fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 9, 2004
Season Ticket
Thu 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
Sun 1 PM SD at HOU OAK at PIT NYG at PHI Mon 9 PM
JAX at BUF TEN at MIA TB at WAS Saturday no byes
  Detroit Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 10 0 250,2
RB Kevin Jones 80,1 20 0
TE Stephen Alexander 0 30 0
WR Roy Williams 0 50,1 0
WR Az-Zahir Hakim 0 40 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 100,1 0
PK Jason Hanson 1FG 3 XP -
  Chicago Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 10 0 180,1
RB Thomas Jones 70,1 20 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 30,1 0
WR Justin Gage 0 30 0
WR Bobby Wade 0 20 0
WR David Terrell 0 50 0
PK Paul Edinger 1 FG 2 XP -

DET (0-0) vs CHI (0-0)

Game Prediction: DET 24, CHI 17

You have to love a record and no other team in the history of the NFL has defined road futility like the Lions. They set the all-time mark with their 24th consecutive road loss in week 16 last year against the Panthers. If there was any game this entire season that the Lions want the most, it would be to start out with a road win. Everything in history says it cannot happen and probability is stacked against it. But what better way for the Lions to start the year feeling oddly good about themselves? They have to want this game very badly.

Pre-Game Notes - DET

HC Steve Mariucci enters his second season with, finally, some tools to work with. The work will be in progress all season, but suddenly the team has optimism in all the fantasy spots and still ports an underrated defense.

Quarterback: Joey Harrington never had it so good. Now he has two very young and very heralded receivers to catch the ball and Az-Zahir Hakim goes back to being the #3 that he was never really more than. Harrington gets his second season in the system and already was showing nice progress at the end of 2003.

Running Backs: The duo of Shawn Bryson and Olandis Gary proved to be everything but dynamics last year and Kevin Jones enters the picture with more talent (potentially) than any other runner there since that Barry guy left. Artose Pinner backs him up and Bryson hangs around to provide some third down duty and in receiving sets since Jones is less experienced when the ball is thrown instead of handed off.

The interesting thing to watch here is what ratio Mariucci wants in carries between Jones and either Pinner or Bryson. Jones has missed time in the summer with a hamstring strain but should be good this week.

Wide Receivers: If potential means anything, and it mostly doesn't, this is the most exciting receiving duo for many years to come. Both Charles Rogers and Roy Williams are early first round picks coming off impressive collegiate careers and either can provide a possession or long ball role. If both are able to deliver - and stay healthy - Hakim could end up with a few nice games when the secondary splits in two to cover WIlliams or Rogers. That will take some time to develop, but the situation in Detroit for receivers is completely different than last year when even Mariucci was not familiar with the wideouts in any given game.

Tight Ends: Adding to the weapons at Harrington's disposal are Stephen Alexander and up-and-comer Casey Fitzgerald. Since Alexander has always been a down-and-out player thanks to injuries, Fitzgerald is the best bet for more play later in the season and is already more experienced in the offense than Alexander. The tight end is not featured heavily here, so fantasy value is marginal.

Match Against the Defense: To the advantage of Detroit, MLB Brian Urlacher has missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury and while CHI did grab pass rusher extraordinaire in Adewale Ogunleye, he's still new to the team. Where this should be most exciting is that the Bears corners are suddenly weak now with Jerry Azumah (neck) out until November his backup R.W. McQuarters likely to miss the game with a hamstring injury. That pits Charles Rogers against less than formidable talent across the line (probably special team Todd McMillon). The other corner Charles Tillman is young but played great as a rookie and should give Roy Williams a harder time than Rogers gets.

The Bears were weak against the run last year and while improved this season, should continue to have a problem in the first game since Urlacher is rusty. Kevin Jones should get some good yardage in his first game.

Pre-Game Notes - CHI

Chicago dumped HC Dick Jauron and now the team belongs to HC Lovie Smith from the Rams. They've also imported the offense from the Chiefs that will showcase power running with a diverse (read hard to predict) passing attack.

Quarterback: Rex Grossman takes over the starting job this year and with the loss of Marty Booker has no real "go-to guy" to throw the ball. This passing scheme should make more use of tight ends and backs with a rotation of wideouts mixing up the pass ratio. Hey - it may not look good yet and it may take time, but it has to be an upgrade from Kordell Stewart. The passing game has not been impressive in the preseason and shows there is still some learning to do before the system operates as intended.

Running Backs: Bringing in the KC-style offense meant a Priest Holmes equivalent was needed and that became the golden opportunity for Thomas Jones. While the offense has struggled in the new scheme, Jones has looked sharp in the preseason and much closer to the form expected back when he was the first back taken in the draft a few years back. This is a one back offense, so using any other runners in any appreciable amount would be an unanticipated wrinkle.

Wide Receivers: Here's where the story takes a turn downward. The Bears, evidently, want to replicate the marginal value of receivers in Kansas City. They've already openly stated that it will become a five player rotation and proved their commitment to receiver non-excellence by trading off their best wideout of Marty Booker. The starters are Bobby Wade and David Terrell with Justin Gage and others joining the fray. If this scheme is employed as intended, the fantasy value here will be marginal at best and inconsistent.

Tight Ends: There's reason to hope that Desmond Clark can see a spike in his numbers if the offense uses the tight end spot the way it is designed. But Clark is no Tony Gonzalez and the offense is not clicking yet.

Match Against the Defense: These teams normally play close games and their last meeting in DET was a win for the Lions by only a 12-10 score. Dre Bly on the right corner should handle Bobby Wade with ease but matching a secondary to a rotation of receivers is more hard to predict. The Lions will focus on stopping Thomas Jones first and worry about the passing second. Until Chicago can prove something through the air, Jones will be seeing plenty of "eight in the box" this season.






Statistical Comparisons begin after Week 1

Score Opp.
Week 1 @CHI
Week 2 HOU
Week 3 PHI
Week 4 bye
Week 5 @ATL
Week 6 GB
Week 7 @NYG
Week 8 @DAL
Week 9 WAS
Week 10 @JAX
Week 11 @MIN
Week 12 IND
Week 13 ARI
Week 14 @GB
Week 15 MIN
Week 16 CHI
Week 17 @TEN
Bears (0-0)
Score Opp.
Week 1 DET
Week 2 @GB
Week 3 @MIN
Week 4 PHI
Week 5 bye
Week 6 WAS
Week 7 @TB
Week 8 SF
Week 9 @NYG
Week 10 @TEN
Week 11 IND
Week 12 @DAL
Week 13 MIN
Week 14 @JAX
Week 15 HOU
Week 16 @DET
Week 17 GB

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points