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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday night
On Bye
CIN, MIN
Monday
OAK, PHI
*updated

Prediction: ARI 20, STL 13

The Cardinals rise to 2-2 on the season with a big home win over the Steelers and now hit the road where they have yet to win. The Rams are 0-4 though and it really doesn't matter where they play - they lose. And just to make it worse, there were even more injuries to the offensive line and defense in Dallas so they could be even worse this Sunday.

These teams traded road wins in 2006 with the Rams winning 16-14 in Arizona during week three and the Cards winning 34-20 in St. Louis during week 13.

Update: Anquan Boldin has not practiced this week due to his hip injury and I am removing him from the projections. He will likely be a game time decision so if you need him, check on his pregame status and realize that he won't be 100% regardless if he plays. The match-up should be very productive for healthy players, but whether Boldin plays and how limited he might be if he does won't be known until game time. If Boldin practices on Friday, it will go a long way to allowing him to play.

Isaac Bruce is suffering from a hamstring strain that forced him from the game last week and he has not practiced. Consider him very likely not to play though it has not been made official. I am also swapping Gus Frerotte and Marc Bulger since HC Scott Linehan made the the decision to sit his battered quarterback this week. The move to Frerotte won't really hurt the Rams, but it is also doubtful to help much.

 

Arizona Cardinals (2-2)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SF 17-20 +3.5 45
2 SEA 23-20 +2.5 42.5
3 @BAL 23-26 +8 35.5
4 PIT 21-14 +6 42.5
5 @STL   -3 41
6 CAR 14-Oct SUN 4:05 PM
7 @WAS 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 BYE - - -
9 @TB 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 DET 11-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
11 @CIN 18-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
12 SF 25-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
13 CLE 2-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
14 @SEA 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 @NO 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 ATL 23-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
17 STL 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
ARI at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Leinart     190,1
RB Edgerrin James 110,1 20  
TE Leonard Pope   30  
WR Anquan Boldin 50,1
WR Larry Fitzgerald   70,1  
WR Bryant Johnson   50  
PK Neil Rackers 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Cardinals pulled off the upset over the Steelers which was undoubtedly sweet since most of the Arizona coaching staff came from Pittsburgh. Drafting Steve Breaston proved fortuitous since the punt returner had the first return touchdown for the Cards since 1993 and it was the winning margin of the game. Sure, the quarterback slot now is a committee approach but the defense has played well and the Cardinals are a quarter of the way through the season and are still .500. And they got there without Anquan Boldin last week.

Quarterback: The Cardinals know that Matt Leinart is the future of the franchise and they know that Kurt Warner gives them a better chance of winning now since he is better versed in the no-huddle offense and doesn't make the mistakes of the youngster. Leinart has lost all fantasy value for the near future but Warner doesn't quite get enough playing time to warrant a fantasy start either. This week against the soft Rams, there's a good chance that Leinart will be enough and that Warner won't be sent in so I am only projecting for Leinart this week. But be aware - Warner is always just a nod away.

Leinart only threw for 186 yards and one score in St. Louis last year.

Running Backs: The hot start to the season for Edgerrin James has cooled facing two very good defenses these last couple of weeks but he still managed to score once against the Steelers. This will be the weakest defense that he has faced yet this year and the Cards just need to show that they can perform on the road. That all starts with a rushing game that works and James already tore up the Rams in 2006 against a better team.

James ran for 115 yards on 26 carries in St. Louis last season and had 97 yards and one score in the home game against the Rams.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin is expected to return this week after missing last week's game with a hip injury. Ends up that he wasn't really missed since Larry Fitzgerald had a season high 11 catches for 123 yards on Sunday. That makes two weeks in a row that the Cards faced a very good defense and one of the wideouts turned in a monster game. Warner is more successful finding them but this week Leinart should be getting the playing time. What should be a good rushing game with James will also decrease the need to throw too much but since Boldin and Fitzgerald take up so much of the receiving load, they should remain good fantasy starts this week anyway.

Boldin caught ten passes for 129 yards when the Rams visited in 2006 though he only had two catches for 26 yards in St, Louis. Fitzgerald never had more than 65 yards playing the Rams last year but scored in both games.

Tight Ends: Evidently Leonard Pope only matters when the Cards are going against a weaker defense. The first two weeks had him scoring once and turning in four catches for 52 yards but he has not had a catch in the last two games.

Match Against the Defense: The Rams no doubt are circling the wagons without a win this year and they are at home but the rush defense has already allowed seven touchdowns this season so expect James to notch one here and gain solid yardage. Gore scored twice in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago and he had no passing game to fear.

Leinart, if not Warner, should also have a nice time passing against this defense that has allowed both Delhomme and Romo to throw for three scores each. That's a bit optimistic unless Warner comes in but at least one should be in store here with a decent chance for two touchdowns. They could go to either Boldin or Fitzgerald but if Warner plays at all it will favor Boldin. I am splitting the scores between the two wideouts but Pope could show up again for one of them.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 15 17 7 23 11 17
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 20 31 17 17 14 14

 

St. Louis Rams (0-4)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 13-27 +1 42
2 SF 16-17 -3 44
3 @TB 3-24 +4 38.5
4 @DAL 7-35 +13 47
5 ARI   +3 41
6 @BAL 14-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
7 @SEA 21-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
8 CLE 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 BYE - - -
10 @NO 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @SF 18-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
12 SEA 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 ATL 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 @CIN 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 GB 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 PIT 20-Dec THU 8:15 PM
17 @ARI 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
STL vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 180,1
QB Gus Frerotte     200,1
RB Brian Leonard 50 30  
TE Randy McMichael   20  
WR Torry Holt   70,1  
WR Dante Hall   20  
WR Drew Bennett   40  
PK Jeff Wilkins 1 XP 2 FG  

Pregame Notes: It just doesn't get any better for the beleaguered Rams. The Rams offense now has a total of two touchdowns on the season and the team just gets more injuries every week. Now RT Adam Goldberg has an MCL injury to his left knee and he was a replacement lineman. He'll probably end up on IR where he will be able to chat with most of the other STL linemen. Bulger is getting beaten up regularly and Dane Looker had to leave the Dallas game because of a severe thigh bruise. That may not seem a big deal to the offense but he was the holder for Jeff Wilkins. The Rams are shaping up to have a rather nice draft pick for next April. They'll need it just to replace the guys that are slow coming off of injury from this year.

Quarterback: No player is as good of a sign about how bad things are in St. Louis than Marc Bulger. He only has two touchdowns on the season and the last two road games only contained 230 passing yards combined with four interceptions. He has been sacked 11 times this year and is playing with broken ribs. And after this week, he gets to play in Baltimore too! Bulger is not afforded the time to throw and the outlook on that improving is pretty bleak.

Bulger threw for 309 and 314 yards against the Cards last year with two scores in the one game.

Running Backs: With Steven Jackson out last week because of a partial tear to his left groin and while he was not ruled out for more than last week, I am assuming that the injury lingers at least into this game and likely beyond. There is some word that the injury could be worse than initially disclosed. That leaves Brian Leonard as the starter again this week and the rookie gained 58 yards on 16 carries in Dallas which was decent but came against a defense that was only concerned with taking away the deep passes during the blowout. Leonard also had four catches for 18 yards, so he has slightly more value in a reception points league. Leonard is better than his blocking but not nearly enough to carry much fantasy value.

Jackson was never that successful rushing against the Cards last season. He gained 96 yards on 21 carries at home but only had 62 yards on 24 carries on the road and never scored. He did add nine catches for 69 yards in the home game though.

Wide Receivers: The two road games were predictably unkind to the wideouts here and Torry Holt settled for around five catches for 60 yards in both games. But he scored in both the previous home games while hanging around 70 yards in both. Isaac Bruce strained his hamstring and left the Dallas game after only one catch. I am counting him out this week and expecting Drew Bennett to take up the slack. With Looker nursing a bad thigh bruise, that should mean slightly more action for Dante Hall.

Holt rolled up nice games against the Cardinals in 2006, gaining 120 and 115 yards and scoring in both contests. Bruce turned in 75 yards and one score in the home game.

Tight Ends: Randy McMichael makes a marginal bye week filler tight end since he almost always has two catches for around 20 yards and never much more.

Match Against the Defense: The Rams haven't rushed well even against themselves in practice and the Cardinals been solid against the run this year. Look for only marginal numbers from the starter here and likely no touchdown.

Bulger faces a secondary that is roughly average but that is aggressive on the pass rush and that has already recorded 12 sacks and forced three quarterback fumbles this year. That's a bad stat to come visit this week. With an even worse offensive line, look for Bulger to be on the run again this week and to manage to throw for one score that has to favor Holt. Bruce and Looker both could miss this week, so all passing goes through Holt who should have a high number of targets if nothing else.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 28 31 19 27 28 18
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 14 11 25 2 24 13

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