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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 8
October 26, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ARI at DAL JAC at STL* WAS at NYG* TB at SF* BUF at NE
CHI at DET* MIA at NO* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CLE at HOU MIN at CAR* KC at SD* IND, NYJ BAL at PIT*
GB at CIN OAK at TEN* PHI at DEN ATL, SEA *Updated

Prediction: Kansas City 24, San Diego 27

Both these teams are trailing the Broncos and cannot afford a loss - especially the Chargers who have lost two of their last three games. The Chiefs come off an impressive win in Miami played on short notice while the Chargers lost the game in Philly thanks to a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. The Chargers swept the Chiefs in 2004, winning 34-31 and 24-17.

Update: Samie Parker is not expected to play this week due to his sprained MCL and I have removed him from the projections. Antonio Gates has been added to the injury report but has practiced and is expected to play.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-2)
1 27-7 NYJ 10 Nov 13 @BUF
2 23-17 @OAK 11 Nov 20 @HOU
3 10-30 @DEN 12 Nov 27 NE
4 31-37 PHI 13 Dec 4 DEN
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 @DAL
6 28-21 WAS 15 Dec 17 @NYG
7 30-20 @MIA 16 Dec 24 SDC
8 Oct 30 @SDC 17 Jan 1 CIN
9 Nov 6 OAK . MON SAT
KCC at SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 0 0 220,1
RB Priest Holmes 50,1 20 0
RB Larry Johnson 40,1 20 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 50,1 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 60 0
WR Samie Parker 0 20 0
WR Chris Horn 0 20 0
WR Dante Hall 0 10 0
PK Lawrence Tynes 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Chiefs pulled off a nice coup when they were forced to travel early to Miami last Friday and play a road game with little preparation. Didn't matter - the Chiefs ran wild over the Dolphins using a power rushing game that enjoyed the return of Willie Roaf and an unstoppable one-two punch with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. It was a challenge that not only ended up as a victory, it also bought the Chiefs an extra three days of rest and preparation for this week's critical matchup in San Diego.

Quarterback: Trent Green has not been nearly as effective this season as he was in 2004 and while he comes off his best yardage of the year - 289 yards - he also turned in his third game with no score. That leaves Green with only four scores in six games - a bit off the pace of 2004 though not as much as you might think. Green only had six touchdowns in the first six games last year and that included three games without a score like this season. His 1349 passing yards this season is only 43 yards less than he had at the same time last year.

Green seems a disappointment, but his numbers are almost identical to what he had last year at this time - just two scores and 43 less passing yards which is negligible over a six week span.

Green threw for 373 yards and one score in the game at San Diego last season.

Running Backs: Priest Holmes was getting about a 2:1 advantage in carries over Larry Johnson but in the last two games, they are almost even. In week six, the split was 14:13 for Holmes over Johnson and last Friday, Johnson actually led 23:18 over Holmes. The beauty of this is that they both ran for over 90 yards and scored at least once (twice for Holmes). This is a two-headed attack that lately is getting top numbers from both backs - truly a luxury that has been aided by the return of Willie Roaf.

Priest Holmes did not play in either matchup last year with the Chargers and Larry Johnson only gained about 50 yards in each though he scored in both. Derrick Blaylock had two touchdowns and 57 yards in the meeting in Kansas City.

Wide Receivers: The wideouts continue to decline here and Eddie Kennison only had two catches for 24 yards last week to pair with no catches the previous week. Chris Horn led all wideouts against the Dolphins with only 50 yards that came on one pass. What makes this group seem even less likely to develop into more was Tony Gonzalez finally reasserting himself in the game plan last Friday. Only Kennison had any real fantasy value here and that has disappeared in the last two weeks.

Kennison only had 73 yards against the Chargers last year when he was in San Diego. He never scored in either matchup.

Tight Ends: After spending most of the season blocking and not catching, Tony Gonzalez finally turned in a nice game when he had seven catches for 67 yards against the Dolphins - easily his best of the year and still he has yet to score a touchdown. The rushing game is looking strong and Gonzalez is finally being integrated into the passing scheme. Seven catches for 67 yards is hardly a monster game, but it gives hope that Gonzalez is turning his season around now. In 2004, Gonzalez also had a slow start but he had 26 catches for 328 yards and two scores after six games. This season he still has not scored and has 25 catches for only 209 yards, well off the yardage pace of 2004.

Tony Gonzalez did not score against the Chargers last year, but he had games of 105 and 144 yards against them. Seems like more than a year ago now.

Match Against the Defense: The Chiefs face a rush defense that has not allowed any runner to top 100 yards this season though they have given up one rushing score in almost every game. No runner has topped 63 yards in the last five games. The Chiefs rushing attack was hitting on all cylinders in Miami last week and will certainly challenge this defense. Since Holmes and Johnson have been sharing the ball for the last couple of games, it is likely that separately neither will be big with yardage though either could rush in a score - possibly both.

Green has not been throwing very much or well this season and the Chargers have been about average against the pass overall but have shut down opposing wideouts very well with no one going over 83 yards receiving against them and most remaining below 50 yards. The tight ends have had some success and that should ensure that Gonzalez at least turns in decent yardage with a chance at a score. Kennison matches against Quentin Jammer and he was already turning in small games the last few weeks anyway.

San Diego Chargers (3-4)
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 27-14 @OAK 15 Dec 18 @IND
7 17-20 @PHI 16 Dec 24 @KCC
8 Oct 30 KCC 17 Dec 31 DEN
9 Nov 6 @NYJ . MON SAT
SDC vs KC Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 250,2
RB L. Tomlinson 80,1 20 0
TE Antonio Gates 0 80,1 0
WR Keenan McCardell 0 70,1 0
WR Eric Parker 0 20 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 50 0
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The loss in Philly was extra painful, letting the game get away from them on a blocked kick that could not have bounced any better than it did for the Eagles. It throws the Chargers back to two games behind the Broncos who have already beaten San Diego this season. Simply enough, the Chargers have no more room for error if this season has any hopes of another playoff bid. The must-wins have to start this week.

Quarterback: Drew Brees had his best statistical game when he threw for 299 yards and two scores against the Eagles but he also was intercepted twice. Brees has scored in each of the last five games and has turned in good yardage totals for the last month. Brees only played against the Chiefs during the road game in week 12 when he threw for 378 yards and two scores. He was held out in week 17 since the playoffs were coming.

Running Backs: Sadly, LaDainian Tomlinson's bid to score in a record 19 consecutive games was denied when the Eagles spent the entire game effectively boxing him in and bringing him down. Tomlinson only gained seven yards on 17 carries - the worst of his NFL career. He also failed to score with two chances from inside the five-yard line. Needless to say, last week was an aberration that Tomlinson will try to forget.

Tomlinson only gained 46 rushing yards against the Chargers last year though he scored twice and had 57 yards receiving. He was held out in week 17.

Wide Receivers: Drew Brees finally made nice use of both wideouts last week when he connected with Keenan McCardell five times for 78 yards and one score while also getting four catches and 97 yards from Reche Caldwell. Eric Parker has been hampered by a bad ankle and had no catches in the game and only one the previous week. This was the first good week from McCardell who had not gone over 20 yards in a game for the three previous matchups.

Just as important in the fantasy sense, Brees did connect well with the wideouts but they came only in addition to Antonio Gates who also did well. It was not a case of the defense removing one element and forcing the offense to use another outlet.

Tight Ends: Antonio Gates bounced back from a bad outing in Oakland to turn in eight catches for 72 yards and a score. While hardly reliable, he has scored only in odd-numbered weeks this season and has a great chance to break that trend with a back-to-back touchdown game this week against the Chiefs that have already allowed four tight ends to score this season.

Gates had 92 yards and two scores in the meeting with the Chiefs last year though he was held out in week 17. Ryan Krause replaced him in that game and even he had 81 yards and one score.

Match Against the Defense: The Kansas City rushing defense has been shockingly stout this season, allowing only three scores all year and so far keeping every runner below the 100 yard mark. Tomlinson needs to get back to business after a horrible slump against the Eagles and this week should provide him with the chance to score once but he'll be challenged to get two scores or to break 100 yards unless the Chargers get an early lead.

While the KC rush defense has improved, the same cannot be said for the passing defense that has allowed every opponent to score this year and both Brunell and McNabb shredded them for over 330 yards and three scores. The Chiefs already had been soft against tight ends this year with 4 scores allowed to the position and Gates is hardly the average tight end. Expect there to be at least two passing scores here with Gates likely sharing with McCardell since the Chiefs corners have been soft as well and McCardell always comes first.