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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
October 4, 2006
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MIA at NE WAS at NYG DAL at PHI   updated

Prediction: NYJ 13, JAX 24

This is an interesting match-up between two of the more surprising teams this season. The Jets have exceeded expectations at least offensively with Pennington not only passing well but staying healthy. The Jaguars were unstoppable in two home games against the Cowboys and Steelers but proved mortal in Indianapolis and Washington. The Jags only win at home so far and the Jets only win on the road. That should only hold true for Jacksonville after Sunday.

The Jaguars won 26-20 when they hosted the Jets in week 3 of last season.

Update: Matt Jones is not expected to play this week due to his hamstring strain and has not practiced. I have removed him from the projections. He will be replaced by Cortez Hankton. Laveranues Coles remains listed as questionable with his calf injury and has been held out of practices but is expected to play as he did the last two weeks.

New York Jets (2-2)
1 23-16 @TEN 10 --- @NE
2 17-24 NE 11 --- CHI
3 28-20 @BUF 12 --- HOU
4 28-31 IND 13 --- @GB
5 --- @JAX 14 --- BUF
6 --- MIA 15 --- @MIN
7 --- DET 16 --- @MIA
8 --- @CLE 17 --- OAK
9 Open Bye - - MON
NYJ at JAX Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Pennington 0 0 190,1
RB Kevan Barlow 30 0 0
RB Derrick Blaylock 30 10 0
TE Chris Baker 0 30 0
WR Laveranues Coles 0 70 0
WR Justin McCareins 0 20 0
WR Jerricho Cotchery 0 60,1 0
PK Mike Nugent 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: So far the Jets have hosted two division winners this year and lost but in competitive games. On the road they faced bottom teams from 2005 and won - but still in close games. This week goes against the best defense they have faced yet and with Coles still banged up and no rushing game in sight. The Jets defense cannot hold opponents out of the endzone which will be a bad match since the Jaguars aren't keen on letting anyone score in theirs.

Quarterback: Chad Pennington opened the season with two 300 yard games that had two scores in each. The last two weeks? A much more expected 200 yards and one score in each. The problem for Pennington is that he has yet to branch out beyond more than Cotchery and Coles and defense are realizing that's about the only players worth covering.

Running Backs: The ever-changing backfield continues to evolve but does so while standing still. Last week Derrick Blaylock was inactive for the second time though he is healthy. Cedric Houston has been used more and had 49 yards on 12 carries against the Colts but he injured his knee and I am counting him out this week unless updates warrant a change. Kevan Barlow remains the most productive though he has never had more than 14 carries in a game. Barlow has three scores in the last two weeks but only 66 total yards on 25 carries during that time.

This unit is scoring touchdowns on short runs, but no Jet runner has more than 49 rushing yards in a game - and that was from the injured Houston. I am assuming that Blaylock returns due to the injury of Houston but Leon Washington still figures in as well. This is a mess that is not improving.

Wide Receivers: Laveranues Coles had certainly enjoyed a healthy Pennington, never failing to catch at least six passes or falling below 78 yards. He's turned in two efforts over 100 yards but only scored once this year. Jerricho Cotchery continues to be a fantasy gem with scores in three of the four games this season but outside of these two wideouts, there's no other receivers to merit consideration by a fantasy team or an NFL defense. Opponents have been able to take either completely out of the game plan yet but there is little else happening here. And the Jaguars will certainly realize that.

Coles injured his arm on the final play of the Colts game but until reports differ, I am assuming he is healthy to play this week. He's been playing injured for the last two weeks anyway.

Tight Ends: Chris Baker never had more than a couple of catches a week but he's scored twice this year - more than Coles has.

Match Against the Defense: With the Jets rushing game already dull and unproductive, there is no reason to expect any yardage here though one score could happen that would strongly favor Barlow.

Pennington has been on a two game slide in production and how faces a very solid secondary. Until Santana Moss last week, the Jags had been very effective against wideouts but since the Jets won't use much beyond Coles and Cotchery, they should have some moderate success here if only from the volume of passes.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2)
1 24-17 DAL 10 --- HOU
2 9-0 PIT 11 --- NYG
3 14-21 @IND 12 --- @BUF
4 30-36 @WAS 13 --- @MIA
5 --- NYJ 14 --- IND
6 Open Bye 15 --- @TEN
7 --- @HOU 16 --- NE
8 --- @PHI 17 --- @KC
9 --- TEN - - MON
JAX vs NYJ Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 10,1 0 200,1
RB Fred Taylor 80 10 0
RB Maurice Drew 60,1 30 0
TE George Wrighster 0 20 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 80,1 0
WR Ernest Wilford 0 40 0
WR Cortez Hankton 0 30 0
WR Matt Jones 0 40 0
PK Josh Scobee 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: After starting the season with very impressive wins over the Cowboys and Steelers, the tables turned for Jacksonville when they hit the road to play the Colts and even Redskins. The overtime loss was particularly stinging. Back at home this week and with only a bye coming up, the Jaguars can get back on the winning track in this game and keep their home record clean.

Quarterback: Byron Leftwich has turned four very different games so far. He's scored in three of the four but only had one touchdown against Dallas and Indianapolis while tossing three scores against Washington. He only had 107 yards against the Colts but ran in a score as he did against the Cowboys. The only commonality in all the games is that he always throws at least one interception. This week - he should not need to force the passing game but he's yet to turn in two similar games yet this year.

Leftwich threw for 177 yards and two scores in New York last year against the Jets.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor only has the one touchdown on the season and comes off his worst game yet - seven carries for only 16 yards. Previously he had been good for around 75 yards each week. Maurice Jones-Drew had his big 103 rushing yard game against the Colts but was only given three carries last week that only had three net yards. But Jones remains a factor in the passing game here and had scored in each of the last two games via the pass. The Jaguars aren't willing to give Jones-Drew more work in the rushing game but are not forgetting him when they pass.

Taylor ran for 98 yards and one touchdown against the Jets in 2005 though he had 37 carries in that game.

Wide Receivers: Matt Jones had a strong start to the season when he had 70 yards in each of the first two games but then had no catches in week three and only two receptions for 13 yards in Washington. Defenses are scheming to take the tall, speedy wideout out of the equation and it is working - and the Jags are losing. Ernest Wilford is locked in around three catches for 30 yards each week and Reggie Williams has taken up the slack. Williams has three scores on the season including two last week and two games over 90 yards - easily the best by any Jaguar receiver this year. Williams took the start last week over the less effective Wilford.

Matt Jones only had 31 yards against the Jets last year but Ernest Wilford turned in 35 yards and one touchdown. Jimmy Smith scored in each game.

Tight Ends: While George Wrighster continues to be the primary tight end and comes off a season high of 53 yards last week, the rookie Marcedes Lewis is finally getting on the field and had two catches for 40 yards. Should either of these end up as a top tight end, it will be the rookie though it will likely take most of the season to get him integrated into the offense.

Match Against the Defense: The Jets rush defense is one of the worst in the league and that should spell success for both Taylor and Jones-Drew this week. They have already allowed six rushing scores and big yardage virtually every week.

Leftwich should throw for one score here since all teams do but he won't need to press for anything more than needed. With the only true threat by the Jets being Coles and Cotchery, the Jaguars will run - and run well - to keep them from the field.