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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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Conference
Round

~ 2009 ~

Sunday
 

Prediction: MIN 20, NO 38

The Vikings extended their home winning streak to 9-0 this year when the Cowboys couldn't finish drives and the Vikes offense and defense slowly started hitting on all cylinders. Now comes the bigger challenge since the Vikings are only 4-4 on the road where they could only beat CLE, DET, STL and GB. They have lost their last three road trips. The Saints took their bye week and then showed up just as well as the Vikings last week when they had no problems dispatching the Cardinals. The Saints sport a 6-2 record at home but one loss was when they rested players. The other was to the Cowboys who just were whipped by the Vikes. The Saints are favored by four points with an over/under of 53 points. This is clearly the game with the most expected points.

Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
Homefield: Metrodome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 34-20 +3.5 40
2 @DET 27-13 -10 47
3 SF 27-24 -7 40.5
4 GB 30-20 -3.5 46
5 @STL 38-10 -10 39
6 BAL 33-31 -3 44.5
7 @PIT 17-27 +6 46.5
8 @GB 38-26 +3.5 46.5
9 BYE - - -
10 DET 27-10 17 47.5
11 SEA 35-9 -10.5 47
12 CHI 36-10 -10 47
13 @ARI 17-30 +3.5 48
14 CIN 30-10 -6 42.5
15 @CAR 7-26 -9 42.5
16 @CHI 30-36 -7 41
17 NYG 44-7 -9 48
MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre     280,1
RB Adrian Peterson 90,1 10  
RB Chester Taylor 30 20  
TE Vishante Shiancoe   20  
WR Bernard Berrian   50  
WR Sidney Rice   100,1  
WR Percy Harvin   50  
PK Ryan Longwell 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Vikings are just one game away from the Super Bowl and are bringing the most complete team they have possibly ever had - at least for several decades. Surprisingly the rushing game has been less than expected but the defense and passing attack have been more than enough in most games. Playing in a dome again may help shave off some of the problems that the Vikes have had away from Minnesota and the Saints defense has slipped a notch or two over the final month of the season.

Quarterback: Brett Favre continued his dominance at home when he rolled up the score on the Cowboys but now faces a much bigger challenge. He passed for 25 touchdowns in the Metrodome but only had 12 scores in the eight away games which included four in Green Bay - otherwise he has averaged around one touchdown per game. Favre only passed for seven interceptions but five came in road venues. That all said, he still has produced two games over 300 yards and scored in six of the eight road efforts.

The Saints have never allowed more than one passing touchdown to a visiting opponent though Tony Romo managed 312 yards there. Both teams sport offenses that can either run or pass well and how that spells out into stats depends on the game situation. I like Favre to be forced to throw and get healthy yardage.

Running Backs: Adrian Peterson has been a much smaller factor for the Vikings than anyone imagined since he only has two games over 100 rushing yards and none since week ten. But he has been a scoring machine with an NFL-best 18 rushing touchdowns this year. He's been generally good enough to get around 80 or 90 yards in most games. Last week he accounted for only 63 yards on 26 carries.

The Saints have been much weaker against the run in recent weeks and allowed 12 rushing scores to visitors along with decent rushing yardage. Three different runners had over 100 rush yards there this year. The Cardinals had two rushing touchdowns last week in New Orleans but only had 94 rushing yards with 70 yards coming on the initial running score by Tim Hightower. The Cardinals never were able to get on track and only had 11 runs from their rushing tandem though.

Peterson will be asked to step up this week and keep the Saints offense from the field and he should have some success. Look for a decent rushing total from him and one score. If the Packers can resist their former road woes, Peterson may do more.

Wide Receivers: Bernard Berrian has been solid with around 50 or so yards in most games but he has not scored since week 11 and only had 32 yards on three catches last week. Percy Harvin has not scored since week 13 but has been a big factor in his multiple roles as a runner, receiver and return man. Sidney Rice is the primary target for Favre and has scored four times over the last four games and has four games over 100 yards this year. Rice took over the game last week when he scored three times and had 141 yards on six receptions. Rice is not only the clear stud on this team, he looks like the newest version of Larry Fitzgerald.

The Saints have been very good against wideouts this year but four times allowed 100+ yards. But last week saw Larry Fitzgerald held to only 77 yards on six catches. Rice continues to be the best bet to score here but should be held to only one touchdown - no visiting wideout has turned in more than one. No visiting team has produced more than one passing touchdown.

Tight Ends: Vishante Shiancoe has never been much of a factor for yardage in road games but has scored five times away from home. The Saints are one of the best defenses against the position though.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 4 3 6 11 3 7
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 5 23 24 7 23 12


New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DET 45-27 -13.5 49
2 @PHI 48-22 +3 46.5
3 @BUF 27-7 -5.5 52.5
4 NYJ 24-10 -6.5 46
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG 48-27 -3 47
7 @MIA 46-34 -6 48
8 ATL 35-27 -10 54
9 CAR 30-20 -14 52
10 @STL 28-23 -14 50.5
11 @TB 38-7 -10.5 51
12 NE 38-17 -3 56
13 @WAS 33-30 -9 46.5
14 @ATL 26-23 -10 50.5
15 DAL 17-24 -7.5 53.5
16 TB 17-20 -14 48.5
17 @CAR 10-23 +10 41
NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees     300,4
RB Pierre Thomas 50,1 20  
RB Reggie Bush 30 30  
TE Jeremy Shockey   40,1  
WR Marques Colston   80,2  
WR Devery Henderson   60,1  
WR Robert Meachem   40  
PK Garrett Hartley 1 FG 5 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Saints limped to a three loss ending to the regular season but had no problems last week when they cranked out a 45-14 win over the Cardinals. The previous defensive problems were gone again and allowed the Saints to get a lead and then cruise to a victory with 35 points scored in the first half. More importantly, the defense held Kurt Warner to only 266 yards and no scores. This is the biggest game in franchise history and the Saints have never been better poised to take advantage of their opportunity.

Quarterback: Now that the Saints again care about the outcome of the game, Drew Brees was back to his deadly ways when he threw for 247 yards and three scores against the Cardinals and that was with him having almost no work in the second half. Brees has a full complement of healthy receivers and should be primed for a big game in front of a wildly energetic audience.

Here comes the wildly divergent ways of the Vikings defense. At home they allowed only four touchdowns over the last six games played in Minnesota. In away venues, they have allowed no less than three passing scores to each of their last four opponents. At home - opponents rarely score and never have more than 200 pass yards. On the road, everyone gets over 250 pass yards and three scores - including Matt Moore of the Panthers.

No reason to expect less than a big game by Brees this week.

Running Backs: In the first playoff game, the Saints went with a four-headed rushing attack that we all need to remember next August when we are tempted to grab Pierre Thomas or Reggie Bush in a fantasy draft. Four different runners had over five carries and Bush (5-84) and Lynelle Hamilton (5-23) had the two rushing touchdowns. Pierre Thomas had a team high 13 carries that gained 52 yards while Mike Bell had six runs despite only gaining 11 yards. This was not just a function of the game being so well in hand. Hamilton scored the first Saints touchdown. You really cannot rely on any individual runner here.

The Vikings have been very good against the run and that has not been limited to just home games. On the road they have allowed only one running back to score and given up just one 100 rushing yard game. There is a chance that the Saints could do better if they get a big lead but the Vikings defensive problems have been much more about the pass than the run. Expect no more than one rushing score here and likely moderate yardage at best. I will credit Thomas with the score but it could go to any of the four runners.

Wide Receivers: Marques Colston had scored nine times in the first 14 games but then was held out of the endzone in those last three games. He was back to scoring last week when he led the Saints with six catches for 83 yards. Brees also connected with Devery Henderson for 80 yards and a score on four catches but never managed a completion to Robert Meachem in his first zero catch game since back in week three. Meachem's absence was a small surprise last week but by halftime the game was already over and the Saints did not need him. Meachem suffered an ankle sprain of undisclosed severity during the Cardinals game and will be a watch in practice this week.

The Vikings have been weak against receivers in road games and have allowed ten scores to the position and the secondary has been worse in recent games when three players have topped 140 yards against them. This is the biggest of big games for the Saints so look for the gang to be at top form.

Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey has been only good for around 40 or so yards per week. He had not scored since week six but turned in 36 yards on three catches with one touchdown last week. Now he faces one of the weakest teams against tight ends. Shockey has not been one for much yardage (like Witten's 10-98 last week) but he should have a good shot at one score.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 3 2 8 12 5 2
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 21 4 18 29 7 9

Conference
Round

~ 2009 ~

Sunday
 
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