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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 15, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
CIN at NO PIT at CLE     updated

Prediction: IND 30, DAL 27

This should be one of the better games to watch this week with the perfect Colts showing up in Dallas where the Cowboys have lost only once to Peyton's brother. Dallas is much improved with Romo but the Colts are playing right to the level of opponents in most games - plus a few more points. If this game ends with less than 50 total points it will be a huge disappointment.

Indianapolis Colts (9-0)
1 26-21 @NYG 10 17-16 BUF
2 43-24 HOU 11 --- @DAL
3 21-14 JAX 12 --- PHI
4 31-28 @NYJ 13 --- @TEN
5 14-13 TEN 14 --- @JAX
6 Open Bye 15 --- CIN
7 36-22 WAS 16 --- @HOU
8 34-31 @DEN 17 --- MIA
9 27-20 @NE - - MON
IND at DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 0 0 300,3
RB Dominic Rhodes 40 10 0
RB Joseph Addai 50 30 0
TE Dallas Clark 0 20,1 0
TE Ben Utecht 0 40 0
WR Marvin Harrison 0 70,1 0
WR Reggie Wayne 0 110,1 0
PK Adam Vinatieri 3 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: Nine and "oh" and the Colts are continuing their trek to a perfect season. The wins are not coming by much every week but they have always been there at the end. This is a perfect set-up for their first loss - on the road versus a non-conference team but if they can get past the Boys, it could end up to be the biggest challenge remaining outside of the one road trip to Jacksonville. Odds are against the Colts winning out, but they were against them reaching 9-0.

Quarterback: Currently Peyton Manning is #1 in the NFL with 18 passing touchdowns and #3 in passing yardage (2527). But he comes off a dull effort of just 236 yards and one score during last week's trend of visitors outplaying most hosts. The Colts in general and Manning in particular have gotten to 9-0 by playing roughly to the level of the opponent - plus a few points. In his last two road efforts against good teams, Manning threw for 345 yards and three scores (DEN) and 326 yards and two scores (NE). Manning was on a three game streak of 300+ yard games until last week.

Running Backs: Just when it appeared the Colts had settled down on Joseph Addai as the primary back, they returned to split duty last week when Dominic Rhodes had 14 carries for 72 yards and Addai ran 13 times for 78 yards with one touchdown. Addai added seven catches for 46 yards to prop up his fantasy value but the risk of sharing continues. Both backs have three rushing scores on the season though Addai is more commonly used as a receiver as well.

Wide Receivers: Last week's low passing numbers gave Marvin Harrison his worst game of the season when he ended with just two catches for 21 yards against the Bills. Harrison had scored five times in the previous four games. Reggie Wayne comes off a 42 yard effort last week though he did score once and has six touchdowns over the last five games. The duo had been golden until last week and continue the trend of being the only wideouts with any catches. The Colts are constantly using two tight end sets and rarely if ever pulling in a slot receiver,

Tight Ends: Both Ben Utecht and Dallas Clark figure into the passing equation each week though individually neither has much reliable fantasy value. No tight end for Indy has scored in the last three games and Utecht has never scored this season. But Utecht is more likely to see bigger yardage.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys lost LB Greg Ellis to an Achilles tear last week and the defensive captain will be missed. The Colts will be challenged to gain much on the ground since only Tiki Barber was able to exceed 40 rushing yards in Dallas so far this year. But the Colts are an entirely different team than the Skins or Texans or even Giants as of late. Look for moderate gains by Addai and Rhodes and likely no score.

The Cowboys have been great against the pass this year at home but again - the quality of opponents has been lacking and even Eli Manning had two scores there most recently. Manning shredded both Denver and New England on the road this year already so it is only rational to expect that here. Wayne takes the match-up most exploited against Anthony Henry but you can never count out Harrison even if Terrance Newman will be covering him. The Cowboys have been softer against tight ends this year, particularly with scores and the absence of Ellis only makes that more attractive.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 3 14 6 5 4 25
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 10 9 12 21 9 26


Dallas Cowboys (5-4)
1 17-24 @JAX 10 27-10 @ARZ
2 27-10 WAS 11 --- IND
3 Open Bye 12 --- TB
4 45-14 @TEN 13 --- @NYG
5 24-38 @PHI 14 --- NO
6 34-6 HOU 15 --- @ATL
7 22-36 NYG 16 --- PHI
8 35-14 @CAR 17 --- DET
9 19-22 @WAS M THU SAT
DAL vs IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo 0 0 270,2
RB Julius Jones 80 10 0
RB Marion Barber 30,1 20 0
TE Jason Witten 0 70,1 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 80,1 0
WR Sam Hurd 0 40 0
WR Patrick Crayton 0 50 0
PK Mike Vanderjagt 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Take away that painful loss in Washington and the Boys would be looking like unquestioned playoff material. Romo continues to shine brighter every week and he's taking Owens and Witten along with him for the ride. The Cowboys at home are tough but the recent loss of Greg Ellis won't make this defense any better. This week is the big test to see just how much better the offense truly is - and how much Ellis will be missed.

Quarterback: With three starts now under his belt, Tony Romo keeps getting better every week and left Arizona with 308 yards and two scores. His first three career starts have all exceeded 270 passing yards and he has thrown at least two scores in three of his last four games (including the half game he shared with Bledsoe). No doubt that passing will come into play again this week with the potentially high scoring Colts visiting and Romo has been a significant change to both the effectiveness and efficiency of the offense. In his last two starts, Romo has not thrown an interception.

Running Backs: Julius Jones remains the starter here but he only had 15 carries for 45 yards in Arizona while Marion Barber took over in the second half with a more productive 14 runs for 65 yards and one score. Barber now has seven touchdowns on the season. The roles remain the same here but if Jones is not being effective, Bill Parcells has no problem relying on Marion Barber and actually prefers him in short yardage and goal line situations anyway. This is a true committee approach that could yield a very big fantasy back if just one of them were to take all the workload.

Wide Receivers: Terry Glenn was inactive last week because of his knee condition and until he is cleared to play, I will replace him with Sam Hurd in the projections. The Cowboys elected to keep Patrick Crayton as the slot receiver last week with good results - a career best 104 yards and one score in Arizona. Hurd ended with four catches for 42 yards which actually mirrors what Glenn had been doing recently.

Terrell Owens continues to be plagued with drops but comes off a five catch, 96 yard game against the Cards with one touchdown scored. That gives Owens seven scores on the season and four of those came from Tony Romo. Since the change in quarterbacks, Owens has never had less than 10 passes thrown to him in any game.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten continues to enjoy a solid season with Romo at the helm and had five catches for 58 yards last week, almost identical to the previous week and he has never had less than 50 yards each week since the change was made.

Match Against the Defense: No doubt the Cowboys will want to run to keep Manning off the field and most teams have some success with rushing. Safety Bob Sanders returned against the Patriots and made an immediate impact but sat out last week with a noticeable absence in the defense. He was nursing a swollen knee and he likely was held out to be healthy for this week. Expect a strong rushing game here by the Cowboys that will favor yardage for Jones and at least one score for Barber but it could all be limited if Indy succeeds in getting an early lead and making the Cowboys throw.

Romo has been very good against CAR, WAS and ARZ but those teams are not exactly 9-0 on the season. The Colts are #1 against wideouts so far this year and have surrendered only one 100 yard game to a wideout and only four of them have scored - none more than once. The weakness against tight ends should spell a nice game here for Witten but there is no denying that Owens will be getting at least 10 to 12 passes thrown to him in what holds promise of an air war at least later in the game. Look for Romo to end with two scores here and nice yardage.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 4 5 5 13 8 7
Preventing Fantasy Points IND 9 26 1 18 7 5