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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 13, 2006
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
SF at SEA CLE at BAL NYJ at MIN DEN at ARZ KC at SD
Saturday
DET at GB PIT at CAR PHI at NYG
Monday
DAL at ATL HOU at NE TB at CHI MIA at BUF CIN at IND
  JAX at TEN WAS at NO STL at OAK *updated

Prediction: TB 6, CHI 31

Every week needs at least one big mismatch and putting the punchless Bucs on the road in Chicago looks like a recipe for more Bears defensive fantasy points. Over the last three weeks, the Bucs have not scored as many touchdowns as the Bears kick returner did just last week. There's an excellent chance that the Bears could outscore the Bucs even if all they did was to take a knee on every offensive play. The Bucs are 0-6 on the road this year.

Update: Sadly this is fantasy playoff time and yet so many teams have injuries and unsettled situations. Thomas Jones is questionable this week with a sore ankle and has not practiced. He has not been ruled out of the game. It would make perfect sense in a home game against a weak opponent to rest Jones but - Jones does not like to be sidelined. It is likely that Jones knee condition will lead to more work for Cedric Benson and while there is a chance that Jones does not play, I am only going to lower his projection and increase those for Benson. In this situation in the past, Jones has usually managed to start and play at least a limited role. Should Benson get the start, Adrian Peterson would get playing time as he did last week. The safest fantasy play here is Benson, but he could still see Jones take more carries and in the best cast likely share with Peterson.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-10)
1 0-27 BAL 10 10-24 @CAR
2 3-14 @ATL 11 20-17 WAS
3 24-26 CAR 12 10-38 @DAL
4 Open Bye 13 3-20 @PIT
5 21-24 @NO 14 6-17 ATL
6 14-13 CIN 15 --- @CHI
7 23-21 PHI 16 --- @CLE
8 3-17 @NYG 17 --- SEA
9 14-31 NO - MON THU
TBB at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Rattay 0 0 180
RB Cadillac Williams 40 10 0
RB Michael Pittman 10 20 0
TE Alex Smith 0 10 0
WR Joey Galloway 0 80 0
WR Maurice Stovall 0 20 0
WR Ike Hilliard 0 30 0
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 0 XP -
Pregame Notes: It just gets no better for the much beleaguered Bucs who have lost each of their last four road games by at least 14 points. This is the team that won the NFC South last year and now they will likely get that one thing that all fantasy teams want - a top three pick in the draft next year.

Quarterback: The Bruce Gradkowski era may be ending. The rookie was yanked last week after he had only 121 yards against the Falcons and Tim Rattay was given a shot. Rattay completed nine of 13 passes for 83 yards which was more impressive than anything that Gradkowski has done in a long time. The Bucs are not yet naming a starting quarterback this week but I am projecting for Rattay since they have nothing to lose with the switch. The Bucs are already win-less on the road. Going to Chicago looks like a massacre waiting to happen anyway.

Running Backs: The season is winding down almost in the exact opposite of last year for the 2005 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Carnell Williams has scored only once on the season and that was back in week three and he has only two games over 100 rushing yards. The majority of his games have been with less than 50 yards and just to make matters a little worse, Williams leads running backs with three lost fumbles. The only one calling for Williams anymore is the Hall of Fame wanting to know if he wants to pick up his jersey.

Wide Receivers: What little that does happen in the passing game here usually goes to Joey Galloway who has only scored in four games this year but there have only been two other touchdowns this season that went to another wideout than him. Galloway hasn't scored in the last three weeks and usually offers around 60 yards per game and very rarely more. Michael Clayton is gone and Ike Hilliard is taking the bigger role but that only meant he had four catches for 32 yards last week instead of his usual one catch for ten yards.

Tight Ends: Alex Smith has lost all fantasy value unless you need about one catch for ten yards per week.

Match Against the Defense: This match-up is every bit as ugly as it looks. Expect minimal yardage from Williams who will do well enough if he merely does not lose a fumble. Rattay could energize the passing game that will have plenty of trash time but that isn't enough to consider any player on this team as a viable fantasy starter. Galloway should manage at least moderate numbers here if only because he will get plenty of passes.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 31 26 22 25 32 31
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 2 10 5 1 2 16

 

Chicago Bears (11-2)
1 26-0 @GB 10 38-20 @NYG
2 34-7 DET 11 10-0 @NYJ
3 19-16 @MIN 12 13-17 @NE
4 37-6 SEA 13 23-13 MIN
5 40-7 BUF 14 42-27 @STL
6 24-23 @ARZ 15 --- TB
7 Open Bye 16 --- @DET
8 41-10 SF 17 --- GB
9 13-31 MIA - - MON
CHI vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Rex Grossman 0 0 220,2
RB Thomas Jones 50 10 0
RB Cedric Benson 70,1 10 0
TE Desmond Clark 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 70 0
WR Rashied Davis 0 40,1 0
WR Bernard Berrian 0 80,1 0
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 4 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bears have already won their division and secured a first round bye. It would be reasonable to assume that they will play with less gusto in the remaining games to keep players healthy and give less for playoff opponents to use against them but look at the schedule! The Bears final three opponents have a combined record of 10-29. The Bears are no longer marching towards the playoffs, they are holding hands and skipping while singing "Joy to the World".

Quarterback: After three bad outings that had him speculated to be replaced. Rex Grossman turned in a solid effort in St. Louis with 200 yards and two touchdowns - but no interceptions after throwing six in the last two games. That secures his job and makes HC Lovie Smith feel all warm and glowy about standing behind his quarterback despite every reason to bench him. The problem now is that Grossman is in good graces thanks to facing one of the worst defenses in the league and only completing 13 of 23 passes for 200 yards. The final three games all appear so easy that Grossman could again look like a top quarterback by season's end. And that could set-up for the worst case scenario - completely falling apart in the first playoff game when the opponent actually has a great defense. Remember that before being surprised in January.

No word on anything other than Grossman starts and Brian Griese sits but it would be in the interest of the Bears to get Griese some playing time during this final traipse down the cakewalk.

Running Backs: If you hated the sharing scenario of the Bears backfield before, now you will likely hate them even more. Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson are not only in a more even level in carries, but Adrian Peterson is getting playing time as well. Jones ran for 76 yards on 11 carries and scored once in St. Louis while Benson ran 16 times for 64 yards and Peterson came in for three carries for 12 yards with one touchdown. I am not projecting for Peterson to play but consider it likely he gets at least some time. Jones remains the starter but relying on him for the next three weeks will be even more risky.

Wide Receivers: After disappearing for three weeks, Muhsin Muhammad showed up last week with three catches for 50 yards and one touchdown. On the plus side, Muhammad has played best when facing the weakest defenses and then slides back whenever the secondaries are tough (thanks to Grossman mainly) and the final three weeks are tailor made for a wideout looking to boost the season stats. Bernard Berrian scored last week for the first time since week five and like Muhammad, he comes up bigger in games against weak opponents. He's mainly just a longball receiver, so he either has big numbers or almost nothing. He has never had more than five catches in any game but has several efforts over 90 yards this year. It all depends on Grossman.

Tight Ends: Desmond Clark actually looked like he had a role again because he caught two passes for 18 yards last week. But he doesn't much anymore.

Match Against the Defense: The Bucs actually have an above average rushing defense but the Tampa Bay offense is so bad that it gives opponents plenty of rushing opportunities. Expect a nice game in total here from the three runners but likely none will have a truly big game. There should be one rushing score.

Grossman faces a secondary that has allowed nine touchdowns in the last three road games and never less than two. Expect a good but not great game here with those two passing scores because Grossman needs to continue to shine to quiet the critics. At least one of the scores will go to Berrian. It is also hard to imagine how this game won't have at least one defensive score.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 23 14 13 13 1 1
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 29 18 16 19 15 22