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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 18, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at TBB NE at CAR Sun 4 PM MIA at NYJ Mon 9 PM
JAC at IND* PIT at HOU* STL at ARI *Update Times ET

Prediction: San Francisco 3, Philadelphia 23

The Eagles come off a loss in Atlanta and the 49ers are probably picking a very, very bad time to take in the sights and sounds of Philadelphia. Long as Philly can start the game with no players suddenly suspended, this one's already a done deal.

Update: Donovan McNabb is listed as questionable with a bruised chest and he was held of practice on Wednesday but returned on Thursday and says he intends on playing this week. I have lowered his numbers and the game score. McNabb does seem likely to play this week but the concern is that if the game gets out of reach for San Francisco, and I believe it will, then McNabb could end up getting pulled later on or just handing off more to prevent putting him in situations that could result in worsening his chest. He could still have a monster game here anyway, but the risk is a little higher with the chest injury. Philadelphia likely won't subject McNabb to any more hits than needed against an opponent they should handle with ease.

San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
1 28-25 STL 10 Nov 13 @CHI
2 Sep 18 @PHI 11 Nov 20 SEA
3 Sep 25 DAL 12 Nov 27 @TEN
4 Oct 2 @ARI 13 Dec 4 ARI
5 Oct 9 IND 14 Dec 11 @SEA
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @JAC
7 Oct 23 @WAS 16 Dec 24 @STL
8 Oct 30 TBB 17 Jan 1 HOU
9 Nov 6 NYG . . SAT
SFO Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Rattay 10 0 140
RB Kevan Barlow 40 10 0
RB Frank Gore 10 0 0
TE Steve Bush 0 10 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 0 50 0
WR Arnaz Battle 0 40 0
WR Rashaun Woods 0 10 0
PK Joe Nedney 1 FG 0 XP -

Pregame Notes: The 49ers started out the new Mike Nolan era in dramatic fashion - with a win. An actual win and it was not over the Cardinals either for the first time since 2003. Nolan evidently brought a little Raven's defensive whoop-ass with him from Baltimore since the 49ers defense looked better than it had maybe in years. Tim Rattay was solid enough and somehow both Lloyd and Battle appear to pull off their disguises as NFL wideouts.

The new 3-4 defense gave up a lot of yards, but recorded seven sacks. Things are changing by the Bay.

Quarterback: Tim Rattay was solid last week against the Rams, throwing 11 of 16 for 165 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. That level of production looked even better considering there was almost no rushing game to support him. Until Alex Smith gets some seasoning (say like the type that needs a year), Rattay is clearly the best option here at quarterback.

Running Backs: The one holdover from 2004 appears to be the lethargic rushing game that could only produce 22 yards on 14 carries by Kevan Barlow. That won't fly in most games and certainly won't produce a win. Frank Gore was slightly more effective but only had four carries for 17 yards. Barlow did bull in one touchdown last week. Don't expect that this week.

This week won't be any more help for the rushing game nor will week three against the Cowboys. Chances are that Barlow's touchdown and resulting six fantasy points from it may have his value about as high as he's going to get at least for a while.

Wide Receivers: While there were no big yardage efforts here, the encouraging aspect of the wideouts is that both Arnaz Battle and Brandon Lloyd scored touchdowns last week and their eight combined catches for 124 yards was effective in the game. Battle is turning into a multi-use weapon as well, completing both his passes for 27 yards last week.

Enjoy it while you can. No other receiver in San Francisco did much last week and Johnnie Morton suffered one of those "what year is this" concussions in the game against the Rams. I am expecting Morton to miss this week or at least wish that he had.

Tight Ends: Eric Johnson was out last week with his foot injury and in his place, Steve Bush could not catch his only pass. I am projecting for Bush (or not projecting much for Bush as the case should be) until word that Johnson is returning.

Match Against the Defense: This could be ugly. The Eagles come off a painful loss in Atlanta after a pre-game scrum had Trotter ejected and with him the best run stopper. The 49ers do not even have a run to stop really so expect very little from Barlow this week. Rattay will be forced to throw to be sure, but the blitzing by the Eagles will disrupt whatever matchup advantages there are (and there really were none anyway). Look for minimal fantasy points from this squad this week.

Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)
1 10-14 @ATL 10 Nov 14 DAL
2 Sep 18 SFO 11 Nov 20 @NYG
3 Sep 25 OAK 12 Nov 27 GBP
4 Oct 2 @KCC 13 Dec 5 SEA
5 Oct 9 @DAL 14 Dec 11 NYG
6 Open Bye 15 Dec 18 @STL
7 Oct 23 SDC 16 Dec 24 @ARI
8 Oct 30 @DEN 17 Jan 1 WAS
9 Nov 6 @WAS . MON SAT
PHI Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 0 0 240,2
RB Brian Westbrook 60 50 0
RB Lamar Gordon 20 0 0
TE L.J. Smith 0 20 0
WR Terrell Owens 0 100,2 0
WR Greg Lewis 0 40 0
WR Reggie Brown 0 20 0
PK David Akers 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: It was a set-up for revenge by the Falcons over the Eagles last Monday night that started with the Falcons trading a nickel back for a linebacker by provoking a pre-game fight that resulted in ejections. The Falcon defense played very well against McNabb and company and the Eagles continue the trend - lose the Championship game, lose in week one.

Quarterback: Harassed the entire evening, Donovan McNabb had 257 yards and one score against two fumbles and one interception last week. Each moment of brilliance was matched by an error and despite the tremendous pass rush and good coverage by the secondary, McNabb never runs anymore. One of the best rushing quarterbacks for many seasons and he never once took off on a scramble. The only reason the boxscore shows a rush by him is that they had to credit the backwards pass/fumble as something.

He'll look a lot better this week - guaranteed.

Running Backs: Brian Westbrook remains the same as last year - 47 yards on the ground and more (64) as a receiver. He also caught the lone Philly touchdown in the game. Ryan Moats had no action and new acquisition Lamar Gordon had only one carry.

The offense runs well with minimal rushing for the most part and the fact that Moats had no carries the entire evening is a sign that Westbrook's contract year should be very productive. The bigger Gordon may end up the goal line runner, but that remains to be seen.

Wide Receivers: The offensive coordinator makes up the game plan with: 1. Throw to Owens; 2. Do something else; 3. Throw to Owens; 4. Fake something else, then throw to Owens. McNabb tossed a total of 17 passes to Owens who had seven catches for 112 yards. When McNabb wants to throw the ball away, he still finds Owens and then throws it over his head.

Greg Lewis (5-44) is a part of the passing game, but no more than Pinkston would have been. No sign of Reggie Brown yet other than one incompletion.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith ended with 29 yards on three catches last week but should be seeing more action in weeks to come. That is after a few more throws to Owens.

Match Against the Defense: The Eagles will want to win this week and winning big is even better after the fiasco in Atlanta. The 49ers have a decent rush defense evidently and the Eagles don't run much anyway so expect that Westbrook, as always, get more numbers as a receiver.

There is no big equation here and matchups are somewhat meaningless when Owens is such a huge part of the passing game. Expect a very nice game from McNabb and Owens with a chance that other players get into the swing later in the game because the score is out of hand and the Eagles can experiment with non-Owens plays.