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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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David Dorey
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WEEK 12
2010
NE at DET TB at BAL PHI at CHI *MIA at OAK
NO at DAL *JAC at NYG *MIN at WAS STL at DEN
CIN at NYJ *CAR at CLE *GB at ATL *SD at IND
*UPDATED TEN at HOU PIT at BUF *KC at SEA SF at ARI

Prediction: NO 23, DAL 24

The middle game of Thanksgiving pits the Saints and their 3-1 road record against the Cowboys and their mini-resurgence since canning Wade Phillips. On the face of this it should be a Saints win and they are favored, but the Cowboys have won at home for Thanksgiving for so long that it seems like an unfair advantage.

The Cowboys upset the Saints 24-17 in New Orleans last year.

New Orleans Saints (7-3)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 MIN W 14-9 10 Bye -
2 @SF W 25-22 11 SEA W 34-19
3 ATL L 24-27 12 @DAL --
4 CAR W 16-14 13 @CIN --
5 @ARI L 20-30 14 STL --
6 @TB W 31-6 15 @BAL --
7 CLE L 17-30 16 @ATL --
8 PIT W 20-10 17 TB --
9 @CAR W 34-3 - - -
Saints Report | Statistics | Roster
NEW ORLEANS at DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees - - 330,2
RB Reggie Bush 20 20 -
RB Chris Ivory 50 - -
TE Jeremy Shockey - 10 -
TE Jimmy Graham - 50 -
WR Marques Colston - 90,1 -
WR Lance Moore - 60 -
WR Devery Henderson - 30 -
WR Robert Meachem - 40,1 -
PK Garrett Hartley 3 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: After stumbling to a 4-3 start, the Saints have gotten back on track with three big wins but they still trail the Falcons by one game and have already lost a home game to them. That means winning out may be needed to take the division including four road games in the next five weeks. That's a tall order even for the Saints but they are getting healthier again and get a chance to make amends for the loss to the Cowboys last year.

QUARTERBACK: Drew Brees already has 22 touchdowns on the season and has been above 250 yards in every game since the opener. This week will be interesting because the Cowboys are weak in the secondary but playing better and yet the Saints have only faced SF, ARI, TB and CAR in road games this year. Brees has settled for two scores in three of the four away matchups.

The Cowboys have been horrible against the pass this year and should by all rights be shredded by Brees but he has not passed as well in road games and the Cowboys are playing at least better than when they were handing out four touchdown games.

RUNNING BACKS: Reggie Bush is due to play this week and this time they really mean it. Bush has been out with a broken leg bone since week two and was a last minute inactive in the Seattle game for fears he would have a setback had he played.

Pierre Thomas remains out with an ankle injury that varies depending on who you ask but he has been gone since week three. Chris Ivory injured his shoulder last week but it is not expected to be an issue this week and Ivory should remain the primary carrier who had a career best 23 carries for 99 yards and a score against the Seahawks.

For all their failings, the defense still has only allowed five rushing touchdowns this season and are playing more inspired. That should result in the Saints getting only their normal average game from Ivory. What Bush can do remains to be seen but he has both an impact as a runner and receiver and as someone that forces the defense to account for him every play.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Marques Colston (8-113, 2 TD) and Robert Meachem (3-50, 2 TD) both come off their best games of the season when the Seahawks visited but that was meachem's first score since week six and Colston had been fairly mediocre until these last four games when he has posted four scores and two efforts over 100 yards. This remains the convoluted and complicated passing scheme with four wideouts. Colston should be a near lock for a touchdown in Dallas and healthy yardage and the second score goes to a wideout as well. It could be Lance Moore or Meachem just as easily but Meachem is getting more attention.

TIGHT ENDS: Jeremy Shockey (ribs) was limited in practice because of his ribs but is still likely to play at least a limited role. Jimmy Graham has been improving for the last several games and comes off a career best 72 yards on one catch. Graham is the better bet for yardage this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 6 18 8 4 14 25
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 28 13 29 17 24 25
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) NO 22 -5 21 13 10 0


Dallas Cowboys (3-7)
Homefield: Cowboys Stadium
RealGrass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @WAS L 7-13 10 @NYG W 33-20
2 CHI L 20-27 11 DET W 35-19
3 @HOU W 27-13 12 NO --
4 Bye - 13 @IND --
5 TEN L 27-34 14 PHI --
6 @MIN L 21-24 15 WAS --
7 NYG L 35-41 16 @ARI --
8 JAC L 17-35 17 @PHI --
9 @GB L 7-45 - - -
Cowboys Report | Statistics | Roster
DALLAS vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna - - 260,2
RB Marion Barber 30 - -
RB Felix Jones 50 40 -
TE Jason Witten - 70,1 -
WR Roy Williams - 30 -
WR Dez Bryant - 50,1 -
WR Miles Austin - 60 -
PK David Buehler 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Two big wins for the Cowboys though the Giants game was a trap and the Lions were ahead in the second half despite losing 25 games in a row on the road. This week the Cowboys get to see just how bad they have become since Thanksgiving has long meant Cowboy wins and opponents held to usually ten points or less. It would be an upset but playing at home on Thanksgiving has always been an advantage.

I like a defensive score.

QUARTERBACK: Tony Romo remains out for at least three more weeks if not more since his collarbone remains fractured in a recent x-ray. Jon Kitna has been very productive in the two non-Philips games though facing Detroit is always a treat. Kitna has thrown for three scores in each game and even rushed for a 29-yard touchdown against the Lions. Kitna has knocked off much of his rust in the last four weeks since becoming starter.

The Saints are the #1 defense against both quarterbacks and wide receivers but that also has some to do with the quality of opponents - CAR (2), ARI, SF, CLE and MIN to name a few. Matt Ryan posted two scores and 228 yards in their game and Hasselbeck just threw for 366 yards and a score on them last week. Kitna is not likely to have a monster game of course, but he should manage at least one score and healthy yardage. If he has two touchdowns, the Cowboys have a shot at a win.

RUNNING BACKS: Felix Jones was held out of practice earlier this week with a bruised hip but is expected to play on Thursday. He's actually been fantasy relevant for the last two weeks with 136 and 86 total yards respectively and a score in New York. Marion Barber still is not running well but he is running more and the Cowboys are trying to establish at least some rushing game each week.

The Saints have only allowed six rushing touchdowns this year and while a few teams have managed to have nice rushing games against them, that is highly unlikely with the Cowboys. With only two rushing touchdowns all year, no score should be expected and only moderate yardage if that. This is one of the very worst rushing attacks in the NFL.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Miles Austin has scored three times in the last two games though his two touchdowns on the Lions came on his only two catches and covered only seven total yards. Dez Bryant has scored in each of the last three games and five of the last six along with good yardage until last week when he only had eight yards on three catches. Roy Williams is still MIA in this offense since week six when Romo last played.

The Saints have only allowed three touchdowns to wideouts this year but remember - mostly they have faced bad offenses. Still they will hold the Cowboys at least in partial check and until further notice you have to expect a score from Dez Bryant.

TIGHT ENDS: Jason Witten has not scored since week eight but he has to take a big role this week and Kitna is bound to look for him more than the four or five times per game these last two weeks. This is much more of a weakness of the Saints and Witten is a must start this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 5 31 9 10 27 14
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 1 15 1 16 8 22
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) DAL -4 -16 -8 6 -19 8

WEEK 12
2010
NE at DET TB at BAL PHI at CHI MIA at OAK
NO at DAL JAC at NYG MIN at WAS STL at DEN
CIN at NYJ CAR at CLE GB at ATL SD at IND
  TEN at HOU PIT at BUF KC at SEA SF at ARI
 
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