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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 3
September 22, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM
ARZ at ATL* CHI at MIN JAX at TEN SF at SEA* DAL at WAS*
BAL at CIN PIT at MIA Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
HOU at KC* CLE at NYG* SD at DEN* TB at OAK BUF, CAR
PHI at DET NO at STL* GB at IND* *updated NE, NYJ
  San Diego Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 210,1
RB L. Tomlinson 80,1 40 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 40 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 50 0
WR Eric Parker 0 40,1 0
WR Tim Dwight 0 10 0
PK Nate Kaeding 0 FG 2 XP -
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 10 0 230,2
RB Quentin Griffin 110,1 20 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 20 0
WR Rod Smith 0 80,1 0
WR Darius Watts 0 30 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 60,1 0
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 3 XP -

SD (1-1) vs DEN (1-1)

Game Prediction: SD 14, DEN 27

In this matchup last season, the Broncos squeaked past by margins of 24 and 29 points. And this year the Broncos have a better defense.

Pre-Game Notes - SD

The Chargers are tied for the 3rd highest points scored in the NFL . Just because you can post points doesn't mean you'll win games - just ask Kansas City. Make that Kansas City 2003.

Quarterback: Drew Brees completed only 8 of 19 for 146 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a fumble before leaving the Jets game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. He's feeling better and expected to be back to practice on Wednesday and play on Sunday.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson went back to his productive ways in the passing game last week when had had 76 yards on only three catches to add to his 87 yards on 19 runs. He scored once and right now, it seems that he's about the only running back in the NFL that is not injured. He totaled 163 yards against the Jets but he's always had problems with the Broncos.

Wide Receivers: With minimal passing, the wideouts took the hit last week but once again Reche Caldwell came out on top, leading the crew with four catches for 67 yards and another touchdown to add to the one he had the week before. Caldwell has been the only consistent receiver for the Bolts while Eric Parker - one of those sleeper types this summer - has only three catches for 44 yards in two games though one was a score.

Don't look for much more this week. Denver played this group tough all last year and now has Champ Bailey versus a concussed Drew Brees.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates only had four catches for 29 yards last week but he had ten passes which easily led in receiving targets for the team. He'll likely be even more involved this week with the cornerbacks taking away the wideouts. Gates sprained his foot in last week's game but I am assuming he will be able to play since he is a major cog in the passing. Updates if warranted.

Update: Gates is still hampered by his sore foot and did not work out on Wednesday or Thursday but remains confident that he will play on Sunday. I have lowered his numbers slightly and changed the touchdown from him to Eric Parker as the most likely recipient but if Gates does end up healthy for the game he would be the better play. Chances are good that the Chargers will be forced to the passing game early and with upgraded cornerbacks in Denver, it would be a good opportunity for Gates.

Match Against the Defense: Playing in Denver after they just lost a close game to the Jaguars is not a great recipe for notching the first Charger win. No surprise here - Tomlinson will get plenty of use but beyond him, the passing game will likely shrink down to mainly Tomlinson and Gates since the rush will be coming hard and the secondary is upgraded for Denver.

Pre-Game Notes - DEN

While Culpepper may have lost a fumble that should have been a touchdown, at least he didn't fumble away the certain game-winning field goal like Quentin Griffin did. HC Mike Shanahan has come to the defense of Griffin and there should be no hard feelings over the mistake but it will be interesting to see if it affects the running style of Griffin at all. Against the Chargers? Probably wouldn't matter that much anyway.

Quarterback: While Jake Plummer (23-39, 250) was effective enough last week, he had no scores but no errors. That should change now on Sunday since the Chargers gave him two of his best games last season (three touchdowns in San Diego and another three in the game in Denver). Look for Plummer to have his best week of the young season now.

Running Backs: While Quentin Griffin did fumble away an excellent chance to win the game, he's showing more durability than some expected with 48 carries on the season so far. The running was naturally far tougher in Jacksonville than against the Chiefs and Griffin only managed 66 yards on 24 carries with five catches for 29 yards as well. There is some word from Denver that they may resort to using Tatum Bell a bit more as a goal line and short yardage back. Bell gained 16 yards last week on his only four carries.

Griffin should have the cure for any blues left over from the Jaguars game. He faces the Charger rush defense that has allowed both opposing running backs to both score twice against them.

Wide Receivers: Rod Smith continues as the primary receiver, grabbing six passes for 83 yards last week and seven for 76 the previous game. He still has not scored. Ashley Lelie is taking a much needed step forward as well, catching three balls for 53 yards last week to add to his 4-88 against the Chiefs. While Plummer did have great games last year against the Chargers, he never threw a score to any wideout in those games.

Darius Watts had five throws last week but only caught one for 11 yards. This remains the Smith/Lelie show.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier (2-12) is not about to make anyone forget Shannon Sharpe any time soon.

Match Against the Defense:The Broncos come off a tough road loss to the Jaguars and the Chargers are the exactly right opponent to make them feel good about themselves again. They had great success against San Diego last year and so far in 2004, every offense has loved playing the Chargers.

Look for Griffin to get back over the century mark and Jake Plummer to connect a couple of times for scores. This should not be a game to overlook. It should be a game to take advantage of and it comes right when the Broncos need it.

SD DEN 2003 Averages DEN SD
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
216
152
Pass yards
240
244
1.5
0.5
Pass TDs
1.0
1.0
1.0
0.5
Interceptions
1.0
1.0
6
5
Rush yards
29
7
0.5
0.0
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
111
49
Rush yards
127
110
1.0
0.5
Rush TDs
1.0
2.0
40
12
Receive yards
20
93
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
1.0
0.5
---
---
WR's
---
---
95
119
Receive yards
179
137
1.5
0.5
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
TE's
---
---
81
21
Receive yards
36
14
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.5
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.0
0.5
Field Goals
2.0
2.0
3.5
1.0
Extra Points
2.0
3.0
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.0
1.0
Fumbles
0.0
1.0
1.0
0.0
Interceptions
0.5
1.0
0.5
0.0
Touchdowns
0.0
0.0
1.0
1.0
Sacks
1.5
1.0
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Chargers (1-1)
Score Opp.
27-20 @HOU
28-34 NYJ
Week 3 @DEN
Week 4 TEN
Week 5 JAX
Week 6 @ATL
Week 7 @CAR
Week 8 OAK
Week 9 NO
Week 10 bye
Week 11 @OAK
Week 12 @KC
Week 13 DEN
Week 14 TB
Week 15 @CLE
Week 16 @IND
Week 17 KC
Broncos (1-1)
Score Opp.
34-24 KC
6-7 @JAX
Week 3 SD
Week 4 @TB
Week 5 CAR
Week 6 @OAK
Week 7 @CIN
Week 8 ATL
Week 9 HOU
Week 10 bye
Week 11 @NO
Week 12 OAK
Week 13 @SD
Week 14 MIA
Week 15 @KC
Week 16 @TEN
Week 17 IND