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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 16
December 22, 2004
Season Ticket
Friday Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
GB at MIN CHI at DET ATL at NO * NE at NYJ * CLE at MIA
Saturday NYG at CIN * BAL at PIT BUF at SF * Mon 9 PM
DEN at TEN 8:30 HOU at JAX * CAR at TB WAS at DAL PHI at STL
OAK at KC 5 * SD at IND * Good Luck!!! ARZ at SEA *updated
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 20,1 0 280,2
RB Reuben Droughns 80,1 0 0
RB Tatum Bell 60,1 20 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 30 0
WR Rod Smith 0 110,1 0
WR Triandos Luke 0 30 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 90,1 0
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 5 XP -
  Tennessee Rush Catch Pass
QB Billy Volek 0 0 250,3
RB Antowain Smith 50 10 0
TE Ben Troupe 0 40 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 90,2 0
WR Eddie Berlin 0 20 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 80,1 0
PK Gary Anderson 1 FG 3 XP -

DEN (8-6) vs TEN (4-10)

Game Prediction: DEN 38, TEN 24

The Broncos have lost three of their last four games but actually look much better than the Titans who are on a four game losing streak. Denver is only 3-4 on the road this season but a loss here would completely destroy any confidence that the Broncos may still have and likely set off a chain reaction during the offseason. Tennessee is just punching a time clock and praying for the season to end.

Update: Droughns has been named as the starting running back but what that means is always anyone's guess because it depends on the in game performances and the whim of Shanahan. I am splitting the numbers between Droughns and Bell who should also see some carries, but how that will play out is a big risk if you are relying on them.

Safest bet - avoid the situation. There is a chance either could have a monster game here and an equal chance that you end up starting the wrong one. If I had to bet, I would lean towards Bell.

Pre-Game Notes - DEN

Denver is again sliding late in the year and the offense that once was the powerhouse in the AFC has never been the same since #7 left the field. The last three weeks indicate that is not going to change any time soon.

Quarterback: Jake Plummer has not only fallen from grace, he's the object of most scorn in Denver now. Plummer has thrown only one touchdown against eight interceptions over the last three weeks but with final games of TEN and IND should manage to post some more respectable numbers. He needs them - badly.

Running Backs: What a mess and just when you have your fantasy playoffs. Tatum Bell gritted through the shoulder pain to play last week and had 50 yards on nine carries. He caught a pass that he ran for 58 yards down to the Chiefs one-yard line before the ball was stripped and dribbled out of the endzone for a touchback. He did not have a carry after that play.

Reuben Droughns only was given four runs that he gained 27 yards and Garrison Hearst came on the field for five carries for 26 yards and one touchdown. I am assuming that Bell is the primary carrier this week with some relief by Droughns but in Denver you can never be sure. One fumble and the runner is on the sideline.

Wide Receivers: Rod Smith is playing out a fine season and had his sixth touchdown for the year last week. He's been good for at least 75 yards in each of the last four games and has his best matchup of the year when he goes against the Titans secondary that is more "Promote" than "Prevent". Ashley Lelie has completely cooled from his great start to the year and has not scored since week 11. He only had 37 yards last week in a game that should have produced three times the production. He still gets the throws, they're just not very good from Plummer lately.

The rookie Triandos Luke is getting more playing time lately and has responded well. He had 40 yards on five catches last week while Darius Watts is disappearing completely. Watts has done nothing since week eight when he scored his only touchdown for the year and has not exceeded 27 yards in any game since then.

Tight Ends: Jeb Putzier will gain 30 yards this week. He has almost exactly that much in the last three games and has not scored since week nine.

Match Against the Defense: Denver needs a win very badly and the Titans defense has almost completely fallen apart. Expect that the Denver rushing game produces at least 120 total yards and one score or more and while Bell is the favorite to get most of it, last week showed nothing is written in stone.

Expect that Plummer finally gets back to some decent fantasy numbers this week against a secondary that has yielded 13 touchdowns in the last four games. If Kerry Collins can throw for five scores with little more than Jerry Porter, then Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie and an actual running game to worry about should produce excellent numbers from the passing game.

Pre-Game Notes - TEN

The Titans are now without McNair, Brown and Kinney. They have lost their last four games and the defense has given up 140 points in the last three games. Playing against the Titans in December has been like a Christmas present to the fantasy world.

Quarterback: Since the Titans have given up 140 points in the last three weeks and yet have faced three terrible defenses in IND, KC and OAK, it all means that Billy Volek suddenly looks like he should be Peyton Manning's brother. Volek has thrown for 426 and 492 yards in the last two weeks with four scores in each. Each week the Titans fall behind earlier and by a worse margin and Volek has been throwing up to 60 passes in a game.

Running Backs: Chris Brown has been shut down for the rest of the season and Antowain Smith takes over for the final two games. This is called a "step down" and comes at a time when the running game is being phased out as Volek passes on every play. Smith is a starting running back now but just does not get the opportunities to do much with it.

Wide Receivers: Drew Bennett has caught eight touchdowns in the last three weeks - something done only by Jerry Rice in NFL history. Bennett has 517 yards in the last three games and since opponents still think that Derrick Mason is the biggest worry, Bennett is killing the secondary. He's had 17 passes in each of the last two games and had 25 catches total for 393 yards. His explosion is relatively without precedent since he only had nine catches for 118 yards and no scores in the two games previous to this three week bonanza.

Derrick Mason hasn't produced the eye-popping numbers of Bennett, but he's still been solid with 121 yards and a score last week. That would seem great if he was not lining up across from Super-Bennett.

Tight Ends: Erron Kinney was out last week and likely will miss this game as well. Shad Meier filled in and only had two catches for two yards in a game with 492 passing yards. Ben Troupe was the star - his 75 yards on six catches with his first NFL touchdown gives reason to hope 2005 may prove to be promising from the rookie tight end.

Match Against the Defense: While the Broncos imploded last week and allowed 45 points to KC, they've been much better on defense than any of the last three defenses that TEN has faced. Champ Bailey is no longer feared but he'll undoubtedly get pitted against Bennett. How that plays out is no longer a certainty but Bennett's three game party should be at least toned down this week. The Broncos defense has been great in most games this year though with the amount of passes that TEN will undoubtedly throw, that may not hold up.

Expect at least moderate output from the TEN passing game with higher than average numbers since they'll be throwing a lot. Denver is going to be running a lot this week just to keep TEN from passing and that should depress the opportunities.

DEN TEN 2004 Averages TEN DEN
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
253
241
Pass yards
253
204
1.6
1.8
Pass TDs
1.8
1.1
1.4
1.1
Interceptions
1.2
0.7
12
5
Rush yards
13
13
0.0
0.1
Rush TDs
0.1
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
122
108
Rush yards
109
78
0.7
1.1
Rush TDs
0.6
0.8
35
30
Receive yards
36
20
0.4
0.0
Receive TD's
0.1
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
173
173
Receive yards
180
152
0.9
1.1
Receive TD's
1.3
1.1
---
---
TE's
---
---
45
39
Receive yards
39
33
0.3
0.6
Receive TD's
0.4
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.6
1.3
Field Goals
1.1
1.3
2.5
3.2
Extra Points
2.5
1.9
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.5
1.0
Fumbles
0.9
0.9
0.7
1.1
Interceptions
1.1
0.9
0.1
0.4
Touchdowns
0.1
0.1
2.2
2.7
Sacks
2.1
1.1
0.0
0.2
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Broncos (8-6)
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
17-45 @KC
Week 16 @TEN
Week 17 IND
Tennessee (4-10)
Score Opp.
17-7 @MIA
17-31 IND
12-15 JAX
17-38 @SD
48-27 @GB
10-20 HOU
3-20 @MIN
27-20 CIN
Week 9 bye
17-19 CHI
18-15 @JAX
21-31 @HOU
24-51 @IND
38-49 KC
35-40 @OAK
Week 16 DEN
Week 17 DET