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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday night
On Bye
CIN, MIN
Monday
OAK, PHI
*updated

Prediction: CLE 13, NE 34

The Browns have yet to be favored in a game and yet are 2-2 on the season with an offense that has become surprisingly good with Derek Anderson. The Patriots though have never been underdogs yet this year and may very well never be. The Browns have perhaps the worst pass defense - enough said.

Update: Laurence Maroney was limited in practice both Wednesday and Thursday just as he was last week when he was a game time inactive. These are the Patriots and that could happen again this week - such is the beauty of relying on a New England player who is not 100%. By the same token, Tom Brady is always on the injury report every week and hasn't missed a game so there is no reliance on any information by design since the Patriots intentionally try to cloak their intentions if not give false impressions. Because of the risk that still exists this week, I am downgrading Maroney in what would be a dream match-up for him if he is healthy. Fortunately, this is in the early games and you can know prior to kickoff if he is active. What that means will be less reliable but this should be a fairly easy game for the Patriots and a good place to rest Maroney if he cannot play 100% and save him for playing in Dallas next week. The highest probability here is to play Morris and sit Maroney.

Donte Stallworth has also been limited in practice but played last week so I am not changing his projection.

Cleveland Browns (2-2)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 PIT 7-34 +4.5 37
2 CIN 51-45 +7 41.5
3 @OAK 24-26 +3 40.5
4 BAL 27-13 +4 40
5 @NE   +17 48
6 MIA 14-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
7 BYE - - -
8 @STL 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 SEA 4-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
10 @PIT 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @BAL 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 HOU 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 @ARI 2-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
14 @NYJ 9-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
15 BUF 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 @CIN 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 SF 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
CLE at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson     210,1
RB Jamal Lewis 40    
TE Kellen Winslow   90  
WR Braylon Edwards   80,1  
WR Joe Jurevicius   20  
WR Josh Cribbs   10  
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: Never before has a 2-2 record been met with such unadulterated glee. The Browns not only beat the Bengals and the Ravens, but they did so in decisive manner. Even the loss to the Raiders came by only two points or these Browns would by 3-1 on the season. That remarkable fact aside, the Browns have lost their only road game this year and started the season out with three home games in the first four weeks. The best they can hope for this week is for the Patriots to try to mail in the game as they prepare for the Cowboys in week six.

Quarterback: After four weeks, Derek Anderson continues to make Brady Quinn just a footnote to the 2007 season. He comes off a 204 yard effort against the Ravens that had two touchdowns. That's probably high side what to expect in most games but Anderson has shown the ability to connect with Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow far better than Charlie Fry ever did. The defense still does no favors for the team but at least it prompts Anderson to keep passing. The schedule still is very tough in the coming weeks though and eventually Quinn will get his shot but based on the first month of the year, Quinn gets the rare year to season before he will play.

Running Backs: No doubt that Jamal Lewis extracted pleasure from beating his old team last week and though Lewis did score once, he only gained 64 yards on 23 carries. Over the last two weeks, he's only managed to gain 120 yards on 38 carries for his standard three yard average but with the passing game clicking, his fantasy value is held up because he has been getting some goal line carries.

Wide Receivers: After week one, Braylon Edwards looked like he was going to be a flop this year in a bad offense. Three weeks later he has four touchdowns and never less than 83 yards per week thanks to the switch to Anderson as quarterback. And it is not like the secondary has any other wideout to worry about since Joe Jurevicius never has more than four catches or 44 yards in a game so far this season. But - Jurevicius is finally being used as a tall presence in the endzone and already has three scores this year. This unit will always be about Edwards but opponents cannot forget about Jurevicius near the goal line.

Tight Ends: Kellen Winslow barely practiced last week because of his partially dislocated shoulder and he always has some knee discomfort but credit him with playing through the pain and remaining one of the best tight ends in the game. Winslow has never had less than 83 yards in any game this year though he has only scored once. Even playing hurt against the Ravens he still turned in 96 yards on four catches. If Winslow would just turn up the scoring, he would rival Gates.

Match Against the Defense: For all the good that the Browns have seen this year, this will be their worst match-up of the year unless the Patriots try to mail in this game. Regardless of what transpires, it is very safe to say that Lewis is a poor fantasy play this week against a rush defense that has dominated opponents and usually do not even allow them to run more than 15 times per game because they are so far behind. Forget about Lewis this week.

Anderson is going against a secondary that once again has been outstanding this year. No team has thrown for more than 234 yards and that was from Palmer in Cincy on Monday night. The best that Anderson can hope here is for the Patriots to not take this game seriously and be preparing to play in Dallas next week. Whatever Anderson gets here will largely be trash time production, so he could end up with moderate numbers this week but the Patriots have a top ten defense in every positional category this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 5 16 8 4 9 19
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 6 5 8 15 2 1

 

New England Patriots (4-0)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NYJ 38-14 -6.5 40.5
2 SD 38-14 -3 47
3 BUF 38-7 -16.5 41
4 @CIN 34-13 -7.5 41
5 CLE   -17 48
6 @DAL 14-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
7 @MIA 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 WAS 28-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
9 @IND 4-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
10 BYE - - -
11 @BUF 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 PHI 25-Nov SUN 8:15 PM
13 @BAL 3-Dec MON 8:30 PM
14 PIT 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 NYJ 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 MIA 23-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
17 @NYG 29-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
NEP vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     300,3
RB Laurence Maroney 40 10  
RB Sammy Morris 80,1 20  
TE Ben Watson   20  
WR Randy Moss   110,2  
WR Donte Stallworth   60  
WR Wes Welker   80,1  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: After a month of playing, we are still waiting for the Patriots to be even remotely challenged this year. They have yet to win by less than 21 points and have not scored less than 34 points in any game. This week is the final tune-up before heading into Dallas for what should at least be a game that is not over by halftime. The passing game is the most deadly in the NFL now and Randy Moss has richly rewarded every fantasy team that took the chance on him. The only concern here is that the Patriots are coming off a big win in Cincinnati and may want to mail in a game but that is unlikely since the Cheat-Gate is still fresh enough to make the team want to show they are winning on talent.

Quarterback: After four weeks, Tom Brady still has yet to have a game with less than three passing scores and he's rolling up big yardage without looking like he is really trying. And now he goes against the worst secondary in the NFL. Consider him a start this week and you may not need the rest of your lineup to win.

Running Backs: Belichick may have been caught with the surveillance equipment but that hasn't stopped him from his bastardization of the injury report. Laurence Maroney was inactive for the Monday night game because of a sore groin. He was limited in practice just the same as Tom Brady was last week. And yet - inactive. Welcome to why drafting a Patriot player outside of Brady and now Moss is a lesson in frustration. No different than any year and yet it still catches fantasy owners. Sammy Morris had a big game without Maroney around and gained 117 yards and one touchdown. This week I will project for both Maroney and Morris to play but with the Dallas game looming, the Pats could opt to hold Maroney out again this week.

Wide Receivers: Wes Welker finally had a down game with only three catches for 22 yards on Monday night but he's been good for at least 60 yards in every other game. Randy Moss now has topped 100 yards in his first four games with his new team which sets another NFL record owned by Moss. He's been ridiculously productive so far with seven touchdowns on the season and already 31 catches on the year. He has 495 yards in four games. That's all a pace that would end with 124 catches for 1980 yards and 28 touchdowns. That cannot happen if only because the Pats are going to lock down the AFC East by mid-season and can give their star players the month of December off to rest..

Tight Ends: Ben Watson finally comes off a game without a touchdown and he only had two catches for 12 yards against the Bengals but his three scores on the year trails only Dallas Clark.

Match Against the Defense: Let's be serious here. The Patriots could score 60+ points on this defense if they felt the need but knowing that they can win will keep the score a bit more reasonable. Look for one rushing score here with decent yardage split between Maroney and Morris but if Maroney opts out again, then Morris will have another big game.

Brady faces the same secondary that gave Palmer six touchdowns and Roethlisberger had four to start the year. Expect more of the same from this crew only with Welker getting back into the endzone this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 2 5 3 9 5 7
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 32 23 32 29 32 17

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