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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 27, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
ATL at PHI DET at DAL NE at TEN STL at MIN Sunday Nite
BUF at BAL OAK at NYJ updated GB at CHI

Prediction: STL 20, MIN 17

The Vikings have fallen from contention but the Rams can still get a wildcard if they win here and the Giants, Panthers and Falcons all lose. Unfortunately, that could already be over with the Giants playing on Saturday. The Rams are only 3-4 on the road but so are the Vikings at home. And since the Vikings have gone into the tank already, the Rams have a great shot at a win here. Extra motivation comes from new HC Scott Linehan wanting a .500 season in his first year with the team.

St. Louis Rams (7-8)
1 18-10 DEN 10 22-24 @SEA
2 13-20 @SF 11 0-15 @CAR
3 16-14 @ARZ 12 20-17 SF
4 41-34 DET 13 20-34 ARZ
5 23-20 @GB 14 27-42 CHI
6 28-30 SEA 15 20-0 @OAK
7 Open Bye 16 37-31 WAS
8 24-38 @SD 17 --- @MIN
9 17-31 KC - - MON
STL at MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 340,2
RB Steven Jackson 50 60 0
TE J. Klopfenstein 0 20 0
WR Torry Holt 0 110,1 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 80,1 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 60 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Rams final game is on the road but at least the passing game has returned in full force once again and those defensive weaknesses are much less likely to be tested by a team with the 25th best scoring offense - and likely not that good anymore. The Rams have fought through some internal squabbles and Bulger's ribs were not a help but this game present a nice chance to end the season on a high note - and maybe even make the playoffs with a miracle set of events.

Quarterback: Consider Marc Bulger as a likely sleeper next year. Sure, he has turned in top ten numbers already this year but he went through a three game lull when he played injured. But overall - what a great season. Bulger has tossed for eight 300 yard efforts this year and has 23 touchdowns. He only threw eight interceptions as well and in the last three weeks had two games over 350 passing yards with at least three scores sandwiching a low effort against the Raiders because he never needed to throw in that shut out. This offense works better than it may seem.

Running Backs: Steven Jackson is responsible for many of the Tomlinson owners losing their championships last week. Jackson has improved as the season wears on and has 12 scores on the season while turning in 277 rushing yards and 102 receiving yards in just the last two games. He's a lock for a top five ranking next year and this offense is still improving.

Wide Receivers: The only disappointment with the Rams offense has been that Torry Holt started the year red hot with seven touchdowns in the first six weeks but only scored three more times in the next nine games. He has only topped 100 yards once since week six and that all goes directly to how much Steven Jackson has been used as a receiver. Isaac Bruce comes off his season best game of nine catches for 148 yards and one score against the Skins but in most weeks he is just a possession guy with just three scores on the year. Like Fitzgerald and Boldin in Arizona, Holt and Bruce have turned in some good games in the last two months but the success of the running backs have limited what they produce. This is now a standard offense that mostly relies on just two wideouts and only after the running back is first considered.

Tight Ends: The rookie Joe Klopfenstein has been used more than any recent tight end in St. Louis but that only means he has one score on the year and a couple of catches most weeks.

Match Against the Defense: The Vikings have an elite rush defense that has never allowed more than 74 rushing yards to any visiting runner and only twice have they allowed a rushing score to a visiting back in Minnesota. Expect low rushing numbers here but Jackson's role as a receiver should maintain at least good fantasy value this week.

Bulger faces a secondary that has worsened as the season progressed and the last four visitors to Minnesota have thrown for at least 339 yards and one score if not up to four. And the game is inside out of the bad weather. Look for a very nice game here from Bulger with at least two scores and healthy yardage that will directly benefit the wideouts.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 6 5 6 26 3 20
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 16 2 31 5 29 28


Minnesota Vikings (6-9)
1 19-16 @WAS 10 17-23 GB
2 16-13 CAR 11 20-24 @MIA
3 16-19 CHI 12 31-26 ARZ
4 12-17 @BUF 13 13-23 @CHI
5 26-17 DET 14 30-20 @DET
6 Open Bye 15 13-26 NYJ
7 31-13 @SEA 16 7-9 @GB
8 7-31 NE 17 --- STL
9 3-9 @SF - MON THU
MIN vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Tavaris Jackson 0 0 170
RB Chester Taylor 130,2 20 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 20 0
WR Troy Williamson 0 50 0
WR Billy McMullen 0 30 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 50 0
PK Ryan Longwell 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Vikings opted to play for the future by switching to the very raw Tavaris Jackson but the early returns are not that encouraging. Outside of Chester Taylor, the offense has been lethargic at best this year and now is struggling through a learning curve for a very green quarterback. Not the way to end the season on a high note but the season is already over.

Quarterback: The Vikings finally made the switch last week to Tavaris Jackson but facing the one of the softest secondaries only resulted in a whopping 50 passing yards and one interception. He only completed ten of 20 passes but ran for 23 yards on five scrambles. That actually is worse than what Brad Johnson had been doing but the Vikings are trying to face the future and that cannot hold much for Johnson. Jackson threw for 177 yards and a score against the Jets in week 15 during trash time.

Running Backs: Blame whomever for the punchless Vikings offense, just don't include Chester Taylor who took his first starting role and turned it into the only weapon that that Vikings had this year. Taylor already has 1185 rushing yards and has rendered Mewelde Moore, Ciatrick Fason and, yes, even Artose Pinner as insignificant in fantasy terms. Pinner had his one surprise game in Detroit against his ex-employers and then just three carries for nine yards in the next two games. Whatever becomes of the offense in the off-season, it will still include Taylor.

Wide Receivers: The Vikings passing game never rose as high as mediocre this year and even then no wideouts were ever used consistently, let alone productively. Travis Taylor was the closest to a decent option and his contract expires at the end of the season. Marcus Robinson had three decent games but missed three weeks injured and never offered anything reliable. Billy McMullen and Bethel Johnson both had a couple of decent catches this year and nothing more. Troy Williamson started the year with butter fingers and ends with the same remarkable ability to run very fast down the field so that he can drop the pass. This has been one of the least productive units in the league and spread out among five players no less. The dink-n-dunk of Childress was more like the dink-n-die.

Tight Ends: Jermaine Wiggins was a non-factor this year with only one touchdown and rarely more than 30 yards in any game.

Match Against the Defense: Expect a very good game here by Chester Taylor against one of the worst rushing defenses in the league. Great yardage and a nice shot at two scores. With the rookie quarterback still struggling, there's even more reason to want to run.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 29 14 22 22 26 3
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 7 31 21 11 17 24