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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: PIT 20, WAS 17

Update: The person you see dancing in your office is likely the Willie Parker owner. Parker has gone through full practices all week and will play on Monday night. The question to be answered on that night is how much Moore will continue to be a factor. The Skins have a good rush defense and there's no need to get too much work for Parker in his first game back when Moore has been a completely capable replacement. I will project considering what should be the most likely scenario.

Santana Moss has been unable to practice this week because of his hamstring and will be a gametime decision. The Steelers already have a great pass defense and Moss would likely struggle even if healthy. I am lowering him projections and realize he may not even play. Clinton Portis has been rested most of the week with hip and ankle injuries but is expected to play.

This should be one of the better games of the weekend and neither team can afford a loss. The Steelers are only one game in the lead for the AFC North and the Skins are still a half game behind the Giants who just beat these Steelers. These are two of the better defenses in the league which means a low scoring game which will turn on a defensive play. That may not produce Monday night fireworks but this is an important game for both squads.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)
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 14-21 -2.5 42
9 @WAS - +1.5 37
10 IND - - -
11 SD - - -
12 CIN - - -
13 @NE - - -
14 DAL - - -
15 @BAL - - -
16 @TEN - - -
17 CLE - - -
PIT @ WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     250,2
RB Willie Parker 50 10  
RB Mewelde Moore 30 30  
TE Heath Miler   40  
WR Hines Ward   60,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   50,1  
WR Nate Washington   60  
PK Jeff Reed 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The loss to the Giants hardly stops the Steelers season but it was a measurement that could have gone better. The schedule remains daunting but at least after this week there will be four home games in the next five matchups and that has to be favorable. Willie Parker still has not returned but should offer a boost when he does. The Steelers hold their own destiny with those upcoming home games because once they enter the final five weeks of the season the schedule is not doing them any favors. That week 17 game against the Browns may be a must win.

Quarterback: After starting the season with a string of sub-200 yard games and never more than one score, it looked like Ben Roethlisberger was starting to return to 2007 with five scores over a two game stretch. But at home against the Giants, Big Ben was back to 189 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an uncharacteristic four interceptions last week after only having three all season. He still has scored in all but one game so far and his two most productive efforts happened in the most recent road games.

Running Backs: Willie Parker practiced last Wednesday, then was limited on Thursday and held out on Friday before being listed as doubtful and being inactive last week. His knee continues to be an issue and until he is cleared to play I will assume that the capable Mewelde Moore will take his place.

Moore has been a huge benefit for fantasy teams opting for him during the last three weeks. Moore has scored four times and never had less than 84 rushing yards in that time. His best two games actually came on the road to Jacksonville and Cincinnati. Other than Parker's monster first game against the Texans, Moore has actually been a more productive runner so far.

Wide Receivers: Santonio Holmes was deactivated last week after being arrested for marijuana possession and the expectation is that he will be suspended one game though when that would start is less certain. I am going to project for Holmes to play this week and update as needed on Friday. HC Mike Tomlin has already said that Holmes will play.

In his place, Nate Washington had a 65-yard touchdown catch though it was his only in the game. That gives Washington three scores on the season versus only one for Holmes. Limas Sweed also had more playing time and managed to catch three passes for 28 yards as a personal best so far.

What Holmes' absence mostly caused was too much attention on Hines Ward who only had a season low three catches for 30 yards. Ward still leads the team with five receiving touchdowns and has scored in all but one road game this year.

Tight Ends: The Steelers do not use the tight end spot often anymore though Heath Miller has been as good as 63 yards in a game this year. But he also has turned in 26 yards or less three times and is too inconsistent to rely on.

Match Against the Defense: The Redskins present a very solid defense that has not allowed a visiting runner to top 100 rushing yards and only one has scored in Washington. Look for Moore to have a decent game here only thanks to his role as a receiver and likely not score.

Roethlisberger goes against a secondary that has faced Brees and Warner as visitors and limited them to no more than 216 passing yards and two scores. With a rushing game sure to be less effective, look for Big Ben to manage two scores here that will strongly favor Ward and the speedy Washington. But Washington has scored in each of the last three games and stretching it to four seems unlikely. I'll credit the suddenly clean and sober Holmes instead.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 16 23 8 21 22 8
Preventing Fantasy Points    WAS 7 5 12 6 10 13


Washington Redskins (6-2)
Homefield: FedEx Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NYG 7-16 +3.5 41
2 NO 29-24 -1 42.5
3 ARZ 24-17 -3 42
4 @DAL 26-24 +11.5 46
5 @PHI 23-17 +5 43
6 STL 17-19 -13.5 44
7 CLE 14-11 -7.5 42.5
8 @DET 25-17 -8 43.5
9 PIT - -1.5 37
10 BYE - - -
11 DAL - - -
12 @SEA - - -
13 NYG - - -
14 @BAL - - -
15 @CIN - - -
16 PHI - - -
17 @SF - - -
WAS vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Jason Campbell     180,1
RB Clinton Portis 80,1 10  
TE Chris Cooley   50,1  
WR Santana Moss   30  
WR Antwaan Randle El   50  
WR Devin Thomas   30  
PK Shaun Suisham 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Skins looked horrible in the preseason and started the season with a loss but have been thoroughly impressive since then with only a trap game with the Rams as a loss. This is a defining game of sorts for the Skins because their impressive wins came against divisional rivals and yet they have played every other game close. The schedule has been very kind so far and is about to get much tougher once the bye has passed.

Quarterback: Jason Campbell comes off a season best game of 328 yards and one score because, of course, he just played against the Lions. But that is the second 300+ yard game this year for Campbell who has not thrown an interception yet this year. WIth eight scores to his credit, he's been just an average quarterback in fantasy terms but very solid otherwise. His yardage varies greatly from week to week but only when he faces a below average secondary - not the case this week.

Running Backs: Clinton Portis is putting the whoop on all other NFL running backs with 944 rushing yards. That's merely 270 more yards than any other runner in the league and a pace that would result in 1888 rushing yards on the season. His seven rushing scores are second only to Lendale White. Portis has rushed for over 120 yards in five consecutive weeks for the second time in his career. Only O.J. Simpson has also managed that feat. Portis has two tough challenges ahead against the Steelers and Cowboys but both games are at home and Portis started his string with 121 yards in Dallas back in week four.

Portis will play this week but is being bothered by sore ankles and a hip injury but he's been golden on the field.

Wide Receivers: What's not to love about playing the Lions? Santana Moss comes off a nine catch, 140 yard game in Detroit where he scored for the second week in a row. Moss has enjoyed a career year so far with only two bad games - the trap game against the Rams and then in Philly. Otherwise Moss has been either scoring a touchdown and/or gaining 100 yards every week. Moss tweaked his hamstring in the second half last Sunday but I will assume he plays with some limitation this week. I will update on Friday as needed but regardless, playing the Steelers is almost a guarantee of a down game anyway. There is a chance he could miss this game all together.

Antwaan Randle El chugs along with around 60 yards per week but he only has one score on the season. The only player in this unit of any note is Moss and that will be an issue this week since the Steelers really only need to cover one wide receiver.

Tight Ends: While Chris Cooley has not been quite as good as 2007, he still has been consistent around 70 yards each week. He only has one score so far and the success of Portis has negated the need for Cooley to catch those short touchdowns.

Match Against the Defense: Portis wants to extend his 120+ yard streak but the Steelers have not allowed any runner to gain more than 63 rushing yards this season and only twice have they allowed a runner to rush in a score. Figure on Portis still having a decent game but he won't go over 100 yards and he will need to score a touchdown to support his fantasy value.

Campbell faces an outstanding secondary that has only allowed a total of six passing scores this year and never more than one per opponent. No quarterback has passed for more than 202 yards against them so expect no more than one score and moderate passing yards here. If Moss does not play or is limited, that really hurts this offense and should benefit Cooley the most.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points WAS 21 12 15 13 15 32
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 4 3 3 12 9 25

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