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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 3
September 25, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at BUF* JAC at NYJ* TEN at STL* NE at PIT NYG at SDC
CAR at MIA NOR at MIN Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CIN at CHI OAK at PHI* ARI at SEA BAL, HOU KCC at DEN
CLE at IND* TBB at GBP* DAL at SFO* DET, WAS Times ET

Prediction: Cincinnati 17, Chicago 13

The Bears at home came up big last week but the Bengals are winning everywhere. The Bengals face their biggest offensive test yet and the Bears defense will find Cincinnati a far better offense to play against then were the Lions or Redskins. Advantage - the red hot Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-0)
1 27-13 @CLE 10 Open Bye
2 37-8 MIN 11 Nov 20 IND
3 Sep 25 @CHI 12 Nov 27 BAL
4 Oct 2 HOU 13 Dec 4 @PIT
5 Oct 9 @JAC 14 Dec 11 CLE
6 Oct 16 @TEN 15 Dec 18 @DET
7 Oct 23 PIT 16 Dec 24 BUF
8 Oct 30 GBP 17 Jan 1 @KCC
9 Nov 6 @BAL . . SAT
CIN Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 230,2
RB Rudi Johnson 90 10 0
RB Chris Perry 20 0 0
TE Matt Schobel 0 20 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 80,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 50,1 0
WR Kelley Washington 0 40 0
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bengals have opened with an easy stretch so far but they've won handily in both games with Carson Palmer looking every bit as good as billed when the Bengals selected him first in 2003. HC Marvin Lewis has the offense and defense he's always wanted and they are making waves in the NFL this season.

Quarterback: After two weeks, Carson Palmer has yet to throw for less than 280 yards and two scores in a game and has only one interception in each. He's polished, poised and most importantly, he's a fantasy goldmine so far. With the ground game solid with Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry, Palmer is making stars of the wideouts against defenses that cannot concentrate on just one aspect of the Bengals attack.

Running Backs: Rudi Johnson ran for 90 yards on 22 carries last week and since it turned into a blowout, Chris Perry played and gained 47 yards on nine runs. Perry is there for relief only but can keep the sticks moving almost as well as Johnson when needed. This week won't be a blowout with the Chicago defense there, so expect Perry to return to a minimal role on Sunday.

Noteworthy - Perry broke off a 86 yard run for a score last week that was called back on a holding penalty not even involved with the run. The Bengals are feeling very good about the health of their running game in the event that Johnson is injured.

Wide Receivers: Chad Johnson gained 139 yards on seven catches last week with one score and coupled with week one, his 230 yards ranks fourth best in the NFL and he is second only to Larry Fitzgerald in receptions (16). Johnson gets double digit passes each week and catches most of them.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh had 55 yards on five catches last week with one score and remains a solid #2 to Chad Johnson. Throw in Kelley Washington and the rookie Chris Henry and Palmer is only getting started this season.

Tight Ends: Matt Schobel scored last week but the tight ends had no catches in week one. Not a consistent part of the game plan but another weapon for Palmer when needed.

Match Against the Defense: This will be an excellent test for the high scoring Bengals offense. The Bears gave up 121 yards to Portis in Washington but stuffed Kevin Jones for only 22 yards last week. Look for a more effective overall offensive effort by the Bengals to allow more carries and at least a moderate game by Rudi Johnson though a big one in Chicago is not likely.

Palmer is red hot but the Bears have allowed only one passing score this year and only 196 yards to Harrington last week as a high game. Expect Chad Johnson to have a decent game here since he'll be getting 10+ passes but he'll likely remain below 100 yards. The matchups are not yet clear enough to warrant a weakness to exploit, but given the strengths of the Bengals passing game, expect the standard style attack with lower numbers.

Chicago Bears (1-1)
1 7-9 @WAS 10 Nov 13 SFO
2 38-6 DET 11 Nov 20 CAR
3 Sep 25 CIN 12 Nov 27 @TBB
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 GBP
5 Oct 9 @CLE 14 Dec 11 @PIT
6 Oct 16 MIN 15 Dec 18 ATL
7 Oct 23 BAL 16 Dec 25 @GBP
8 Oct 30 @DET 17 Jan 1 @MIN
9 Nov 6 @NOR . . .
CHI Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton 0 0 150,1
RB Thomas Jones 60 20 0
RB Cedric Benson 30 0 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 20 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 50 0
WR Justin Gage 0 30,1 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 20 0
WR Bobby Wade 0 10 0
PK Doug Brien 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears defense has been outstanding, allowing only 15 points this season and only one touchdown. Kyle Orton has played like the solid veteran he is not and Thomas Jones is doing everything he can to keep that Benson kid on the bench. The 38-6 win last week was a huge boost in confidence, something that is dangerous for a great defense to have.

Quarterback: While Kyle Orton has not been a huge fantasy star, for a rookie quarterback he's been impressive and last week had no turnovers while completing 14 of 21 for 150 yards and one touchdown. He'll likely have to step up that sort of production this week but he's already connected with Muhammad and seems ready for the challenge.

Running Backs: Thomas Jones is making any transition very tough and almost unreasonable right now. Jones gained 139 yards and scored twice against the Lions last week and late in the blowout, Cedric Benson had 16 carries but only gained 49 yards. The Bears did not spend all that money to waste Benson, but winning is more important and until Jones stumbles or gets hurt, or Benson shows much more in his limited playing time, expect Jones to keep on trucking.

The scenario should be motivating to Benson though as a rookie under his circumstances, he should require no more reasons to play well. Jones knows that going into the bye next week, he doesn't want the coaching staff to be thinking too hard about the starter in week five.

Wide Receivers: Not unlike last season, the wideouts of Bernard Berrian, Justin Gage and Bobby Wade are good for little more than a single catch a week each, but unlike 2004 there is Muhsin Muhammad who has 12 catches for 140 yards and one score. All other wideouts only accounted for five catches and 62 yards with no score. That works well enough against soft defenses that allow a primary receiver to excel but this group needs to produce a viable #2 in the future or Muhammad will languish under heavy coverage.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark is good for about two or three catches a game but nothing more.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals defense has improved from last year and so far has not allowed a rushing score. Look for Thomas Jones to remain moderate in production with the chance that Benson could get more playing time to cut into his numbers. If the game remains close, then Jones is more likely to remain in gaining yards. Since the defense has allowed some short fields, consider Jones as about 50/50 on getting a score.

Kyle Orton is good and getting better, but he goes against a defense that stuffed Daunte Culpepper and limited Trent Dilfer. Look for more of the same from Orton with his 150 yard average though Muhammad's matchup with Tory James should limit him and force Orton to look elsewhere.