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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
WEEK 3
September 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday night
On Bye
CAR at TB JAX at IND BAL at CLE DEN at NE DAL, KC,
CHI at MIN NYJ at BUF NYG at SEA
Monday
OAK, SD
CIN at PIT TEN at MIA PHI at SF ATL at NO  
GB at DET WAS at HOU STL at ARZ   updated

Prediction: CAR 17, TB 9

This was supposed to be a much anticipated game between two powerhouses vying for the division lead. Now it is a sloppy match-up between two stumbling and win-less teams trying to avoid the cellar in the NFC South while knowing that even the winner will still have a losing record. And the loser can just about start thinking about next year.

These teams traded wins as visitors with the Panthers taking week nine 34-14 and then the Bucs winning 20-10 in week 14 last year.

Update: Steve Smith is listed as questionable on the injury report but returned to practice on Thursday. This will be a gametime decision and will depend on how his hamstring feels before gametime. Fortunately it will be in the first set of games so you can check for the inactives to see if he is playing. I am not adding him to the projections because it is still not clear if he will play and it has to be considered a risk to start him this week even if he is active because he has missed so much time with hamstring issues. if he cannot play, Drew Carter is expected to take his place again though he too is listed as questionable with a hand injury. Carter has practiced though and is expected to be ready.

Carolina Panthers (0-2)
1 6-20 ATL 10 --- TB
2 13-16 @MIN 11 --- STL
3 --- @TB 12 --- @WAS
4 --- NO 13 --- @PHI
5 --- CLE 14 --- NYG
6 --- @BAL 15 --- PIT
7 --- @CIN 16 --- @ATL
8 --- DAL 17 --- @NO
9 Open Bye - - MON
CAR at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 0 0 210,1
RB DeShaun Foster 40 10 0
RB DeAngelo Williams 60,1 30 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 10 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 20 0
WR Drew Carter 0 60 0
WR Keyshawn Johnson 0 70,1 0
PK John Kasay 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: One of the teams popularly thought to be most likely to represent the NFC in the Superbowl this year is now struggling to just win one game and maybe even score their second touchdown of the season. Hard to believe that the team upgraded with DeAngelo Williams and Keyshawn Johnson is averaging only nine points per game but losing Steve Smith evidently was a deal breaker with the gods of fate.

Quarterback: Jake Delhomme scored 25 touchdowns last year so with the upgrade at RB and WR this year, many expected this totals to slant even higher. So far - nada. Not one. Delhomme without Steve Smith has only turned in games of 186 and 181 yards so far this year and he hasn't taken off on even one run yet.

Delhomme had only average games against the Buccaneers last year, turning in 216 and 220 yards with one score in each game.

Running Backs: DeShaun Foster has only managed games of 54 and 26 yards this season and his rushing average stands at a hearty 2.9 yards per carry. The Panthers did not use the rookie DeAngelo Williams in week one but gave him 13 carries against the Vikings which he turned into 74 yards and one touchdown (note - the only Panther touchdown this year). Still, HC John Fox insists that Foster remains the primary back but admits that the rookie will be getting more playing time in some yet undefined "split". The only thing that won't be split are the results because Williams looks like everything that Foster is supposed to be and yet is not.

Foster was rarely successful against Tampa Bay in 2005, gaining only 23 and 46 yards against them in their two games.

Wide Receivers: The absence of Steve Smith is hard to count as the reason why the entire team has under performed but he's the only positive from last year that is currently missing. Keyshawn Johnson stepped up last week with five catches for 106 yards but he was never meant to provide more than what week one had - four catches for 40 yards in a possession, "move the chains" way. Drew Carter has performed fairly well as a replacement for Smith and has games of 62 and 34 yards but he fractured a finger last week. He is currently expected to play and for projections, I am sticking with Keyshawn, Carter and Colbert until news comes out about either Carter or Smith to change that.

Steve Smith turned on 106 and 103 yard efforts against the Bucs in 2005 with one touchdown as a visitor.

Tight Ends: You might think with the offensive woes of the last two weeks that the tight ends here would do something but you'd be very wrong.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers gave up a decent game to Jamal Lewis and then were ripped by Vick and Dunn last week using their cutbacks and speed to hurt them. That is very much like how Williams runs and nothing like how Foster is. At this point, the best expectation is that Foster gets the start with some lackluster results and Williams is mixed in with a far better performance. HC John Fox cannot just dump his pricey starting running back for the rookie (though I certainly would) without letting it be proven on the field first.

Delhomme faces a secondary that has not really been tested because the Bucs offense has been so bad that opponents have only thrown the ball a total of 42 times over the first two games. And yet - they both had touchdowns. Look for this game to be a line in the sand for both teams but for Delhomme to be better than Simms and therein lies the difference.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2)
1 0-27 BAL 10 --- @CAR
2 3-14 @ATL 11 --- WAS
3 --- CAR 12 --- @DAL
4 Open Bye 13 --- @PIT
5 --- @NO 14 --- ATL
6 --- CIN 15 --- @CHI
7 --- PHI 16 --- @CLE
8 --- @NYG 17 --- SEA
9 --- NO - MON THU
TBB vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Chris Simms 0 0 200
RB Cadillac Williams 60 20 0
RB Michael Pittman 10 20 0
TE Alex Smith 0 10 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 50 0
WR Michael Clayton 0 70 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 20 0
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 0 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers improved last week by coming off a shutout and managing to successfully kick a field goal. However, since this is not soccer, three points merely screams "inept" yet again. The vaunted defense has been like a sieve and the offense has been marginally successful while excelling at throwing interceptions. The core of this team remains unchanged from last year and along with the Panthers represents one of the biggest head-scratchers of the 2006 season.

Quarterback: While the breakdowns have been in almost every facet for the team, it is undeniable that Chris Simms has been central to many of the problems if only because he has not been able to throw a touchdown yet this year while tossing up three interceptions in each of the two games so far. Simms ended with 313 passing yards against the Falcons last week but somehow managed to do the wrong thing at the wrong time when it mattered the most.

Simms threw for 259 yards and one score at home against the Panthers in week nine but only had 138 yards in Carolina in week 14.

Running Backs: Carnell Williams has pretty much lost his catchy nickname by now after rushing for a grand total of 59 yards on 23 carries for the year. That's 2.6 yards per carry and he's still getting virtually all the carries in each game. It has not helped opening the year against two high-powered defenses but the Panthers used to have one as well. It is beyond "time to get serious" in Tampa Bay.

Cadillac Williams only had 29 yards on 11 carries in week nine when he was still limited by injury but managed 112 yards on 29 carries with two scores as a visitor in week 14.

Wide Receivers: After failing to record a catch in week one, Joey Galloway came to life against the Falcons and hauled in nine receptions for 161 yards and somehow not scoring. The ample trash time of last week was kind to the other receivers as well since Ike Hilliard (6-53) and Michael Clayton (5-62) finally showed up in the box score last week.

Galloway had 83 yards and one score in week nine against the Panthers but only managed 32 yards in the second meeting.

Tight Ends: Nothing with any fantasy value from either Alex Smith or Anthony Becht.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers may catch a slight break with MLB Dan Morgan out yet again but his replacement played well enough last week. Warrick Dunn dinged the Panthers for 132 yards in week one and Chester Taylor had 113 yards just last Sunday but it takes a leap of faith to expect a big game here from Williams. Until he shows up, anything beyond moderate numbers is hard to expect.

Simms will no doubt become reacquainted with Julius Peppers this week and so far the only players scoring against the Panthers have been tight ends (which TB does not use) and Michael Jenkins because Vick was scrambling long enough to get him free. The Panthers won't likely rack up the big score that permits much trash time, so expect only moderate passing numbers here. Michael Clayton gets the better matchup and the Panthers will be watching out for Galloway anyway this week.