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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
October 4, 2006
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Sunday Late
Sunday night
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MIA at NE WAS at NYG DAL at PHI   updated

Prediction: MIA 7, NE 21

This match-up was a lot more anticipated back last summer when many thought the Dolphins were sure to come to life and that the Patriots were almost dead. Wrong on both counts. Miami cannot manufacture points if they were sitting on the rim in a basketball game while the Patriots not only just thrashed the Bengals in Cincinnati, they acted pretty smug about it afterwards which only made it more annoying to the rest of the league. Forget where you may have thought where these two teams were heading and thing back to 2004 all over again.

The Dolphins lost 16-23 when they hosted the Patriots in week 10 of last year but then won 28-26 in the final game of the season.

Miami Dolphins (1-3)
1 17-28 @PIT 10 --- KC
2 6-16 BUF 11 --- MIN
3 13-10 TEN 12 --- @DET
4 15-17 @HOU 13 --- JAX
5 --- @NE 14 --- NE
6 --- @NYJ 15 --- @BUF
7 --- GB 16 --- NYJ
8 Open Bye 17 --- @IND
9 --- @CHI - MON THU
MIA at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Daunte Culpepper 0 0 240,1
RB Ronnie Brown 50 40 0
TE Randy McMichael 0 30 0
WR Chris Chambers 0 50,1 0
WR Marty Booker 0 60 0
WR Wes Welker 0 40 0
PK Olindo Mare 0 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The second season for Nick Saban is shaping up like we thought the first one would be like. No signs of offense have been sighted yet and if anything, the fans should be reminiscing about Gus Frerotte. Actually, probably more about having Scott Linehan for an offensive coordinator because he would not have called the funky running back "step right, run left and throw it to a defender" play that likely was not drawn up like that. That failed two point conversion allowed the Dolphins to drop one to the Texans. How low can you go? Apparently limbo quality.

Quarterback: While Daunte Culpepper has thrown for around 250 yards in three of four games, he's just not done much to keep the team competitive and has amassed most of that by using Ronnie Brown as a receiver. The wideouts don't much matter outside of Wes Welker and the fact that Culpepper cannot run means that the defenses load up on Booker and Chambers and wait for the short throw. This won't improve on the road to New England.

The Dolphins (Gus Frerotte) threw for 360 yards and two scores when the Patriots visited in week 10 and later had 239 yards and one score in the meeting of week 17.

Running Backs: Ronnie Brown has not scored since week one but he maintains decent fantasy value by racking up 100 yards or more each week thanks to his role in the passing game. Against the Texans last week - THE HOUSTON TEXANS - Brown only had 49 yards on 12 carries but added eight catches for 62 yards. Heck, you or I could throw a dump off pass. So far Brown has those 49 yards as a season high on the road.

Ronnie Brown had very little success rushing against the Patriots in 2005 though Ricky Williams had a big game in week 17 when he gained 108 yards and one touchdown. Brown never had more than 64 yards on 14 carries.

Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers caught his second touchdown of the year when he went against the Texans last week but that ultra-weak secondary held him to only three catches for 28 yards. Chambers started the season with 59 yards against Pittsburgh and has actually had less yardage in every successive game since. Marty Booker is actually building up the last three weeks but even that only ended at 43 yards. The two main wideouts only had 71 yards against the Houston defense. This passing game is not well. Not in the least.

Chambers had 69 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting against the Patriots last year and later had 75 yards with no score. Marty Booker actually fared better with games of 102 and 86 yards and a touchdown in the second meeting.

Tight Ends: Randy McMichael had been little used until last week when he had four catches for 54 yards. Since that worked, the Fins may start using him again but in a Mularkey scheme the tight ends rarely matter.

McMichael had games of 85 and 31 yards against the Pats last year.

Match Against the Defense: Brown has been challenged to do much on the road this year and the Patriots should hold him to only moderate numbers here. Don't look for a score as likely since the Fins are not ending up near the goal line lately.

Culpepper missed his chance for what should have been his finest game last week. Now he faces a secondary that is not strong but good enough to thwart Carson Palmer last week and let's be serious - Culpepper is no Palmer currently. I like Culpepper to eventually throw just one score if only late in trash time which actually favors Chambers by match-up.

New England Patriots (3-1)
1 19-17 BUF 10 --- NYJ
2 24-17 @NYJ 11 --- @GB
3 7-17 DEN 12 --- CHI
4 38-13 @CIN 13 --- DET
5 --- MIA 14 --- @MIA
6 Open Bye 15 --- HOU
7 --- @BUF 16 --- @JAX
8 --- @MIN 17 --- @TEN
9 --- IND - - MON
NEP vs MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 0 0 210,2
RB Corey Dillon 60 10 0
RB Lawrence Maroney 90,1 10 0
TE Ben Watson 0 40,1 0
TE Daniel Graham 0 20 0
WR Doug Gabriel 0 60,1 0
WR Reche Caldwell 0 30 0
WR Chad Jackson 0 30 0
PK Stephen Gostkowski 0 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Oddly enough, the Patriots have struggled when at home this year and won handily in their road games. The passing game is starting to take form now with Gabriel starting to chip in and the rushing game is almost unstoppable once it gets on track. Hosting the Fins this week could be a trap game but with a bye waiting for them in week six there's no reason why this should turn into anything more than a comfortable home win.

Quarterback: While the consensus is that Tom Brady has been disappointing this year after leading the NFL in passing yardage for 2005, he's still had six scores in the first four games which plays out to almost the same scoring pace of last year. His 320 yard effort against the Broncos quieted his critics and while he only had 188 yards last week in Cincinnati, he had two touchdowns and the game called for rushing once the scoreboard favored the Pats. The rushing game has been formidable this year and the only time it did not work was when Brady stepped up to 320 yards.

Brady really only played in the first meeting with the Dolphins when he had 275 yards and two scores but he sat out of most of the week 17 match-up.

Running Backs: Laurence Maroney has been nothing short of spectacular in his first four games, flopping along with the rest of his team against the Broncos but responding with 125 yards on only 15 carries last week and scoring twice in the game. He seems a lock for Rookie of the Year consideration and is actually showing up Corey Dillon who is having a solid season otherwise. The split has gone 50/50 in carries now and Maroney is doing more with his.

Dillon was injured or held out of both games against the Fins last year.

Wide Receivers: Reche Caldwell is the starting split end but he's never been good for more than a couple of catches each week and appears likely to get replaced as soon as Chad Jackson is comfortable in the offense. That is not happening very quickly though with only two games played and four catches in total for the rookie. Doug Gabriel has certainly delivered since joining the team and has scores in each of the last two games with a team leading 10 catches in those games. Troy Brown spent last week as a defensive back so he has no fantasy value anymore.

Tight Ends: While Ben Watson had been good for around three catches per game, he only had one reception for 35 yards last week. The better the rushing game goes, the less the Pats need Watson to catch passes.

Watson had 37 yards and two scores in the first meeting with the Fins and still had 39 yards and a touchdown in the week 17 meeting.

Match Against the Defense: This will be a major test for the Dolphin rush defense that has not allowed a rushing score this year. McGahee and Parker both had decent yardage games but only because of having 25+ carries each in their games. No reason to consider sitting either Dillon or Maroney this week- both should have at least moderate games that could easily become very good should the score board favor the Pats early and lead to more carries. Other than the Denver game, New England has had at least 30 rushing attempts in every game.

Brady faces a secondary that has allowed at least one touchdown in every game and more if teams really try. No need for Brady to push himself this week, look for lower yardage this week with Gabriel surprisingly in line for yet another score this week with the best match-up. This could also be where Watson could have a nice game if the Pats elect to throw. They likely won't need to though.