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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 4
2010
NYJ at BUF* CIN at CLE* IND at JAC* CHI at NYG
SEA at STL* BAL at PIT* HOU at OAK* NE at MIA*
CAR at NO* DEN at TEN* WAS at PHI DAL, KC
*updated DET at GB* SF at ATL ARI at SD* MIN, TB

Prediction: ARI 10, SD 27

Update: Ryan Mathews has been back to practice and will play this week and Mike Tolbert may continue to provide short yardage and goal line duty. I have added Mathews back in. Steve Breaston underwent meniscus surgery and will miss this week and possibly next week as well.

The Cardinals have won two games but the came all too close to an 0-3 start. They should add Sebastian Janikowski to the team Christmas card list. The Chargers are only 1-2 with losses in both of their road games but this one plays in San Diego and that's about all that really matters.

Arizona Cardinals (2-1)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @STL W 17-13 10 SEA -
2 @ATL L 7-41 11 @KC -
3 OAK W 24-23 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 SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson - - 170,1
RB Beanie Wells 50 - -
RB Tim Hightower 20 20 -
WR Larry Fitzgerald - 50,1 -
WR Steve Breaston - 50 -
WR Stephen Williams - 20 -
PK Jay Feely 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: This version of the Cardinals has more luck than talent so far and the offense in particular remains shaky with Derek Anderson. There is no plan to make a change according to HC Ken Whisenhunt but a string of losses may change his mind. At least Beanie Wells returned and looked good but with this game in San Diego followed by hosting the Saints, the Cardinals may be looking at the final days of a winning record this year.

QUARTERBACK: The Cardinals are used to a lot better from the quarterback position than this. Derek Anderson has thrown for three touchdowns and three interceptions on the season while only facing the Rams, Falcons and Raiders. Max Hall remains in the wings and could stay there all season but with the last two weeks producing 161 or less passing yards, a change is going to happen unless improvement is made. So far the Cardinals are better off rushing on most plays.

The Chargers have not allowed more than one passing score per opponent. Unless there is measurable trash time that the Chargers just walk away from, depending on Anderson for more than his tepid weekly stats is optimistic.

RUNNING BACKS: Beanie Wells made it back from his knee injury and had 14 carries for 75 yards against the Raiders. He ran with noticeably more power and speed than Tim Hightower who was limited to 11 carries for 40 yards. Expect the ratio of carries to favor Wells even more from now on. Hightower will remain in the mix and be the third down back but after three weeks, he only has seven receptions and four of those were in week one. Wells apparently kills all value of Hightower but brings in the chance for a better rushing game that will help all other facets of the team.

Not a great week to expect too much from Wells who travels to San Diego where Maurice Jones-Drew could only managed 31 yards on 12 carries. The Chargers are going to be in a bad mood so chances are the Cards won't even have enough carries to total much.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Steve Breaston played with a sore knee last week and scored once with just four catches for 41 yards. Larry Fitzgerald continues to scratch out barely decent fantasy games but only because he had a touchdown on his two catches for 26 yards last week. Anderson is not connecting much with Fitzgerald who has been thrown 34 passes but only recorded 12 catches this season. The passing game was the strength of this team for the last three years. Now it is the largest liability.

The Chargers secondary has allowed only one score to a wideout and just one effort over 61 yards over these first three games. I'll project a score for Fitzgerald as the most likely but there is no reason to expect this unit to take a step up. The problem isn't here - it is with the quarterback.

TIGHT ENDS: No fantasy value.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 28 14 14 32 31 9
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 4 9 4 26 19 32
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) ARI -24 -5 -10 -6 -12 23


San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC L 14-21 10 Bye -
2 JAC W 38-13 11 DEN --
3 @SEA L 20-27 12 @IND --
4 ARI -- 13 OAK --
5 @OAK -- 14 KC --
6 @STL -- 15 SF --
7 NE -- 16 @CIN --
8 TEN -- 17 @DEN --
9 @HOU -- - - -
Chargers Report | Statistics | Roster
SAN DIEGO vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers - - 300,2
RB Darren Sproles 20 40 -
RB Mike Tolbert 20,1 - -
RB Ryan Mathews 80 - -
TE Antonio Gates - 80,1 -
WR Malcolm Floyd - 60,1 -
WR Buster Davis - 30 -
WR Legedu Naanee - 40 -
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Losing both road games so far is a troublesome development for the Chargers but at least the only two in the next five weeks are in Oakland and St. Louis and should be wins. The good news is that LT Marcus McNeill has finally signed and will return to the lineup on October 17th and that the offense has been posting points. The Chargers have a history of starting slowly so there is no sense of desperation here. The Chargers are a study in why turnovers and special teams are always an underrated part of the game.

QUARTERBACK: Philip Rivers has been a great play in fantasy terms with three games that have averaged 362 passing yards per game and thrown for seven touchdowns with never less than two per week. He has lost two interceptions in each of the last couple of games but in fantasy terms he has been on fire and will face a schedule that remains mostly soft the entire season.

The Cardinals have allowed right around 250 yards and at least one score to every opponent but the Chargers are much better than the Chiefs, Jaguars or Seahawks in passing. Expect a nice game here.

RUNNING BACKS: Ryan Mathews was out last week with his ankle sprain but HC Norv Turner has hope that he'll be able to practice and play this week. But since it is a high ankle sprain I am going to hold him out until he can have a full practice and show up significantly improved. Mike Tolbert replaced him against the Seahawks and gained 73 yards on 17 carries in Seattle and added three catches for 17 yards. Darren Sproles had almost no role in that game but should return to more use this week. Sproles accounted for nine touches and 100 yards in the only previous home game.

The Cardinals are soft against the run and have allowed four scores to opposing running backs this year along with two runners topping 100 rushing yards. You want the runner in this game but if could end up to be a limited Mathews which would water down the backfield. Look for late week developments.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Malcolm Floyd has turned in back-to-back games of around 95 yards and a score as Rivers second favorite target after Antonio Gates. In the last game with 455 yards to divide up, Floyd (6-97, TD), Legedu Naanee (4-53), Buster Davis (3-82) and even Patrick Crayton (3-57) all shared in the bounty and showed that Rivers hardly needs one star wideout to be able to pass for big stats. Vincent Jackson's absence has not been felt and if anything, it has allowed the passing game to become more diverse and harder to defense against.

The Cardinals secondary has allowed at least one wideout from each opponent to have a score if not 100 yards. Consider Floyd as an interesting start this week but Naanee could end up with the better numbers. This should be an easier win for the Chargers so that makes it less reliable to forecast..

TIGHT ENDS: Three weeks in and Antonio Gates has been a big scorer every game. He has never scored less than once or had fewer than 57 yards on five receptions. He has slightly more targets than Malcom Floyd and yet consistently does more with them. The Cards have only faced one decent tight end so far and Zach Miller had 64 yards and a touchdown.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 3 9 7 1 25 10
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 21 30 22 15 31 26
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) SD 18 21 15 14 6 16

WEEK 4
2010
NYJ at BUF CIN at CLE IND at JAC CHI at NYG
SEA at STL BAL at PIT HOU at OAK NE at MIA
CAR at NO DEN at TEN WAS at PHI DAL, KC
  DET at GB SF at ATL ARI at SD MIN, TB
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