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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Sortable Player Projections
Game Predictions Summary

Projections by Team
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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: CIN 14, NE 24

Update: The Patriots Injury Guessing Game™ is already starting. Randy Moss was held out of practice on Wednesday due to illness but he has returned and is fine to play this week. Julian Edelman has been nursing a sore ankle for weeks and was held out on Wednesday and returned for limited work on Thursday. He may not play this week and is not a safe start - I am removing him from the projections. Also, Laurence Maroney was also held out on Wednesday and then limited on Thursday so he's a risk to consider this week. The Pats appear to most likely to use Fred Taylor the most while he is still healthy so Maroney is not an attractive play in any case.

This game pits two 10-6 division winners from last year and both were beaten by wild card teams in the first round. Both teams have important divisional games looming but the Bengals were only 4-4 on the road while the Patriots were 8-0 at home.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NE -- 10 @IND --
2 BAL -- 11 BUF --
3 @CAR -- 12 @NYJ --
4 @CLE -- 13 NO --
5 TB -- 14 @PIT --
6 Bye - 15 CLE --
7 @ATL -- 16 SD --
8 MIA -- 17 @BAL --
9 PIT -- - - -
Bengals Report | Statistics | Roster
CINCINNATI at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer - - 240,2
RB Cedric Benson 60 10 -
TE Jermaine Gresham - 30 -
WR Chad Ochocinco - 80,1 -
WR Terrell Owens - 60,1 -
WR Jordan Shipley - 40 -
PK Mike Nugent 2 XP - -
Pregame Notes: Road woes not withstanding, the Bengals had a very successful season in 2009. The rushing game had all new life with Cedric Benson and the defense stepped up nicely. Carson Palmer had a decent year but wasn't needed to be the one to win games anymore. The Bengals are a balanced team now but face a more challenging schedule in 2010. That starts with this road trip.

QUARTERBACKS: Carson Palmer had one of his lowest statistical seasons when he passed for 3094 yards last year but he tossed 21 touchdowns and tended to be rather inconsistent with as many as five scores in one game and yet half his efforts netted fewer than 200 passing yards. This year Palmer has new weapons though and every reason to expect a better showing. Adding Terrell Owens upgrades the flanker that Antonio Bryant failed to be. Jordan Shipley was drafted as an elusive slot receiver and they even added a great receiving tight end with Jermaine Gresham. There is plenty of pass targets this year, it's up to Palmer to get them the ball.

The Patriots are growing more average on defense each season but at home and in an opener you can expect a great defensive effort. Look for Palmer to have moderate success and mostly from trying to catch up.

RUNNING BACKS: Cedric Benson finally became the true workhorse back he was destined to be when he ran 301 times for 1251 yards and six scores while he missed three games with a hip injury. He's no factor as a receiver and even less with the new crew of wideouts and tight ends. But he runs hard and is in his prime. Benson's fantasy value is hurt by his lack of receptions but he delivers consistent rush yardage each week.

The Patriots at home are very tough on the run so temper expectations this week for Benson. He'll have moderate rushing yardage but likely no rushing score.

WIDE RECEIVERS: What an interesting dynamic. Both Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco on the same team. Both have reality shows and both are noted for endzone celebrations. How can both co-exist? How many passes can there be? Owens is clearly on the downside of his career but has always been a pass sponge on his teams. Ochocinco will enjoy no longer being the entire focus of the secondary. And there's also the impressive Jordan Shipley who will man the slot and has the look of a Welker-type in the making. Again - are there enough balls on this team?

The Patriots are weakest against the wideouts and no doubt both players will want to have a big debut. The run will be handled by the Patriots so there will be passing that will clearly favor the duo. This is going to be interesting and it could work at least for awhile. The question is if Palmer's elbow can hold up.

TIGHT ENDS: Typically there is no fantasy value with the Bengals and their tight ends. The best from last year was J.P. Foschi (27-260, 2 TDs) but that will change for 2010. The Bengals drafted Jermaine Gresham with their 1.21 pick and it wasn't to be a blocker. Gresham was Sam Bradford's favorite receiver at Oklahoma and a more than an upgrade here - he's a new facet to the offense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 21 24 13 30 24 18
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 15 7 22 8 2 3


New England Patriots (0-0)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN -- 10 @PIT --
2 @NYJ -- 11 IND --
3 BUF -- 12 @DET --
4 @MIA -- 13 NYJ --
5 Bye - 14 @CHI --
6 BAL -- 15 GB --
7 @SD -- 16 @BUF --
8 MIN -- 17 MIA --
9 @CLE -- - - -
Patriots Report | Statistics | Roster
NEW ENGLAND vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady - - 250,2
RB Fred Taylor 70,1 10 -
TE Aaron Hernandez - 20,1 -
WR Randy Moss - 80,1- -
WR Wes Welker - 60 -
WR Julian Edelman - 40 -
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Patriots are entering this season with some unresolved business - both Randy Moss and Tom Brady are due new contracts that have been a distraction but Brady is rumored to be near to signing an extension. Not so for Moss who is publicly grousing about not being appreciated. But that also means a contract year for the 33-year old Moss who has just one more "cash in" left.

QUARTERBACKS: After missing all of 2008 with knee injuries, Tom Brady roared back with a 4398 yard, 28 touchdown effort last year. It may seem small against the 50 scores of 2007 but it was in line with the other years in fact a bit better. Impacting this year will be just how truly healthy Wes Welker is since he accounted for an astounding 162 pass targets, 123 catches and 1348 yards. Take that level of production out and even Brady will feel the effect.

The Bengals have a solid defense but Brady in week one at home won't be willing to play nice. Look for a nice showing here by Brady that should have a couple of scores and solid yardage.

RUNNING BACKS: The amazing thing about the Patriots is that they get so much out of a gaggle of over-the-hill players like Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk. And there is Laurence Maroney who remains the enigma that spends most his time on the injury report. This will be no less a chore to determine just which back will have the best effort on any given week. Taylor has been anointed as the starter and should post the best yardage until he shows up on an injury report and then it is all bets off.

I am projecting for Fred Taylor to be the primary back and to have notable stats this week but as with all things Patriot - the risk is greater than the reward. Any one of the four running backs could show up in the box score.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Wes Welker certainly looked none the worse in preseason games after having reconstructive surgery on his knee in January. Initial reports were that he would likely be on the PUP list to start the year. Now apparently he is just a starter like nothing happened. Randy Moss could pick up the slack if needed and Julian Edelman became a temporary fantasy gem when we still thought Welker would miss some of the season. Week one against a solid Bengals team will show just how recovered Welker really is. Brady can move the team without him but the offense hits a higher level if Welker can play 100% healthy. The Pats accounted for an NFL high 273 receptions and 3386 yards by wideouts last year - Welker was the link pin that allowed that to happen.

For this week of great unknowns, Moss is a good start as always and Welker is worth the risk. This will be a very important game in fantasy terms since only game action will answer how well Welker has recovered from his surgery.

TIGHT ENDS: As if the Patriots weren't already hard to predict, they drafted two tight ends - Aaron Hernandez (4.15) and Rob Gronkowski (2.10) and both looked very promising in preseason action. Alge Crumpler is also back but he's been only a blocker. Now the Pats have two rookie tight ends to use and no doubt will do just that. I will project for Hernandez but Gronkowski may be the bigger factor. Gronkowski had four touchdowns in the preseason and is becoming a red zone factor. He was supposed to be the blocking tight end to Hernandez's receiving duties.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 7 9 1 22 7 20
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 10 8 5 7 13 8

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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