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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 1
September 7, 2005
Season Ticket
Thur 9 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
OAK at NE NO at CAR HOU at BUF DAL at SD IND at BAL
Sun 1 PM SEA at JAC NYJ at KC STL at SF Mon 9 PM
CHI at WAS TEN at PIT TB at MIN ARI at NYG PHI at ATL
DEN at MIA CIN at CLE   GB at DET Times ET

Prediction: Green Bay 20, Detroit 31

Here's a great way for these teams to start out the season against their long-time divisional foes. The Packers have virtually owned the Lions, winning eight of the last nine games with the only Detroit win being in 2003. But this game is played in Detroit and these two teams have not recently met when the Lions look as strong and the Packers look so weak (potentially anyway). The Lions finally get to enter a Packers game with healthy players and at home, they get the rare win over the Pack.

Green Bay Packers (0-0)
1 Sep 11 @DET 10 Nov 13 @ATL
2 Sep 18 CLE 11 Nov 21 MIN
3 Sep 25 TBB 12 Nov 27 @PHI
4 Oct 3 @CAR 13 Dec 4 @CHI
5 Oct 9 NOR 14 Dec 11 DET
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 19 @BAL
7 Oct 23 @MIN 16 Dec 25 CHI
8 Oct 30 @CIN 17 Jan 1 SEA
9 Nov 6 PIT . . MON
GBP Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre 0 0 250,2
RB Ahman Green 70 10 0
TE Bubba Franks 0 30,1 0
WR Javon Walker 0 60 0
WR Donald Driver 0 90,1 0
WR Robert Ferguson 0 20 0
WR Antonio Chatman 0 20 0
PK Ryan Longwell 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Green Bay won the NFC North last year with a 10-6 record but enter this year with what could be a far weaker line. That counts big with Favre rarely mobile and the preseason gave little reason to expect the new line to immediately step up. The same skill position players return so there is optimism and Favre is never less than very good, but conventional wisdom has the Pack finally turning south in 2005.

Quarterback: The ironman of NFL quarterback returns and is expected to play in spite of a sprained right ankle. If anyone is affected by a shaky line, Brett Favre will be the one and if Favre goes down, the offense goes with him. By the same token, no one really knows what it looks like for Favre to go down.

The shortcomings of the defense should put Favre into passing mode often this season and for the past decade, there has been no safer fantasy start than Brett Favre who threw for 257 yards and two scores during his last trip to Detroit.

Running Backs: The same crew returns here with Ahman Green, his capable back-up of Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher as the pass catching third down back. Green had a lot of trouble running against the Lions last year and never ran for more than 81 yards in spite of having at least 24 carries in both games. He also never scored.

With the Detroit offense better at least on paper, Green may not be getting so many carries this year when they meet.

Wide Receivers: If a team had to have line problems, likely Favre throwing to Donald Driver and Javon Walker is as good as you could hope to get. But Walker never had a good game against the Lions in 2005, recording 26 and 62 yards against them with no scores while Donald Driver went nuts, catching for 110 yards and two scores and later 87 yards and another touchdown. CB Dre Bly has that effect on split ends and it is worth noting in this game.

Robert Ferguson has fallen from favor but still factors in and Antonio Chatman has a strained neck but is expected to play.

Tight Ends: Bubba Franks enters his sixth season and remains one of the better red-zone threats for tight ends in the league. He had seven scores in 2005 and averaged about seven each of the last four seasons. He has never had more than 442 yards receiving so his fantasy value is lower in yardage leagues. He never scored against Detroit last year and never had more than 29 yards because he is Bubba Franks.

Match Against the Defense: These two teams know one another well and the same Packer offense enters this season. As noted, Ahman Green has not ran well against Detroit and should end up similar to last season without scoring. Favre was effective passing against the Lions as long as he stays away from CB Dre Bly but that only depresses Javon Walker's numbers who has yet to prove he can beat Bly. The Packers have always started slowly the last few years and this is a set-up for a lower offensive production than we've come to expect from Brett and the boys when they meet the Lions.

Donald Driver gets the nod in this game as he did both times last season. With Walker likely covered and Chatman still a bit banged up, the passing numbers here should suffer.

Detroit Lions (0-0)
1 Sep 11 GBP 10 Nov 13 ARI
2 Sep 18 @CHI 11 Nov 20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 24 ATL
4 Oct 2 @TBB 13 Dec 4 MIN
5 Oct 9 BAL 14 Dec 11 @GBP
6 Oct 16 CAR 15 Dec 18 CIN
7 Oct 23 @CLE 16 Dec 24 @NOR
8 Oct 30 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 Nov 6 @MIN . THU SAT
DET Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 200,2
RB Kevin Jones 120, 2 10 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 20 0
WR Roy Williams 0 70,1 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 60,1 0
WR Mike Williams 0 30 0
PK Jason Hanson 1 FG 4 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Lions shocked the NFL when they selected Mike Williams in the drafts, making it three straight years starting out with a top wideout. Since Rogers has disappeared each season and the rest of the wideouts are typically either hurt or cliff diving down the depth chart, this offense has far greater potential than perhaps ever before. Kevin Jones looked sharp the later half of 2004 and a rushing game only helps the passing even more. Combine that with a very nice schedule and these Lions could surprise.

Quarterback: The anticipated challenge to Joey Harrington by Jeff Garcia wasn't really happening this summer and once Garcia broke his leg, there is no question - this is Joey's team and with those receivers he has literally found the golden ticket to respectability. It is, quite frankly, put up or shut up time in Detroit.

Harrington was horrible against Green Bay last year, throwing for 101 yards and later an unimaginable 47 yards when he completed only five of 22 passes. This would be a great way for Harrington to put a stamp of "all things new" on the team by showing up the soft Green Bay defense. He has all the tools this time.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones has boosted confidence in the running game for the first time since back when Barry Sanders was freaking out the defenses. As a measure of how well he developed last year, he only had two carries for five yards in week six while he was still injured but by week 14, he went to Green Bay and rushed 33 times for 156 yards and one touchdown. That is improvement.

Artose Pinner has looked at least adequate as a back-up now that he is completely healthy but there's little chance he will do more than merely spell Jones.

Wide Receivers: If the NFL draft means anything, and it sometimes doesn't, this grouping of wideouts could be world-beaters. Roy Williams rookie year at flanker was a rousing success considering he was nursing a bad ankle and had almost no help from the other receivers. Charles Rogers (Take 3) once again starts the year as the split end and by now we have all forgotten how good he was supposed to be. Throw in Mike Williams in the slot with help from Kevin Johnson and there just could not be enough passes to satisfy what every wideout could do.

It all hinges on Harrington and this should be a fun group to watch. In years past, defenses often struggled to figure out who the primary receiver was since none for Detroit were even average. They may struggle again this year to decide who to cover but only because every one of them could be great.

Tight Ends: Marcus Pollard comes over from the Colts to likely wind down a very nice career but after reading the names of the wideouts, there cannot be many balls left over for the tight end position that has been very little used by Detroit during the Mariucci years. With the size of Roy Williams and Mike Williams, Pollard is not even needed in the endzone for jump balls.

Match Against the Defense: This is a high-potential offense that is facing a defense expected to be below average on a good day. As Kevin Jones has already shown, the rushing game against the Packers should work very well and if they ever dare to commit against the run, Harrington will have up to five viable receivers to catch passes. With the slow starts of Green Bay, on the road with a soft defense against a fully healthy and stocked Lion team, this should be a game worthy of starting any Detroit fantasy players you have. Besides - you never know how long you get to use Rogers.