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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
November 15, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday night
CIN at NO PIT at CLE     updated

Prediction: CIN 31, NO 28

Here's an interesting match-up between definitely the best 4-5 team in the NFL that just cannot buy a break going against definitely the most surprising 6-3 team. This is a coin flip game because no way the Bengals should be as bad as the record indicates and no way should the Saints be doing what they have this year. But facts are facts no matter how hard they are to accept. The Saints are 1-2 over the last three weeks and the Bengals are way beyond desperate. Chad Johnson even cut off his blond mohawk. If this game ends up with anything less than a big points explosion, it will be a major disappointment.

Update: Joe Horn has been upgraded to probable and returned to practice this week. It looks like he will be able to play so I am adjusting the projections. I am removing Henderson from the projections though he could have a limited role even with Horn back.

Both Rudi Johnson (thigh) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (head) have missed some practice time this week but both are expected to play and are listed as probable.

Cincinnati Bengals (4-5)
1 23-10 @KC 10 41-49 SD
2 34-17 CLE 11 --- @NO
3 28-20 @PIT 12 --- @CLE
4 13-38 NE 13 --- BAL
5 Open Bye 14 --- OAK
6 13-14 @TB 15 --- @IND
7 17-14 CAR 16 --- @DEN
8 27-29 ATL 17 --- PIT
9 20-26 @BAL - MON THU
CIN at NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 0 0 300,3
RB Rudi Johnson 70,1 10 0
TE Reggie Kelly 0 10 0
WR Chad Johnson 0 110,1 0
WR Houshmandzadeh 0 90,1 0
WR Chris Henry 0 60 0
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 4 XP -
Pregame Notes: The last four losses by the Bengals have all come for the want of a single touchdown - if not just a single point. With just a play or two difference each week, this team could be 7-1 but they are not and that weighs heavily on their psyche. At 4-5, the playoffs are all but out of reach even though the offense is finally clicking well. Problem is - the defense just cannot keep pace lately.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer had been turning in around 250 yards and a score or two each week lately and he comes off the best game of his career when he threw for 440 yards and three scores against the Chargers last week. That was the highest passing yardage by any quarterback this season and it still came in a loss. Palmer has been averaging two scores per game over the last month had only has two interceptions in the last six games but the Bengals are evidently cursed to lose close games no matter how astronomic Palmer's efforts are each week.

Running Backs: While Rudi Johnson has only two efforts over 100 rushing yards this year, he has scored in each of the last three games. Johnson hasn't been as productive as he was in 2005, but he's been good for around 70 rushing yards each week and his streak of scoring games has helped him maintain moderate fantasy value. Chris Perry hasn't come close to his role of last season and is almost no factor at all - even in the passing game since he only had three catches for a net one yard loss last week. This offense moves based on Palmer's arm, not Rudi's legs.

Wide Receivers: It's called making up for lost time. Chad Johnson only had two scores on the season and had not managed to turn in any 100+ yard games until last week when he went nuclear and ended with 11 receptions for 260 yards and two touchdowns - easily the best performance by any NFL wideout this year. Johnson scored on passes of 51 and 74 yards while T.J. Houshmandzadeh finally looked like the #2 wideout for the team. He turned in "just" seven catches for 88 yards and did score. Late in the game, Houshmandzadeh was demolished during an incompletion by the SD safety Marlon McCree and was held out of the rest of the game. He is expected to be able to play this Sunday.

Chris Henry only had two catches for 18 yards but scored once and has four touchdowns over the last four games.

Tight Ends: Reggie Kelly had an uncharacteristic 31 yards on three receptions last week but he rarely has more than one catch per game.

Match Against the Defense: The Saints have won several times by very close scores but their low ranking against the pass is going to haunt them this week against the Bengals. RCB Fred Thomas has a hamstring problem and was not active last week which led to a nice game by Hines Ward and now that match-up has Chad Johnson coming to town. Look for another big passing effort by the Bengals that should make the difference with at least two scores and possibly three. Those favor the two primary wideouts strongly in this game.

Rudi Johnson faces a pretty stingy defense but this game should be about the pass anyway and Johnson is only moderately successful this year anyway. Expect one score but just average yardage in this one.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 11 21 1 27 5 27
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 30 14 28 29 1 9


New Orleans Saints (6-3)
1 19-14 @CLE 10 31-38 @PIT
2 34-27 @GB 11 --- CIN
3 23-3 ATL 12 --- @ATL
4 18-21 @CAR 13 --- SF
5 24-21 TB 14 --- @DAL
6 27-24 PHI 15 --- WAS
7 Open Bye 16 --- @NYG
8 22-35 BAL 17 --- CAR
9 31-14 @TB - - MON
NOR vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 0 0 270,2
RB Reggie Bush 40,1 40 0
RB Deuce McAllister 70,1 10 0
TE Mark Campbell 0 20,1 0
WR Terrance Copper 0 30 0
WR Joe Horn 0 60 0
WR Marques Colston 0 90,1 0
WR Devery Henderson 0 20 0
PK John Carney 0 FG 4 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Saints couldn't keep pace last week despite a huge effort by Drew Brees. The defense has been just good enough in most games this year but has struggled lately against better opponents. The Saints have a tougher second half of the season and are starting to see some cracks in their otherwise shockingly good season but even a loss this week won't cause them to miss the playoffs.

Quarterback: The Saints may have lost last week but Drew Brees continues to be nothing short of spectacular even without Joe Horn around. Brees threw for 398 yards against the Steelers making it three straight games over the 300 yard mark. Brees only had one score in Pittsburgh but had three touchdowns in each of the last three games. The media can prattle on about Reggie Bush but Brees is clearly the key acquisition by the Saints this year. That and seventh round draft pick Marques Colston.

Running Backs: After only nine games, Reggie Bush finally scored a rushing touchdown when he went airborne in Pittsburgh and he ended with 49 yards on 10 carries - easily his best rushing effort in six weeks. Bush added seven catches for 40 yards though he also lost a fumble for the second time this year. Deuce McAllister only had 60 yards on 15 carries but scored twice last week to give him seven touchdowns on the season. The gameplan here clearly favors giving McAllister around 15 carries each week and then about 10 for Bush with the rookie also factoring into the passing game as well. There has only been marginal fantasy value from these runners other than McAllister scoring and Bush catching the ball.

Wide Receivers: Joe Horn was sidelined for the second straight game because of a groin injury and the Saints opted to replace him with Terrance Copper while keeping Devery Henderson in the slot. Copper ended with a very respectable six catches for 92 yards and one score though he lost a critical fumble at the end of the game which ended the Saints chance for a tie score. Henderson did not have a catch last week but turned in 111 yards and two scores against the Buccaneers the previous week when he was given the replacement role for Joe Horn.

None of this compares to Marques Colston who had 10 catches for a career high of 169 yards last week. Colston currently leads the league with 869 receiving yards and his seven scores ties four other wideouts for best in the league. That's a pace that would result in 1550 yards. Of course it is unlikely that he will maintain that pace, however, it was entirely unlikely that he could be the #1 fantasy wideout in week #9 and all bets are off what Colston can or cannot do. As long as Brees is throwing the rock, Colston is a spectacular surprise that apparently has too much youth and inexperience to understand that he cannot possibly be that good every week.

Until Horn is cleared to play, I am projecting for Copper to again take the flanker spot this week.

Tight Ends: Mark Campbell continues to fill in for the injured Ernie Conwell but that just means the one catch per game goes to a different name. No fantasy value here.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals rushing defense has been better than their ranking suggests though it was torn apart by Tomlinson last week. Look for the Saints to get at least one touchdown by McAllister and possibly one by Bush since speedy backs like Willie Parker also proved troublesome for them.

Drew Brees gets the interesting match-up in this game because the Bengals are ranked low against quarterbacks but really good against wideouts - how come? Simply because they have been horrible against tight ends this year having allowed seven scores to the position and having already faced virtually every great tight end in the league already this year. Wideouts have never fared very well and only three have turned in more than 100 yards. Only four wideouts have scored against the Bengals this year. There hasn't been anyone able to stop Colston much and this game should have plenty of passing. The Saints will run the ball early just to keep Cincinnati off the field but it looks like an air war will eventually break out. Figure on healthy passing numbers that are limited by the lack of use of tight ends by the Saints and for two scores to favor Colston, of course, and Mark Campbell if they will just use him.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 5 8 2 19 6 20
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 27 24 3 31 17 12