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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: STL 10, SEA 27

Saturday Update: Bulger is listed as probable and will play. Branch still has not practiced is very questionable to play. I am replacing him with Deon Butler for this week.

Friday Update: Marc Bulger has been limited in practice because of his broken pinkie finger but is still expected to start this week. Donnie Avery is completely healthy again and not listed on the injury report. Deion Branch has missed practice because of his hamstring and barring a fast recovery on Friday, I'll probably be replacing him with the rookie Deon Butler.

These divisional rivals are good for fantasy football to be certain. The Seahawks swept the Rams last year, winning 37-12 in Seattle and later 23-20 in St. Louis. Before you think that the Seahawks were having just another good season, realize that they only won four games last year and the other two victories came against the 49ers and the Cardinals (last week of season when the Cards no longer cared). The Rams only won twice in 2008. Both teams have new coaching staffs. No reason not to expect more of the same folly we have come to love in fantasy football.

St. Louis Rams (0-0)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SEA - - -
2 @WAS - - -
3 GB - - -
4 @SF - - -
5 MIN - - -
6 @JAC - - -
7 IND - - -
8 @DET - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 NO - - -
11 ARI - - -
12 SEA - - -
13 @CHI - - -
14 @TEN - - -
15 HOU - - -
16 @ARI - - -
17 SF - - -
STL @ SEA Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     220,1
RB Steven Jackson 60 50  
TE Randy McMichael   20  
WR Donnie Avery   60,1  
WR Keenan Burton   20  
WR Laurent Robinson   60  
PK Josh Brown 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Rams dumped Scott Linehan during last season and didn't elect to keep interim head coach Jim Haslett. Instead, Steve Spagnuolo comes over from being the an Eagles assistant and Giants defensive coordinator and he's tabbed first-time offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to run the offense. Shurmur brings experience in the Philly brand of the west coast offense. This is the sixth new play caller in St. Louis in the last six years.

The Rams have kept oft-injured Marc Bulger but let Torry Holt finally head to the pasture in Jacksonville. That means the offense now has really only two proven players - Bulger and Steven Jackson. Neither of which who can remain healthy for long.

How could this not end up to be another struggling season?

Quarterback: Marc Bulger only missed one game last year but he's only played a full sixteen game season once in his career. And last year had him throwing for only 2720 yards and 11 touchdowns much like the previous season. There were rumors that the Rams might address their quarterback position in the NFL draft but nothing happened. It'll be Bulger again until he is injured and then Kyle Boller gets to play.

Bulger threw for 184 yards and one score in Seattle last year. He later had 207 yards and one score when the Seahawks visited St. Louis. There's no reason to expect much more than what Bulger managed last year since Holt is gone and once again, the new offense play's its first meaningful game.

Running Backs: This offense will be all about Steven Jackson for a good reason - there is no one else to pin their hopes on. Recall Jackson the stud in 2006 when he had 1528 rushing yards and 90 catches for 806 yards. He scored 16 times in that one glorious season. And for the last two years - just another pumpkin.

Jackson has missed four games in both of the last two seasons while barely eclipsing 1000 rushing yards and scoring maybe seven times per season. The plan is to rekindle the reception-heavy role for Jackson who will also get nearly all the rushing as well. He's gone early in all drafts because his situation is perfect for a big year. And his injury history is perfect for a third disappointment in a row. Do you feel lucky?

Jackson rushed for 66 yards on 23 carries and added 62 yards on five receptions in Seattle last year. He later ran for 91 yards and a score when the Seahawks came to St. Louis and he added four catches for 36 yards. Jackson will be the sole focus of the Seattle defense and that should hold him to pedestrian numbers like he had in 2008.

Wide Receivers: Donnie Avery has become the #1 wideout in St. Louis with the departure of Torry Holt and he comes off a promising rookie campaign with 53 catches for 674 yards and three touchdowns. That pretty much dwarfs what the others have done in this unit. Laurent Robinson comes over from the Falcons and has secured the #2 role and both these wideouts could end up surprising since there is no doubt that the Rams will need to throw in pretty much every game. Then again - the same was true last year with only minimal results.

Keenan Burton is also a factor despite being beaten out by Robinson for the starting role. This week could be favorable as well since the Seahawks were ranked #32 against wideouts to close out last year. But yet another new offensive scheme with Bulger throwing to a rather green set of receivers makes it hard to rely on here in week one. Definitely worth a watch though.

Tight Ends: Randy McMIchael is back after tearing a tendon and missing the final 12 games of 2008. But once again it is a new offensive scheme and how they will use McMichael remains to be seen. Since it is predicated on the Philly west coast scheme, expect McMichael to likely to remain just below fantasy significance. He's not really had the time to gel with Bulger nearly as much as Avery or Jackson has.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 29 25 19 29 21 23
Preventing Fantasy Points SEA 31 20 32 18 32 15


Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
Homefield: Qwest Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 STL - - -
2 @SF - - -
3 CHI - - -
4 @IND - - -
5 JAC - - -
6 ARI - - -
7 BYE - - -
8 @DAL - - -
9 DET - - -
10 @ARI - - -
11 @MIN - - -
12 @STL - - -
13 SF - - -
14 @HOU - - -
15 TB - - -
16 @GB - - -
17 TEN - - -
SEA vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Hasselbeck     210,2
RB Julius Jones 110,1 20  
TE John Carlson   20  
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh   80,1  
WR Deion Branch 20
WR Deon Butler   30  
WR Nate Burleson   50,1  
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: It was a long season in 2008, at least when the Seahawks were not playing the Rams. Finishing 4-12 on the season was no way to send off Mike Holmgren but at least the coaching changes were already in motion a year ago and Jim Mora takes over along with Greg Knapp as the offensive coordinator. Knapp comes from Atlanta fame where he installed his version of the west coast offense that relies on the running game heavily but still can make good use of the passing game (something Michael Vick never got around to trying when Knapp was there). It is a new offense but not that much different than what Seattle has been using for many years.

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck comes off his worst season since becoming a starter when he missed nine games with a back injury but he is healthy now and had finished 2007 with 3966 yards and 28 passing scores. This year is the chance for Hasselbeck to to continue his six year trend of staying healthy and having a big season in every odd-numbered year. The situation could be ripe for productivity if he can remain healthy since the Seahawks have brought in T.J. Houshmandzadeh and still have Nate Burleson and Deion Branch along with second-year tight end John Carlson.

Hasselbeck passed for 172 yards and one score against the visiting Rams last year. He should do no worse than that and could score twice. It is the Rams visiting so the question is mostly how will the Seahawks score, not if they will.

Running Backs: It has been a curious year for the Seahawks backfield. Julius Jones is the starter despite being benched in the later part of last year. He only had one truly good game which was when he ran for 140 yards on 22 carries and scored once against the visiting Rams last season. Sweet.

The Seahawks opted to release T.J. Duckett which bodes very poorly for his career since he had already played in this offense in Atlanta. Edgerrin James was acquired in August after camp was over but he had been on the waiver wire for several months without any takers. It may seem incredible to believe, but it appears the Seahawks are willing to use Jones as the primary runner this year if not as a nearly exclusive starter. Justin Forsett will be involved but how much won't be known until this week. Figure Forsett to remain below the fantasy radar for a reason.

What is great for Jones is this is the lone matchup which allowed him his only big game of last season. Expect another nice effort here.

Wide Receivers: Seattle fell apart last year with injuries but Nate Burleson is back after having reconstructive knee surgery and missing almost the entire 2008 season. He'll line up across from T.J. Houshmandzadeh who is hoped to offer a possession role that has been missing since the healthy days of Darrell Jackson. And he'll provide a much needed and proven ability to catch touchdowns in a crowded endzone. Deion Branch made the 53 man cut despite his salary and the fact that he hasn't remained healthy in any of his three seasons in Seattle.

Adding to that core is the rookie Deon Butler who has turned some heads in camp and the preseason. Butler could end up taking playing time away from Branch. It is worth watching since both Branch and Burleson have been continual injury issues. Ben Obamanu also hangs around.

How well this unit does this week depends on the success of the rushing game - which should be enough to get the win by itself most likely. Figure a new offense will take at least a few chances downfield and both scores by Hasselbeck would favor the wide receivers. Houshmandzadeh seems like a lock to score once just to justify his expense but the other could go anywhere.

Tight Ends: John Carlson had a great rookie season when he ended with 55 catches for 627 yards and five touchdowns. That stemmed in no small part from the fact that all the wide receivers were injured and Hasselbeck was out. Look for a lower output this year thanks to more weapons for the team to use but Carlson's role has been solidified as a player in this offense.

Carlson only had two catches for 38 yards in the first meeting with the Rams but later turned in 76 yards on five receptions. The new offense will use a tight end but how much needs to be seen. True - Alge Crumpler did well in Atlanta but mainly because Michael Vick couldn't manage to connect with anyone else.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 27 21 29 16 26 20
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 16 30 24 14 30 30

The Huddle
WEEK 17
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
 
CAR at NO
DEN at SD
MIA at NYJ
SEA at ARZ
 
CHI at HOU
DET at GB
NE at BUF
STL at ATL
CLE at PIT
JAX at BAL
NYG at MIN
TEN at IND
DAL at PHI
KC at CIN
OAK at TB
WAS at SF
Other Features
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Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
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