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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: WAS 17, OAK 20

Thursday Night Update: Rock Cartwright was demoted from lead of the committee and has since requested to just be used on special teams where he is considered very valuable. HC Jim Zorn made the announcement on Wednesday but has also stated that he intends to use a committee approach for the rest of the season as well. That casts as much risk on relying on Ganther as it had using Cartwright. I am removing Cartwright from the projections though it is no lock that he will have no carries. Ganther seems to be inspiring a lot of confidence - or at least optimism - for a four-year 7th round running back who has 53 career carries playing for the Titans and Redskins.He has never scored a touchdown in four years. Granted, he did run for a career best 46 yards on eight carries (most in fourth quarter) in a trap game with the Saints that saw Jason Campbell throw for 367 yards and three scores and Devin Thomas had 100 yards and two scores. Not necessarily a good game to measure overall value.

Zorn says he wants to use his committee that employs Ganther, Cartwright, Marcus Mason and Mike Sellers (just for catches but he is out anyway). Mason had three runs in each of the last two games and then the split between Cartwright and Ganther had been 15-5 and 13-8 in the last two games. It remains to be seen if Cartwright really will just play special teams and if Mason continues to just get three runs.

The Redskins have played two games with uncharacteristic offensive success. We'll see if that stretches into three games.

The Raiders have given up 159 yards on 37 carries to the Bengals and 115 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries to the visiting Chiefs in their last two home games. So it is reasonable to assume that the Redskins have at least marginal success. I am giving Ganther a decent game for a player with no starts in four years on the road in what has been termed a committee. There is risk here.

Now here is a messy game. What happens with the King of Trap Games meets the Queen? The Redskins are 3-9 and every win has been at home. The Raiders not only are 4-8 but they just beat the world champions in Pittsburgh. This game certainly favors the Raiders but seems like anything could happen here. The game could go off as a low scoring or high scoring game and there is no way to tell. The Skins on the road tend towards lower scores though.

Washington Redskins (3-9)
Homefield: FedEx Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @NYG 17-23 +6.5 37
2 STL 9-7 -10 37
3 @DET 14-19 -6.5 38
4 TB 16-13 -7 37
5 @CAR 17-20 +5 38
6 KC 6-14 -6 37
7 PHI 17-27 +7 37.5
8 BYE - - -
9 @ATL 17-31 +10 41
10 DEN 27-17 +4 36
11 @DAL 6-7 +11 41.5
12 @PHI 24-27 +9.5 40.5
13 NO 30-33 +9 46.5
14 @OAK - -1 37.5
15 NYG - - -
16 DAL - - -
17 @SD - - -
WAS at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Jason Campbell 10,1   200,1
RB Rock Cartwright 50,1 10
RB Quinton Ganther 70 10  
TE Fred Davis   50  
WR Santana Moss   40  
WR Antwaan Randle El   40  
WR Devin Thomas   30,1  
PK Graham Gano 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Redskins are careening towards another upheaval in the offseason but making the road there even worse is losing in Dallas, Philly and now against the visiting Saints by three points or less each week. That's enough to set the frustration level on high. And the remaining schedule is nothing but tough games. It's a credit to the Redskins to continue to play hard. And it is hard to watch them always lose by a small margin.

Expect a new kicker signed later this week.

Quarterback: Jason Campbell has enjoyed his best two games of the year in the recent weeks and he had a career best 367 yards and three scores last week in their failed bid to unseat the unbeaten Saints. He had two passing scores and a rushing touchdown in Philly. But the two previous games only saw him score a total of once with the same moderate yardage he has posted all year. Unless you think Campbell has suddenly had a spark in talent, he's only reaped the temporary benefits of playing teams that do not take them seriously and still beat them in the end.

Those gaudier games are probably over for now. The Raiders have only allowed three passing scores in total to visitors this season and yardage never goes higher than around 250. Figure Campbell could score once with moderate yardage but that should be his high side.

Running Backs: It is considered unlikely that Clinton Portis will return this season - what is the point really? That means that HC Jim Zorn will follow his committee system that uses four different running backs. Rock Cartwright remains the primary back which means a dozen or so carries but now Quinton Ganther, Marcus Mason and even Mike Sellers also get their share. All it means is that a marginally productive backfield that has not scored since week ten now has no fantasy value or reliability.

That's unfortunate facing the Raiders who are weaker against the run. I am going to credit Cartwright with yardage and a score but realize that it will be divided up between four backs so hands off this situation.

Wide Receivers: There is a spark of hope now that Santana Moss may not be the only wideout on the roster who can offer fantasy value. Moss has only been minimally relevant this season with three touchdowns and only three games over 50 yards. But Devin Thomas is making good on his second season by turning in seven receptions and 100 yards with two touchdowns against the Saints. He's been far more likely to only had 30 or 40 yards each week but at least he has finally seen a big game.

I like one passing score and that probably favors Thomas again since Moss is likely to draw Asomugha and get shut down - not that hard really. Antwaan Randle El has never scored this year so he's not likely. The yardage will be minimal here anyway so none of these receivers have fantasy value this week.

Tight Ends: The Redskins like throwing to their tight ends. Even when Chris Cooley left, they have replaced him with Fred Davis who gets 40 or 50 yards in most games and between he and Todd Yoder, the Skins have used the position for a touchdown catch in four of the last five games. But the Raiders have not allowed any tight ends to score this year so expect moderate yardage from Davis.

Gaining Fantasy Points WAS 16 21 21 10 21 31
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 16 30 16 2 28 23

Oakland Raiders (4-8)
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SD 20-24 +9.5 43
2 @KC 13-10 +4 41
3 DEN 3-23 +1.5 35.5
4 @HOU 6-29 +9.5 41
5 @NYG 7-44 +16.5 40.5
6 PHI 13-9 +14 40.5
7 NYJ 0-38 +6 34
8 @SD 16-24 +16 41.5
9 BYE - - -
10 KC 10-16 -1 37
11 CIN 20-17 +9 36
12 @DAL 7-24 +13.5 40.5
13 @PIT 27-24 -14.5 37
14 WAS - +1 37.5
15 @DEN - - -
16 @CLE - - -
17 BAL - - -
OAK vs WAS Rush Catch Pass
QB Bruce Gradkowski 20   200,1
RB Justin Fargas 50,1 10  
TE Zach Miller   50,1  
WR Louis Murphy   50  
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins   50  
PK S. Janikowski 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: No matter what happens, the Raiders finally have a game to point at and know that for one shining day (actually just the fourth quarter), they were better than the reigning Super Bowl champs in their own stadium. Of course it is also notable that first round busts JaMarcus Russell and Darrius Heyward-Bey did not play and Darren McFadden had almost no impact. If the Steelers could only continue to not use their first round mistakes they may win some more games.

Quarterback: Bruce Gradkowski is a hall of famer, at least compared to JaMarcus Russell. He has scored in each of his three starts and has six touchdowns. Russell only produced two in nine games. He has tended to remain around 200 yards each week with the 308 in Pittsburgh a major exception.

The Redskins have allowed every road opponent to score exactly one passing touchdown and have marginal passing yards - a perfect match.

Running Backs: Michael Bush has been all but phased out now that Justin Fargas resumed being the primary back. Fargas has been limited in the number of carries he gets because six to ten have to go justify paying Darren McFadden so much money but if anything is to happen in the rushing game, it will be Fargas first. McFadden has not gained more than 25 rushing yards in the last four games and is not even worth projecting for anymore.

Fargas has been right around 50 to 60 yards each week and has two touchdowns on the season to tie with Bush. The Redskins have been great against the run and not allowed any scores in Washington but on the road have given up five touchdowns over the last five away games. I like Fargas to score once in this game if Gradkowski doesn't run it in himself.

Wide Receivers: Darrius Heyward-Bey was a scratch last week because of a undisclosed foot injury and it may have been the most productive thing he has ever done. His absence allowed Louis Murphy to start and gain 128 yards on four catches with two scores that single-handedly beat the Steelers. Murphy only had six passes thrown his way and his production was multiples more than any other Raiders wideout has done in a game this year. He apparently inspired Johnnie Lee Higgins who had a season high 63 yards on four catches. It was as if the Raiders were a real offense that threw passes to wide receivers.

Assuming that the Raiders are turning any corner in the passing game is a huge risk. The Redskins have allowed 11 passing touchdowns to the position this year and the wideouts are more likely to score. But consider the yardage to be minimal and none of these receivers are reliable enough to warrant a fantasy start.

Tight Ends: Zach Miller has been the only consistent player with Gradkowski starting and has been turning in around 50 or so yards each week. I like him to have the score after the Oakland wideouts showed up last week and might actually deserve some notice.

Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 32 28 32 18 28 29
Preventing Fantasy Points WAS 4 7 11 5 26 27

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