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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: TEN 16, BAL 17

Update: Justin Gage was unable to practice this week and is not expected to play because of his sprained right knee. He has been removed from the projections and losing Gage hurts as he has been the most productive wideout. Lendale White was held out of practice to rest his shoulder this week but returned to full practice on Friday and is expected to play. Going against the Ravens lowers the expectations anyway.

Willis McGahee was limited in practice all this week because of his bruised chest and is listed as questionable. He is still expected to play but will likely give more carries to Le'Ron McClain who already splits duty with him. Going against a tough Titans defense makes it even less attractive to start Willis this week.

This should be a great match-up if you are a fan of defenses. The Titans are undefeated and actually winning games by a large margin since Kerry Collins took over while the Ravens have rekindled their dominating defense of old with a surprisingly effective rookie quarterback at the helm. This is a coin flip game that likely is decided by who makes the most mistakes. Titans are due.

Tennessee Titans (4-0)
Homefield: LP Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 JAX 17-10 +3 37
2 @CIN 24-7 +1 37.5
3 HOU 31-12 -5 38.5
4 MIN 30-17 -3 36
5 @BAL - -3 35
6 BYE - - -
7 @KC - - -
8 IND - - -
9 GB - - -
10 @CHI - - -
11 @JAX - - -
12 NYJ - - -
13 @DET - - -
14 CLE - - -
15 @HOU - - -
16 PIT - - -
17 @IND - - -
TEN at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Kerry Collins     170,1
RB Chris Johnson 50 30,1  
RB Lendale White 30    
TE Bo Scaife   30  
WR Brandon Jones   40  
WR Justin Gage 50
WR Justin McCareins   40  
PK Rob Bironas 3 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The high-flying Titans are 4-0 but head into a buzz saw waiting in Baltimore. But the Titans have beaten both the Jaguars and Vikings already though both were at home. The defense has been outstanding giving up no more than 17 points in any game and averaging less than 13 points allowed. The rushing game has been solid at worst and dominating at best with Chris Johnson and Lendale White sharing the load. The Titans move into the meat of their schedule starting this week but it still remains one of the easier schedules in the league.

Quarterback: Hard to argue with anything when the Titans are 4-0 but Kerry Collins has been a starter for three weeks now and only has two touchdowns and still has not thrown for more than 200 yards in a game. But he has also not made many errors with only one interception and just one sack. Collins has made far better use of the wide receivers than Vince Young had but he's still primarily there to handoff the ball and not throw it. The Titans have 141 rushing plays versus just 109 passes so far this year.

Running Backs: Just a thing of beauty. The speedy and shifty Chris Johnson has averaged around 17 carries for 85 yards each week for a 5.0 yard per carry average. He scored twice against the Vikings for his first rushing scores of his career though he had a receiving touchdown back in the season opener. Johnson has proven to be a tremendous draft pick that adds excitement and plenty of long runs to the offense.

Lendale White is starting to lose the 50/50 share he had with Johnson but after four games, he still has not failed to score at least once in every week this year. White is a gem in a touchdown only league but in performance scoring only adds 40 to 50 rushing yards each week.

Wide Receivers: This unit still remains one of the least productive in the NFL with only one touchdown catch and only two efforts that have exceeded just 60 receiving yards this year. Justin Gage has the season best performance when he had five catches for 92 yards against the Vikings and he has the only score by a Titans wideout. Gage could fill in as maybe your third wideout but this unit is just not talented enough to rack up the yards and scores regardless which quarterback is under center.

Tight Ends: The Titans added Alge Crumpler in the offseason but he has all but disappeared from the passing attack. He had no catches against the Vikings - he had no passes for that matter - and he has never had more than 26 yards or two catches in his best effort. Bo Scaife remains the primary tight end but he varies wildly each game from a high of 105 yards to a low of just six yards which actually came on consecutive weeks. No real consistency here let alone many fantasy points.

Match Against the Defense: The Titans are going to face the best defense in the league so far this year and one that has been top three against every fantasy position. They have not allowed any rushing scores this year and the best any runner has done against them was 56 yards by Jamal Lewis. But it is also notable that they have only faced CIN and CLE before facing the Steelers who were without Willie Parker. The Ravens have been outstanding against the run but will now face a two headed attack unlike any they have seen. White is a lock for a bad game here but Johnson could always pop a long run or catch.

Collins faces a secondary that has only allowed two passing scores while recording five interceptions and nine sacks in three games. He'll do well enough to throw for one score that would favor Chris Johnson more than any player.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 27 5 30 9 19 3
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 2 3 2 1 9 29


Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CIN 17-10 +1 39
2 BYE - - -
3 CLE 28-10 -2 38.5
4 @PIT 20-23 +6 34.5
5 TEN - +3 35
6 @IND - - -
7 @MIA - - -
8 OAK - - -
9 @CLE - - -
10 @HOU - - -
11 @NYG - - -
12 PHI - - -
13 @CIN - - -
14 WAS - - -
15 PIT - - -
16 @DAL - - -
17 JAX - - -
BAL vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     120
RB Le'Ron McClain 70,1 20  
TE Todd Heap   10  
WR Mark Clayton   20  
WR Demetrius Williams   20  
WR Derrick Mason   40  
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Ravens finally were tested after starting the year with home games against the Bengals and Browns. It was an overtime loss but played in Pittsburgh showed that these Ravens are for real this year. Not only is the defense outstanding, but the rookie Joe Flacco is making strides has a quarterback. The Ravens really need to get a win here if possible since five of the next six games will be on the road.

Quarterback: The rookie Joe Flacco finally had his first NFL touchdown pass on Monday night in Pittsburgh and though he only completed 16 of 31 for 192 yards, he had numerous impressive throws and no interceptions. This was Flacco's first game against a formidable defense and he gave optimism for the future. Since rushing for a touchdown in his first game, he has stopped since but can bring that ability when called for - and with the running backs injured that could be needed this week.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee left the Pittsburgh game with a chest injury after gaining only 42 yards on 13 carries. He gave way to Le'Ron McClain who was surprisingly effective turning in 63 yards and one score on 16 carries and adding three receptions for 26 yards. Ray Rice has dropped to #3 on the depth chart and only had one carry last week despite McGahee's injury and McClain's heavy workload.

I will assume that McGahee will miss this week and that McClain gets the start. He too left the game on Monday night but that was from cramps and he should be fine this week.

Wide Receivers: The wide receivers have been devoid of fantasy value this year until Monday night when Derrick Mason had eight receptions for 137 yards against the Steelers. Flacco threw 14 passes to Mason and not more than four to any other receiver. The other two wideouts combined for only one catch so at least Flacco has figured out rather quickly where best to direct his passes. But having only one receiver of value will be an issue this week against a defense like the Titans. The Steelers were good enough but did not prepare enough to cover Mason. That won't happen this week.

Tight Ends: How the mighty have fallen off the map. Todd Heap only had two passes thrown to him on Monday night and had no catches. On the season, Heap only has three catches for 37 yards and no scores. To add a little insult here, the first touchdown pass by Flacco did go to his tight end - Daniel Wilcox on his only reception of the year. I will continue to project (minimally) for Heap but he is either hampered by an unnamed injury or is just written off the game plan.

Match Against the Defense: The Titans passing defense has been stellar and has only allowed one passing touchdown this year - back in week one. But the rushing defense has been less effective allowing four touchdowns already and decent yardage in recent weeks. Look for McClain to have at least moderate rushing yardage here and at least one rushing score - possibly two.

Flacco is not going to pass too much since it would only encourage the Titans to build on their 15 sacks and eight interceptions this season. I like the Ravens to get one defensive score in this game and for that to make the difference.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 29 7 26 26 26 8
Preventing Fantasy Points    TEN 3 17 3 11 1 4

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