Welcome to another season of the “Week in Review and thanks for reading. Quick disclaimer, way back in the beginning of my first fantasy league (>10+ years ago, whoa!), I would put together a weekly write that the other owners in our league seemed to enjoy. It was a “preview” story that I put together on a Thursday that would include some funny items about the two teams about to play each other and it included some of the players that did well the well before in helping that team win or lose. If nothing else, it created some excitement and humor, especially late in the season for those games that didn’t have much meaning in the standings.
Only the best fantasy performers of the week (based strictly on our league’s scoring system) made the weekly “story”, and to make it a little tougher, a player had to be in that team’s starting lineup to be recognized (kind of like how the “All Madden” team members had to be seen by Madden during the season for them to make his team). To spice things up, I would make up funny knicknames for the players in the writeup. This was long before PrimeTime and Berman became popular.
In any case, I’ll once again be doing this on Monday mornings this season, offering a it of a recap based on each NFL game that has already been played. WIth very few exceptions, only those individual fantasy players that perform well on the field will get a mention in this space. Hopefully this is something that you will enjoy, if not, well, I tried. Any feedback (good, bad, ugly, suggestions, whatever) drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading, ENJOY!
And so after a long summer, week one of the National Football League finally arrived. With so many of the games evenly matched, there weren’t too many big upsets but there were some scattered big fantasy performances. Most of the stud RBs performed, many of the mid-level RBs performed, and 4 TEs performed well enough to get a mention here – though none was a member of the preseason big three or four. Hopefully you had more than a few of the players about to be mentioned in your starting lineup. If not, there’s always the waiver wire and next week. On to the games…
at New England 27, Indianapolis 24
By now most of you have probably either seen or read about this one. Knowing that the Colts would employ a no huddle offense, the Patriots went “Bring it On” by opening the game with their own no huddle and they put on a clinic. With Corey Dillon on the sideline, Tom Brady (335 pass yards, 3 TD, 1 int) picked apart the Colts defense until the drive bogged down, forcing New England to settle for three. The game went back and forth, with the Colts moving well with both Edgerrin James (142 rush yards) and Peyton Manning (256 pass yards, 2 TD, 1 int) getting it done. New England even made the mistakes that should have allowed Indy to win this one, but costly fumbles inside the red zone for Indianapolis sealed their fate. Kicker Mike Vanderjadt had a chance to tie the game, but the play before Manning was sacked and despite Vandy’s “I’m money” sign to the crowd, his long attempt was wide. Deion Branch (7 catches for 86 yards, TD) also performed well in victory.
Tennessee 17, at Miami 7
Due to possible anti-trust violations, I can’t tell you how I saw this game, but I can tell you that you didn’t miss much. Predictably, the Dolphins looked terrible, already shuffling QBs. Only Randy McMichael (8 catches for 79 yards, TD) gets a mention here in a losing effort. On the other side of the ball, not a lot of fantasy spark either. Chris Brown was doing very well, then left the game with an injury that isn’t believed to be serious. The Titan D (3 int, 3 sack, return TD) did well, but apparently 10 points put the game out of reach so the Titans stopped trying. Lets quickly move on.
Jacksonville 13, at Buffalo 10
Let’s just scoot to the last two minutes of this yawner. With the Jaguars trailing by four they were finally able to put a nice drive together, the 80 yard march capped off with no time remaining, Leftwich to Wilford getting it done on fourth down from the 7. Other than that, only Eric Moulds (8 catches for 75 yards, TD) looked good for either side in this one.
Detroit 20, at Chicago 16
And so Detriot’s crazy long road losing streak, finally comes to an end. With their offense sleepwalking, it was the special teams in the third quarter that provided the spark, blocking a field goal and returning it 92 yards for the touch, earning the Lions D (4 turnovers, return TD) a spot here. The Bears would come back, Thomas Jones (105 total yards, 2 TD) scoring his second of the day, but it was not to be. The Lions scored early in the fourth to give them the lead they would not relinquish. In the game, Charles Rogers broke his collarbone and is out (again) indefinitely.
at Cleveland 20, Baltimore 3
While the Browns D didn’t perform on a fantasy level that will get them an official mention here, they were the difference in this game. Facing the running back that lit them up for 500+ yards in their two meetings last year, Cleveland held Jamal Lewis to only 57 yards on the ground in this one. The Ravens as a team only mustered up 255 yards, and as a result, no one gets a mention in this space for their weak efforts. On the other side of the ball, the Browns played well enough to win, and Jeff “Cherry” Garcia (180 pass yards, TD, rush TD) gets some ink for his performance.
at St.Louis 17, Arizona 10
While the outcome of this game is not a surprise, the lack of scoring in the final result probably is. The vaunted Rams offense still struggled in this one, but they did just enough to win. Isaac Bruce (9 catches for 112 yards, TD) performed well for the winners while Marshall “Plan” Faulk (128 rush yards) put to rest the Steven Jackson talk. Though Jackson did end up with 50 yards on 7 carries, he fumbled on his first carry. The Cardinals, despite benefiting from three turnovers in the game, could not capitalize, only generating 260 yards on offense. As a result, no Card mentioned here.
Seattle 21, New Orleans 7
With Detroit grabbing the Lions share of the “road woes” spotlight, Seattle went on the road to pick up a rare road win for themselves. Taking advantage of a struggling Saints offense, they ran New Orleans into the ground to take home the win. Player of the Week Shaun Alexander “The Great” (135 rush yards, 3 TD) did most of the damage, though late in the game he left after injuring his knee. Reports are that it’s not serious, but keep an eye on this one (no doubt Maurice Morris will be a popular name in this week’s fantasy free agent sweepstakes). Nothing to write about for the Saints, Brooks hadn’t played much in pre-season and it showed.
at NY Jets 31, Cincinnati 24
Celebrating “turn back the clock” day, Curtis Martin (196 rush yards, 2 TD) had a field day in this one. Nicely hooked up to the rejuvenation machine, the traditional slow starter got untracked early and often. Cincinnati struck first in this one, but it was Chad Pennington (224 pass yards, 2 TD, 0 int) to Martin from three yards out to tie things up. Pennington went thru the air again, and the Jets had a lead they would not give up. The Bengals were able to close the gap late, but the result was really never in doubt. Carson “Emerson, Lake &” Palmer (248 pass yards, 2 TD, 1 int) and Chad Johnson (5 catches for 99 yards, TD) performed well in a losing effort.
At Pittsburgh 24, Oakland 21
Speaking of the rejuv machine, I can tell you that Rich Gannon (305 pass yards, 2 TD, 2 int) is the only player from either team to get an official mention here. Otherwise, this was a very entertaining game. Jerome Bettis opened the scoring in the first quarter, scoring the first of his three touchdowns. Despite the three scores, he would finish the day with only 5 carries and one yard gained. For those that were wondering, Duce Staley was given a couple goal line opportunities but could not convert. The Bus was unstoppable from the one, so that is something we’re likely to see in the coming games. Fast forward to the fourth, Pittsburgh was holding the 21-10 lead when Oakland finally went to work. A field goal brought it closer, then Gannon threw for a score and then the two pointer as well to tie the game. With just over three minutes remaining, the Steelers were not about to lose this one, their offense moving the ball 54 yards in 9 plays to set up Jeff Reed’s 42 yard game winning boot.
At Washington 16, Tampa Bay 10
Joe Gibbs wins his coaching debut in this one, as the Redskins hold on to defeat the Bucs. Clinton Portis (148 rush yards, TD) got things going early for the Skins, as they were then able to push the lead to 10-0, 10-3 at the half. Tampa Bay opened up the second half scoring, their defense returning a fumble to tie things up. Washington squeezed out a couple field goals in the fourth quarter and their D held on for the win. No Bucs talked about here.
San Diego 27, at Houston 20
Two evenly matched teams went at it here, and in the end, even a power outage couldn’t keep the Chargers out of the win column. With a little over 5 minutes left, the lights went out in the stadium named after a power company, and when play resumed, Houston fumbled the ball away ending any comeback hopes. Ladainian Tomlinson (121 rush yards, TD), Drew Brees (209 pass yards, 2 TD, 0 int), and Antonio Gates (8 catches for 123 yards) did well for the victors while only Domanick Davis (157 total yards, 2 TD) gets a mention here in defeat.
Atlanta 21, at San Francisco 19
First the Falcons knocked Tim Rattay out of the game, then Ken Dorsey was knocked out bringing Rattay back. In between, Atlanta was able to scrape together just enough offense to win the game. Warrick Dunn (63 rush yards, 2 TD) and Alge Crumpler (6 catches for 82 yards, TD) did well for the winner despite an overall disappointing effort from the Falcon offense. Eric Johnson (8 catches for 86 yards, TD) and Cedric Wilson (7 catches for 94 yards, TD) did well in a losing effort.
at Philadelphia 31, NY Giants 17
Welcome to Philadelphia, Terrell Owens! The Giants had taken a seven point lead early, then Terrell Owens (8 catches for 68 yards, 3 TD) went to work, scoring the next two touchdowns. Donovan McNabb (330 pass yards, 4 TD) tossed another before the half ended and all that was in question was the final score. Brian Westbrook (161 total yards) also gets a mention here for the winners. On the other side, only Tiki Barber (200 total yards, TD) gets an official mention, though that thanks to his 72 yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter. Barber got 9 carries while Ron Dayne got 13 (including a goal line score), though those numbers likely skewed by the Giants poor performance in general. Great start for the Eagles and their new WR.
at Minnesota 35, Dallas 17
With the score close entering the second half, Minnesota finally got Randy Moss involved and while he finished the day with only 27 yards, his two scores in the third quarter helped the Vikings pull away from the Cowboys. Daunte Culpepper “Steak” (242 pass yards, 5 TD) spread the ball around and Ontario Smith (169 total yards, TD) shook off any impending suspension by having a strong day. Moe Williams sprained an ankle, which probably led to more action for Smith. On the other side, Vinny Testaverde (355 pass yards, 1 TD) performed admirably and Keyshawn Johnson (9 catches for 111 yards) also did well albeit in a losing effort.
at Denver 34, Kansas City 24
Finally this week, the Sunday night showdown between two rivals. And it looks like 2004 begins as 2003 ended, with offenses running roughshod over the Chief D. Kansas City took the opening kickoff and drove the field, Priest Holmes (151 rush yards, 3 TD) getting it done from 3 yards out. From there, Denver scored on their first three possessions , running out to a 17-7 halftime lead. Quentin Griffin (156 rush yards, 3 TD) was running wild and Jake Plummer (230 pass yards, 2 TD, 2 int) was leading the way. The Chiefs took advantage of two Plummer interceptions in the third quarter to tie things up. Griffin and Holmes then exchanged TDs and the teams were tied heading into the last frame. The Broncos scores 10 points in the fourth quarter and the held Kansas City off the board to take the win.