Commentary

Engel: Graham to stay hot versus reeling Falcons

Updated: December 14, 2007, 5:15 PM ET
By Scott Engel | ESPN.com

Every week, I share my personal selections and picks in ESPN.com's minigames, plus feature my lineups in a prominent expert league in which I am still participating late in the 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: 8.0)
QB2: Kurt Warner (6.7)
RB1: Earnest Graham (5.7)
RB2: Ryan Grant (Locked at 5.5)
WR1: Randy Moss (7.4)
WR2: Marques Colston (5.6)
TE: Donald Lee (Locked at 3.2)
K: Matt Stover (3.5)
D/ST: Cincinnati Bengals (4.2)
Total Team Value: (49.8)

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Engel's Angles: Yes, there is snow in the forecast for Sunday's Patriots-Jets game, but I am sticking with Brady and Moss to keep me at the top of my group. New England is not an effective running team and even if the passing game gets scaled back a bit, it won't disappear and the two will hook up for at least one score. Brady will still throw more than one touchdown pass. Warner threw a career-high five interceptions last week, but also finished with 337 passing yards and has thrown 12 touchdown passes in his past five games. I definitely like him against New Orleans, even with injuries still being an issue at wide receiver for Arizona. Graham faces the Falcons, and he rushed for 102 yards and a score against them in Week 11. I'll stick with Grant against the Rams after he delivered the best performance of his career so far against Oakland. Colston scored twice in Week 14 and I can't see Arizona containing him. I must admit, though, I was tempted to use Jabar Gaffney in his slot because of the 4.0 price tag, but I am really satisfied with the rest of my lineup and not looking to trim salary. Lee continues to be one of the best bargains in the game, even with his regular market value at 3.5. Stover should provide a good portion of Baltimore's scoring at Miami. The Bengals are obviously a matchup play, with San Francisco still struggling and now down to Shaun Hill at quarterback.

Eliminator

Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (versus Atlanta Falcons).

Engel's Angles: Last week, Tampa Bay suffered a surprising loss to Houston as they clearly missed Jeff Garcia. The defense spent too much time on the field and the offense sputtered in key situations. This week, Garcia is expected to return, and the Buccaneers are looking to wrap up the NFC South title against an Atlanta ballclub dealing with yet another setback with the loss of Bobby Petrino. In the first meeting of the season, on Nov. 18, the Buccaneers smashed the Falcons, 31-7. Garcia threw a pair of touchdown passes, Graham's performance in that game has already been noted, and Ronde Barber returned a fumble 41 yards for a score. Tampa Bay is allowing 103.3 rushing yards per game, but the Atlanta ground attack has been unimpressive this season and likely won't challenge the Buccaneers much defensively. The Tampa Bay defense is ranked fourth and will limit the production of Chris Redman, especially if Roddy White finally gets the extra defensive attention he deserves this week. If DeAngelo Hall shuts down Joey Galloway for a good portion of the day, Garcia will spread the ball around to other targets and Graham will run the ball effectively again. There's really not much hope for the reeling Falcons in this one.

Pigskin Pick 'Em versus The Spread

My selections in CAPS

Cincinnati -8 é at SAN FRANCISCO
NEW ORLEANS -3 é versus Arizona
Pittsburgh -4 é versus JACKSONVILLE
Green Bay 10 é at ST. LOUIS
TAMPA BAY -10 é versus Atlanta
Baltimore -4 é at MIAMI
NEW ENGLAND 24 é versus New York Jets
CLEVELAND 5 é versus Buffalo
TENNESSEE 3 é at Kansas City
SEATTLE 7 é at Carolina
INDIANAPOLIS 10 é at Oakland
San Diego 11 é versus DETROIT
Dallas 10 é versus PHILADELPHIA
NEW YORK GIANTS 4 é versus Washington
Minnesota 9 é versus CHICAGO

Engel's Angles: The Bengals will certainly beat the 49ers, but San Francisco should use its running game to prevent a full-scale blowout. The Saints will keep their postseason hopes alive as Drew Brees has another good outing. The Jaguars will fight to the finish at Pittsburgh, even if they drop a close one. The St. Louis defense has played better than advertised recently, and can keep the Rams in the game for at least three quarters. The Dolphins have their best chance for a win in the past three games this week, but will ultimately fall short. The snow will make the Jets struggle a lot more than the Patriots will. Cleveland will dominate offensively as the Browns look to lock up a playoff berth. The Seahawks will continue to roll against the limp Panthers. The Lions will show some signs of life through desperation early on, but will fade in the second half against the Chargers. The Eagles aren't going to let a hated rival blow them out. The Bears will also scrap hard with the Vikings, even if they don't come close to winning.

Pigskin Pick 'Em: No Spread

Home team in CAPS

Cincinnati over SAN FRANCISCO
NEW ORLEANS over Arizona
PITTSBURGH over Jacksonville
Green Bay over ST. LOUIS
TAMPA BAY over Atlanta
Baltimore over MIAMI
NEW ENGLAND over New York Jets
CLEVELAND over Buffalo
Tennessee over KANSAS CITY
Seattle over CAROLINA
Indianapolis over OAKLAND
SAN DIEGO over Detroit
DALLAS over Philadelphia
NEW YORK GIANTS over Washington
MINNESOTA over Chicago

Engel's Angles: A Jeff Reed field goal will be the difference between the Steelers and Jaguars. The Packers won't find St. Louis to be pushovers, but the Rams won't be able to generate enough offense in the second half to keep pace. Matt Stover will save the Ravens from the embarrassment of being the first team to lose to Miami. The Dolphins are at home against a disappointing team that they will stick close with, but their destiny seems to certainly be heading to 0-16. Their fans have bragged about 1972 for too long and will make new history in 2007. The Jets are getting a lot of press this week, but will be a non-story midway through the second quarter. The Titans will run the ball very effectively against the Chiefs. The Colts could handle the Raiders in much the same way they destroyed Baltimore. The Giants defense will dictate their march to the postseason this week.

Krause Publications Experts League II

From the publishers of Fantasy Sports Magazine, a long-enduring fantasy industry staple. A 12-team league in which you get 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 for wide receivers and tight ends, 0.5 points for receptions by running backs.

QB: Ben Roethlisberger
RB1: Willie Parker
RB2: Aaron Stecker
RB/WR: Chester Taylor
WR1: Bobby Engram
WR2: Wes Welker
WR3: Anthony Gonzalez
TE:Chris Cooley
K: Mason Crosby
D/ST: Minnesota Vikings
Reserves: Kolby Smith, Fred Taylor, Justin Fargas, Samkon Gado, Plaxico Burress and Jabar Gaffney.

Engel's Angles: I am one game away from the Super Bowl and face some tough decisions. I will stick with Roethlisberger to give me at least solid numbers, and after Parker ran well against New England, I will keep him in the lineup against the Jaguars, who have lost defensive tackle Marcus Stroud. Stecker played well in his first start last week and I expect another good outing against the Cardinals. Chester Taylor continues to produce well even with Adrian Peterson back in action. Welker is a must-start, especially if the Patriots go to a short, controlled passing game in the adverse weather conditions. Engram continues to be a top target for Seattle and Gonzalez is a prime pass-catcher in the Indianapolis passing game with Marvin Harrison still out. It's not easy to bench Burress or Gaffney, but Burress is inconsistent and Gaffney could easily not be a prime target in any given week as Brady spreads the ball around a lot. Fred Taylor is hot, but he does face the Steelers and I do have other quality options to replace him.

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

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Scott Engel covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com.