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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 14
December 8, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
NYG at BAL* DET at GB CIN at NE* SF at ARZ* PHI at WAS
OAK at ATL IND at HOU* Sun 4 PM STL at CAR* Mon 9 PM
CLE at BUF* CHI at JAX* MIA at DEN TB at SD* KC at TEN*
NO at DAL SEA at MIN NYJ at PIT *updated Times ET
  Tampa Bay Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese 0 0 270,2
RB Michael Pittman 50 50 0
TE Ken Dilger 0 10,1 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 90,1 0
WR Joe Jurevicius 0 50 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 50 0
PK Jay Taylor 1 FG 2 XP -
  San Diego Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 210,2
RB L. Tomlinson 100,1 20 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 60,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 20 0
WR Kassim Osgood 0 40,1 0
WR Eric Parker 0 40 0
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 2 XP -

TB (5-7) vs SD (9-3)

Game Prediction: TB 17, SD 23

Here's a chance for a trap game. The Chargers have won their last six games and come off two major wins over the Chiefs and Broncos. They have a two game lead over Denver in the NFC West. The Buccaneers are only 5-7 but are coming off their first shut out of the season when they beat Atlanta 27-0.

Update: I somehow missed one of the more interesting facets of this game. McCardell is playing against his old team and one that he openly disparraged as he held out earlier this year. The best bet is that the Bucs have two goals in this game - 1.) win; and 2.) give McCardell a bad game. While the same motivation might be felt by McCardell, he's going to face 11 guys each play that do not want to see him, specifically, do well. I am lowering his projections purely on a hunch.

Pre-Game Notes - TB

The Buccaneers have won their last four home games and have allowed only three points in the last two games in Tampa Bay. Problem is that they are on the road where they have only one win (New Orleans) against five losses. The Buccaneers are finally healthy again though. Mike Alstott and Joey Galloway are not only both back, they both scored last week.

Quarterback: Brian Griese continues to throw at least one score in every start this season though last week he only had 131 passing yards against Atlanta because he only needed to throw 21 passes in the game they won 27-0. He had thrown for two scores in each of the previous four games.

Running Backs: Michael Pittman has been a fantasy goldmine for the last six games and while he only had 80 total yards last week, he scored his eighth touchdown for the year. What could be a problem for fantasy owners is that Mike Alstott is healthy again (for at least this week anyway) and he had 42 yards on nine carries with one score last week as well. Alstott's score came in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided though, so Pittman is still safely the primary back.

Wide Receivers: To the dismay of all Michael Clayton owners, it was the Joey Galloway show last week when he had 63 yards and one score while Clayton only ended with one catch for 15 yards. It was easily the worst game for Clayton but there was no need to rely on him anyway in a game that Atlanta never actually scored. Clayton has been good for at least 60 yards in almost every other game this year. He'll definitely be back in the mix in San Diego this week.

Tight Ends: Ken Dilger strained his ribs last week but should play even if he practices only a few times this week. Dave Moore also had an ankle sprain from last week but should also play. Together, they should again combine for no fantasy relevance.

Match Against the Defense: It is not likely that Pittman will have much rushing yardage this week but he could make up a moderate game with his passing yardage. No opposing runner since week two has gained more than 63 yards in San Diego and with the likely scoring ability of the Chargers, the Buccaneers will need to throw to stay in the game.

Griese always throws at least one score and usually two which fits right into what the Chargers allow. In half of their games, San Diego has allowed more than 250 passing yards. The most likely recipient of scoring passes has historically been the tight end against San Diego but the Buccaneers have very spotty use. If either Dilger or Moore does have a touchdown, it will likely be their only catch of the day.

The wideout/corner matchups strongly favor Clayton to do the best, something that has happened in all weeks except last Sunday.

Pre-Game Notes - SD

The Chargers have officially installed themselves as the best team in the AFC West and with a six game winning streak that has seen three straight wins over their AFC West rivals, that won't change this season. The only remaining divisional game left is hosting the Chiefs in week 17.

Quarterback: Drew Brees comes off a very uncharacteristic down game when he only had 106 yards and one interception last week against Denver. He had thrown scores in the four previous games and totaled 12 touchdowns in that timeframe. With Tomlinson rushing 30 times and scoring twice himself, there was little need to throw. Brees already has 21 touchdowns on the season and his teammates are starting to make noise about wanting him to stay next year.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson ran 30 times for 113 yards and two scores last week and now has 13 touchdowns on the season. He has scored in all but one game and has two scores in each of the last two games. What he is missing is all that receiving yardage from last season. After catching about 100 passes last season, he only has 43 receptions after 12 games and that includes a freakishly high ten catches in week 12.

Wide Receivers: There hasn't been a lot of use of the wideouts in the last month. and no scores in the last three games. Keenan McCardell now attracts enough attention that he only has 63 yards total in the last two games. Eric Parker had 78 yards in week 12 both otherwise only has around 35 yards per game in the last month. The return of Tomlinson to a heavy workload has some to do with this, as well as the continued reliance on Antonio Gates.

Tight Ends: Sadly, Antonio Gates only had three catches for 31 yards and no scores last week. He had scored in each of the previous four games with a total of eight touchdowns. He still remains the premier scoring tight end in the NFL.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers have been playing great defense lately, but they also had four home stands in the last six games played. The two road games? Both losses and in those they allowed Goings to run for 106 yards and Dunn/Duckett to combine for 129 rushing yards and two scores. Tomlinson should have at least a moderate game which for him is the same as a great game from an average back.

Brees faces a secondary that has blanked all the visitors this year other than Trent Green but has always been softer against the pass on the road. Each of the last five opponents on the road have thrown for at least one score and three have two scores.

The Buccaneers are only average at best against tight ends so expect that Gates returns to the scoring column this week. There should likely be another passing score unless Tomlinson gets multiple touchdowns and that really doesn't favor any one wideout. Maybe slightly McCardell but more likely a third wideout like Osgood.

TB SD 2004 Averages SD TB
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
227
245
Pass yards
220
177
1.3
1.1
Pass TDs
1.8
1.1
0.8
1.2
Interceptions
0.3
1.1
4
10
Rush yards
8
17
0.0
0.2
Rush TDs
0.3
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
89
70
Rush yards
117
103
0.8
1.0
Rush TDs
1.3
0.6
46
50
Receive yards
35
29
0.3
0.1
Receive TD's
0.0
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
146
144
Receive yards
112
110
0.7
0.5
Receive TD's
0.7
0.7
---
---
TE's
---
---
35
50
Receive yards
74
39
0.3
0.5
Receive TD's
1.1
0.3
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.1
1.2
Field Goals
1.4
1.2
2.0
2.2
Extra Points
3.3
1.9
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
0.6
Fumbles
1.1
0.8
1.0
0.3
Interceptions
0.8
0.8
0.3
0.1
Touchdowns
0.1
0.3
2.8
1.3
Sacks
1.8
2.8
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.1
0.0
Buccaneers (5-7)
Score Opp.
10-16 @WAS
6-10 SEA
20-30 @OAK
13-16 DEN
20-17 @NO
21-28 @STL
19-7 CHI
Week 8 bye
34-31 KC
14-24 @ATL
35-3 SF
14-21 @CAR
27-0 ATL
Week 14 @SD
Week 15 NO
Week 16 CAR
Week 17 @ARI
Chargers (9-3)
Score Opp.
27-20 @HOU
28-34 NYJ
13-23 @DEN
38-17 TEN
34-21 JAX
20-21 @ATL
17-6 @CAR
42-14 OAK
43-17 NO
Week 10 bye
23-17 @OAK
34-31 @KC
20-17 DEN
Week 14 TB
Week 15 @CLE
Week 16 @IND
Week 17 KC