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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
 
The Huddle
Wildcard
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Saturday
Saturday
Sunday
Sunday
4:30 P.M. EST
8 P.M. EST
1 P.M. EST
4:30 P.M. EST
NBC
NBC
FOX
CBS

Prediction: NYG 23, TB 20

This should be a competitive game though no one believes either team is likely to go much further beyond this week. The Giants are 7-1 on the road this year and come off a great effort against the Patriots. The Buccaneers are 6-2 at home and haven't played a full game with starters for weeks. This game hinges on the play of the Tampa Bay defense and Eli Manning. If either have a sub-par game, their team will lose.

New York Giants (10-6)
Homefield: Giants Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @DAL 35-45 +5.5 44
2 GB 13-35 -2.5 38.5
3 @WAS 24-17 +3.5 40.5
4 PHI 16-3 +2.5 47
5 NYJ 35-24 -3 41
6 @ATL 31-10 -3 43.5
7 SF 33-15 -9.5 40
8 @MIA 13-10 -9.5 48
9 BYE - - -
10 DAL 20-31 +1.5 49
11 @DET 16-10 -2.5 49.5
12 MIN 17-41 -7 41
13 @CHI 21-16 -1.5 43
14 @PHI 16-13 +3 42.5
15 WAS 16-22 -4.5 40
16 @BUF 38-21 -3 34.5
17 NE 35-38 +14.5 44
P1 @TB   +3 39.5
NYG at TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning     210,1
RB Brandon Jacobs 100,1 20  
TE Kevin Boss   40  
WR Plaxico Burress   50,1  
WR Amani Toomer   60  
WR Steve Smith   30  
PK Lawrence Tynes 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Giants may have fallen short in their quest to knock off the Patriots but put in an impressive effort in the close loss. Hopefully that will not leave them flat this week and should be a shot of confidence since they played so well against the NFL's best team. The loss of Jeremy Shockey had little effect last week and the offense was moving better than perhaps anytime this year. Throw in that the Giants have been playing well on the road this year and they have a very realistic shot at winning this game.

Quarterback: Eli Manning had been falling into his old pattern of sliding at the end of the season and he had never thrown more than one score in a game since week seven but then came last week. Against the Patriots, Manning completed 22 of 32 passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns with only one interception (which proved all too critical). But he played a great game, make no mistake. To the point where we all wondered where that Eli had been the last two months. This week will be on him again and provides a solid opportunity to build upon the newfound respect he gained last week... and not just slip back into more of the old Manning.

Running Backs: As long as he remains healthy, Brandon Jacobs has been a very productive runner this year... as long he remains healthy. Jacobs missed all or part of six games this year but has five efforts over 100 rushing yards including two during road games.. In Buffalo, he rushed for a season high 143 yards and two scores but was held to just 67 yards on 15 carries against the Pats last week. He's been well over four yards per carry in all but the Philly game and when healthy he gets all the carries with almost no sharing.

Wide Receivers: The search for a successor to Amani Toomer or even just a decent slot receiver hasn't gone that well this year. Steve Smith was impressive in training camp but then was injured in week two for the next ten games. He has made little difference so far. Sinorice Moss has played better this year but has never scored and never had more than 53 yards in a game. He also may miss this week as he did last game because of a back injury.

Plaxico Burress is one of those frustrating fantasy players because he can disappear in some games and yet shine in others, sometimes in consecutive weeks. He had two scores and 84 yards against the Pats but only 41 yards and no touchdowns over the previous two weeks. He gained 136 yards and a score in week 14 but only 36 yards the previous week. He's been slightly more productive at home but his best two efforts came in road games.

Tight Ends: One week as the starting tight end and Kevin Boss did what Jeremy Shockey couldn't do in his last five games - score a touchdown. Boss tuned in four catches for 50 yards and one score against the Pats. He had a touchdown in week 15 as well so while he is unlikely to have a big yardage game, he can get the points. And besides, even Shockey hadn't been doing much in the last month anyway.

Match Against the Defense: This game is almost certain to be the lowest total points of the weekend. The Bucs are #1 at stopping both quarterbacks and tight ends so that will mean Jacobs has a very big role to play this week. This game comes down to mainly defense and rushing for both sides so expect Jacobs to turn in a good game here because he should be getting 25+ carries. He should manage at least one rushing score as well.

Manning has to eliminate mistakes because that will be the primary reason the Giants lose if he starts tossing interceptions. If Manning throws for more than 200 or so yards, it will be in desperation and will lead to mistakes. I like him to throw for one touchdown against a team that has only allowed five touchdowns by visiting teams this year. That likely favors Burress the most since he is the obvious preference of Manning but the Bucs have only allowed two visiting wideouts to score - and both were tall (Matt Jones and Marques Colston). This all depends on which Manning shows up but the Giants have always played better on the road this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points
NYG
17
5
19
13
19
7
Preventing Fantasy Points
TB
1
21
1
10
4
5

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SEA 6-20 +6 41
2 NO 31-14 +3.5 41.5
3 STL 24-3 -4 38.5
4 @CAR 20-7 +3 39
5 @IND 14-33 +9 45
6 TEN 13-10 -2.5 37
7 @DET 16-23 +1.5 43
8 JAC 23-24 +4 32.5
9 ARI 17-10 -3.5 37
10 BYE - - -
11 @ATL 31-7 -3 35
12 WAS 19-13 -3.5 37.5
13 @NO 27-23 +3 42
14 @HOU 14-28 +1 40.5
15 ATL 37-3 -10 39
16 @SF 13-20 +13 44.5
17 CAR 23-31 -2.5 36
P1 NYG   -3 39.5
TBB vs NYG Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia     210,1
RB Earnest Graham 80,1 10  
TE Jerramy Stevens   30  
WR Joey Galloway   70,1  
WR Ike Hilliard   50  
WR Michael Clayton   40  
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: This should be interesting since the Buccaneers wound down their season against some rather below average teams and hasn't played anyone with a winning record since week eight when they lost to the visiting Jaguars. The defense has been the saving grace here with the offense limited to Earnest Graham and occasionally Joey Galloway but there hasn't been much in recent weeks to prepare the Bucs for going against a playoff quality team.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia took last week off but is ready to take his new team to the playoffs. He's been the steady hand that the offense needed even if that hasn't translated into a feared passing game or even any real threat for him to run. But he doesn't make mistakes. He has only thrown an interception in two games this year and acts more like a game manager. With only 13 passing scores in 12 full games played, he's not likely to mount many come from behind efforts but as long as the defense and rushing game keep up their end, Garcia has been a refreshing change that never is the reason why the Bucs lose.

Running Backs: Earnest Graham was one of the best fantasy free agent running backs this year (and you are lying if you pretend you drafted him) and he has scored ten touchdowns on the season and gained 898 rushing yards and 324 receiving yards. Not bad for a week three free agent. He has been central to the Buccaneers offense this year and has carried up to 34 times in a game. But he's sitting right at 4.0 yards per carry and that was thanks mostly to games against the Lions and Saints that jumped up his average. He's a solid, average sort of back that needs a higher volume of carries to have a big game and had three games top 100 rushing yards this year.

His role as a receiver varied greatly from game to game but when he wasn't facing the Lions, Falcons or Saints, he rarely factored in much in the passing game. He wasn't relied on more when the defenses were better, he actually had lower games.

Wide Receivers: The Buccaneers wideouts have never been much more than Joey Galloway. Of the eight touchdowns caught by a wide receiver, six went to Galloway and one each to Ike Hilliard and Maurice Stovall. Since week seven, no other wideout besides Galloway has caught a touchdown or had more than 70 yards in a game. Galloway had three games over 100 yards and while two went in the meetings with the Saints, he did had 115 yards against the Jaguars so it is not impossible for him to have a good game against a good defense. It's just sort of rare. If the Bucs do need to pass, it always starts with Galloway.

Hilliard missed last week with a knee injury but is expected to play on Sunday.

Tight Ends: With a total of nine scores, the tight ends are actually more productive than the wideouts for the Buccaneers and in particular, Jerramy Stevens has been very big in the last three games with a total of four touchdowns. Alex Smith has never been much more than a blocking tight end with the occasional catch and even rare score but Stevens has been a big factor for the last three weeks.

Match Against the Defense: So long as Tony Romo or Tom Brady are not involved, the Giants secondary has been very good this year and kept half of their opponents below 200 passing yards. Almost all teams score once against the secondary but few manage more than one. That fits into the game manager mentality of Garcia who should have around 200 yards and one score - that's right where he typically falls. I'll credit it to Galloway but it could go to Stevens just as easily.

The Giants rushing defense has given up ten scores but only three runners topped 100 rushing yards against them. With Graham good for around four yards per carry, he'll need at least 25 carries here to top the century mark though he should manage one touchdown.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points
TB
16
8
21
12
10
14
Preventing Fantasy Points
NYG
17
15
17
21
9
20

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