fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 19, 2005
Season Ticket
FRI 7 PM Sun 1 PM SF at WAS* Sun 4 PM Sun 4 PM
KC at MIA* NO at STL Sun 4 PM DEN at NYG TEN at ARI*
Sun 1 PM PIT at CIN* DAL at SEA* On Bye: Mon 9 PM
GB at MIN* IND at HOU BUF at OAK CAR, TB Updated*

Prediction: New Orleans 24, St. Louis 27

The Saints hit the road fighting that feeling of perpetual adversity every week and the Rams suddenly find themselves short one starting quarterback. This game could go either way but the beauty is that neither team will be sporting a decent defense and with that some fantasy points should come of it.

The Saints won 28-25 in St. Louis last year.

New Orleans Saints (2-4)
1 23-20 @CAR 10 Open Bye
2 10-27 NYG 11 Nov 20 @NE
3 16-33 @MIN 12 Nov 27 @NYJ
4 19-7 BUF 13 Dec 4 TBB
5 3-52 @GBP 14 Dec 12 @ATL
6 31-34 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 at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Brooks 0 0 240,2
RB Aaron Stecker 50 10 0
RB Antowain Smith 70,1 0 0
TE Ernie Conwell 0 10 0
WR Donte Stallworth 0 80,1 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 40 0
WR Az-Zahir Hakim 0 90,1 0
PK John Carney 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Saints are destined this year to weather adversity almost every week. After getting throttled by the Packers 52-3, they returned home to face the Falcons and came agonizingly close to beating them. Now they travel to face the Rams that has lost Bulger this week so that should be a break but New Orleans has lost their last two road trips to teams that were struggling until the Saints showed up and then they looked like offensive powerhouses.

Quarterback: While they did lose the game, Aaron Brooks comes off his most impressive game of the season when he went 22 of 33 for 259 yards and two scores against the Falcons. He's been running for about 30 yards per game as well but last week was his first game with a passing score since week three. Brooks production usually mirrors what Horn does and since Horn had been out since week three, it took Brooks some time to adjust.

Brooks threw for 316 yards and one score against the Rams last year.

Running Backs: The Saints actually started Aaron Stecker last week and he gained 86 yards on 16 carries. But they also used Antowain Smith almost as much and Smith turned in 88 yards on only 12 carries with two touchdowns. Expect to see both these runners in games since they both have differing running styles that can complement each other.

In the game without McAllister in 2004, Aaron Stecker ran for 106 yards and one score against the Rams last year.

Wide Receivers: Joe Horn did dress and play last week but only lasted for two passes - both incompletions - before pulling himself out of the game due to his hamstring injury. That makes the third game that Horn has missed and the first one that no one knew he would be gone. I am not projecting for Horn yet pending information on his hamstring but it is very likely the situation will be the same this week as last. Horn may suit up, play for a bit and pull himself out. Does make a great decoy.

With Horn out, Donte Stallworth had his first score on the season when he caught seven passes for 83 yards and even Devery Henderson had four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown - his first as a pro. Henderson started the season with games of 42 and 95 yards but had only one catch during the previous two games when Horn was out.

Az-Zahir Hakim stepped in and had 85 yards on six catches. Coupled with his five catches for 108 yards against the Packers, Hakim has suddenly become the most productive wideout for the Saints. Plus - you know that Hakim would like to score on the Rams.

Horn had 91 yards and one score while Stallworth settled for just 65 yards in the meeting with the Rams last season.

Tight Ends: Ernie Conwell and Zack Hilton combined for only four catches and 42 yards against Atlanta was itself was unusually high. The offense still rarely uses the tight ends and only twice has Conwell had more than one catch in a game.

Match Against the Defense: The duo of Stecker and Smith should have even more success here against a team that has given up eight rushing scores and three monster games this season. Expect some decent yardage from both and a chance for at least one rushing score for Smith.

Brooks goes against a secondary that has been lit up by every opponent and that has not failed to allow at least two scores in every game this season other than the ARZ matchup that had 327 passing yards anyway. Brooks doesn't need Horn to have a great game here and if Horn does play, it almost guarantees a big week for Brooks. The Rams are already coming off a short week and are dealing with the loss of Bulger for this game. That could end up to cause the Saints to rush more than normal and reduce passing yardage.

St. Louis Rams (2-4)
1 25-28 @SFO 10 Nov 13 @SEA
2 17-12 @ARI 11 Nov 20 ARI
3 31-27 TEN 12 Nov 27 @HOU
4 24-44 @NYG 13 Dec 4 WAS
5 31-37 SEA 14 Dec 11 @MIN
6 28-45 @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 vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Jamie Martin 0 0 250,2
RB Steven Jackson 80,1 0 0
RB Marshall Faulk 10 20 0
TE Cam Cleeland 0 10 0
WR Torry Holt 0 80,1 0
WR Dane Looker 0 30 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 60,1 0
WR Shaun McDonald 0 40 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Rams started on Monday night like they were going to stomp the Colts and racked up a 17-0 lead before losing Marc Bulger to a sprained shoulder and then getting outscored 45-11 for the rest of the game. Jamie Martin will be taking the start this week as Bulger mends and the Rams have to win here to stay in contention for the NFC West. They are already two games behind the Seahawks and have lost to them two weeks ago.

Quarterback: After Bulger went down last week, Jamie Martin stepped in and threw 17 of 21 for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Considering that he also threw two interceptions meant he only had two passes that no one caught. Martin has been in the NFL for eleven years but he really hasn't had any significant playing time since 2002 when he played in five games and had seven touchdowns against ten interceptions. Martin looked pretty good against a tough Colt's defense last Monday and he'll likely be the starter until at least the bye in week nine.

Bulger threw for 358 yards and one score against the Saints last year.

Running Backs: Steven Jackson still has yet to run for more than 19 carries in a game but he has scored in four of the last five and been a great fantasy producer over the last three weeks with four scores and good yardage. While Marshall Faulk had no carries and only one pass in week five, he suddenly popped back into heavier use last Monday when he had four carries and four receptions. One of those carries were from the five yard line too - Jackson territory.

Jackson has been running very strong the last two weeks, he just doesn't get the volume of carries to top 93 yards yet this season.

Back in week three of 2004, Faulk had 90 total yards and one score against the Saints while Jackson only gained 15 yards.

Wide Receivers: The wideout crew could be hurting with Martin instead of Bulger though going against the Saints is a nice way to start. Martin threw only three passes to Holt in three quarters of play and only once to Curtis as the Colts secondary concentrated on those two and forced Martin to settle for more passes to his backs and even scoring with Cam Cleeland. Again - hard to read from just one game on the road against a top defense, but Martin spent three quarters largely playing catchup and here is what he did:

Torry Holt (3-37), Kevin Curtis (2-16), Dane Looker (2-25), M. Faulk (4-21), S. Jackson (3-18), C. Cleeland (2-18)

Holt and Curtis only had five catches for 53 yards of the 17 completions for 134 yards by Martin. Again - against Indy.

Bruce turned in 134 yards against the Saints last year while Holt had 65 yards and the lone passing score.

Tight Ends: The Rams rarely use the position which is why Cam Cleeland was open for the score last week. And why he will return to getting just one pass for 10 yards this week.

Match Against the Defense: Steven Jackson would have to try to not score this week to stay out of the endzone. The Saints have allowed seven rushing scores this year and at least one per game other than against the Vikings. Look for him to once again fall short of 100 yards on the ground, but to extend his streak of games with a score.

Jamie Martin could hardly find a better matchup for his first start. The Saints on the road have been giving up three scores to opposing quarterbacks lately but what will make this a bigger challenge to project is that the Saints have been fairly good against starting wideouts. That forced teams to score with tight ends, tailbacks, slot receivers and the like. Martin will have a full complement of options to use but the safest bet here is that he turns in at least moderate yardage and two scores that will favor Curtis and Holt though they could go anywhere with this quarterback.