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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: PHI 17, CAR 20

Saturday Update: Westbrook was limited in pratice but he's considered probable to play and is safe to start this week. Curtis has practice both the last two days and will also start.

Friday Update: Brian Westbrook wasn't even on the injury report after Wednesday but was added for Thursday. He has not been limited in practice though and is still on track to start on Sunday. Barring anything surprising at Friday's practice, Westbrook should be fine for this week. Kevin Curtis was also added to the injury list on Thursday but so far remains likely to play unless his knee has more swelling.

The Panthers won the NFC South with a 12-4 record tied with the Giants for NFC best but then lost their first game to the Cardinals in the Divisional Round. The Eagles made the playoffs with a wildcard thanks to their 9-6-1 record and hung on until losing in the conference championship to the same Cardinals. It has been a few years since these two teams met in the regular season but an important game all the same since both teams have challenging schedules.

Philadelphia Eagles (0-0))
Homefield: Lincoln Financial Field
Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CAR - - -
2 NO - - -
3 KC - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 TB - - -
6 @OAK - - -
7 @WAS - - -
8 NYG - - -
9 DAL - - -
10 @SD - - -
11 @CHI - - -
12 WAS - - -
13 @ATL - - -
14 @NYG - - -
15 SF - - -
16 DEN - - -
17 @DAL - - -
PHI @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 10,1   260,1
RB Brian Westbrook 60 50  
TE Brent Celek   20  
WR DeSean Jackson   80,1  
WR Kevin Curtis   40  
WR Jeremy Maclin   30  
PK David Akers 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Eagles should be looking at a successful year with a sound defense (though they lost their coordinator Jim Johnson in July to cancer) and what could be a very effective set of receivers and running backs. Granted, Brian Westbrook has never looked so "iffy" and yet he has always come through and even if he doesn't, the team is excited about LeSean Jackson. Adding Jeremy Maclin gives the team some excitement in the receiving and return game. It's almost like this team could suffer injuries and still have the depth to continue to play well.

Of course, if McNabb is injured...

Quarterback: No more talk about getting rid of Donovan McNabb when he comes off a career best 3916 yards last year with 23 scores. He even added two rushing touchdowns as well. He has plenty of weapons this year and an offense that should respond at least as well as 2008.

Michael Vick could be a contributor here starting in a few weeks when the Commissioner will let him play but for this week, it is McNabb facing an average secondary albeit on the road. Most visitors pass for one touchdown there and three teams managed two scores. Look for this to be another two score game for McNabb with healthy yardage as well.

Running Backs: Brian Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in March and then had bone spurs cleaned out of his ankle in June. He comes off his worst season in a while when he missed two games and only had 936 rushing yards on 233 carries (4.0 YPC) and 54 catches for 402 yards though he did have a career best 14 touchdowns. The question at hand is if the now 30-year old back has hit the wall from which decline rapidly increases or if his offseason was a tune up and rotate the tires so he can, once again, outperform his draft spot as he has always done. Even last year thanks to all those touchdowns.

The team is very excited about LeSean McCoy and the rookie looks far more Westbrook-like than all the previous imitators - Ryan Moats, Lorenzo Booker or Reno Mahe. How much McCoy will play while Westbrook is healthy remains to be proven starting this week. Westbrook has been pronounced healthy to play and he's certainly rested as well.

This week he is on the road in Carolina where running backs struggled to score much less have good yardage. He's still worth the start of course, but temper your expectations this week.

Wide Receivers: DeSean Jackson had a relatively spectacular rookie season when he had 62 receptions for 912 yards and two scores to lead the Eagles. He even had 96 rush yards and scored on a run. He set a franchise record with a 14.7 YPC. He's aiming to have another increase in production and he just may with McNabb at the helm. Kevin Curtis will start the year as the #2 but may not hold onto it if only because he's a durability problem and the rookie Jeremy Maclin will angle for more work at least eventually. Maclin hasn't been given the slot role yet but he'll likely share it with Jason Avant at the least.

This should be a decent chance for Jackson to start the year on a high note with a decent game and a shot at a touchdown as well. For now you cannot rely on any other Eagles wideout but Jackson is a safe fantasy start.

Tight Ends: Brent Celek is the starter and should be able to play even though he had a partial separation of his AC joint (shoulder) back in the middle of August. He only had 27 catches for 318 yards last year and scored just once. That's well outside of fantasy relevance for now.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 8 13 9 20 3 1
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 13 17 19 21 11 4


Carolina Panthers (0-0)
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 PHI - - -
2 @ATL - - -
3 @DAL - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 WAS - - -
6 @TB - - -
7 BUF - - -
8 @ARI - - -
9 @NO - - -
10 ATL - - -
11 MIA - - -
12 @NYJ - - -
13 TB - - -
14 @NE - - -
15 MIN - - -
16 @NYG - - -
17 NO - - -
CAR vs PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme     220,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 40 10  
RB DeAngelo Williams 70,1 40  
WR Steve Smith   90,1  
WR Muhsin Muhammad   60  
WR Kenneth Moore   10  
PK John Kasay 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Panthers enjoyed their schedule greatly in 2008 when the duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were wearing trails to every goal line. The rushing was so effective with 30 total rushing scores and over 2300 rushing yards that the passing game fell way off because it was so rarely needed. That won't be the case this year or this week. The Panthers have a far tougher stretch with NFC East and AFC East matchups this year and Delhomme and company will need to show up and earn their paychecks more than last year.

Quarterback: Sure, Jake Delhomme was healthy last year because all he did was hand off. He had only 3288 yards and 15 scores as a passer and spend the final nine games never throwing more than one touchdown per week while usually remaining under 200 passing yards.

That won't fly this year but opening against the Eagles vaunted secondary will make it look a lot like 2008 again for passing stats. Expect only a moderate yardage and likely just one passing score.

Running Backs: DeAngelo Williams only ran 273 times but gained 1515 yards to rank #3 in the league last season. His 18 rushing scores was tops among all players and he added two more touchdowns as a receiver. Jonathan Stewart was supposed to be the hot new rookie but he had to settle for 184 carries for 836 yards and ten touchdowns. It was a devastating rushing attack that could rarely be contained.

This week starts what should be a much bigger challenge than 2008. Only one player rushed for over 100 yards when the Eagles visited last year and that was Frank Gore's 101 yards. Even Adrian Peterson was held to just 83 yards on 20 carries.

I do like Williams to score once in this game but his rushing yards should be moderate and there is still a question as to whether Stewart can play since he has missed almost all camp and preseason games with an Achilles injury. He is supposed to play but would be replaced by the impressive Mike Goodson if needed. I will project for Stewart and Williams and update if needed.

Wide Receivers: Steve Smith comes off a very nice year with 1421 yards and six touchdowns despite missing the first two games of the season. Losing out the scores would be natural thanks to the rushing game's success and he had ten games with at least 96 yards. Smith enjoyed his second best yardage of his career though his scores had never been that low in any other year when he played.

Muhsin Muhammad is 36 years old but still chugging along as the possession receiver who had 923 yards on 65 receptions last year. It was his first year back since playing in Chicago for three years and still as better than he ever had there as the primary wideout. This team rarely relies on a slot player, but focuses well on the two primary wide receivers,

This week they face one of the better secondaries but you can never count out Steve Smith who rarely has a bad game and almost never at home. Look for Smith to turn in a respectable total in his season opener.

Tight Ends: No real fantasy value here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 26 1 11 27 5 17
Preventing Fantasy Points PHI 3 3 6 25 8 10

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
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