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
vs Rush Catch Pass
WR Jordan Norwood
WR Demaryius Thomas 7-100,1

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 Trevor Siemian, DEN HOU 0000025020 ***
Only three teams are harder on the position, and Siemian isn't exactly a safe play against a less formidable secondary. The Texans lost cornerback Kevin Johnson Monday night, but that's rather irrelevant based on the bigger picture: This D remains harsh on passers, albeit the quality has been iffy.
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN HOU 7013200000 ***
Houston hasn't been great against running backs this season, allowing six scores in as many games. All of them came on the ground. Anderson is a sound RB2 target but will lose touches to Devontae Booker, if you believe the coaching staff.
RB Devontae Booker, DEN HOU 3003200000 ***
Booker has fared well in limited work but needs more touches to become a consistent fantasy contributor. The Texans have allowed six touchdowns on the ground in six games, but four of them came spread over a pair of contests.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN HOU 006701000 ***
The Texans continue to be strong against receivers, allowing 10.8 receptions, 142.8 yards and a touchdown every 21.7 catches to the position. DT, though, is a must-start in all formats because of his freakish skill set.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN HOU 006701000 ***
The Texans pose a tough matchup that Sanders should overcome. He checks in as a low-end WR3, but he's playable. Houston lost cornerback Kevin Johnson for the season, and no J.J. Watt means more time to pass.
TE Virgil Green, DEN HOU 003300000 ***
Green isn't a large enough factor in the offense to play him, let alone against the sixth strongest D against TEs.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN HOU 2233 ***
The No. 12 overall fantasy kicker thus far gets to face a team that has surrendered the most field goal attempts in the NFL. It never hurts kicking in Denver's refined air, either.

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 Dexter McCluster
RB Danny Woodhead 10 4-20
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 @ATL 0000031031 ***
Just Detroit and Cleveland have allowed more points per game to the position. The way San Diego's defense has been playing, Atlanta's powerful offense should force Rivers into a game of tag.
RB Melvin Gordon, SD @ATL 4004500000 **
The Falcons are a hot mess when it comes to stopping running backs, but if this game gets out of hand for San Diego, Gordon's role will diminish. The upside is he could have more work in the passing game through screens, and the Falcons have allowed nearly nine catches per game by RBs.
WR Tyrell Williams, SD @ATL 005701000 ***
Williams is a good bet for a quality game against this midrange matchup. Seven of the 83 receptions by receivers have gone for touchdowns, helping create an average of 36.9 fantasy points per game against.
WR Travis Benjamin, SD @ATL 005600000 *
Atlanta has allowed a TD every 11.9 catches, to go along with 154.2 yards per game. Benjamin could have a strong showing if this ends up being a shootout.
TE Hunter Henry, SD @ATL 006901000 ***
Henry has been heavily involved since Antonio Gates suffered a hamstring injury. The future of the position has a great matchup against Atlanta, fantasy's third easiest, in fact.
TE Antonio Gates, SD @ATL 005401000 ***
Two teams have conceded more catches to the position than Atlanta, and basically one of every seven has gone for a score. This is the third easiest matchup to exploit. Gates isn't 100 percent, and Hunter Henry's role has increased. There just might be enough room for both of them this weekend.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD @ATL 2233 ***
The matchups is so-so, leaning negative, but could easily flip based on the opponent. Lambo is seeing enough looks to warrant attention.

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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