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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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SUPERBOWL XLIV - February 7th, 6 P.M. EST

Prediction: NO , IND

The Jets ende

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 IND 9 21 28 1 24 2


Indianapolis Colts (14-2)
Homefield: Lucas Oil Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 JAC 14-12 -6.5 44.5
2 @MIA 27-23 -3 42
3 @ARI 31-10 +2.5 48
4 SEA 34-17 -10 43.5
5 @TEN 31-9 -3.5 46.5
6 BYE - - -
7 @STL 42-6 -14 45
8 SF 18-14 -13 45
9 HOU 20-17 -9 48
10 NE 35-34 -1 48
11 @BAL 17-15 -1 44
12 @HOU 35-27 -3 48
13 TEN 27-17 -6 47
14 DEN 28-16 -6.5 43.5
15 @JAC 35-31 -3 42
16 NYJ 15-29 -3 40.5
17 @BUF 7-30 +9 32.5
IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning     250,1
RB Joseph Addai 60,1 10  
TE Dallas Clark   60  
WR Reggie Wayne   50  
WR Austin Collie   70,1  
WR Pierre Garcon   40  
PK Matt Stover 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Suddenly we are back to week 16 when the Colts faced the visiting Jets and gave up the chance for a perfect season. Last week had the Colts put down the Ravens 20-3 with a great showing by the defense and virtually no signs of the rushing game. This week pits the rested Colts against a very road-tested Jets team and as always, it will come down to Peyton Manning.

Quarterback: Peyton Manning had it easy for three weeks but came back to life last week when he posted 246 yards and two scores against the Ravens. That compared favorably to when the Colts beat the Ravens in week 11 and Manning tossed just one score against two interceptions. Manning had passed for 131 yards in the first half of week 16 before hitting the sidelines.

The Jets have been outstanding against the pass this year and only allowed eight passing scores in the regular season. In these last two playoffs games, they gave up one score in each while holding Carson Palmer to only 146 passing yards and Philip Rivers to 298 yards but with two interceptions.

Look for one score by Manning but anything more means this game wasn't even close.

Running Backs: The Colts had little success running the ball last week when Joseph Addai only managed 23 yards on 11 carries and both Mike Hart (6-11) and Donald Brown (6-10) had little else to contribute. Addai remains the primary and in a game against a defense like the Jets could be nearly a fulltime back with Manning to protect and Brown still not as productive as expected. Addai gained 40 yards and one touchdown on six carries in the first half of the last meeting with the Jets before he was pulled from the game.

The Jets gave up 169 rushing yards to Cedric Benson but the Chargers were held to just 57 yards on 15 carries last week. Look for Addai to score no more than once and post moderate yardage. If the game goes well, it would just involve the other backs more.

Wide Receivers: Reggie Wayne had been rather cool for much of the final six weeks of the season but came up with a team high eight catches for 63 yards and one score against the Ravens. Pierre Garcon returned to play but only gained 34 yards on five catches despite being thrown ten passes. Austin Collie was also very effective, gaining 52 yards and one score on four receptions. In week 16 before Manning rested in the second half, Wayne had been held to two catches for 22 yards with Darrelle Revis on him and once again Collie stepped up to have a team high 64 yards on four catches in those first two quarters while he replaced Garcon.

Vincent Jackson broke the Revis curse last week when he had seven receptions for 111 yards but failed to score. But the Chargers have rarely used their other wideouts and Manning will not shy away from ignoring Wayne if others are better options. I like Collie for the passing score but none of the wideouts should have a big game.

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark ended with seven catches for 59 yards last week when the Ravens visited and he accounted for 31 yards on two receptions in the first two quarters of the last matchup with the Jets. If Collie does not catch the score, Clark is the next most likely. Manning relies on Clark in games against the tougher defenses.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 8 17 7 1 22 22
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 5 23 24 7 23 12

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