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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Unconventional Wisdom - Week 15
Fritz Schlottman
December 15, 2006

FAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Dallas at Atlanta

The Cowboys got spanked by the New Orleans Saints last Sunday Night.  Dallas went into that game flying high as seven point favorites and got their heads handed to them in a big way.  So, I’ll look for the Cowboys to bounce back this week as cheap road favorites.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Dallas is the better football team. Atlanta struggles against quality football teams, a mere 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games against opposition with winning records.  Looking at the stats, Atlanta’s defense gives up over 100 yards rushing per game, and if they can’t stop the Dallas running game, the Falcons won’t win this game either.  In Atlanta’s last two victories (Tampa Bay and Washington, ugh!), the Falcons have done enough to get the victory, but haven’t dominated.  Further, in their last seven games, the Falcons have gotten off to a slow start and failed to score more than 17 points in six of those contests. If Atlanta gets off to another slow start, I don’t think the Cowboys are going to let them come back

After an embarrassing loss, the Cowboys probably can’t wait for a chance to redeem themselves.  I look for Dallas to get back to power football and pound the ball at that Atlanta defense.  This is a good spot to start your Cowboys (except for T. Owens who will likely draw Atlanta’s Pro Bowl cornerback) and Atlanta’s QB Mike Vick who may have more rushing yards than passing yards.  Cowboys win by 10.

NY Jets at Minnesota

This game is all about the Vikings running game and the Jets lack of rush defense.  Looking at both teams’ statistics, the Vikings give up just 2.7 yards per rush while the visitors give up 4.6 yards per carry.  Opponents have more first downs (271-237), more offensive yards (4537-3910), and more rushing yards (1810-1458) than the Jets, which leads me to believe that New York is probably not as strong a team as their win-loss record would suggest.  On the other hand, the Vikings have more first downs (237-209), more offensive yards (4239-3677), and more rushing yards (1599-703) than their opponents, which means Minnesota is probably an underrated football team.

Looking at the match-ups in this game, I just don’t see how the Vikings lose unless QB Brad Johnson throws the ball to the men in green (and there’s always that chance).  He shouldn’t get the chance to make that blunder as I expect Minnesota to come out and just pound the football down the throats of the New York defense.

This is a great start for who ever carries the football for the Vikings.  It shouldn’t matter who the runningback is, they will get their 100 rushing yards and a touchdown this week.  Sit your Jets fantasy players and start your Vikings this week.  Minnesota wins by seven.

UNFAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Tampa Bay at Chicago

The Buc’s may not cross the 50 yard line.  Bears big.  Next.

Cleveland at Baltimore

The Browns’s may not cross the 50 yard line.  Ravens big.  Next.

Detroit at Green Bay

It’s the middle of December, so its time for the Lions season to go straight into the toilet.  Few things are more certain than death, taxes, and Detroit collapsing in December.  You may be tempted to take nearly a touchdown with the Lions against a rebuilding Packers team, but don’t do it.  Given the Lions record of tanking in December, six points is cheap.

The Lions are one sorry football team.  They cannot run the football (the NFL’s worst rushing team and 31st in protecting the QB as well), and even against a very suspect Green Bay defense, Detroit won’t run the ball well the ball this week either.  To make matters worse, Lions RB Kevin Jones will miss this game which may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  As if it could get worse, Detroit is 0-7 SU and 1-6 ATS against their own division, and not a very good division I might add.  Given what we know, is there any reason to believe DET will finally put a game together in a place where they have historically struggled?  Probably not.

This is the kind of team Green Bay can take advantage of.  The Packers put up 30 points against the 49ers last week and it wouldn’t surprise me if they score more than 24 this week. 

I don’t like laying more than a field goal with a bad team, but what the heck, it’s the Lions.  Start your Packer fantasy players and sit your Lions.  Green Bay by 10 at home.

St. Louis at Oakland

God help me, I’m taking the Raiders in a very low scoring game this week.  This comes down to a simple rationale: do I want a bad football team at home or do I want a crappy football team on the road?  The answer is: If the crappy team at home is still playing hard on defense, then they’re my side. 

No matter how bad the Raiders offense has played this year, Oakland’s defense has shown up and played their hearts out, and that’s more than I can say for the Rams.  Giving up 42 points to a terrible Chicago Bears offense on Monday night suggests to me St. Louis has quit.  The Raiders’ defense gives up less than 100 yards rushing per game while the Rams give up an average of 154. This week, both teams have serious problems on their offensive lines with the Rams making changes at center and guard this week and Oakland starting two rookie guards.  I look for both quarterbacks to take a pounding and the team that runs the ball better will prevail.  I just can’t see the Rams running the football on Oakland while every team has run the ball on the St. Louis defense. The first team to 17 win should win this game.  Oakland wins this game on heart.