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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: STL 10, NE 31

Update: Steven Jackson is listed as questionable with his quad injury and was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday before returning today for a limited workout. He will be a gametime decision and not 100% if he does play. I am downgrading him and be aware that he is not a lock to play. The venue should be fairly hard anyway. At least this is an early game and you will be able to use other options if needed.

The Patriots backfield is never a clear picture anyway and will be worse this week. Sammy Morris is out and may not play next week either with a knee injury. LaMont Jordan is also doubtful to play with his calf injury that has been slow to heal. That leaves some mixture of Benjarvis Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk. I am projecting for Green-Ellis to tote most of the load but these are the Patriots and there is no way to know if Faulk will suddenly step in and have what should be a big game for the running back.

The Rams are on a two game winning streak with a defense that has magically appeared and the Patriots remain at home where they throttled the Broncos on Monday night. The Rams have already defied all reason (and more than a few dollars in Vegas) but third time? The Pats are still plenty good enough... like the Skins and Cowboys should have been...

St. Louis Rams (2-4)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @PHI 3-38 +7 44
2 NYG 13-41 +8.5 41.5
3 @SEA 13-37 +10 44
4 BUF 14-31 +8 41.5
5 BYE - - -
6 @WAS 19-17 +13.5 44
7 DAL 34-14 +7 44
8 @NE - +7 43.5
9 ARZ - - -
10 @NYJ - - -
11 @SF - - -
12 CHI - - -
13 MIA - - -
14 @ARZ - - -
15 SEA - - -
16 SF - - -
17 @ATL - - -
STL @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     190,1
RB Steven Jackson 50 20  
WR Torry Holt   40  
WR Donnie Avery   60,1  
WR Dante Hall   20  
PK Josh Brown 1 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: Drop a head coach that no one likes and suddenly the Rams are playing real football and making a mockery of the NFC East. They squeaked out a win in Washington but plain old put the whoop on the visiting Cowboys that resulted in a defensive coordinator being fired. Back on the road this week bump into another team missing a starting quarterback but the Pats see them coming.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger only passed for 173 yards and one score but completed 14 of 19 passes against the Cowboys with no turnovers. He has not passed for more than 184 yards in any game this year and thanks to a dominating rushing attack had a season low 19 pass attempts last Sunday. But Bulger has only three touchdowns on the season and relies on the rushing of Steve Jackson to move the ball.

Running Backs: Steven Jackson made Dallas pay for passing over him in the 2004 NFL draft when he ran 25 times for 160 yards and scored three touchdowns. That makes twice in the last three weeks that Jackson has topped 100 yards or had a touchdown - and both were at home. On the road he has been far less effective and ended the game on Sunday with a quadriceps injury. Jackson said it was just a little bruise and HC Jim Haslett said he expected Jackson to play this week since an MRI showed that it was only a slight strain in his thigh. I will assume that Jackson will be near 100% and update as warranted.

Wide Receivers: Drew Bennett remains out with the foot injury and Donnie Avery keeps looking better in replacement. Avery comes off his first receiving touchdown when he led the Rams with five catches for 65 yards last week. Tory Holt hasn't scored since week two and has not had more than 76 yards in any game this year. Avery adds a new element here but this unit is a shadow of recent years. Six games in and only three total touchdowns and no games over 76 yards by any wideout here.

Tight Ends: Never any fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: Jackson needs to be healthy here for the Rams to make a game of this. The Patriots have only allowed one runner to score a touchdown but the rushing defense has been only average in yards allowed. The ranking is skewed by the wild game that Ronnie Brown had against them but even Michael Pittman just ran for 88 yards on 20 carries. This is where the Rams must compete but expect only moderate numbers here for Jackson who has been much less effective away from St. Louis.

Bulger faces a secondary that has been much better at home than on the road and he hasn't thrown for more than one score in any game this year anyway. Look for the one touchdown that should end up favoring Avery the most. The lost of safety Rodney Harrison helps the Rams to be sure but not enough to expect a jump in typical production.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 32 22 24 27 22 17
Preventing Fantasy Points    NE 19 18 18 21 4 19


New England Patriots (4-2)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 KC 17-10 -16.5 45
2 @NYJ 19-10 +1.5 39
3 MIA 13-38 -13 34.5
4 BYE - - -
5 @SF 30-21 -3 41.5
6 @SD 10-30 +6 44.5
7 DEN 41-7 -3 46.5
8 STL - -7 43.5
9 @IND - - -
10 BUF - - -
11 NYJ - - -
12 @MIA - - -
13 PIT - - -
14 @SEA - - -
15 @OAK - - -
16 ARZ - - -
17 @BUF - - -
NE vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel     190,2
RB Sammy Morris 80,1 10
RB Kevin Faulk 40,1 10  
RB Benjarvis Green-Ellis 60,1    
TE Ben Watson   20  
WR Randy Moss   60,1  
WR Jabar Gaffney   20  
WR Wes Welker   70,1  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: It was just like last year! The Patriots get a healthy lead and then just twisting the screws with pass formations and deep throws for scores. The win glossed over losing two of the last three games and facing the Rams should make it feel like back to normal. But looming the next weeks are @IND, BUF, NYJ, @MIA and PIT. This could actually turn into a trap game if the Patriots think like the last two opponents for the Rams.

Quarterback: Matt Cassel finally had a game to hang his hat. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns - two for Randy Moss and one for Wes Welker just like the script always calls for. The dominating rushing game last Sunday was a major help but Cassel is improving if only slowly. The team has thrown their support behind him and for one week he has rewarded their faith. That will be sorely tested over the next six weeks.

Running Backs: Making selecting a Patriots running back only slightly more risky than welding a full gas tank, Laurence Maroney is now in injured reserve and Sammy Morris was having a monster game until he hurt is knee and let Benjarvis Green-Ellis gained 65 yards on 13 carries and oh yes, there is still Kevin Faulk around as well. Lamont Jordan is also in the mix though he was inactive last week with a bad calf.

I will project for Morris to play but be somewhat limited from his knee sprain. Updates as warranted but realize the dynamic nature of the this backfield before relying on it.

Wide Receivers: Since Matt Cassel took over, Wes Welker has maintained his value at least in reception point leagues by snaring around seven passes per week for about 70 yards. Welker now comes off his first touchdown of the season though it was the third of the game and after Randy Moss already had scored twice. Moss ended with 69 yards on five receptions and has really only had two decent games so far - against the two worst defenses of the 49ers and Broncos. Going against the Rams should be the third one.

Jabar Gaffney has actually been a little worse every week until Sunday when he had no catches. For the trend to continue, he will need to have negative yardage now.

Tight Ends: When Ben Watson had three catches for 40 yards on Monday, it was the first time that any Patriots tight end had been over 24 yards in a game. No fantasy value here. And no touchdowns either.

Match Against the Defense: What Rams show up this week? Regardless, they will be soft against the run and should allow Morris or Ellis-Green to have a good to great game. Their last road game was when Portis ran for 129 yards and two scores. I'll call a score and good yardage for Morris but there could be much more that end up with backs that are not being projected.

Cassel faces a secondary that had always allowed passing scores until the Washington game. Look for Moss and Welker to have good games here with a good chance at scoring. Shouldn't need that much yardage here to win and the rushing attack will carry most of the load.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 23 8 15 30 5 23
Preventing Fantasy Points    STL 22 30 27 22 23 22

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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