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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 1
September 3, 2003
Season Ticket
Thu 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
NYJ at WAS DEN at CIN MIN at GB ATL at DAL OAK at TEN
Sun 1 PM HOU at MIA NE at BUF CHI at SF Mon 9 PM
ARZ at DET IND at CLE SD at KC NO at SEA TB at PHI
BAL at PIT JAX at CAR STL at NYG Times EST no byes
   
Indianapolis vs Cleveland Sun, Sep 7; 1 PM on CBS at Cleveland Browns Stadium
  Indianapolis Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 240,3
RB Edgerrin James 100,1 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 30,1 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 110,1 0
WR Brandon Stokley 0 Q 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 50,1 0
  Cleveland Rush Catch Pass
QB Kelly Holcomb 0 0 250,2
RB William Green 80,1 20 0
RB Jamel White 20 20 0
TE Darnell Sanders 0 10 0
WR Kevin Johnson 0 70 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 50,1 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 60,1 0

Game Prediction: IND 31, CLE 21

Update: Stokley is listed as questionable due to his hamstring and should not be relied on.

The Colts have been a consistently big fantasy scoring team thanks to Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison but this year hope to rekindle the deadly attack of 2001 with a completely healthy Edgerrin James. It has now been two years since James had surgery to his knee and while he returned to the field last season, he was continually hampered by ankle and rib injuries during the year. He looks to be back in 100% in 2003, back to the running ability that made him one of the best rushers in the league before the injury.

James not only needs to return to form , he needs to maintain his health as well. There are question marks for his backup that would be better served not explored by reason of injury. Dominic Rhodes is still slow to return from the torn ACL in his right knee and James Mungro has been bothered by a rib injury. The other Ricky Williams has been out of practice thanks to a sprained knee and only Brian Allen has looked good in relief of James this summer. Allen himself is returning from a knee injury in 2002.

The passing attack has been upgraded since last year, with Brandon Stokley sliding into the #3 spot and the NFL draft yielding tight end Dallas Clark who looked great this summer and should actually help out both the running and passing game with the two tight end sets the Colts like to use.

If Reggie Wayne takes advantage of all the right conditions and breaks out in his third season, the Colts will have a very formidable offense with more weapons than throwing to Harrison another 143 times this season. Wayne will be a big factor in where this offense goes.

Mike "idiot kicker" Vanderjagt dodged the bullet and returns this year while HC Tony Dungy enters his second season reassembling an actual defense in Indianapolis.

The Browns come into the 2003 season in a perfect fantasy state. They promoted Kelly Holcomb to starting quarterback and brought back a very deep and talented pool of receivers in Kevin Johnson, Quincy Morgan, Dennis Northcutt and Andre Davis. All four receivers had at least one big game last year and Morgan led the league in yards per catch. The toughest fantasy aspect here is deciding which one to start each week.

William Green was too slow last year to run away from the "bust" label for the first half of the season but once the Browns returned from their bye week, a different looking Green started running - racking up the yardage and looking every bit like the first round pick he was supposed to be. While the schedule was fairly kind to Green last year, it is no harder this season.

This is all great news in fantasy land because the Browns' defense is looking like the Achilles heel here. For the Brown's to win, they will have to throw more points on the board because chances are favorable that their opponents will be adding quite a few on their side of the scoreboard.

In this game, it could go either way but the Colts bring the better defense (wow - I do not think I have ever said that before) and a more powerful offense to Cleveland which all adds up to some great fantasy points from this game and the Colts taking the win.

 

Comparative Stats
Starting Week Two

 

Colts (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 @CLE
Week 2 TEN
Week 3 JAX
Week 4 @NO
Week 5 @TB
Week 6 CAR
Week 7 BYE
Week 8 HOU
Week 9 @MIA
Week 10 @JAX
Week 11 NYJ
Week 12 @BUF
Week 13 NE
Week 14 @TEN
Week 15 ATL
Week 16 DEN
Week 17 @HOU
Browns(0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 IND
Week 2 @BAL
Week 3 @SF
Week 4 CIN
Week 5 @PIT
Week 6 OAK
Week 7 SD
Week 8 @NE
Week 9 BYE
Week 10 @KC
Week 11 ARZ
Week 12 PIT
Week 13 @SEA
Week 14 STL
Week 15 @DEN
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @CIN
(Statistics are game averages from current season )