Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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*NYG at CAR (THU) *DET at TEN *NE at BAL SF at MIN
*Updated *CIN at WAS *KC at NO *PIT at OAK *GB at SEA (MON)

Prediction: ATL 20, SD 24 (Line: SD by 3)

Player to Watch: Ryan Mathews

Player Updated: Ryan Mathews, Julio Jones, Roddy White

The battle of the unbeatens. The Falcons come off their Monday night win over the PMannings and facer a short week to travel across the country. The Chargers have won both their games over two of the six teams that have not beaten anyone yet. What makes this game more interesting is that the Chargers should be getting back Ryan Mathews and Antonio Gates while the Falcons discovered that Michael Turner celebrated the MNF win a bit too much and got a 5 AM DUI that will be the talk this week. Turner plays against his old team but it has been four years and he already revisited back in 2009.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO -----
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI -----
3 @SD ----- 12 @TB -----
4 CAR ----- 13 NO -----
5 @WAS ----- 14 @CAR -----
6 OAK ----- 15 NYG -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI ----- 17 TB -----
9 DAL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL @ SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 20 290,2
WR Leonard Hankerson 3-60,1
WR Julio Jones 6-90,1
WR Roddy White 5-80
TE Tony Moeaki 1-10
TE Jacob Tamme 3-30
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Solid win over the Broncos thanks to all facets of the game. The Falcons defense has improved and quietly made a bigger difference this year - and that is what will get the Falcons into the playoffs for several weeks. Intercepting Peyton Manning on each of his first three series shows how much better they are playing.

Matt Ryan has been stellar so far with five touchdowns and no turnovers and while he peppered Julius Jones in week one, he switched over to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez on Monday. He is showing a nice command of the offense and all weapons.

The rushing game is where the Falcons fall to earth with Michael Turner totaling 28 runs for only 74 yards though he bulled over a score against the Broncos. He has no role as a receiver - none of the tailbacks do so far - and has been a marginal rusher at best. Jacquizz Rodgers has not been any more effective really and is not making any headway into more playing time as was expected. This is a passing offense but needs at least some rushing ability. Currently the Falcons are one of the worst running back teams in the entire NFL.

If an opponent can cover three players, the Falcons might be stopped cold but the problem is that no one has come close to stopping all three. Julio Jones had a quieter second week after an explosion in the season opener. But Roddy White stepped up with right receptions for 102 yards and one score. Jones had a drop and spent much of his time on the right side against Champ Bailey when he usually lines up as a the split end on the left. Bottom line is it all worked with the win but Jones owners went from big stats in week one down to only four catches for 14 yards in week two. That is a significant tumble. But realize this - that is what he did in 2011. Maybe not quiet so dramatically but each of his five 100 yard games were all on the road then. He still is not showing up as well in home games which is counter intuitive to how most players are.

Tony Gonzalez may be in his swan song but there is nothing quiet about it. He has a score in each game and at least 50 yards in both. He is as big as they need him to be and still a difference maker.

The Falcons are on a short week after a big game and that will matter. They also travel to the west coast to face a Chargers team that should finally be at full strength offensively. The Chargers have been outstanding against the run so this game is waged through the air. But assessing what to expect is still tough given the Chargers have only faced the TItans and Raiders. This should be a close game and a win here would be huge but this may be just a little more than the Falcons can handle on a short week. It will be a very good test.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 1 31 2 9 1 10
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 9 11 10 12 4 6

QB Matt Ryan, ATL IND 0000030020 ***
Indy's served up multiple TD tosses in four of five and six of eight, as well as at least 248 passing yards in every game since Week 1. Ryan has been rock solid at home, with at least 250 yards in all four at the Georgia Dome and multiple touchdowns in three of the four; no reason to shy away from him here.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL IND 8016500000 ***
Freeman's streak of six straight games with triple-digit combo yardage came to a halt pre-bye, but he still scored (ending a two-game touchdown drought). Facing an Indy defense that is giving up 136 combo yards per game to opposing backfields and an average of better than one RB TD per game provides plenty of opportunity for him to extend and/or rekindle his fantasy flame.
WR Julio Jones, ATL IND 0091101000 ***
Even a healthy Vontae Davis wouldn't be enough to keep Julio from being a great fantasy play this week.
WR Leonard Hankerson, ATL IND 004600000 **
Hankerson might return this week, in time to take advantage of an Indy secondary that has struggled mightily against secondary receivers. We'll revisit his status later in the week.
WR Justin Hardy, ATL IND 002300000 ***
If Leonard Hankerson can't make it back this week Hardy would be in position to capitalize on a favorable matchup with a Colts defense that has allowed plenty of fantasy production to secondary targets.
TE Jacob Tamme, ATL IND 006601000 **
Lots of ways things goes right for Tamme this week. He's seen 22 targets the past two weeks, catching 16 balls for 164 yards and a touchdown, so you know he's heavily involved. He faces an Indy defense that's given up TE TDs in four straight, at least 79 yards in each of those four games and an average of 93 yards per game to the position. Unlikely that Indianapolis has a defensive answer for Tamme, so plug him into your TE, WR/TE or flex spot with confidence.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL IND 1133 ***
Indy's been more prone to giving up PATs than FGs of late, but the Falcons need to quit turning the ball over in the red zone to give Bryant opportunity to swing the leg.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK 22-14 10 @TB -----
2 TEN 38-10 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
SD vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 250,1
RB Donald Brown 60,1
WR Malcom Floyd 6-80
WR Stevie Johnson 4-60,1
TE Antonio Gates 5-60,1

Pregame Notes: The Chargers are undefeated but that comes after playing two of the weaker teams so far. In fairness, the Chargers have not been at full strength with Ryan Mathews out and along with him any shred of rushing offense. Antonio Gates was held out from his sore ribs last week but Philip Rivers was still able to get the job done. The Changers defense has made the biggest difference but this week the offense should kick it up a notch even playing against a better defense from Atlanta.

Rivers had a marginal game in Oakland to start the year but comes off a 284 yard, three touchdown effort against the Titans where he pretended that Dante Rosario was Antonio Gates and gave him a career best game. Rivers is getting it done with a sub-standard set of wideouts that include Robert Meachem who was unable to catch any of his four passes. Meachem has clearly been a bust for a wideout that somehow made them think he could become a #1 replacement for Vincent Jackson.

Malcom Floyd remains the lone wideout with any production or consistency. Eddie Royal injured his shoulder last week and may be questionable for this game but he's been little used and has no fantasy value anyway. Gates should be back given that he went up to game time before calling it off because of his ribs and lack of preparation. He'll be needed more than week than the first two games.

But the story of the week will be the return - hopefully for more than a week - of Ryan Mathews from his broken clavicle. He was listed as questionable in week two but never intended to play because he was not working out with the first team. The offense desperately needs him since the depth chart is not pretty for running backs. Jackie Battle did end up with two scores last week but he and Curtis Brinkley will grab the pine if Mathews can play a full game. With a great defense and so far more than adequate passing attack, Mathews is the final piece of the offense that has already won two games.

This week they face the Falcons who visit and are always a bit less formidable away from Atlanta. Notable too is that they have been weaker against the run than the pass and Mathews is expected back. This is a good test for both the Falcons defense and the Chargers offense but a balanced attack will go a long ways this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 12 7 28 6 3 26
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 23 31 1 31 5 1

QB Philip Rivers, SD KC 0000029011 ***
An easy touch earlier in the season, KC has not allowed a multi-passing TD game in more than a month; no team has topped 250 yards in that span, either. Enter Rivers, who has five 300-yard games in his past six outings and just as many multiple-touchdown efforts in that span. Something's gotta give, and historically it's been the Chiefs as Rivers has thrown for multiple scores in five of the last six meetings. Temper expectations, but Philip should be just fine this week.
RB Danny Woodhead, SD KC 2008701000 ***
Usually a reliable PPR contributor, Woodhead is a little more sketchy than usual this week given a tough matchup with a Chiefs defense that's allowed only one RB receiving score and no back to top 41 receiving yards. Woodhead has compiled no better than 70 yards in three career meetings with the Chiefs, so dial back expectations accordingly.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD KC 3003200000 ***
Gordon has the ignominy of owning the most touches in the NFL without having scored a touchdown, and his share of the workload against a Chiefs defense that's surrendered only one RB TD in the past month won't yield much fantasy assistance.
WR Stevie Johnson, SD KC 0071000000 **
Johnson has scored in four of five career meetings with the Chiefs, and while the KC secondary has been playing better of late there's still opportunity here--especially with Johnson as one of the few remaining familiar targets for Philip Rivers.
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD KC 004400000 ***
Inman is seeing plenty of snaps, but as of yet he hasn't really turned them into much in the way of fantasy production. There's opportunity, but also the risk of Inman not having done much of anything yet.
TE Antonio Gates, SD KC 004400000 ***
Gates has a touchdown or 55-plus yards in 11 of his last 12 meetings with the Chiefs. With Ladarius Green likely out again, Gates is primed for another throwback classic--good news for his fantasy prospects.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD KC 2211 ***
Lambo's tallied seven or eight points in five straight games. The Chiefs have surrendered a total of 12 over the past three weeks, so plan on Lambo being at the low end of that sliding scale.

*NYG at CAR (THU) *DET at TEN *NE at BAL SF at MIN
*Updated *CIN at WAS *KC at NO *PIT at OAK *GB at SEA (MON)

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