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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 4
October 2, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at NOS IND at TEN* STL at NYG* MIN at ATL* SFO at ARI*
DEN at JAC* PHI at KCC* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
DET at TBB SDC at NE* NYJ at BAL CLE, MIA GBP at CAR
HOU at CIN SEA at WAS DAL at OAK PIT, CHI *Updated

Prediction: Buffalo 16, New Orleans 20

After winning their season openers, both these teams have gone downhill pretty fast. The Bills are having problems finding any shred of a passing game and the Saints are just looking for a place to call home after playing their last four games (considering last season) on the road. This match-up takes place in the Alamodome in San Antonio - the closest thing available for a home game. At least the Bills won't have their own fans in the stands.

Buffalo Bills (1-2)
1 22-7 HOU 10 Nov 13 KCC
2 3-19 @TBB 11 Nov 20 @SDC
3 16-24 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 at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB J.P. Losman 0 0 140
RB Willis McGahee 110,1 0 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 10 0
WR Eric Moulds 0 40 0
WR Lee Evans 0 60 0
WR Josh Reed 0 20 0
PK Rian Lindell 3 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: While J.P. Losman is expected to become a good quarterback with time, his current ride on the learning curve has left the Bills with an inability to actually score touchdowns. The defense has varied from better than average to great, but until that offense is more than Willis McGahee - the Bills will be looking up in the standings at the others in their division.

Quarterback: The bad trend here is that J.P. Losman is actually getting worse every week, starting out with 170 yards and one score against the Texans, then having only 112 yards against the Buccaneers and last week he managed only 75 yards against the Falcons with one lost fumble and one interception. Though Willis McGahee ran well last week against Atlanta, that's not nearly enough against good opponents.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee ran for 140 yards on 27 rushes last Sunday and scored once. His longest run was only 21 yards and he had good, positive yards on almost every carry. After carrying for only 34 yards on 13 carries in Tampa Bay, McGahee has two 100+ yard efforts while at home this season.

Wide Receivers: That learning curve for Losman has made these wideouts almost irrelevant in fantasy terms. There has been no touchdown thrown to them this season and the best effort so far was from Josh Reed (71) thanks to one long pass. Eric Moulds has topped out at four catches and 40 yards and Lee Evans had 68 yards against the Texans but only four catches for 19 yards in the last two games combined.

Tight Ends: Mark Campbell hasn't had a catch in the last two weeks thanks to the need to block - no fantasy value here.

Match Against the Defense: There is no surprise here - the Bills will be running McGahee as much as they can and the Saints rushing defense has been less than stellar so far this year. They've allowed three rushing and one passing score to go to the running backs and even Mewelde Moore managed 101 yards last week. Expect McGahee to turn in a good game here even if it takes 30 carries to get there.

Losman won't throw anymore than he must so keep your expectations as low as they probably already were. The Saints have allowed at least one passing score to each opponent this year but only Culpepper has thrown for much yardage so far. The Bills will play it safe with the run replacing the pass. That means no wideouts are favored via matchups here though Evans could haul in a long gainer that could score with the attention that McGahee will be getting on every play. That score could just as easily be a defensive return though.

New Orleans Saints (1-2)
1 23-20 @CAR 10 Open Bye
2 10-27 NYG 11 Nov 20 @NE
3 16-33 @MIN 12 Nov 27 @NYJ
4 Oct 2 BUF 13 Dec 4 TBB
5 Oct 9 @GBP 14 Dec 12 @ATL
6 Oct 16 ATL 15 Dec 18 CAR
7 Oct 23 @STL 16 Dec 24 DET
8 Oct 30 MIA 17 Jan 1 @TBB
9 Nov 6 CHI . MON SAT
NOR vs BUF Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 30 0 180,1
RB Deuce McAllister 80,1 30 0
TE Ernie Conwell 0 40 0
WR Joe Horn 0 60,1 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 30 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 20 0
PK John Carney 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: While the NFL waited for the Vikings to finally wake up this season, the Saints were the unfortunate team standing there when Culpepper finally decided to start throwing to his own players. The Saints seem to be wearing down from the strain of the Hurricane and the fact that every game is on the road without any support from their own fans. The last two weeks they start out well but by the second half they're back to making errors on offense and having breakdowns on defense. A psuedo-home stand this week should help the Saints who will hear actual cheers for them during a game.

Quarterback: Aaron Brooks came off a 375 yard effort against the Giants in week two but settled down to only 199 yards and one score against the Vikings last week. He threw two more interceptions to add to the three the previous Sunday and with a ratio of 5:2 for interceptions to touchdowns, Brooks' production mirrors the problems that the Saints are facing every week. He's only had three rushes in each game, so he is remaining in the pocket to make things happen. Unfortunately, the interceptions are more of what is happening.

Running Backs: The Saints added help to the offensive line during the offseason and the expectation was that Deuce McAllister would reclaim his role as one of the best rushers in the league. That has not happened so far. While he had two touchdowns in week one and scored one more time last week, his best effort of the season was in week two against the Giants when he added 44 yards on six catches to end with 91 total yards. His best rushing game was in week one with only 64 yards on 26 carries - hardly the level that offense was looking to reach this season.

Wide Receivers: Joe Horn came off a monster 143 yard effort in week two and then only managed to catch one pass for 11 yards against the Vikings. There's an unwelcomed swing from one week to another. What's worse is that Donte Stallworth had four passes last week and never caught any of them. Devery Henderson had a career best 95 yards on three catches but otherwise the Vikings were able to remove the wideouts from the game plan of the Saints. The team is just looking tired and the wideouts, thanks to Brooks, are taking the worst hit.

Tight Ends: Ernie Conwell actually led all Saints receivers last week with three catches for 65 yards and the lone touchdown. He had no catches the previous week yet six receptions for 71 yards in the first week. That sort of inconsistency is becoming a hallmark of the Saints this season.

Match Against the Defense: To the benefit of the Saints, the Bills rush defense looked bad last week against the Falcons and then Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes was knocked out for the rest of the season - that should loosen up the running game even more. The Bills have been surprisingly soft against the run so far this season and the Saints undoubtedly will try to run as much as possible and prevent Brooks from needing to win the game. Look for at least a moderate game here from McAllister who badly needs to get back on track and the Bills are not posting enough points offensively to make this game much more than a rushing war.

The Bills have been solid in the secondary but part of that stems from opponents not needing to throw very much. Brooks is getting a little worse each week anyway, so expect a below average game here from Brooks that will favor Joe Horn as the most likely to score, if it even happens. Both Michael Clayton and Michael Jenkins had at least some success playing the flanker the last two weeks against the Bills and with Spikes out, the rush defense will be getting more attention anyway.