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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 14
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday
Monday
* updated

Prediction: DAL 13, PIT 26

Update: Marion Barber did not practice this week because of his toe and he has not been ruled out of the game. But this will be a tough matchup no matter how healthy he would have been. I am lowering his projections and he will be a game time decision that I would expect to be inactive or at least unused. But Tashard Choice as a replacement is even less appealing playing in Pittsburgh so I am not going to add him in. This is a terrible spot for any DAL runner. Check the inactives if you still intend on using Barber but at least lower any expectations if he does play.

Ben Roethlisberger was limited on Wednesday and Willie Parker missed work that day but both had full practices the rest of the week and and good to go.

The Cowboys have risen to 8-4 with a three game winning streak and that has them still three games out of the NFC East but in contention for a wildcard. The Cowboys are only 3-3 on the road though. The Steelers are also on a three game winning streak and are 4-2 at home while atop the AFC North. Dallas doesn't travel well and yet the Steelers have a road trip to Baltimore waiting next week. This should be lower scoring thanks to the Steeler defense and Dallas cannot keep up.

Dallas Cowboys (8-4)
Homefield: Texas Stadium
RealGrass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 28-10 -5.5 49
2 PHI 41-37 -7 47
3 @GB 27-16 -3 51
4 WAS 24-26 -11.5 46
5 CIN 31-22 -17.5 44
6 @ARZ 24-30 -5 50
7 @STL 14-34 -7 44
8 TB 13-9 -2 42
9 @NYG 14-35 +8.5 41
10 BYE - - -
11 @WAS 14-10 -1.5 43
12 SF 35-22 -11 48
13 SEA 34-9 -12.5 46.5
14 @PIT - +3 41.5
15 NYG - - -
16 BAL - - -
17 @PHI - - -
DAL @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     230,1
RB Marion Barber 30    
TE Jason Witten   70,1  
WR Terrell Owens   50  
WR Patrick Crayton   30  
WR Roy Williams   40  
PK Nick Folk 2 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Cowboys are in line to get a wildcard if they keep winning but that is going to be a huge challenge with PIT, NYG and BAL up next. Even the season finale in Philly is hardly a given. Destiny is in the Cowboys hands but all the recent Decembers say this is when the Cowboys get worse - not better.

Quarterback: Nothing like a couple of home games against the 49ers and Seahawks to make Tony Romo look good as new. He threw for over 330 yards in both games and had three touchdowns in each. That gives him six games with three scores - and five were at home. One has three games with just one score and all of those came in away games. Heading into Pittsburgh will result in the toughest matchup yet for Romo yet and virtually no chance for him to continue his 300 yard streak.

Running Backs: Big scare for the Cowboys when Marion Barber left the Seahawks game with a bad toe but the dislocation had no more severe problems and that he will likely miss no games since they will just tape the pinkie toe to the next toe. Barber also gets three extra days to rest thanks to playing last Thursday and the Cowboys need him healthy now that Felix Jones has been shelved for the season. I will assume Barber plays this week with minor limitation and he may wear a plate on his shoe to stabilize the toe.

Tashard Choice ran well enough last week against the Seahawks but only had 18 yards on 16 carries the previous week against the 49ers. He's solid enough to fill in but not nearly a 1:1 replacement of Felix Jones.

Wide Receivers: It took two home games against a pair of horrible offenses, but at least Terrell Owens has paid something back to fantasy owners when he had 98 yards last week and 213 the previous game with a score in each. What will be the test this week is that Owens has not accounted for more than 38 yards in any of the last five road games and scored only once in those match-ups. The entire Dallas offense has a tougher time on the road but Owens more than any other player suffers a big drop off.

Roy Williams just chugs along with around 40 yards every week no matter how good or bad the opponent is. He has only one touchdown as a Cowboy and Romo did not throw it.

Tight Ends: Following the lead of several players, Jason Witten had been almost insignificant for a month with never more than 34 yards in a game and then last week he exploded for a season best nine catches for 115 yards and one score. Even Martellis Bennett had a touchdown which gives him three in a row now. I won't project for Bennett and he rarely has more than one catch, but he has been a target in the endzone for three straight weeks.

Match Against the Defense: The banged up Barber has to play in Pittsburgh where there have only been two rushing scores allowed and never more than 63 rushing yards to any runner. And he has a bad toe. Expect a mediocre showing here as have all others who have played there this year.

Romo faces one of the best secondaries in the league and this game will be in freezing weather with a chance of snow. Only Peyton Manning has passed for more than one touchdown in Pittsburgh and no quarterback has turned in more than 240 passing yards. This is shaping up to be one of the lowest scoring games of the Cowboys season. Look for one passing score than likely favors Witten the most. The Steelers corners should handle Owens who disappears away from Dallas.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 6 15 10 1 24 12
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 2 4 3 10 5 20


Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
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 23-6 +1.5 37
10 IND 20-24 -3.5 38.5
11 SD 11-10 -4 43
12 CIN 27-10

-10.5

39
13 @NE 33-10 +1 40
14 DAL - -3 41.5
15 @BAL - - -
16 @TEN - - -
17 CLE - - -
PIT vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     240,1
RB Willie Parker 90,1    
TE Heath Miler   50  
WR Hines Ward   60  
WR Santonio Holmes   80,1  
WR Nate Washington   40  
PK Jeff Reed 4 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Steelers are enjoying a great season and have the inside track on winning the division but the final schedule is brutal with Dallas, Baltimore and Tennessee before finally a freebie against the Browns. The Steelers have to avoid looking past this at the trip to the Ravens next week that can wrap up the division and the Steelers have not been as dominating at home as expected lately. But the Steelers are getting healthier for the final push and the Cowboys are a good warm up for next week.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger threw for two scores in New England last week and finally reversed the scoring drought that only saw two touchdown passes in the five previous games. Big Ben has also posted good yardage in games until last week when he never had to throw the ball. He has evolved into a game manager again and while he hasn't had more than a couple of big games this season, Roethlisberger has thrown only one interception in the last three weeks and hasn't lost a fumble since back in week three.

Running Backs: Willie Parker is finally back to health and the Steelers just released Najeh Davenport again to prove it. Parker gained 87 yards on 16 carries in New England but his limited carries has prevented him from posting numbers of much significance. Since returning in week nine, Parker turned in two good efforts against the Redskins (21-70, 1 TD) and Chargers (25-115) before the blowouts over the Bengals and Patriots. These next three weeks should be much more challenging and keep Parker in the game.

Mewelde Moore still gets work but only after Parker is done or when the score is out of reach anyway. His workload will diminish for the next three weeks as the defenses become much better.

The Steelers are also using Gary Russell as a short yardage player with a score in the last two games but Parker remains both the primary back and the most likely to carry at the goal line.

Wide Receivers: The yardage with this group has remained on the low side in most games this year though Hines Ward has two games over 100 yards and scored last week to finally end a six week scoreless stretch. Ward typically matters more the tougher the matchup is and these last two weeks have been lower stats.

Santonio Holmes scored last week but only had 28 yards on two catches and still only has three touchdowns on the season. He remains good for around 60 to 70 yards in most weeks.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller has seen increased workload over the last three games with around 50 yards in each and scoring against the Bengals. Miller has been consistent even if only mildly productive.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys have been decent against the run with only three teams able to rush in a touchdown against them but on the road they are much less formidable and Parker should at least have a decent game here with a shot at a touchdown. Dallas on the road against one of the better defenses should mean plenty of rushing attempts here.

Roethlisberger goes against about an average defense with the better cornerback of Terrence Newman scoring and Holmes getting the far more advantageous matchup against Anthony Henry. Look for a standard Steeler game here with Holmes the most likely to score.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 16 21 11 22 13 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    DAL 14 10 17 7 24 9

The Huddle
WEEK 14
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday
Monday
Other Features
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Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
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