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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 3
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
*updated

Prediction: TB 10, CHI 20

The Buccaneers come off a solid home win over the Falcons but the Bears lost in Carolina after winning at Indianapolis. This is the home opener for the Bears who were the only NFL team that started with two road games. The Bears may only be 1-1 but were thoroughly impressive in both games. Back at home they'll put up a far better defense than the Saints did when they beat the visiting Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NO 20-24 +3.5

42.5

2 ATL 24-9 -8 38.5
3 @CHI - +3 35.5
4 GB - - -
5 @DEN - - -
6 CAR - - -
7 SEA - - -
8 @DAL - - -
9 @KC - - -
10 BYE - - -
11 MIN - - -
12 @DET - - -
13 NO - - -
14 @CAR - - -
15 @ATL - - -
16 SD - - -
17 OAK - - -
TBB at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese     150,1
RB Earnest Graham 50 10  
RB Warrick Dunn 30 20  
TE Alex Smith   30,1  
WR Antonio Bryant   30  
WR Ike Hilliard   40  
WR Michael Clayton   20  
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The formula hasn't changed in Tampa Bay since the days of Tony Dungy - great defense and a sound rushing game makes the pass just a last resort. While Jeff Garcia is still on the mend - and likely even after - Brian Griese is back as the starter in Tampa Bay and he's hoped to be a better game manager than the often injured Garcia. Playing at home against the Falcons made the offense look that much better but the next month will be a far bigger challenge.

Quarterback: Brian Griese took his first start since his return to the Bucs and even though he only faced the Falcons, he completed only 18 of 31 passes for 160 yards and one score. The need to throw more wasn't there in a game they handily won and Griese will need to get on the same page with his receivers with a tough stretch of the schedule looming. The potential loss or limiting of Joey Galloway from injury would but deeply into the passing scheme here.

Running Backs: The rushing attack has been solid for the first two weeks and why shouldn't it? They faced the Saints and Falcons. Earnest Graham has rushed for 207 yards on 25 carries so far this year for a healthy 8.3 yard per carry average thanks to a 68-yard run in New Orleans and a 46-yard dash last week. Warrick Dunn has only rushed 21 times but has gained 103 yards for a 5.0 yard average. Both runners scored last week but when they face a tougher defense - say this week in Chicago - getting no more than 15 carries in a game won't be producing many fantasy points.

Wide Receivers: With Brian Griese under center, the Buccaneers had no pressing need to throw with the Falcons visiting and the numbers were low all around. Antonio Bryant is the new "David Boston" since he has a ton of talent and ego that worked one season in the past and now just strings him along on potential. Bryant had great reviews in training camp and became a starter. And Griese missed him on all three passes last Sunday. Joey Galloway only caught two for 18 yards and sprained his foot. He's been on crutches and may not play this week. Unless he is cleared for practice, I will assume he will miss this week.

Tight Ends: In true Buccaneers fashion, Griese threw a score last week and it went to a tight end. But not Alex Smith who never gets more than two catches a game, it went to little-used John Gilmore. No fantasy value here, at least not reliable value.

Match Against the Defense: So far no team has played in Chicago this year and the Bears like most teams play better at home than on the road. And the Bears come off playing the Colts and Panthers who both have far better offenses than the Bucs. Jonathan Stewart had two scores and several nice runs against the Bears last week but Addai only had 44 yards. Graham and Dunn are going to job share anyway so don't expect even moderate fantasy numbers here. Either could break a long run but that is the only way their yardage would become more than minimal.

Griese will be pressed to throw at some point in the game and having a gimpy Galloway - if he even plays - won't be conducive to catching up on the scoreboard. I'll credit Griese with one touchdown pass that would favor a tight end slightly but even that may not happen. The Bears are having a homecoming and appear much improved for 2008.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 20 7 21 9 17 5
Preventing Fantasy Points    CHI 6 10 17 6 20 7


Chicago Bears (1-1)
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @IND 29-13 +9.5 44
2 @CAR 17-20 +3 37
3 TB - -3 35.5
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 vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     150
RB Matt Forte 110,1 20  
TE Greg Olsen   20  
WR Marty Booker   30  
WR Brandon Lloyd   40  
WR Devin Hester   10  
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Bears beat the Colts and then had a 17-3 lead over the Panthers before being unable to score or even get a first down for most of the second half. The defense has been impressive though and with two road games out of the way, the Bears get a well earned two week stretch at home. As the schedule would have it, the Bears have four of their toughest games all start their season before easing up and Tampa Bay is the easiest of the four. These Bears are better this year and it all starts with defense. One small problem here though. Devin Hester suffered a rib injury last Sunday and may be limited or not play this week. That would not effect the offense much but the return game would take an obvious hit.

Quarterback: Nothing like consistency. After two games, Kyle Orton has passed for 150 and 149 yards with no scores or turnovers. He's only been sacked three times and acts as the game manager that HC Lovie Smith wanted and that all of fantasy football could do without. Chances are decent that he may have to wait until week five in Detroit to actually pass for a touchdown.

Running Backs: The rookie Matt Forte has gone through two very tough games and been used exactly the same in both. He had 23 carries and three catches in each games with 123 yards in Indianapolis and 92 yards in Carolina. He scored against the Colts as well. Week three and Forte gets his first taste of running in front of his own fans. Kevin Jones was given 13 carries in week one but only one rush last week in an even tougher game. This not only remains Forte's team, he is doing exactly the same thing every week.

Wide Receivers: Devin Hester injured his ribs last week and as of this writing his prognosis is not known. But Hester only has two catches for 13 yards over two games and he's not exactly an offensive superstar anyway. No wideout here has scored or had more than 26 yards except for Brandon Lloyd who is averaging a team high 46 yards per game. No shred of fantasy value here. I will assume that Hester shows up for his one catch this week and remove him if he cannot play.

Tight Ends: There is actually more use of the tight ends than the wideouts for the Bears and Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen both have two catches in each game. Unfortunately Olsen lost a fumble during both his catches last week so he may be limited to just one reception against the Bucs. No fantasy value here either.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers rush defense allowed the Saints to gain 103 yards on 24 carries but that was when the defense also had a passing game to worry about. The Buccaneers also tend to play much better at home than on the road so look for Matt Forte to get more than 23 carries and three catches this week. A homecoming game will be even harder fought so expect a nice yardage game from Forte with a touchdown as well.

Orton can be relied on to just manage the game and these are essentially different versions of the same team. He likely won't throw for a score here and have only his traditional minimal passing yards. I do like the Bears to score a defensive touchdown in this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 31 9 30 14 15 6
Preventing Fantasy Points    TB 23 16 23 8 19 3

The Huddle
WEEK 3
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
 
Other Features
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Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
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