by Jim O'Dell
December 2, 2005
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    We have reached the 3/4 point of the NFL season, and the cream looks to be rising to the top.  Indianapolis is still unbeaten, and Seattle looks like they have established themselves as a Superbowl contender.  There are many other teams still fighting for playoff spots as well.  Many players have also established themselves as fantasy football powers, and still more as fantasy duds.  Now, let's take a look back at the "third quarter" of the fantasy season and see what happened.

QuarterbacksThe name at the top of the QB leaderboard has not changed all year; it is still Carson Palmer.  He is the elite fantasy quarterback this year, and he leads the NFL in touchdowns (23) and quarterback rating (107.1) and is second in yardage (2,922) through twelve games.  Tom Brady takes over the yardage lead with 3,030 and has thrown 18 scores for the defending champions.  After starting off slowly, Peyton Manning has caught fire.  He has 22 touchdown passes and is 3rd in QB rating.  His little brother Eli Manning is still having a solid year, with a 20-10 touchdown to interception ratio for the NFC East leading Giants.  Trent Green is another guy who is heating up, although the Chiefs have a very tough schedule for the remaining five weeks. Others have cooled off, much like the weather here in Denver.Michael Vick, although he has his Falcons in the playoff race, is not a viable fantasy quarterback (although I love to watch him play) as he has only 1,612 yards and 12 scores.  David Carr would benefit nicely if he had an offensive line to keep him upright.  Look for the Texans to draft some beef this off season.  If they do, Carr will be much better off next year.Kyle Orton has the Bears in first place in the NFC North, but his fantasy numbers would not reflect that. A few guys who are mired in mediocrity are Jake Delhomme, Steve McNair, Aaron Brooks and Gus Frerotte.

Running BacksThere is no question who the top two fantasy producers are: Shaun Alexander and LaDanian Tomlinson.  Alexander leads the NFL in rushing (1,339) and scores (20), While LT2 has 17 rushing touchdowns.  Edgerring James is right behind them, with 11 touchdowns and 1,240 yards.  Tiki Barber is having another great year as well.  Warrick Dunn is right atop the leaderboard in rushing yards, but still sees little of the endzone.  Not good for scoring only leagues.Seven more backs can go over 1,000 yards this weekend, including a pair of Johnsons, Larry and Rudi, Willis McGahee, Mike Anderson, and Steven Jackson. Others are still struggling.  Dom Davis,Fred Taylor and Julius Jones are just a few backs fighting injuries this season.  Jamal Lewis, although he came out of his funk last week to ruch for over 100 yards, still needs to get on track, as do Kevan Barlow and Kevin Jones. Guys to keep an eye on the last five weeks are Chris Brown, Mwelde Moore, Ruben Droughns and Ronnie Brown.  These are a few that can flourish over the last weeks of the season for your fantasy playoffs.

Wide ReceiversSo far, we have four players who have eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark; Steve Smith, Chad Jonson, Santana Moss and Joey Galloway, who has not done that in eight seasons and one other, Larry Fitzgerals, who is one yard short at 999..  All are having great fantasy seasons.  Others who are playing well are Plaxico Burress, Anquan Boldin, Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt.  Antonio Gates and Jeremy Shockey are by far the best Tight Ends out there playing. Guys who have cooled off since the midway point are Terry Glenn, Randy Moss (fighting injury),and Jimmy Smith.  Tony Gonzalez has only one touchdown this year, way off his average. Others have warmed up quite a bit, such as Kevin Curtis, Donald Driver, Donte' Stallworth, and TJ Houshmandzadeh.

So, with the season 3/4 of the way over I hope you are within the top of your league's standings.  I have been fortunate enough to be like the Colts, undefeated in my league.Maybe that will translate to another championship?   I sure hope so.  We'll see you in five weeks for the last installment, the "Fourth Quarter" where we will look at the top performers this fantasy season, the worst performers, and some guys you may want to stash on your roster for next season in deep keeper leagues.

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