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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: SD 24, OAK 20

Update: Zach Miller has been limited in practice because of his hip but has since been upgraded to full practices and will play this week. Louis Murphy is practicing fully and will play without limitation from his clavicle. Darren McFadden has not practiced and while he has not been officially ruled out yet, he is not expected to play. Michael Bush will take the load himself this week.

The Chargers are 2-2 after thrashing the Cardinals and now face the 1-3 Raiders who have not beaten them in many years (over five by my records). The Chargers swept the Raiders last year, winning 24-20 in the season opener in Oakland and later 24-16 in San Diego. The question that can be answered this week is can the Chargers win on the road? So far - nope. But that should change this week.

San Diego Chargers (2-2)
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 W 41-10 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 at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers - - 230,2
RB Ryan Mathews 80,1 10 -
TE Antonio Gates - 80,1 -
WR Malcolm Floyd - 50,1 -
WR Buster Davis - 20 -
WR Legedu Naanee - 30 -
PK Nate Kaeding 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: Odd pattern that the Chargers have fallen into with no road wins against what should have been softer opponents. But the next two weeks should reveal if there really is trouble away from San Diego and why the defense slips a notch as well. Ryan Mathews is back and healthy this week which will help and Antonio Gates has been perhaps more dominating than ever. But the defense is more where the problems have lied.

QUARTERBACK: Four weeks into the season and Philip Rivers has yet to throw for less than two touchdowns in a game. He settled for an uncharacteristically low 241 pass yards against the Cardinals but it was a rout that featured 155 rushing yards. That could happen again this week with the Raiders #30 ranked defense against running backs. Rivers has been consistently good though and even without the high yardage should manage a couple of scores again.

Rivers passed for 252 yards and one score in Oakland last year.

RUNNING BACKS: Mike Tolbert was the starting back last week and totaled 100 yards and a score on 16 carries but that wasn't an indictment on Ryan Mathews who had nine runs for 55 yards and a touchdown as well. HC Norv Turner said that he did not start Mathews because he was still getting over a high ankle sprain and elbow strain and was just taking it easier on the rookie in a game where the Chargers were never that challenged.

Mathews will get more carries this week and going against the soft Raiders defense should result in a decent game. The Raiders have already allowed five rushing touchdowns and only the Rams failed to notch over 100 rushing yards on them. Played in Oakland makes it a bit tougher even if there is no one in the stands but Mathews is a must start this week and Tolbert returns to a more complementary role.

The Chargers gained 88 yards on 22 carries in Oakland last season and scored twice on the ground.

WIDE RECEIVERS: This team has been feasting on Antonio Gates with little left over for the wide receivers. Malcolm Floyd is as close to consistent as these players come but he has two games with less than 50 yards already and Legedu Naanee has been nearly invisible since his big week one in Kansas City. Patrick Crayton is starting to show up with three catches for 57 yards in week three but he was blanked in week four.

This week facing the very good secondary of the Raiders should continue to depress the stats here unless Nnamdi Asomugha tries to cover Antonio Gates. It would be a waste for him to take his natural matchup against Naanee but the Raiders won't tip their hand as to where he will be. I like one score here and Floyd is only incrementally more likely to catch it than the others.

TIGHT ENDS: Antonio Gates has been unstoppable. He already had six touchdowns on the season and twice topped 100 yards in a game. He has been effective regardless of venue and taken up all the slack from the absence of Vincent Jackson. He's a must start that so far has been golden every week.

Gates recorded five catches for 83 yards in Oakland last year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 3 4 15 1 19 4
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 10 30 4 14 11 24
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) SD 7 26 -11 13 -8 20


Oakland Raiders (1-3)
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN L 13-38 10 Bye -
2 STL W 16-14 11 @PIT --
3 @ARI L 23-24 12 MIA --
4 HOU L 24-31 13 @SD --
5 SD -- 14 @JAC --
6 @SF -- 15 DEN --
7 @DEN -- 16 IND --
8 SEA -- 17 @KC --
9 KC -- - - -
Raiders Report | Statistics | Roster
OAKLAND vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Bruce Gradkowski - - 190,1
RB Michael Bush 70,1 20 -
TE Zach Miller - 60,1 -
WR Louis Murphy - 30 -
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins - 30 -
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey - 40 -
PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Sadly the Raiders are still in the "close but not close enough" mode and facing the Chargers has not been a way to break that trend. HC Tom Cable is on a hot seat that hasn't cooled yet and now it appears the one breakthrough for the season - Darren McFadden - has once again injured his hamstring as he did this summer and pretty much every other month since he has been in the league. For an offense just starting to come together, it may be back to square one if McFadden takes time to heal.

QUARTERBACK: Bruce Gradkowski hurt his shoulder last week but says he'll be fine to start this week. He comes off a season best game of 278 yards and two scores against the visiting Texans and he's had at least one score in every game he has started. While his production is middle of the road stuff, that's a huge improvement over Jamarcus Russell who was more off the road, in the ditch and covered with roadside trash.

The Chargers have a very good secondary though they just lost a safety to a four game suspension. No opponent has thrown for more than one score of 220 yards and without McFadden there as a relief valve, figure on a down game for Gradkowski.

RUNNING BACKS: Darren McFadden pulled up lame on a long run last week and his hamstring will likely keep him out this week. McFadden has been a force as a runner and receiver but will be replaced by Michael Bush if he doesn't play. Michael Bennett also pulled a hamstring so the Raiders may try to sign a free agent tailback just to have warm bodies on the roster.

Bush will get the full load but faces one of the best rushing defenses in the league. They have allowed only one touchdown and since week one have given up no more than 63 rushing yards to any individual runner. The Raiders will look to rely on Bush heavily this week and that should result in a decent game but he's not likely to score more than once or have big yardage. Bush has not carried the ball more than seven times in a game so far so he'll be plenty fresh if not a bit rusty this week.

WIDE RECEIVERS: This group has relied on Louis Murphy for most of the stats but he had an aggravated collar bone injury that nearly kept him out last week. And all Murphy did playing in pain against the Texans was to re-aggravate it and catch one pass. I am going to assume that he can play this week but will be very limited. I will update as needed. There is no reason to consider any other wideout on this team.

TIGHT ENDS: Zach Miller is the primary receiver for this team and comes off an 11 catch, 122 yard game with one score against the Texans. His two receiving scores are tops for the team and will no doubt be a big factor in the game plan for this home game. He's the best tight end to yet face the Chargers.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 13 3 26 8 4 28
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 2 3 5 13 12 32
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) OAK -11 0 -21 5 8 4

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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