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Every Tuesday during the NFL season, WhatIfSports.com will release its fantasy projections for the upcoming week. The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically-based player rankings. In addition to our computer forecasts, WhatIfSports.com will also offer a "creative" perspective at its fantasy football coverage in a weekly feature called "Fantasy Fever." Enjoy.
QB: Philip Rivers, Chargers. Some are down on the San Diego signal caller as Rivers is without deep-threat Vincent Jackson. Additionally, Rivers will be working with an unproven backfield in rookie Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Yet any apprehension in regards to Rivers this week should be alleviated thanks to 1) Antonio Gates, who set career marks in yards and catches last season, and 2) Kansas City's wretched defense, which gave up an AFC-leading 26.5 points per game in 2009.
RB: Ronnie Brown, Dolphins. The Bills were the 2nd worst rush defense in the AFC last season, surrendering an average of 156 yards per contest. And historically, the former Auburn Tiger has performed well against Buffalo, rushing for 417 yards in six previous matchups. Brown has been injury prone since entering the league in 2005, but has shown no lingering issues from offseason foot surgery.
WR: Pierre Garcon, Colts. While Reggie Wayne is still #1 on the depth chart, Garcon is clearly becoming one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets. Garcon lead Indianapolis in receiving during the 2009 playoff run, bringing in 21 receptions, 251 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Houston was pedestrian against the pass in '09, giving up 218 yards per game. Factor in the departure of top Texan corner Dunta Robinson, as well as the small tidbit that Houston is 1-15 lifetime against the Colts, and all signs point to a monster performance from Garcon.
TE: Brent Celek, Eagles. Celek's breakout year in '09 (racking up 76 catches for 971 yards and 8 touchdowns) would be cause enough for excitement in Philly. Yet closer examination shows that during Kevin Kolb's two-game stint as starter last season, Celek hauled in 16 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown. If those two can rekindle their repertoire, look for Celek to challenge Vernon Davis, Jason Witten, and Jermichael Finley as the NFC's top tight end.
DEF: Tennessee Titans. The Raiders have garnered preseason sleeper buzz, simply from upgrading from JaMarcus Russell (F minus) to the Jason Campbell/Bruce Gradkowski combo (C minus). Unfortunately for the Raider Nation, Oakland still employs the services of Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Call me Doubting Thomas, but I need to see it before I believe it.
QB: Jay Cutler, Bears. On paper, one would think a matchup against the putrid Lions would prove favorable. However, the transition to Mike Martz's offense has been rocky at best, and there is palpable discontent between Cutler and the offensive line, as the former Pro Bowl quarterback was sacked 10 times in the preseason. Martz and Cutler might find the formula to fix Chicago's woes; until that equation is illustrated on the field, stay away from Cutler.
Cut-DownThe Bears are dealing with protection issues
RB: Pierre Thomas, Saints. Minnesota's rush defense allowed just 1,394 yards last season, 2nd best in the NFL. Furthermore, since the arrival of Sean Payton, the delegation of carries between running backs has varied on a week-by-week basis. Thomas did have success against the Vikings in the NFC Championship, gaining 61 yards on the ground, 38 through the air, and 2 touchdowns.
WR: Mike Wallace, Steelers. Wallace has been slated to inherit the departed Santonio Holmes' production. While this may be the case, it will be challenging to replicate that success with Dennis Dixon at the helm of the Steeler offense. Moreover, the Atlanta Falcons ranked 6th in passing defense in 2009. With too many variables in play, favor another wideout over Wallace if you possess the depth.
TE: Owen Daniels, Texans. Daniels had a fantastic first half of the 2009 season, hauling in 39 catches for 497 yards and 5 TDs in seven games before suffering a torn ACL. Daniels was cleared for action on August 30, and is scheduled to play against the Colts. However, Daniels is not expected to be 100%, signifying the prudent pronouncement is to monitor the Texan tight end on your bench for Week 1.
DEF: Philadelphia Eagles.Although projected to be one of the elite defenses in 2010, Philly faces a vaunted offensive attack in Green Bay. The Eagles were so-so against aerial assaults in '09, and if Aaron Rodgers duplicates his preseason success at the Link on Sunday, it could be a long day in the City of Brotherly Love.
Fantasy Flashback Performance: This feature will honor and remember some of the memorable, notable, and infamous fantasy outings of the past decade. Today we pay homage to Kevin Curtis. Heading into Week 3 of the 2007 campaign, Curtis had compiled 6 receptions for 81 yards on the season, a commendable accumulation for Donovan McNabb's supposed 3rd receiving target (behind Brian Westbrook and Reggie Brown). Yet these numbers did not forebode the imminent eruption Curtis had in store for the Lions. In a 56-21 route of Detroit, Curtis collected 11 balls for 221 yards and 3 TDs, leading to the inevitable waiver wire rush in fantasy leagues across America. Although he only broke the 100-yard game barrier twice the rest of the season, Curtis finished the year with 1,110 yards and 77 receptions.
Waiver Wire Watch: Mike Williams, Seattle. The Seahawks had enough confidence in the former USC standout's abilities that the franchise cut ties with Pro Bowler T.J. Houshmandzadeh. While many question if Matt Hasselbeck can stay healthy for an entire season, you'll be hard pressed to find someone available with as much upside as Williams. Williams caught 10 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.
This Week in Kevin Walter: A segment in which we chronicle the life and times of one Kevin Walter, wide receiver for the Houston Texans. Aside from John Harvey Kellogg (the cornflakes dude) and Gerry Mathias (of TV show Judge Mathis fame), K-Walt is undoubtedly Eastern Michigan University's most prominent alumnus. A 7th round draft pick in 2003, Walter allegedly is the byproduct of conception from Xenia the Warrior Princess and Teddy Roosevelt. Walter is projected to be the Texans #2 wideout in 2010, and could prove to be a late sleeper in the pass-happy Houston offense.
Rookie Review: Sam Bradford, Rams. The #1 overall pick had a stellar statistical start to his career, throwing for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns in the preseason. Granted, most of that time came against 2nd and 3rd stringers, but after dismal showings from fellow rookies Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen, Bradford is clearly the most NFL-ready QB out of the bunch. Unfortunately for the former Heisman winner, he will be throwing to the likes of Laurent Robinson, Danny Amendola, and Keenan Burton.
Gatorade Shower Goes To: Max Hall, Cardinals. After going undrafted, Hall was brought in to Arizona to provide competition for the 3rd string QB position. Instead, Hall excelled and awed in training camp, beating out former golden boy Matt Leinart for a roster spot. Listed second on the depth chart, Hall could see action as a starter if Derek Anderson falters.
Personal Foul On: Albert Haynesworth, Redskins. Just shut up and play, brother.
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