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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: OAK 10, BAL 24

Update: Darren McFadden is considered questionable after suffering a setback to his toe injury this week and being limited in practice the last two days. He will still play but remain very limited and playing in Baltimore is about as bad as a matchup could get anyway. Mark Clayton is now questionable with a thigh injury he picked up in practice but is still expected to play. Both Demetrius Williams and Derrick Mason and listed as questionable as well and Williams has a sore ankle that has kept him out of practice this week. I am removing him from the projections but leaving Mason who missed Thursday sick but came back for limited practice on Friday and is expected to play.

The Raiders come off their second win but are 1-2 on the road and head across the country to face the Ravens who are 2-1 at home. The Ravens defense has been a bit banged up but mostly in the secondary where the Raiders rarely throw. The Raiders are still finding a new identity until their next head coach shows after the season ends. The Ravens at home should be enough to take this low scoring game.

Oakland Raiders (2-4)
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DEN 14-41 +3 41.5
2 @KC 23-8 +4 34.5
3 @BUF 23-24 +9.5 36.5
4 SD 18-28 +7 46
5 BYE - - -
6 @NO 3-34 +7.5 47.5
7 NYJ 16-13 +3 42.5
8 @BAL - +7 36
9 ATL - - -
10 CAR - - -
11 @MIA - - -
12 @DEN - - -
13 KC - - -
14 @SD - - -
15 NE - - -
16 HOU - - -
17 @TB - - -
OAK @ BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB JaMarcus Russell     140,1
RB Darren McFadden 30 10  
RB Justin Fargas 40    
TE Zach Miller   40,1  
WR Javon Walker   40  
WR Chaz Schilens   20  
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins   20  
PK Sebastian Janikowski 1 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Raiders had an impressive win over the Jets in defensive terms though they almost gave the game away going into overtime. The interim regime has their first win and the team is slowly coming together on offense while the defense has been underrated at least against the pass. But the strength of the Raiders - rushing - is about to crash into the #1 defense against running backs. Now is when Russell needs to be developing faster.

Quarterback: JaMarcus Russell is slowly getting better and actually started hitting wide receivers last week but the first-year starter continues to be more of a drag on the offense than a spark. After throwing for two scores in week one, he has only produced three passing scores in the last five games. He has only two interceptions though and has not made many errors as well.

Running Backs: The Raiders continue to rely on Justin Fargas over Darren McFadden even though the rookie is said to be healthy and has been far more productive lately. Fargas has rushed 38 times for 109 yards over the last two weeks since he returned and averaged only 2.9 carries without any scores. McFadden has only rushed 16 times for 69 yards and added three catches for 50 yards last week. Michael Bush still dresses for games but never played last week. At some point the Raiders need to let McFadden lose again and that has to depend on his toe.

Wide Receivers: Chaz Schilens was given the start over Ronald Curry last week but only managed two receptions for ten yards (actually better than what Curry usually did). The most exciting development here is that Javon Walker has finally had a good game right after I cut his sorry as when he reeled in five receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. That performance dwarfs anything that an Oakland wideout has done this year other than the one catch by Johnnie Lee Higgins that went for an 84-yard touchdown. But finding Walker finally is a big and very much needed step for Russell and this offense.

Tight Ends: Zach Miller would kill you in a touchdown only league since he only has one score on the season but he has been at or over 50 yards each of the last three weeks and is the leading receiver for the Raiders so far.

Match Against the Defense: Here is where the trouble starts. The Ravens are #1 against running backs and at home no less. No opposing running back has scored or gained more than 56 yards in Baltimore and there has only been one rushing score against them all year. This would be a nice week to ignore Raider running backs on your roster.

For that matter make it the whole lot since Russell will do no better than throw for one score and turn in meager yardage has he always does and the Ravens usually allow anyway. Look for Miller to catch his second touchdown this week or the Raiders could be blanked. Making matters worse, the Ravens may be getting DB Samari Rolle and SS Dawan Landry back this week and CB Chris McAllister may even read the dress code and avoid being benched.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 27 19 28 17 15 15
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 7 1 6 15 12 26


Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
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 10-17 +3 35
6 @IND 3-31 +4.5 39
7 @MIA 27-13 +3 36.5
8 OAK - -7 36
9 @CLE - - -
10 @HOU - - -
11 @NYG - - -
12 PHI - - -
13 @CIN - - -
14 WAS - - -
15 PIT - - -
16 @DAL - - -
17 JAX - - -
BAL vs OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     170
RB Willis McGahee 90,1 20  
RB Le'Ron McClain 20,1    
TE Todd Heap   20  
WR Mark Clayton   30  
WR Demetrius Williams 20
WR Derrick Mason   60  
PK Matt Stover 3 XP 1 FG  

Pregame Notes: The spanking in Indianapolis was compensated for by tearing up the Dolphins and perhaps forever killing the wildcat formation. The win stopped a three game losing streak and gave the Ravens some hope since the Steelers are still just two games ahead. This week has to be a win before the Ravens embark on a three game road trip. The passing game is slowly improving here and the rushing game continues to evolve. But the defense has been stellar in all but the Colts game.

Quarterback: Six games into his career and Joe Flacco only has two passing touchdowns to his credit. He has improved overall on yardage with the last two weeks finally topping the 200 yard mark and he's been efficient. Flacco is no game changer yet and still presents a liability in games where the Ravens must pass to catch up but he is headed up the learning curve and bringing Derrick Mason along for the ride.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee comes off his best game of the year when he ran for 105 yards on 19 carries and scored once against the Dolphins. He added a season high 47 receiving yards on two receptions as well. But he later revealed he was still playing in a lot of pain from his surgically repaired knee and had fluid drained from it last week. The Ravens are riding him more each week though and Le'Ron McClain has lost all fantasy value after scoring four times in three weeks. The last two games - both on the road - had him with only a few meaningless carries and no scores.

Ray Rice is still included but has been unusually ineffective as a runner. He shows up more as s third down receiver now.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason has finally picked up enough value that he merits a start as a WR3 in most weeks. He comes off his first score of the year and gained 87 yards in Miami. But he is the only wideout of any note on the Ravens roster. The entire unit only has the one receiving touchdown and rarely manages more than 20 yards in any game. Mason has minimal value but the others have none.

Tight Ends: The hard part of understanding the Ravens offense is trying to remember that once upon a time, Todd Heap was a stud tight end that scared defenses. Now he is just a guy who blocks, catches a meaningless pass each week and never scores.

Match Against the Defense: The Raiders are soft against the run and soft against the pass when away from Oakland. Look for nice rushing numbers here from McGahee and at least one touchdown if not two scores since three running backs have already doubled on the Raiders. To preserve McGahee's knee, figure on McClain or Rice getting a little more action at least this one week.

Flacco is improving and the Raiders secondary always allows at least one score via the pass. But this is the Ravens and I like them to score once via defense or special teams.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 29 7 25 25 27 12
Preventing Fantasy Points    OAK 21 27 12 30 16 8

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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