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David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 3
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
*updated

Prediction: ATL 17, NE 24

Saturday Update: Norwood remains out.

For the Patriots, it is more convoluted and unclear as it has ever been. They list Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman as all questionable to play. Moss was held out of practice on Friday to rest his back and is more likely to play. He could be just fine but as with all things Patriot - certainty comes after kickoff. I am assuming Moss can play without limitation. Welker was held out on Wednesday and Friday with only limited work on Thursday. He will be a gametime decision again this week but his replacement Edelman has been nursing a sore ankle all week and never had a full practice.

I am not going to add Welker in as a gametime decision - check the Sunday Morning Report since this will be one of the first round of games and there should be word with time for you to make adjustments. I am not adjusting the numbers for Brady or the other receivers but no Welker or Edelman would have a domino effect.

Friday Update: Jerious Norwood remains out of practice and is not expected to play this week. Wes Welker was held out of practice on Wednesday but then had some work on Thursday and says that he's going to play. Complicating this more is Julian Edelman being limited on both days and he may not be able to play on Sunday. It is still early and as with all-things Patriots, this will likely end up as a gametime decision that favors Welker returning.

I am currently removing Edelman and I will likely add in Welker depending on practice tomorrow.

The Falcons face their first road game of the year and head up to New England where the Patriots come off a humbling loss to the Jets. The Falcons were 7-1 at home last year but only 4-4 on the road. The Patriots barely clipped the Bills at home in week one so this game is a coin toss. The winner can feel good about themselves again while the loser has to wonder if they are as good as they thought they were.

Atlanta Falcons (2-0)
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 MIA 19-7 -4 43.5
2 CAR 28-20 -6 43
3 @NE - +4 44.5
4 BYE - - -
5 @SF - - -
6 CHI - - -
7 @DAL - - -
8 @NO - - -
9 WAS - - -
10 @CAR - - -
11 @NYG - - -
12 TB - - -
13 PHI - - -
14 NO - - -
15 @NYJ - - -
16 BUF - - -
17 @TB - - -
ATL at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan     250,2
RB Michael Turner 50    
RB Jason Snelling 20 40,1  
TE Tony Gonzalez   80,1  
WR Michael Jenkins   20  
WR Roddy White   60  
WR Marty Booker   40  
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Opening with two home games over teams that have yet to win a game isn't really measure of what this team could be. The next weeks will answer that question with six road games in the next eight weeks plus their bye. The schedule this year started nicely enough for those first two games but now will hit a stretch that places the Falcons going through the NFC East and AFC East. Michael Turner in particular will have to prove himself but at least the addition of Tony Gonzalez has perked up the passing attack. That will likely be of far greater importance for the next two months.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan continues to shine with his second game of around 225 passing yards and he tossed three touchdowns against the Panthers giving him five on the year against just one interception. He's also only been sacked once so far but last year saw a big difference between the road Falcons and the home version. So far - Ryan couldn't be much better or more poised.

The Patriots have been decent against the pass so far but with only Trent Edwards and the rookie Mark Sanchez to go by, consider Ryan just an average start this week. The Pats have allowed at least one score each week and have yet to cause a turnover from a quarterback. What scoring there is will almost certainly be via the pass.

Running Backs: Jerious Norwood took a shot to the head in the second quarter on Sunday and did not return to the game. His status has not bee disclosed yet and it appeared to be just a concussion but barring further developments, I will not project for Norwood this week. Jason Snelling chipped in and scored a receiving touchdown last week.

Michael Turner finally had a good game though it was 105 yards on 28 carries for a 3.8 YPC. He did score for the first time this year but there has to be a concern that starting the year with two home stands against lesser opponents has only seen Turner gain 170 yards on 50 carries. The schedule is about to get worse, not better.

The Patriots rushing defense is always good and this year seems no exception since no runner has gained more than 58 rushing yards against them and none have scored. Fred Jackson did score on a pass but Turner almost never has a catch. Expect a lower effort this week from Turner who is not paying back his fantasy owners so far.

The running back who acts as a receiver could have a decent game to be sure and as Fred Jackson did in week one, there could be a receiving touchdown for Norwood or Snelling depending on who plays.

Wide Receivers: Roddy White had his first touchdown on the season when he caught six passes for 53 yards against the visiting Panthers but he's only averaging around 50 yards a game and has been less productive than Tony Gonzalez despite getting slightly more passes. White's importance will be shown more in all these upcoming road venues and Gonzalez will prevent defenses from merely loading up against White as they did last season. So far White is perhaps a slight disappointment but his true value will be established over the next month when the Falcons are going to struggle more in games.

Michael Jenkins remains only good for three or four inconsequential catches per week and the addition of Gonzalez seems to have decreased his workload the most. Marty Booker finally had his first catches as a Falcon on Sunday and will figure in if only to ensure that Jenkins has no fantasy value.

The Patriots secondary has been doing a top drawer job so far against wideouts who have yet to score or had more than 87 yards (Cotchery). They held Terrell Owens to only 46 yards on two catches in week one in New England. White should see minor success in yardage but likely no scores. He's only a marginal fantasy play this week.

Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez has wasted no time in becoming an integral part of the offense for the Falcons. He now has bookend games of around 70 yards and a touchdown both games and has established chemistry with Ryan very quickly. Consider he caught all seven of his passes last week. He remains a strong play independent of any matchup.

Fortunately, the matchup is likely great anyway. The Patriots are missing a linebacker and have two of the three touchdowns allowed this year going to opposing tight ends. Shawn Nelson and Derek Schouman are hardly the quality of Gonzo so expect yet another healthy game this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 11 9 27 3 24 7
Preventing Fantasy Points    NE 10 14 3 25 23 16


New England Patriots (1-1)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 BUF 25-24 -10.5 47
2 @NYJ 9-16 -6 46
3 ATL - -4 44.5
4 BAL - - -
5 @DEN - - -
6 TEN - - -
7 @TB - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 MIA - - -
10 @IND - - -
11 NYJ - - -
12 @NO - - -
13 @MIA - - -
14 CAR - - -
15 @BUF - - -
16 JAC - - -
17 @HOU - - -
NE vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     290,2
RB Laurence Maroney 30    
RB Fred Taylor 40,1 10  
TE Ben Watson   20  
WR Randy Moss   100,1  
WR Julian Edelman 70
WR Joey Galloway   50,1  
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: Tough loss in New York but mostly because it featured a divisional rival completely shutting down the Patriots offense. This should be the easier stretch of the schedule with four of six games at home but so far it was a struggle to beat the lowly Bills and then the Jets just clamped down on the offense just like they said they would. HC Bill Belichick has been as forthcoming as ever ("We lost because they scored more points") and Wes Welker has joined the mysterious "Maybe Injured" Club. A loss this week will shake the Pats' confidence.

Quarterback: Perhaps Tom Brady is not delivering yet on his likely high fantasy draft pick but it is not for a lack of passes. He's already tossed 100 balls in just two games and while the 378 yards and two scores of week one seemed okay, the 216 yards and no scores against the Jets has even Brady questioning what is happening. He even fell below 50% completions.

In fairness, he is coming off a lost season and only now is getting back to real work after last playing a full game in January of 2008. Losing Wes Welker did not help nor was facing the Jets apparently incredible defense.

This week he'll face off against a team that allowed Jake Delhomme to throw for 308 yards and a score in Atlanta on Sunday. As a road team last year, every opponent threw at least one score and most had 250 or so passing yards. That bodes well for Brady who needs a more controlled, productive passing game.

Running Backs: Two games into the new season and there is hardly a rhyme or reason for wanting to use a Patriots runner for your fantasy team. So far the best runner has been Fred Taylor with 46 yards and while Kevin Faulk had 51 yards on six catches versus the Bills, he only had one catch for three yards in New York. Fortunately there is a definite consistency and that is none of them being worthy of fantasy consideration. These backs are good for one thing - to take up room on other teams rosters. Each week - four backs play. None are a decent fantasy start.

The Falcons rushing defense has been marginal so far and has been somewhat cloaked by them winning their home games. Two weeks into the season and opposing runners have averaged over five yards per carry in what should have been the most favorable situation for the Falcons. Expect some decent total production from this group and likely a rushing score, but dividing it up is more folly than reasoned analysis.

Wide Receivers: Wes Welker was a gametime scratch last week because of his knee. Brian Belichick was surprisingly informative when asked about Welker's absence in the game - " He was inactive because he wasn't able to play". He is apparently battling a knee injury that allowed him to be a last-minute scratch. Sadly, Welker is one of only three Patriots with fantasy value and any sense of reliability - until now. I will assume that he is out this week until he practices but in all cases, it is buyer beware since the Pats will purposely not allow any info out on his true status.

In his place the rookie Julian Edelman had a fine showing with eight catches for 98 yards even though no other wideout did much. Randy Moss was shut down by CB Darrelle Revis and only had 24 yards on four catches. Joey Galloway finally had a catch and ended with five receptions for 53 yards. Other than the surprise by Edelman thanks to the 16 passes thrown to him, the Jets held them in check.

Good sign that Steve Smith had 131 yards on eight catches in Atlanta on Sunday. Back at home with a game that Brady needs a good showing for a variety of reasons, the passing this week will be much more palatable to fantasy owners. Look for Moss to re-assert himself and the Pats to have a good day passing.

Tight Ends: While Ben Watson had two scores in week one with 77 yards on six catches, he was back to normal last Sunday when he had three receptions for 23 yards. Watson rotates series with Chris Baker making him even less likely to repeat his big season opener.

No reason to expect more than mediocre numbers again. The Falcons are decent against tight ends and the Pats are too inconsistent in using them.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 17 23 13 6 10 15
Preventing Fantasy Points    ATL 8 20 12 19 3 6

The Huddle
WEEK 3
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Early Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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