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10 Telling Tussles

Nov. 27, 2006
Nov. 27, 2006

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Nov. 27, 2006

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10 Telling Tussles

The weeks are dwindling, and the fantasy playoffs loom, setting up these games as the ones that will make or break your season

THE TITANS-TEXANSgame in Week 14 won't feature many fantasy studs. But when the Bengals visitIndianapolis the following week, every fantasy owner still in contention willhave a rooting interest. The point: In the world of fantasy football, somegames are much more compelling than others. With just five weeks remaining inthe fantasy season, these games loom as the most significant.

This is an article from the Nov. 27, 2006 issue

WEEK 12

BEARS ATPATRIOTS

Welcome to theQuarterbacks Who Cannot Be Trusted Bowl. The Bears' Rex Grossman was thebiggest fantasy surprise of the first half, but he has cooled quicker thanChicago's weather. New England's Tom Brady, meanwhile, has vexed owners withhis boom-or-bust performances: He had his second four-TD game in four weeks onSunday, but in the other two games he threw one TD pass and five interceptions.Given the strength of both pass defenses, the running backs have the bestchance of being productive.

Fantasy Forecast
Each team moves the ball well on Gillette's new FieldTurf, but Pats rookierunning back Laurence Maroney comes away as the highest fantasy scorer.

Sleeper Pick
Bears TE Desmond Clark

WEEK 13

COWBOYS ATGIANTS

The first meetingbetween these NFC East rivals, on Monday night in Week 7, was the game in whichDallas coach Bill Parcells replaced Drew Bledsoe with Tony Romo at quarterback.New York won 36--22, but since then the Cowboys have been a much moreproductive passing team, averaging 264.5 yards, up from 218.5.

Fantasy Forecast
Romo goes wild against a banged-up Giants defense as Dallas exacts revenge.

Sleeper Pick
Cowboys TE Anthony Fasano

WEEK 14

SAINTS ATCOWBOYS

With the additionsof free-agent quarterback Drew Brees and rookie receiver Marques Colston out ofHofstra, the New Orleans offense has become the fantasy surprise of the season.But Brees and Colston will face a difficult matchup here--at week's end Dallashad allowed 200.1 yards per game through the air and just nine passingtouchdowns--while Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens meets a pass defense thathas allowed 20 scores.

Fantasy Forecast
Dallas shuts down Brees and Colston while Owens and running back Julius Joneshave a field day.

Sleeper Pick
Cowboys WR Sam Hurd

BEARS AT RAMS

St. Louisquarterback Marc Bulger and receiver Torry Holt have formed one of the league'smost lethal tandems this season, but they will meet their toughest test in aChicago D that ranks No. 1 against the pass and has allowed just seven scoresthrough the air. Bulger and Holt remain must-starts, but if any Ram is likelyto have a dream fantasy day, it will be running back Steven Jackson; Chicagoranks just 10th against the run.

Fantasy Forecast
In a low-scoring game the running backs--Jackson and the Bears' ThomasJones--outperform Bulger, Holt and Chicago QB Rex Grossman.

Sleeper Pick
Rams Defense

WEEK 15

CHIEFS ATCHARGERS

Many fantasy teamsstill alive in Week 15 will have either Larry Johnson or LaDainianTomlinson--or be facing one of them--making this AFC West clash must-see TV. Inthe previous game between these two, Johnson and Tomlinson each scored twotouchdowns, but the Chiefs limited Tomlinson to 66 rushing yards, hissecond-lowest total of the season.

Fantasy Forecast
LT, fantasy's undisputed MVP, tops LJ and hits the statistical jackpot.

Sleeper Pick
Chargers WR Malcom Floyd

LIONS ATPACKERS

This kind ofmatchup--offenses that can move the ball against defenses that can't stopoffenses from moving the ball--makes for fantasy-league fantasies. The lasttime these two clubs squared off, Green Bay's Brett Favre threw for 340 yardsand three touchdowns, the Lions' Roy Williams had 138 receiving yards and ascore, and the teams combined for 824 yards and 55 points. Only a Wisconsinblizzard can prevent a repeat of those kinds of numbers.

Fantasy Forecast
Green Bay's Donald Driver, not Williams, is the best receiver on thefield.

Sleeper Pick
Packers TE David Martin

EAGLES ATGIANTS

In their lastmeeting Eli Manning rallied New York from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit,and every receiver from the Giants' Amani Toomer to the Eagles' Donte'Stallworth looked like a fantasy all-star. Running backs Brian Westbrook andTiki Barber weren't huge factors that day (40 combined carries), but this timethe wintry winds at the Meadowlands (and the absence of the injured DonovonMcNabb) will make the running game key.

Fantasy Forecast
The Eagles' air attack is grounded, and Barber emerges as the game's MVP.

Sleeper Pick
Giants WR Sinorice Moss

BENGALS ATCOLTS

Few games willpack the firepower of this matchup, which falls on the first playoff weekendfor many leagues. As many as nine skill-position players could have significantfantasy impact, and the owners involved wouldn't mind seeing a replay of lastyear's scoreathon, in which the teams combined for 82 points and 943yards.

Fantasy Forecast
Manning and his counterpart, Carson Palmer, put up huge numbers in a shootoutthat makes everyone a fantasy star.

Sleeper Pick
Bengals RB Chris Perry

WEEK 16

EAGLES ATCOWBOYS

Fantasy Super Bowlweek for most leagues features a game that won't be quite as much of an aerialwar as was the Week 5 meeting between these two, in which the teams combinedfor 505 passing yards. The Cowboys' passing game has improved under Romo, whilethe Eagles' Jeff Garcia won't have to worry about linebacker Greg Ellis, who'sout for the rest of the year with a torn Achilles.

Fantasy Forecast
Westbrook is a one-man show, but Romo and Julius Jones shine brighter.

Sleeper Pick
Eagles TE Matt Schobel

SAINTS ATGIANTS

Much could be atstake here--fantasy league titles, an NFC playoff spot--but the spotlight willfall on the 31-year-old Barber, who could be playing his last home game. Therewill thus be pressure on Giants coaches to let him go out in style. Run defensehas been a weakness for New Orleans, which ranked 24th in that category atweek's end.

Fantasy Forecast
Barber runs for more than 100 yards and a score, and New York contains Breesand Colston.

Sleeper Pick
Saints TE Mark Campbell

PHOTOTOM DIPACE (PALMER) IN THISCORNER
WEEK 15
THE SHOOTOUT

CARSON PALMER
BENGALS

2,593 passing yards, 18 TDs
PHOTOMICHAEL HICKEY/WIREIMAGE.COM (MANNING) ...ANDIN THIS CORNER
WEEK 15
THE SHOOTOUT

PEYTON MANNING
COLTS

2,781 passing yards, 20 TDs
PHOTOALEX BRANDON/AP (COLSTON)COLSTONPHOTOPOUYA DIANAT/US PRESSWIRE (OWENS)OWENSPHOTODON LANSU/WIREIMAGE.COM (JONES)JONESPHOTOKEVIN TERRELL/WIREIMAGE.COM (JACKSON)JACKSONPHOTOG. NEWMAN LOWRANCE/WIREIMAGE.COM (JOHNSON)JOHNSONPHOTOGREGORY R. BANNER/WIREIMAGE.COM (TOMLINSON)TOMLINSONPHOTOJONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES (WILLIAMS)WILLIAMSPHOTORICHARD C. LEWIS/WIREIMAGE.COM (DRIVER)DRIVERPHOTOBOB ROSATO (BREES)BREESPHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER (BARBER)BARBER