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
RB Steven Jackson 60 4-20
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 2-10
WR Harry Douglas 3-30
WR Julio Jones 6-90,1
WR Roddy White 5-80
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 @BAL 0000029012 ***
Baltimore has allowed back-to-back 300-yard passing games and four this season of 290 or more, plus multiple TDs to each of the past two QBs they've faced. Sounds like a softer non-dome landing than many expect for Ryan on the road; he'll be just fine this week.
RB Antone Smith, ATL @BAL 1004400000 ****
The 2014 season's ultimate big-play threat has scored in every game in which he's received three or more touches. Just because you've hit the lottery before, however, doesn't necessarily mean you'll hit it again.
RB Steven Jackson, ATL @BAL 3002100000 *****
Only one team's running backs have found the end zone against the Ravens, and that took a commitment to the run Atlanta has demonstrated only in the 56-14 blowout win over Tampa Bay. As they're unlikely to run the Ravens by 40 points in Baltimore, Jackson won't see enough touches to be fantasy relevant this week given his limited productivity with said touches.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL @BAL 1003200000 *****
Freeman is still fighting an uphill battle for touches and can't be banked on as a fantasy helper just yet.
WR Julio Jones, ATL @BAL 007801000 ****
High volume targets find success against the Ravens, and there's little question Jones is a high-volume target. The twin TDs by Tampa's wideouts last week suggest Atlanta's dynamic duo should find at least a modicum of success in Baltimore.
WR Roddy White, ATL @BAL 005400000 ****
White is definitely running WR2 to Julio Jones; moreover, his yardage is capping well shy of triple digits so he'll need the TD to be a major fantasy factor. Tampa Bay's wideouts scored twice on the Ravens last week so it's not an impossibility, but it's at least an unlikelihood.
WR Devin Hester, ATL @BAL 002300000 ****
Hester's a better play in more favorable matchups. This isn't one, so he's relegated to the "one big play" pile with Antone Smith--and right now Smith is doing it better.
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL @BAL 002200000 *****
Since scoring in Week 1 Toilolo has a total of 84 yards and zero scores. He's no Tony Gonzalez; then again, few are. And a matchup with a Baltimore defense that hasn't let a TE top 60 yards this season and surrendered only one TE TD on the year isn't about to make him look like Tony G, either.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @BAL 1111 ***
Bryant's been slightly above average, which is disappointing given the talent on Atlanta's offense. The Ravens have been a mild damper on opposing kickers, so keep your expectations in check here.

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
RB Ryan Mathews 80,1 1-10
WR Malcom Floyd 6-80
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 0000026020 ****
Rivers has to love seeing red. He has multiple TDs in four straight against the Chiefs, as well as five of six in San Diego and 10 of 12 overall. And oh yeah he has multiple touchdown tosses in five straight this year with at least 256 yards in all five games--and at least 284 and three in each home game. Bolo ties all around!
RB Branden Oliver, SD KC 8013200000 **
Two starts, two 100-yard rushing games and three TDs for Oliver. And now he gets a KC defense that's giving up an average of 120 rushing yards and 145 combo yards to opposing backs on the road, at a whopping 5.7 yards per carry. Don't sweat that the Chiefs haven't given up a running back TD this year; Oliver's yardage more than compensates.
WR Eddie Royal, SD KC 005700000 *
Royal has been riding Philip Rivers' hot hand, Keenan Allen's sophomore slump, and a string of favorable matchups to fantasy relevancy. However, his rib injury and a tougher matchup likely conspire to relegate him to the fringe of the fantasy radar this week.
WR Keenan Allen, SD KC 005600000 ***
Could the Chiefs be the cure for Allen's sophomore slump? Well, he did post 14 catches for 213 yards against them last year but he didn't find the end zone. Sounds like his upside for this year, and likely this game as well.
WR Malcom Floyd, SD KC 004500000 ***
Keenan Allen draws the attention, Eddie Royal steals the touchdowns, but Floyd has been getting the targets and doing some damage of his own. With Royal potentially limited by his rib issue Floyd might be the Bolts' best bet for a WR TD against a Chiefs' D that's given up touchdowns to secondary targets like Stevie Johnson and Brian Hartline.
TE Antonio Gates, SD KC 004501000 ****
The Chiefs visit San Diego at least once a year, and every time Gates has played a home game against the Chiefs since 2008 he's scored at least one touchdown. Granted, he's missed a couple meetings in there due to injury, but when you consider this year's iteration of the Chiefs has already allowed four TE TDs and Gates has three himself in his last two games there's no reason to expect that trend to come to a halt here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD KC 2233 ***
Lots to like here: Novak averaging 11 points per game at home, the Chefs giving up almost 10 per game to kickers on the road... isn't that enough?

*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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