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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 1
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday
Sunday Late
*updated Sat
*updated

Prediction: DET 17, NO 34

Friday Update: Northcutt is listed as probable and expected to play. Pierre Thomas has been counted out for Sunday and Mike Bell will fill in for him on at least the short yardage and goal line carries. Jason Hanson was limited in practice this week but is considered probable to play and has kicked in practice. I won't change his projections but he is a bigger risk since he could suffer a setback potentially.

Thursday Update: Dennis Northcutt has been limited in practice this week but is still expected to play. Pierre Thomas has been held out of all practices because of his MCL sprain and barring a miracle, consider him out this week. No need to update projections.

How good did you feel when you drafted a Saints player and saw this was your week one matchup? It's like Christmas! I'm going to look like a drafting genius by Monday! Woohoo!

This is a matchup that fantasy football makes worthwhile to be sure. The Lions were a perfect 0-16 last year - they said it could never be done but man were they wrong - and Matt Stafford inherits a team that he can only improve. The Saints had to settle for an 8-8 season in 2008 while injuries to Reggie Bush and Marques Colston had at least minor part. No matter - this is the way you want to open your fantasy season. And this is not a bad way for Stafford to kick off his career.

The Saints clobbered the Lions in week 16 last year when they won 42-7 in Detroit.

Detroit Lions (0-0)
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NO - - -
2 MIN - - -
3 WAS - - -
4 @CHI - - -
5 PIT - - -
6 @GB - - -
7 BYE - - -
8 STL - - -
9 @SEA - - -
10 @MIN - - -
11 CLE - - -
12 GB - - -
13 @CIN - - -
14 @BAL - - -
15 ARI - - -
16 @SF - - -
17 CHI - - -
DET @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford     240,2
RB Kevin Smith 90 40  
TE Brandon Pettigrew   10  
WR Calvin Johnson   100,1  
WR Bryant Johnson   50,1  
WR Dennis Northcutt   30  
PK Jason Hanson 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Lions went with new HC Jim Schwartz who brings a great defensive mind set to the team - something that certainly cannot hurt. Of course previous attempts to discover a defense proved elusive but Schwartz renews hope. He wisely brought in Scott Linehan to be the offensive coordinator. Linehan has always been a successful coordinator and his foray into being a head coach was just one level too high for his strengths. This will be a power rushing game that will make best use of the weapons already on the team (AKA Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith and nothing else).

Another problem is that Jason Hanson may not be able to play they won't make a decision on him until later in the week. They may sign another kicker in a hurry so stay away from Hanson if possible.

Quarterback: The Lions opted to just throw Matt Stafford into the fire but the rookie looks like he just might be able to handle it. The decision to go with Stafford was clinched when Stafford started clicking with Calvin Johnson and after Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan last year, no one is afraid to use a rookie quarterback anymore. Much less the only team in the league with nothing to lose and no where to go but up.

Orlovsky was the starter last year when the Saints came to Detroit but he only passed for 125 yards and no scores.

Running Backs: The Lions ranked 31st in rushing attempts (352) and 30th in rushing yards (1332) last year and only averaged 3.8 yards per carry. But that's hard to tack onto Kevin Smith when he gained 976 yards on 238 carries and scored eight times while also catching 39 passes for 286 yards. You play running back for a team that never won a game, opportunities are hard to come by. Smith himself averaged 4.1 yards per carry as was improving as the season progressed.

Playing with Scott Linehan will help though Linehan's past has included several committee backfields. But Linehan also was the coach of the Rams when Steven Jackson had his career year that included 90 catches. This has to bode very well for Smith who has almost no competition for work other than Maurice Morris.

Smith ran for 111 yards on 24 carries and scored once against the Saints last year. Even though this is a road game, Smith should have no less than a decent showing and could be big if they will use him as a receiver as well.

Wide Receivers: This unit begins and ends with Megatron, AKA Calvin Johnson. If the third season is the break out year, it should be interesting to see what Johnson can do since he already had 1331 yards and 12 touchdowns last year playing with Dan Orlovsky and Dante Culpepper most of the year. The Lions brought in Bryant Johnson as the flanker and with him the hope a sleeper is born since Johnson commands great attention from the secondary. Dennis Northcutt rounds out the starters but the slot is likely to be a fantasy desert this year. The only question is how much work that Bryant Johnson gets because everything starts with a check off on Calvin.

Johnson had four catches for 64 yards against the Saints last season. This could be a very enticing start to the season at least for the Johnsons and Matt Stafford. Figure the Saints to have their traditional soft secondary and to get far enough ahead to allow trash time and scores. It's all good in the fantasy world.

Tight Ends: The Lions drafted Brandon Pettigrew as the stud tight end in this year's draft but it wasn't to be a receiver - he barely had any catches in college. But he is a devastating blocker and could snag a pass or two. Linehan's offenses often rely on tight ends but the rookie is unlikely to matter this year at the least.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 22 30 13 26 30 29
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 24 15 29 6 26 11


New Orleans Saints (0-0)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DET - - -
2 @PHI - - -
3 @BUF - - -
4 NYJ - - -
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG - - -
7 @MIA - - -
8 ATL - - -
9 CAR - - -
10 @STL - - -
11 @TB - - -
12 NE - - -
13 @WAS - - -
14 @ATL - - -
15 DAL - - -
16 TB - - -
17 @CAR - - -
NO vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     310,3
RB Mike Bell 50,1 10  
RB Reggie Bush 50 50  
TE Jeremy Shockey   30  
WR Marques Colston   100,2  
WR Lance Moore   60,1  
WR Robert Meachem   40  
PK John Carney 2 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: Back into the breeches for the NFL's #1 passing offense last year. The Saints were only 8-8 on the season for 2008 and much of that is the defense that apparently defies any attempt to upgrade it. The Saints were also hampered by injuries last season and that is already a problem with Pierre Thomas likely to miss this game and Reggie Bush so far unseen on the playing field this summer. Then again - can Brees throw anymore than he already does?

Opening against the visiting Lions. Someone pinch me because I must be dreaming.

Quarterback: Drew Brees passed for 5069 yards last year and his 34 touchdowns tied with Philip Rivers for best in the league. He ended up only 15 yards short of Dan Marino's record and was only the second person to ever pass for over 5000 yards in the NFL. The beauty here is that it doesn't even matter which receiver is in or out of the game. Brees just hits everyone.

Brees torched the Lions for 351 yards and two scores last year. Expect a very nice showing to kick off the year.

Running Backs: Pierre Thomas will likely miss the opener with a sprained MCL and a laceration he got jumping over a fence recently. That will allow training camp star Mike Bell to take his place and the Denver castoff has been much more impressive in the Big Easy. Reggie Bush is slated to play though he has not been in preseason games thanks to his own recovery from microfracture surgery and more recently a calf injury. The assumption is that Bush plays and is healthy but I will update as needed.

Using three running backs, the Saints rushed for 164 yards and three scores in Detroit last season. Pierre Thomas was the lead runner with 13 carries for 77 yards and he added 26 yards on three catches. Reggie Bush did not play that week. The Lions were ranked dead last against running backs last year, expect Mike Bell to be a fortuitous start here in week one.

Wide Receivers: Marques Colston mixed six games last year but when he finally was healthy, it was vintage Colston to close out the season. He had microfracture surgery in January to repair a small hole in his kneecap but is completely recovered. Lance Moore was the biggest surprise for the Saints when he covered for Colston and had 928 yards and ten touchdowns. Moore had a shoulder injury from lifting weights in the offseason but has since healed up.

One change here, at least so it seems, is that third year wideout Robert Meachem may not be a first round bust after all. He's developed into a deep receiver from the slot and has locked up the #3 job from Devery Henderson. Both players will play though. There's always plenty of passes to share.

Colston had a great day in Detroit last year when he had nine catches for 99 yards and two scores .Devery Henderson also had 96 yards on two catches while Lance Moore only managed 36 on four catches.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey could potentially get his career back on track this year. He's been getting positive reviews from some coaches and seems to getting with the program more as it were. But he'll always be an injury risk anyway and until he strings a few significant games together, it will be hard to rely on.

Shockey had 37 yards on five catches in Detroit last season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 4 2 7 15 21
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 28 32 27 30 25 32

The Huddle
WEEK 1
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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