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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CLE
Monday
NYJ
OAK
*updated
STL

Prediction: CHI 20, DET 23

Update: Brandon Lloyd has been ruled out this week because of his knee and that is a bad thing for the Bears since he alone was the productive one in the passing game. Just to make this a little worse, Marty Booker who would have replaced Lloyd is also questionable with a knee problem and will be a gametime decision. Booker was held out of practice until Friday when he only had limited participation. That only strengthens my position that the Lions could pull an upset here. I am lowering the numbers for Booker and he may not play.

Roy Williams has his own knee sprain this week but returned to full practice and will play against replacement CB Corey Graham who is subbing for Nate Vasher. That should pay off for Williams who has been vocal about his lack of passes.

The Lions swept the Bears last year, winning 37-27 at home and later 16-7 in Chicago. But this year they are 0-3 and the only excitement to be found is from finally firing Matt Millen. The Bears are 2-2 and were only seven total points from being 4-0. The defense has played well considering the tough schedule and the offense has shown a new spark. It's hard to fathom that the Lions could beat the Bears three times in a row but the situation is ripe for it to happen.

Chicago Bears (2-2)
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @IND 29-13 +9.5 44
2 @CAR 17-20 +3 37
3 TB 24-27 -3 35.5
4 PHI 24-20 +3 45
5 @DET - -3.5 44.5
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 DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Kyle Orton     200,1
RB Matt Forte 90,1 40  
TE Greg Olsen   30,1  
WR Marty Booker GTD 40  
WR Rashied Davis   40  
WR Devin Hester   50  
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: It was a nice win over the Eagles last week and the schedule lightens up for the next month which should get the Bears to a winning record by the bye in week eight. The passing game has vastly improved from the start of the season with five passing scores in the last two weeks but both of those were at home. The rushing game has been in decline but should pick back up in the coming weeks with lesser defenses to face.

Quarterback: Kyle Orton comes off his best game of the year when he passed for 199 yards and three touchdowns against the visiting Eagles last Sunday. And he threw for 268 yards and two scores the previous week against the Buccaneers but he also had two interceptions in both games and lost two fumbles last week. That makes five passing scores at home and zero in the two road games that opened the year. Orton never passed for more than 150 yards in those games as well though the rushing of Matt Forte was a big feature of those matchups.

Griese was the starter both times they faced the Lions last season and he passed for 286 yards and two scores in Detroit and later 208 yards and one score at home.

Running Backs: Matt Forte comes off his worst game of the year when he only gained 43 yards on 19 carries but still added 42 yards on five receptions. As a rookie on what was expected to be a bad offense, he has been a tremendous surprise. He only has one game over 100 rushing yards but has averaged 124 yards each week thanks to being a good receiver as well. He rarely shares any carries and has become a most fortuitous pick up in fantasy drafts. And that all came with the schedule being tougher than it is now turning.

In both games against the Lions last year, Cedric Benson rushed for exactly 50 yards and never scored.

Wide Receivers: Even with the improved passing numbers in recent games, there still is no reliable consistency in these wideouts. Brandon Lloyd has the only big game (124 yards) and only came up with two catches for 33 yards against the Eagles thanks to an injury. Devin Hester scored last week but only has five receptions on the year for 40 yards. Marty Booker scored last week on his only catch which now gives him a beefy three receptions on the season. Lloyd has been the only tempting fantasy play here but last week showed that even he was not going to be worthy of a fantasy start because of the risk he'll flop in the one game you need him.

Lloyd left the last game with a large brace on his knee but his status is not certain. I will assume that he is out this week until he can practice and be cleared. Booker will take his spot and Rashied Davis will get more playing time.

Tight Ends: Greg Olsen actually led all receivers last week with four catches for 35 yards and his first touchdown of the year. That also represents his best game of the year and only time he has turned in more than two catches per week. He was better last year. In both meetings with the Lions in 2007, the Bears threw a touchdown to a tight end. Clark had seven catches for 44 yards and a score in Detroit and later Olsen turned in six receptions for 59 yards and his score at home.

Match Against the Defense: The Lions have been horrible at stopping the run though only away from Detroit. In the one home game, they held Ryan Grant to just 20 yards on 15 carries though he had a sore hamstring in that game. Away from home had Turner and Gore racking up the yardage. Look for a good game here by Forte that could end up a big one with receptions figured in.

Orton faces a secondary that ranks among the worst in the league and that is in addition to being one of the worst against the run as well. Orton won't have a huge passing game here but he should have at least one passing score and possibly two. The huge problem is if Lloyd does miss the game. That makes this passing attack look very mediocre - even in Detroit.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 18 14 21 15 17 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    DET 28 30 30 20 27 32


Detroit Lions (0-3)
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @ATL 21-34 -3 41
2 GB 25-48 +3 45
3 @SF 13-31 +4 46
4 BYE - - -
5 CHI - +3.5 44.5
6 @MIN - - -
7 @HOU - - -
8 WAS - - -
9 @CHI - - -
10 JAX - - -
11 @CAR - - -
12 TB - - -
13 TEN - - -
14 MIN - - -
15 @IND - - -
16 NO - - -
17 @GB - - -
DET vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna     240,2
RB Rudi Johnson 70 40  
TE Michael Gaines   10  
WR Roy Williams   50,1  
WR Calvin Johnson   80,1  
WR Shaun McDonald   40  
PK Jason Hanson 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The departure of Matt Millen doesn't really have a direct impact on this year other than it is a constant distraction that is now gone. But at 0-3 that's about all that has gone right so far and there's already grumbling by players on the team like Roy Williams complaining he doesn't get enough passes (agreed) and Jon Kitna who has questioned the overall philosophy of the offense all the while playing badly enough that some fans are calling for him to be benched (disagree). But the bye week is useful to try to make adjustments to what hasn't been working and that may include the rookie running back Kevin Smith who may have already been passed by Rudi Johnson.

One note - the Lions have won four of the last five games following a bye week and the only loss was on the road. Then again, the Lions are allowing an average of 37 points per game.

Quarterback: After three games, Jon Kitna has thrown for at least one score every week and has five touchdowns on the year but also has five interceptions and he's been sacked 12 times. The last two games have been right at only a 50% completion rate and more than anything - the Lions are 0-3. There are already calls for second-year player Drew Stanton to start but he was on injured reserve all last season and only has two exhibition games played so far. The Lions are not willing to throw away the season to see what Stanton can do... at least not yet.

Kitna passed for 247 yards and two scores against the visiting Bears last year and later had 268 yards and no touchdowns in Chicago. He never threw an interception but was sacked ten times over those two games.

Running Backs: Kevin Smith has not been that effective with only 102 yards on 29 carries and after only three runs last week, the Lions gave Rudi Johnson a shot, He carried 14 times for 83 yards and had 48 yards on three receptions with one touchdown. Smith gets to cool his heels and it is all but certain the split will go heavier to Johnson and if he continues to outplay Smith, then he would remain the primary back and Smith could really see a major decrease in use. Johnson has already been named the starter this week.

The Lions rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries between Tatum Bell and Kevin Jones when the Bears visited in 2007 and Jones had one touchdown. Later Jones would rush 23 times for 105 yards and one score in Chicago.

Wide Receivers: After starting the season with two games over 100 yards and scoring twice, Calvin Johnson fell to only four catches for 40 yards in San Francisco despite being thrown ten passes. Roy Williams has never had more than seven passes thrown to him and so far has topped out at a paltry three catches for 48 yards. After three games last year, Williams had scored every week and had already topped 100 yards twice and 200 yards once. The new passing attack seems little more than throw to Johnson and defenses appear to have figured that out in the last game.

When the Bears visited in 2007, both Shaun McDonald (3-31) and Troy Walters (2-36) had touchdowns while Williams only managed 53 yards on six catches and Johnson was out injured.

Tight Ends: The Lions rarely thrown to the tight ends more than once per game. No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Bears rushing defense has not allowed more than 77 yards to any runner and Johnson will have a tough time getting enough carries to challenge that. Expect him to not score and have only moderate yardage unless he again acts as a receiver.

Kitna could really use a good game and the Bears secondary has allowed over 250 passing yards and a score in three of four games this year. Look for decent yardage and two scores here that could be split between Williams and Johnson unless McDonald catches one.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 11 28 11 19 21 32
Preventing Fantasy Points    CHI 16 8 28 19 19 24

The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CLE
Monday
NYJ
OAK
STL
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
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