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David Dorey
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WEEK 9
2010
TB at ATL MIA at BAL *NYG at SEA PIT at CIN
*NO at CAR NE at CLE KC at OAK DEN, JAC
CHI at BUF *SD at HOU *IND at PHI SF, STL
*Updated *NYJ at DET *ARI at MIN *DAL at GB TEN, WAS

Prediction: TB 16, ATL 24

Here is the battle for the AFC South with both teams 5-2 and the rematch to be held in week 13 in Tampa Bay. Something has to change because the Falcons are 3-0 at home and the Buccaneers are 3-0 on the road. The Falcons swept the Buccaneers last year, winning 20-17 at home and 20-10 in Tampa Bay. Home field should be just enough to secure this game but it will be close.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CLE W 17-14 10 CAR --
2 @CAR W 20-7 11 @SF --
3 PIT L 13-38 12 @BAL --
4 Bye - 13 ATL --
5 @CIN W 24-21 14 @WAS --
6 NO L 6-31 15 DET --
7 STL W 18-17 16 SEA --
8 @ARI W 38-35 17 @NO --
9 @ATL -- - - -
Buccaneers Report | Statistics | Roster
TAMPA BAY at ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh Freeman - - 240,1
RB Carnell Williams 20 20 -
RB LeGarrette Blount 70 10 -
TE Kellen Winslow Jr. - 20 -
WR Mike Williams - 90,1 -
WR Arrelious Benn - 30 -
WR Sammie Stroughter - 50 -
PK Conner Barth 3 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: HC Raheem Morris came out and said his team was the best in the NFC and if you go by records - it is. The reality is that they have only lost to the Saints and Steelers who represent the last two Super Bowl winners. And if only for one shining game, the Buccaneers can run the ball effectively now that they have finally opted to use LeGarrette Blount instead of Carnell Williams as much.

QUARTERBACK: Nothing new about Josh Freeman who has passed for exactly one score per game for the last four weeks and almost always comes in around low-200's for passing yards. The potential development of a rushing attack would likely only depress his passing stats even more though he could also become more effective when he does throw because until last week - no one cared if the Bucs tried to run the ball.

Freeman passed for 250 yards and two scores in Atlanta last season.

The Falcons have been much better when they play at home and not until Carson Palmer showed up in week seven had any visitor had more than one score and marginal yardage. No reason to expect a lot from Freeman here though he could end up with two scores. Until last week, the Bucs had only tracked right around 15-20 points per game.

RUNNING BACKS: What? An actual story to tell? The Buccaneers had pledged to use LeGarrette Blount more last week since he had gained 72 yards on 11 carries in the Rams game and yet they waited until nearly the second half for any real work. Blount started out with only a couple of carries while Carnell Williams (4-10) continued to do nearly nothing in the first half. But then Blount got the call and responded with 22 runs for 120 yards and two scores. He also added two receptions for nine yards. Granted - it was against the Cards but it was on the road and it was the first time this season that the Bucs actually had a rushing attack. Blount is a big, powerful runner with a few moves and a growing presence in the passing game as well.

Williams never had any real fantasy value but he has zero now. He will still be involved though and may continue to "start" but Blount should see much higher use at least until he shows he cannot contribute which seems unlikely.

The Buccaneers rushed for only 59 yards on 24 carries in Atlanta last year.

The problem this week is that the Falcons have only allowed two rushing scores to any opponent but they have given up a couple of big games. Blount has a much less desirable matchup this week but for a team filling a bye week he's still worth a start if only for the potential he has. These games tend to be lower scoring so both sides should run more.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The presence of Blount may help out these wide receivers who have been the only feared element of the offense - relatively speaking anyway. Mike Williams has been the only one with fantasy value and he comes off his first 100 yard game and leads the team with four receiving scores. Sammie Stroughter is a marginal flanker and Arrelious Benn finally showed up last Sunday when he had a 53-yard catch that almost went into the endzone. This unit is really just Williams "and others".

The Falcons secondary was victimized by six receivers with around 90 yards or more and allowed nine scores to the position. Two weeks ago they were ravaged by Ochocinco and Owens but that's hardly what is coming to play this week. Williams should be a strong play here and as always the one most likely to score.

TIGHT ENDS: The Bucs tight ends have never caught a score and Kellen Winslow Jr. only had one catch for five yards in part because of Arrelious Benn playing and the rushing of Blount offering short yardage success. Winslow has gained more than 45 yards only once in the last four games and is a very marginal play likely from here on out.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 16 25 23 19 25 21
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 24 9 29 12 4 8
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) TB 8 -16 6 -7 -21 -13


Atlanta Falcons (5-2)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @PIT L 9-15 10 BAL --
2 ARI W 41-7 11 @STL --
3 @NO W 27-24 12 GB --
4 SF W 16-14 13 @TB --
5 @CLE W 20-10 14 @CAR --
6 @PHI L 17-31 15 @SEA --
7 CIN W 39-32 16 NO --
8 Bye - 17 CAR --
9 TB -- - - -
Falcons Report | Statistics | Roster
ATLANTA vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan - - 220,2
RB Michael Turner 100,1 20 -
TE Tony Gonzalez - 30 -
WR Michael Jenkins - 40 -
WR Roddy White - 90,2 -
WR Harry Douglas - 30 -
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Falcons come off their bye having won five of their last six games but the schedule gets much tougher for the next five games that will include both TB matchups and the Rams, Ravens and Packers. But the Falcons play almost all the tougher games at home which will give them a leg up on the Buccaneers. But a win here is imperative.

QUARTERBACK: Matt Ryan continues his strong play this season with 12 scores against only five interceptions and in his two tougher matchups he threw for multiple scores and 250 or more yards. Ryan is still very one-dimensional in his passing which is almost the same every week other than whatever Roddy White does.

Redman was the starter in week 12 when the Buccaneers visited last year and he passed for 243 yards and two scores.

The Bucs have allowed at least one passing score in every game and half of those had two more more scores. The problem forecasting this week is that Michael Turner should have a nice showing on Sunday and his success mostly comes at the expense of the passing game. Ryan is still a decent fantasy play and should post at least average sort of numbers.

RUNNING BACKS: Michael Turner comes off his best game of the year when he ran for two scores and 121 yards on 23 carries when the Bengals visited. That was only the second time he had eclipsed the 100 yard mark or scored in a game. But Turner was hampered by injury earlier in the year and is at full strength now.

Turner only gained 33 yards on 12 runs against the Bucs last year but he was banged up in that game as well. The Bucs have allowed four runners to have a big game and given up six scores to the position already. This should be a "grind it out" week for Turner who makes a solid fantasy start.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Roddy White also comes off his best game of the year with 201 yards and two scores against the Bengals. His five receiving touchdowns leads the team and he has chalked up over 100 yards in over half of his games so far. Michael Jenkins has been back for a couple of weeks with no real impact. White is the only reliable fantasy star here and one of the elite receivers in the league. His 747 yards are second only to Brandon Lloyd.

White gained 57 yards and one score on five catches against the visiting Bucs last year. He later had 66 yards and a score in Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers have been soft against wide receivers who have scored 11 touchdowns already this season and three receivers turned in 100+ yard efforts. This is only the fourth time the Buccaneers have played in an away game and each opponent had a nice game from their #1 receiver. White is a must start in this game and should be a near lock for one touchdown if not two.

TIGHT ENDS: The slow down of Tony Gonzalez seems starkly apparent. He has scored in two games this year - both away venues - and he had one big game in New Orleans. But otherwise, he's spent six games with 41 yards or less. He's lost a step with a very low YPC and just not performing to the old standard.

Gonzalez caught nine passes for 83 yards when the Bucs showed up last year. It would be a shock this time and the Bucs have been outstanding against tight ends anyway.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 12 7 11 15 6 16
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 16 26 21 11 3 10
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) ATL 4 19 10 -4 -3 -6

WEEK 9
2010
TB at ATL MIA at BAL NYG at SEA PIT at CIN
NO at CAR NE at CLE KC at OAK DEN, JAC
CHI at BUF SD at HOU IND at PHI SF, STL
  NYJ at DET ARI at MIN DAL at GB TEN, WAS
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