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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 9
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CAR
Monday
NO
SD
*updated
SF

Prediction: NE 17, IND 27

Update: BenJarvus Green-Ellis is listed as questionable with a sprained ankle and was limited in practice this week but has not been ruled out. There is a chance that Lamont Jordan could play this week after being limited in practice but I am not adding him into the projections. The backfield looks appropriately messy as always but the projections are the most likely scenario.

Reggie Wayne was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday to rest his knee and he returned to limited practice on Friday. He is listed as questionable but there has not been any suggestion that he won't play this week in a very important game. He comes off a short week and apparently needed the rest. This is a Sunday night game so in the unlikely event that Wayne was not playing you would be hard pressed for options but again - all signs are that he will play.

Joseph Addai is expected to return this week after missing time because of a balky hamstring but he had full practices on Thursday and Friday and will play - though sharing duty with Dominic Rhodes for at least this week.

This always interesting matchup could not get any weirder this year. You have the Patriots who are 5-2 somehow after losing Tom Brady and going against the Colts who are 3-4 and reeling despite having all offensive players on board. If Matt Cassell comes in and out duels Peyton Manning it will send him into therapy. The Colts are passing by desperation and entering "maybe we should give cheating a try?". This is a must watch game on Sunday night that has plenty of subtext to it.

The Patriots won 24-20 in Indianapolis last year.

New England Patriots (5-2)
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 23-16 -7 43.5
9 @IND - +5.5 45
10 BUF - - -
11 NYJ - - -
12 @MIA - - -
13 PIT - - -
14 @SEA - - -
15 @OAK - - -
16 ARZ - - -
17 @BUF - - -
NE @ IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassell     210,1
RB Kevin Faulk 70 30  
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 30,1    
TE Ben Watson   10  
WR Randy Moss   70,1  
WR Jabar Gaffney   20  
WR Wes Welker   70  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Patriots are enjoying a 5-2 record that has them tied with the Bills for the AFC East lead. One small issue with the notion that the Patriots are anywhere close to 2007 good - they have played a relative cakewalk schedule so far. Beating the Chiefs, Jets, 49ers, Broncos and Rams really wasn't as big a feat as it may seem. Losing to the Fins and Chargers is a little harder to explain away. But this week is one where the Pats can move forward with authority if they can, once again, go into Indianapolis and win a game. The Patriots are going to end with a decent record regardless with their schedule but winning in Indy this week would go a long way to making Cassel fan friendly.

Quarterback: These last two home games have been good for Matt Cassel. After throwing for 185 yards and three scores against the Broncos, he posted a season high 267 yards and one score on the Rams. This week will be a far greater challenge against the Colts defense and Cassel was mildly successful in road games against the 49ers and Jets. But the last two weeks have seen him reconnect with Randy Moss on both deep throws and those underthrows that Moss is so deadly stopping to catch.

Tom Brady passed for three scores and 255 yards at Indy last year.

Running Backs: The always changing, never predictable backfield for the Patriots now has Kevin Faulk as the starter and BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the short yardage and relief player. Faulk has provided around 50 rushing yards in each of the last three games along with three of four receptions. He's no long-term answer but he is the best of those still standing. Green-Ellis only had nine carries last week but scored a touchdown for the second consecutive week. How this all works on the road remains to be seen but at home against soft defenses it has been good enough.

The Patriots only rushed for a combined 88 yards and no touchdowns on 22 carries last year.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss has been a big part of the progress of Matt Cassel and had two scores in week seven followed by a season high seven catches for 102 yards against the Rams last week. The real progress report comes this week in Indy where the #1 defense against quarterbacks and wide receivers is waiting.

Wes Welker is consistent each week with around 70 yards but he only has one score on the year. In a reception points league he has maintained his value even without Tom Brady. While Moss bounces between good and bad games, Welker chugs along with nearly identical numbers every week. Jabar Gaffney has lost all value though and only has two catches over the last three games.

Moss had nine catches for 145 yards versus the Colts in 2007.

Tight Ends: Still no fantasy value here as no tight end has caught a touchdown or had more than 24 yards more than once.

Match Against the Defense: Faulk and Green-Ellis will be interested to see if safety Bob Sanders makes it back this week as has been suggested. With Sanders, the Colts always stop the run better. But even at home they are better than on the road and the Pats will be splitting up duty anyway. Expect one rushing score for BJE and decent to good yardage for Faulk.

Cassel goes against the #1 defense against quarterbacks and on the road no less. The Colts have only allowed two passing scores this year and none at Indianapolis. No one has passed for more than 246 yards against the Colts though partially that reflects a bad rush defense. Look for Cassel to throw for no more than one score and he may not get that (like six other quarterbacks this year. I'll credit the score to Moss but it could go anywhere.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 23 7 17 32 4 24
Preventing Fantasy Points    IND 1 28 1 15 30 27


Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
Homefield: Lucas Oil Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CHI 13-29 -9.5 44
2 @MIN 18-15 -2 43.5
3 JAX 21-23 -5.5 42
4 BYE - - -
5 @HOU 31-27 -3 47.5
6 BAL 31-3 -4.5 39
7 @GB 14-34 -1 47
8 @TEN 21-31 +4 42
9 NE - -5.5 45
10 @PIT - - -
11 HOU - - -
12 @SD - - -
13 @CLE - - -
14 CIN - - -
15 DET - - -
16 @JAX - - -
17 TEN - - -
IND vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning     290,3
RB Dominic Rhodes 30 10  
RB Joseph Addai 50 20  
TE Dallas Clark   30  
WR Marvin Harrison   70,1  
WR Reggie Wayne   100,2  
WR Anthony Gonzalez   40  
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Colts are in uncharted territory at 3-4 and with no really discernible problem area to correct. Peyton Manning has slipped from being the ultimate quarterback to merely being one of the good ones. The last two road games - both losses - had Manning unable to connect with Reggie Wayne or Marvin Harrison. Joseph Addai has been out since week five and the defense has been abused by most running games without Bob Sanders there. Worse yet the Titans are 7-0 and walking away with the division at mid-season. This week is a must win and really - they are all from here on out.

Quarterback: Were it not for his glorious past, Peyton Manning's performance this year would not be an issue. He has thrown for ten scores and seven came in the last four weeks. He has remained above 220 yards every week. But unlike the old Manning we knew, this guy has thrown nine interceptions and missed on throws to players he has known for years. Manning is not the problem with the Colts but for the first time - he is not being the solution.

Manning passed for 225 yards and one score against the visiting Pats last season. He also ran in a short score as well.

Running Backs: Joseph Addai has missed three games with a bad hamstring but there is hope that he may be back this week. I will not include him in the projections until he is cleared. While he has been gone, Dominic Rhodes has done a more than capable job with three rushing scores in the first two games and last week he ran for 70 yards on 17 carries and added eight catches for 39 yards. Addai is a positive to the backfield but Rhodes is carrying the torch just as well in his absence.

Addai rushed for 112 yards on 26 carries against the Patriots last year. He also added a season high 114 yards on five catches and scored once.

Wide Receivers: Going against top defenses these last two weeks has really crushed the production of Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Harrison has really only been a factor in home games though. In the three games at Indy, he has caught 15 passes for 199 yards and three scores. In the four road games, he only has eight catches for 71 yards total with no scores. Do NOT start Marvin in a road game. Apparently he doesn't travel well in his old age.

Reggie Wayne has been great in all places except for these last two weeks when he only had 24 and 29 yards and no scores. Wayne has our touchdowns this season and five games over 75 yards but these last two weeks were a nosedive. Playing back at home this week should help.

Wayne had five receptions for 62 yards when the Pats visited last year but no other wideout had more than 15 yards.

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark had been largely unproductive compared to his breakout season in 2007 and just when fantasy owners wanted to write him off, he had 81 yards on eight catches in Green Bay and then 94 yards on seven receptions and two touchdowns in Tennessee. That's where the passing drained off to. Oddly enough, Clark is the anti-Harrison. He has done little this year except for three games - all of them on the road.

Clark only had two catches for 15 yards against the Pats last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Pats rush defense is much better than the ranking suggests. Take away the freak four touchdown game by Ronnie Brown and no runner has rushed in a score on the Patriots this year and no other has topped 100 yards. Look for moderate yardage this week and likely no score from Rhodes or Addai should he play.

Where this game turns is on Manning going against a secondary that has allowed three scores each to the last two road opponents of the 49ers and Chargers. This is where the game is to be won and where Manning can connect again with his wideouts that went missing the last two weeks. Look for a nice game from both Harrison (at home) and Wayne.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 10 28 10 8 31 26
Preventing Fantasy Points    NE 18 16 25 17 6 19

The Huddle
WEEK 9
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CAR
Monday
NO
SD
SF
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