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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 8
October 26, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ARI at DAL JAC at STL* WAS at NYG* TB at SF* BUF at NE
CHI at DET* MIA at NO* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CLE at HOU MIN at CAR* KC at SD* IND, NYJ BAL at PIT*
GB at CIN OAK at TEN* PHI at DEN ATL, SEA *Updated

Prediction: Cleveland 17, Houston 20

This is a huge game. This may be the only chance that Houston has of winning a game until week 15 when they host the Cardinals. The Browns are playing teams tough though and have lost two games by a touchdown or less and the defense has held every opponent to 16 points or less in each of the last four games. But the Texans know it may never get better than this, so consider week eight as the last stand. And it may have the same results as the Alamo.

The Browns beat the Texans 22-14 in week 17 of last year in the game played in Cleveland.

Cleveland Browns (2-4)
1 13-27 CIN 10 Nov 13 @PIT
2 26-24 @GBP 11 Nov 20 MIA
3 6-13 @IND 12 Nov 27 @MIN
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 JAC
5 20-10 CHI 14 Dec 11 @CIN
6 3-16 @BAL 15 Dec 18 @OAK
7 10-13 DET 16 Dec 24 PIT
8 Oct 30 @HOU 17 Jan 1 BAL
9 Nov 6 TEN . . SAT
CLE at HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer 0 0 200,1
RB Reuben Droughns 100,1 10 0
RB William Green 20 10 0
TE Steve Heiden 0 10 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 80,1 0
WR Braylon Edwards 0 60 0
WR Dennis Northcutt 0 20 0
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Browns defense has been playing very well but the offense has not scored a touchdown in the last two games and the passing game is getting progressively worse with Trent Dilfer. The last two road trips only produced a total of three field goals and already the team is looking at the rookie Charlie Frye and raising an eyebrow.

Quarterback: Trent Dilfer comes off his worst performance of the season when he completed only 10 of 19 passes for 73 yards and three interceptions against the visiting Lions last week. He has thrown for a score in only one game of the last four outings while turning in six interceptions in that time. There has been no movement yet to opt for Charlie Frye, but the question is asked every week and HC Romeo Crennel has been somewhat noncommittal about Dilfer this week. A change may be in the winds here.

The Browns threw for 228 yards and one score in the matchup against the Texans last year.

Running Backs: Reuben Droughns comes off his best effort of the season, rushing 19 times for an even 100 yards against the Lions but he still has yet to score this year and each week has been progressively phased out of the passing game. Droughns was having 20 to 30 yards a week on receptions to start the season but only has three catches for 7 yards in the last two games combined.

Lee Suggs ran for 131 yards against the Texans in week 17 of 2004.

Wide Receivers: Braylon Edwards was a surprise start last week, returning early from his arm infection and ending the game as the leading receiver with only three catches for 30 yards. For a passing game that needs a spark, his return could signal better times ahead. Antonio Bryant only had one catch for 15 yards against the Lions and he didn't even have the bad matchup on Dre Bly either. The passing game continues to decline and that has brought all the wideouts outside of fantasy relevance. This week should provide a far better opportunity than the recent schedule of DET, BAL and CHI.

Antonio Bryant had 87 yards on seven catches against the Texans last season.

Tight Ends: Aaron Shea and Steve Heiden are sharing duties and would not have fantasy relevance even if you combined the two.

Match Against the Defense: Everybody loves Reliant Stadium. The Texans have allowed five rushers to top 100 yards this season and have already given up ten rushing scores this season. Chalk up Droughns for a good game here with a chance for his season high since most runners have done as much.

Dilfer goes against a secondary that has always allowed at least one score and the last three games have seen opponents score 34 points or more in the game. The Texans are overdue for a "stand up and fight" game and this is one of the few matchups they will have that could allow a win. The trends all show that Dilfer throws at least one or two scores but he's not been up to the task lately against some tough secondaries. This is not a tough secondary. Dilfer should get back into his groove a bit more this week against a soft opponent and Antonio Bryant gets the better matchup though either wideout could score here. The biggest concern is the apparently diminishing skills of Dilfer but again - he comes off three tough games against good secondaries.

Houston Texans (0-6)
1 7-22 @BUF 10 Nov 13 @IND
2 7-27 PIT 11 Nov 20 KCC
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 STL
4 10-16 @CIN 13 Dec 4 @BAL
5 20-34 TEN 14 Dec 11 @TEN
6 10-42 @SEA 15 Dec 18 ARI
7 20-38 IND 16 Dec 24 JAC
8 Oct 30 CLE 17 Jan 1 @SFO
9 Nov 6 @JAC . . SAT
HOU ve CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB David Carr 0 0 130,1
RB Domanick Davis 100,1 30 0
TE Marcellus Rivers 0 10 0
WR Corey Bradford 0 20 0
WR Jabar Gaffney 0 50,1 0
WR Jerome Mathis 0 10 0
PK Kris Brown 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: It has been three weeks since the Texans lost a game by less than 14 points - not the way to reverse the worst record in the NFL. The Texans have all but completely abandoned the pass while the defense has allowed a total of 114 points in the last three matchups. This week is the best chance for a win of the entire season. It is either stand up here and get a win or they can already start to plan what the #1 pick in the NFL draft will be in 2006. After this game the Texans have two road trips to Indianapolis and Jacksonville. Oh yeah, it better happen here or it won't happen.

Quarterback: The Texans have finally found a way to keep David Carr from killing them this year. They just do not allow him to throw. Carr only had nine passing attempts - NINE ATTEMPTS - for six completions and 48 yards and a score last week in a game that the Colts spanked the Texans. Carr still managed to get sacked five more times and threw one interception while also losing a fumble. To his credit, Carr has thrown a score in every game this year - and only one. He has never exceeded 179 yards and this entire offense seems to have multiple reverse gears.

David Carr only managed 114 yards and one score against the Browns last year.

Running Backs: As the lone shining light of the offense, and by this I mean like a penlight in a darkened movie theatre, Domanick Davis comes off his first rushing score of the year when Davis ran 28 times for 98 yards against the Colts last week. That is 28 rushes against only nine passes. The Texans are evidently willing to use up Davis this season because it is the only way to continue to hold the ball offensively.

Domanick Davis had 145 total yards and one score against the Browns in 2004.

Wide Receivers: The notion that the Texans have wideouts should not be entertained while consuming a beverage lest you turn into a human sprinkler. Jabar Gaffney did catch a score last week but only had four catches for 25 yards while no other wideout managed to have a single catch. Not one. By now the days of Andre Johnson turning in 30 receiving yards in a game seems a success. Johnson has missed the last two games with a strained calf and there is no guarantee he makes it back this week since he did not practice prior to last Sunday. I am expecting Corey Bradford and Gaffney to once again take the starting roles that leave fans scratching their heads. There have been only two passing scores to wideouts this season. Updates if Johnson plays.

Tight Ends: The Texans have now shifted from Matt Murphy to Marcellus Rivers for the one catch per game.

Match Against the Defense: Again, this game has to be impacted by the losing record of the Texans, the road trip by the Browns and the fact that this week is really the entire season for the Texans. A loss here means all effort for the rest of the year will be on explaining losses, keeping the team from total implosion and wondering when HC Dom Capers leaves his office with a box in his hands. The Browns rushing defense has been dinged this year by James, Rudi Johnson and Thomas Jones so there is a chance that Davis will take his 20+ carries and turn in a good game. The Browns have only allowed two runners to rush in a score though two more have had receiving touchdowns so Davis has a chance to be the difference maker here.

Carr's matchup against the defense just doesn't matter when he is, literally, being sacked about once every three or four pass attempts. He always throws one score every game and never more. That should continue here but the yardage could be as high as 200 or as low as 10. If the team only wants him to throw nine passes during a blowout loss, there's a risk he could throw it less this week just to avoid the sack.