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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
September 6, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
BAL at TB NO at CLE     SD at OAK

Prediction: CIN 24, KC 27

The Bengals (11-5) had a terrific 2005 season that ended when the Steelers took out Carson Palmer's knee to start their playoff game. All the same players are back this year including Palmer who appears surprisingly unaffected. The Chiefs (10-6) also return much of the same crew from 2005 though without Priest Holmes and WIllie Roaf. And Dick Vermeil has stepped aside for Herman Edwards who at least says he's not changing a thing on offense.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)
1 --- @KC 10 --- SD
2 --- CLE 11 --- @NO
3 --- @PIT 12 --- @CLE
4 --- NE 13 --- BAL
5 Open Bye 14 --- OAK
6 --- @TB 15 --- @IND
7 --- CAR 16 --- @DEN
8 --- ATL 17 --- PIT
9 --- @BAL - MON THU
CIN at KC Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 240,2
RB Rudi Johnson 80,1 30 0
TE Reggie Kelly 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 80,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 70,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 30 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Bengals have finally risen to the top of the AFC North to give the Steelers a major speed bump to the division title. Carson Palmer was everything he was supposed to be and more last year and the Bengals have arguably never looked better on offense. But it all hinges on Palmer's health, even more so not that Jon Kitna has gone to Detroit.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer ended last year ranked #1 in passing touchdowns (32)and #4 in passing yards (3836). Just as remarkable were his low 12 interceptions. Palmer tore two of the ligaments in his knee last January and the general consensus is that it was a 12 months to healthy, nine months to play sort of injury. But Palmer came out in the preseason and looked absolutely flawless against Green Bay and the Colts.

Palmer starts this week but hold your expectations back a bit... if you possibly can.

Running Backs: You have to love consistency from the running back and there is no better player than Rudi Johnson for reliable numbers. In 2004, he ran for 1457 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 2005, he ran for 1458 and 12 touchdowns. Even his receiving yardage was within six yards (84 vs. 90). In this offense, Johnson is like the gold standard for reliable fantasy numbers and with Chris Perry on the PUP and Palmer to protect, there is a great chance that he'll not only get more carries this year but that he'll have more receptions as well.

Wide Receivers: You know you play on a good offense when even the #2 wideout shows up in commercials. Chad Johnson (1432 yards, 9 TD's) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (956 yards, 7 TD's) were the best receiving tandem outside of Harrison/Wayne and Boldin/Fitzgerald. If Palmer does down again, the team will rely on Anthony Wright which should be a step down from Kitna but as long as Palmer is under center - this is one deadly passing attack.

Chris Henry turned in 422 yards and six scores from the slot last year as well. When there are 32 touchdowns to dole out, there are a lot of happy players.

Tight Ends: Reggie Kelly returns as the starter but the Bengals have not used the position much in the last few years.

Match Against the Defense: The Chiefs are nowhere near as much fun to play now that they actually have a rush defense but it's still only about average. Count on Rudi rolling up respectable numbers here and probably score once but a big game won't likely happen.

Palmer goes against one of the worst pass defenses from last year but the Chiefs have upgraded to now feature Patrick Surtain and Ty Law. Both players are over 30 now and must show their veteran wisdom can stay ahead of any slow down. Ty Law will be tested enough facing Chad Johnson this week. Going against Palmer should show quickly if the new tandem can stem the tide. Expect a good game here from Palmer and two scores with good but not great yardage. The Bengals will want to rely on the run a bit more early in the season to keep Palmer from undue exposure.

Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
1 --- CIN 10 --- @MIA
2 --- @DEN 11 --- OAK
3 Open Bye 12 --- DEN
4 --- SF 13 --- @CLE
5 --- @ARZ 14 --- BAL
6 --- @PIT 15 --- @SD
7 --- SD 16 --- @OAK
8 --- SEA 17 --- JAX
9 --- @STL - THU SAT
KCC vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Green 0 0 200,1
RB Larry Johnson 110,2 20 0
TE Tony Gonzalez 0 50 0
WR Eddie Kennison 0 70,1 0
WR Samie Parker 0 40 0
WR Dante Hall 0 20 0
PK Lawrence Tynes 3 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Chiefs now enter their Herman Edwards era which should mean the defense will improve but with an aging offense, that side of the ball will need to be addressed in the next couple of years. Priest Holmes is likely gone for good and Willie Roaf has retired. The long-time fullback Tony Richardson has left and much of the offense is aging quickly. But 2005 witnessed Larry Johnson produce near record numbers while playing little more than half a season and Roaf wasn't in every game then anyway. Edwards lost Al Saunders as OC but promoted up Mike Solari to keep the status quo.

Quarterback: Trent Green is 36 years old now and while he ended with 4014 passing yards for his third straight year over 4000, he only managed to score 17 times and started the year out slowly before ratcheting it back up in week six and beyond. Gonzalez and Kennison are not getting any younger and this passing attack could further feel the pinch if Larry Johnson can run as wild as 2005 suggested is possible.

Running Backs: After only sporadic play for the first three years, Larry Johnson took over in week nine when Holmes again left for the year and in those nine remaining games he never once fell below 100 rushing yards and twice exceeded 200 rushing yards in a single game. He scored 16 times in those final nine weeks. There is a realistic concern that Roaf's and Richardson's departure will spell a downturn here but even if it does, he has a good way to fall before he would be less than outstanding.

Johnson did not show up huge in the limited preseason play which further concerned fantasy owners. This week will show if he will continue his amazing streak of 100 yard games and reward all who drafted him.

Wide Receivers: Eddie Kennison turns 34 this January but he quietly put together a career best season in 2005 when he ended with 68 catches for 1102 yards and five scores. That makes his second straight year over the 1000 yard mark. He's not been getting much help either, with Samie Parker only turning in 533 yards last year but this will be Parker's third year and a break out would be very well timed with Kennison aging. Dante Hall still serves primarily as a returner but he did have 436 yards and three scores as well last year.

Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez now hits 30 years of age but he has not slowed down in catches or yards yet. His 78 grabs for 905 was in line with most seasons for him but his two touchdowns were the least in six years. He had remained with at least six or more each year since 1999 until last season. The rushing game has a direct bearing on that though Gonzo actually started the season out very slowly for the first five weeks when the Chiefs were not running as well. He had six games over 100 yards in 2004 - none in 2005.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals had a top offense last year but their defense was really only average against the fantasy positions and actually ranked 31st against tight ends (thanks in part to facing Gates twice a year). The Bengals preferred path is to take an early and substantial lead and take their opponent out of the rushing game. The Chiefs will want to control the ball and at home prove to their fans that the run game is just as healthy as ever. Expect a good game from LJ this week and if you own him - hope for a game so great that is is embarrassing.

With the need to run and keep the Bengals off the field, the passing game here should provide only moderate numbers. Look for around 200 yards and a score from Green that should favor Kennison.