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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 @MIA 0000025020 ****
Rivers has multiple TD tosses in seven straight, not just the "last couple" that busted against Miami's D this week. Plenty of Rivers to like here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Branden Oliver, SD @MIA 6014401000 ***
Oliver's carries and yards have gone south the past couple of weeks as their opposition toughened. Miami's closer to that end of the spectrum, though don't be surprised if Oliver can recoup some of his value as a receiver against a Dolphins D that has given up three RB receiving scores and a couple of 60-yard receiving games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keenan Allen, SD @MIA 005700000 ****
Allen has shown signs of exiting his sophomore slump; at minimum he remains heavily targeted, a good thing here as four of the past five WRs who have seen 10 targets in a game against the Dolphins have found the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD @MIA 004500000 ***
Floyd is a consistently targeted second fiddle; over the past few games that's been enough to land him in the nd zone a couple times, but only once all season have the Dolphins allowed multiple receivers to score in the same game so this week Floyd's more of an afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD @MIA 005601000 ****
Gates has scored in four straight, and while the Dolphins aren't quite that fantasy-friendly to the position they have allowed four TE TDs on the year so no need to run scared.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD @MIA 2133 ****
The Bolts consistently give Novak opportunities for PATs, but field goals have been tougher to come by of late. This is still a good offense and Novak a quality kicker, but he's merely an okay fantasy option here.

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 @NE 0000031030 ***
Think Bill Belichick has Peyton's number? Think again; Manning has multiple TD tosses in five straight regular-season meetings with the Patriots dating back to the 2008 season. He's topped 300 yards in three of those five as well. This iteration of the New England defense has surrendered multiple scoring strikes in four of five; this iteration of Peyton has at least three TDs in four straight and six of seven. Fantasy owners needn't concern themselves with the war; Peyton consistently wins this battle.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN @NE 9003201000 ***
Focus too much on Peyton Manning and Hillman will get ya; he's racked up triple-digit combo yardage in all three starts since Montee Ball went down. The Patriots have allowed three 100-yard rushers in the past four games as well as a couple of 50-plus yard receiving games to backs; if they devote too much game plan to Manning, Hillman's fantasy prospects climb from good to very good.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Juwan Thompson, DEN @NE 201000000 **
Thompson looks to be taking over as the goal line complement to Ronnie Hillman--and a a Patriots D that's allowed five RB TDs in the past four games might be susceptible to a goal line back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @NE 0061001000 ***
The Patriots have to hope adding Darrelle Revis to the roster slows Thomas, because nothing else they've tried to date has; in four career meetings he's averaging almost seven catches for almost 110 yards, though he's scored just once in the four games. He brings a four-game streak of 100-yard efforts into this tilt, and you have to like his chances of exiting with at least a fantasy helper if not a fifth straight above the century mark.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @NE 004500000 ***
Not only have the Patriots allowed multiple WRs to score in two of their last four games, they never had an answer for Sanders when he played for Pittsburgh; in three games he racked up 16-209-1. With four TDs in the past two games he's beyond his scoring slump, and odds are he won't see Darrelle Revis so the run of success should continue.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Wes Welker, DEN @NE 004400000 ***
Welker has never caught a TD pass against his former mates--not as a Dolphin before joining the Patriots, nor in his lone meeting with them as a Bronco. He's also slid down the passing game pecking order in Denver, to the point that he's a reach of a fantasy play even in a six-team bye week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @NE 004601000 ****
After a scorching start Thomas has been kept in check the past two weeks. Don't expect that to continue against a New England defense that's allowed three 90-yard games to TEs and three TE TDs in the past five games.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN @NE 1144 *****
Kicking behind a Peyton Manning offense has its advantages: four or more PATs in all but one game this year. It also has its disadvantages: only one game with multiple field goal attempts. You'll get solid, but spectacular doesn't appear to be in the offing.

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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