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Friday, November 2, 2007
Engel: Tough week for Eliminator

By Scott Engel
ESPN.com

Every week, I will share my personal selections and picks in ESPN.com's mini-games, plus feature my lineups in prominent expert leagues that I am participating in this season. I'll explain the reasoning behind many of my choices, in an effort to assist you in making your own decisions or to explain why certain picks may seem risky or unusual.

GRIDIRON CHALLENGE

QB1: Tom Brady (Value: Locked at 7.2)
QB2: Matt Hasselbeck (6.8)
RB1: Kevin Jones (5.3)
RB2: Marshawn Lynch (Locked at 5.7)
WR1: Randy Moss (Locked at 6.9)
WR2: Chad Johnson (6.1)
TE: Chris Cooley (4.6)
K: Shaun Suisham (3.2)
D/ST: Oakland Raiders (3.9)
Total Team Value: (49.6)
ENGEL'S ANGLES: Brady and Moss stay locked in. This is a monster game coming up, and they will be ready to perform at a very high level. Jones is healthy again and performing well, and he should have a very good game against the highly-vulnerable Denver defense. Lynch could have his biggest game of the season against the Bengals. With T.J. Houshmandzadeh playing so well, Chad Johnson will be ready to bust loose with a big outing against the Bills. Cooley should get in the end zone as the Redskins dominate the reeling Jets. Oakland faces a reeling Texans squad that is led by Sage Rosenfels. That matchup should certainly translate into some turnovers.

ELIMINATOR

Pick: Green Bay Packers (at Kansas City Chiefs)
ENGEL'S ANGLES: I have been on target in seven of eight weeks, and now I am taking a minor gamble by taking a road team that travels to Arrowhead Stadium. The Packers, however, are allowing 98.4 rushing yards per game and can hold Larry Johnson in check. Their cornerbacks can certainly handle the Kansas City wide receivers straight up while using eight-man fronts and a fine linebacking crew to focus on Johnson or drop back into pass coverage. Green Bay may not be able to totally hold down Tony Gonzalez, but if they can keep him from exploding, he won't get much help and many Chiefs drives will stall. Kansas City is allowing more than 108 yards per game on the ground, so Ryan Grant should play well enough to help Brett Favre, who will distribute the ball to different receivers and make key throws when it counts. This game will be close for awhile, but the Packers will be able to throw the ball more effectively, and that will be the prime difference in deciding this game.

PIGSKIN PICK 'EM: VS. THE SPREAD

CAROLINA +4 1/2 at Tennessee
TAMPA BAY -3 1/2 versus Arizona
WASHINGTON -3 1/2 at New York Jets
NEW ORLEANS -3 1/2 versus Jacksonville
MINNESOTA +7 1/2 versus San Diego
SAN FRANCISCO +3 1/2 at Atlanta
GREEN BAY +2 1/2 at Kansas City
DETROIT -3 1/2 versus Denver
CINCINNATI +1 1/2 at Buffalo
CLEVELAND -1 1/2 versus Seattle
INDIANAPOLIS +5 1/2 versus New England
OAKLAND -3 1/2 versus Houston
DALLAS -3 1/2 at Philadelphia
BALTIMORE +8 1/2 at Pittsburgh
ENGEL'S ANGLES: Tennessee won't be able to generate enough offense to win by a large margin. Kellen Clemens faces a tough and angry Washington defense that was embarrassed in Week 8. The Jaguars won't be able to keep up with the rejuvenated Saints with Quinn Gray at quarterback. Minnesota won't beat San Diego, but they can stick close. The Lions are looking more balanced overall and will eventually pull away from the Broncos. The Bengals will finally click again at Buffalo, even if it is just for one week. The Browns offense will outpoint the Seahawks, who don't make enough key defensive plays on critical downs. The Patriots will prevail, but won't be able to fully dominate the Colts. The Raiders will play one of their best games of the season against the sliding Texans. Pittsburgh will engage in a physical war with the Ravens, and they won't roll up a large amount of points as defenses dictate the matchup.

PIGSKIN PICK 'EM: NO SPREAD

Home team in CAPS

TENNESSEE over Carolina
TAMPA BAY over Arizona
Washington over NEW YORK JETS
NEW ORLEANS over Jacksonville
San Diego over MINNESOTA
San Francisco over ATLANTA
Green Bay over KANSAS CITY
DETROIT over Denver
Cincinnati over BUFFALO
CLEVELAND over Seattle
New England over INDIANAPOLIS
OAKLAND over Houston
Dallas over PHILADELPHIA
PITTBURGH over Baltimore
ENGEL'S ANGLES: The Buccaneers will come through with a solid performance at home against Arizona. Things could get ugly in the stands at Giants Stadium, as frustration mounts. It won't be the Giants causing the frustration, though. It will be their inferior "tenants" who will be causing unrest. The 49ers will jump on some Joey Harrington turnovers to get an edge. The Browns will excite the home folks with more offensive heroics. The Eagles won't be able to contain the Dallas offense or keep up with it. The Ravens have no hope of besting the Steelers on the road.

THE PRO LEAGUE

The ESPN.com Experts League, in which I face off against other nine other fantasy staff members. Check out Tristan H. Cockcroft's coverage of the league on our fantasy football pages every Friday.

QB: Derek Anderson
RB1: Travis Henry
RB2: Adrian Peterson (MIN)
RB/WR: Donald Driver
WR1: Kevin Walter
WR2: Reggie Wayne
TE: Dallas Clark
K: Kris Brown
D/ST: Green Bay Packers
Reserves: Ben Roethlisberger, Jeff Garcia, Frank Gore, Ryan Grant, Adimchinobi Echemandu, James Jones, Jaguars D/ST
ENGEL'S ANGLES: Anderson gets the nod over Garcia, who also has a good matchup, but of course I prefer Anderson to be more statistically prolific. Henry appears to be getting better, but he is certainly not locked into the lineup with Gore and Grant on the bench. Grant still has a shot to start over Henry as he faces Kansas City. I am mulling starting him over Walter as well. It will heavily depend on how Gore and Henry look health-wise when game day gets closer. Wayne and Clark should serve me well in the big game against the Patriots. I expect the Packers to frustrate the Kansas City offense. I added Echemandu with Ahman Green getting banged up seemingly regularly and Ron Dayne being, well, Ron Dayne.

FANEX FOOTBALL

A long-running, highly prestigious 12-team experts league that has always been tops among seasoned fantasy experts. Four points for passing touchdowns, 0.05 points for each passing yard, 0.1 each for rushing and receiving yards, one point for every reception. Only two add/drops allowed per week, with blind bidding.

QB: Derek Anderson
RB1: LenDale White
RB2: Thomas Jones
RB3: Willie Parker
WR1: Reggie Wayne
WR2: Brandon Marshall
WR3: Nate Burleson
TE: Vernon Davis
K: Jeff Reed
D/ST: Washington Redskins
Reserves: Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, Earnest Graham, David Patten, Ted Ginn Jr., Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, Donald Lee, Daye Rayner and Vikings D/ST.
ENGEL'S ANGLES: It was not an easy call between Hasselbeck and Anderson, but I took Anderson at home, because if the Seattle ground game sputters again, Hasselbeck could be forced to throw too often and that will mean sacks, big hits and more than one turnover. I can't bench Parker, no matter who he faces. Marshall should perform well against the Lions, and Burleson does face a shaky Cleveland pass defense. I'll start him even though D.J. Hackett is expected to return.

KRAUSE PUBLICATIONS EXPERTS LEAGUE II
From the publishers of Fantasy Sports Magazine, a long-enduring fantasy industry staple. A 12-team league with similar scoring to Fanex, except running backs get 0.5 points for a reception.

QB: Ben Roethlisberger
RB1: Willie Parker
RB2: Fred Taylor
RB/WR: Justin Fargas
WR1: Bobby Engram
WR2: Nate Burleson
WR3: Wes Welker
TE:Chris Cooley
K: Kris Brown
D/ST: Washington Redskins
Reserves: Brian Griese, Chester Taylor, Michael Bennett, Plaxico Burress, Marvin Harrison, Vikings D/ST.
ENGEL'S ANGLES: I would like to use another passer with a better matchup than Roethlisberger, but all I can do is hope he minimizes mistakes and plays adequately, which is very possible. I can't bring myself to bench Parker, either. Fargas is in line to get more carries and faces the stumbling Texans. Harrison does have a shot at replacing Engram or Burleson if his status improves, and I will certainly be missing Burress this week.

Scott Engel covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can contact Scott here.