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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 16
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Saturday
Monday
 
* updated

Prediction: NO 31, DET 20

Update: Kevin Smith was limited in all practices this week because of his ankle but is still expected to play. He was limited by his groin last week and still carried a full load in Indianapolis so I am not changing the projections.

This is the big one. The best remaining chance for the Lion to avoid the infamy of being the only 0-16 team. And the Saints are only 1-6 on the road so there is a good chance of it. Well... a chance of it anyway. They should have made this one the Monday night game.

New Orleans Saints (7-7)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 TB 24-20 -3.5

42.5

2 @WAS 24-29 +1 42.5
3 @DEN 32-34 +5.5 51.5
4 SF 31-17 -6 48.5
5 MIN 27-30 -3 47
6 OAK 34-3 -7.5 47.5
7 @CAR 7-30 +3 44
8 SD 37-32 +3.5 47
9 BYE - - -
10 @ATL 20-34 PK 50
11 @KC 30-20 -5.5 51
12 GB 51-29 -1 51.5
13 @TB 20-23 +3.5 48
14 ATL 29-25 -3 52
15 @CHI 24-27 -6.5 50.5
16 @DET - - -
17 CAR - - -
NO @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     300,3
RB Pierre Thomas 80,1 40,1  
TE Jeremy Shockey   60,1  
WR Marques Colston   80,1  
WR Devery Henderson   40  
WR Lance Moore   60  
PK Garrett Hartley 1 FG 4 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Saints fall to 7-7 with their loss in Chicago but the last two road trips were both three point losses to good opponents. Throw in a two point loss in Denver and a three pointer when the Vikings visited and the Saints are 11 points short of being 11-3. But the defense has never held a road opponent to less than 20 points so while the Lions still lost this one, they should post some points which in turn makes the Saints want to score more. It is a beautiful thing in fantasy football. How can the Saints ever have a big enough lead with that defense?

Quarterback: Drew Brees already leads the league with 4332 passing yards and facing the Lions this week is unlikely to change that much. His 28 passing scores ties him with Philip Rivers but so far Brees has not been as wildly productive in road games this year. He has never had more than two touchdowns away from New Orleans and only twice had more than 300 yards (though both were actually 400 yarders in Denver and Atlanta). Sliced and diced how ever you want, this is the matchup that the fantasy world wants to watch this week.

Running Backs: Reggie Bush is a question mark this week with a bum knee that forced him from the Chicago game. He's only been back for three weeks from his previous knee injury and is undergoing an MRI to determine the problem. I will assume that Bush is held out this week until he is cleared to play. Updates as warranted.

Pierre Thomas has been every bit as good as Bush and there is no need to rush Bush back in if he needs to heal. Thomas has scored in each of the last five games with a total of eight touchdowns. He has been regularly topping 100 total yards and been a big factor regardless how good the defense is. The only downside to Thomas has been that he is reducing the need for Brees to pass. In short, Thomas is "the guy". The running back out of nowhere that delivers big in the second half of the season. Ryan Grant was the guy last year. Ladell Betts before him.

Wide Receivers: The red hot Lance Moore hasn't done much for a few weeks now with fewer than 40 yards in the last three games and even Marques Colston had a bad outing against the Falcons before scoring his second touchdown of the season against the Bears last week. A positive sign for Sunday is that Colston has been better in road games this year and so has Moore. The bottom line comes down to the need to throw which has been lessened by the success of Pierre Thomas.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey remains good for around 60 yards in most games but he is losing chances to get his first score as a Saints player. But he has been pretty solid if you can live with five catches for 50 yards.

Match Against the Defense: This is certainly the week to start Pierre Thomas against the worst defense against running backs. Look for a big game here. The Lions started the year out as a decent defense against the run but the last two teams to visit had five rushing touchdowns. With Bush questionable, Thomas may end up helping to win more than a few fantasy championships this week.

Brees will throw for 300 yards because he always does when he can and the Lions should not prove to be a hindrance. They rank better because most teams just run to beat them but the Saints prefer the pass. Look for two scores here with a chance for more. In the view of the Saints, the season needs at least one more win to prevent a losing year. And no team wants to be the only one that cannot beat the Lions. That is no way to end the year. This is also a great spot to finally get Jeremy Shockey into the endzone against the #31 defense against tight ends. At least one score heads to the wideouts that should favor Colston this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 3 5 4 18 19
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 24 32 18 31 28 32


Detroit Lions (0-14)
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @ATL 21-34 -3 41
2 GB 25-48 +3 45
3 @SF 13-31 +4 46
4 BYE - - -
5 CHI 7-34 +3.5 44.5
6 @MIN 10-12 +13.5 47
7 @HOU 21-28 +9 48
8 WAS 17-25 +8 43.5
9 @CHI 23-27 +13 43
10 JAX 14-38 +6.5 44.5
11 @CAR 22-31 +14 39.5
12 TB 20-38 +8.5 41
13 TEN 10-47 +11 44.5
14 MIN 16-20 +9.5 46
15 @IND 21-31 +17 45
16 NO - +6.5 50.5
17 @GB - - -
DET vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Dan Orlovsky     230,1
RB Kevin Smith 70,1 40  
WR John Standeford   30  
WR Calvin Johnson   110,1  
WR Keary Colbert   30  
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The last home game for the woeful Lions and will it be a stand up and fight for the final chance at a win or will they just lay down from the futility of it all? Thing to remember too is that these players all want jobs next year and other than Calvin Johnson, none of them are slam dunks to return as starters. Plus no one wants to be a part of the worst team of all-time. The Lions have not given up at all. But they only have so much to work with and moves like shipping Roy Williams out were a part of this self-inflicted situation.

Quarterback: The Lions will look to start Dan Orlovsky for this week since Daunte Culpepper is still hampered by his shoulder and is not in the future plans for the Lions anyway. To his credit, Orlovsky has thrown for at least one score i each of the last five games and remained above 220 yards as well. Granted that is almost all going to Calvin Johnson but if the Colts and Buccaneers cannot stop him, it is doubtful the Saints will shut him down. It's like a nuance to the game. You know Johnson will catch a score, it is just interesting to see how they do it every week.

Running Backs: At least Kevin Smith is still playing hard and comes off one of his best games of the year when he had 119 total yards and a score in Indianapolis. That gives him six touchdowns on the season and while he only had one effort over 100 rushing yards, Smith has been adding in receptions and scores enough to merit being an every week fantasy starter. This week will actually be his softest matchup of the entire season.

Wide Receivers: As noted, there is Calvin Johnson and then no one else on the Lions worthy of covering. Seriously. These last two weeks with Shaun McDonald out had John Standeford and Keary Colbert combining for eight catches for 82 yards. Johnson has been unstoppable with eight touchdowns in the last ten games and no worse than 66 yards in any game since week six. He is a scoring machine and had he been drafted by a real team it would boggle the mind thinking of his potential.

Johnson was questionable last week and still managed to turn in nine catches for 110 yards and one score in Indianapolis. He is simply amazing and has literally no one else to support him or concern the defense.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The Lions are going to be extra-extra motivated to win this game which should result in some points against a defense that is not nearly as good as the rankings below suggest. The Saints are two different teams depending on where they play. At home, 6-1. On the road 1-6. They have only allowed two rushing scores in New Orleans and yet seven touchdowns to runners in away games. Surprisingly they have only given up one rushing game over 100 yards but most offenses prefer to pass against them.

Look for a decent game here by Kevin Smith with a great chance for one rushing score. Orlovsky faces a secondary that has been regularly torched so expect that Johnson strings out one more score with at least good yardage. If this turns to a passing war early enough, both sides could roll up decent to big passing stats. Johnson faces the #28 defense against the wideouts. Bet it is lower next week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 22 31 17 26 28 28
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 28 15 28 13 27 11

The Huddle
WEEK 16
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Saturday
Monday
   
Other Features
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Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
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