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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: SEA 17, NYG 20

Update: Both Bobby Engram and Deion Branch had full practices this week and both will play which will be a huge benefit for Matt Hasselbeck. The question is how rusty the duo will be after such a lengthy absence so starting them this week is a risky. By next week we will know far more how quickly the two can get back to business. I projected the players with this understanding so there is nothing to change but it is very encouraging for the Seahawks to be returning two starting wideouts after the constant talent drain so far this year.

Here's a matchup that would have been the battle of the Titans a few years back but the Seahawks are 1-2 only because they hosted the Rams in week three. The Giants are 3-0 and have an easy schedule for the next three weeks. Both these teams come off their bye week but the Seahawks on the road still are easy enough for the Giants.

Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Homefield: Qwest Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BUF 10-34 +1 39
2 SF 30-33 -8 38.5
3 STL 37-13 -10 44
4 BYE - - -
5 @NYG - +7 43.5
6 GB - - -
7 @TB - - -
8 @SF - - -
9 PHI - - -
10 @MIA - - -
11 ARZ - - -
12 WAS - - -
13 @DAL - - -
14 NE - - -
15 @STL - - -
16 NYJ - - -
17 @ARZ - - -
SEA at NYG Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Hasselbeck     210,2
RB Julius Jones 60 10  
TE John Carlson   20,1  
WR Bobby Engram   60  
WR Deion Branch   50  
WR Billy McMullen   40,1  
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Seahawks have been hit with catastrophic injuries to the wide receiver corps that includes six different players out in just the first three weeks of the season. The offense has scored over 30 points in each of the last two games but those were home stands against just the 49ers and Rams and only accounted for a single win. Matt Hasselbeck is starting out his worst season to date but at least he should see the return of key receivers in the next coming games and that will make a huge difference for a team that is closing out the Mike Holmgren era like it really is time for a change.

Quarterback: Makes completing passes a bit tougher when the starting receivers are literally changing every week. The good news is that they are due to change again because Bobby Engram and Deion Branch are expected back. Matt Hasselbeck hasn't passed for more than 190 yards this year and has two touchdowns against three interceptions. Worst of all, he has a 1-2 record and has already gone through the lightest part of his schedule. The return of Engram and Branch should count huge in this offense that is called on to throw more this year thanks to a softer defense and a rushing game that still needs to prove itself in a road game.

Running Backs: The rushing game has been solid with Julius Jones shouldering the whole load the last two weeks while Maurice Morris healed from a sprained knee. Jones gained a healthy 127 and 140 yards in those last two home games and scored a touchdown in each. But he only had 45 yards on 13 carries in the season debut in Buffalo and hits the road again for only the second time. Morris is expected back this week but his role will be smaller given the recent success of Jones.

Wide Receivers: The Seahawks have already had seven wideouts catch a pass for them this year but all of those can take a backseat now that Deion Branch and Bobby Engram are expected to return. The absence of any decent receiver has forced Hasselbeck to use his rookie tight end John Carlson more but this offense will get much better now that the receivers are back to health. Courtney Taylor will return to the bench and Billy McMullen will man the slot.

Tight Ends: The rookie John Carlson hasn't scored a touchdown yet but he currently leads the team with 12 catches for 168 yards. His role is likely to shrink with the return of Branch and Engram though Carlson should develop into an endzone target.

Match Against the Defense: Julius Jones may have been wildly productive playing at home against the 49ers and Rams but on the road he faces a defense that has only allowed one rushing score. Expect a much more pedestrian game from Jones who won't likely score.

The Giants have only allowed one passing score per game but WAS, STL and CIN were hardly the best offenses in the league nor is Seattle. But the returning players this week should make a difference and I like Hasselbeck to post his first two touchdown game of the year. How that breaks down is a but more risky with Engram and Branch returning to unknown form so take the touchdown assignment here with a grain of salt - they could go anywhere. Best bet is to wait a week before starting these players so you can see what they are like this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 25 1 24 16 3 20
Preventing Fantasy Points    NYG 11 2 22 2 8 1


New York Giants (3-0)
Homefield: Giants Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 WAS 16-7 -3.5 41
2 @STL 41-13 -8.5 41.5
3 CIN 26-23 -13.5 42
4 BYE - - -
5 SEA - -7 43.5
6 @CLE - - -
7 SF - - -
8 @PIT - - -
9 DAL - - -
10 @PHI - - -
11 BAL - - -
12 @ARZ - - -
13 @WAS - - -
14 PHI - - -
15 @DAL - - -
16 CAR - - -
17 @MIN - - -
NYG vs SEA Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning     220,1
RB Brandon Jacobs 80,1 10  
RB Derrick Ward 50 20  
TE Kevin Boss   20  
WR Domenik Hixon   50  
WR Amani Toomer   60  
WR Steve Smith   40,1  
PK Lawrence Tynes 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Giants now stand alone at the top of the NFC East and the schedule could hardly be kinder with upcoming games of SEA, @CLE and SF. It gets much tougher after week seven but the G-Men are almost for sure to be 6-0 heading into Pittsburgh for their first truly tough test. With the Cowboys losing to the Redskins and the Eagles having injury problems with a 2-2 record, the Giants are in clear control of their own destiny this season.

Quarterback: In most seasons, Eli Manning starts out with a relative hot hand before cooling down after mid-season. But this year he only has one game of note when he threw for three scores against the Rams (like everyone else). Otherwise he has only one other touchdown. This should be feast time for Manning having played the Rams and Bengals and with an easy schedule coming up but Plaxico Burress is suspended this week and with him the only receiver that has consistently been Manning's favorite. But again - this cakewalk for the next three weeks probably won't need much passing anyway.

Running Backs: The rushing game remains solid here with Brandon Jacobs averaging 4.9 yards per carry with about 15 to 17 carries most weeks. He has only scored once though and he has been almost no factor as a receiver. Derrick Ward has been given around nine carries each week and he is average 6.8 yards. Ward also has a few catches every game as well. The rushing game has been solid enough to keep the chains moving but has only produced one touchdown. With the last two opponents being the Rams and Bengals, that is rather disappointing.

Ahmad Bradshaw didn't play in week one but had 52 yards and a score on five carries in week two. And then he only had two carries for two yards against the Bengals. So far this year the only time Bradshaw has been getting work is in the one blowout win in St. Louis.

Wide Receivers: Amani Toomer has been good for around 65 yards in the two recent games against easy opponents but he only managed two catches for 12 yards in the Redskins game. Plaxico Burress, as always, has been the primary weapon but he's been suspended for this week by the team for insubordination. He was reported to have been fined "40 to 50" times as a Giant for various infractions and that HC Tom Coughlin finally got tired of it when Burress decided to take last Monday off and then not be reachable by phone. After a grievance hearing, his fine was cut in half but he still will have to miss this week. For an added bonus, there are now questions if Burress failed to report two domestic incidents this summer which could result in an NFL suspension (though unlikely). In his place, Domenik Hixon gets the start and the third-year player has been impressing coaches this year. Hixon already has six catches for 89 yards over the last two games.

Steve Smith had his busiest game when he caught seven passes for 60 yards in week three but he still has not scored this year and will remain the #3 even with Burress out this week.

Tight Ends: Kevin Boss went two games without a catch before finally showing up against the Bengals when he had three receptions for 51 yards and one touchdown. Still far too unreliable for a fantasy start.

Match Against the Defense: The Seahawks have been solid against the run this year but by volume of carries have allowed some yardage. Still, the best any player has managed has only been 76 yards by Lynch though he and Gore have scored against them. Look for one rushing score this week with only moderate rushing yardage.

The Seahawks have allowed one passing score to each opponent and that should fit in here with Manning who has largely been just average this season, especially considering that Burress is out this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NYG 10 8 10 23 1 14
Preventing Fantasy Points    SEA 15 11 20 10 30 31

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
Game Recaps
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