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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 1
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday
Sunday Late
*updated

Prediction: CHI 10, IND 24

Update: Just to allay the fears of every Manning owner, the injury report has Manning listed as probable and he had full practices this week. Both teams should be at full strength for this game. This is the late game on Sunday and is a must watch if only to see how well Marvin Harrison plays. Considering his past role and success in the offense, Harrison is going to prove to either be a complete waste of a draft pick or an absolute steal and likely nothing between the two.

The game would be more competitive a few years back but the Bears fell on hard times in recent seasons while the Colts are trying to maintain the same team that won a Super Bowl. The Bears are still trying to remeber how to make the engine run for the offense while the Colts are striving to never shut down their motor. Played in Indy, this should be a solid win over a Bears team struggling to find an offensive identity.

Chicago Bears (0-0)
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @IND - +9.5 44
2 @CAR - - -
3 TB - - -
4 PHI - - -
5 @DET - - -
6 @ATL - - -
7 MIN - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 DET - - -
10 TEN - - -
11 @GB - - -
12 @STL - - -
13 @MIN - - -
14 JAX - - -
15 NO - - -
16 GB - - -
17 @HOU - - -
CHI at IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton 10   170,1
RB Matt Forte 60 10  
TE Greg Olsen   40  
WR Marty Booker   30  
WR Mark Bradley   20  
WR Devin Hester   50,1  
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Bears come into 2008 with a shot at looking much improved thanks to one of the easier schedules in the NFL. Granted it doesn't start this week but this is a far better stretch of games than the Bears had in 2007. The rushing game will be all new and the team has settled on Kyle Orton at least for now. They did allow both starting wideouts to leave in free agency but the team wants to believe they can win with defense and rushing. Didn't work so well last year.

Quarterback: The quarterback competition ended up with Kyle Orton beating Rex Grossman for the starting role which was amazing since both players have been Bears for years and were not doing anything new. The election to stick with Orton says they do are willing to trade low passing yards for less mistakes. Grossman can rack up some fantasy points but he'll lose the ball a few times along the way. The Bears want safe, effective and somewhat unproductive passing. Orton it is.

Running Backs: Now that the Cedric Benson experiment has been tossed in the waste basket, Matt Forte takes the reins for the rushing attack. The Bears crave a running game like they once had with Thomas "but you dumped me anyway " Jones. They added Kevin Jones for depth on the chance he would be healthy if they ever needed him. Make no mistake - this is Forte's team now and the Bears would love nothing else than to grind him into opposing defenses for the entire game.

Wide Receivers: Surprisingly, the Bears dumped Muhsin Muhammad and the emerging Bernard Berrian in the offseason so that they could pick up Marty " lack of options" Booker and pair him with Mark Bradley and Devin Hester who is intent on showing that great return men can become wide receivers in the NFL despite never playing the position before. It doesn't really matter though. Orton won't throw often, he won't throw that far and he won't throw that well if there is a chance for an interception.

Tight Ends: Greg Olsen does bear some watching as he hits his second year when most tight ends break out. Selected with the 1.31 pick, Olsen had 39 catches for 391 yards and two scores as a rookie and should be poised for much more. Orton may not throw long much, but he can certainly reach a tight end. Desmond Clark remains as well but Olsen is the one with fantasy potential.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears have tried to upgrade the rushing game but the blocking should be little better and Forte was not exactly the first back rolling off draft boards in April. The passing game will be pedestrian even when big gains are needed and playing in Indy is no where to start out strong. Look for a lower effort from all players though Olsen could be marginally interesting. Hester scores if he can just catch one long pass.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 20 25 22 8 7 4
Preventing Fantasy Points IND 3 7 2 5 2 3
Rank Advantage (-31 to 31) CHI -17 -18 -20 -3 -5 1


Indianapolis Colts (0-0)
Homefield: Lucas Oil Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CHI - -9.5 44
2 @MIN - - -
3 JAX - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 @HOU - - -
6 BAL - - -
7 @GB - - -
8 @TEN - - -
9 NE - - -
10 @PIT - - -
11 HOU - - -
12 @SD - - -
13 @CLE - - -
14 CIN - - -
15 DET - - -
16 @JAX - - -
17 TEN - - -
IND vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning     240,2
RB Joseph Addai 90,1 10  
TE Dallas Clark   40,1  
WR Marvin Harrison   40  
WR Reggie Wayne   70,1  
WR Anthony Gonzalez   60  
PK Adam Vinatieri 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Colts fell to the Chargers in the playoffs last January and for the second time in three years, they have a great season then go to the playoffs and lose their first game. Like the Cowboys only with a Super Bowl victory sandwiched in between. The entire cast is returning including Marvin Harrison who broke the heart of every fantasy owner last year. Perhaps the Colts are turning into an every other year sort of team and it's an even-numbered season this time. The Colts learned to live without Harrison, so if he returns it comes as gravy instead of filling a need.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning comes off yet another great season that would have been #1 in most years. But he also is coming off having surgery to remove a bursa sac from his knee. He missed most of the preseason but will play this week. The Colts only left one other quarterback on the roster - they are confident Manning will be okay.

Running Backs: Joseph Addai enters his third season and ranked second for NFL running backs with 15 touchdowns last year. He actually produced almost mirror stats to 2006 other than doubling his number of touchdowns. Dominic Rhodes is back and returns to being the primary backup, The Colts also drafted Mike Hart who will eventually compete for the backup job as well.

The Colts have one of the toughest rushing schedules in the league this year but as long as defenses have worry about Manning, Addai will remain very solid and occasionally spectacular.

Wide Receivers: When Marvin Harrison was injured last year, Reggie Wayne stepped up to become the elite wideout he had always flirted with being. He had 104 catches for 1510 yards which led the league. He also scored 10 times. Anthony Gonzalez had a promising rookie season with 37 catches for 576 yards and four scores that all came in the final four games. With Manning passing, this unit will always garner fantasy attention.

Harrison is slated to play but his role and effectiveness have yet to be really determined and there will always be the lingering fear of injury regardless.

Tight Ends: The loss of Harrison was most compensated for by using Dallas Clark more. He led all NFL tight ends with 11 touchdowns and had 58 receptions for 645 yards. That's all about twice what he did in previous seasons. If Harrison remains broken down, Clark should stay valuable but he could be just as easily replaced if Gonzalez steps up this year.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears defense has declined in recent years thanks in part to an offense that does it no favors. Look for a controlled game here by Manning with no more than two touchdown passes and another score by Addai. The Colts won't go out of their way to blow out the Bears and it's a long season. Look for good but not great numbers to open the season. The Colts won't need anything more to secure the win.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 3 6 13 2 11 11
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 11 30 12 18 14 23
Rank Advantage (-31 to 31) IND 8 24 -1 16 3 12
The Huddle
WEEK 1
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday
Sunday Late
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