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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

Prediction: TB 20, ATL 24

Update: Jeff Garcia was limited in every practice this week and is listed as questionable. Many close to the situation believed that Garcia stood a good chance of missing this week but HC Jon Gruden said after Friday's practice that he expected Garcia to start and play. Luke McCown took most of the first team snaps this week and would replace him if needed but it appears that Garcia may play. Check gametime inactives to be sure if you need Garcia.

The Buccaneers stumble out of their Monday night loss to the Panthers with a strong contention for a wildcard and a hope that the Panthers stumble. The problem this week is that the Buccaneers are only 3-4 on the road and the Falcons are 5-1 at home and are much better than when the Buccaneers won 24-9 back in week two. The Falcons must keep winning to hope for a wild card and the Buccaneers have a short week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4)
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NO 20-24 +3.5

42.5

2 ATL 24-9 -8 38.5
3 @CHI 27-24 +3 35.5
4 GB 30-21 -1.5 43
5 @DEN 13-16 +3 48
6 CAR 27-3 -1.5 36.5
7 SEA 20-10 -11 39
8 @DAL 9-13 +2 42
9 @KC 30-27 -8.5 37.5
10 BYE - - -
11 MIN 19-13 -4 39.5
12 @DET 38-20 -8.5 41
13 NO 23-20 -3.5 48
14 @CAR 23-38 +3 40
15 @ATL - +2.5 42
16 SD - - -
17 OAK - - -
TB @ ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jeff Garcia     240,1
RB Warrick Dunn 60,1 20  
RB Carnell Williams 40 10  
TE Jerramy Stevens   40  
WR Ike Hilliard   40  
WR Antonio Bryant   80,1  
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The loss to the Panthers came about with a shocking collapse of the rushing defense in Carolina but it wasn't all that out of character since the Buccaneers have been so different at home versus on the road. The final two games are at home against the Chargers and Raiders - both very winnable and a 11-5 record is a lock for a wildcard. But this week will be a challenge to turn around a season long trend against a team that has been getting better every week.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia comes off his best game of the year - by a big margin - when he passed for 321 yards and two scores in Carolina but depending on Antonio Bryant to gain 200 yards each week will be difficult. Garcia does usually score in each game but almost never more than once. In nine games, he has ten touchdowns. Hooking up so well with Bryant was encouraging but highly uncharacteristic.

Brian Griese was the starting quarterback in week two when the Falcons visited and he passed for 160 yards and one touchdown.

Running Backs: Warrick Dunn remains the starter here for the three games since Earnest Graham has been gone but his fantasy value has been low outside of the game against the Lions (wish I had a dollar for every time I wrote that). Dunn gained 49 yards on ten carries in Carolina and now shares almost equal with Carnell Williams (9-22) who has stolen the goal line touchdown for the last two weeks. There hasn't been much production here anyway and now Williams and Dunn split it up.

Earnest Graham rushed for 116 yards on 15 carries and scored once against the visiting Falcons this year. Dunn gained 49 yards on 12 runs and scored as well.

Wide Receivers: Nothing like catching nine passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns on national TV but Antonio Bryant's career game still wasn't enough to lift the Bucs last Monday. No other receiver had more than 33 yards in the game which makes Bryant have all the fantasy value and gives the secondary just one guy to really cover. The big game gives Bryant five scores on the season and three in just the last two games. But Bryant has been around 50 yards in almost all other games. And no other receiver here really matters much anymore.

No wideout gained more than 41 yards against the Falcons this year.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Stevens had five catches for 33 yards in the Carolina game as the second best receiver but he has been far too inconsistent to rely on and rarely has more than 20 yards in most games. Alex Smith rates the same.

John Gilmore scored and had two catches for 41 yards against the Falcons. Smith only had 20 yards on two receptions and never scored.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons defense should allow the Buccaneers to have some success both rushing and passing but the offense has struggled lately to put together a good rushing game since Graham left. And the Falcons are tougher at home as well so look for only a mediocre showing by the rushing game here that gets split in two anyway.

Garcia should have a better week here against a secondary that has allowed a touchdown every week in Atlanta. I like Garcia to throw a score which should favor Bryant since he gets such a huge proportion of the passes but could end up with a tight end. Stevens shows up a bit more in these road games.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 23 17 23 5 2 3
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 24 22 13 26 6 2


Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DET 34-21 +3 41
2 @TB 9-24 +8 38.5
3 KC 38-14 -5 36
4 @CAR 9-24 +7 39.5
5 @GB 27-24 +3 41
6 CHI 22-20 +2.5 43.5
7 BYE - - -
8 @PHI 14-27 +8.5 46.5
9 @OAK 24-0 -3 41
10 NO 34-20 PK 50
11 DEN 20-24 -5.5 51
12 CAR 45-28 -1 42.5
13 @SD 22-16 +5 49
14 @NO 25-29 +3 52
15 TB - -2.5 42
16 @MIN - - -
17 STL - - -
ATL vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     230,2
RB Michael Turner 90,1    
RB Jerious Norwood 20 20  
WR Michael Jenkins   60  
WR Roddy White   80,1  
WR Harry Douglas   40,1  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The loss in New Orleans was a setback for a wildcard bid but the Falcons are a huge success already at 8-5 and have a very good chance at winning at least one or two more games. As surprising as they have played as of late, they could run the table potentially. The weakness continues to be a defense that has allowed 20 or more points in four of the last five weeks but the offense just gets better. If they do miss the post season, they'll be one of the best ones not playing in January.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan will be battling Chris Johnson for Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors. Make no doubt. He has passed for 14 touchdowns and had six games with 250 passing yards or more. Even more impressive is that Ryan passed for 158 yards and two interceptions back in week two in Tampa Bay and has thrown only five more in the eleven games that followed. This will be a much better Ryan that the Bucs will face than the Greenhorn who was starting his second NFL game last time.

Running Backs: Michael Turner has has managed some great yardage efforts on the road this year but his scoring has remained largely an Atlanta thing. He has two scores in away games including just last week in New Orleans and yet has 12 touchdowns in the Superdome and only once failed to score there this year. Four of his games there have featured multiple touchdowns. The breakdown in the Buccaneers rushing defense against the Panthers no doubt interested Turner who only gained 42 yards on 14 carries in Tampa Bay in his worst game of the year.

Turner is tied with Lendale White for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns (14). He is second only to Adrian Peterson in rushing yards and leads the league in rushing attempts with his first ever 300 carry season.

Wide Receivers: Michael Turner is a league leader in many areas and yet the Falcons also have Roddy White who has 1249 receiving yards to be #1 in that category as well. His ten catches for 164 yards in New Orleans was a season high that already has seen him ring up seven games over 100 yards. White hasn't scored since week ten but Turner has a lot to do with that. White caught four passes for 59 yards in Tampa Bay this season.

Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas contribute every week as well but White is the star in this group and a lock for between five and ten catches each week.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value here.

Match Against the Defense: The mind blowing part about the last Monday night game was that the Buccaneers allowed four rushing scores and 301 rushing yards to the Panthers. Prior to that, they had only allowed one rushing touchdown all season. Just one. They had allowed only one 100 yard game and last Monday gave up two. Obviously that was an extreme aberration from the norm but the Buccaneers have been softer on the road and have given up three scores to running backs as receivers. Look for Turner to have a solid game here and to score once. Anything more will be a signal that the Bucs are still reeling from Monday night because they always play far better,

The Bucs have allowed at least one passing score in every road game this season with decent yardage for most teams. This is a chance to measure the progress of Ryan and I like him to pass for two scores that will obviously favor White and then could be either Douglas or Jenkins. Ronde Barber should end up on Jenkins so I like Douglas slightly more.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 19 4 6 31 5 24
Preventing Fantasy Points    TB 7 6 12 4 14 15

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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