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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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Game Predictions Summary

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WEEK 1
2010
MIN at NO ATL at PIT* OAK at TEN* GB at PHI
MIA at BUF CLE at TB* CAR at NYG DAL at WAS
IND at HOU* CIN at NE* SF at SEA BAL at NYJ
*UPDATED DET at CHI DEN at JAC* ARI at STL* SD at KC

Prediction: ARI 24, STL 13

Update: Beanie Wells has not practiced this week and HC Ken Whisenhunt said Wells would be a game time decision because of his knee. Depending on how he feels, Wells may play some or all of the game. Regardless, that is a lot of risk for week one and I am downgrading his stats. Check on him Sunday to see if he is dressing and is safe to play.

Update #2 - Wells did not take part in practice and remains a game time decision. He is not a safe play and may not have any action.

An interesting game pitting two divisional rivals who are both undergoing a transition. The Rams are in a perpetual state of change outside of Steven Jackson but the Cardinals are the team with a whole new look. Regardless of a few missing players, the Cardinals should take this with the better overall team unless the Rams can really surprise on all fronts.

The Cardinals swept the Rams in 2009, winning 21-13 in St. Louis and later 31-10 at home.

Arizona Cardinals (0-0)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @STL - 10 SEA -
2 @ATL - 11 @KC -
3 OAK - 12 SF -
4 @SD - 13 STL -
5 NO - 14 DEN -
6 Bye - 15 @CAR -
7 @SEA - 16 DAL -
8 TB - 17 @SF -
9 @MIN - - - -
Cardinals Report | Statistics | Roster
ARIZONA at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson - - 230,2
RB Beanie Wells 40 10 -
RB Tim Hightower 80,1 30 -
WR Larry Fitzgerald - 80,2 -
WR Steve Breaston - 60 -
WR Early Doucet - 30 -
PK Jay Feely 1 XP 2 FG -
Pregame Notes: Perhaps no team will look as immediately different as the Cardinals will. After many seasons of being a pass-happy team with two of the better wideouts in the NFL, the scheme is due for a change. The retirement of Kurt Warner throws an immediate new wrinkle since Matt Leinart could not even carry the team through the preseason and Derek Anderson has been given the reins. With Anquan Boldin gone, Steve Breaston has moved up but this team looks like other teams in that they have an average rushing game and just the one wideout who is far more talented than any other on the team.

QUARTERBACKS: The Cardinals have been one of the top passing teams while Kurt Warner was there but his heir apparent of Matt Leinart could never win over his teammates or give confidence to the coaching staff that he would ever be more than an expensive first round flop. Derek Anderson came over after being released by the Browns and now finds himself as the starter if only because he is not Leinart. Anderson had his one good year in 2007 but then could not replicate it and lost his job the next year. The Cards may remain with Anderson all season but could also elect to see what the undrafted rookie Max Hall is like after he had a promising preseason.

Coming out of the gate, the assumption has to be that Anderson can pass well enough in St. Louis. This should be one of the easiest matchups for Anderson and he'll take some advantage here.

RUNNING BACKS: The addition of Beanie Wells gave the Cardinals a rushing attack last season and his 176 carries is due for a significant increase this season. Wells was brought along slowly last year and only totaled 793 rush yards and seven scores with most of that coming at the end of the season. Tim Hightower will again help out though he has ceded the primary rushing role to Wells. Hightower remains one of the best receiving backs in the league with 63 catches last year. A new quarterback in Derek Anderson should see Hightower remain a handy outlet. For the opener, the biggest question is how Well's knee is doing since he injured it in the preseason game last week. He did not merit an MRI and expectations are that he will play without limitation but may change late week when injury reports become official and practices have been conducted.

Wells rushed for 74 yards on 14 carries and scored once in St. Louis last year. He later turned in 68 yards on 17 runs and scored again when the Rams visited the Cards. The Rams were among the worst at stopping the run last year and that means Wells should have a nice start to the season - provided he is healthy.

WIDE RECEIVERS: There is no argument Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most talented wideouts in the league. But without Warner throwing him passes anymore, there is a natural concern about him maintaining his stats this year. Anquan Boldin has left for the Ravens and this is no longer destined to be one of the elite passing teams. But Fitzgerald should maintain his role as the primary wideout and first check by Anderson. Steve Breaston was been promoted from the slot to take over Boldin's flanker spot and he's been at least adequate in the past and occasionally very productive but again - new offense and new quarterback. Early Doucet slips into the slot that should have a dramatic decrease this year and beyond.

This week should be about the kindest matchup of the season visiting the Rams. No concerns about starting Fitzgerald but it's safer to hold Breaston out of your starting lineup until we can see what the #2 really does in this offense now.

TIGHT ENDS: No concerns here about the Cardinals having a fantasy relevant tight end. Last year only saw 23 completions total among three different tight ends. The emphasis this year will be more rushing and therefore more blocking.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 12 12 2 32 21 9
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 21 29 20 21 16 32


St. Louis Rams (0-0)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 ARI -- 10 @SF --
2 @OAK -- 11 ATL --
3 WAS -- 12 @DEN --
4 SEA -- 13 @ARI --
5 @DET -- 14 @NO --
6 SD -- 15 KC --
7 @TB -- 16 SF --
8 CAR -- 17 @SEA --
9 Bye - - - -
Rams Report | Statistics | Roster
ST. LOUIS vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Sam Bradford - - 190,1
RB Steven Jackson 100 30 -
TE M. Hoomanawanui - 40 -
WR Laurent Robinson - 30,1 -
WR Danny Amendola   40  
WR Mark Clayton - 20 -
PK Josh Brown 2 FG 1 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Rams enter yet another rebuilding year but this time the same coaches are using many new players. While Steven Jackson remains the offensive stalwart, everyone around him may be different. The Rams saw literally their entire offense decimated by injury in 2009 and already have been stung by the injury bug with #1 wideout Donnie Avery landing on IR during the preseason. Their schedule is once again one of the lighter ones in the league and yet on paper it appears they will struggle to take advantage of it.

QUARTERBACKS: The Rams used their #1 overall draft pick on Oklahoma's wunderkind Sam Bradford and despite playing with arguably weaker players, Bradford showed a few glimpses of big time talent during the preseason. He still has to suffer through a learning curve and do that with below average receivers. His fantasy fortunes this year are limited but he could end up a god one down the road.

No reason to expect Bradford to light it up in week one but he should be worthy of a score against the Cards.

RUNNING BACKS: The lone saving grace to the offense has been Steven Jackson these last few years and while he never has a full season, he only missed a couple of games each year. Jackson once again will be asked to carry the load and be the focus of both the offense and opposing defense. But he's been very productive along the way and if Bradford meets expectations, the offense can gain some much needed balance later on. The Rams were tied with the Bills with just four rushing scores by running backs last year. There is still plenty of room for Jackson to improve if the offense can only get him some help.

Jackson rushed for 116 yards and a score on 24 carries when the Cards visited last year. He missed the second game because of injury.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The loss of Donnie Avery was like a "here we go again" since the wideouts in particular were wiped out because of various injuries. There were more wideouts on the IR list than the depth chart by the time they were done. Laurent Robinson is back from his broken leg but hasn't been as impressive in camp as he was in 2009. The depth chart is hardly written in stone but to start Brandon Gibson is only in his second season and only had 34 catches last year but most likely behind fellow second year player Danny Amendola. This is a very young, somewhat inexperienced set of receivers that has been upgraded with the addition of Mark Clayton via a last minute trade. The depth chart here will be fluid this year and the team needs someone to step up and become a weapon for Bradford.

The first game out of the blocks means it is too risky to rely on any of these wideouts yet. There will be at least marginal fantasy value here and potentially a good player but it will have to develop.

TIGHT ENDS: Daniel Fells was supposed to be the starter here but he missed time with a leg injury and the rookie Michael Hoomanawanui who was supposed to only be a blocker but has been a surprise as a receiver. Bradford had some nice chemistry with him in the final preseason game and it is a situation that bears watching. Bradford needs a reliable outlet and the rookie could end up as that guy this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 31 31 28 23 31 31
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 18 14 21 26 6 23

WEEK 1
2010
MIN at NO ATL at PIT OAK at TEN GB at PHI
MIA at BUF CLE at TB CAR at NYG DAL at WAS
IND at HOU CIN at NE SF at SEA BAL at NYJ
  DET at CHI DEN at JAC ARI at STL SD at KC
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