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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Unconventional Wisdom - Week 7
Fritz Schlottman
October 21, 2005

FAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Tennessee at Arizona

This game should be a fantasy goldmine as two pass-happy teams get to abuse two weak defenses.

The numbers just make you drool if you’re fortunate to have players in this game. Tennessee averages 21.0 points per game, 100 yards rushing, and 222 yards passing per contest. They match up well against an Arizona defense that is giving up 26.8 points per game, 106 yards on the ground, and 197 yards per game. Three and possible four touchdowns are likely given those numbers.

Arizona’s situation looks a little better. The Cardinals are averaging just 18.8 points per game (most of those field goals by fantasy god PK Neil Rackers), 74 rushing yards per contest, and a whopping 304 passing yards per game. The Titans are giving up 26.2 points per game, 117 yards rushing, and 197 through the air. So we have two defenses giving up over 52 points per game between them (Drool…Drool…Drool.).

QB McNair’s banged up, WR Bennett is out and Tennessee’s supporting cast is awfully young, so asking the Titans to go on the road and play well is probably asking too much. Tennessee’s defense rushes the passer well but that’s about it and the offense is too inconsistent to control the clock and keep that vulnerable defense off the field. Both teams will try and outscore their opponent as neither can rely on their defenses to get a three-and-out with the game on the line.

This is a great fantasy situation for both sides especially if you’ve picked up some of these squads’ receivers in the late rounds of your draft. Arizona wins an entertaining and high-scoring contest.

New Orleans at St. Louis

Speaking of teams that don’t play defense… Let’s see, the Saints are giving up 28.8 points per game and as bad as that is, the Rams defense is worse giving up 32.2 points per game (NFL’s worst defense). Just for your information, only the 49ers and the Rams are giving up more points per game than the Saints so you have the 30 th defense against the 32 nd defense in the league here. New Orleans can’t stop the run and St. Louis can’t stop either the run or the pass. ‘Just in case you haven’t been out of the country building mud huts for the Peace Corps for the past seven years or so, I’m happy to let you in on a secret…both of these offenses are capable of putting up yards and points either on the ground on through the air so you might get a few touchdown in this contest (just a wild guess here).

If you have fantasy players in this contest, I envy you. This should be a banner week for fantasy players on both offenses.

San Diego at Philadelphia

This is a match up of strengths on weaknesses. The Chargers strength is rushing and the Eagles strength is passing. On defense, the Chargers weakness is pass defense and the Eagles weakness is rushing defense. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this game.

Maybe, just maybe, San Diego might be handing the ball off to that LT guy (148 rushing yards per game) against an Eagles team that is giving up 118 yards per game on the ground. On the other hand, the Eagles passing game averages 307 yards per game in the air and the San Diego pass defense (or lack thereof) is giving up 245 yards through the air each game so Philadelphia might want to throw the ball. I don’t know, just another one of those guesses.

Looking at the numbers, you have a hard time making the case for either defense suddenly being able to stop a league leader when they haven’t shown they can stop average offenses. This should be another high-scoring game to delight fantasy owners.

UNFAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Baltimore at Chicago

Let me make an attempt at being positive before I trash both of these offenses….naw, I just can’t do it. This game is just going to be brutal.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why Chicago isn’t favored in this game. Statistically, there’s no fudging the numbers. Baltimore scores 12 points per game and Chicago…gives up 12 points per game. So on average…I don’t know, maybe pencil the Ravens in for 10-12 points here (just a guess). Chicago? The Bears average 18, points per game on offense and Baltimore gives up…18 points on defense. So, I’m guessing 14-18 points for the Bears. Hmm… do you think that defense, special teams, and turnovers just might be important in this game?

I’m going with the defenses and the special teams to outscore both offenses. Chicago gets one more defensive touchdown than the Ravens and wins a really, really ugly game.

Detroit at Cleveland

Brutal game #2 for you viewing pleasure (as long as Mexico City wants to see bad football, can we send them these teams as well?).

Detroit has Joey Harrington…enough said. I don’t need to tell you the Lions can’t crack 150 passing in a game even though they can put three first-round receivers on the field, all I have to write is the name Harrington and you know where I’m going.

The good news (if you’re a Detroit fan) is that all he has to do on Sunday is take the ball from center, hand it off, and don’t fumble. The Browns defense is giving up a whopping 140 yards per game on the ground. RB Kevin Jones might get 40 attempts this week unless Cleveland puts nine players on the line of scrimmage and dares Harrington to throw. I’m doubtful the Browns will go that route as Detroit has been a terrible road team with Harrington directing the offense and if they’re patient, he’ll cough up the football without having to go man-up on the Lions receivers without safety coverage over the top. The Browns played a similar defense against another poor offensive squad (the Ravens) last week…and lost the game by double-digits. Hmm…better scratch the zone, stuff the run, and take your chances with Harrington this week.

Detroit’s defense outscored their offense 14-6 last week. I don’t think the Lions will get two more interception returns for touchdowns this week. Cleveland wins a low-scoring game that will be instantly forgettable the moment it ends.

Green Bay at Minnesota

A three hour tour….a three hour tour (sorry). I have a rule about teams in free-fall and that rule is do not touch them until they hit bottom. At some point, this Vikings team is going to circle the wagons and play to salvage a little pride. This probably isn’t the game, but they will do that at some point in the future.

This week, the Vikings players will be hearing it from their own crowd from start to finish. Yes, they’re an embarrassment off the field. Doing stupid stuff is forgivable, just look at TO’s career. Short of stalking your ex-wife and killing her and her waiter friend with a knife (allegedly), most fans will forgive anything as long as your team is winning. Sorry, teams that give up an average of 140 rushing yards against per game while scoring less than two touchdowns a game don’t get any slack from the season ticket holders. If you’re losing games by an average of nearly two touchdowns, the entertainment better be on the field not off it.

I’m not even slightly interested in the Vikings fantasy potential until they play at least one decent football game. As tempting as a game against the Packers defense might seem, I’d be saving myself some heartache by benching my Vikings until they show some heart.

Indianapolis at Houston

Speaking of teams in free-fall, let’s look at the Texans. ‘Didn’t even show up in Seattle last Sunday night. Offense is terrible and the defense has lost heart. With the team losing by more than 17 points per game, heck I’d lose heart too.

As I wrote with the Vikings, at some point this team is going to hit bottom and circle the wagons. This isn’t the game, but it will happen. The Colts will win this game by whatever score they want as Indy will control both line of scrimmages. I don’t think the Colts will try and embarrass a divisional foe, so I expect a vanilla offense, Edge to get a lot of work and this game to play out similar to the Colts-49ers game of a few weeks ago. Not the fantasy killing some owners who have Colts on their roster will want, but the Colts will get three to four touchdowns before packing it in sometime in the middle of the second half. Houston may get a garbage touchdown, but anything more than a pair of field goals will be progress and something to build on for the rest of the season.