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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 8
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Bye Week
CHI, MIN
Monday
DEN, GB
 
* updated

Prediction: ATL 10, PHI 24

Update: Brian Westbrook is good to play this week and had full practices every day. Reggie Brown has been limited every day because of his groin and could be a game time decision. Regardless -he will not be 100% if he even plays so I am lowering his projections and realize that he may not play at all. This should be a boost for Kevin Curtis who was not on the injury report at all.

The Falcons head to Philly with a 1-2 road record but did beat the Packers in their last trip away from Atlanta. The Eagles are 2-1 at home and both these teams are coming off their bye week. The Falcons are much better than expected but a home game here should allow the Eagles to prevail.

Atlanta Falcons (4-2)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DET 34-21 +3 41
2 @TB 9-24 +8 38.5
3 KC 38-14 -5 36
4 @CAR 9-24 +7 39.5
5 @GB 27-24 +3 41
6 CHI 22-20 +2.5 43.5
7 BYE - - -
8 @PHI - +8.5 46.5
9 @OAK - - -
10 NO - - -
11 DEN - - -
12 CAR - - -
13 @SD - - -
14 @NO - - -
15 TB - - -
16 @MIN - - -
17 STL - - -
ATL at PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     190
RB Michael Turner 70,1 10  
RB Jerious Norwood 20 20  
WR Michael Jenkins   40  
WR Roddy White   70  
WR Harry Douglas   30  
PK Jason Elam 1 XP 1 FG  
Pregame Notes: The most pleasantly surprising team has to be the Falcons who are a half game back of the Buccaneers and Panthers in the NFC West. A 4-2 record at their bye week? Wins over the Packers and Bears? The Falcons may not matchup with the Bucs and Panthers this year but for a rebuilding program, it's gone as well as could be hoped for. Matt Ryan looks like a franchise quarterback already and Michael Turner has exceeded expectations. The rest of the schedule looks tougher... but then again so did the first six games.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan plays a conservative role and has never passed for more than 200 yards in any game. Hosting the Bears back in week six, he still has never passed for 200 yards because he leapfrogged that mark and turned in his first 300 yard passing game. Ryan has five touchdowns so far and only three interceptions. He's also already gotten into a groove hitting Roddy White. He has a ways to go before he is a fantasy stud, but Ryan is already looking like one of the better draft picks made this year.

Running Backs: So far Michael Turner's weekly fortunes rely heavily on the quality of defense that he will face. He rushed for 445 yards and six touchdowns against DET, KC and GB. But against TB, CAR and CHI, he only totaled 152 yards and no scores. As the Falcons improve, he'll start picking up on those tougher games but for now when the Falcons face a lighter defense, he has been money in the bank. He's been so effective that Jerious Norwood now rarely gets more than three or four carries in a game.

The only downside for this unit is that the Falcons still rarely ever throw more than one or two passes per game to the running backs.

Wide Receivers: Roddy White was great last year with sub-standard quarterbacks and now that Matt Ryan is the future, he's even better. White has scored in three of the last four games and never had less than 90 yards in each. Michael Jenkins holds on to the flanker role but is only good for around 60 yards and no score each week. Harry Douglas comes off his personal best with five catches for 96 yards but the rookie is likely too small for every down duty. He's adding a fast element in the slot and a nice complement to White and Jenkins.

No other wideout is standing out in Atlanta so White has become the "Steve Smith" for the Falcons. The rushing game may rise and fall but White remains a threat every week.

Tight Ends: Truly one of the least used in the entire league.

Match Against the Defense: The Eagles defense has been good this year and even better when at home. Turner faces a defense that has only allowed one rushing score in Philly but two runners have topped 100 yards against them. Expect a decent game here from Turner since the Eagles have not faced many good runners and the Falcons are going to run as much as they can.

Ryan had his big 300 yard game last time but this week won't likely see much happening. No visitor to Philly has passed for more than 176 yards and none have thrown a touchdown either. Look for Ryan to have a very quiet day here and that will extend to Roddy White who goes against a secondary that should at least hold him to moderate numbers.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 25 6 13 29 1 26
Preventing Fantasy Points    PHI 9 8 4 31 25 7


Philadelphia Eagles (3-3))
Homefield: Lincoln Financial Field
Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 STL 38-3 -7 44
2 @DAL 37-41 +7 47
3 PIT 15-6 -3 45
4 @CHI 20-24 -3 45
5 WAS 17-23 -5 43
6 @SF 40-26 -5 43
7 BYE - - -
8 ATL - -8 46.5
9 @SEA - - -
10 NYG - - -
11 @CIN - - -
12 @BAL - - -
13 ARZ - - -
14 @NYG - - -
15 CLE - - -
16 @WAS - - -
17 DAL - - -
PHI vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb     250,2
RB Brian Westbrook 70 40  
RB Correll Buckhalter 20,1 20  
TE L.J. Smith   10  
WR Reggie Brown   30  
WR DeSean Jackson   70,1  
WR Kevin Curtis   60,1  
PK David Akers 3 XP 1 FG  

Pregame Notes: Beating up on the 49ers was great fun before the bye week but the Eagles remain well behind the 5-1 Giants and at 3-3 are the cellar for the NFC East. Losing Brian Westbrook for his annual injury has hurt this time since he missed two games and may not be ready this week. But opening with a home game against the Falcons and then a trip to Seattle should let the Eagles get back into their groove by week 10 when they face the Giants and the schedule becomes critical.

Quarterback: Donovan McNabb has been better than the average quarterback but only slightly. He has thrown for eight touchdowns against only three interceptions but his yardage has waned since a strong start to the season. One major reason for that - Westbrook only has 14 receptions for 97 yards on the season so far. DeSean Jackson has been a nice addition but Westbrook is the heart of the passing game.

Running Backs: Brian Westbrook says he is healing up his rib and ankle injuries and is on track to play this week. Broken ribs are never easy to get over but he has rested for an extra week thanks to the bye. I will assume that he will play and be somewhat limited by his ribs. Correll Buckhalter played very well in relief for Westbrook twice this year with a touchdown in each game and at least 90 total yards in both. Unless Westbrook is really healthy now, figure Buckhalter to still have some role this week. He would usually only have minimal work when Westbrook is healthy but has earned more playing time with his good play.

Wide Receivers: Reggie Brown was held out in week six because of a sore groin but has already practiced this week and should play. He had ten catches for 163 yards over his last two games and was starting to figure in more until his groin acted up. Kevin Curtis is also expected to make his long awaited return and will be in the mix. This makes for a less clear set of starters for the Eagles who will use a rotation to include them along with DeSean Jackson in the game.

Jackson has not bee above a bad game but so far he has been the only reliable wideout for the Eagles and has two 100 yard efforts and a score already this year. His stock should decrease slightly with the full complement of wideouts finally returning but Jackson has already looked more effective than either Brown or Curtis has. He remains the better fantasy option in this unit.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith has two scores on the season but he has been invisible otherwise. Smith only has ten catches on the season for only 67 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons defense has been allowing one rushing score per week and at least moderate to good rushing yards but those could be split between Westbrook and Buckhalter. Until Westbrook is cleared and looks 100% healthy, expect Buckhalter to play and snake a touchdown this week.

McNabb faces a secondary that has always given up a score this year and decent yardage if the opponent really wants it. McNabb gets back more plays this week and should end up with only mediocre passing yards but two touchdowns that will favor the wideouts.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 9 10 8 23 3 2
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 23 19 26 28 3 1

The Huddle
WEEK 8
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Bye Week
CHI, MIN
DEN, GB
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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