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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: NYG 17, PIT 24

Update: Santonio Holmes was arrested for marijuana and will be deactivated this week pending the likely suspension by the NFL. This once again spawns the question "how !@&*@# stupid can he be?" to which the answer would be "plenty." He will be replaced by Nate Washington and Limas Sweed could see some playing time.

Monday night between the Titans and Colts will be a great game. But on Sunday, this one has to be the one to watch. The 5-1 Giants head to Pittsburgh to face the 5-1 Steelers. Which conference is better? Let's find out!

New York Giants (5-1)
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 44-6 -7 43.5
6 @CLE 14-35 -8 43
7 SF 29-17 -10.5 45
8 @PIT - +2.5 42
9 DAL - - -
10 @PHI - - -
11 BAL - - -
12 @ARZ - - -
13 @WAS - - -
14 PHI - - -
15 @DAL - - -
16 CAR - - -
17 @MIN - - -
NYG @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning     190,1
RB Brandon Jacobs 60,1    
WR Plaxico Burress   70  
WR Amani Toomer   30  
WR Steve Smith   50,1  
PK John Carney 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Giants have clearly been on a roll this year with only the one trap game in Cleveland to spoil an otherwise perfect record. But one notable here - they haven't really faced anyone yet. Other than squeaking past the Redskins on opening week, the Giants have managed to face a string of teams that may all have different head coaches next year. The 49ers and Rams already have. The Giants largely decimated them, but still the task was hardly a challenge and the 5-1 record sounds better than it has been. The Giants start their real schedule now with PIT, DAL, PHI, BAL up next.This is actually set-up nicely for the standard Giants path of playing great the first half of the season and sliding the second half.

I will also be projecting for John Carney to be the starting kicker even though the Giants are playing some game with Lawrence Tynes.

Quarterback: Eli Manning has been solid this season with a score in each of the last five games but he has only twice thrown for more than one score in a game and has only averaged 230 yards per week and thrown eight touchdowns against four interceptions. Pretty average numbers but without many mistakes and only two sacks in the last four games. It has been a conservative season so far.

Running Backs: Brandon Jacobs has scored six times in the last four games and turned in at least 60 yards in all but one game. He only runs around 15 times each week so he is not wearing down and Derrick Ward offers a nice, speedy complement to Jacobs to help tire out the defense and yet Ward never scores and lets Jacobs collect all the touchdowns.

Ahmad Bradshaw has been showing up in recent games but he only is used in blowout games to spread the workload around. This is Jacobs team and his job when the goal line is near.

Wide Receivers: The lighter schedule this year has scattered the results among the wideouts but Plaxico Burress remains the scoring machine with a touchdown in three of the last four games. He has lagged on yardage this year with no more than 58 yards since week two but that reflects the less need to throw the ball this year. Amani Toomer started the year out with around 60 yards per week but has tailed off these last two weeks.

Burress aggravated a torn tendon in his pinkie finger during the 49ers game and will wear a splint this week but is currently slated to play on Sunday.

Steve Smith has not scored this year but has been the most productive wideout in yardage. During the Cleveland debacle, he led the team with nine catches for 94 yards and tends to show up more in tougher matchups when Manning has to go through his progression on pass plays.

Tight Ends: Kevin Boss had no catches last week and has no fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: As it stands, Troy Palomalu had a concussion last week but is expected to play and Casey Hampton is expected to return this week to clog up the rushing lanes. The Steelers already had a top rushing defense and has only allowed two rushing scores all year and no runner has topped 63 yards against them. Look for moderate yardage at best from Jacobs this week and a chance for one score.

Manning goes against a secondary that has never allowed more than one passing touchdown per game or more than 202 yards - home or away. The Steelers also present a defense with 25 sacks on the year - much better than anything the G-Men have faced so far. I like the Giants to score once but it will more likely e Smith than Burress who will be heavily covered.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NYG 10 2 4 28 2 14
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 6 3 5 9 6 18


Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1)
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 HOU 38-17 -6.5 43
2 @CLE 10-6 -6 45
3 @PHI 6-15 +3 45
4 BAL 23-20 -6 34.5
5 @JAX 26-21 +4 36
6 BYE - - -
7 @CIN 38-10 -9.5 37
8 NYG - -2.5 42
9 @WAS - - -
10 IND - - -
11 SD - - -
12 CIN - - -
13 @NE - - -
14 DAL - - -
15 @BAL - - -
16 @TEN - - -
17 CLE - - -
PIT vs NYG Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     260,2
RB Mewelde Moore 70,1 30  
TE Heath Miler   20  
WR Hines Ward   80,1  
WR Santonio Holmes 80,1
WR Limas Sweed   30  
WR Nate Washington   70,1  
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: Not unlike the Giants, the Steelers are 5-1 and have faced an easier schedule - but not as easy. Wins over the Ravens and Jaguars were tough fought games and the Steelers are home this week for only the third time this season. The schedule is turning for the Steelers who face a tougher slate but injured players are returning and they enjoy a two game lead in the AFC North that is looking just as uncompetitive as it ever has.

Quarterback: The oddity about Ben Roethlisberger this year is that his best effort - 309 yards and three scores - came in his hardest matchup in Jacksonville. Otherwise, he has banged around 200 yards and one or two scores every week. He is only averaging 194 yards per week and has just nine touchdowns so far. The success of the rushing game has much to do with this but that doesn't help fantasy owners who were dreaming about Big Ben throwing for another 30+ touchdowns this year.

Running Backs: There is a chance that Willie Parker returns from his knee injury after missing games after week three. Parker's brief workload this year had him topping 100 rushing yards and scoring three times against the Texans and Browns before getting hurt. In his place, Mewelde Moore started slow but has picked up the pace nicely. He had 99 yards on 17 carries in Jacksonville and then ran for 120 yards on 20 carries with two scores in Cincinnati plus had a receiving touchdown.

I am holding out Parker until he is cleared and practices then I will update after Friday's practices as needed.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward is still the top wideout here with five touchdowns and an average of 63 yards per game. Never a big game but always a solid one with a touchdown more often than not. Nate Washington has scored in both of the most recent games and while he had up to 94 yards in a week, he;s still too inconsistent to consider for a fantasy filler.

Santonio Holmes has only scored once in 2008 but remains solid with around 65 yards in most games. That's borderline worthy as a WR3 but frustrating since he was drafted this summer with much higher expectations.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller is who you grab to cover a bye week when you are last in the free agent queue. Only one score and rarely more than 20 or 30 yards in a week.

Match Against the Defense: The Giants are another team that is great against the run and that have only allowed two rushing scores this year. No runner has exceeded 88 yards against them but for the most part they have only faced a motley group of runners. Jamal Lewis ran for 88 yards on 21 carries and Steven Jackson only had 53 yards because he was limited to 13 carries. Look for the Steelers to score once on the ground and to tack on more to Moore as a receiver regardless if Parker ends up playing or not.

Roethlisberger faces a much softer secondary than does Eli Manning and therein is the difference in this game. Remember - the Giants have only faced two road teams and they were the Browns and Rams. And both scored against them. Look for Big Ben to tally good yardage in the game with scores for Ward and Holmes.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 14 23 7 22 17 6
Preventing Fantasy Points    NYG 10 2 21 3 9 3

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