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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 5
October 6, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM Mon 9 PM
DET at ATL MIA at NE* BUF at NYJ STL at SEA TEN at GB
NYG at DAL TB at NO* CAR at DEN* Sun 8:30 PM Bye Week:
MIN at HOU* CLE at PIT* JAX at SD* BAL at WAS CHI, CIN
OAK at IND* Times ET ARZ at SF* *updated KC, PHI
  Carolina Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Delhomme 10 0 190,1
RB De'shaun Foster 20 10 0
RB Stephen Davis 50,1 10 0
TE Kris Mangum 0 10 0
WR Muhsin Muhammad 0 40 0
WR Ricky Proehl 0 50,1 0
WR Keary Colbert 0 50 0
PK John Kasay 1 FG 2 XP -
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 30,1 0 180,1
RB Tatum Bell 60 0 0
RB Reuben Droughns 20 10 0
RB Quentin Griffin 80 10 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 40,1 0
WR Rod Smith 0 60 0
WR Darius Watts 0 20 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 40 0
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 2 XP -

CAR (1-2) vs DEN (3-1)

Game Prediction: CAR 17, DEN 20

Winning an NFC Championship means getting your games circled on the calendar this season instead of just another "who we playing this week, coach?" Denver continues to try to find a 2004 identity this year but at least they are winning during the effort.

Pre-Game Notes - CAR

The Panthers come off a very painful loss to the Falcons in a game that means they cannot dismiss the Green Bay game as a fluke (nor should they since the Packers have lost all the others this year). The vaunted defense has yet to look even mediocre and without Steve Smith and Stephen Davis, this looks like just another team.

Quarterback: What a difference one wideout must be making. After posting 284 yards and two scores in week one, Jake Delhomme fell to only 180 yards passing against the Chiefs with two interceptions in their only win of the season. Then against the Falcons, Delhomme threw for 308 yards but no scores and still two more interceptions. With Smith out, Delhomme has shifted to Muhammad as the primary receiver and that's hardly as productive as Smith would be.

Running Backs: De'Shaun Foster had a monster game against the Chiefs but only managed 51 yards on 19 carries last week though he scored once. At this point, it appears that Stephen Davis may get back to practice this week and while he may play, I am assuming that Foster gets one more shot until other word is given. Davis is recuperating from minor knee surgery and will have a status update later in the week. The Panthers need Davis since Foster does not have the power to get the tough yards like Davis does.

Update: Stephen Davis is listed as questionable but is expected to play and is back in practice. Since this is his first week back, I am expecting there to be more sharing with Foster than would normally happen.

Wide Receivers: Last week Muhsin Muhammad had a big statistical game with 114 yards on seven catches, but he also had a fumble that was returned for a score and dropped another probable touchdown pass. Keary Colbert was quiet with only 40 yards on four catches and the similarities between he and Steve Smith are no longer spoken. Colbert will get better and the Panthers need him to fulfill the promise they saw this summer in training camp.

Tight Ends: There's no Wesley Walls equivalent in this bunch. Trust me.

Match Against the Defense: Other than getting ripped by Priest Holmes in week one, this defense has held up very well against Michael Pittman (15-72) and even LaDainian Tomlinson (22-60). The Panther offense is not that complex which means primarily only two wideouts figure heavily into the passing game. Now that Champ Bailey is there, that makes it only one wideout to worry about. The rest of the defense can target the runner.

Expect a lower rushing game from the Panthers even though they'll want desperately to establish one. Bailey is slotted against Keary Colbert, but he's really playing the "uber-corner" which means he gets the best receiver. That should throw him back over against Muhammad this week and that would give Colbert a good game - if Denver keeps that up all afternoon. One of the two receivers will have a decent game and should likely score once, but you cannot really examine the matchups against Denver since they'll swap the coverages during the game as the situation dictates. Given the woes of Portis in Washington lately, I think the Bailey trade went pretty well for them. So do they.

Pre-Game Notes - DEN

For the want of one last second pass by the Jaguars, the Broncos could be 4-0 right now. Back at home, they'll face the Panthers knowing that the two opponents so far - KC and SD - both lost by ten points there. The offense is still not clicking in Denver but the defense has been good enough to carry the games. Should be again.

Quarterback: While Jake Plummer has not had any really big games yet outside the one 294 yard effort against the Chargers, he's faced two very tough defenses in the Jaguars and Buccaneers both on the road. He's also not had a turnover in the last three games while doing a nice job at spreading the passes around.

Running Backs: Quentin Griffin was underwhelming, again, gaining only 66 yards on 21 carries last week in Tampa Bay. Outside of his big week one against the Chiefs, he's not even managed three yards a carry or more than 66 rushing yards in a game. His ankle was sprained last week and he did not finish the game but early reports are that he will be okay by Sunday and play, even if he is held out of early practices. In spite of the poor rushing last week, Tatum Bell was never used though he did suit up but that had mostly to do with the lack of comfort in his blocking skills against a good defense.

Update: Quentin Griffin still has not practiced this week and is questionable to play. He may end up a game time decision but given his less than stellar numbers recently and an ankle sprain that has kept him out of practice this week, it appears more likely that both Tatum Bell and Reuben Droughns will be playing. Their sharing ratio can't really be known since there is conflicting word on which one will be considered the primary runner. I am awarding more yardage to Bell but it could be Droughns just as easily. Lots of risk here this week and against a tough run defense as well.

Wide Receivers: In Tampa Bay, Plummer only had 138 yards on 13 completions and only eight went to the wideouts. Rod Smith was the best with only four catches for 32 yards but both he and Ashley Lelie should rebound this week since both figured heavily into the Jacksonville game that was tough as well. With the running game still not a big factor, Smith and Lelie will need to come up better this week in order to win. That's a pretty tall order against one of the better secondaries in the league.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier led all receivers against the Bucs when he caught only two passes for 42 yards. In the last two weeks that gives him seven catches for 108 yards - hardly Shannon Sharpe but better than the average NFL tight end.

Match Against the Defense: The Panthers rush defense was pretty good against Priest Holmes, but that was when there was little respect against the pass which Denver should command in some part. Last week the Panthers let Dunn and Duckett combine for 139 yards and two scores and in week one, Green and Fisher combined for 151 yards and two scores as well. Assuming Griffin plays, the Broncos won't reach that level of rushing but Griffin knows his window of opportunity is closing with poor play the last three weeks. The slower nature of Panther games normally leads to at least 20 or more carries by the opponent, so Griffin needs to gain at least 80 yards here to keep the whispers from continuing.

Plummer faces a secondary that has allowed only one touchdown in spite of their 1-2 record and that was to Ahman Green on a pass. Both Lelie and Smith will have tougher times here though Putzier is a good play based on what Gonzalez (4-63) and Crumpler (5-85) were able to do. Both tight ends led their teams when they played against the Panthers.

CAR DEN 2003 Averages DEN CAR
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
155
147
Pass yards
228
110
1.7
0.5
Pass TDs
1.3
0.3
1.0
0.3
Interceptions
0.5
0.3
0
8
Rush yards
19
5
0.0
0.3
Rush TDs
0.0
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
73
64
Rush yards
93
77
0.3
0.3
Rush TDs
0.5
1.0
40
11
Receive yards
28
17
0.3
0.0
Receive TD's
0.8
0.3
---
---
WR's
---
---
109
115
Receive yards
152
59
0.7
0.5
Receive TD's
0.5
0.0
---
---
TE's
---
---
6
21
Receive yards
46
34
0.7
0.0
Receive TD's
0.0
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
0.0
1.3
Field Goals
2.5
0.7
2.0
1.0
Extra Points
1.8
1.7
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.3
0.8
Fumbles
0.5
0.3
0.3
0.0
Interceptions
0.3
1.0
0.0
0.0
Touchdowns
0.0
0.3
1.7
0.8
Sacks
2.0
1.0
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Panthers (1-2)
Score Opp.
14-24 GB
28-17 @KC
Week 3 bye
10-27 ATL
Week 5 @DEN
Week 6 @PHI
Week 7 SD
Week 8 @SEA
Week 9 OAK
Week 10 @SF
Week 11 ARI
Week 12 TB
Week 13 @NO
Week 14 STL
Week 15 @ATL
Week 16 @TB
Week 17 NO
Broncos (3-1)
Score Opp.
34-24 KC
6-7 @JAX
23-13 SD
16-13 @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