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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 15
December 15, 2004
Season Ticket
Saturday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
PIT at NYG 1 * BUF at CIN * SD at CLE* STL at ARZ BAL at IND *
WAS at SF 5 * HOU at CHI SEA at NYJ DEN at KC * Mon 9 PM
CAR at ATL 8:30 JAX at GB * DAL at PHI * NO at TB NE at MIA*
Times ET MIN at DET TEN at OAK * *updated Times ET
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 0 0 260,3
RB Reuben Droughns 60,1 10 0
RB Tatum Bell 80 10 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 30 0
WR Rod Smith 0 110,2 0
WR Darius Watts 0 30 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 80,1 0
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 4 XP -
  Kansas City Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 0 0 250,2
RB Larry Johnson 100,1 30 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 80,1 0
WR Johnnie Morton 0 70,1 0
WR Dante Hall 0 20 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 80,1 0
PK Lawrence Tynes 2 FG 3 XP -

DEN (8-5) vs KC (5-8)

Game Prediction: DEN 31, KC 27

This is a rematch of week one when the Broncos won 34-24.

Pre-Game Notes - DEN

The Broncos held on to out last the Dolphins last week in a game that should not have been so close - unless they were looking ahead to this week. At 8-5, Denver is in the thick of the wildcard race but are only 3-3 on the road this season.

Update: This game remains a bit messy. Derrick Blaylock appears likely to miss this week so I have shifted projections to Larry Johnson by himself for the KC running backs.

Tatum Bell is now back in practice - to some extent - but the Broncos think that Bell will be able to get a shot in his sprained shoulder and try to play. If he plays in pain and has a good game, it will counteract his reputation as a fragile player and he'll likely try to gut it out as best he can. I am splitting the carries between he and Droughns but it all depends on how well Bell's shoulder holds up and how effective he is running. This game could unfold as anything between Bell running wild to having him hardly carry and Droughns goes off. Or neither does that much. Welcome to the Denver running game.

The Broncos had Champ Bailey shut down Gonzalez in the previous matchup but there's no word on if they will do that again or have Bailey go against Kennison and let the rest of the secondary worry about Gonzalez.

Johnnie Morton has a sore knee and has not practiced so it appears he will likely miss this week. He has been removed from the projections. I now slightly favor the Broncos in this matchup in a must-win game for them.

Quarterback: After 14 weeks, Jake Plummer has gone from miracle worker to being a miracle if he doesn't kill the team's chances. He only went 16 of 30 for 219 against the Dolphins with no scores and two interceptions. He only managed 16 of 40 for 278 yards and no scores against the Chargers with four very painful interceptions. Plummer needs a big game here to quell the "same old Jake" talk going around Denver now.

Plummer threw for 230 yards and two scores in the first meeting against the Chiefs.

Running Backs: Last week saw Reuben Droughns fumble twice on the first offensive series, losing the second one on the Miami 19-yard line. Tatum Bell was inserted into the lineup and suddenly looked like the top draft choice he was supposed to be. Bell ran for 123 yards and two scores on only 17 carries before separating his shoulder two quarters later. First he was reported with a third-degree sprain ending his season. Then Bell says that it's not that bad and he may be able to play this week. HC Mike Shanahan has said that Bell was likely out, then he is likely in depending on his tolerance for pain. Oh yes, and Reuben Droughns has a pinched nerve in his neck that is being examined and the results are not known as of this writing. There is concern that Droughns is wearing down anyway.

This is all we need - Shanahan with a situation that would be uncertain even without the normal Denver spin.

I am assuming for now that Droughns plays and that Bell sits out this week. But look for Friday updates as hopefully it will be clearer then. Probably. Maybe. It's Denver - we won't really know until it happens.

In what seems like years past, back in week one was when Quentin Griffin ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns with another score coming on a one-yard pass. It was the peak of his season. Actually it may have been his entire career experienced in just one game.

Wide Receivers: While the passing woes have hit Plummer, it really has not gone against Rod Smith or Ashley Lelie as much. Smith has remained productive with only one bad game in the last seven weeks while Lelie has been a solid fantasy starter since week five. The touchdowns have obviously been absent lately, but the yardage for either has not dipped below 60 or 70 yards a game lately. In week one against the Chiefs, Rod Smith had 76 yards and Lelie gained 88 yards but neither scored.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier is good for around 30 yards per game but the only tight end of note in Denver is Shannon Sharpe who is retired and yet still cannot shut up. He's publicly been running down both Shanahan and Plummer.

Match Against the Defense: Make no bones about it - the Chiefs have a horrible defense. The only question is if the defense is able to outscore what the defense gives away. On a good day, the Chiefs rushing defense is almost average and yet the pass defense only gets worse every week. They've allowed at least 315 passing yards to each of the last four opponents with ten passing scores allowed in that time. If Plummer can look good again, here is where it will happen.

Expect, at least, that Plummer has a good game because if he cannot gain at least 250 yards and two scores against this secondary, then he has no business as a starting quarterback. What happens in the rushing game is unknown with the injuries to both Bell and Droughns, but they could play into even more need to pass.

Pre-Game Notes - KC

The Chiefs come off a two game winning streak - both on the road. They now freely admit there is no hope that the opponent will score less than 24 points so the offense has to post more. They've scored at least 31 points in each of the last three games. As a testament to how bad the defense is, the Chiefs are the second highest scoring team in the NFL and yet have also allowed the most points again in the league. That all equals 5-8 on the year.

Quarterback: Trent Green had a terrible game back in week one against Denver, only throwing for 174 yards and one interception. In the last seven weeks, he's either thrown for 300+ yards or three touchdowns or both in all but one game. Back in week one, he did not have healthy receivers or Gonzalez though they all played. Now with a full complement of receivers, he's posting big numbers in most games thanks to a defense that keeps returning to the sideline after giving up yet another score.

Running Backs: Derrick Blaylock only gained 51 yards on 14 carries last week with one score and he was outplayed by Larry Johnson who ran only seven times for 104 yards and two scores. Blaylock has been bothered by a sore neck but Johnson is very fresh after two years of little work. There is now speculation that Johnson will be the starter this week which makes some sense since it has been a month since Blaylock has turned in a big game.

I am assuming that Johnson will start and that Blaylock will back him up. Updates on Friday as more is known.

Wide Receivers: Eddie Kennison has been a goldmine in the last five weeks. Bracketing around the one catch, nine yard effort against the Chargers have been four games with a total of six scores and 437 receiving yards. Johnnie Morton had a score last week but only 45 yards and he's done little in the last few weeks. Kennison had 101 yards in the first game against the Broncos - about 60% of all passing yardage in the game for Kansas City, while Morton only had 30 yards.

Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez had 76 yards on seven catches to lead the Chiefs last week. He hasn't scored since week nine but remains good for at least 70 yards in almost every game for the past six weeks. Gonzalez only had 17 yards in the first meeting with Denver, though he was still hampered by a foot injury at that time.

Match Against the Defense: The Broncos have been tough against the run this season and there's still a question of which running back will play this week anyway. Don't expect much more than a moderate game from either Larry Johnson or Derrick Blaylock unless the Chiefs manage an early lead and try to speed up the game clock by running.

The Denver secondary has played very well this season - though both Brooks and Collins have recently thrown for over 300 yards against them. With the running game more likely to be only moderate by trend, the passing game will have to answer big for the Chiefs to stay in the game and with all the KC receivers playing well lately, this should end up a points war.

DEN KC 2004 Averages KC DEN
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
250
283 Pass yards 279
199
1.7
1.9 Pass TDs 1.6
0.9
1.3
0.7 Interceptions 0.9
0.8
11
11 Rush yards 5
14
0.0
0.3 Rush TDs 0.0
0.2
---
--- RB's ---
---
123
93 Rush yards 137
73
0.7
1.1 Rush TDs 2.0
0.7
31
49 Receive yards 49
21
0.5
0.2 Receive TD's 0.2
0.0
---
--- WR's ---
---
173
180 Receive yards 150
148
0.9
1.2 Receive TD's 0.8
0.9
---
--- TE's ---
---
45
53 Receive yards 80
31
0.3
0.5 Receive TD's 0.6
0.0
---
--- PK's ---
---
1.6
1.2 Field Goals 1.1
1.3
2.5
3.1 Extra Points 3.5
1.5
---
--- DEF/ST ---
---
0.5
0.8 Fumbles 0.5
0.9
0.8
0.8 Interceptions 0.7
0.8
0.2
0.2 Touchdowns 0.2
0.1
2.2
1.8 Sacks 2.5
0.8
0.0
0.0 Safeties 0.0
0.0
Broncos (8-5)
Score Opp.
34-24 KC
6-7 @JAX
23-13 SD
16-13 @TB
20-17 CAR
31-3 @OAK
10-23 @CIN
28-41 ATL
31-13 HOU
Week 10 bye
34-13 @NO
24-25 OAK
17-20 @SD
20-17 MIA
Week 15 @KC
Week 16 @TEN
Week 17 IND
Chiefs (5-8)
Score Opp.
24-34 @DEN
17-28 CAR
21-24 HOU
27-24 @BAL
Week 5 bye
16-22 @JAX
56-10 ATL
45-35 IND
31-34 @TB
20-27 @NO
19-27 NE
31-34 SD
34-27 @OAK
49-38 @TEN
Week 15 DEN
Week 16 OAK
Week 17 @SD