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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: TB 20, DEN 27

Update: Joey Galloway remains out with his sprained foot and did not practice at all this week. He may not be ready to play next week either and is considered out indefinitely. Antonio Bryant takes his place again this week.

Both teams enter this 3-1 but the Broncos are the surprise after laying down for the Chiefs last week which was something that no one thought was possible. The line has this game close and the Tampa Bay defense has been good but played in Denver by an embarrassed Broncos team should post a solid win to get back on track.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1)
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 27-24 +3 35.5
4 GB 30-21 -1.5 43
5 @DEN - +3 48
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 DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Griese     200,2
RB Earnest Graham 60 10  
RB Warrick Dunn 40 20  
TE Alex Smith   30,1  
WR Antonio Bryant   60,1  
WR Ike Hilliard   40  
WR Michael Clayton   20  
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: After starting out with a loss in New Orleans, the Buccaneers switched to Brian Griese as the starting quarterback and haven't lost a game yet. The defense hasn't been nearly as dominating giving up around 20 points per week but the offense has yet to score less than 20 points. The rushing game wavers between outstanding and out to lunch but the team now has a passing attack when needed and has thrown at least one score in every game this year.

Quarterback: That monster 407 yard, two touchdown effort that Brian Griese stamped on his old team wasn't the start of an aerial show by the Buccaneers since he was right back in the familiar territory of 221 yards and one score against the Packers.And Griese hasn't been without his own mistakes either when he threw three interception in both of the most recent games. He's gotten away with it so far but the schedule is pretty daunting from here on out and Griese needs to limit the turnovers. Those interceptions are giving Jeff Garcia a reason to be ready and HC Jon Gruden admitted that Garcia would come back into play if Griese continues to give the ball away.

Running Backs: Earnest Graham has two games with over 100 rushing yards though last week it all came late in the second half after being stuffed in the first half against the Bears. There is one consistency with Graham - he had his two 100 rushing yard games and both touchdowns came in the two home games. When he was on the road, Graham has not scored and has been much less effective. Warrick Dunn has followed much the same path only with fewer yards and just one score. Graham had a season high 20 carries against the Packers but has been limited to only 12 carries in road games.

The Buccaneers are always going to prefer to run first, but on the road as will be this week, the passing has to step up.

Wide Receivers: Joey Galloway has missed two games with a sprained foot and is not a given this week. He hasn't practiced and will need to get in some work by Friday to be considered for this game. I will assume that he is not playing this week.

Antonio Bryant came off his big ten catch, 138 yard effort in Chicago when he replaced Galloway but last week only had four receptions for 39 yards which still was a team high. So far around 50 yards is the most you can expect to get from a Buccaneers wideout other than the one game by Bryant.

Tight Ends: That big game by Jerramy Stevens when he had 61 yards and a touchdown was followed by a game with no catches so the Buccaneer tight ends remain as inconsistent as ever. Alex Smith caught his first touchdown of the year last Sunday and John Gilmore had one back in week two. You have better things to do than guess which Tampa Bay tight end might score in any given week.

Match Against the Defense: There is the Denver rushing defense that stuffed all opponents for three weeks and then there was the one last week that gave up 198 yards and two scores to Larry Johnson. Look for the old Denver defense to show up here and keep the Buccaneers to barely moderate rushing numbers and no scores.

Griese will need to throw and Denver always allows at least one passing score. Look for likely two scores that which should favor Hilliard and a tight end the most. There is a chance that the passing game could accelerate here but without Galloway it's much too hard to rely on. I will give Alex Smith the tight end score but it could end up with any of the three they regularly use.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 15 15 20 5 11 2
Preventing Fantasy Points    DEN 30 31 18 27 21 11


Denver Broncos (3-1)
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @OAK 41-14 -3 41.5
2 SD 39-38 +1.5 45.5
3 NO 34-32 -5.5 51.5
4 @KC 19-33 -9.5 46.5
5 TB - -3 48
6 JAX - - -
7 @NE - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 MIA - - -
10 @CLE - - -
11 @ATL - - -
12 OAK - - -
13 @NYJ - - -
14 KC - - -
15 @CAR - - -
16 BUF - - -
17 @SD - - -
DEN vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     310,3
RB Michael Pittman 20 30  
RB Selvin Young 60 20  
TE Tony Scheffler   30  
WR Eddie Royal   70,1  
WR Brandon Stokley   40  
WR Brandon Marshall   110,2  
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: That one is going to leave a mark. The Broncos were 3-0 and looking good before surrendering to the French Chiefs in a game where they were bulldozed by Larry Johnson. The lack of a dominating ground game came back to hurt them and for once Jay Cutler wasn't enough to secure the shootout win. The Denver defense has been uncharacteristically bad this year but it had been facing high powered offenses. Last week it went against one of the worst and yet still surrendered 33 points. This week will be the best defense the Broncos have yet faced which should make this a bigger chore to win.

Quarterback: Though he passed for two interceptions and only one score, Jay Cutler comes off his third 300 yard game of the year and has averaged almost 320 passing yards each week. He already has nine passing touchdowns on the year and with a defense that has been inexplicably bad, every week is ending up as a shootout. And that's just fine for every fantasy owner.

Running Backs: Maybe when Ryan Torain returns in a month he can give this group someone that can be relied on. There has not been any Denver runner with more than 11 carries in any game this year even though Selvin Young has averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season. Michael Pittman has scored four times. And Andre Hall gets just enough playing time to detract from the other two. So for yards, Young is the best player who never gets many carries and for scores it is all about Michael Pittman who never generates any yards. It's just all a situation to stay away from other than Pittman in a touchdown only league.

Wide Receivers: With 320 passing yards per week, there is always plenty to share for this unit. Brandon Marshall always gets his first and in two home matchups this year had over 150 yards in each. He has scored once in every game this year as well. Eddie Royal had been quiet for two weeks since Marshall showed back up but then had a great nine catch, 104 yard effort in Kansas City last week to lead the team. And Brandon Stokley hasn't been that consistent but comes off a season high seven catches for 80 yards. It all works here but mostly just for Marshall every week.

Tight Ends: Tony Scheffler started the season hot with a 72-yard catch but he has declined each week and only had one catch for 26 yards last Sunday. And Nate Jackson had the touchdown catch a well. Add in a little Daniel Graham and there is no tight end here worthy of relying on.

Match Against the Defense: The Buccaneers have been outstanding against the run with no running back gaining more than 89 yards and not one rushing score allowed. Where they have been seriously dinged was by tailbacks as receivers such as Reggie Bush and Matt Forte. Denver has been using running backs in the passing game only minimally this year but it given the Tampa Bay secondary, expect at least a couple more passes than usual going to Pittman or Young.

Cutler faces a secondary that has given up two or more scores in most games this year and the most direct correlation is when they allowed Drew Brees to throw for 343 yards and three scores. Expect another strong showing here by Cutler who must win this game by connecting with the wideouts and running backs.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 1 16 2 3 2 24
Preventing Fantasy Points    TB 26 14 27 3 15 14

The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CLE
Monday
NYJ
OAK
STL
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