Each week, Dave presents a preview of the week’s most interesting contests from a fantasy perspective, offering his take on player performances, potential sleepers and, of course, the game’s outcome.
Brett Favre: Favre has been stellar throughout this six-game win streak, but he will have his back up against the wall in this tilt. Philadelphia’s rowdy fans, along with Jim Johnson’s aggressive defensive style, could have him running for his life if he is not careful. However, one positive for the Pack is that the offensive line has only allowed Favre to go down five times thus far this year (although this is partially due to Favre’s unwillingness to take a sack). He comes up against a strange match-up here, as Philadelphia’s pass defense is middle of the road (ranked 15th and allowing 6.4 yards per attempt). The pass defense seems apt to give up yards at certain times, but they always seem to make a play when it matters. Because of this, I expect an up and down day for Favre, but he remains a quality start in all formats. Favre will be 20/31 for 210-240 yards, two TDs, and 1-2 interceptions (depending on whether the blitz forces him into errant throws).
Ahman Green/Najeh Davenport: Ahman Green was out for week 12 against St. Louis, but he has practiced this week and is listed as probable for this week’s game. However, he will be wearing a protective flak jacket to protect his ribs, similar to those that quarterbacks wear. Green said earlier that this flak jacket is ‘Just a little something that quarterbacks wear even when they are not hurt. Just to prevent stuff.’ So it sounds like Green is just fine with wearing the flak jacket. However, for those not used to wearing flak jackets (especially running backs), they can restrict lateral motion and the bulkiness can cause ball handlers to fumble more often (a problem that Green already has). Despite the difficulties that this new equipment could give him, I still expect Green to have a profitable day against Philly’s 20th ranked run defense. His production will depend somewhat on Najeh Davenport’s status (he is listed as questionable). If Davenport plays, he should spell Green in certain situations, especially in short yardage. So if Davenport is out, Green will have 23-26 carries for 95-120, 1-2 TDs, and a fumble. If Najeh is in, Green will tally 18-22 carries for 80-100 yards, a TD, and a fumble while Davenport grabs 30-40 yards on 7-10 carries.
Green Bay WRs: There are two quality starts, as always, for the Packers in this spot. Of course, they are Donald Driver and Javon Walker. Walker is your best start here, as he can function as Favre’s deep threat or as a mid-range guy. Walker will have 90 yards and a score in this game. Driver will work the middle of the field for 60-70 and a red zone look. Start Driver if you do not have a top-notch alternative. Robert Ferguson has had chances to break out, but he has yet to take advantage of his oppurtunities. Again, Ferguson should have a tough time breaking this defense. Bottom Line: only 20-30 yards for Ferguson.
Bubba Franks: Franks has been a tough start for many this year, as he is not one to eat up a large amount of yardage. Often, his fantasy production depends solely on whether or not he hits paydirt. He has five touchdowns, but his mere 241 receiving yards are a cause for concern. However, owners that have made the risky maneuver to start have been rewarded, as he has scored in two of his last three games. It’s hard to say he will definitely hit the end zone in this game, but should rack up 25-40 yards along with several red zone looks.
Defense: As for the team defense, sitting them would be recommended since Philadelphia has proven to not only be a high-scoring offense, but also they are mistake-free for the most part. I would say two sacks and a turnover for this unit. The Packers, however, have some valuable starts at the linebacker spot. Nick Barnett and Na’il Diggs are both possible starts each week due solely to their tackle numbers. In the secondary, Darren Sharper is a possible play, but he is risky at best because he will have a mediocre day unless he snares a pick. On th line Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is the only quality start with his 30 tackles and 7.5 sacks. Expect another four tackles and a sack from Kabeer.
Donovan McNabb: Donovan enters a great match-up here, facing a Green Bay defense that can be had through the air. Green Bay’s pass defense has been ripped all year, and this game should be no different. McNabb should spread the ball around easily against the 28th ranked pass defense of the Pack. McNabb should tally 290-310 yards passing, 25 rushing, two TDs, and one interception.
Brian Westbrook: Westbrook, now that he is healthy, is a great asset to the Eagles as well as to any fantasy squad. His running prowess along with his ability to catch it out of the backfield will lead him to a very productive day. Westbrook will go for 90 rushing, 40-50 receiving, and a touchdown.
Philadelphia WRs: Easy decision here, only Owens warrants a start out of this group. Terrell should rip through the soft Packer secondary to the tune of nine grabs, 125 yards, and a TD or two. Todd Pinkston has shown improvement this year, but he is still much too inconsistent to consider this year. He only has one TD, and his 511 yards have come in sporadic bunches that are unpredictable. Pinkston could have 30-50 receiving in this game, but he will be kept out of the end zone. Freddie Mitchell continues to be a great disappointment with only 12 catches on the year. He will probably only have one catch for about ten yards in this one.
Chad Lewis/LJ Smith: This story has been the same for the entire year. Both have the talent to be starting fantasy Tes, but the fact that they split time kills their value. Both have nearly identical yardage totals (247 for Lewis, 245 for Smith). I would avoid this tight end situation, but go with Smith if you are forced into a decision since McNabb looks for him in the red zone. Lewis will have 15-25 yards receiving, and Smith will have 25-30 with a red zone look.
Defense: Philadelphia is still a good start, but not as good as usual as they come up against the class of the NFC in Green Bay. Usually, playing against the NFC, Philadelphia’s defense is a great start, but this is a different story. Start them if you do not have a great alternative. They should have one sack and two or three turnovers, but they could give up a good amount of points. As for IDPs, Sheldon Brown and Michael Lewis are valuable secondary players as they are nearing 70 tackles on the year. Also, Brain Dawkins is a viable start with 58 tackles, three sacks, and a pair of interceptions. On the front seven, Jevon Kearse is the only real valuable player with his 7.5 sacks.
Lito Sheppard: Lito has quietly put together a big year, and many fantasy owners have still yet to notice. Think about picking him up this week if you have injuries among your IDPs. His 40 tackles and one sack on the year doesn’t look overly impressive at first glance, but considering that he also has 4 INTs along with two TDs, he is worth a look.
This is a tough spot for the Eagles, even at home. The Packers have won six striaght since starting 1-4, and have strangely been more dangerous on the road, boasting a 4-1 mark (compared to a pedestrian 3-3 at Lambeau). Green Bay is not only looking to solidify their playoff position, but also they are looking for revenge for last year’s playoff debacle. However, I could see Green Bay’s 28th ranked pass defense doing them in here. With Owens stretching the field and Westbrook grabbing catches out of the backfield, the Packers defense could have a long day as they hear “4th and 26″ ringing into their ears. Considering this along with the fact that Ahman Green may not be 100%, and you can tell that Green Bay will have a tough time coming out on top in this game. Regardless of the outcome of this one, expect these NFC titans to meet again in the NFC Championship (unless Atlanta has something to say about it). Philadelphia 27 Green Bay 24.
Dave McGrath hopes to eventually turn his Communication major into a full-time sportwriting career. He can be found posting as dave416 in the Cafe forums.
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