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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 4
September 29, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM
NE at BUF IND at JAX NO at ARZ* TEN at SD* KC at BAL
PHI at CHI OAK at HOU* ATL at CAR* Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
NYG at GB CIN at PIT NYJ at MIA* STL at SF* DAL, DET
WAS at CLE* Times ET DEN at TB *updated MIN, SEA
  Cincinnati Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 230,2
RB Rudi Johnson 60 10 0
TE Kelly/Stewart/Schobel 0 20 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 50,1 0
WR Kelly Washington 0 40 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 100,1 0
PK Shayne Graham 1FG 2 XP -
  Pittsburgh Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 10 0 240,2
RB Duce Staley 100,1 0 0
RB Jerome Bettis 20 0 0
TE Jay Riemersma 0 10 0
WR Hines Ward 0 100,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 50 0
WR Plaxico Burress 0 70,1 0
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP -

CIN (1-2) vs PIT (2-1)

Game Prediction: CIN 17, PIT 24

The Bengals and Steelers are following their typical trends this year. Sometimes they look very good and sometimes they look very bad. Inconsistent play will likely continue with two young quarterbacks and the better offense missing Warrick while on the road.

Pre-Game Notes - CIN

Palmer is still having growing pains and gets to endure the wrath left over from last year when Kitna threw three scores in PIT to win that game 24-20.

Quarterback: It was his best yardage game when Carson Palmer threw for 316 yards last week against the Ravens but he only went 25 of 52 and had no touchdowns against three interceptions and one lost fumble. He only has two scores on the year and that was in week one against the Jets.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson was effective last week, gaining 98 yards on 23 carries thanks to some injuries to the Ravens defensive front but he never scored and had no receptions. He still has no 100 yard games this year and is averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Each week the Bengals claim to debut rookie Chris Perry but that hasn't happened yet.

Wide Receivers: Palmer may be young but he knows where to look for the money. Chad Johnson had 18 throws last week and caught eight for 99 yards. Peter Warrick had 51 yards on six catches but re-injured his shin and is likely to miss this week. His replacement - T.J. Houshmandzadeh - had a career best last week with seven catches for 116 yards to lead all receivers and T.J. should factor in this week as well. Kelly Washington (5-58) offers yet another needed target.

Tight Ends: Kelly/Stewart/Schobel continue with around 4 or so passes a game and up to 30 yards. No scores yet from the three-headed monster.

Match Against the Defense: The pass defense against Oakland in week one gave up 305 yards but that was mainly thanks to one long bomb to Gabriel. In the past two weeks, the Steelers have not allowed any passing scores but then again, MIA and BAL are likely the two worst passing offenses in the world right now.

Expect that Palmer should have a better yardage game again but he should cap out at two scores if that. The Steelers will be blanketing Johnson if it helps though any time a receiver gets 18 passes, he's bound to catch some of them and the BAL corners last week are much better than either of the PIT CB's. After throwing three interceptions last week, Palmer is bound to play it a little more carefully this week.

Rudi Johnson is likely to remain with a sub-4.0 YPC against a defense that had not allowed more than 62 yards to any runner this year. He'll need a heavy volume to rise much higher than that and most likely won't get the steady diet of runs he would need to post significant numbers.

Houshmandzadeh actually has the best matchup this week and could once again be the top receiver unless Johnson can snare a few more of the next 18 passes he gets.

Pre-Game Notes - PIT

The Steelers come off a tough three game opening stretch against good defenses - OAK, BAL and MIA. There no such defense coming to town this week.

Quarterback: In two games, Ben Roethlisberger only has 339 passing yards and three touchdowns against three interceptions. That might spell just a decent start for a rookie quarterback but taking into account what he faced it was very impressive. He threw for two scores and 176 yards against the Ravens in just over one half of play. He threw for 163 yards and one score in Miami during a hurricane. This week will show what Big Ben is all about - at home for the first time against a secondary that is far less than that of BAL or MIA. If he wants to make a big mark and send Maddox back to semi-pro ball, this is the game he could do it.

Running Backs: Duce Staley ran well last week on the muddy MIA field, gaining 101 yards on 22 carries but having no receptions. For one of the best receiving backs in the game, Staley doesn't even get passes anymore. After three weeks, he only has two catches.

Verron Haynes had seven carries for 34 yards last week but the coaching staff has said that was not to imply he was taking over the #2 spot from Jerome Bettis. Given the game conditions, they felt Haynes would be better in the mud.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward turned in a nice nine catch, 96 yard effort with one score during the squall in MIA last week. He only had ten passes and caught all but one - a good sign he is getting in synch with Roethlisberger. Plaxico Burress ended with 60 yards on two catches and had one genuinely impressive comeback catch for 42 yards but he only had five balls thrown his way. By the same token, Burress had his best game of the year with Roethlisberger in the driving rain in MIA.

Tight Ends: There is a reason why the tight end section of Roethlisberger's playbook has all the pages torn out.

Match Against the Defense: This should be an interesting game between two teams in varying developing stages.

Duce Staley is a must start this week against the team that allowed Curtis Martin (196) and Jamal Lewis (186) to notch season best games and their respective "best in the NFL that week". How effective Staley is will play into how much passing the Steelers will do.

Roethlisberger gets his first good matchup against a team that has allowed all opponents to score through the air. Considering that the Bengals are coming off a shredding by Jamal Lewis, chances are good that they'll be committing a bit more to the run and not worrying as much about the rookie quarterback. That could be a mistake.

CIN PIT 2003 Averages PIT CIN
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
237
180
Pass yards
183
189
0.7
0.7
Pass TDs
1.0
1.3
1.7
1.3
Interceptions
1.0
0.7
4
12
Rush yards
5
8
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.3
---
---
RB's
---
---
93
82
Rush yards
111
156
0.3
0.7
Rush TDs
1.0
0.7
16
25
Receive yards
5
41
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.3
---
---
WR's
---
---
201
108
Receive yards
168
114
0.3
0.7
Receive TD's
1.0
1.0
---
---
TE's
---
---
20
47
Receive yards
9
35
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
2.3
2.0
Field Goals
1.0
1.3
1.3
1.3
Extra Points
1.7
2.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.3
0.7
Fumbles
1.3
0.7
0.7
1.0
Interceptions
1.3
1.7
0.3
0.3
Touchdowns
0.0
0.3
1.7
2.3
Sacks
2.7
3.3
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Bengals (1-2)
Score Opp.
24-31 @NYJ
16-13 MIA
9-23 BAL
Week 4 @PIT
Week 5 bye
Week 6 @CLE
Week 7 DEN
Week 8 @TEN
Week 9 DAL
Week 10 @WAS
Week 11 PIT
Week 12 CLE
Week 13 @BAL
Week 14 @NE
Week 15 BUF
Week 16 NYG
Week 17 @PHI
Steelers (2-1)
Score Opp.
24-21 OAK
13-30 @BAL
13-3 @MIA
Week 4 CIN
Week 5 CLE
Week 6 @DAL
Week 7 bye
Week 8 NE
Week 9 PHI
Week 10 @CLE
Week 11 @CIN
Week 12 WAS
Week 13 @JAX
Week 14 NYJ
Week 15 @NYG
Week 16 BAL
Week 17 @BUF