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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 15
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday
Monday
*updated

Prediction: NE 27, OAK 10

The Patriots remain in the three-way tie for the AFC East lead and are 4-2 in road games this year. The Raiders are only 1-5 at home and on a two game losing streak but still remain dangerous in Oakland. But not dangerous enough.

New England Patriots (8-5)
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 24-21 -5 43
15 @OAK - -7 40
16 ARZ - - -
17 @BUF - - -
NE at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassell     260,1
RB Sammy Morris 70,1    
TE Ben Watson   20  
WR Randy Moss   80,1  
WR Jabar Gaffney   50  
WR Wes Welker   80  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: After getting waxed by the Steelers, struggling against the lowly Seahawks playing Seneca Wallace hardly evokes confidence in this team. The final three games will be critical and this one will be the easiest of them all. Hosting the Cardinals instead of going to Arizona is catching a break and then the finale in Buffalo is likely just a mop up job. The Pats could easily end up 11-5 on the season but still have to contend with the Jets and Dolphins wanting the title and even the Ravens and Colts already sucking up both wildcards.

Quarterback: With 14 touchdowns on the year, Matt Cassel will not be challenging any Brady records this year but the troublesome development has become why Cassel plays so well against AFC East opponents and far less productively against all others. The only two games over 270 yards where the 400+ he stuck on the Jets and Dolphins with three scores in each. The only other three score games Cassel has thrown was when the Broncos visited New England and he passed for 185 yards. Cassel remains an average one score per week passer with only moderate passing yards when playing outside his division.

Running Backs: The three-headed monster was down to just two last week when Sammy Morris (11-36, 1 TD) and Kevin Faulk (3-16 and 5-22 receiving) took the load. That's highly unreliable of course since BenJarvus Green-Ellis could show up at any time but the Patriots have managed to create a decent running back attack using multiple and ever-changing players. That comes into focus more against a soft team like the Raiders.

I am going to project for just Sammy Morris since he gets the majority of touches lately but as always, the confidence level in the weekly depth chart is always low.

Wide Receivers: Wes Welker may be pound for pound as tough as they come in the NFL since he gets rocked in every game and was pasted against the Steelers. Instead of taking a week off to clear the cobwebs, he had a season high 12 catches for 134 yards in Seattle. He has retaken the NFL lead for receptions (96) away from Andre Johnson (92).

Randy Moss is the main character this week because he not only faces a very accomplished secondary with a shut down corner, this is also the first time he goes against the team that nearly ruined his career. With Cassel instead of Brady it may not be as much fun, but Moss will have motivation here and Bill Belichick is not above catering to the players he really likes.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson caught a touchdown last week but it was on his only catch in the game and he only has two on the season. No reliability to warrant fantasy attention.

Match Against the Defense: The Raiders rushing defense has been poor this season and even at home have already allowed nine rushing scores and three runners to top 100 rushing yards. Look for a solid total effort here by the Patriots rushing attack. One small thing here - Lamont Jordan returned to the field last week when he had four carries for 18 yards in his first action since week five. Jordan could also harbor some less than fond memories of his time working for the jumpsuit wonder and want in on the action. That is completely unreliable to happen but is a possibility. I like two rushing scores here but other than one for Morris, the other could end up with one of several people.

Cassel faces a secondary that has ranked well but most teams are just running against them and even then, four different teams have scored multiple passing touchdowns and twice there have been 300 yard games given up. Where will the Raiders put Nnamdi Asomugha? He normally would line up on Moss though the Patriots will shift and move players around so matchups become much less clear. And is it wise to let Welker free since he leads the league in receptions?

Best guess is that Moss takes most of the attention and Big Al wouldn't be above wanting to hold Moss in check. But I like Cassel to throw for at least one touchdown in this game and that will still favor Moss. It could be more if Moss can get free.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 12 10 7 28 3 29
Preventing Fantasy Points    OAK 12 28 7 13 12 17


Oakland Raiders (3-10)
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DEN 14-41 +3 41.5
2 @KC 23-8 +4 34.5
3 @BUF 23-24 +9.5 36.5
4 SD 18-28 +7 46
5 BYE - - -
6 @NO 3-34 +7.5 47.5
7 NYJ 16-13 +3 42.5
8 @BAL 10-29 +7 36
9 ATL 0-24 +3 41
10 CAR 6-17 +9 38
11 @MIA 15-17

+10.5

38.5
12 @DEN 31-10 +9.5 42.5
13 KC 13-20 -3 41.5
14 @SD 7-34 +10 43
15 NE - +7 40
16 HOU - - -
17 @TB - - -
OAK vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB JaMarcus Russell     150,1
RB Justin Fargas 70 10  
TE Zach Miller   60,1  
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins   20  
WR Chaz Schilens   20  
WR Ronald Curry   30  
PK Sebastian Janikowski 1 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: Another year, another offseason looming full of changes and anxiety. The Raiders have lost the ability to score on offense unless it is against the Broncos who kept it from being a seven game losing streak. The Raiders have met as a team and outlined what they want to accomplish before the season ends. One more win might be nice but is also probably a bit too much to ask for.

Quarterback: JaMarcus Russell sprained his ankle last week and had Andrew Walter stink the Chargers game up instead but interim coach Tom Cable is optimistic that Russell can play this week and finish out the year as the starter. Russell could certainly used the experience since he has only passed for one touchdown in the last five games and only has seven on the season. For a first round stud, Russell has hardly made good on his draft slot or signing bonus.

Running Backs: Darren McFadden is ending his rookie season with a whimper thanks to a turf toe that refuses to improve and that has limited him for nearly the entire season. He is not a bust yet but he's hardly been a good pick either.

Justin Fargas has been pretty consistent around 50 or more rushing yards each week but he only has one touchdown on the year and has almost no role as a receiver. McFadden's injury has allowed Fargas a full year as a starter and the only positive that has happened was that Fargas has somehow remained healthy this year.

Wide Receivers: It is a group devoid of value - NFL or fantasy wise. The season is winding down with starters of Chaz Schilens who has - the honest truth here - not caught a single pass in the last four games. And he is a starter. Ronald Curry who has been held to less than 25 yards in all but two games and Johnnie Lee Higgins who returns punts and only has four catches in the last six weeks.

Russell is not being done any favors with this group. You have to wonder if the Raiders coaching staff will eventually determine that they have always let the good ones go and kept the bad ones.

Tight Ends: Zach Miller is not only a better receiver than any of the wideouts, he is often a better receiver than all of the wideouts - combined. He has turned in 50+ yards in most games though he only has one score on the season. Albeit lower production, he is the only consistent receiver on this team.

Match Against the Defense: The r Raiders have struggled to score any touchdowns and the Patriots are better against the run anyway. Look for one passing score that ends up with Miller or there may be no touchdown this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 32 25 32 19 28 13
Preventing Fantasy Points    NE 27 12 27 22 7 22

The Huddle
WEEK 15
~ 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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