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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) *IND at CHI *PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC *JAC at MIN *PIT at DEN *WAS at NO
*BUF at NYJ *MIA at HOU *SEA at ARI *CIN at BAL (MON)
*UPDATED *CAR at TB *NE at TEN SF at GB *SD at OAK (MON)

Prediction: SD 24, OAK 27 (Line: SD by 1.5)

Players Updated: Ryan Mathews, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater

Players to watch: Ryan Mathews, All SD receivers

This is the late Monday night game and this is a replay of when the Raiders won 24-17 when they visited the Chargers last year but then lost 26-38 in Oakland in the finale that helped determine the divisional winner. This game is one of the "throw out the record book" kind of match-up. Six of the last ten meetings went to the visiting team. Oakland has won only once at home in the last five years. This is a coin toss game.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK ----- 10 @TB -----
2 TEN ----- 11 @DEN -----
3 ATL ----- 12 BAL -----
4 @KC ----- 13 CIN -----
5 @NO ----- 14 @PIT -----
6 DEN ----- 15 CAR -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @NYJ -----
8 @CLE ----- 17 OAK -----
9 KC ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Chargers lost out to the Broncos thanks to tiebreakers for the AFC West crown last year. Granted, both teams were 8-8 and there were no winning records in the division. The Raiders also finished 8-8 and lost the division when the Chargers won the final game of the season. Not that these teams need any more incentive to screw beat the other team.

Philip RIvers had a decent enough season in 2011 when he threw for a second best career mark of 4624 yards and 27 touchdowns but he went from ten or 12 interceptions per year to throwing 20 last year. What has fantasy fans the most concerned is that Vincent Jackson left for Tampa Bay and he was replaced by Robert Meachem who has not made the transition from being just another wideout for Brees to being the #1 guy in San Diego. He still looks like just another wideout so far. Malcolm Floyd has never been more than a mediocre talent that produces around 700 yards per season but he's the best wideout so far.

Add in Antonio Gates turning 32 and his durability being questioned and no one believes that Rivers can be bigger than the talent drain around him. Gates has missed nine games over the last two years and claims to be healthy now much like he said last year before missing three more games and turning in one of his worst seasons since he was a rookie that no one knew they should use.

Add in Ryan Mathews who has been an electrifying runner but he also has injury issues. He has missed six games over his first two years and now that he has been named the new workhorse back for the Chargers, he immediately broke his clavicle. He has not been cleared for practice as of this writing despite his contention he would play in week one. No need to project for him unless something happens late week and that is no longer expected. The Chargers brought in Ronnie Brown as a backup but he's over-the-hill and was released from Philly for being too slow. Brown will take the start this week with some help from Curtis Brinkley. Mike Tolbert left for the Panthers, so there is really no proven backup behind a back that has so far been an injury waiting to happen.

This will be a challenging season for the Chargers who matchup against the AFC Central defenses along the way. Should Gates again miss games, there are valid questions about how Rivers can possibly to enough to win each week. If Mathews is also injured for any length of time, this could be a long year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 10 3 16 5 11 25
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 30 23 28 12 16 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Philip Rivers, SD @DEN 0000024001 ***
Rivers' quest for the passing title takes a hit against the league's top pass defense. The Broncos limited him to 202 yards in the earlier meeting, and he hasn't thrown for 300 yards against Denver since January of 2011. Don't expect much here with the Broncos still playing for playoff positioning.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Danny Woodhead, SD @DEN 1005600000 ***
Game script suggests plenty of throwing, and the Broncos' pass rush suggests plenty of checkdowns to Woodhead. That's the extend of the upside in San Diego's backfield this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, SD @DEN 003500000 *
The Steelers have allowed two receivers to score or top 60 yards in three straight so you have to believe there's at least one fantasy helper here. And Benjamin is the best bet among Cleveland's thinning receiving corps.

Update: Benjamin was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable due to an ankle injury. You may need to check his status pre-game if you're planning to use him in your Week 17 fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD @DEN 004400000 ***
Inman proved to be Philip Rivers' go-to guy last week, and the Broncos have been much more lenient of late in giving up five WR TDs over the past three games. But seeing as how Chargers wideouts combined for four catches and 60 yards against Denver just a month ago, expectations should be limited.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Javontee Herndon, SD @DEN 005300000 ***
Herndon's top NFL outing is 5-47, and he's still looking for his first pro TD. Unlikely to come against a top pass defense on a team going nowhere... at least until the offseason.

Update: Herndon is listed as questionable with a chest injury, but after limited practice sessions early in the week he was available for the full session on Friday so he should be good to go this weekend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD @DEN 003300000 ***
Banged up, facing an elite pass defense, with nothing to play for... tough to get excited about Floyd's fantasy prospects here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD @DEN 006500000 ***
The Broncos haven't given up a TE TD in a month, with Gates' 6-50 the top TE game against them in that span. He's topped five catches and 50 yards each of the past three meetings with Denver, with three TDs in those three games, so there's at least a little upside to him here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD @DEN 1100 ***
Three points in home game
vs. DEN; even altitude
won't be enough help

Oakland Raiders
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SD ----- 10 @BAL -----
2 @MIA ----- 11 NO -----
3 PIT ----- 12 @CIN -----
4 @DEN ----- 13 CLE -----
5 BYE ----- 14 DEN -----
6 @ATL ----- 15 KC -----
7 JAC ----- 16 @CAR -----
8 @KC ----- 17 @SD -----
9 TB ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Raiders open their first season with no Big Al calling down to the sidelines. Last year was a bitter pill getting knocked out of the playoffs by these Chargers. The Raiders brought in Carson Palmer in week seven and the results were good - 2753 yards and 13 touchdowns over ten games. Compared to Jason Campbell, it was astronomic. The Raiders paid big money to finally have a real quarterback who could erase the Jamarcus Russell era.

Darren McFadden enters the season healthy, for now, and he looks to make his fifth season his first to contain all 16 games. McFadden has yet to play more than 13 games in any season and last year missed nine. He is 100% over the Lis Franc injury that ruined last season. He was very carefully used in camp and the preseason just to preserve his health. If he remains healthy, he is a force that cannot be contained and a huge boost to the offense. Michael Bush left for Chicago so the Raiders now will turn to some combination of Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones to fill in when the eventual injury happens.

Darius Heyward-Bey started the year on a hot streak and then was mysteriously benched for a few weeks as was not uncommon in the Al Davis era. But he was used again later once Carson Palmer was there and ended with two of the last three games having 130+ yards. A full offseason with Palmer and this is a promising season for the fourth-year player who only now has a real quarterback. Denarius Moore has been a sleeper to some this summer and he did have four games of note as a rookie. The problem is that the other 12 games were mostly only one or no catches. He needs to show far more consistency but at least has a quarterback to get the job done now. Moore has been nursing a bad hamstring this summer but may be able to play in the season opener. Jacoby Ford has always had injury problems and spent this summer hobbled from a sprained foot. His absence has allowed the undrafted rookie Rod Streater to get playing time in camp and show what he can do in a number of different positions. It appears likely that Ford will not be able to play so Streater should be the #3 or even #2 wideout if Moore also does not play.

Tight ends have fallen from favor in Oakland since Zach Miller left and Palmer showed up with the ability to actually use wide receivers. Brandon Meyers only turned in 16 catches in all of last season. Kevin Boss (28-368-3) left for the Chiefs but his production was outside of fantasy relevance anyway.

Raiders have an axe to grind here if they can and for now, McFadden is healthy and dangerous. The offense sputtered in August but the Raiders are always up for a tilt with the Chargers.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 17 5 12 26 10 15
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 22 11 15 18 18 22

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Derek Carr, OAK @KC 0000024012 ***
Carr made an ignominious Arrowhead debut last year; with that behind him, he can settle in and try to replicate the 283 and 2 he posted in a home date with KC last month. Hey, he threw two TDs in Denver so no reason to think he can't be at least marginally effective in KC.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Latavius Murray, OAK @KC 5001100000 ***
Murray has stepped back from the elite back status he was threatening to take on earlier this year. But he can still get it done as a scorer--like his TD last time out against KC or last week against the Chargers--or as a pass-catcher so his floor is reasonably high. The absence of Marcel Reece should open up more opportunities in the passing game as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, OAK @KC 005601000 ***
The Chiefs haven't allowed multiple wideouts to score in the same game since Week 3, so you'll have to pick your poison this week. Last time out against KC Crabtree scored as part of a 5-45 day, and that's his likely upside this time around as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Amari Cooper, OAK @KC 005700000 ***
Cooper racked up 4-69 in the earlier meeting with KC but ceded the touchdown to Michael Crabtree, and with the Chiefs still playing for playoff position things won't be any easier this time around. The rookie has more upside--see his 120 and 2 a couple weeks back--but is also more volatile, as indicated by the goose egg that preceded his 120 & 2. Still, nothing wrong with swinging for the fences in Week 17.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Seth Roberts, OAK @KC 004400000 ***
The Chiefs haven't allowed multiple WR fantasy helpers since the first month of the season; no reason to go three deep in the Oakland depth chart.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Clive Walford, OAK @KC 004500000 ***
Walford's 5-53 is the third-best yardage game given up by the Chiefs all year, but Lee Smith swiped his score--and that's the only TE TD KC has allowed in the past nine games. Not enough reward for the risk involved here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Sebastian Janikowski, OAK @KC 1111 ***
No team has allowed
fewer kicking points than Chiefs;
tough hop for SeaBass

WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) IND at CHI PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC JAC at MIN PIT at DEN WAS at NO
BUF at NYJ MIA at HOU SEA at ARI CIN at BAL (MON)
  CAR at TB NE at TEN SF at GB SD at OAK (MON)

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