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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CLE
Monday
NYJ
OAK
*updated
STL

Prediction: SD 27, MIA 24

Miami comes off their bye week having last shocked the Patriots in Gillette Stadium for their first win of the year. The Chargers have finally stopped losing close games and recorded two straight wins. There is no margin of error for the Chargers though and this game is a must win because it should be one of the easier match-ups of the year (and so the Pats thought that back in week three).

San Diego Chargers (2-2)
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 24-26 -9 42
2 @DEN 38-39 -1.5 45.5
3 NYJ 48-29 -9 44
4 @OAK 28-18 -7 46
5 @MIA - -6.5 45.5
6 NE - - -
7 @BUF - - -
8 @NO - - -
9 BYE - - -
10 KC - - -
11 @PIT - - -
12 IND - - -
13 ATL - - -
14 OAK - - -
15 @KC - - -
16 @TB - - -
17 DEN - - -
SDC at MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers     240,2
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 100,1 10  
TE Antonio Gates   60,1  
WR Vincent Jackson   80  
WR Craig Davis   20  
WR Chris Chambers   110,1  
PK Nate Kaeding 2 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Chargers were nearly tripped up in Oakland last week but needed to post 25 fourth quarter points to get that done. This week could prove a similar trap and with the Patriots and Bills up next, losing a winnable game is just not an option. The Chargers defense has taken a step backwards this year but the offense remains potent with no less than 24 points scored in every game this year and their 138 points scored is #1 in the NFL currently.

Quarterback: After throwing for three scores in each game, Philip Rivers had a letdown in week four when he only threw for 180 yards and one touchdown in Oakland. By comparison, the previous road game had him with 377 yards and three touchdowns in Denver. But that was just a letdown game and Rivers is enjoying his most productive season so far by making more use of his wide receivers while still using both Tomlinson and Gates.

Running Backs: LaDainian Tomlinson comes off his best game of the year with 20 carries for 106 yards and two scores in Oakland. That makes the second week in a row with two touchdowns and it was his first game over 100 yards which is a sign that his toe is no longer much of an issue. Tomlinson continues to catch two or three passes each week but has done little with all of them. His improved play has been implicit in the decline in River's passing stats.

Wide Receivers: Chris Chambers comes off his first game of the year without at least one touchdown catch. He only had two receptions for 42 yards in Oakland which has been about his average in yardage and catches - just without any touchdowns this time. Vincent Jackson had also been more productive with around 70 yards per week but dipped down to 52 in Oakland. Still, this unit has been used more in the first month of the season than any September in many years.

Tight Ends: While Antonio Gates has yet to have one of his trademarked monster games, he has been consistently productive and has scored in each of the last two games. He's been stuck around 60 receiving yards every week which is still better than most tight ends but not vintage Gates that we have known for the past few seasons.

Match Against the Defense: Expect Tomlinson to have at least a good game here against a defense that has not yet faced a runner anywhere near his talent. One score and around 100 rushing yards should happen.

Rivers goes against a secondary that gave up two or more scores to Warner and Favre so look for a solid showing here. The Dolphins have been horrible against wideouts when a good quarterback is playing so I expect a big game here by Chambers against his old team for the first time.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 5 4 13 4 4 7
Preventing Fantasy Points    MIA 27 4 32 8 4 2


Miami Dolphins (1-2)
Homefield: Dolphins Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 NYJ 14-20 +3 36
2 @ARZ 10-31 +7 38.5
3 @NE 38-13 +13 34.5
4 BYE - - -
5 SD - +6.5 45.5
6 @HOU - - -
7 BAL - - -
8 BUF - - -
9 @DEN - - -
10 SEA - - -
11 OAK - - -
12 NE - - -
13 @STL - - -
14 @BUF - - -
15 SF - - -
16 @KC - - -
17 @NYJ - - -
MIA vs SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Pennington     240,2
RB Ronnie Brown 60,1 20  
RB Ricky Williams 50 10  
TE Anthony Fasano   60,1  
WR Derek Hagan   20  
WR Greg Camarillo   60,1  
WR Ted Ginn Jr.   40  
PK Dan Carpenter 1 XP 3 FG  

Pregame Notes: If you had to pick a good week to have a bye, it would come right after beating the AFC Champions 38-13 in their own stadium where no opponent had won since 2006 (coincidentally, Miami again). The rebuilding effort appeared to have a meteoric rise but that was just one game and a sign that the Patriots problems run deeper than they care to admit.

Quarterback: Chad Pennington has been the sort of game manager that the rebuilding team need and while he hasn't made a huge difference, he's also made few mistakes. All passing scores this year have gone to tight ends and the wide receivers have yet to have much impact. But Pennington has only thrown for one interception and had no fumbles, so the offense chugs along. As a sign of how well the New England game went, Pennington had been struggling to maintain over 50% completion rate but completed 17 of 20 against the Patriots.

Running Backs: Well, wasn't that one a surprise? The Dolphins dusted off an old playbook (think the NFL in 1930) and went with running the single wing in numerous occasions where Ronnie Brown was taking a direct snap. The same offense that had not produced a runner with more than 25 rushing yards in a game saw Brown blow up for 113 yards on 17 carries with four rushing touchdowns and even one passing score. Ricky Williams also gained 98 yards on 16 carries. Again - there is no similarity between the first two games and the New England bonanza. There is an excellent chance that they hit the Patriots right when they had a letdown about losing Tom Brady.

That game should ensure that Ronnie Brown gets the most carries though he and Williams do almost an exact 1:1 share.

Wide Receivers: The passing numbers to the wideout have been mostly pathetic this year with Greg Camarillo being the best player since he had 60 yards in a game and no one else has topped 51 yards. No wideout has scored a touchdown either and the hope that Ted Ginn Jr. was going to take any step upward is still merely in the planning stage. It's just not happening here in fantasy terms.

Tight Ends: Anthony Fasano has been the most productive receiver for the Dolphins with games of 66 ad 84 yards and a score in both. Even David Martin opened the season with 53 yards and a touchdown. The passing offense is still stuck on "settle for a tight end".

Match Against the Defense: Even without Merriman, the Chargers rushing defense has been great with only one rushing touchdown allowed and most runners remaining under 50 yards. The Dolphins will split carries anyway so look for only a moderate game here by Brown and Williams but with a chance that Brown could score one touchdown.

Pennington goes against the weakness of the Chargers who have already allowed nine passing touchdowns this year and never less than 247 passing yards. But the Fins just do not have the playmakers yet and expecting much here is unrealistic. I like the Fins to throw for two scores that will favor either Camarillo or a tight end. The Chargers just have too much trouble stopping the pass this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 20 6 31 1 32 25
Preventing Fantasy Points    SD 32 7 25 32 22 21

The Huddle
WEEK 5
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CLE
Monday
NYJ
OAK
STL
Other Features
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Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
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