Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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BUF at ARI *GB at HOU *NE at SEA *DEN at SD (MON)
*CIN at CLE *IND at NYJ *NYG at SF Bye:
*Updated DAL at BAL *KC at TB OAK at ATL CAR, CHI, JAC, NO

Prediction: DEN 24, SD 20 (Line: SD by 2.5)

Players Updated: Demaryius Thomas

Players to Watch: Ryan Mathews, Robert Meachem

The 2-3 Broncos have lost three of their last four games and both of the road trips so far. The 3-2 Chargers are at home only for the third time and are 1-1 in San Diego thanks to the Atlanta loss. The Chargers won 29-24 in Denver last year but later lost 13-16 when the Broncos were the visitors. This will be an interesting game that should contain decent fantasy points for each team.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR -----
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD -----
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC -----
4 OAK 37-6 13 TB -----
5 @NE 21-31 14 @OAK -----
6 @SD ----- 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO ----- 17 KC -----
9 @CIN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN @ SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 320,3
QB Christian Ponder 10 300,2
WR Jordan Norwood
WR Demaryius Thomas 7-100,1
TE Owen Daniels 6-80,1
TE Vernon Davis 5-60

Pregame Notes: The Broncos are 2-3 but in fairness they opened with a brutal schedule and two of their losses came within one touchdown. This is clearly a better team with Peyton Manning as the quarterback and an offense that has always posted at least 21 points no matter how tough the opposing defense is. Manning is on a three game streak of 330+ yard games with two or three scores in each. He has thrown an interception in just one game so far. Manning is even showing decent arm strength on deeper throws to Demaryius Thomas.

Willis McGahee has been very productive other than in the Houston game. He has rushed for more than 100 yards twice. Better yet, he has been used as a receiver for five or six receptions in the last two games which ensures at least some fantasy value every week. McGahee ran for 125 yards against the visiting Chargers last year and 117 yards in San Diego. With a solid passing game under Manning, McGahee is enjoying one of his best years.

Joel Dreessen has never had more than 36 yards in a game this year but has scored in each of the last three. That's tough to rely on even for a bye week filler but pulling the hat trick with Peyton Manning as pitcher is an encouraging development. Jacob Tamme still gets more catches and yardage but so far has not scored since the season opener. Manning has thrown a score to a tight end in all but one game so far.

Eric Decker is sold enough in most games and has scored the last two weeks but tends to remain below 60 yards most of the time. Demaryius Thomas has become a true #1 and an elite wideout who has gained over 100 yards in three of five games and scored twice. His problem is that he has fumbled in each of the last three games but his talent is far beyond any other receiver here and down the field he is a deep threat with over 20 yards per catch in three different matchups. Brandon Stokley comes into play only against teams with two good corners.

Manning should light it up again against this secondary since the last three opponents have and that includes Matt Cassel. The rushing with McGahee may have a tougher time this year than in 2011 since no one has ran for more than 88 yards on them and that was Jamaal Charles playing in Kansas City but at least McGahee is catching passes as well.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 6 14 6 5 22 20
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 23 20 25 12 2 13

QB Brock Osweiler, DEN NE 20000024020 ***
The Patriots have held three of the last four QBs they've faced to one or zero touchdowns, and you have to believe Bill Belichick will throw myriad looks at Osweiler to get in his head. Brock posted a solid 250 and 2 in Chicago in his first NFL start; that feels like his ceiling against The Hoodie this week.
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN NE 7013100000 ***
The Broncos have run the ball 30-plus times in three of their last five games, with Hillman having the upper hand in carries in all three. Expect Denver to try to establish the run against New England; it's not impossible, but only two teams have managed to attempt 25 or more runs against New England. As the lead dog in Denver, Hillman has the best shot of turning those touches into fantasy help.
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN NE 3001100000 ***
Anderson remains the junior partner in Denver's backfield jobshare, and it's not a particularly good matchup in which to be an understudy.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN NE 006701000 **
Thomas is a different player than Odell Beckham or Antonio Brown, but he's every bit the highly-targeted WR1 those two are. And as each of them carved out 100-plus yards and a score against the Patriots, it would stand to reason that Thomas will do the same this week.
WR Cody Latimer, DEN NE 004401000 *
Latimer appears poised to pick up the slack if Emmanuel Sanders remains sidelined. It's a favorable matchup with a secondary that's allowed multiple WRs to score or top 50 yards (or both) in five of the last six games and eight of 10 overall.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN NE 00000000 *
The Patriots have served up 50-plus yards or a TD to multiple receivers in five of the last six games and eight of 10 overall. So if Sanders is healthy enough to go, he has an opportunity to be a very productive fantasy wingman.

Update: Sanders is listed as probable, so plan on him as you usually would.
TE Vernon Davis, DEN NE 005600000 **
Davis has seen his targets increase as he becomes more acclimated to his new team, but he's still splitting said targets with Owen Daniels and there's just not enough to go around in a tough matchup for the position this week.
TE Owen Daniels, DEN NE 003400000 ***
The Patriots have given up only three TE TDs on the season, only one since their Week 4 bye, and only one tight end has topped 45 yards since Heath Miller's 84 in Week 1. With Daniels and Vernon Davis splitting targets, there's too little pie and too many mouths to feed for a fantasy feast.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN NE 3322 ***
Points have been tougher for the Denver offense to come by of late, but with Brock Osweiler settling in and scoring a necessity to keep up with the Patriots he should be fine this week--with the upside of Denver's D turning this into a kickerfest between McManus and Stephen Gostkowski.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
  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 24-31 14 @PIT -----
6 DEN ----- 15 CAR -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @NYJ -----
8 @CLE ----- 17 OAK -----
9 KC ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SD vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 260,1
RB Donald Brown
RB Danny Woodhead 10 4-20
WR Malcom Floyd 4-50
WR Stevie Johnson 4-50
TE Antonio Gates 3-50

Pregame Notes: The Chargers fell in New Orleans but still put up a good game. This week will be the toughest matchup of the year other than the big loss to Atlanta since the Broncos have pushed through a far tougher schedule. Consider too that the Chargers lost 3-27 when the Falcons visited and yet the Broncos barely lost 21-27 at Atlanta.

Philip Rivers comes off a season high 354 yards and two scores in New Orleans (where everyone has a season high). He has thrown eight touchdowns over five weeks against five interceptions but that came against teams like OAK, TEN, KC and NO. Against the Falcons, Rivers only passed for 173 yards and no score. Unless Robert Meachem can prove his effort against his old team was more than a fluke, Rivers is trying to make-do with below average receivers.

Jackie Battle started the Saints game because HC Norv Turner has clearly lost his mind. Battle was shelved after his four runs covered a whopping ten yards. Ryan Mathews was only given 12 runs but gained 80 yards and one touchdown along with 59 yards on six receptions. Still - the Chargers preferred Ronnie Brown on obvious passing downs and the old man gained 47 yards on five catches he had no business taking away from Mathews. Turner has now said that Mathews will be more heavily used because after a few years he has just now learned whatever lesson there was to learn by watching inferior players hurt the Chargers chance to win (?). Turner said he expected Mathews would be one of the leading rushers in the NFL and yet would not elaborate on why that needed to wait until week six to start in earnest. At least this eliminates Battle from the projections.

Ryan has rushed for over 120 yards in all three career games against the Broncos. Why not give him a chance?

The Player Formerly Known as Antonio Gates has not scored this year. Has only one game with more than three catches of more than 43 yards. He is being heavily covered as he has always been only now he has lost the speed and any moves. Understand this much about Gates - he just went through the easiest part of his schedule.

Robert Meachem was able to score twice and gain 67 yards on three catches back in his old home stadium in New Orleans, but it's hardly the breakout two scores suggest. Meachem was only thrown four passes and his five game career with the Chargers now totals nine catches for 159 yards. That includes two games with no catches.

Malcom Floyd is the only player with any sense of consistent production but has not scored since the season opener and his two decent games came against the Saints and Titans - two of the worst secondaries in the NFL. This is a receiver crew that sorely misses having a real #1 threat like Vincent Jackson. Vincent Brown returns in a month but until he is back and healthy this is an offense that has to spread the ball around and throw to the running backs.

Playing at home will help this week but the Broncos have been solid against the pass even when facing Matt Ryan or Tom Brady. Ryan Mathews should be central to the offensive effort and the Broncos weakest point is against the run.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 21 3 29 19 8 15
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 18 18 17 18 12 14

QB Philip Rivers, SD @JAC 0000027011 ***
Would you believe the worst fantasy performance in Jacksonville by a visiting quarterback was Cam Newton back in Week 1? Since then every visiting QB has topped 20 points, with three of the four throwing for at least 290 yards. Rivers' only road misstep came when he was pulled in a loss in Minnesota with 246 yards and just one TD; he's reached multiple touchdowns in the other three road trips and has 804 passing yards in just his last two away from home. He's down several receivers but that hasn't stopped him yet; no reason to think it does sow now.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD @JAC 4002100000 ***
Gordon is seeing the majority of the carries, but he's not doing enough with them to warrant fantasy consideration--plus he's still looking for that elusive first NFL touchdown.
RB Danny Woodhead, SD @JAC 1004300000 *
The Jags are a bottom-8 defense in RB receptions, yardage and TDs so this looks like another job for Woodhead, who has topped 60 receiving yards six times this season.
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD @JAC 004401000 **
Inman looks to be the lead wingman, which against the Jags generally means fantasy relevancy as they've allowed multiple receivers to score and/or top 50 yards in eight of 10 this year.
WR Stevie Johnson, SD @JAC 007800000 ***
Johnson is the only receiver Philip Rivers knows by name, and his targets since Keenan Allen went down with an injury reflect it. Jacksonville has allowed multiple wideouts to score and/or top 50 yards in eight of 10 this year, so favorite or not Johnson is in line for a fantasy helper here.
WR Malcom Floyd, SD @JAC 003400000 *
Floyd returned to practice this week, playing through a torn labrum. He'd be a familiar target for Philip Rivers, but it remains to be seen how effective he can be given the injury. Look for fantasy help elsewhere.
WR Javontee Herndon, SD @JAC 002300000 **
Another guy you and Philip Rivers have never heard of, only Javontee is actually one of Rivers' targets. He out-targeted Dontrelle Inman last week but has yet to hit the 40-yard mark so he's too far down the pecking order to warrant fantasy attention. That said, just wait; another injury is sure to winnow the Chargers' receiving corps further, pushing Herndon onto the radar.
TE Antonio Gates, SD @JAC 004400000 *
Over the past two games the Jags have given up two TE TDs to the Ravens and 109 yards to Tennessee's Delanie Walker. Meanwhile Gates has topped 50 yards in every game since his return, seeing 43 targets in those four games. He'll get every opportunity to extend Jacksonville's run of futility against the position.
TE Ladarius Green, SD @JAC 002200000 **
Green was back at practice late last week, but he didn't play in Week 11 and he has yet to practice this week. Check back Friday for an update on his status.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD @JAC 2211 ***
There's a decent baseline here, as the Jags have given up at least seven points to every kicker who's visited Jacksonville. But that's also near Lambo's max, so don't get too excited.

BUF at ARI *GB at HOU *NE at SEA *DEN at SD (MON)
*CIN at CLE *IND at NYJ *NYG at SF Bye:
*Updated DAL at BAL *KC at TB OAK at ATL CAR, CHI, JAC, NO

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