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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 5
2012
ARI at STL (THU) CHI at JAC MIA at CIN *TEN at MIN
ATL at WAS *CLE at NYG PHI at PIT *HOU at NYJ (MON)
BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

Prediction: SD 30, NO 27 (Line: NO by 3.5)

Players to Watch: Ryan Mathews

Players Updated: Lance Moore

The 3-1 Chargers are atop the AFC West by a full game and head east to play the 0-4 Saints who are perfecting how to lose by one touchdown or less. The Saints at home used to be a force to reckon with but the Skins and Chiefs already won there. The problem for the Saints is that the Chargers have only lost when faced with a top defense and there is no defense in New Orleans. This is a coin toss game since the Charger have only beaten teams that combine for a 3-9 record. The Saints are going to get over the hump at some point. If not, they'll be 0-5 on bye next week. This is the late game on Sunday.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK 22-14 10 @TB -----
2 TEN 38-10 11 @DEN -----
3 ATL 3-27 12 BAL -----
4 @KC 37-20 13 CIN -----
5 @NO ----- 14 @PIT -----
6 DEN ----- 15 CAR -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @NYJ -----
8 @CLE ----- 17 OAK -----
9 KC ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SD @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 230,1
RB Danny Woodhead 20 5-30,1
WR Malcom Floyd 6-90,1
WR Stevie Johnson 7-60
TE Antonio Gates 4-60

Pregame Notes: The Chargers have played well above expectations for a team that has almost no wide receivers and even Antonio Gates is in a slump so bad that a fair question is if he will ever again resume his once productive ways. The Chargers have one decent running back who they have now openly refused to use just to teach him a lesson about not fumbling. And somehow, this is a 3-1 team getting the job done in all games other than against the Falcons who may be the best team in the league.

Philip Rivers throws more passes to his running backs (43%) than he does to the wide receivers (35%). He only has one game with more than 235 passing yards and has thrown six touchdowns against four interceptions. Half of Rivers scores went to Dante Rosario in one game. The Chargers have been getting the job done but it has not been pretty and it has not been with long passes. Compared to previous seasons, this offense is fortunate that the defense has been as good.

Ryan Mathews was limited to only for carries until the fourth quarter last week in a punitive measure because he had fumbled. In his place Jackie Battle scored twice even though he only gained 39 yards on 15 carries. Mathews finally got the call in the fourth quarter and ran ten times for 60 yards. Jamaal Charles fumbled twice on Sunday for the Chiefs and yet had 21 touches, 115 yards and two scores. Mathews fumbled once in week three and almost gets completely benched in week four.The Chargers won so no harm but the offense is already sputtering and then sits their best weapon for losing one fumble this year.

Antonio Gates has yet to score and has a season best of 59 yards just last week. He only had three passes even thrown his way. Gates is still a big part of the offense only because the offense is pretty small.

Eddie Royal scored last week but that was on only three catches for 16 yards and that was a season high. Robert Meachem now has two games without a catch and even Malcom Floyd was held to just 23 yards last week. This is a receiving corps that needs help and is getting none.

What is most relevant this week is that the Saints are the worst ranked defense against running backs. They are bad against the pass as well but horrible against the run. The last visitor to New Orleans was Jamaal Charles with 233 rush yards. This is where the Chargers are going to win or lose this game. Not by getting into a shootout with Drew Brees in New Orleans.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 24 5 32 15 5 12
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 31 31 29 2 31 21

  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

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL -----
2 @CAR 27-35 11 @OAK -----
3 KC 24-27 12 SF -----
4 @GB 27-28 13 @ATL -----
5 SD ----- 14 @NYG -----
6 BYE ----- 15 TB -----
7 @TB ----- 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN ----- 17 CAR -----
9 PHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 300,3
RB Kendall Hunter 30 2-20
RB Mark Ingram 20
RB C.J. Spiller 30 2-30
TE Coby Fleener 2-20
PK Josh Scobee 1 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: On the plus side, the home game should get to cheer on Drew Brees who will break the all-time record with 48 straight games with a touchdown pass. He is currently tied with Johnny Unitas. There is hope that they could be cheering on a win as well but they thought as much when the Redskins and Chiefs were visiting. Problem with the Saints is that they are not only consistently not quite good enough, they may start to believe it and in that have a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Brees has been very good even if almost nothing else has been. He has thrown for over 300 yards three times and thrown for three scores in all but one week. Brees is trying to keep the team together but a loss here sends the team 0-5 to their bye week. That can almost work against them if they press too hard and make mistakes.

The biggest hole in the Saints offense has clearly been the absence of a strong running game. The running backs have only combined for one rushing touchdown back in week two and aside from facing the Panthers once, the offense has been unable to establish any run at all. Darren Sproles has propped up his value with receptions but even he has been well short of 2011's pace. This forces Brees to rely on the pass almost exclusively to the benefit of all Brees owners. But Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas have almost no reliable fantasy value.

Jimmy Graham remains the only receiver with both production and consistency. His three touchdowns lead the team.

The wideouts have always been a collection of players that have good and bad games but that has shrunk this season. With Robert Meachem gone and Devery Henderson been a flop, almost all work ends up with Marques Colston and Lance Moore. Joseph Morgan had a 80-yard catch and run for a score last week but that was only his second career catch. It would help the offense if someone else would step up and offer another target but it just has not happened yet. Colston had been stuck around 50 yards per game until last week when he ended with 153 yards on nine catches in Green Bay. Lance Moore bounces all over from week to week.

The incoming Chargers are good against the run and not allowed anyone to gain more than 92 rush yards. The Saints are going to split up the workload anyway so don't look for any reliable starts from Ingram or Thomas. Sproles gets to play against his old team which will be much more meaningful than Meachem going against the Saints. Sproles at home is always a start anyway.

This game will have success passing but where it will be won or lost is with any turnovers and of course if the Saints defense can actually slow down the Chargers.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 3 4 13 4 21 26
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 12 21 11 21 1 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO @ATL 0000027010 ***
Who needs an intact plantar fascia? Not Brees, who has 753 passing yards and six TDs over the past two games, most of that time spent with the injury. He's vowed to play again this week, though it won't be easy against an Atlanta defense that's held five straight visiting QBs under 220 yards and given up a total of four passing TDs in those five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tim Hightower, NO @ATL 9013400000 ***
Mark Ingram scored twice as the Saints' feature back in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, and Hightower scored twice last week--with 169 combo yards to boot--in that same role. Bodes well for a strong fantasy finish for Hightower.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @ATL 004500000 ***
Cooks has 100 yards and a touchdown in three of his last four, but the Falcons held him in check (4-41) in the earlier meeting and have been solid against WRs of late as well so temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Willie Snead, NO @ATL 003400000 ***
Snead has some PPR upside, but he was held to just 4-55 in the earlier meeting and the Falcons have not given up much to secondary targets--only once in the past 10 games have two receivers from the same team scored and/or topped 60 yards in the same game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, NO @ATL 002200000 *
The last time Fleener was fantasy relevant none of the Colts' current quarterbacks were even a gleam in Indy's eye. Nothing to see here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, NO @ATL 1122 ***
Saints scoring plenty,
and Forbath getting his share;
highest O/U, too

WEEK 5
2012
ARI at STL (THU) CHI at JAC MIA at CIN *TEN at MIN
ATL at WAS *CLE at NYG PHI at PIT *HOU at NYJ (MON)
BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

a d v e r t i s e m e n t