason, Atlanta decided to let Morten Andersen kick the 52-yard makeup, and the 46-year-old came up short. Plus, on the subsequent possession, Batch came up with yet another long pass to Ward, which should have given Jeff Reed a chance to join the ranks of the game-winners, but Nate Washington false-started, and instead Atlanta took overtime's first possession and let Andersen make up for his miss with his own game-winner.
And let's hear it for wacky, wacky LaDainian Tomlinson, who has found more ways to score than Anne Heche – 66 yards rushing, well, okay, that's nothing great, and the fumble he lost on the Chargers' first possession sort of stunk. But LDT also caught six passes for 72 yards and a 37-yard score, and threw for a one-yard TD on a fourth-and-goal. Speaking of LDT's fumble, on the subsequent Kansas City drive, the aforementioned Tynes missed a 42-yarder, and if it's not Scottish, it's crap! (Hey, I know exactly two things about Tynes: he's Scottish, and he got arrested in a bar fight. Which would he have me repeat over and over?)
I heard whispers on Saturday morning that Wali Lundy was a smokescreen, and that Gary Kubiak was planning on using Samkon Gado as his starting back; by Sunday afternoon, that rumor proved true. Gado got Houston's first nine RB carries, and did, well, absolutely nothing (to the tune of 29 yards). And thus was the Legend of Lundy born: Lundy received 19 of the next 20 carries, netting 93 yards and a score. It seems pretty clear who the Texans' starting back will be next week in Tennessee.
The Eagles have netted 831 yards the past two weeks (including 506 this week), and lost both games. In the withering heat down in Tampa this week, Donovan McNabb upchucked a little Chunky Soup, but did lead a pretty stirring comeback. Yet he threw two interceptions to Ronde Barber, each of which Barber returned for touchdowns. McNabb also messed up Philly's two-minute drill at the end of the first half, running out of time with the Eagles well within field-goal range. His final line: 22-for-35 for 302 yards, three scores and three picks. It was a pretty frustrating real-life day, but considering what we most care about is fantasy, McNabb owners will take it: in standard-scoring leagues, McNabb notched yet another 30-plus fantasy point day, and hasn't gone below 19 points in seven games this season.
The bar where I watched Sunday's games was too crowded. In particular, there was this Pittsburgh Steelers fan with one of those Roethlisberger pencil-thin beards down his cheeks (and wearing a Roethlisberger jersey) munching free popcorn in my ear like nothing so much as a gerbil chewing cardboard. Oh, and oops, I think he's reading over my shoulder as I type this. Sorry, dude.
Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter absolutely sandwiched Peyton Manning in the second quarter of the 'Skins/Colts game, bending the oft-commercialized quarterback over backwards, and allowing his enormous melon to acquire a streak of field-turf across its forehead. Manning was forced to call a timeout to gather himself, but stayed in the game; however, on a third-and-eight from the Washington 15, Indy ran a draw, which was a little suspicious. All told, Manning went 25-for-35 for 342 yards and four scores. Uh, yeah, he's fine.
By the way, Montae Reagor was injured in a car accident before the Colts game, and didn't play. Apparently he's going to be okay despite his SUV rolling over. But the dope wasn't wearing his seat belt. Wear your seat belt, people.
Another injury problem: Matt Hasselbeck hurt his knee in the third quarter when Vikings LB E.J. Henderson rolled into him, and the QB couldn't return. Before he left, Hasselbeck hooked up on a 72-yard touchdown with Darrell Jackson, but for the day went just 7-for-16 for 127 yards. Seneca Wallace was Hasselbeck's replacement, and didn't look great: 14-for-25 for 134 yards, two interceptions and a fumble that Minnesota converted for a touchdown.
Keyshawn Johnson has now caught a pass in all 158 NFL games he's played. That's pretty good.
Robert Royal, you have officially had your moment in the sun. Sure, the Bills got pasted by the Patriots, but Royal, for perhaps the first time in his career, had two straight plays with two straight catches. Hey, Robert Royal fans, write in: is that the first time in his career? Heck, all told, Royal caught four passes for 36 yards, including one fourth-quarter play where the erstwhile blocker was split out as a wide receiver! Context: before Week 7, Royal had five catches in six games, and 36 catches in 41 career games.
Is there any justice, Tony Gonzalez owners? Six catches for 138 yards, several of them huge in the Chiefs' upset win. And the first Kansas City touchdown? That's right: Kris Wilson. I did hear that Wilson would get more time in an "H-Back" type role, because of Chiefs' injuries in the backfield (specifically Ronnie Cruz), so that's something to watch. It's also (kind of) worth noting that Wilson made Tynes owners happy by false-starting on the game's final series, changing Tynes's winning field goal from a 48-yarder to a 53-yarder. Love those extra fantasy points.
Rumors of Donald Driver's demise were greatly exaggerated. He caught 10 passes for 93 yards and a 34-yard score, while his supposed replacement, Greg Jennings, managed a single catch for 14 yards before hobbling off the field. Jennings didn't return.
Mewelde Moore pulled an LDT to give Minnesota the lead for good, tossing a halfback-option to Jermaine Wiggins for a TD. And then Chester Taylor thought perhaps he'd try imitating the other portion of LDT's repertoire, rushing for a 95-yard score.
Now there's the Joey Harrington we all know and loathe. Miami threw the ball (get this) 62 times, compared with Ronnie Brown's 15 rushes. Harrington was actually fantasy-worthy because he logged 414 yards and two scores, but he threw three picks, the third of which came on the second play of the second half, on which Charles Woodson returned the interception 23 yards for a score. The Fins are 1-6, and (I hate to break this to some of your favorite prognosticators) not going to make the Super Bowl. One wonders when Daunte Culpepper will return.
Clinton Portis runs like Kim Jong-Il governs. Well, kind of. Whatever. Anyway, Portis is a ruthless mad dog, and it seemed to hurt him in the third quarter at the RCA Dome. He slammed his knees hard on the turf, and stayed down for several minutes (long enough, at least, for Fox to get seven more commercials in). Ladell Betts replaced Portis as Washington's drive stalled; Portis returned on the Skins' next series.
Perhaps less good news for Santana Moss: he seemed to hurt his hamstring in the fourth quarter of the Colts game, and limped off the field. He tried to return, but couldn't run.
Reche Caldwell's hands of stone contributed to two awful drops this week: one which would've given Tom Brady a third touchdown pass, and one on a laser-like deep-in that big-league receivers are supposed to catch. Considering Chad Jackson made a really nice 35-yard score, and Doug Gabriel made a late-game grab on exactly the same deep-in that Caldwell dropped, one has to wonder how long Reche will be on this roster. By the way, does Buffalo throw Brady off his game, or what? His timing was just wrong for most of the day. Give Brady credit: he didn't turn the ball over, and he wound up with two passing scores. But he was sacked four times, hurried a bunch more, and generally looked frustrated with his receivers yet again. Tom Terrific will be glad to be done with Buffalo (and especially Aaron Schobel) for the year.
Ugly news for Pats fans: Richard Seymour hurt his elbow in the second quarter, and couldn't return.
LaMont Jordan was on the Raiders' injury list as questionable with a bad back, but given the postmodern condition of the NFL Injury Report (co-crafted by Thomas Pynchon and John Barth), how were we supposed to know that Jordan meant it? Justin Fargas was the primary back (after last being seen – by me, at least – with his arm in a sling last Sunday night), and looked decent; Zack Crockett also got some carries, though he won no friends with an early-game lost fumble.
Oh, yeah. That's what a long TD pass to Reggie Wayne looks like.
For shame. Denver's defense gave up a touchdown. Then again, for fantasy players that started them, giving up seven points is well worth the tradeoff if the Broncos promise to accumulate five sacks, a pick and two fumbles recovered every week. In fact, even though they lost a shutout late, this was probably Denver's best fantasy defensive week.
Has the baton been completely passed in New York? Leon Washington got 20 carries to Kevan Barlow's 12, and while Barlow did seem to be a decent option in short yardage, I'm starting to believe this is the rookie's show. Washington tallied 129 rushing yards (to Barlow's 49) and two rushing scores of his own. Meanwhile, Jerricho Cotchery returned to prominence against the Lions, grabbing seven balls (to Laveranues Coles's four) for 79 yards. Despite the fact that Justin McCareins was the only receiver to net a TD, he's not worth owning.
Julia Louis Dreyfus is totally hot when the TV you're looking at is pointed about 60 degrees away from you. Then you look up, and you go, "Oh, it's Julia Louis Dreyfus."
Coles and Roy Williams sure did get a lot of attention in the Jets/Lions game; as a result, Cotchery and Mike Furrey did most of the aerial damage. Furrey caught another nine passes for 109 yards and a score, bringing his season total to 37 catches (just one shy of Williams) and three scores (the same as Williams). Against lesser secondaries, you have to start Furrey.
The Bills just forgot Willis McGahee existed after the first possession of the second half. McGahee got only four carries after that first second-half series, despite the fact that Buffalo only trailed 14-3 through almost the entire third quarter. Gee, put the game in J.P. Losman's hands, and lose. What a shock.
Marvin Harrison scored on the last drive of the first half, but it was overturned on appeal. No troubles: he scored a four-yarder on the first drive of the second half, and then another, just to make sure the Redskins noticed how bad their secondary looks these days.
Ahman Green looked bad until he didn't. He had 18 carries for 118 yards all told in his first game back from injury (and bye), but 70 of those yards came on a single late-game rush. (He had 17 yards on his first eight carries.) Not a bad little treat for those with the courage to start him.
The Bengals beat Carolina, even though they didn't register their first first down until 7:40 was left in the second quarter. For the first half, Cincy netted 99 yards. And then they won.
For all of you (and there were at least a dozen) who bashed me for not buying into Matt Leinart just yet? I'm going to exude class, and refuse to say "I told you so," despite Leinart's finishing line against that vaunted Oakland defense: 13-for-32 for 203 yards and two interceptions.
Christopher Harris is a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award-winning columnist and beagle-owner who has written about fantasy sports for SportsIllustrated.com, NBA.com, and TalentedMrRoto.com. Send Christopher a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Sunday, Oct 22, 2006 9:31 pm, EDT
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