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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Unconventional Wisdom - Week 13
Fritz Schlottman
December 1, 2006

FAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Dallas at NY Giants

This spot screams Giants.  The New York Giants have been getting cracked by their own media all week after three straight losses.  How motivated do you think you'd be if you had reporters in your face day after day asking you why your team sucks, why the play-calling stinks, why your quarterback is playing badly, and do you think everyone else is a distraction in the locker room?  After three weeks of that garbage, I think the G-men have just about had enough.  This sets up to be one of those games where a team (NY) will go all-out for a victory.

And wouldn't you know it, here comes the hated Dallas Cowboys riding into town as the hottest team in the NFL.  Yep, they are riding high with the NFL's hot new quarterback (Romo) who's lighting up opposing defenses and dating Jessica Simpson.  Is anyone asking if that is a distraction?  Nope, I thought not.  ‘Heard from T.O. lately? Nope.  Is this team ripe for an upset?  Yep, you bet they are.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is a shootout.  NYG has the weapons necessary to put up some big points and the Cowboys are playing so well on offense that both teams will feel the need to score and score often.  This will be a good game to watch and a good game to start your fantasy players. 

If the Sports Gods had made this game thee weeks ago, the Giants would have been a field goal favorite.  They’re getting four points this week.  Give me New York to upset Dallas.

UNFAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Minnesota at Chicago

The Sports Gods made this game Chicago +9.5 here.  With QB Rex Grossman reverting back to his previous form, which is what we have come to expect from Bears’ quarterbacks, is there any reason why the Bears should dominate this game?  I don't see it.

This game matches two of the most boring teams in the NFL.  In thee of their last four games, the Bears haven't managed to get to 14 points.  Chicago is still struggling to run the football, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry as opposed to Minnesota who is averaging 4.0 yards per carry.  The Vikings passing game is nothing to speak of, but it’s better than the Bears who are completing just 56% of their pass attempts.  Yuck!

The Vikings are no better…ok, maybe a little better.  Despite putting up some scoring last week against the hapless Cardinals’ defense, Minnesota scored seven points against New England, three points against San Francisco, seventeen points against Green Bay, and twenty points against Miami since mid-season.  That's not exactly lighting up the scoreboard.  In the Vikings five road games they have scored 19, 12, 31, 3, and 20 points…so don’t hold your breath waiting for an offensive explosion because touchdowns could be a rare commodity this week.

So, how is Chicago going to beat the Vikings by 10 points if neither team is going to score?  You've got me because I can't figure it out.  Unless Minnesota turns the ball over, the Vikings should be in this low-scoring game until the end.  Give me Minnesota in a low-scoring game.

Jacksonville at Miami

Doh!  The Jaguars just have to be kicking themselves this week.  They went on the road to Buffalo last Sunday and once again the Jag's laid an egg against a team they should have dominated.  That loss at Buffalo took their road record to an abysmal 1-4 straight up.  And guess what? Jacksonville goes back on the road this week to play the second of back-to-back road games against a very motivated Dolphins squad.  Anyone think the Jaguars will play better this week?  I'm not seeing any hands out there.

Miami's defense has played much better in the second half of this season, and they're going to have to play lights-out again this week as RB Ronnie Brown is out for this game after hand surgery.  The Fish are quite capable of shutting down the Jaguars offense as Miami have given up 13, 10, 20, and 10 points in their last four games, all victories.  Sammy Morris probably gets the start at runningback for the Dolphins this week and will have a chance to add to his 126 rushing yards this season...yawn.  Oh what fun it is to be a back-up tailback on a team that can't run, plus you the fun of carrying the ball into the teeth of the league's fifth best rushing defense.   Funny, I don't see a line forming to take Morris off the waiver wire in my fantasy league.

Will the Jaguars finally get their act together on the road in time to breathe some life into their playoff hopes?  Possibly, but my best guess is that they try to win this game with defense.  First team to 17 points wins this snooze-fest.  Start the defenses, bench your other fantasy starters in this game, and wake me when it’s over.  The Fish get the win.

San Diego at Buffalo

This is just an abysmal spot for the Chargers.  After a wobble last week against the Oakland Raiders, San Diego has to go all the way to the snowy East Coast to play a sandwich game. 

How bad is this spot?  First, you have a West Coast team traveling all the way across the country.  Second, you have a sunny, warm-weather team having to play in a game where cold weather, wind, and snow is expected.  Third, San Diego is coming off two divisional games to play a non-divisional opponent.  Fourth, there are two more divisional games on deck for the Chargers.  And fifth, the Bills are a small-market team that has nothing to play for, and therefore San Diego may get caught looking past them here.

Despite their record, the Bills have kept fighting.  QB J.P. Losman has played much better than expected. Unnoticed by many fantasy players, he's lead his team on several game-winning drives and that confidence should help him this week.  Losman had a 111.7 quarterback rating at Houston and a quarterback rating of over 85 in his last three starts, he’s playing well, but staying under the radar.

I wouldn't be surprised if Losman led another late game drive to get the backdoor cover here.  A good spot for RB Tomlinson against a suspect Bills rush defense and a good spot start for Losman here.