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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 4
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
ARI, PHI
Monday
ATL, CAR
*Updated

Prediction: DET 13, CHI 24

Saturday Update: Smith had another limited practice on Friday. He remains a game time decision so I will not add him into the projections. Forte is probable and is no problem to start this week. He should have a great game.

Friday Update: Kevin Smith was held out practice on Wednesday but then had limited work on Thursday and may play. He currently stands as a game time decision but his Friday practice will be key to his status. Check back.

Matt Forte was limited on Wednesday to rest his knee but was back in full yesterday and should have a predictably big game.

Now that the Lions have established their winning streak, they head to Chicago to play the Bears who swept them last season, winning 34-7 in Detroit and later 27-23 at home. After 19 losses in a row, it's probably premature to expect them to string together two wins quite yet. Chances are most the players still have a hangover from celebrating the great slaying of the monkey on the back.

Detroit Lions (1-2)
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NO 24-45 +13.5 49
2 MIN 13-27 +10 47
3 WAS 19-14 +6.5 38
4 @CHI - +10.5 38.5
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 at CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford     200,1
RB Maurice Morris 50 20  
WR Calvin Johnson   70,1  
WR Bryant Johnson   40  
WR Dennis Northcutt   30  
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The visiting Redskins presented exactly what the Lions needed last week - an opponent with major red zone problems and an inability to regain the lead. The Lions have shown a spark of improvement and Matt Stafford is spawning optimism that this one win may not be the last one for the season. But on the road this week, the Lions are likely to struggle again.

Quarterback: Third game in and Matt Stafford has the rarest of all gems - a win. He passed for a personal best of 241 yards and one score without any of those pesky interceptions that had dogged him in the first two games. Considering that he has only one truly decent receiver, Stafford is progressing nicely and even found Bryant Johnson for an all-important score last week. With the Rams coming to town in week eight, this whole victory thing may not be done quite yet.

Dan Orlovsky was the starter when the Lions went to Chicago last year and passed for 292 yards and two scores.

Running Backs: Kevin Smith was enjoying a great game when he had 101 yards on 16 carries and three receptions for 18 more yards against the Skins but was knocked from the game with a shoulder injury. Maurice Morris took his place and scored a touchdown at the end of the game. Smith is considered "week-to-week" which is coachspeak for "how does it feel to wonder, outsider?". Smith himself says he hopes to play this week and Maurice is a major downgrade. I will project for Morris to start and update based on what happens with Smith. But that will likely be a game time decision because Jim Schwartz wants to emulate the other tight-lipped teams.

Smith ran for 37 yards and a score in Chicago last season and had only two receptions for 16 yards in that game.

The Bears have been good against the run even without Brian Urlacher. Playing in Chicago makes it even worse. If Smith plays healthy somehow, he would still be a marginal play this week. Morris is not worth considering at all regardless.

Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson is a marked man every week but still comes up with around five receptions for 50 yards and the chance he could break any of them as he did back in week one. He only has one score on the season but may get a little more help now that Bryant Johnson finally matters since he had four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown last week. The passing numbers here are not great and that translates into a disappointment for Calvin Johnson owners but better games will come and maybe as early as this week.

Johnson caught eight passes for 94 yards and a score in Chicago in 2008.

The Bears have allowed big games to Burleson and Jennings and even Santonio Holmes (5-83) had a decent showing. Look for Calvin Johnson to be worth starting but he still won't have a big game.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value from the tight ends.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 25 22 22 27 12 8
Preventing Fantasy Points    CHI 16 15 12 8 23 18


Chicago Bears (2-1)
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @GB 15-21 +4 46
2 PIT 17-14 +3 37.5
3 @SEA 25-19 -2 37
4 DET - -10.5 38.5
5 BYE - - -
6 @ATL - - -
7 @CIN - - -
8 CLE - - -
9 ARI - - -
10 @SF - - -
11 PHI - - -
12 @MIN - - -
13 STL - - -
14 GB - - -
15 @BAL - - -
16 MIN - - -
17 @DET - - -
CHI vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler     280,3
RB Matt Forte 90 30,1  
TE Greg Olsen   30  
WR Devin Hester   100,1 `
WR Earl Bennett   60  
WR Johnny Knox   50,1  
PK Robbie Gould 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Bears are exerting themselves since losing the season opener. Taking down the Steelers was followed by a win in Seattle and now hosting the Lions means 3-1 going into the bye week. The Bears is already proving to be tougher than initially thought and this week will be no indicator since there are still issues with the rushing game (or rather lack of one). But 3-1 at the bye means a success so far and something to build on to challenge the Vikings for the NFC North title.

Quarterback: Hard to complain about what Jay Cutler has brought to the Bears so far. After three weeks last year, Kyle Orton had two passing scores and only one game with more than 150 passing yards. Cutler already has six touchdowns and never less than 236 yards. Granted, he has five interceptions but you take the good with the bad and four came in week one anyway.

Kyle Orton only passed for 108 yards and no scores when the Lions visited last year.

The Lions have allowed at least two passing touchdowns every week and over three on average. Twice they allowed over 340 passing yards. With the problems running the ball, look for Cutler to have a big game this week.

Running Backs: Perhaps the biggest bust so far (assuming Tomlinson gets a bye with an injury) has to be Matt Forte who some crafty drafters took as early as #1 overall. The payoff so far? No scores, never more than 66 rushing yards and only recently some receptions to salvage something from his games. Forte only averaged 3.9 yards per carry last year and that's astronomic compared to the current 2.5 yards per run he has established this year. Sure, he gets a heavy load yet again. But he is doing even less with it than before. At least he has six catches for 40 yards in Seattle. His receiving skills are going to be his only saving grace for fantasy owners.

Forte rushed for 126 yards on 22 carries and had five yards on one catch when the Lions came to Chicago last season.

How this works out this time remains to be seen since the Lions have been reasonably good against the run but less so away from home. Forte needs a big game of any note and this is as good as it may get until the Browns show up in week eight. He is a must start this week and should have no less than a decent showing with a chance for a big game. This is his chance to breakout this season.

Wide Receivers: One of the more impressive parts about having Cutler is not only have the wideouts here all had decent games, but he spreads the ball around between the three. Johnny Knox had just one catch last week but for a touchdown making it two weeks in a row he's reached the endzone. Devin Hester had a big game with 76 yards and a score and even Earl Bennett had a season high four receptions for 80 yards last week. All three wideouts are contributing with two per week having very nice efforts.

The Lions have allowed five scores to wideouts already this year and two players have topped 100 receiving yards against them. This is a must start week for Hester and either Bennett or Knox is a reasonable play if you are covering for someone's bye week.

Tight Ends: Greg Olsen finally caught his first touchdown from Jay Cutler but still has never had more than 44 yards. He's not been as big a factor as expected because the wide receivers have done so well.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 9 32 6 10 23 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    DET 32 24 29 23 18 16

The Huddle
WEEK 4
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
ARI, PHI
Monday
ATL, CAR
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Early Injury Report
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