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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 5
October 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
BAL at DET NO at GB IND at SF CIN at JAC* PIT at SDC*
CHI at CLE SEA at STL* CAR at ARI On Bye:  
MIA at BUF TB at NYJ* PHI at DAL KC, OAK
NE at ATL TEN at HOU* WAS at DEN MIN, NYG Updated*

Prediction: Washington 13, Denver 23

This pits two of the division leaders in the NFL and the Redskins are one of only four remaining teams that have not lost a game this season. That's likely to change this week with the Redskins on only their second road trip and they needed two late touchdown bombs to win in Dallas three weeks ago. The Broncos dropped their opener in Miami but have won their last three games that included an impressive road win in Jacksonville last week. Champ Bailey gets a chance to play against his ex-employer if his hamstring holds up and there's nothing he'd like more than silencing Santana Moss. Clinton Portis also goes home again.

Washington Redskins (3-0)
1 9-7 CHI 10 Nov 13 @TBB
2 14-13 @DAL 11 Nov 20 OAK
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 27 SDC
4 20-17 SEA 13 Dec 4 @STL
5 Oct 9 @DEN 14 Dec 11 @ARI
6 Oct 16 @KCC 15 Dec 18 DAL
7 Oct 23 SFO 16 Dec 24 NYG
8 Oct 30 @NYG 17 Jan 1 @PHI
9 Nov 6 PHI . MON SAT
WAS at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Brunell 0 0 170,1
RB Clinton Portis 50 10 0
RB Ladell Betts 10 0 0
TE Chris Cooley 0 50,1 0
WR Santana Moss 0 50 0
WR David Patten 0 30 0
WR James Thrash 0 20 0
PK Nick Novak 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Redskins are 3-0, but they've yet to win a game by more than three points and so far have been blessed with good fortune - Dallas allowing Moss to score twice when the Redskins trailed 13-0 with only four minutes to play and last week. Last week, Josh Brown hit the left crossbar and failed to prevent overtime which the Redskins won on the first drive. Basically, there has been one play in each game that could have gone wrong and left them 0-3 to start the season.

Quarterback: Mark Brunell comes off another solid game with 226 yards and two scores against the Seahawks and this time he didn't rely on Santana Moss to do all the scoring. He connected with little used tight end Robert Royal and even less used fullback Mike Sellers. The Redskins remain a good defense that wants to be a great rushing team. Brunell just fills in all the cracks and manages, so far, to provide just enough to secure the win.

Running Backs: Clinton Portis only gained 90 yards on 25 carries last week, less than was likely expected and only 3.6 yards per carry against the visiting Seahawks. Portis still has not scored a touchdown this year and other than his big 121 yard effort in the opener against the Bears, he's been only an average back for 2005.

Wide Receivers: Santana Moss did not score last week but he had 87 yards on six catches and his 30-yard catch in overtime set up the game winning field goal. Without that catch after regulation play was over, Moss would have been a less impressive 57 yards on the day. David Patten was targeted eight times last week but still only managed to catch three passes for a total of 15 yards. He's just not been a factor in the already pedestrian passing scheme. Outside of Moss catching the long ball, this crew has minimal fantasy value.

Tight Ends: While Robert Royal caught the touchdown, Chris Cooley comes off his most active game of the young season and had four catches for 60 yards. So far that appears to be the ceiling of what Cooley will do this season and his best games seem to come at home.

Match Against the Defense: Don't look for Portis to turn in a big game here. He'll have plenty of motivation back in Denver, but he faces a defense that has not allowed more than 61 yards to any runner and that include Holmes and Tomlinson. If Portis manages more than 50 yards here, it will be a success.

Brunell goes against a secondary that should be good and could be formidable if Champ Bailey plays and takes his normal match-up against Santana Moss. If Moss is removed from the game plan, then the Redskins passing game has yet to do much. Figure Brunell to throw for one score in this game but not likely two. The best bet for who catches that will be yet more "non-standard" receivers since Moss will receive plenty of focus here and the rest of the wideouts have not mattered much. Cooley should remain a decent start and has a chance of catching that one score but the Broncos have already faced McMichael, Gates and Gonzalez this season. Cooley is not quite in that tier of tight ends yet by any means.

Denver Broncos (3-1)
1 10-34 @MIA 10 Nov 13 @OAK
2 20-17 SDC 11 Nov 20 NYJ
3 30-10 KCC 12 Nov 24 @DAL
4 20-7 @JAC 13 Dec 4 @KCC
5 Oct 9 WAS 14 Dec 11 BAL
6 Oct 16 NE 15 Dec 17 @BUF
7 Oct 23 @NYG 16 Dec 24 OAK
8 Oct 30 PHI 17 Dec 31 @SDC
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DEN vs WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 0 0 220,1
RB Mike Anderson 80,1 10 0
RB Tatum Bell 40 10 0
TE Stephen Alexander 0 20 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 20 0
WR Rod Smith 0 60,1 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 50 0
WR Charlie Adams 0 30 0
PK Jason Elam 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Disregarding that opening loss to the Dolphins, the Broncos have been playing very well on both sides of the ball this season and in particular they have been very impressive on defense. Spinning through SD, KC and JAX without a loss sets them up as the team to beat in the AFC West at least until the Chargers string together a few more wins.

Quarterback: Jake Plummer only threw for 136 yards last week but he had two scores and the rushing game was the focus in the win over the Jaguars. So long as the rushing game works, Plummer is not turning in any appreciable numbers this season and he's only averaging one score per game. Just as surprising, he is rarely running this year as well and only has a total of 26 rushing yards over the first four games.

Running Backs: Mike Anderson has found fourth gear again this year and has rushed for 213 yards and one score over the last two games. His 115 yards on the road against the Jaguars was particularly impressive. The Broncos are also mixing in Tatum Bell though, and he had 15 carries for 60 yards. Bell was not just playing at the end of the game either, he had seven of his 15 carries in the first half and is mixing in with Anderson in what is becoming a true RBBC situation. While Anderson was the 20:5 primary runner with Bell in week three, it became 23:15 last week and it worked well for the team. Success spawns replication.

Wide Receivers: The Broncos did little passing last week and Rod Smith led all wideouts with only four catches for 33 yards. Smith remains the best option for Plummer with the only question being how much he will be needed. Ashley Lelie only had one catch for 13 yards in Jacksonville last week. Other than his one game of 62 yards against the Chargers, Lelie has stayed below 18 yards in every game this year.

Tight Ends: The tight ends for the Broncos have yet to turn in even one decent game this season and last week Plummer turned to ex-tight end turned tackle-eligible Dwayne Carswell for two passes - both touchdowns. Carswell may not catch another pass this year and likely neither Stephen Alexander or Jeb Putzier will offer much fantasy value unless the passing scheme changes or the Broncos go against a very tough defense that takes the wideouts out of the equation as could happen this week. Putzier had 67 yards in week one but almost nothing in the subsequent games.

Match Against the Defense: The Redskins defense has not allowed an opposing runner to top 100 yards this year, but Julius Jones had 81 yards and a four yard average. Shaun Alexander ran 20 times last week for 98 yards for almost a five yard average. Figure Anderson and Bell to get plenty of carries this week as well and the split that happens between them will more define what numbers that Anderson ends up with. The Broncos should score once on the ground and that strongly favors the bigger Anderson.

Plummer faces a defense that has limited opponents to only one passing score but mostly that is related to the big defensive/rushing battles that Washington match-ups usually become. No quarterback has thrown more than 38 passes against the Redskins and Plummer is not likely to as well. Plummer can have moderate success here but that will depend mostly on the game situation. Expect around 220 yards and one score with anything more than that coming from the Redskins taking a surprising lead late in the game.