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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 5
2010
*TB at CIN GB at WAS *STL at DET *PHI at SF
*ATL at CLE JAC at BUF *NO at ARI *MIN at NYJ
*NYG at HOU *DEN at BAL *SD at OAK MIA, NE
*UPDATED *KC at IND *CHI at CAR TEN at DAL PIT, SEA

Prediction: NO 27, ARI 14

Update: Pierre Thomas has not practiced this week and will be a game time decision at best because of his ankle. Friday practice will help define his expectation. HC Sean Payton was optimistic but Thomas has not practiced so far.

The Saints are 3-1 but have not won a game by more than five points this year and came within two field goals of being 1-3 against the softer part of the schedule. The Cardinals are imploding at 2-2 with a possible switch in quarterback coming. The Saints won 45-14 when they hosted the Cardinals in the playoffs last year. These are very, very different Cardinals this time.

New Orleans Saints (3-1)
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 MIN W 14-9 10 Bye -
2 @SF W 25-22 11 SEA --
3 ATL L 24-27 12 @DAL --
4 CAR W 16-14 13 @CIN --
5 @ARI -- 14 STL --
6 @TB -- 15 @BAL --
7 CLE -- 16 @ATL --
8 PIT -- 17 TB --
9 @CAR -- - - -
Saints Report | Statistics | Roster
NEW ORLEANS at ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees - - 260,2
RB Chris Ivory 80,1 - -
RB Ladell Betts 70 20 -
TE Jeremy Shockey - 50 -
WR Marques Colston - 40,1 -
WR Lance Moore - 50 -
WR Devery Henderson - 60,1 -
WR Robert Meachem - 30 -
PK John Carney 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: There's nothing dominating about the Saints who have the same look of lethargy that so many returning Super Bowl champs do. They've been good enough to win for the most part of course, but the offense that lit up the world in 2009 now has not scored more than 25 points and is averaging less than 20 per game. The three wins come over teams that collectively are 1-10. All is not well in the land of beignets but once again this week, the schedule is just making it too easy.

QUARTERBACK: Drew Brees scored in every game this year but only once went over 300 yards and twice only passed for one touchdown. He currently has seven scores on the season and is averaging 283 yards against very soft opponents. He has only passed for two interceptions though and has only been sacked twice per game. It is better than the average quarterback to be sure, but not the weekly fireworks that we were used to seeing.

Brees passed for 247 yards and three scores on the Cardinals last year.

The Cardinals are very bad against the run and that could impact this game but consider Brees a safe bet to throw for a couple of scores and mid 200's with a chance for more. WIth Pierre Thomas a question mark again this week, the Saints may throw a bit more than planned.

RUNNING BACKS: Reggie Bush remains out and Pierre Thomas was inactive last week with a bad ankle and may not play again on Sunday. HC Sean Payton won't commit early in the week so it will take some practices to get a feel if Thomas has a shot at going against the #31 defense against running backs. Last week the Saints opted for a rotation of Chris Ivory (12-67) and Ladell Betts (13-47, 4-23) that worked well enough.

The Saints running backs combined for 170 yards on 29 carries and two scores on the Cardinals last season.

I am assuming that Thomas remains out and will project for the new backfield duo and update as warranted. This is a nice chance for both runners to generate some stats against a very week rush defense that has already allowed three runners to top 100 yards and given up six touchdowns.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The Saints are even worse this year about spreading the ball around and making it hard to forecast which player is going to have a good game - because one or two always do. Just rarely the same ones from the previous week. Lance Moore had a season high 149 yards in week three with two scores and then dropped to 37 yards and one score last week. Robert Meachem has fallen from all favor this year while Marques Colston still has yet to catch a touchdown and has been no better than 36 yards since week two.

Both Devery Henderson (4-80) and Colston (6-83) had touchdowns against the Cards in 2009.

I like one score to end up in this unit but flipping a coin is almost as accurate as trying to determine which player will most likely excel. Henderson is due for a score and did it here last season. Colston is another but he's just really tailed off this year as the secondary apparently focuses on him too much.

TIGHT ENDS: Jeremy Shockey is hard to rely on but he has turned in games of 78 and 58 yards in the last two weeks with one score so far. He faces the Cardinals and their 29th ranked defense against tight ends. It's always a risk to expect, but Shockey is in a great situation to score this weekend.

Shockey caught just three passes for 36 yards on the Cardinals last year but scored once.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 6 13 12 5 9 22
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 19 31 14 29 32 31
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) NO 13 18 2 24 23 9


Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
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 L 10-41 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 vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Max Hall - - 160,1
RB Beanie Wells 80,1 - -
RB Tim Hightower 40 10 -
WR Larry Fitzgerald - 50,1 -
WR Stephen Williams - 30 -
PK Jay Feely - 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals finally yanked Derek Anderson last week and gave the rookie Max Hall a chance to play with no positive results. Chris Wells was only allowed five runs and is unhappy and asking to speak to the coach. Steve Breaston is injured and Larry Fitzgerald is tied with Danny Amendola with 208 receiving yards each. Overall, the new offense could have gone over better. in both losses, the defense gave up 41 points.

QUARTERBACK: The game was so far out of hand that the Cardinals let Max Hall come in and attempt 14 passes with eight completions for 82 yards and all of it during the plentiful trash time. Derek Anderson is not the answer for the future and may not even be the guy for this weekend. HC Ken Whisenhunt hasn't named a starter yet but since he already had Anderson, I will assume Max Hall gets the nod. The Cardinals have nothing to lose and at least some experience for Hall to gain.

The Saints have a banged up secondary that can be exploited and RCB Tracy Porter is out with a torn MCL so they will sub someone else to cover Fitzgerald. But Max Hall is unlikely to take much advantage and most the yards and the score I am projecting will come in the second half when the Saints no longer are interested.

Warner passed for only 205 yards and no scores in New Orleans last year.

RUNNING BACKS: Beanie Wells was unhappy after only five rushing attempts last week but that is what happens when they use Tim Hightower both to open games and in pass protection formations. Wells the runner falls short with opportunities and that could definitely happen again this week. The Saints have allowed two opponents to top 100 rushing yards and given up six scores to running backs. No doubt that the Cards want to run the ball, the question is how long will they have that luxury?

If a lethargic Saints team shows up, then Wells could turn in a very nice day with enough left over for Hightower to maintain marginal fantasy value. If the Saints start scoring from the start, it will be another day of watching Hightower block in pass formations. I like Wells to have a decent game here but that means the Saints have to wait before taking a big lead.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Steve Breaston remains out after surgery to his meniscus but there is a slight chance he may show up this week. I will update if warranted but Breaston has been inconsistent and mostly unproductive anyway. Larry Fitzgerald is scoring every other week (and he's due!) but his yardage is a fraction of what we normally expect. Swapping to a rookie quarterback is not going to help but falling way behind could be a difference maker for this group that requires the defense to be preoccupied if not completely distracted before the Cards can do much with the pass.

TIGHT ENDS: No fantasy value.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 31 25 17 32 30 10
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 13 29 1 30 4 5
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) ARI -18 4 -16 -2 -26 -5

WEEK 5
2010
TB at CIN GB at WAS STL at DET PHI at SF
ATL at CLE JAC at BUF NO at ARI MIN at NYJ
NYG at HOU DEN at BAL SD at OAK MIA, NE
  KC at IND CHI at CAR TEN at DAL PIT, SEA
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