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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: NE 27, SEA 17

Update: Matt Hasselbeck has missed practice because of his back and is not expected to play this week. Seneca Wallace will get the start but I am lowering passing numbers. The Patriots secondary can be beaten by a good quarterback but Wallace will have a much hard time.

The Patriots took a step backwards last week and at 7-5 they are one game behind the Jets and tied with the Dolphins with split wins against both teams. The Pats are only 3-2 on the road but the Seahawks are busy with their five game losing streak and are only 1-5 at home. Pats can take this and need it.

New England Patriots (7-5)
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 15-18 +5.5 45
10 BUF 20-10 -4 41
11 NYJ 31-34 -3.5 41.5
12 @MIA 48-28 +2 42
13 PIT 10-33 -1 40
14 @SEA - -5 43
15 @OAK - - -
16 ARZ - - -
17 @BUF - - -
NE @ SEA Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassell     280,2
RB Kevin Faulk 50 20  
RB Sammy Morris 30,1    
TE Ben Watson   20  
WR Randy Moss   100,1  
WR Jabar Gaffney   50,1  
WR Wes Welker   80  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Patriots have set a bad precedent for themselves in the last five games. They beat the Bills who have fallen on hard times and paid the Fins back for their win in New England. But they lost to the Colts, the Jets and the Steelers.

Those were the games they really needed to show they could win if they wanted to entertain any serious notion of being a contender this year. The remaining schedule has three road games but against teams they should manage to beat. The Pats still have a chance at January play but then again it doesn't look like they would do much if they get there.

Quarterback: Two straight games over 400 yards passing (which Brady has never done once) and Matt Cassel was wearing a perpetual "Aw Shucks" grin last week right up until the Steelers held him to 169 yards, forced him to lose the ball with two interceptions and two lost fumbles and sacked him five times. No more grinning. And no more inane conversation that in any way suggests that Cassel is anything more than a caddy to Tom Brady.

This week should be telling. Cassel had 415 yards in Miami in his last road game but that was a tit-for-tat thing with the FIns. His four previous road games scored only one and only one had more than 205 passing yards and that included the 49ers and Chargers.

Running Backs: The Patriots continue to mix in ample portions of Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris with good overall results and yet with no reliable fantasy starter in the bunch. The Patriots produce top ten running back numbers and yet have no top 40 running back. There will be points but they will be divided into two if not three and without any way of knowing who, what and when by design.

Wide Receivers: The inconsistency of Randy Moss continues with only 45 yards on four catches against the Steelers after 125 yards and three scores in Miami. The actual formula is not hard to determine really - his four 100 yard games came against KC, SF, STL and MIA. Three horrible defenses and then one very familiar opponent in a freak revenge game. But that should still play out well this week with the #31 defense against wideouts.

Wes Welker was blasted by the Steelers last week and almost certainly suffered a concussion though, of course, nothing is said by the Patriots who will not be forthcoming on Welker's situation for Sunday. I will assume that he can play with minor limitations if at all but update if warranted. The problem is that he will likely miss some practice time and be questionable and with the Patriots that means anything is possible. Welker owners will finally get a true taste of relying on a Patriots player.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson gets one catch per week and you should not care.

Match Against the Defense: The Seahawks have been weak against the run but are spectacularly bad against the pass and Cassel could use some confidence boosting after last week. Expect one rushing score here that probably comes from Morris but could go to any of the three runners.

Cassel faces the #31 defense against quarterbacks and wide outs. Seattle has never failed to allow at least one passing score if not up to three. Five different passers have thrown for over 300 yards against them. Look for a nice bounce back game by Cassel with at least two passing scores and very healthy yardage. Hopefully Welker is healthy for this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 11 10 8 28 3 30
Preventing Fantasy Points    SEA 31 22 31 26 31 21


Seattle Seahawks (2- 10)
Homefield: Qwest Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BUF 10-34 +1 39
2 SF 30-33 -8 38.5
3 STL 37-13 -10 44
4 BYE - - -
5 @NYG 6-44 +7 43.5
6 GB 17-27 -2.5 46.5
7 @TB 10-20 +11 39
8 @SF 34-13 +4.5 42.5
9 PHI 7-26 +6.5 43
10 @MIA 19-21 +9 43
11 ARZ 20-26 +3.5 47.5
12 WAS 17-20 +3.5 41.5
13 @DAL 9-34 +12.5 46.5
14 NE - +5 43
15 @STL - - -
16 NYJ - - -
17 @ARZ - - -
SEA vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Hasselbeck 240,2
QB Seneca Wallace     210,1
RB Julius Jones 30 10  
TE John Carlson   50  
WR Bobby Engram   40  
WR Koren Robinson   50  
WR Deion Branch   50,1  
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Seahawks are still searching for their first win outside the NFC West but at 2-10, expectations are low. Week 15 in St. Louis has promise but nothing else does for a team that hasn't been favored in a game for eight weeks. The final days of Mike Holmgren are coming to a grinding halt without any fanfare or last hurrah.

Quarterback: Three weeks back now and Matt Hasselbeck finally looked somewhat sharp in Dallas where he completed 22 of 38 passes for 287 yards but he could not score a touchdown and was plagued by other people dropping passes or losing a fumble to kill scoring drives. Hasselbeck was also sacked a season high seven times in his only road game since coming back in week 11. Hasselbeck did have many nice throws but he has spread the ball around so much that there hasn't been a single wideout of any note. In fact in the three weeks since his return, no wide receiver has caught even one touchdown.

Running Backs: Julius Jones had plenty motivation to turn in a nice game back in Dallas but it was just more of the same with 11 carries turning into 37 yards. Other than one game in Miami where he ran for 88 yards, Jones has been devoid of fantasy value since week three.

The Seahawks saw Maurice Morris explode against Washington with 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns but in Dallas he was back to normal - six carries for 10 yards. Short of the almost random decent showing, this unit has lost all fantasy value and Jones barely merits being on any fantasy roster.

Wide Receivers: As noted, three weeks of Hasselbeck back and the wideouts still await a touchdown. Hasselbeck has been mixing in the wide receivers with decent overall effect but no wide receiver here merits a fantasy start. Bobby Engram has been hitting around 35 to 40 yards per game while Deion Branch fares slightly better with around 50 yards per game with Hasselbeck.

Last week was a good illustration of the problem in Seattle - even when the team can pass the ball well and move down the field, it all comes to a halt when the goal line gets near. There is no wideout here that demands special attention because even combined they have not been a threat.

Tight Ends: The only receiver of any note since Hasselbeck has returned (other than Morris) is John Carlson who comes off his first career game over 100 yards and he scored last week though only had two catches for 14 yards. Hasselbeck already trusts him as much as the wide receivers and Carlson is already developing into a nice weapon.

Match Against the Defense: The Patriots rushing defense has been better than the ranking suggests since it includes four scores given via the pass to a tailback. There is no reason to expect the mediocre rushing attack in Seattle to improve this week. Look for no scores and low yardage.

Hasselbeck could have some success here though against a secondary that has allowed 12 passing scores over the five road games and three times they gave up three scores. Look for at least two passing touchdowns from Hasselbeck that will favor the wideouts and could go to any of them. Robinson is the only wideout still on the roster with a touchdown this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 30 19 31 20 26 24
Preventing Fantasy Points    NE 25 13 27 14 11 25

The Huddle
WEEK 14
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday
Monday
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
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