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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 16
December 22, 2004
Season Ticket
Friday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
GB at MIN CHI at DET ATL at NO * NE at NYJ * CLE at MIA
Saturday NYG at CIN * BAL at PIT BUF at SF * Mon 9 PM
DEN at TEN 8:30 HOU at JAX * CAR at TB WAS at DAL PHI at STL
OAK at KC 5 * SD at IND * Good Luck!!! ARZ at SEA *updated
  Philadelphia Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 0 0 200,1
RB Brian Westbrook 50 40 0
RB Dorsey Levens 40,1 10 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 20,1 0
WR Greg Lewis 0 40 0
WR Freddie Mitchell 0 40 0
WR Todd Pinkston 0 50,1 0
PK David Akers 3 FG 2 XP -
  St. Louis Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 250,2
RB Marshall Faulk 40 30,1 0
RB Steven Jackson 20 10 0
TE B. Manumaleuna 0 10 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 80,1 0
WR Torry Holt 0 70 0
WR Shaun McDonald 0 50 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 1 FG 2 XP -

PHI (13-1) vs STL (6-8)

Game Prediction: PHI 23, STL 17

Here's a game with plenty of question marks. The Eagles have locked down everything they can and mainly just have to wait for a month to start their playoff run. They also get to do that without Terrell Owens. The Rams offense has completely disintegrated and they've lost both their games without Bulger.

Pre-Game Notes - PHI

There's the definition of mixed emotions. The Eagles clinched homefield throughout the playoffs and lost the main reason that they are going there. Now they get to decide how much they want to risk McNabb and Westbrook for the next two weeks.

Quarterback: Without Owens in the lineup, Donovan McNabb looked oddly familiar. Like 2003 when there was no one who could catch the ball. There's no way that McNabb will sit out the next two weeks but he'll be operating in games with no motivation and without the key to the entire passing offense. He's a big fantasy risk now and his projections are mostly mere speculation because game situations could well change his role and playing time.

Running Backs: Brian Westbrook has been golden the last five games and usually figures as much or more into the passing game as he does the rushing game. There is concern that without Owens around the defense will start to cheat up mainly to stop him. Throw in that a Westbrook injury right now would be complete disaster and he's a bigger fantasy risk than McNabb is. I'd expect more Dorsey Levens in these last two games and he already had season-high 12 carries last week.

Wide Receivers: With Owens out, the Eagles will likely be moving Greg Lewis up to fill his spot. Lewis has never had more than 29 yards in any game this season but that mainly means he will be a Thrash clone, not Owens who is irreplaceable. Freddie Mitchell will remain manning the slot - he's too small to handle the chores of being a flanker.

Todd Pinkston has a knee bruise and a slight quad bruise but is expected to practice on Thursday when the team returns to prepare for the Monday night game. This is not a pretty situation - the group struggled all last season and have spent this year merely supporting Owens who will be gone. McNabb has to "relearn" how to play without Owens and all previous results were not very productive.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith has scored in two of the last three games and should figure in no less now that Owens is out.

Match Against the Defense: This is all a guess now that the Eagles have no reason to play hard and even less to risk injury. It could provide McNabb with some tune-up work against a suspect secondary.

The best guess here is that Westbrook and Levens have a more even split in the running game and that McNabb will see what he can get going with Pinkston, Mitchell and Lewis as the main targets now. While week 17 will be a complete coin flip, this game should provide some glimpse into what to expect from the Eagles without Owens.

Pre-Game Notes - STL

The Rams have lost their last two games and now trail Seattle. Just to make matters worse, they have to face the Eagles (13-1) and the Jets (10-4) to finish their season.

Quarterback: Chris Chandler was so bad last week he was yanked after only six passes. While Jamie Martin was better, it was clear that the Rams offense was running on fumes. Now Marc Bulger says he will return this week and I am projecting for that to happen but will update if needed.

Running Backs: Maybe the Rams are trying to get their final dollars worth out of Marshall Faulk. There is little reason why else they would exclusively use him and keep Steven Jackson on the bench when Faulk could only gain 22 yards on ten carries. This week they face an even tougher defense and it all depends on the whims of Martz as to who plays. It's a situation with some risk and in a bad matchup.

I assume that Faulk will take the bulk of carries again this week but will update if credible information is discovered to suggest otherwise. Neither he nor Jackson is likely to have a big game anyway.

Wide Receivers: Almost the instant that Bulger went down, Isaac Bruce became invisible. In three games without Bulger, Bruce only totaled 77 yards and no scores. In the three previous games, he had 332 yards and two touchdowns. By a coincidence, as soon as Bulger left, Torry Holt finally caught on fire and had 311 yards and two scores in two games with last week still gaining yards during the Arizona fiasco.

This team must have Bulger since there is obviously no other quarterback on the roster capable of running the offense. If he does not play, only Holt is a safe start. When he does play, Holt is actually a less attractive start.

Tight Ends: Not a factor.

Match Against the Defense: While the Eagles offense has been rocked with the loss of Owens, the defense is still unchanged. Unless the Eagles decide to begin resting defensive starters, this squad can still give the Rams big problems even with Bulger behind center.

The rushing defense has been top notch all season, but that in part is related to teams falling behind and abandoning the run. But since the Rams are not running well anyway, don't expect much here.

Bulger has a great shot at two scores in this matchup and some decent yardage. Expect something in the range of 250 which falls into line with both teams and scores will most likely go to Bruce. The Eagles have also been soft against tight ends though St. Louis does not use theirs.

This will all be a hard to forecast game thanks to the Eagles not needing any wins and wanting to preserve players without making them rusty.

PHI STL 2004 Averages STL PHI
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
274
221
Pass yards
281
221
2.1
1.5
Pass TDs
1.4
1.0
0.6
0.4
Interceptions
1.4
1.2
15
16
Rush yards
6
8
0.2
0.1
Rush TDs
0.2
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
89
117
Rush yards
91
99
0.5
0.8
Rush TDs
0.4
0.5
67
40
Receive yards
37
38
0.4
0.1
Receive TD's
0.1
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
163
144
Receive yards
244
134
1.1
0.9
Receive TD's
1.4
0.5
---
---
TE's
---
---
45
41
Receive yards
14
46
0.6
0.5
Receive TD's
0.1
0.4
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.9
2.0
Field Goals
1.1
1.0
2.8
2.6
Extra Points
1.9
1.4
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.8
1.1
Fumbles
0.5
0.5
1.1
1.4
Interceptions
0.4
0.6
0.1
0.3
Touchdowns
0.2
0.0
3.2
3.2
Sacks
2.1
2.2
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Eagles (13-1)
Score Opp.
31-17 NYG
27-16 MIN
30-13 @DET
19-9 @CHI
Week 5 bye
30-8 CAR
34-31 @CLE
15-10 BAL
3-27 @PIT
49-21 @DAL
28-6 WAS
27-6 @NYG
47-17 GB
17-14 @WAS
12-7 DAL
Week 16 @STL
Week 17 CIN
Rams (6-8)
Score Opp.
17-10 ARI
17-34 @ATL
25-28 NO
24-14 @SF
33-27 @SEA
28-21 TB
14-31 @MIA
Week 8 bye
22-40 NE
23-12 SEA
17-37 @BUF
17-45 @GB
16-6 SF
7-20 @CAR
7-31 @ARI
Week 16 PHI
Week 17 NYJ