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
WR Jordan Norwood
WR Demaryius Thomas 7-100,1
WR Wes Welker 7-80,1
TE Jacob Tamme 5-40,1
PK Connor Barth 3 FG 2 XP

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 Peyton Manning, DEN @SD 0000027020 ***
Manning has thrown for 4,013 yards and 30 TDs in 13 career outings against the Bolts, totals that include his 286 & 3 in the earlier meeting. The Bolts have allowed Joe Flacco and Tom Brady to throw multiple scores against them; expect Manning to get back in the saddle and make it three.
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN @SD 8011100000 ***
Even when Anderson isn't rushing for 160-plus yards he's scoring touchdowns, much to the enjoyment of fantasy owners everywhere. Ronnie Hillman took the Chargers for 109 rushing yards in the earlier meeting; no reason Anderson can't fill those shoes admirably.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @SD 0081001000 ***
The Bills ended Thomas' nine-game run of outings with 100 yards or a touchdown (or, frequently, both). The last time Thomas failed to hit those benchmarks was Week 3 in Seattle; he bounced back with 226 & 2 the following week. After taking the Chargers for 8-105 in the earlier meeting, no reason he can't go off here.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @SD 006801000 ***
Speed guys give the Chargers secondary the most difficulty; see Sanders' 9-120-3 in the earlier matchup for proof. Expect the Bolts to take more care in defending Sanders this week, which may stunt his numbers slightly but opens the door for other members of the Broncos' passing game.
WR Wes Welker, DEN @SD 003300000 ***
Julian Edelman's 141 & 1 against the Chargers last week suggests that Welker could put up big numbers here. However, he's still lagging behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in the passing game so he's a risky fantasy option at best.
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @SD 004400000 ***
The Chargers held Thomas in check in the earlier meeting, so there's no reason to rush him back should he be available this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, DEN @SD 2233 ***
Barth was held in check by the Bills last week; now he'll face a Chargers defense that limited Brandon McManus to five points in the earlier meeting. On the bright side for Barth, the Bolts have allowed seven field goals and 26 kicker points in the past two games alone, so there's some upside to this matchup.

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 Ronnie Brown 5-50
RB Ryan Mathews 90,1 5-50,1
RB Danny Woodhead 10 4-20
WR Malcom Floyd 4-50
TE Antonio Gates 3-50
PK Nick Novak 2 FG 2 XP

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 DEN 0000027031 ***
Rivers gouged the Broncos for 252 and 3 in the earlier meeting, but he's been banged up and shut down for most of the past month, with only a blow-up game in Baltimore to show for his fantasy resume. Expect Rivers to have to go to the air once again, with solid fantasy numbers in the offing.
RB Branden Oliver, SD DEN 3003300000 ***
Update: With Ryan Mathews dinged this could be a committee approach. It's not a favorable enough matchup that a share of touches for Oliver will be a fantasy helper.
RB Donald Brown, SD DEN 3001100000 ***
Update: Maybe Brown gets some play in PPR leagues if Ryan Mathews doesn't go, but that's a pretty thin thread to be grasping at in your fantasy playoffs.
WR Keenan Allen, SD DEN 007901000 ***
Allen carried the torch for San Diego's wideouts in their earlier matchup with the Broncos, turning 13 targets into 9-73-1 While it's been proven he can be taken away by a shutdown corner, such individuals are few and far between in this league so he remains a solid fantasy play for this week.
WR Malcom Floyd, SD DEN 004600000 ***
Floyd was solid not spectacular in the earlier meeting with the Broncos, but there is upside considering the likes of Sammy Watkins and Kenny Britt--home run threats in a vein similar to Floyd--have had success against Denver.
WR Eddie Royal, SD DEN 003400000 ***
With Philip Rivers likely shooting it out with Peyton Manning this week, enough passing game stats might be produced to return Royal to fantasy relevancy.
TE Antonio Gates, SD DEN 004501000 ***
Gates scored twice in the earlier meeting with Denver, and another strong showing wouldn't surprise against a Broncos D that's allowed three TE TDs and three games of 60-plus yards to opposing tight ends.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD DEN 1133 ***
Novak mustered all of three points when he visited Denver in Week 8. He could see a mild uptick here, as the Broncos' only two games of double-digit kicker points allowed have come on the road, but that upgrade barely gets him onto the fantasy radar this week.

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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