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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
September 25, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at MIA NOR at MIN Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM

Prediction: Atlanta 16, Buffalo 20

Two of the best defenses in the NFL meet this week and yet both teams have proven that alone is not nearly enough to win games, at least not on the road. The one-dimensional Falcon offense (but a nice dimension indeed) comes to Buffalo but that big difference maker - Michael Vick - is nursing a hamstring pull and could get bottled up. The Bills have yet to figure out what dimension of the offense works so this game looks likely to be a low scoring, defensive affair that should be a showcase for field goals more than touchdowns.

Update: Dez White is still suffering from the hamstring injury he suffered last week and will likely miss this week. In his place the rookie Roddy White will be getting more playing time. I have adjusted the projections but really - what can you expect from a Falcon wideout anyway? Brian Finneran will replace Dez, moving Roddy to the slot.

Michael Vick was held out of practice on Wednesday but has been upgraded to probable. He practiced on Thursday as is likely to play but it could end up as a game time decision, particularly with a hamstring injury since they can flare up at any time. I would not recommend using Vick this week due to the injury and playing in Buffalo is no treat even when healthy.

Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
1 14-10 PHI 10 Nov 13 GBP
2 18-21 @SEA 11 Nov 20 TBB
3 Sep 25 @BUF 12 Nov 24 @DET
4 Oct 2 MIN 13 Dec 4 @CAR
5 Oct 9 NE 14 Dec 12 NOR
6 Oct 16 @NOR 15 Dec 18 @CHI
7 Oct 24 NYJ 16 Dec 24 @TBB
8 Open Bye 17 Jan 1 CAR
9 Nov 6 @MIA M THU SAT
ATL Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Michael Vick 40 0 160
RB Warrick Dunn 50 10 0
RB T.J. Duckett 30,1 0 0
TE Alge Crumpler 0 60 0
WR Roddy White 0 20 0
WR Michael Jenkins 0 40 0
WR Brian Finneran 0 30 0
PK Todd Peterson 3 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The equation is not hard to figure out - when Vick runs wild the Falcons win and then he is corralled, the Falcons usually lose. This week against a stout defense, Vick better lose the limp to keep Atlanta in the game - either that or the defense has to come up big which is not out of the question either against Losman and the end-zone allergic Bills offense.

Quarterback: Last week the Seahawks were successful in keeping Michael Vick from taking over the game and held him to only 43 yards on eight runs. Vick's 11 of 19 for 123 yards passing looks more impressive than it actually was and he was plagued by receivers dropping passes - when he got it to them in the first place,

Vick pulled up lame on one run clutching his left hamstring and left the game temporarily but later returned. I am projecting that he does play this week but that he will be slightly limited by his hamstring and more by the Bills defense.

Running Backs: The rushing game last week was relatively effective with Warrick Dunn gaining 54 yards on 16 carries and T.J. Duckett turning in 18 yards and one score on four runs. The problem last week was that the runners both mixed nice gainers with getting stuffed at the line. If Vick is limited this week, Dunn has to find running room for the offense to stand a chance.

Dunn is always capable of a long gainer but this week popping those will be much harder.

Wide Receivers: The struggle to discover a passing game continues. Michael Jenkins opened the game with a nice 22 yard catch and then did nothing else other than drop passes. The only wideout of any note is Brian Finneran who had a team leading 35 yards and scored the rare touchdown. This unit is little more than Vick trying to connect with Michael Jenkins deep and when that fails early, he resorts to tosses to Crumpler or just running the ball.

Tight Ends: Alge Crumpler has not scored this season but he has 54 and 53 yards in the two games so far. That is amazing consistency for this offense and he'll likely only increase those numbers as the best outlet for Vick this week.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons don't pass very well and that matches up even more poorly against a Bills secondary that has allowed only 206 total passing yards this season and not one passing score. The Bills were dinged badly by Cadillac Williams which gives some hope to the rushing game but played in Buffalo should tend more towards what they did to Domanick Davis (only 48 yards).

This game hinges on Vick as all Falcon games do. Suffering from a hamstring strain is not a positive when visiting Buffalo. Expect this game to be more of a defensive battle with minimal passing by either team. Using the larger Duckett more this week makes some sense, but that rarely strikes the Falcon coaches as an option.

Buffalo Bills (1-1)
1 22-7 HOU 10 Nov 13 KCC
2 3-19 @TBB 11 Nov 20 @SDC
3 Sep 25 ATL 12 Nov 27 CAR
4 Oct 2 @NOR 13 Dec 4 @MIA
5 Oct 9 MIA 14 Dec 11 NE
6 Oct 16 NYJ 15 Dec 17 DEN
7 Oct 23 @OAK 16 Dec 24 @CIN
8 Oct 30 @NE 17 Jan 1 @NYJ
9 Open Bye . . SAT
BUF Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB J.P. Losman 40 0 170,1
RB Willis McGahee 80,1 20 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 40 0
WR Lee Evans 0 60,1 0
WR Josh Reed 0 30 0
PK Rian Lindell 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Bills did not fare well on the road in Tampa Bay last week largely because the offense begins and ends with Willis McGahee. When he is stopped, Losman is not yet enough to make a difference. Back at home, the Bills will try to recapture some of that week one magic that saw them dominate the Texans but that's a tall order against a far better team this week.

Quarterback: Playing against the Bucs last week, J.P. Losman was nothing more than ineffective. He did not turn the ball over but he also only completed 12 of 29 passes for a mere 113 yards. Facing what we have all come to see as a terrible Houston defense, he only had 170 yards and one score in week one. All Losman has to add to the offense so far is a manager that hands off well and hopes that the defense comes up big.

Running Backs: After gashing the Texans for 117 yards on 22 carries, Willis McGahee was stuffed for only 34 yards on 13 carries last week though he did add one catch for a one yard loss. No question who is the focus of both the offense and the opposing defense here. Look for McGahee to get all the work he can handle - or at least that the offense can afford.

Wide Receivers: Once upon a time, the Bills had a big time passing game with Bledsoe, Moulds and Price. Now that we have left Fairy Tale Town, the Bills are using Losman to miss passes to Eric Moulds (1-8) and Lee Evans (2-12). Evans will likely always just be a long ball phenomena because he is wicked fast, but Losman is not getting the ball to him. Moulds as the possession receiver is nearly invisible.

The only wideout of any note so far has been Josh Reed from the slot. He had 71 yards on six catches last week but only one catch for six yards in the first game. Just not a lot of good news here really. Certainly nothing with any reliability.

Tight Ends: If you assumed that a lack of passing to the wideouts meant the tight ends matter in Buffalo, you would be very, very wrong.

Match Against the Defense: The Falcons on the road last week gave up major rushing yards to Alexander, but some of that has to be attributed to the specter of a passing game which the Bills have yet to apparently possess. Expect a moderate showing from McGahee here that could turn into a nice game only if the Bills get a lead to protect or the defense completely stifles the Falcons.

The passing game here is just too lackluster to consider for fantasy purposes. Lee Evans has the best matchup but CB Deangelo Hall should be better than he has been playing. Hard to compare Evans to Jackson or Owens obviously. There could be a passing score here but more than one would be a huge success for Losman. The most likely recipient would be Evans on a long pass - or nothing at all.

The Bills offense is still finding itself and so far, that it is not being found in the endzone. Expect more from Rian Lindell than any other player to be safe.