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Never too early to look ahead as another season winds down
By John Dietz | Daily Herald Columnist

It says here that the Ravens' Ray Rice will be second only to Tennessee's Chris Johnson in scoring among tailbacks next year.


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Published: 12/24/2009 1:19 PM | Updated: 12/24/2009 8:13 PM

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First off, I'd like to congratulate all of you who have reached your fantasy title game this week (hopefully most of your seasons end now because if they don't, God help you next week).

But for the other 80 percent of you who are done, let's take this opportunity to make some bold predictions about what will transpire next season. Clip and save -

• The Chiefs' Jamaal Charles (six straight weeks with TDs) will finish in the top 10 in fantasy points among running backs.

• Baltimore's Ray Rice will be the second-highest-scoring tailback behind Tennessee's Chris Johnson. Hey, I said these were bold predictions. As it stands now, Rice ranks fourth, and he has had at least 10 TDs vultured by Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain.

• Arizona's Beanie Wells will run for 1,300 yards and 12 TDs.

• Atlanta's Michael Turner will hit 15 touchdowns again. Don't let him slip too far just because a high ankle sprain derailed him for nearly half of this season.

• Buffalo's Fred Jackson will run for 1,200 yards and 8 TDs, and he will be one of the more reliable fantasy RB2s around.

• Cowboys WR Miles Austin will rack up 1,600 receiving yards and score 12 times.

• Niners WR Michael Crabtree will put together a 70-catch, 1,200-yard, 8-TD season. That means he will finish in the top 10 among receivers on the season.

• Bears WR Devin Aromashodu will score 5-6 TDs and be a decent fill-in when someone gets hurt or you need a bye-week replacement.

• Saints WR Robert Meacham finally will become a reliable, every-week receiver. He'll end up with 60 catches for 900 yards and 8 TDs, meaning he will be a fantastic No. 3 receiver.

• If given the chance, Browns RB Jerome Harrison and Raiders RB Michael Bush will show they should be every-down backs. The Bush situation is especially baffling to me. Every time I see that guy run, I wonder, "And why is he not playing all the time?"

• The Packers' Jermichael Finley will be a top-5 tight end.

• If the Bengals keep Larry Johnson, I bet Cedric Benson is a candidate for Bust of the Year.

• If Brett Favre finally retires, Sidney Rice will not be a top-20 fantasy WR by year's end. Rice is good, but it's Favre who is getting him the ball.

• And finally, Bears QB Jay Cutler actually throws more TD passes (let's say 24) than interceptions (16).

My teams: Well, both of my title runs came to an end with a pair of semifinal losses. My unit-league team fell 60-45, and my DH experts team fell to a juggernaut 129-109. Those teams both play for third place this week.

Good bets

• Falcons RB Jason Snelling vs. Buffalo. My guess is that Atlanta doesn't even think about bringing Michael Turner into this game and devises a run-heavy game plan to shred the Bills' weak run defense. I think Snelling will hit 80 rushing yards and may score 2 TDs.

• Falcons defense vs. Buffalo. Looking for a sleeper defense? Look no further than Atlanta, which can stack the box to stop Fred Jackson because Brian Brohm (first career start) will be taking over at quarterback.

• Vikings QB Brett Favre at Chicago. Favre's mad. And playing on national TV against the Bears. Pity the fool who doesn't start him.

Bad bets

• Giants QB Eli Manning and WR Hakeem Nicks vs. Carolina. I know few QBs are hotter than Manning right now, but few pass defenses are hotter than the Panthers'. Check this out: Since Week 2, only one quarterback has thrown for multiple scores in a game against Carolina: Kurt Warner in Week 8. Since then only 4 TD passes have been thrown in seven weeks.

• Lions RB Maurice Morris at San Francisco. No way does Morris get loose again this week. Especially with Drew Stanton at quarterback.

• For more Good and Bad bets, log on to