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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 5
October 6, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM
DET at ATL MIA at NE* BUF at NYJ STL at SEA TEN at GB
NYG at DAL TB at NO* CAR at DEN* Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
MIN at HOU* CLE at PIT* JAX at SD* BAL at WAS CHI, CIN
OAK at IND* Times ET ARZ at SF* *updated KC, PHI
  Tampa Bay Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Simms 0 0 190
RB Michael Pittman 90 10 0
RB Mike Alstott 10,1 0 0
TE Ken Dilger 0 10 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 60 0
WR Charles Lee 0 50 0
WR Tim Brown 0 40 0
PK Martin Gramatica 3 FG 1 XP -
  New Orleans Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 20 0 210,1
RB Aaron Stecker 70,1 20 0
TE Boo Williams 0 40,1 0
WR Joe Horn 0 80 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 40 0
WR Jerome Pathon 0 20 0
PK John Carney 2 FG 2 XP -

TB (0-4) vs NO (2-2)

Game Prediction: TB 16, NO 20

Ah yes, the battle between the hot and cold Saints versus the Buccaneers who have already been left for dead. Eventually it is expected that Gruden will stop grimacing on the sideline, break a smile and just admit "we're really going to suck all year and I'm okay with it now." This is one of the better chances for Tampa Bay to notch a win, but likely not quite good enough.

Pre-Game Notes - TB

In Tampa Bay's defense, their four losses have all been close and against quality opponents. Then again, the "L" column in the standings doesn't come with asterisks for any explanations.

Quarterback: If you are holding on to Brad Johnson for a bye week filler later on, you may want to rethink that plan. Gruden has opted to go with Chris Simms as the quarterback starter in an attempt to find a spark, make a difference and at least look like they're still trying after starting out 0-4. Simms looked promising this summer and now gets to start out his career with Michael Clayton and a cast of other cast-offs from other NFL teams.

Running Backs: Michael Pittman returned last week and turned in a decent 72 yards on 15 carries and Jamel White spelled him four times for 17 yards. The oddity here is that neither had a catch in the entire game last Sunday and that has long been Pittman's strength in the Bucs offense. They're holding in backs to help block and killing one of the nicer fantasy fill-ins with Pittman not receiving passes.

Mike Alstott only had three runs for seven yards and the memory of his 65 yards the previous week are gone now.

Wide Receivers: Take away Michael Clayton's 51-yard touchdown when Champ Bailey fell down last week and this crew did almost nothing against the Broncos. Bill Schroeder had the big 126 yard, one touchdown game against the Raiders the previous week so that everyone would grab him as a free agent and then he had no catches against Denver so you can throw him back now. Charles Lee is expected to start opposite Tim Brown and he led all receivers last game with five receptions.

Tight Ends: They pretty much just block and don't even do that very well.

Match Against the Defense: The main question here is who will be the quarterback? The Saints have been all over the map on pass defense, allowing as little as 157 yards (McCown) and as many as 358 yards (Bulger), They've brought in Mike McKenzie who should be an immediate upgrade to the secondary though and the Bucs have hardly been a passing machine this season.

Knowing that, expect that Michael Pittman turns in one of his better games this year. The Saints rushing defense has truly been the "Big Easy" this year and have allowed eight rushing scores already in only four games. Count on Pittman for a nice yardage effort but Alstott could end up stealing the score.

Pre-Game Notes - NO

The Saints should change their logo from the fleur-de-lis to a teeter-totter. In two games this year, they have scored no less than 28 points. In the other two, they never did better than 10 points. The only consistency is that all teams score at least 21 points against them. That might end this week. Then again, the Bucs won in New Orleans last year.

Quarterback: After two big weeks, Aaron Brooks turned in another dud last week in Arizona when he threw for 242 yards but no scores and one interception. His level play mirrors the team's fortunes and evidently when the Saints know they will be in a tough game, he responds well. When the Saints face an equal or lesser opponent, the results are often disappointing. Brooks had no good games against Tampa Bay last year though they did win on the road.

Running Backs: Aaron Stecker was a great surprise against the Rams and then only managed 23 yards on eight carries against the Cardinals. He should get a little more room this week since Tampa Bay on the road has not been very effective at stopping the run this season.

Wide Receivers: Jerome Pathon missed last week with a hamstring pull but is expected back in practice on Wednesday and should play on Sunday. Joe Horn (7-91, 1 TD) and Donte Stallworth (5-65) had moderate to good games last week but should have done more against the Cardinals in a game that the Saints trailed badly. Michael Lewis subbed in for Pathon but only had one catch. The trio of Horn, Stallworth and Pathon are better than average when the offense clicks and will need to come up with at least moderate efforts this week to ensure the win.

Update: Pathon is still questionable on the injury list but is likely to play. He hasn't practiced on Wednesday or Thursday but the coaches are optimistic he'll get in for at least some plays on Sunday. I am lowering his numbers but be aware that he may do nothing just as easily.

Tight Ends: For the second week in a row, Boo Williams is getting back into the gameplan and comes off a four catch, 41 yard effort last week. Against a team that should give up the run without the constant need for blocking by the tight end, Williams should see no less than what he had last week.

Match Against the Defense: Look for Stecker to turn in a moderate effort here since the Bucs are softer against the run but Stecker is not going to surprise anyone any more. Tampa Bay is getting desperate for a win and will know their best chance is to stop the ground game and force Brooks into beating him since he has been susceptible to making errors and turnovers in the past.

Joe Horn had 118 yards in the last meeting and while he won't likely reach that plateau here, he should turn in a good afternoon. Ronde Barber has always played well against the Saints and should keep Stallworth under wraps this week. Stallworth was out injured in the two matchups last year but Pathon subbed for him and never had more than one catch in either game.

You have to know the Bucs will win a game eventually and this is one of the better opportunities for it, but on the road in New Orleans will likely be too much even for a team with great motivations to stop the losing streak.

TB NO 2003 Averages NO TB
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
212
242
Pass yards
265
162
0.8
0.5
Pass TDs
1.3
0.8
1.0
0.5
Interceptions
0.3
0.5
9
5
Rush yards
15
5
0.0
0.3
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
70
155
Rush yards
61
120
0.0
2.0
Rush TDs
0.3
0.5
35
42
Receive yards
37
22
0.0
0.5
Receive TD's
0.0
0.3
---
---
WR's
---
---
151
174
Receive yards
197
119
0.8
0.3
Receive TD's
1.0
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
25
31
Receive yards
31
22
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.3
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.8
1.3
Field Goals
2.3
2.5
0.5
3.0
Extra Points
1.5
1.5
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.5
1.3
Fumbles
1.3
0.8
0.5
0.3
Interceptions
0.5
1.0
0.3
0.3
Touchdowns
0.3
0.3
1.3
2.0
Sacks
2.3
3.0
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Buccaneers (0-4)
Score Opp.
10-16 @WAS
6-10 SEA
20-30 @OAK
13-16 DEN
Week 5 @NO
Week 6 @STL
Week 7 CHI
Week 8 bye
Week 9 KC
Week 10 @ATL
Week 11 SF
Week 12 @CAR
Week 13 ATL
Week 14 @SD
Week 15 NO
Week 16 CAR
Week 17 @ARI
Saints (2-2)
Score Opp.
7-21 SEA
30-27 SF
28-25 @STL
10-34 @ARI
Week 5 TB
Week 6 MIN
Week 7 @OAK
Week 8 bye
Week 9 @SD
Week 10 KC
Week 11 DEN
Week 12 @ATL
Week 13 CAR
Week 14 @DAL
Week 15 @TB
Week 16 ATL
Week 17 @CAR
RD