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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: Tennessee 17, St. Louis 31

As a testament to how screwy seasons are at first, this match-up pits the Rams against the Titans. St. Louis lost in San Francisco and yet won in Arizona. Tennessee was obliterated by the Steelers but then turned around and spanked the Ravens, defense and all. Both these teams can post some points and playing in the Edward Jones Dome, this should end up one of the fantasy goldmines this week.

Update: Drew Bennett is listed as questionable this week with a heel injury but has returned to practice and is expected to play without any real limitation. Chris Brown is also listed as questionable with a concussion that he suffered in the first half of last week's game and was held out of practice on Wednesday. He is expected to play but his performance will depend on how well his head holds up and how much the coaches want to stick with Travis Henry. The faster carpet in St. Louis likely favors Brown more than Henry if both were completely healthy. I am lowering Brown's numbers slightly and giving them to Henry. The Titans want to establish a running game to keep the Rams offense off the field, but how much that involves either Henry or Brown will depend on the game situation.

Tennessee Titans (1-1)
1 7-34 @PIT 10 Open Bye
2 25-10 BAL 11 Nov 20 JAC
3 Sep 25 @STL 12 Nov 27 SFO
4 Oct 2 IND 13 Dec 4 @IND
5 Oct 9 @HOU 14 Dec 11 HOU
6 Oct 16 CIN 15 Dec 18 SEA
7 Oct 23 @ARI 16 Dec 24 @MIA
8 Oct 30 OAK 17 Jan 1 @JAC
9 Nov 6 @CLE . . SAT
TEN Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 0 0 250,2
RB Chris Brown 70 20 0
RB Travis Henry 50 10 0
TE Ben Troupe 0 30,1 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 20 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 80,1 0
WR Tyrone Calico 0 20 0
WR Brandon Jones 0 50 0
PK Rob Bironas 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Titans pulled off a big win last week by taking down the Ravens and while the offense was little more than adequate, the defense suddenly showed up after having missed the flight to Pittsburgh the previous week. This game will be a much bigger test since the Rams at home will prove far more challenging to the Titan secondary than anything Baltimore could produce.

Quarterback: So far this new offense of OC Norman Chow has been a big mixture of everything with no one element standing out as primary. Predictably then Steve McNair's numbers have been about league average. He had one score in each game this year and around 200 yards in each. That won't fly this week in St. Louis and McNair should open it up much more this Sunday.

Running Backs: The good news here is that Chris Brown has gained 96 yards on only 18 carries this year - an average of 5.3 yards per carry against the defenses of Baltimore and Pittsburgh. But Brown was taken out of the game against the Steelers when the score got out of hand and he had a first half concussion last week that made him sit out the second half.

Travis Henry has picked up the load whenever Brown is out and has ran reasonably well though not nearly as good as Brown. The expectation is that Brown plays this week and I am projecting for that pending any other info that his concussion is still an issue. Right now it looks like the duo split carries with Henry getting the bulk. In most games when the Titans can run, it still should be Brown first with Henry as relief - but how often will that happen?

Wide Receivers: The big move to being a #1 for Drew Bennett hasn't yet provided too much, just three catches in each game and around 65 yards in each. Tyrone Calico has been nearly invisible and since he has been tentative, the Titans are starting to replace him with the rookie Brandon Jones. Throw in Courtney Roby and and this wideout crew still has not caught a touchdown yet this year though they have faced two very tough opponents.

This week should be a much clearer picture of what to expect from Titan wideouts this season.

Tight Ends: The good news is that the Titans are making extensive use of the tight end position, most likely because facing the Steelers and Ravens forced the passing game to be shorter. The bad news is that there is no primary tight end yet. Ben Troupe has a score but only five catches for 33 yards in two games while Erron Kinney has seven grabs for 71 yards and no score. Troupe is the more natural receiver of the two and should see increased use as the season progresses.

Match Against the Defense: The rushing game here could work to some extent since the Rams have only faced the Cards and the 49ers - two of the worse rushing teams in the league. Brown has been very good in limited play and should see some success here if he plays and remains healthy - always a question.

McNair will undoubtedly throw for more yards here than he could against Baltimore or Pittsburgh but the offense is still developing without any primary receiver really being used. Both the Rams' corners have been banged up already this year but both should start here. There is no clearly weaker side and no clearly stronger wideout, so the best bet would be for Bennett to do the most though the speedy Jones could surprise here. Having faced two lackluster offenses so far and now going against a diverse and still undefined offense for the Titans means less predictability, but this is easily the best matchup for McNair so far this year.

St. Louis Rams (1-1)
1 25-28 @SFO 10 Nov 13 @SEA
2 17-12 @ARI 11 Nov 20 ARI
3 Sep 25 TEN 12 Nov 27 @HOU
4 Oct 2 @NYG 13 Dec 4 WAS
5 Oct 9 SEA 14 Dec 11 @MIN
6 Oct 17 @IND 15 Dec 18 PHI
7 Oct 23 NOR 16 Dec 24 SFO
8 Oct 30 JAC 17 Jan 1 @DAL
9 Open Bye . MON SAT
STL Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 280,3
RB Steven Jackson 100,1 10 0
RB Marshall Faulk 10 10 0
TE Roland Williams 0 10 0
WR Torry Holt 0 90,1 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 70 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 50,1 0
WR Shaun McDonald 0 40 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 1 FG 4 XP -

Pregame Notes: After getting surprised by the 49ers in the opener, the Rams had a road win in Arizona and finally get to play in their own home opener - the only team in the NFL to open with two straight road games (other than the Saints of course). Back at home on their own carpet, this offense should have some fun this week.

Quarterback: While Marc Bulger had a big game in San Francisco, he only managed 216 yards and one score in Arizona in a game they ran effectively and did not press their luck. Back at home against the Titans, Bulger should see some nice numbers this week.

Running Backs: Stephen Jackson ran for 93 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown last week while Marshall Faulk has offered only minimal relief duty. After two weeks, Faulk only has six carries and three catches. Even Jackson had five catches. The transition is now complete and any fears of a sharing scenario were completely unfounded. This is all about Jackson now.

Wide Receivers: Tory Holt had the lone touchdown last week on his four catches for 70 yards. The Rams just stopped throwing later in the game and even Isaac Bruce only had 64 yards on five catches against the Cards. The most notable development so far is that there is no development. The preseason sensation Kevin Curtis only had two catches for 29 yards last week and remains an equivalent to Shaun McDonald.

Tight Ends: The Rams did score in week one with Brandon Manumaleuna, but as usual it was merely a blip on the radar. The tight ends only had two catches for 20 yards combined last week and will remain little more than only an occasional outlet.

Match Against the Defense: Which defense shows up? The one that made Ben Roethlisberger look like Johnny Unitas or the one that stymied Anthony Wright while stuffing Jamal Lewis the entire game?

Here's a mind-bender - the Titans allowed 196 rushing yards in week one and only 14 yards in week two. Sure - there's consistency. Expect that on the road inside Edward Jones Dome that the week one version is closer to what you will see. Jackson should have a fine game here aided by numerous late game carries as the Rams protect their lead.

Bulger goes against a secondary that can be beaten and the Ravens passing game is never a measuring stick. Expect that he enjoys his first home stand with a nice game here and scores to at least two wideouts, maybe more. This could be a nice chance for Curtis to shine since the slot has been a problem for them this season but that could just as easily mean that McDonald is the one who does well - the duo have not separated themselves yet.