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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 6, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
BAL at TB NO at CLE     SD at OAK

Prediction: DAL 20, JAX 16

The Cowboys (9-7) come off yet another season that got away from them and they've reloaded both barrels for 2006 with Terrell Owens and Mike Vanderjagt in the hopes that they are the missing pieces to a playoff run. So far - they've just been plain missing. The Jaguars (12-4) did catch a wild card last year but crashed in New England. The Jaguars are one of the least changed teams in the league.

Dallas Cowboys (0-0)
1 --- @JAX 10 --- @ARZ
2 --- WAS 11 --- IND
3 Open Bye 12 --- TB
4 --- @TEN 13 --- @NYG
5 --- @PHI 14 --- NO
6 --- HOU 15 --- @ATL
7 --- NYG 16 --- PHI
8 --- @CAR 17 --- DET
9 --- @WAS M THU SAT
DAL at JAX Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Bledsoe 0 0 250,2
RB Julius Jones 70 10 0
RB Marion Barber 20 20 0
TE Jason Witten 0 40 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 80,1 0
WR Terry Glenn 0 90,1 0
WR Patrick Crayton 0 10 0
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Bill Parcells pay coach for several more years or he may be gone in 2007. Some of that will ride on the success of what appears to be a very good defense and a retooled passing attack. The only element that still is undecided - how good will that offensive line be this year?

Quarterback: There was speculation in the preseason - mostly bored sportswriters - that Tony Romo was perhaps going to take the reins from Drew Bledsoe this season. Even without Owens, the veteran Bledsoe is a lock for the starting job after turning his first year in Dallas into 3639 passing yards with 23 touchdowns - 8th best in the league in scoring and yardage. Romo has successfully made Drew Henson a nonfactor but this remains Bledsoe's team and with Owens on it - a promising season in store.

Running Backs: The Cowboys catch a break with one of the softer rushing schedules this year and Julius Jones remains the starter after turning in 993 rushing yards and five scores in 2005. But Marion Barber also factors in and he had 538 yards and five scores as well. If Jones can remain healthy - a big "if" so far - he is the better back with far more speed and breakaway ability. Jones has taken over games in the past with two of the top four rushing efforts in Cowboy's history but until he turns in a string of big games and remains healthy, Barber will remain a factor as a third down back and potentially more than just relief for Jones.

Wide Receivers: Terry Glenn's impressive preseason is really just an extension of last year when he had a career high seven touchdowns along with his 62 catches for 1136 yards. He's now paired with Terrell Owens who has missed almost the entire preseason nursing a hamstring strain but is now healthy and practicing. Owens came out with 14 scores and 1200 yards in his first season in Philadelphia and he managed 763 yards and six scores in the seven games that he played last year. He's been pretty much golden when he plays - the question is always if he will stay healthy and actually on a team. Owens has been practicing and even if he doesn't take the first snap - he will play this week.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten enters his fourth season and while he fell from 980 to 757 yards last season, he still had six scores. The addition of Owens could certainly take away some passes from Witten but the Cowboys just signed him to a long-term contract and Witten will continue to figure into the passing game.

Match Against the Defense: The Jaguars were only about average against the passing game in 2005 but they ranked 4th against running backs. The Jaguars at home are a solid defense and Julius Jones will do well enough to post moderate numbers and I don't expect a rushing score here as they were rare enough last year for opponents.

Bledsoe (and the defense) will have to win this game and there's plenty of targets now to use. Look for at least a couple of scores here that should favor both Owens and Glenn though linebacker changes by the Jaguars could mean Witten gets a shot.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
1 --- DAL 10 --- HOU
2 --- PIT 11 --- NYG
3 --- @IND 12 --- @BUF
4 --- @WAS 13 --- @MIA
5 --- NYJ 14 --- IND
6 Open Bye 15 --- @TEN
7 --- @HOU 16 --- NE
8 --- @PHI 17 --- @KC
9 --- TEN - - MON
JAX vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 0 0 230,1
RB Fred Taylor 70 20 0
TE Kyle Brady 0 10 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 30 0
WR Ernest Wilford 0 70 0
WR Matt Jones 0 80,1 0
PK Josh Scobee 3 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars have to feel good about last year but the reality is that there are still some questions to answer - like how good were they really? The Patriots had not problem blowing them out in the playoffs and their schedule was one of the lightest in 2005 - not so this year. Add in Jimmy Smith's departure and Fred Taylor turning 31 in January and there's reasons to believe the Jags will be challenged to even maintain last year's outcome.

Quarterback: Byron Leftwich enters his fourth season and he holds the key to the fortunes of the Jaguars this year. Problem is that he has never played in a full 16 game season without injury and missed five games last year. He's spent every season locked in around 15 touchdowns and that was with Jimmy Smith. Leftwich either needs to make a step up and remain healthy or this team will take a step backwards in 2006. And he'll need a young set of wideouts to help make the transition a positive one.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor was unhappy about having to compete for his starting job of eight years but after turning 30 in 2005 and ending with 787 yards and three scores in 11 games played, the Jaguars were prudent in exploring other avenues. Unfortunately, Greg Jones was looking great and was a realistic challenge to Taylor but Jones tore up his knee and was lost for the season. So this year - back to the same old waiting for Taylor to fall with LaBrandon Toefield and Alvin Pearman left to fill in.

The Jaguars did draft Maurice Jones with the 60th overall pick in the NFL draft and the 5'7", 207 back could also figure in. He was an electric runner at UCLA but as the shortest tailback in the league, his size will likely prevent him from becoming an every down back in the future. By the same token - none of the other tailbacks behind Taylor are considered special and Jones could get a shot later in the year if Taylor goes down.

Wide Receivers: The loss of Jimmy Smith leaves a void that will be very hard to fill. Matt Jones had a few impressive plays as a rookie and he will be the starter this year but he's only had 36 catches in the NFL for 432 yards - just a 12 yard average. Ernest Wilford has always been productive when given the chance and will start the season as the flanker but he only had 41 catches for 681 yards in 2005 though he did score seven times. Reggie Williams never managed to actually score in 2005 despite being the first round pick the previous year and he will continue to factor in if only because they're still paying for his rookie contract.

This is a young, largely inexperienced group that needs Leftwich as much as he will need them.

Tight Ends: Kyle Brady has never been much more than a blocker in this scheme but the team drafted Marcedes Lewis to provide yet another target for Leftwich. But Lewis sustained a high ankle sprain during the preseason so he won't be a factor this week.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys were around 10th best against most fantasy positions last year as they installed the 3-4 defense and this season all the pieces are in place and there's speculation around the league that this will be a very good defense finally. With Fred Taylor at home, expect some moderate yardage but little chance he will score a rushing touchdown this week.

Leftwich will start the year without Smith and going against the CB's Newman and Henry should be a problem if Jones and Wilford don't run the routes right. Look for only moderate passing yardage here with the chance for one passing score to Matt Jones who will have a height advantage over Henry if he can use it.