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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 16, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
CAR at DET* MIA at TBB* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CLE at BAL NYG at DAL* NYJ at BUF PHI, SF *Updated

Prediction: San Diego 27, Oakland 20

This is a big divisional game since it pits the rested Raiders at home against the suddenly reeling Chargers who have fallen to 2-3 on the season with amazingly inconsistent play outside of Tomlinson and Gates. In fairness, the Chargers have started out against DAL, DEN, NYG and PIT - hardly a cakewalk. Then again, the Raiders last game was their only win and came against the Cowboys - that beat the Chargers back in week one. The dots do not necessarily connect in this case.

The Chargers swept the Raiders last year, winning 42-14 and later 23-17 in Oakland.

San Diego Chargers (2-3)
1 24-28 DAL 10 Open Bye
2 17-20 @DEN 11 Nov 20 BUF
3 45-23 NYG 12 Nov 27 @WAS
4 41-17 @NE 13 Dec 4 OAK
5 22-24 PIT 14 Dec 11 MIA
6 Oct 16 @OAK 15 Dec 18 @IND
7 Oct 23 @PHI 16 Dec 24 @KCC
8 Oct 30 KCC 17 Dec 31 DEN
9 Nov 6 @NYJ . MON SAT
SDC at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 240,2
RB L. Tomlinson 100,1 30 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 70,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 60,1 0
WR Eric Parker 0 50 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 20 0
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Chargers were back on top after big wins over the Giants and Patriots but the home loss to the Steelers is a deep cut. They are now two full games behind the Broncos who also hold the first tie breaker. There is no margin for error now and a road game looming to Philadelphia in week seven. This is a brutal schedule that never gets better.

Quarterback: Drew Brees has been effective this season but he hasn't been the savior thanks in part to that wicked schedule. He has thrown scores in all but the road game in Denver and has two scores in three of the matchups. He's topped out at only 248 yards this year.

Brees had a monster game against the Raiders in week eight at San Diego when he threw for 281 yards and five scores. He later had only 226 yards and one score in the game in Oakland.

Running Backs: Like a beacon in the darkness, LaDainian Tomlinson has been outstanding in every game this year. He always scores at least once if not two or three times and he has finally been added back into the passing game for the last three weeks. He had seven catches for 68 yards against the Steelers and is making yards both rushing and receiving again. With the quality of defenses lately, a passing outlet like Tomlinson is a welcomed addition.

Tomlinson only gained 71 yards and one score in the first meeting against the Raiders but had 164 yards and one score in Oakland during week 11.

Wide Receivers: Keenan McCardell started the season out with a big 123 yard effort with two scores and then had 80 yards and two more scores in week three but he's settled down to only two catches for 16 yards in the last two games and is getting the coverage that makes Brees look for other targets. The shift in coverages has allowed Eric Parker to have nine catches for 123 yards in those last two weeks though he has not scored this season. Going against a softer secondary should free up McCardell more than NE and PIT allowed.

McCardell had 55 yards and one score in San Diego and later gained 91 yards in Oakland in week 11.

Tight Ends: While opponents have been figuring out McCardell, they still struggle against Antonio Gates who has never had less than five catches or 61 yards in a game and has two scores in only four games. Though he has only played four times this year, Gates already leads the league in yards (341) and receptions (34) for a tight end.

Gates loves the Raiders. He had 63 yards and two touchdowns at home and later 101 yards and one score in Oakland.

Match Against the Defense: Here's a must win for the Chargers against a well known opponent. The Raider rushing defense has been much improved this season but has allowed five rushing scores in only four games - chalk up another for Tomlinson who may not stop with merely one. He may not have huge yardage here but then again - he could. He's Tomlinson.

The Raider secondary can also be exploited and McCardell should return back to form this week with at least a moderate game. Gates was a Raider killer last year and each of the first four opponents for Oakland used their tight ends for at least 44 yards. Expect a nice showing by the best tight end in football as well.

Oakland Raiders (1-3)
1 20-30 @NE 10 Nov 13 DEN
2 17-23 KCC 11 Nov 20 @WAS
3 20-23 @PHI 12 Nov 27 MIA
4 19-13 DAL 13 Dec 4 @SDC
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 @NYJ
6 Oct 16 SDC 15 Dec 18 CLE
7 Oct 23 BUF 16 Dec 24 @DEN
8 Oct 30 @TEN 17 Dec 31 NYG
9 Nov 6 @KCC . THU SAT
OAK vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Kerry Collins 0 0 230,1
RB Lamont Jordan 60,1 40 0
TE Courtney Anderson 0 30 0
WR Randy Moss 0 90,1 0
WR Jerry Porter 0 40 0
WR Alvis Whitted 0 20 0
PK S. Janikowski 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Raiders return from their bye week, having last beaten the Cowboys to finally notch a win this season. The Raiders are taking some consolation from having a better defense this season and holding the Cowboys to only 13 points was key to the win. The Raider offense still has yet to score more than 20 points in a game and while Randy Moss has not been a flop by any means, he has not provided the offense with a winning difference in most weeks.

Quarterback: While Kerry Collins has had two good showings this season, a fantasy alarm has been set off when the lone win by Oakland came when Collins just handed off instead of throwing the ball. He only managed 218 yards against the Dallas with no scores and yet the Raiders won. Jordan enjoyed a huge rushing effort that week which will likely not be repeated every game, but winning by not throwing could become a trend that no fantasy team owner wants to see.

Collins threw for 263 yards and one score against the Chargers last year and later had 227 yards and two scores in week 11.

Running Backs: Will the real Lamont Jordan please stand up? After lackluster efforts in the first three games that never exceeded 70 yards, Jordan racked up 126 yards and one score against the Cowboys in the last game. His longest run was 24 yards so it was not merely a big gainer pumping up the numbers. Jordan has two scores this season - both in home games. Prior to the big effort against Dallas, Jordan only had 19 yards on 16 carries against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Jordan continues to supply Collins with a good outlet in the passing game and already has 20 catches on the season.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss is on a record pace for yardage, but he's totaled 466 yards in four games largely thanks to one or two long receptions per game. He started out with 14 passes thrown to him in week one but each week he is declining and only had five throws in the most recent game. The main culprit is believed to be the lack of a #3 receiver to concern the secondary since Ronald Curry was once again lost for the season. Alvis Whitted has been little help and in the last game had no catches. Jerry Porter still has no scores this year and remains good for about three catches for 40 yards in every game this year. His high game has only been 68 yards.

Tight Ends: Courtney Anderson only had two catches for 32 yards in the last game and while he is good for a couple of receptions each week, his 100 yard effort in Philadelphia has been just a freak high game.

Match Against the Defense: Jordan faces a defense that has allowed four rushing scores this year but only once more than 63 yards to an opposing runner. Considering the Cowboys were likely overlooking the Raiders and got caught back in week four, figure on Jordan remaining with his normal moderate numbers but with a chance of one score.

The Raiders will look to get the ball to Moss - no surprise - and he should manage to have at least a decent game here. Much of his yardage comes on one or two long receptions and he should grab at least one pass for a long gain if only from repeated effort. Jerry Porter draws CB Quentin Jammer as the "stronger" matchup and Porter has been consistently average anyway. There's a chance that Whitted is in a good spot to matter but his level of play so far doesn't suggest he can take advantage of it.