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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: STL 24, DET 20

Update: Both Jahvid Best and Nate Burleson have been limited in practice this week but are expected to play. Steven Jackson has been limited but says he feels as good as he has in weeks.

Update #2: Best still has only had limited practice and was listed as questionable on the injury report. Be aware that he carries at least some risk though all other signs indicate that he is going to play.

The Rams have won two straight and are already tied for the NFC West division lead. The Lions are 0-4 while coming off their second loss by a field goal or less. The problem here is that the Rams cannot possibly get stuck in a trap game because they are not that good. But the Lions are still without Matt Stafford and now facing a defense that has not allowed more than 17 points to any opponent. Only the Steelers have allowed fewer points in the first four weeks and only two less than the Rams (52).

The Rams won 17-10 in Detroit last season.

St. Louis Rams (2-2)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 ARI L 13-17 10 @SF --
2 @OAK L 14-16 11 ATL --
3 WAS W 30-16 12 @DEN --
4 SEA W 20-3 13 @ARI --
5 @DET -- 14 @NO --
6 SD -- 15 KC --
7 @TB -- 16 SF --
8 CAR -- 17 @SEA --
9 Bye - - - -
Rams Report | Statistics | Roster
ST. LOUIS at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Sam Bradford - - 240,2
RB Steven Jackson 90, 1 20 -
TE Daniel Fells - 30 -
WR Brandon Gibson - 40 -
WR Danny Amendola - 50,1 -
WR Mark Clayton - 70,1 -
PK Josh Brown 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: It is an exciting time, finally, to be a Rams fan with a team that has created a defense far better than any in recent memory and and an offense that can post some points in all different sorts of ways. Sam Bradford only gets more impressive and Steven Jackson is playing in pain. It is still a long season ahead, but the Rams take the lead on being the "most improved" team.

QUARTERBACK: Sam Bradford comes off a season best game with 289 yards and two scores against the Seahawks. He still has yet to have a game without at least one interception but for the last three games - it has only been that one interception. Bradford already has six touchdowns on the season and is on a pace to end with over 3700 passing yards.

He faces the Lions this week and they have never failed to allow at least one score if not three. They have given up eight passing touchdowns and plentiful yardage for both Jay Cutler and Michael Vick. Expect a solid showing again this week with two scores and good yardage.

RUNNING BACKS: While his groin was still an issue and forced him to wear special pads, Steven Jackson still was able to gut it out last week without any meaningful practice time and still had 70 rushing yards and three catches for 54 more yards. He has only scored once this year but Jackson has been consistent with yardage and now plays with pain. He was reported as fine after the game so he should be even better this week.

The Lions have allowed huge yardage to runners like LeSean McCoy (120, 3 TDs) and Adrian Peterson (160 yards, 2 TD) so look for at least a good game here with a chance for big numbers.

Jackson rushed for 149 yards on 22 carries and scored once in Detroit last year.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Laurent Robinson remained out last week but he's been a nonfactor anyway. Mark Clayton (5-72) and Danny Amendola (5-46) were the lead wide receivers and Clayton is getting heavily targeted each week. He's even been used on an end around against the Seahawks. Outside of Clayton this unit has minor yardage but Bradford has already scored using four different wide receivers. Brandon Gibson (3-50, TD) replaced Robinson.

The Lions are weak on the pass and against wide receivers in particular. Clayton should managed to score in this game and another one could end up with one of these wideouts. I will point it to Amendola but just to put it somewhere.

TIGHT ENDS: Daniel Fells scored in week three and posted 35 yards on three catches just last week. He's just a bit player but Bradford looks his way about four times every week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 17 18 9 18 10 12
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 29 32 21 9 9 25
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) STL 12 14 12 -9 -1 13


Detroit Lions (0-4)
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @CHI L 14-19 10 @BUF --
2 PHI L 32-35 11 @DAL --
3 @MIN L 10-24 12 NE --
4 @GB L 26-28 13 CHI --
5 STL -- 14 GB --
6 @NYG -- 15 @TB --
7 Bye - 16 @MIA --
8 WAS -- 17 MIN --
9 NYJ -- - - -
Lions Report | Statistics | Roster
DETROIT vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Shaun Hill - - 250,1
RB Jahvid Best 70,1 50 -
TE Brandon Pettigrew - 80 -
WR Calvin Johnson - 60,1 -
WR Bryant Johnson - 20 -
WR Nate Burleson - 20 -
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Losing by two points in Green Bay? They should have just given it to the Lions for coming so close. But three of the four losses have been by five or fewer points. And as with most all recent years, teams play it close with the Lions knowing they can win it at the end. This week seemed like a shoo-in for the first win but the Rams are playing very good defense and the offense is already good enough. If it doesn't happen here, it will need to be a trap game.

QUARTERBACK: Matthew Stafford is getting close to returning from his shoulder sprain but likely won't make it back quite yet. That leaves Shaun Hill as the starter for the Lions and he's been very effective in relief. In three weeks, he had two efforts that went over 330 yards and two scores in each including the only other home game (vs. PHI). Sure, he has two interceptions each week and probably game killing ones but in fantasy terms, Hill has been a nice surprise.

Stafford passed for 168 yards and no scores against the Rams last year.

The Rams have not allowed more than one passing score per opponent and most have lower yardage as well. Expect a step back for Hill this week but still solid stats.

RUNNING BACKS: Jahvid Best managed to play with his turf toe and gained 50 yards on just 12 carries with 34 more yards added from five receptions. Best returns home for only the second time this season and should be better than last week. The Lions again are talking about getting more work for Kevin Smith but long as Best can be effective, he'll always be taking the biggest chunk of carries.

The Rams have been tough on opposing running backs and only Tim Hightower managed to score a touchdown. But the weakest effort against the run for the Rams came in their only other road game when Darren McFadden gained 145 yards on 30 carries. These Rams are very good on defense but with Best, it all depends on whether or not he can break a long gainer. Chances are he can.

The Lions rushed for 123 yards on 32 carries against the Rams last year.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Calvin Johnson had a season high six catches for 86 yards and two scores in Green Bay and is unfortunately starting to mesh well with Shaun Hill. Nate Burleson has been out with a high ankle sprain but expects to return this week and will be included in the projections. Burleson has not caught more than one pass per game but that is actually an upgrade over Bryant Johnson.

The Rams only real weakness so far on defense has been against the pass and in particular to the #1 receiver for the opponent. Expect a score from Calvin Johnson again this Sunday but his yardage will remain below 100 yards. No other wideouts here are worth any consideration and Johnson has all three touchdown passes that went to wide receivers.

TIGHT ENDS: Brandon Pettigrew continues to post impressive stats. After a seven catch, 60 yard game with a touchdown in week three, he followed that up with eight catches for 91 yards in Green Bay last weekend. That is partially the result from defenses taking away the wide receivers in their routes, but still in encouraging for what the future may look like in Detroit.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 9 2 27 2 18 8
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 9 11 22 2 19 16
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) DET 0 9 -5 0 1 8

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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