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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Player Projections by Team
Game Predictions Summary
The Huddle
December 20, 2006
Season Ticket
Sunday Late
Sunday Late
updated IND at HOU TEN at BUF CIN at DEN NYJ at MIA

Prediction: ARZ 20, SF 24

The Cardinals had won three of the previous four games but the loss to the Broncos clearly shows that they are not completely turned around quite yet. The Cardinals are only 1-5 on the road this season while the 49ers are 4-3 at home. The Cardinals opened their season with a win in their new stadium over the 49ers by a score of 34-17.

Arizona Cardinals (4-10)
1 34-27 SF 10 10-27 DAL
2 10-21 @SEA 11 17-10 DET
3 14-16 STL 12 26-31 @MIN
4 10-32 @ATL 13 34-20 @STL
5 20-23 KC 14 27-21 SEA
6 23-24 CHI 15 20-37 DEN
7 9-22 @OAK 16 --- @SF
8 14-31 @GB 17 --- @SD
9 Open Bye - - MON
ARZ at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Leinart 0 0 240,1
RB Edgerrin James 80,1 10 0
TE Leonard Pope 0 10 0
WR Anquan Boldin 0 100,1 0
WR Larry Fitzgerald 0 90 0
WR Bryant Johnson 0 20 0
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: Denny Green was possibly saving his job with those recent wins and regardless of the loss to Denver, it is clear that the offensive line is starting to work finally and that a rushing game could actually appear next year for the Cards. The final two games come on the road though and that's been a Cardinal-killer this year. Actually, in pretty much every year.

Quarterback: Faced with a top defense, Matt Leinart couldn't throw even one score last week and he had two interceptions but that was his first game without at least one touchdown this year and he remains safely above 200 passing yards every week.

Warner was the starter in week one when he threw for 301 yards and three scores against the visiting 49ers. He had 354 passing yards and one score in San Francisco last year.

Running Backs: The recent improvement in blocking has allowed Edgerrin James a chance at something no one thought possible - an actual 1000 yard rushing season by a Cardinals running back. James only needs 12 yards to break the threshold and his five rushing scores are a set up from last season. James even scored once against the Broncos - this unit is improving.

James ran for 73 yards on 26 carries and scored one touchdown against the 49ers this year.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin went over 1,000 receiving yards last Sunday for the third time in his four-year career. But he has been really limited in the last three games by secondaries that are doubling him and he has not scored since week 12 or had more than 60 yards in a game. Conversely, Larry Fitzgerald has scored twice in that time frame and twice had more than 70 receiving yards. Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 133 yards while Boldin had four receptions for 62 yards and one score against the 49ers earlier this year. Troy Walters had the other touchdown catch in that game.

Boldin turned in 156 yards on 11 catches while Fitzgerald had 129 yards on eight receptions in San Francisco last year. There was no running game to get in the way or any other options besides the duo last year.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers at home play far better and only three runners have scored there. The last five visiting runners all remained under 100 rushing yards as well. James does have a good shot at one rushing score here though his yardage will dip back below the century mark. He won't likely get the 25+ carries needed to reach the mark.

Leinart faces a defense that can be beaten by a visitor and half of those teams showing up in San Francisco leave with two passing scores. But Leinart never has thrown for two on the road this year so expect one that will favor Boldin this week. Leinart will end over 200 passing yards and could have a decent game here yardage wise if the 49ers can get an early lead and reduce the use of James in the rushing game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARZ 16 28 5 32 14 5
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 23 31 20 30 29 19


San Francisco 49ers (6-8)
1 27-34 @ARZ 10 19-13 @DET
2 20-13 STL 11 20-14 SEA
3 24-38 PHI 12 17-20 @STL
4 0-41 @KC 13 10-34 @NO
5 34-20 OAK 14 19-30 GB
6 19-48 SD 15 24-14 @SEA
7 Open Bye 16 --- ARZ
8 10-41 @CHI 17 --- @DEN
9 9-3 MIN - - THU
SFO vs ARZ Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith 10 0 140,1
RB Frank Gore 130,2 20 0
TE Vernon Davis 0 40,1 0
WR Antonio Bryant 0 40 0
WR Bryan Gilmore 0 10 0
WR Arnaz Battle 0 30 0
PK Joe Nedney 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: Perhaps the Texans have the Jaguars and now the 49ers have the Seahawks. The 49ers are only 2-3 over the last five games and both wins came against the Seahawks. None were as surprising as the rain-soaked Thursday night game when they conjured up 21 fourth quarter points to take down the Seahawks - again. They would need to win their final two games to hit 8-8 on the season but already there has been progress since 2005 - a large part thanks to the NFC Champion Seahawks.

Quarterback: Alex Smith threw for 162 yards and two scores in Seattle last week and that was his first game with two scores since week six. He has run in two touchdowns this year - both against the Seahawks. But Smith rarely every throws more than one score in any game or breaks 200 passing yards.

Smith threw for 288 yards and one score in Arizona during week one. He had 185 passing yards and three interceptions last year when the 49ers hosted the Cardinals.

Running Backs: Hard to imagine that there was ever a question between Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore. Last week in Seattle, Gore used a mighty fourth quarter push to end with 144 rushing yards - his eighth time over the century mark and fifth time in the last six games. Over the last six games, as long as Gore gets 19 or more carries, very good things have happened.

Gore ran for 87 yards on 16 carries and scored twice in week one. He also added 83 yards on six carries.

Wide Receivers: Neither Antonio Bryant or Arnaz Battle has amounted to much this season. Smith finally had two passing scores last week and neither went to a wideout. There is no reliable fantasy value from these wideouts. Bryant caught four passes for 114 yards in the season opener for his only game over 100 yards this year. Battle only had two catches for 17 yards in that game.

Tight Ends: It is worth noting, particularly for next season, that Vernon Davis has the confidence of Alex Smith and is starting to find his groove a bit during this injury-shortened rookie season. Davis only had three catches for 15 yards last week but he has scored a touchdown in both of the last games. He had 74 yards against the Packers in week 14.

The rookie Davis caught five passes for 37 yards and one score in the season opener against the Cardinals.

Match Against the Defense: The Cardinals always play much differently on the road than they do at home and while no opposing runner has topped 87 yards in Arizona (which was actually Gore as the top runner), on the road they have allowed over 95 rushing yards to four of the last five primary runners. Gore does not share the ball and there's no reason why he shouldn't have yet another big game here with at least one score if not more.

Smith faces a defense that always gives up at least one score but there's no reason to expect that Smith goes beyond his normal mediocre numbers here. This should be much more Gore's game with Smith as support.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM    QB   RB   WR   TE   PK  DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 27 9 27 17 16 26
Preventing Fantasy Points ARZ 27 22 32 12 32 25