Welcome my fantasy brethren to another edition of The Prognosticator. May it be your humble servant. Big playoff week, good luck to all and thanks for using FantasySharks.com as one of your fantasy providers. We sincerely appreciate you stopping by.
Fantasy Weekend Outlook
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants Saturday 1:30pm
When we created our 2004 season projections so long ago, my analysts came back with some recommendations that I knew weren’t going to be popular and I called them on it. To our RB guy I questioned him not having Clinton Portis in the top 10 and he made his case. I knew we would take heat but his reasons were sound so we ran it. We even had a member Email us after his draft stating that his league laughed at him for passing on Clinton Portis with Edgerrin James and was wondering if we sent him down the wrong road. Another that stood out to me was us having the Steelers D ranked as our #3. No one, and I repeat NO ONE had the Steelers anywhere near. Once again, our team defense analyst made a case for why the Steelers D was going to be dominant and we ran with that too. I can’t tell you the volume of Email we received calling us idiots for having the Steelers ranked so high. I distinctly remember one Email where the writer said that NO ONE had the Steelers anywhere near the top, no less #3. How can we call ourselves a fantasy site with trash like that?
It pains me to admit this but we were wrong. The Steelers are currently the best defense in the league. Sorry for messing that one up. I’ll never understand the person who thinks that if our projections don’t match everyone else in the world, then we’re the ones that have no clue? If our projections weren’t different than everyone else, then what’s the point? Yet every season, the number one statement I hear over and over again is that the site is great but the projections are suspicious. The reason they they look suspicious is that they don’t match everyone else and that is why our members win their championships. Yet next year, we’ll run with our heads, our hearts, our decades of experience and once again put out projections that will be better than the other guys and yes, they will look different than theirs. You can bank on it.
I’m about to type something that everyone can have a fun time disagreeing with. The Steelers aren’t that good. Yes they are ranked #1 in every poll everywhere and they are a good team, but they aren’t that good. While everyone is calling for Ben Roethlisberger for the Pro Bowl, do not be surprised if Ben hits a wall. In fact, he already has but the Steelers are doing a great job of covering it up and shifting the blame to the absence of Plaxico Burress. What happens when Plaxico returns and the passing game stays grounded? The Steelers hold on that top ranking will slip, in fact, do not expect to see the Steelers representing the AFC in the Superbowl but more on that in the annual playoff Progno special Week 17. Don’t miss that issue as for a decade now it has been eerily accurate.
Do not expect much from the passing game but the Steelers will run wild in this. A lot of running for anyone on the team that even smells like a running back.
The Giants are going to get smothered by the Steelers D and this won’t even be a contest. I wouldn’t play Tiki Barber or anyone wearing a Giants helmet. Run far away.
Prediction: Steelers 20 – Giants 12
Washington Redskins at San Francisco 49ers Saturday 5:00pm
The Redskins are going to have a better fantasy day as they will be able to run the ball a little. Nothing gigantic statistically but an OK day for Clinton Portis and if needed, could make a spot start for you.
The 49’ers are playing more like a college team than an NFL team. They will spread the ball around and no one will step up for them offensively. Statistically this is a dry well against the Redskins but magically, they’re going to pull the upset.
Prediction: 49’ers 20 – Redskins 14
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Saturday 8:30pm
Finally, we have a Saturday game we can watch. I really enjoy this time of year when we have football on almost consecutively from Saturday through Monday. If you ask me, this is the way it should be, every week. But those first two games are ripe.
This is going to be another strange game in that the better team fantasy wise will not be the better team on the field. The Panthers will have a very tough go of it trying to put consecutive plays together and all aspects of their offense will suffer. As predicted last week, Nick Goings will rush for the 100 but just eek it out. Goings rushed for 108 yards to secure his 4th 100 yard game in a row. So far I’m 3/4 on Goings as I didn’t see him exploding in his first game. This week, Nick Goings‘ 100 yard game streak ends.
The Falcons will have success running Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick will put in a serviceable fantasy start due to the combination of rushing and passing. The Falcons are going to find themselves in a very odd place when they suddenly realize they could use TJ Duckett in this game a lot more than they had thought. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Prediction: Panthers 28 – Falcons 20
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Sunday 1:00pm
The debate rages on in our forum over this game. For one reason or another, we seem to have attracted a preponderance of Eagles and Cowboys fans and at times it has bubbled over in the Tank. It is actually a wonderful sight to see as these folks stand up for their beliefs and their loyalties. You can’t fault a guy for being a fan, no matter who they happen to be a fan of. Heck, I think we even have a Bengals fan in the tank and we don’t make fun of him. Much.
For the Cowboys there is just Julius Jones and he won’t run wild. He will do just enough to help keep the Cowboys a score or two away from the Eagles.
The Eagles are in for a huge day in the air as they stay tuned up with some rabid passing from Donovan McNabb to Terrell Owens and Brian Westbrook. For those wondering if McNabb will be rested this week due to the Eagles clinching home field, don’t buy into it. Coaches that have taken the last two weeks off have historically had their donkeys handed to them in the first round of the playoffs. In football you can’t afford to lose your timing and your rhythm, many, including Mike Shanahan, have proven that already. The Eagles are going to play this game to win so that they can stay a well oiled machine. The only time you need to worry will be Week 17 as then the Eagles stars won’t play the whole game regardless of if they are winning or losing. Which is why, the Eagles will play to win Week 16 as well because no one wants to be sliding into the playoffs on a two game losing streak. Winning breeds winning, it’s as simple as that.
Prediction: Eagles 31 – Cowboys 20
San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns Sunday 1:00pm
What should be a tune up for the Chargers will actually turn into a feisty game. The Chargers are going to run LaDainian Tomlinson till the cows come home which will reduce the numbers for Drew Brees. For those expecting the Antonio Gates machine to return, don’t. Everyone has figured out weeks ago that you double team Gates the entire game and that is exactly what everyone is doing.
The Browns will play hard with their passing game. There is a lot of opportunity with Jeff Garcia on the sideline and guys are auditioning. Does anyone else think the reason why Antonio Bryant is exploding is Bill Parcells? Even 2,000 miles away, Bill Parcells is motivating him to be a better player by instilling anger in Bryant. Now that is a coach.
Prediction: Chargers 27 – Browns 24
Seattle Seahawks at New York Jets Sunday 1:00pm
The Seahawks won’t play exceedingly well but they will play with decent balance. A little dump off to Shaun Alexander an 8 yard out to Darrell Jackson. Nothing very fancy and nothing that will make the highlight reel. If you need a starter then it’s OK to look here but I hope you aren’t banking your playoff run on a Seahawk.
The Jets have been playing good D and as you recall, they were the progno’s sleeper D. Things get tough for the Jets for the remainder of the season so be very careful. Expect a lot of noise from Curtis Martin as he runs very well here. This will be a very telling game for Chad Pennington and he will have a mix of success and failure. Something isn’t quite right with him still as when healthy he is as accurate as anyone in the league. Having a WR to throw to would also help quite a bit.
Prediction: Seahawks 24 – Jets 21
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Sunday 1:00pm
The Vikings are going to head into Pontiac and be quite surprised with the tenacity of the Lions. The Lions are going to surprise a lot of people and make a game out of this. The Vikings will be OK on the ground and OK in the air with the biggest benefactor being Daunte Culpepper as I expect a little more running and possible a rushing TD from him this week.
The Lions are going to feature Kevin Jones and he will run exceedingly well. Expect a big day from Jones and get him in your lineup. Joey Harrington was as awful as the come last week but gets a reprieve to try it again. Do not expect much which is a shame because I really like this kid.
Vikings in a nail biter.
Prediction: Vikings 21 – Lions 20
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals Sunday 1:00pm
What a great game. I know it sounds a little funny that the Bills and Bengals can be a great game but it will be. As I proclaimed last week, while everyone is talking about this or that game the best game on the card was the Monday night game against the Chiefs and the Titans where I encouraged all of you to put fantasy down and just watch. If you did, you were treated to quite possibly the best game of the year, I hope you didn’t miss it.
The Bills are going to play with a lot more balance this week as not only Willis McGahee gets involved but so will Drew Bledsoe and Eric Moulds. Not a huge day for any of them but a serviceable start from any one of them.
The Bengals won’t be starting Carson Palmer, another progno favorite, but instead turn to Jon Kitna to run the team. The Bengals are very lucky to have Kitna due to his experience with the team, the system and the other players. Kitna will actually play very well and a lot of fantasy owners will be kicking themselves for starting their supposed stud QB when Kitna was sitting on the wire the entire time. Don’t forget Rudi Johnson as he too makes an OK start.
Prediction: Bills 32 – Bengals 30
Houston Texans at Chicago Bears Sunday 1:00pm
Here’s an easy one for you. Do you start David Carr this weekend or Jon Kitna? The envelope please. The answer is, Jon Kitna! Don’t get caught flat footed with Domanick Davis on your bench. Get him in your starting lineup this week and be glad that you did.
Watch the weather in this game as it is supposed to be nasty in Chicago and that will drive down my 31 point prediction for the Bears. If the weather cooperates expect Thomas Jones to put in a fairly decent day with multiple TD runs.
Prediction: Bears 31 – Texans 17
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Sunday 1:00pm
Buckle your seat belts cow pokes because this is going to be the shootout at the OK corral. This game will be all about throwing the football as both teams are going to throw often and throw well. The Broncos have the edge because they will be able to get some life out of Reuben Droughns while Dick Vermeil continues to stubbornly run Derrack Blaylock from time to time. The Chiefs could win this game if they left Larry Johnson in as the full time back but they won’t. They should, but they won’t, and it will cost them the game.
Feel free to start anyone you have in both offenses passing game which include Jake Plummer, Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie, Trent Green, Eddie Kennison and Tony Gonzalez.
Prediction: Broncos 27 – Chiefs 24
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals Sunday 4:05pm
The Rams apparently will get both Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson back for this one and that will certainly help. If Faulk can go expect him to actually get the start and not Jackson as the Rams aren’t ready to hand over the keys just yet. Both will have a decent day but neither will make a very good fantasy start. If Faulk is a scratch then start Steven Jackson no questions asked. Chris Chandler blew chunks last week and now that I really think about it I realize I broke a progno cardinal rule by placing faith in Chandler. I was correct that Tory Holt is the benefactor as long as Chris Chandler is behind center but he was really poor last week. Expect an up tick from Chris Chandler and another strong day from Tory Holt.
The Cardinals may have Emmitt Smith back and that will help their cause. The Cardinals will play better running the ball right at the Rams and if Emmitt returns they will lean on him if they can. Anquan Boldin appears to be back and deserves a look each and every week for you. Except for this week that is.
Prediction: Rams 18 – Cardinals 17
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday 4:05pm
It is quite possible that I am under estimating the Saints and over estimating the Bucs but this will be a decisive Tampa Bay victory. I did sell the Saints short last week and I’m still wondering where that burst came from? I expect the Saints to settle right back down to one of the worst teams in the league but Joe Horn deserves a look this week.
The Buccaneers are pretty much going to man handle the Saints D and make them cry like a fan. It isn’t going to be pretty as everyone gets in on the action. Michael Pittman, Michael Clayton and grrrr.. even Brian Griese. I haven’t given up on the Griese implosion theory yet but not this week.
Prediction: Buccaneers 30 – Saints 17
Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers Sunday 4:15pm
The Jaguars are going to test the Packers secondary early and often. Expect Byron Leftwich to check in with a good day at the office and Jimmy Smith will play well but it hampered by an ankle. Promising rookie WR Reggie Williams has been coming on as of late and he will have a good game here. Keep an eye on Reggie Williams as he will develop into a very good #1 one day and is the heir apparent to Jimmy Smith‘s job.
The Packers are going to struggle a little, but still score one TD in almost every quarter. No big day for any one, but all your typical Packers will put in an average day and you’ll need to look elsewhere for an explosion for your lineup.
Prediction: Packers 24 – Jaguars 17
Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders Sunday 4:15pm
Expect a very similar game to the Monday Night Chiefs game just with a few more mistakes from both the Titans and the Raiders. Both teams are suffering injuries and have a number of should be bench players in the game. In fact, I can’t remember a time I’ve seen an injury report like this. The Titans are reporting as Questionable:
OLB Rocky Boiman (Calf)
RB Chris Brown (Toe)
CB Rich Gardner (Toe)
DE Carlos Hall (Knee)
C Justin Hartwig (Finger)
DT Albert Haynesworth (Elbow)
T Brad Hopkins (Hand)
TE Erron Kinney (Ankle)
WR Derrick Mason (Ankle)
QB Steve McNair (Sternum)
TE Shad Meier (Hip)
T Fred Miller (Ankle)
G Benji Olson (Toe)
LB Cody Spencer (Abdomen)
This doesn’t count the players that are Out or Probable like Tyrone Wheatley! For the Raiders they have been hit particularly hard at DE and big ole’ nose tackle Ted Washington is questionable which hurts even more. The Raiders have not been able to generate much of a pass rush and teams have been taking advantage. Expect a very nice outing from potential new star in the making, Billy Volek as he has the tools.
The Raiders are going to toss the ball a ton and Kerry Collins makes a nice start. Joey Porter has a solid day and ropes in a few as a result.
Prediction: Raiders 27 – Titans 23
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Sunday 8:30pm
I am sick of this game and I haven’t even watched it. If Peyton Manning breaks the TD record and Joe Theismann is in the booth, I may run as hard as I can into a brick wall. And since life is cruel that way, although most are not expecting it, it will happen here and Manning will throw for at least three. The mortal waste of the event will be shattered by some remark from the booth and that historic moment in time will be ruined forever. I’m happy for Peyton Manning unlike Barry Bonds. ESPN, I’m not sure if you watch the Sunday night game, actually, there is no way anyone in power at ESPN watches the night game, they wouldn’t be able to either.
Seems like a high Colts score I know but there it is, in black and white.
Prediction: Colts 43 – Ravens 23
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Monday 9:00pm
Herein lies the sucker bet of the weekend. It looks too obvious that on Monday Night the World Champion Patriots are going to devour the Dolphins like Tuna fish and that is why Vegas is licking their chops. Vegas is going to make a lot of dough on this game. If you had to pick a team that you felt was the safest place to put your money, it has to be the Patriots. They’ve only lost 1 game and they’re the Superbowl champs to boot. That’s a pretty safe haven. The Dolphins for almost the entire season have been a bunch of bumbling oafs. Do you really feel comfortable betting on the Dolphins? Of course not. Which is why Vegas is thrilled.
The Patriots will emphasize Corey Dillon as they always do in games they come in heavy favorites. The Patriots like to run, run, run when playing a vastly inferior foe.
Here is the thing with the Dolphins. They have been playing a lot better and have been in every game they’ve been in lately. People don’t talk much about the Dolphin D but it is a top notch unit. They have just been overshadowed by the poor play of their offense, Ricky Williams and the departure of Dave Wannstedt.
The Patriots giving up the yards they did last week is troubling and Miami will be able to find some of those seams as well. They won’t rack them up like the Bengals but they will find chinks.
Prediction: Patriots 27 – Dolphins 24