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Volume 6, Issue 140 (Monday, September 5th)

Tonight's update brought to you by:
The Footballguys.com Stats Book

Last year, we put out the fattest book of stats the fantasy football industry had ever seen. You told us you liked it, so we're putting out a 2005 edition. It's 377 pages of nothing but stats. And not just your run-of-the-mill stats, either. The stats in this book are geared specifically to the fantasy football enthusiast. How many red zone targets did Chad Johnson have last year? What were Clinton Portis' numbers on 3rd-and-short? And tons more.

Web Address: http://www.footballguys.com/05buyfbgstatbook.htm

Hi Folks,

Again, our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to our many friends along the Gulf Coast suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It puts what we do with Fantasy Football into perspective. The Red Cross can definitely use your help. More info is here http://www.redcross.org/ or 1-800-HELP-NOW if you would like to help.

On to Football. The regular season is right around the corner. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but for the last 140 nights, we've been hammering out these updates for you and we'll keep it rolling for a few more days. Remember that these updates end once the regular season starts. They'll be replaced by tons more content that our Footballguys Premium Subscribers receive. If you'd like to keep this content rolling all season long, you can sign up at www.footballguys.com. Now let's get to the news. Thanks to our Mark Wimer for the help in rounding up these stories tonight.

Joe Bryant


Site News:

A. (Premium Subscription) New Draft Dominator Version 6.0M Released
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B. (Premium Subscription) Value Based Drafting (VBD) App Version P1 Released
All the VBD info in Excel form current as of 9/5/05

C. (Premium Subscription) New Projections Updated
All the latest stats for every player that matters current as of 9/5/05

D. (Premium Subscription) Inside the WCOFF Bidding Wars
Our friend Roland Beech from www.TwoMinuteWarning.com has an exclusive look at the WCOFF

E. (Premium Subscription) WCOFF Drafting Ranges
by Dr. Doug Drinen

F. (Premium Subscription) WCOFF Average Draft Position
by Dr. Doug Drinen

G. (Premium Subscription) WCOFF - Number Drafted
by Dr.Doug Drinen

H. (Premium Subscription) Preseason Fantasy Tidbits - RBs
by Chris Smith

I. (Premium Subscription) Dark Phoenix #3
by Cecil Lammey

J. (Premium Subscription) Impact Rookies - QBs
by Chris Smith

K. (Premium Subscription) Impact Rookies - RBs
by Chris Smith

L. (Premium Subscription) Impact Rookies - WRs
by Chris Smith

M. (Premium Subscription) IDP Projections Updated
Stat projections for all the IDP players that matter as of 9/5/05

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. SF/OAK/DEN - WR Rice Officially Retires (Commentary Link)
2. PIT - WR Ward Agrees to New 4-Year Deal
3. FA - WR Robinson Reportedly Agrees With Vikings
4. BUF - QB Losman Looks Bad; But Pressure is On McGahee? (Commentary)
5. NYG - QB Manning To Get Ready for Season Opener
6. DET - New Backup QB Orlovsky - an Overview
7. PIT - QB Roethlisberger Not Worried
8. CAR - RBBC on the Horizon? Davis to Carry Larger Load than Foster?
9. ARI - Running Game Will Improve During Regular Season
10. TB - PK Bryant Wins Job Over France
11. SEA - Retooled D Unrelenting in Search for Progress
12. IDP NYJ - MLB Vilma - Ready to Rumble?

1. SF/OAK/DEN - WR Rice Officially Retires (Commentary Link)

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 9/5/05

Unwilling to be a bit player with the Broncos, Jerry Rice retired Monday, closing a 20-year career for the most productive receiver in NFL history.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Goodbye to one of the NFL's greatest players - we'll all miss you on the field. One of my favorite football writers, John Clayton of ESPN wrote a really nice article about Jerry Rice today. It's too long to paste here but if you are a football fan, you'll want to read this: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=clayton_john&id=2152424 Thank you, Mr. Rice.

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2. PIT - WR Ward Agrees to New 4-Year Deal

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 9/5/05

Wide receiver Hines Ward and the Pittsburgh Steelers reached terms Monday on a four-year contract, ending months of wrangling over a restructured deal less than a week before Sunday's opener against Tennessee.

Ward missed the first two weeks of training camp - the first veteran Steelers player to hold out so long since running back Barry Foster in 1993 - and returned only because the franchise held to its policy of not negotiating with holdout players. The Steelers traditionally do not negotiate during the season, either, which led to a busy weekend of talks between agent Eugene Parker and the Steelers.

The Steelers have not played since ending the preseason Thursday, but Ward stayed in Pittsburgh over the weekend as talks progressed, and attended the Notre Dame-Pitt game on Saturday night.

While there was speculation during his holdout he might sit out as long as three months, Ward said he found it impossible to stay away once he saw his teammates practicing and the preseason games starting. He returned to the team less than two hours before its first exhibition game Aug. 15.

"I've been telling them to get this done," Ward said. "I started my career as a Steeler and I want to end my career as a Steeler. I don't want to play anywhere else. This is a great football city. Why would you ever want to play anywhere else?"

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Fantasy owners of Ward everywhere agree - it's about time! Now Ward can concentrate on football. This has been expected for a while so it won't change anything as far as what we were projecting for Ward. But it's good to have this done.

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3. FA - WR Robinson Reportedly Agrees With Vikings

Clipped from: Judd Zulgad and Kevin Seifert article from the Star Tribune

The agent for Koren Robinson said today that the wide receiver has reached an agreement in principle on a two-year contract with the Vikings.

Alvin Keels refused to give any financial details of the contract, but said he expects it to be signed Tuesday.

Keels said Robinson, the former Seattle Seahawks first-round draft pick, won't play in Sunday's regular-season opener against Tampa Bay, but he should be ready for Week 2, when the Vikings travel to Cincinnati.

Robinson, 25, sought treatment this summer for alcoholism and has a Sept. 14 court date stemming from a drunken driving conviction.

He was selected ninth overall by Seattle in the 2001 draft. His best season came in 2002, when he caught 78 passes for 1,240 yards. But the Seahawks released him in June after several off-field incidents, the latest a drunken driving stop in May in which he registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.19.

Robinson pleaded guilty July 18 and was sentenced to one day in jail with 364 days suspended, but the case was reopened when officers smelled alcohol on his breath when he arrived to serve his day in jail.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

As of Sunday night, this was not official so keep an eye out. Koren Robinson has tons of talent and has wasted it lately. You have to love the situation with Daunte Culpepper throwing to him. It's definitely worth noting and something to keep an eye on. If you're in a really deep redraft or keeper league and want to take a flyer on a guy that's a big risk but has tons of upside, Robinson is probably worth a look.

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4. BUF - QB Losman Looks Bad; But Pressure is On McGahee? (Commentary)

Clipped from Buffalo News editorial by Bucky Gleason, 9/5/05

Just so you know, at this point in the season, Drew Bledsoe is a better QB in Dallas than J.P. Losman is in Buffalo. In fact, with the opener just around the corner, backup Kelly Holcomb is a better QB in Buffalo than J.P. Losman is in Buffalo.

But let's stop right there.

Losman appears to suffer from sensory overload, which happens when a kid spends too much time in the classroom, not enough on the playground. He looks shaky at best, like many a rookie starter. Bledsoe might be better today, but the Bills are convinced Losman, with more playing time, will take them farther tomorrow.

We're going to find out. Losman will get every opportunity to succeed, to grow, but the early returns don't look promising. The Bills can't let another season slip away for the sake of developing any one player.

Anyway, Buffalo's playoff hopes this season aren't riding on whether the quarterback can become a full-time starter and lead the offense. They're riding on whether the running back can become a full-time starter and lead the offense. The Bills' attack doesn't revolve around Losman. It revolves around Willis McGahee.

Remember, while Bledsoe was taking the heat for four straight losses to start last season, McGahee was taking a back seat to Travis Henry. Henry was the starter and had more carries than McGahee in each of the first four games. Not to blame Henry for the Bills' ills, but there's no chance they're winless with Willis, right?

McGahee would have kept his feet from the Jacksonville 2 in a 13-10 loss. He would have punched it in from the Oakland 1 in a 13-10 loss. He would have beaten down the Jets before gaining all 42 yards in the second half of a 16-14 defeat. Certainly, he would have made a few more plays and lifted the Bills into the playoffs.

Buffalo won four straight and was 9-3 after he joined the starting backfield. The Bills were 7-0 when he gained 100 yards or more. He finished the season with 1,128 yards and 13 touchdowns, all but 70 yards and every TD coming after the first four weeks. Given enough touches, he might have had 1,500 yards rushing and 18 TDs.

The pressure is on McGahee, not the kid handing the ball to him.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

It'll be interesting to see what kind of leash the Bills put Losman on. As the writer noted, the team can't sacrifice its whole season to Losman's development - such a fine defense doesn't come along every season. The backup QB is always the most popular guy in town and we think the Bills will stick with Losman and lean heavily upon McGahee.

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5. NYG - QB Manning To Get Ready for Season Opener

Clipped from: New York Daily News article by Ralph Vacchiano, 9/5/05

There will be no babying Eli Manning's right elbow when he returns to practice tomorrow. He has been cautious with it for two weeks. He can't afford to be cautious anymore.

That was the word late last week from Tom Coughlin, who said he has no plans to slowly work his franchise quarterback back into his offense. There are only four practices left before the Giants open the season against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. Manning will get all the work his sprained elbow can take.

"We'll have a count in the back of our head about how many throws per day, but I don't see it as any build up," Coughlin said. "I mean, we've got to go. We have to get ready."

Manning, who spent Saturday with his brother, Peyton, in Baton Rouge, La., delivering supplies and visiting shelters to help the Red Cross' hurricane relief effort, will have to get ready quickly, considering he's done nothing but throw on the sidelines since he was injured Aug. 20. He threw 60 passes for the team doctor in Foxboro Thursday night a few hours before the Giants wrapped up their preseason by beating the Patriots, 27-3.

Since then, Manning has thrown every other day (he will be off again today when the Giants begin game-planning meetings). When he returns to practice tomorrow he expects to start throwing about 100 passes per day.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Manning should be good to go in the season opener, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him come out of the gates slowly in that game. He's had a long lay off - look at your other options before plugging in Manning on Sunday.

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6. DET - New Backup QB Orlovsky - an Overview

Clipped from: Mlive.com article by Tom Kowalski, 9/5/05

Dan Orlovsky was prepared to spend the entire season in relative obscurity, but he has also been preparing to be the focal point of the Detroit Lions' offense.

In the matter of a few moments Friday night, Orlovsky went from the buried-deep-in-the-roster No. 3 quarterback spot to the highly visible backup position. Now, he's just one play away from becoming the starter.

Jeff Garcia, who was the backup to starter Joey Harrington, broke his left fibula and severely sprained his left ankle against the Buffalo Bills in the final preseason game Friday and could be sidelined for two months. Garcia will undergo additional tests on Tuesday to get a more accurate assessment of his injuries.

"Joey's still our guy, but if it came down to where I had to go in, I have full confidence that I'm a good enough player to get a win," said Orlovsky, who was Detroit's fifth-round draft pick in April out of Connecticut.

Orlovsky saw more action in preseason than any of Detroit's quarterbacks, completing 29 of 54 passes for 356 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Lions head coach Steve Mariucci has been impressed with Orlovsky's field presence and confidence.

While Orlovsky said he was willing to accept his No. 3 role this season, his goal has always been to get on the field.

"If I didn't want to be the guy, I'm in the wrong sport," he said. "I didn't do everything I did in college, as far as working, and everything I did in training camp . . . I want to play. My role right now is to make sure my teammates and my coaches have confidence that if something happens to Joey, that I'm good enough to help us win."

Orlovsky said all of the playing time he got in preseason, even in mop-up duty, was beneficial to his growth.

"I've been fortunate. I've been put in a lot of great situations this preseason, as far as two-minute drills, winning, losing, getting thrown into the fire and (dealing with) a short (practice) week (between games)," he said. "I felt good and I felt confident and I think other guys in the huddle feel that way also and that's important."

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

It's good that Orlovsky is self-confident - but the Lions are crossing their fingers that the only thing in his hands this year is a clip-board.

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7. PIT - QB Roethlisberger Not Worried

Clipped from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Gerry Dulac, 9/5/05

Ben Roethlisberger is not concerned the first-team offense produced just three points in the preseason. Or that he looked little like the 2004 NFL rookie of the year in four preseason games, completing less than half his passes (16 of 36) for 145 yards and no touchdowns.

Roethlisberger said he is a notorious slow starter who gets better as the game goes along. And he played just slightly more than the equivalent of one game in the preseason.

He said he is looking forward to the season opener Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field because he will play the entire game, injury notwithstanding, and be able to develop a rhythm.

"Sometimes it's hard because I'm not always the fastest of starters to a game," Roethlisberger said. "I need to learn to be better at that -- starting a game fast. You're coming out, you're playing a half, it's hard to get into a rhythm. We're done with that now. Now, hopefully, I'll be in the whole game the rest of the way."

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

While pre-season is only pre-season, there is no denying that Roethlisberger has looked less-than-sharp. We suggest you look at other options for your week 1 starter (we hope you have another quality guy at QB if Roethlisberger is on your roster) while we stand back and see if Roethlisberger can "get it going" now that the games count.

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8. CAR - RBBC on the Horizon? Davis to Carry Larger Load than Foster?

Clipped from: Gaston Gazette article by Steve Reed, 9/5/05

Team officials said Friday there was no indication Davis incurred any swelling overnight, a sign that his knee held up pretty well to the brief workout against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Backup DeShaun Foster, who also underwent microfracture knee surgery back in 2002, said if Davis can make it through Friday without any swelling, he should be fine.

"For me it was always one day," Foster said. "He'll know (Friday). It won't be anything to the point where you feel like you're doing damage to it. You are just going to be aware that, all right, I played football yesterday. But it should hold up pretty good."

If the knee continues to respond well, look for Davis to start against the New Orleans Saints.

Without tipping his hand, Panthers head coach John Fox indicated as much Thursday night, saying, "We haven't had a chance to discuss it, but that's definitely a possibility."

How many carries Davis will get remains uncertain and the flow of the game will also help determine that. But if the Panthers had their way, Davis would probably get 15 to 17 carries with Foster getting at least 10.

Foster conceded last week after the Cleveland game that he anticipates Davis will start the season opener.

That didn't change Thursday night.

Although Foster is entering his contract year, he doesn't seem to mind sharing carries with Davis, just as he did in 2003 when the Panthers went 11-5 and won the NFC South en route to the Super Bowl.

"We've done if before," Foster said. "I don't think anything will change with our relationship. It's al-ways been a good situation."

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Davis has a lot of mileage on his tires (10 years in the NFL) - neither he nor Foster have been able to stay healthy in recent years. Some of our stafffers at Footballguys think that Foster will end up seeing the most carries, others believe that Davis will - but this is much is clear: the Panthers will have some sort of RBBC this year, but rookie Eric Shelton won't be in the mix (IR - broken foot).

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9. ARI - Running Game Will Improve During Regular Season

Clipped from: Arizona Republic article by Jim Gintonio, 9/5/05

Don't rush to judgment about the Cardinals running game, say some of the players who will play a big role in the offense this season.

They predict things will get better once the regular season starts Sunday in New York.

The running game has never been a consistent part of the Cardinals' scheme since they moved to Arizona in 1988. Since that time, they've only had three 1,000-yard rushers, the last being Adrian Murrell (1,042) in 1998. To put that in historical perspective, the franchise has only had 11 seasons in which a running back gained 1,000 or more yards - with five of those compiled by Ottis Anderson.

"It's gonna improve," tackle Leonard Davis said. "Right now, we're just putting ourselves in bad situations, and we're not running the ball like we want to."

In the exhibition season, the Cardinals averaged less than 80 yards per game on the ground. A contributing factor might be that the team is on its fifth center since training camp began.

But running backs Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington said they believe better times are ahead.

"We approach every game knowing we want to run the ball well and pass the ball well," Shipp said. "We want to do all aspects of the game well. Some games are going to be tough (running), and we'll open up the passing game and vice-versa, and some games everything is going to be clicking.

"I feel we're getting better every week, and the good thing about it is we're growing as a team."

Arrington agrees, saying he's not overly concerned by the statistics.

"It's preseason, and you don't want to bring all your plays out," he said. "Next week (Sunday), we hopefully can bring everything out."

Coach Dennis Green said Kurt Warner and others have been throwing the ball well, and that could be a key to igniting the run.

"If we can make people defend the pass, if that's what we need to do to run, then that's what it may be," he said.

Asked if the offensive line was the culprit, he said, "I think it's everything."

Warner said that the offense is making strides toward becoming a cohesive unit.

"We have a lot of guys mixing in and out of the offensive line," he said. "You're talking about basically the fourth center we've had in four games, so we're still getting comfortable with each other and working on meshing in and becoming one unit.

"It only comes with time and getting the guys in there to do it. I've think we've done a lot of good things to build on."

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

80 yards per game is not what the Cardinals had in mind when they drafted J.J. Arrington - but then again, the games haven't counted yet, have they? The bottom line here is if you are an Arrington owner, don't panic and trade him away for a song or cut him. Let's see how he does during a full game of action, first. With that said, if you own Arrington, I think you're crazy if you don't grab Marcel Shipp. He'll be ultra cheap in most drafts and could be a huge value.

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10. TB - PK Bryant Wins Job Over France

Clipped from: St. Petersburg Times article by Stephen F. Holder, 9/5/05

...it wasn't until just after 6 p.m. that Bryant learned he had earned the job, and with it the chance to be one of the most scrutinized players on the roster.

If the Bucs need to achieve consistency in one area, it's in their kicking game. After two seasons of wildly erratic placekicking, Tampa Bay went looking during the offseason for a kicker it could rely on for steady results.

In fact, the Bucs told Bryant as much: They wanted a kicker who could unflinchingly face the challenge of overcoming the team's ugly recent past. To that, Bryant effectively said been there, done that.

"Experience goes a long way, especially in this profession," said Bryant, who has converted 80 percent of his field goals in a four-year career. "A lot of times you're going to look at what has a guy done in this situation. I've been in a lot of situations where I had to kick a game-winner to go to the playoffs or to win a game in overtime or to tie one up. I've done that. I've made those kicks. You can look at that and you can count on that."

Clearly, Bryant is nothing if not confident.

"The last couple years was tough with about every other (attempt) being missed," Bryant said of the Bucs. "That can be discouraging, and you figure that's the guy's job to go out there and make it. If you're doing all you can and another guy's not coming through, it's discouraging. You just go out there and do your job and all the other stuff will take care of itself. My mind-set is there will be no sighs, there will be no grunts and no groans on the sideline this year."

Watching the Bucs kick field goals the past two seasons has been nerve-racking, at best. Martin Gramatica's 27-of-45 (60 percent) accuracy led to his release last season. And considering the difficulty the offense had scoring, the lack of faith in Gramatica put the Bucs at a major disadvantage in close games.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Good Luck in Tampa, Matt Bryant. As we've noted before, we always pull for "Bryants"... Seriously, he may be under the radar for the guys in your league who don't subscribe to our emails and could be a nice last round kicker.

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11. SEA - Retooled D Unrelenting in Search for Progress

Clipped from: Seattle Times article by Jose Miguel Romero 9/4/05

It all seems like yesterday. But today, the Seahawks' retooled defense is full of new faces, including seven new starters who were either in college or with another team in 2002.

Kacyvenski, entering his sixth pro season, has the most tenure on the Seahawks' defense. Bernard and Lewis, a pair of 26-year-olds, are the second-most tenured defenders as they enter their fourth seasons.

Told of that fact, Lewis paused to reflect.

"I'm thinking about it, and yeah, that's crazy," Lewis said. Such is the way the Seahawks will open the regular season Sunday at Jacksonville. A lot of familiar faces and names are gone - either released, traded, or having signed as free agents.

The new crew - 11 of the 23 defensive players in their first seasons as Seahawks - spent the offseason, training camp and exhibition games trying to jell and learn coordinator Ray Rhodes' scheme. The defense gave up a few big plays - one of last season's bugaboos - in exhibition games. But it also made some plays and displayed accountability for mistakes and bad execution, giving coaches and fans hope that this season will be a much better one for a previously beleaguered bunch.

"It takes awhile," said Jamie Sharper, one of the new starters at outside linebacker. "Until you've gone through a lot of different situations, like when you need a fourth quarter-stop, the goal line [stand] ... I mean, you really don't know how people are going to react. So to really be a good defense it's going to take a year or two."

Fair enough, but Rhodes might not have that long to take the defense from 26th in 2004 to something far better this year.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

The Footballguys.com experts' consensus on Seattle is that they are the 21st-best D/ST entering 2005 (http://www.footballguys.com/viewrankings.php?viewpos=td&howrecent=7_) - not exactly the unit you want to headline for your fantasy team.

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12. IDP NYJ - MLB Vilma - Ready to Rumble?

Clipped from: New York Times article by Karen Crouse, 9/5/05

One of the central questions for the Jets is whether Vilma, their starting middle linebacker, will be able to pick up Sunday in Kansas City where he left off in the 2004 postseason. He recorded 30 tackles against San Diego and Pittsburgh in the playoffs and finished his rookie year with 118 tackles and 3 interceptions.

Jets Coach Herman Edwards said he believed that the mind-set that disarmed Allen is Vilma's armor against the complacency that has felled many a second-year player, with Jeremy Shockey of the Giants, a former college teammate of Vilma's at Miami, being one of the more conspicuous examples.

"He doesn't fall in love with his press clippings," Edwards said. "He knows that he has to work hard. You saw that here in the off-season. He was the first guy here in the morning working out. He does things right."

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Vilma certainly looks like one of the premier fantasy LB's this year - we'll see how he translates all the potential into reality on Sunday when the Jets visit Kansas City.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Have a great day and we'll see you tomorrow with the update.

J

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