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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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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: SF 23, SEA 17

These divisional rivals seem to be teams heading in opposite directions but they traded home wins with the Seahawks outscoring the 49ers 20-17 in Seattle and the 49ers taking theirs 23-10. The Seahawks play far better at home and have a new offense to unveil but the 49ers continue to improve on both sides of the ball.

San Francisco 49ers (0-0)
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @SEA -- 10 STL --
2 NO -- 11 TB --
3 @KC -- 12 @ARI --
4 @ATL -- 13 @GB --
5 PHI -- 14 SEA --
6 OAK -- 15 @SD --
7 @CAR -- 16 @STL --
8 DEN -- 17 ARI --
9 Bye - - - -
49ers Report | Statistics | Roster
SAN FRANCISCO at SEA Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith - - 260,2
RB Frank Gore 70 30 -
TE Vernon Davis - 80,1 -
WR Josh Morgan - 40 -
WR Ted Ginn Jr. - 30 -
WR Michael Crabtree - 60,1 -
PK Joe Nedney 3 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The 49ers look to become the dominant team in the NFC West this year with the Cardinals offense taking a hit from losing Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner and the Rams being just the Rams. The offense was improving when Vernon Davis finally roared to life and the addition of Michael Crabtree should help wake up the sleepy passing game. The defense is stocked and this team - finally - is in a position to make a move up after so many years of futility.

QUARTERBACKS: Once Alex Smith took over in week seven last year, the 49ers finally saw a return on that 1.01 draft pick from 2005. While Smith wasn't quite a stud, he did manage to score in all but one game and gave plenty of optimism to this season. With a full offseason and training camp as the starter under his belt, Smith should be at least incrementally better and perhaps significantly better this season.

Smith passed for 310 yards and two scores in Seattle. It was his best game of the year. The Seahawks secondary remains below average so look for at least a decent showing by Smith who typically has to throw more on the road than at home.

RUNNING BACKS: This is shaping up to be a very nice year for the 27-year old Frank Gore who enters his sixth season in San Francisco. So far he has only managed to last all 16 games just once in his career but never misses more than two weeks. He had a career best 13 total touchdowns last year and 1526 total yards in 14 games. He should improve on that with a more viable passing game to take the pressure off of him. The 49ers also added Brian Westbrook for veteran depth and drafted Anthony Dixon who was very impressive in the preseason. Should - or make that when - Gore misses his two games, Dixon should provide the best replacement yet for the 49ers. Despite added Westbrook, there are no immediate plans to integrate him into the offense. Dixon has been far more promising anyway.

Gore only gained 25 yards on nine carries in Seattle last year but added five catches for 37 yards. He had 207 yards and two scores in the home meeting with the Seahawks.

WIDE RECEIVERS: All eyes will be on Michael Crabtree who finally starts the year not holding out for the bigger contract that never came. Crabtree showed up in week seven last year and ended with 625 yards on 48 catches and scored twice. And that was without a training camp or daily practicing with Smith before he reported. Crabtree's attitude caused a small row in camp when he was called out by Vernon Davis, but he remains the most promising wideout by a large margin. Josh Morgan retains the #2 spot but he only accounted for 52 catches for 527 yards and three scores last year when there was a bigger need for someone to step up. Ted Ginn Jr. was added to the roster after being a first round bust in Miami and the 49ers have him exactly where he should have always been - in the slot and ready for long pass plays. He was horribly miscast as a #1 possession receiver in Miami and while his fantasy fortunes will still remain too inconsistent for consideration, at least he still has a job in the NFL.

Crabtree turned in 60 yards on six receptions in Seattle last year. Josh Morgan (6-56) had one touchdown.

TIGHT ENDS: The 49ers were tied for #1 with 13 scores by tight ends and every one of them went to Vernon Davis. In the matter of one season, Davis went from being a league laughingstock as yet another first round bust who could not translate freakish skills into points. But one year in Jimmy Raye's offense and Davis finally blossomed. He had 78 catches for 965 yards last year and could improve on those stats.

Davis led the 49ers with six catches for 111 yards and a touchdown in Seattle last season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 22 20 30 1 25 4
Preventing Fantasy Points SEA 25 25 29 16 18 21


Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
Homefield: Qwest Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SF -- 10 @ARI --
2 @DEN -- 11 @NO --
3 SD -- 12 KC --
4 @STL -- 13 CAR --
5 Bye - 14 @SF --
6 @CHI -- 15 ATL --
7 ARI -- 16 @TB --
8 @OAK -- 17 STL --
9 NYG -- - - -
Seahawks Report | Statistics | Roster
SEATTLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Hasselbeck - - 220,1
RB Justin Forsett 60 50 -
RB Leon Washington 20,1 10 -
TE John Carlson - 20 -
WR Mike Williams - 50 -
WR Deon Butler - 40 -
WR Deion Branch - 60,1 -
PK Olindo Mare 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Seahawks embark on a new era with Pete Carroll returning to the NFL after coaching in USC. The upheaval on this team is significant and the new schemes won't be installed overnight. The offense is in transition and roles could change as the season progresses. The Seahawks had one of the lightest schedules in the league last year and did little with it individually. There could be some nice fantasy situations developing here but it will require a couple of real games to nail down.

QUARTERBACKS: Matt Hasselbeck returns for his 12th NFL season and had to compete with Charlie Whitehurst for the starting job he has held since 2001. Fortunately, Whitehurst struggled in the last couple of preseason games and the aging Hasselbeck remains at the helm. But he's had durability issues and only once in the last four years lasted all 16 games. He's only played in 21 games over the last two seasons. There was a time when he held promise but by now he's just an average quarterback on a rebuilding team.

Hasselbeck passed for 198 yards and two scores against the visiting 49ers last year.

RUNNING BACKS: This is another area of transition. Julius Jones is finally out of the picture having taken a massive pay cut to remain employed and offering nothing more than depth. Justin Forsett is the named starter and should provide a primary role but Leon Washington was added in the offseason and appears to be completely healed from his broken leg of last year. We'll know more about this new offense in a week but for now it is a committee with Forsett as the primary runner and third down back and Washington being relief and short yardage. That may change but for now Forsett is the only attractive start here.

The Seahawks never scored via the rush on the 49ers last year and topped out at 76 total rushing yards.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The T.J. Houshmandzadeh experiment only last one season before he was released and yet still very much part of the payroll with $7 million guaranteed. Deion Branch is healthy again (at least as of this writing) and commands the #1 role now but the biggest surprise is Mike Williams who reunites with college headcoach Pete Carroll. Williams had been with the Lions and Titans before leaving football for two years. Williams only signed a one-year contract for $545,000 so even Carroll is not sold on him. Deon Butler enters his second season and the coaching staff has described him as most improved. He'll hang out as the #3 unless he can beat out Williams or, of course, Branch is injured again.

No wideout gained more than 62 yards on the 49ers last year.

The 49ers have an above average secondary and the Seahawks are still learning their new scheme. Safest play is to leave all these wideouts on your bench until we have a better idea what to expect for 2010.

TIGHT ENDS: John Carlson enters his third year but there is no expectation that he will do more in the new offense. For two years, he's weighed in right around 50 catches for 600 yards. He should maintain his stats in Jeremy Bates offense but won't become a bigger factor.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 17 18 19 19 19 27
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 12 11 13 3 21 14

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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