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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 11
2012
MIA at BUF (THU) *CLE at DAL *NO at OAK TB at CAR
*ARI at ATL GB at DET NYJ at STL *CHI at SF (MON)
*BAL at PIT *IND at NE PHI at WAS Bye:
*UPDATED CIN at KC JAC at HOU *SD at DEN MIN, NYG, SEA, TEN

Prediction: SD 17, DEN 34 (Line: DEN by 7.5)

Players Updated: Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle

Players to Watch: Danario Alexander, Ryan Matthews, Eric Decker, Willis McGahee

The 4-5 Chargers have a chance to close the two game deficit they have with the 6-3 Broncos but the Bolts only sport a 2-3 road record while the Broncos are 3-1 at home and on a four game winning streak that started when the beat the Chargers 35-24 in San Diego during week six. This was the game where the Chargers led 24-0 at the half and then turned in one of the greatest choke jobs seen in recent history. Probably not a great thing this one is in Denver.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK 22-14 10 @TB 24-34
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 24-35 15 CAR -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @NYJ -----
8 @CLE 6-7 17 OAK -----
9 KC 31-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SD @ DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 250,2
RB Donald Brown 40 1-10
RB Ronnie Brown 30 3-20
RB Ryan Mathews
RB Danny Woodhead 10 4-30
WR Malcom Floyd 5-60
TE Antonio Gates 5-60,1
PK Nick Novak 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The season not got any better than halftime in week six when the Chargers led the Broncos 24-0 and had a 3-2 record coming into the game. 35 unanswered points later and everything crumbled. The Chargers lost their last three road games and now Norv Turner is publicly expressing his confidence in Philip RIvers because he has to...

The Chargers are coming off the easier part of their schedule with only a 4-5 record and Norv Turner looks like a likely member of the NFL coaching purge at the end of the year. Philip Rivers has been mostly decent in fantasy terms but less so in the NFL where his 12 interceptions have often proved to be game killers. He's thrown for 15 touchdowns but was held to two scores and just 241 yards in the first meeting with the Broncos. That's not likely to get much better on the road in Denver.

Ryan Mathews was used more in recent weeks starting back with that first game against the Broncos when he ran for 74 yards on 22 carries. He's still used inconsistently but is gaining around 70 total yards per week. The Chargers as a team only have four rushing touchdowns and the one by Mathews came back in week five. Ronnie Brown is still used enough to have a negative impact on what Mathews does. By now, the only play here is to use Mathews knowing he'll only get you about 70 yards or so. Even Ronnie Brown has seen fewer receptions lately eliminating whatever marginal fantasy value he offered in reception point leagues.

One bright spot is Antonio Gates who scored twice in the Denver game and two more times in the last three weeks. He's topped 60 yards in a game just once but at least he has scored with some regularity in the last month. He was just about given up for dead prior to the first meeting with the Broncos.

The only other notable change here is that Danario Alexander replaced mega-bust Robert Meachem and comes off the best game by any Chargers receiver when he caught five passes for 134 yards and one score in Tampa Bay. Malcom Floyd also scored last week but he's apparently stuck at 50 to 60 yards per week and even caught five passes for 60 yards in the last meeting with the Broncos.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 20 5 30 10 12 10
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 16 14 5 31 7 12

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Philip Rivers, SD STL 0000025020 ****
Rivers is banged up and has back-to-back bad fantasy games to his credit; a date with a Rams defense that hasn't allowed multiple touchdown tosses in a month and shut down the high-flying Broncos last week doesn't seem like an opportunity for Philip to get back in the saddle.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ryan Mathews, SD STL 6001100000 ***
Mathews returned to action last week and didn't look bad against the Raiders... but it's the Raiders. The Rams offer a legitimate defensive challenge, which spells bad news for Mathews--especially if he's still sharing the workload with Branden Oliver.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Branden Oliver, SD STL 3002100000 ***
Last week's touches were split almost 50/50 as Ryan Mathews returned from injury, yet neither back did much damage against a shaky Oakland run D. Now, facing a far more formidable Rams unit, expectations should be lowered even further.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keenan Allen, SD STL 008701000 ***
Allen still sees the bulk of the targets in San Diego, and the Rams have given up five 100-yard receivers in the past five games. But he's been so infuriatingly disappointing this season it's tough to bank on him for fantasy help, even with a favorable matchup staring him in the face.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD STL 004601000 **
Less targeted than Keenan Allen, Floyd somehow has been more consistently productive. However, a banged up Philip Rivers and a tough matchup make him a problematic fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, SD STL 003300000 ***
Royal's been dormant for about a month, which means another one of those "helps no one" two-TD games is just around the corner.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD STL 003400000 ***
It's been a month since the Rams allowed a TE TD, making this a difficult matchup at best for Gates. Since he's back to sharing snaps with Ladarius Green, you can probably find a better fantasy matchup elsewhere.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD STL 2222 ****
The Rams haven't been a hotbed for kicker points, and Novak has been more good than great. Keep your expectations in check and you'll be fine.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR 36-14
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 35-24 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO 34-14 17 KC -----
9 @CIN 31-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 310,3
WR Emmanuel Sanders 3-30
WR Demaryius Thomas 4-60,1
WR Wes Welker 6-80

Pregame Notes: The Broncos are not only on a four game winning streak, they scored over 30 points in each of those games while never allowing any opponent to come within eight points of them. The win in San Diego was the turning point in the season when they went from 3-3 to being back in control of the AFC West. A win this week means a three game lead over the rest of the division plus first tie-breakers. This just in - the Broncos have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the entire NFL. The week 15 trip to Baltimore may be the only time they are not favored.

Peyton Manning is no less productive than he has ever been. He already passed for 21 touchdowns and has not thrown for under 290 yards in the last seven games. Manning threw for 309 yards and three scores in San Diego almost entirely in the second half. When Peyton Manning is having one of his best seasons ever, that says something. Something like the Broncos are going to the playoffs and even the Tebow Foundation agrees that Manning was a good acquisition.

The only current negative in the offense is that Willis McGahee has already lost four fumbles this year. His workload has not been scaled back yet but it is an obvious concern. Ronnie Hillman stole the short score last week but otherwise has very little role. McGahee ran for 56 yards on 17 carries and added 42 yards on four receptions in the San Diego meeting. The Charger rushing defense is decent and only allowed one runner to top 100 yards this year. Last week they held Doug Martin to only 68 yards on 19 runs and he never fumbles.

Joel Dreessen turned in a season-best 57 yards on six catches in the last Chargers tilt but he's not reliable for more than about 40 yards per week and he was blanked in the last home game.

All three starting wideouts scored in San Diego. Demaryius Thomas was held to only 37 yards on two catches but Brandon Stokley (4-48) and Eric Decker (6-98) both had one of their best games of the year. Thomas already has five games over 100 yards and was only thrown two passes in week six thanks mostly to Quentin Jammer making Manning look elsewhere. Thomas injured his right knee last week but came back into the game later on and still ended with nine catches for 135 yards in Carolina.

This is a big game because a win here means the Broncos can almost coast into the playoffs even with six games left to play. I like a defensive score in this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 7 18 2 8 17 2
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 13 17 19 5 1 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Peyton Manning, DEN MIA 0000030030 ***
Forget last week's aberration in St. Louis; Manning is money at home, with at least three TD tosses in every game and an average of 318 yards per home contest. The Dolphins haven't allowed so much as a 300 yard game this year, but it's Manning so anything's possible.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN MIA 7006600000 ***
Looks like Anderson will be the lead dog in Denver this week, against a Miami defense that hasn't let a back go for 50 yards against them in a month. Expect him to pick up a little fantasy help in the passing game, which combined with his share of the run game makes a tidy little fantasy package.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN MIA 0081101000 ***
With or without Emmanuel Sanders, whether or not Brent Grimes plays him man-up the entire game, Thomas is an every-week fantasy starter.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN MIA 004601000 **
If Sanders is cleared from his concussion he belongs in your fantasy lineup, but that's a decision we won't know until later in the week.
Update: Sanders did not practice until Friday, at which point he got in a full session. The official injury report lists him as probable, so the expectation is he'll return from his concussion and play this week. And if he's playing, he belongs in your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Wes Welker, DEN MIA 005500000 ***
Welker could see some extra looks with Emmanuel Sanders out with a concussion, but it's going to take no Sanders in the lineup for Welker to warrant fantasy attention.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Caldwell, DEN MIA 004500000 ***
The Broncos have options if Emmanuel Sanders can't go, with Caldwell being one of them. He'd warrant fantasy attention if Sanders is ruled out; otherwise he's just going to remain a fantasy afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN MIA 003200000 *
It isn't a great matchup, but if Thomas recovers from his ankle injury in time to play he's an every-week fantasy starter. No Thomas, no need to reach for his backups.
Update: Thomas did not practice all week, and his official "questionable" designation seems optimistic. You should have a Plan B at the ready.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN MIA 2133 ***
Tacking on points for Peyton Manning's offense hasn't been as productive as you might think--just one double-digit points game in the past six and only two all year. So keep your expectations in check with McManus and you'll be just fine.

WEEK 11
2012
MIA at BUF (THU) *CLE at DAL *NO at OAK TB at CAR
*ARI at ATL GB at DET NYJ at STL *CHI at SF (MON)
*BAL at PIT *IND at NE PHI at WAS Bye:
*UPDATED CIN at KC JAC at HOU *SD at DEN MIN, NYG, SEA, TEN

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