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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 2, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
ATL at MIA* DET at MIN* TEN at CLE* PIT at GB* PHI at WAS*
CAR at TB HOU at JAC* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
CIN at BAL SD at NYJ SEA at ARI* DAL, STL Updates*

Prediction: Detroit 17, Minnesota 20

Wow - could they come up with a messier looking game? The Lions come off an overtime loss at home where even Garcia makes game-losing mistakes and the Vikings were sunk in Carolina and lost their captain when the ship went down. So now the desperate Lions head to Minnesota to face the reeling Vikings who hope that Brad Johnson can rekindle the 90's. Flip a coin and then watch something else.

The Vikings swept the Lions last season, winning close games of 19-22 and 27-28.

Update: Jeff Garcia's leg proved too sore to practice this week and he is being held out of this game. We're back to Joey Harrington again and while maybe he is fighting to get his job back, there has never been anything that suggests he has the talent, at least not this year. I am lowering numbers all over with Harrington back in. Both Roy Williams and Mike Williams are listed as questionable but Mike is expected to play after missing practice on Wednesday but participating on Thursday. Roy has practiced both days so I am including him in the projections for only marginal yardage since he is still not completely healed.

Marcus Robinson has also missed the last two practices because of a knee he jammed on Wednesday in practice. He has not been ruled out but be aware he is questionable as well..

Detroit Lions (3-4)
1 17-3 GBP 10 Nov 13 ARI
2 6-38 @CHI 11 Nov 20 @DAL
3 Open Bye 12 Nov 24 ATL
4 13-17 @TBB 13 Dec 4 MIN
5 35-17 BAL 14 Dec 11 @GBP
6 20-21 CAR 15 Dec 18 CIN
7 13-10 @CLE 16 Dec 24 @NOR
8 13-19 CHI 17 Jan 1 @PIT
9 Nov 6 @MIN . THU SAT
DET at MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Joey Harrington 0 0 200,1
RB Kevin Jones 80,1 10 0
RB Shawn Bryson 10 20 0
TE Marcus Pollard 0 40,1 0
WR Charles Rogers 0 20 0
WR Mike Williams 0 40 0
WR Roy Williams 0 30 0
WR Scottie Vines 0 20 0
PK Jason Hanson 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Lions are only 3-4 and yet only one game behind the Bears (though two of the losses were to Chicago this season). But of the four losses, the last three have been by 4, 1 and 6 points - the last one a touchdown given up in overtime on an interception. That's like the Lions being only a play or two in each game from being 6-1 on the season. That does not, however, seem to be what fate has slated for the Lions this season. The Lions go to Minnesota to face perhaps the weakest Viking team in years and yet the Lions are hardly road warriors.

Quarterback: Jeff Garcia likely made Joey Harrington smirk last week when he threw an ill-advised pass in overtime that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Garcia has started for two games now but has not thrown for a score or gone over 210 yards in a game. Garcia was also battered last week and while he will play, he's already banged up after only two games.

Harrington only managed 91 yards and one score when visiting the Vikings last year and but had a season high 361 yards and two scores in week 15 when the Lions hosted the game.

Running Backs: Kevin Jones had his fourth rushing touchdown of the year last week when he ran 21 times for 74 yards against the Bears. He still has yet to top 100 yards in a game even though he has had 18+ carries in four match-ups this season. The blocking is just not there and the passing game is not being respected enough to draw defenders away from the line.

Kevin Jones ran for 100 yards in Minnesota last year and later turned in 79 yards and one score at home against the Vikings.

Wide Receivers: While Mike Williams had a nice 95 yard effort against the Browns in Garcia's first game, he only managed three catches for 27 yards against the Bears and is not exceeding expectations yet, despite having a starting role now for the last four games. Charles Rogers comes off his suspension this week and could play but he never had more than 31 yards in any of his three games this season anyway. Roy Williams has missed the last three games and while he was back to working out privately with trainers last week, he still has not joined in for the team practices. There is a chance that Roy plays this week but until he practices, I am not going to project for him. Updates as warranted.

This should be the week that the Lions get some great passing opportunities against a reeling Vikings defense but so far Garcia and his band of injured underachievers have not suggest that they can take advantage of it.

Roy Williams was held to only 19 yards in Minnesota last year but later had 104 yards and two scores back in Detroit.

Tight Ends: Going against a great defense last week that covered the wideouts, Marcus Pollard should have done more than three catches for 35 yards. But the low score meant more rushing attempts and with that, more blocking needs. Pollard should have a better game this week against a defense that will likely not be able to contain all receivers.

Match Against the Defense: The Vikings have allowed their opponents to run for eight rushing scores already this season and it would have been more but the pass defense has encouraged scoring to come through the air as well. Expect at least a moderate game here from Kevin Jones that could be a big one if Jones could get out of this season-long funk he has been in. To be fair, the Lions have trooped though a stretch of defense this season like CHI, TB, BAL and CAR. This will be the easiest match-up for Jones so far this year.

Garcia goes against a secondary that has been shredded on a regular basis and that bears absolutely no resemblance to Chicago last week. Expect that Garcia finally throws a scoring pass and he likely could have two unless Jones finally kicks in with the running game. Though Steve Smith ravaged the secondary last week, there is no truly weak side here. It just depends on which side the opponent wants to pick on. Mike Williams should be the favored to score here since he's already played with Garcia and Pollard has an excellent chance to score as well since the Vikings have allowed seven touchdowns to tight ends this year. Only Houston has allowed more tight end fantasy points than the Vikings.

Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
1 13-24 TBB 10 Nov 13 @NYG
2 8-37 @CIN 11 Nov 21 @GBP
3 33-16 NOR 12 Nov 27 CLE
4 10-30 @ATL 13 Dec 4 @DET
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 STL
6 3-28 @CHI 15 Dec 18 PIT
7 23-20 GBP 16 Dec 25 @BAL
8 13-38 @CAR 17 Jan 1 CHI
9 Nov 6 DET . . MON
MIN vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Brad Johnson 0 0 230,2
RB Mewelde Moore 40 10 0
TE Jermaine Wiggins 0 30 0
WR Nate Burleson 0 30 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 30 0
WR Troy Williamson 0 40,1 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 50,1 0
PK Paul Edinger 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Well isn't this less than pretty? The Vikings have managed to have extreme problems both on and off the field this season and now will be without Daunte Culpepper for at least the balance of the 2005 season and possibly longer. Brad Johnson steps in at a bad time but at least the two Viking wins this year were at home. Then again, they came against the Saints and Packers. The Vikings have faltered whenever they have played against a team with an above average defense which the Lions still have even without CB Dre Bly.

Quarterback: See ya, Daunte. Thanks for the memories and hope the recovery goes well. Daunte Culpepper had the trifecta of knee injuries, tearing his ACL, PCL and MCL which leaves the Vikings rather SOL (um... surely out of luck). Brad Johnson gets the call from now on and he had a touchdown last week in the "pack up the equipment trunks" portion of the game. He also only managed to complete 13 of 28 passes for 162 yards. Like his opponent Garcia, Johnson inherits a roster full of receivers that look great on paper but haven't nearly met expectations.

Culpepper threw for 233 yards and two scores while at home against the Lions last year and later had 404 yards and three scores in Detroit. Ah... good times... good times...

Running Backs: Mewelde Moore actually scored once last week, the first rushing touchdown of the year for the Vikings but he only managed to gain 30 yards on nine carries. Moe Williams suddenly popped up and had seven passes which led to only three catches for 16 yards but Williams is bothered by a sore back and will have an MRI this week. He also has a bad foot so no need to consider him as a waiver wire find. Moore had 101 yards back in week three and has managed to get worse in each of the four successive games since then.

The Vikings never ran well against the Lions last year and in two games, the best runner was Michael Bennett with only 51 yards.

Wide Receivers: Brad Johnson preferred Marcus Robinson last week, hitting him for four catches and 77 yards with the lone passing score in the game. Nate Burleson has been back for two weeks now and only has four catches for 43 yards over those games. No Viking wideout has gone over 100 yards this entire season. The rotation ensures that all get one or two passes and none of them have much fantasy value, at least not consistently. Robinson was the best wideout last week but Burleson and Taylor are actually the starters.

Nate Burleson scored three times against the Lions last year and had 134 yards in the final matchup.

Tight Ends: With Johnson as the quarterback, Jermaine Wiggins only had three catches for 36 yards and one of those were from Culpepper. Wiggins was held in for blocking more last week and Moe Williams had the passes that would have likely been for Wiggins in other games.

Wiggins had 51 yards and a score when the Lions visited last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Lions rushing defense has been solid this season and only once has allowed an opposing runner to score a rushing touchdown. With Moore getting worse every week, this is not the game for a turnaround against a team that has held far better runners to less than 50 yards this year.

Johnson goes against a secondary that is weaker without Dre Bly there but the offense has to adjust to a new quarterback and that could take time, particularly since the Vikings are not concentrating on any one receiver and spreading the ball around. The Vikings will need to score through the air and should at least once, and possibly twice since there is less game film on Johnson. Those will go to wideouts and that is a four way tie for who is open on a particular play.