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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 9
November 2, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at MIA* DET at MIN* TEN at CLE* PIT at GB* PHI at WAS*
CAR at TB HOU at JAC* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CHI at NO OAK at KC* NYG at SF BUF, DEN IND at NE
CIN at BAL SD at NYJ SEA at ARI* DAL, STL Updates*

Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Green Bay 16

The Steelers come off a short week after beating the Ravens and head to Lambeau Field where nothing has changed other than about half of the Packer players. The Steelers have not lost a road game this year and the Packers have only won once there. Favre has struggled with interceptions and just recognizing his receivers since they continually change and now he goes against the Steelers secondary - ah, just not getting any easier, is it Brett?

Update: Ben Roethlisberger has been called out this week as he mends from his sprained knee that needed arthroscopic surgery. Charlie Batch is slated to be the starter this week instead of Tommy Maddox who threw the game losing interception against the Jaguars three weeks ago. Batch has not started a game since the 2001 season with the Detroit Lions so how well he will play after a three year layoff is hard to gauge. Fortunately he will be facing the Packers secondary which is about as good as it gets.

Jerome Bettis is also doubtful to play and I am removing him from the projections. Duce Staley may see some carries but I am not including him since Parker should see the heavy load here.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
1 34-7 TEN 10 Nov 13 CLE
2 27-7 @HOU 11 Nov 20 @BAL
3 20-23 NE 12 Nov 28 @IND
4 Open Bye 13 Dec 4 CIN
5 24-22 @SDC 14 Dec 11 CHI
6 17-23 JAC 15 Dec 18 @MIN
7 27-13 @CIN 16 Dec 24 @CLE
8 20-19 BAL 17 Jan 1 DET
9 Nov 6 @GBP . MON SAT
PIT Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Batch 0 0 210,1
RB Jerome Bettis 30 0 0
RB Willie Parker 70 20 0
TE Heath Miller 0 30 0
WR Hines Ward 0 80,1 0
WR Antwaan Randle El 0 40 0
WR Quincy Morgan 0 30 0
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Steelers just about completed the trifecta of dropping three home games in a row before taking back the win over the Ravens. For being such a great road team, it's surprising how much the team struggles when at home. This week they face the injury decimated Packers and may be without Roethlisberger. The last time that Maddox started was the fiasco against the Jaguars when he threw the losing interception return for a touchdown. Shouldn't matter as much here - the Packers defense will be much more accommodating.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger twisted his knee last week and may be questionable to play on Sunday though there is no apparent ligament damage. I will assume he can play unless more information comes out later this week. Big Ben never throws for much yardage and he just came off his first career game with 30 pass attempts but he's thrown for two scores in five of the last six games.

Running Backs: Willie Parker remains the primary back for yardage, he had 14 carries for 63 yards last week versus eight carries for 22 yards by Jerome Bettis. But the duo is being used in each game now. Parker has three 100 yard games and usually pitches in 50 or more yards a week but Bettis has not been much of a factor though he gets significant carries. Bettis only has one touchdown on the year and none in the last three weeks.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward remains the only consistently productive wideout for the Steelers and has scored in three of the last four games with solid production in each of the last five games. Cedrick Wilson is all but invisible now and Quincy Morgan has managed two catches for around 35 yards in each of the last two games. His production comes largely at the expense of Antwaan Randle El who hasn't scored since week one and has declined to only around 30 yards per game.

Tight Ends: Probably the biggest story of the year for the Steelers has been the emergence of Heath Miller as a bona fide pass catching tight end. Miller has scored in each of the last four games, has six scores on the year and two in the last game. He has not been the yardage player other elite tight ends are, but he's become the primary weapon for endzone throws.

Match Against the Defense: The Packer rush defense has been very good this year, obscured by the falling apart of everything else. Only one runner has scored a rushing touchdown against the Packers this year and that was in Carolina. This won't likely be the huge yardage game it may seem for Willie Parker since the Packers are tough against the run and Bettis will take enough carries to water down Parker and keep him with only moderate numbers.

The passing game is where the Packers lose out and almost every opponent has two or three passing scores against them. This fits well into Big Ben's average that should see scores go to Hines Ward and either Morgan or Randle El.

I also like the chance that Favre throws an interception that gets returned for a score.

 

Green Bay Packers (1-6)
1 3-17 @DET 10 Nov 13 @ATL
2 24-26 CLE 11 Nov 21 MIN
3 16-17 TBB 12 Nov 27 @PHI
4 29-32 @CAR 13 Dec 4 @CHI
5 52-3 NOR 14 Dec 11 DET
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 19 @BAL
7 23-20 @MIN 16 Dec 25 CHI
8 14-21 @CIN 17 Jan 1 SEA
9 Nov 6 PIT . . MON
GBP vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre 0 0 220,1
RB Tony Fisher 40 20 0
TE Bubba Franks 0 30,1 0
TE Donald Lee 0 30 0
WR Donald Driver 0 60 0
WR Antonio Chatman 0 50 0
PK Ryan Longwell 3 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The once mighty Packers have now slid down to only 1-6 for the season and while this has the hallmarks of a trap game, the lack of any rushing attack means that the Packers will have to throw into the strength of the Steelers defense. No doubt that Favre will be launching missiles all afternoon and just as likely more than one or two will land in the wrong arms. The Steelers are on a short week but the Packers are playing with a short team.

Quarterback: If your league does not penalize for interceptions, then Brett Favre remains a gem to own. He has thrown for 15 touchdowns this season and has three games over 300 yards. Of course he has 12 interceptions too that include the five against the Bengals. The offense can be decimated by injury but as long as Favre is pitching the rock, the Packers will post some points. Not as many as the opposition usually, but great for a fantasy team.

Running Backs: Tony Fisher took his starting slot and produced a somewhat respectable 51 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown. Of course it is respectable in the sense you start out at zero and go up with expectations. The Packers also tried out Reshard Lee and Sam Gado on one run each with nothing special happening. Fisher had two catches for seven yards and William Henderson surprisingly had no runs and only one catch in the game. This is Fisher's opportunity to shine.

Wide Receivers: Antonio Chatman stepped up nicely last week and had 97 yards on eight catches - more than Robert Ferguson ever managed. Now the passing game has evolved to where only Chatman and Donald Driver are used which is fortunate since they are about all that is left. Driver has remained largely consistent through the season and Chatman could make this duo chug along surprisingly well.

Tight Ends: Bubba Franks comes off a monster game. He had 62 yards on seven catches with one touchdown - his first of the season. His role was bumped up because David Martin pulled his groin in practice last Thursday and did not heal enough to play. That left Donald Lee as the only other tight end available to help out and he had three receptions for 28 yards.

Match Against the Defense: Fisher will do well to gain 50 yards against the Steelers defense so expect minimal yardage from him which will be prudent in almost every game anyway.

Favre goes against a secondary that has forced turnovers from every opposing quarterback and typically holds opponents to only around 220 pass yards with one score. No team has scored more than one passing touchdown against the Steelers. There has been only one touchdown allowed to a wideout by the Steelers this year - expect down games from Chatman and Driver with Franks the most likely to score.