Game Predictions & Player Projections - NO vs. SD

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: NO 24, SD 35 (Line: SD by 4, O/U = 52)

UPDATE: Antonio Gates is doubtful to play and remains out of the projections. Hunter Henry takes his second start. Willie Snead is questionable because of his toe and was limited in all practices. He has not been counted out and could play but his status won't be certain until game time and how well his toe holds up is not certain. I am adding Snead in for a moderate game but there is risk here.

The 0-3 Saints come off a short week having just lost the Monday night game to the Falcons. The 1-2 Chargers return to San Diego and the only place they have won any games this year. This should be the highest scoring game of the week and hopefully not another flop like when the Saints met the Giants. All the makings for a shootout are here.

New Orleans Saints

1 OAK 34-35 10 DEN ---
2 @NYG 13-16 11 @CAR ---
3 ATL 32-45 12 LA ---
4 @SD --- 13 DET ---
5 BYE --- 14 @TB ---
6 CAR --- 15 @ARI ---
7 @KC --- 16 TB ---
8 SEA --- 17 @ATL ---
9 @SF ---      
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vs Rush Catch Pass

Pregame Notes: The Saints offense is posting the points but much like last year even they cannot keep up with what their own defense is giving away. This week will be interesting since the Saints average 33 points per game when at home but only managed 13 points in New York. The Chargers defense has been in the bottom ten for almost every category this year and the opportunity will be there for plenty of points - NFL and fantasy. This is a chance for the Saints to rack up some production before hitting their bye and then the schedule gets much, much worse from Week 6 to Week 12. This could be the last monster showing of the offense for a good while - as long as they can show up in a road game. On a short week.

QUARTERBACK : Drew Brees faced two of the worst defenses in the NFL and posted seven touchdowns while averaging around 400 passing yards. But in New York against a decent defense, he was held to only 263 yards and one score. The Chargers defense is not to the level that the Giants are and that should help Brees to blow up for a third time this year.

RUNNING BACK : Mark Ingram comes off a season best 77 yards on 15 runs and he scored once as a receiver when he caught four passes for 30 yards. But he was held to only 47 total yards in the only other road game. Ingram takes nearly all of the rushing load so whatever is there to get will belong to Ingram. Travaris Cadet turned in six catches for 32 yards last Monday but he never runs the ball and isn't productive enough to merit any fantasy consideration.

WIDE RECEIVER : Willie Snead was inactive because of his toe and Brandon Coleman (7-78) replaced him in the loss to the Falcons. The Saints also used Tommylee Lewis (3-43) as the 5-7/168 lb. speedster though he remains more of a gimmick than a part of the game plan. Brandin Cooks was held to only 13 yards on two catches as the Chargers dedicated to stopping him over all other receivers. Michael Thomas (7-71, TD) ended up with his first NFL touchdown in the process but so far Snead has still been the most productive when he plays. I'll assume that he remains out and update later in the week if needed.

TIGHT END : Coby Fleener finally had a breakout game with seven catches for 109 yards and a score. That was needed and while it may be the start of a beautiful relationship with Brees, it also was less of a surprise given that the Falcons have already allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends. A much needed start though and when the schedule toughens up, Fleener can add a much needed dimension to the offense.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Drew Brees is a must start every week and now faces a secondary that has not allowed fewer than 329 passing yards to any opponent. Played in San Diego could be slightly more limiting but more in touchdowns than yardage. There is a good chance that Coby Fleener again turns in a big game against a defense that always gives up at least 70 yards to tight ends.

Mark Ingram is been good for moderate yardage and there's no reason to expect any uptick here in a road game. He has a nice chance for a touchdown though last week they gave it to John Kuhn instead.

Cooks should have a bounce back game this week and his natural matchup is against Brandon Flowers who suffered a concussion last week and may not be ready to play. The Chargers gave up 174 yards to a banged up T.Y. Hilton last week playing the same flanker spot.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 14 1 23 15 28
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 29 27 15 29 10 11

San Diego Chargers

1 @KC 27-33 10 MIA ---
2 JAC 38-14 11 BYE ---
3 @IND 22-26 12 @HOU ---
4 NO --- 13 TB ---
5 @OAK --- 14 @CAR ---
6 DEN --- 15 OAK ---
7 @ATL --- 16 @CLE ---
8 @DEN --- 17 KC ---
9 TEN ---      
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vs Rush Catch Pass

Pregame Notes: The Chargers have just one win and yet are going through the easier part of the schedule - the Saints this week and then the Raiders before the defenses become much more challenging. The offense has been better than expected considering all the injuries that have already happened. The next two games should make the offense look far better than it really is and now is the time to cash in on those fantasy points.

QUARTERBACK : Philip Rivers has just five touchdowns on the year but four of them came in the only other home game. Rivers passed for just 220 yards on the Jaguars in Week 2 but only needed 17 completions for the easy win. Last week in Indianapolis, Rivers did not score but rolled up 330 yards. This week at home against one of the weakest defenses should be when it all comes together for a monster game.

RUNNING BACK : The loss of Danny Woodhead meant signing Dexter McCluster but his first start only resulted in two receptions for nine yards. Melvin Gordon was held to only 35 yards on 16 carries but he had every rushing attempt by a running back. And he scored for the third game in a row. The guy that couldn't score as a rookie now cannot stop scoring. But he still averages the same 3.6 yards per carry. This week should be his best matchup of the year. McCluster likely won't have an appreciable role until later in the year when the opposing defenses stuff the run and force the Charger to throw more. If even then. Gordon is getting a boost from the absence of Woodhead.

WIDE RECEIVER : Travis Benjamin was held to four catches for 82 yards by the Colts but had a breakout game when he was at home and posted 115 yards and two scores on the visiting Jaguars. Tyrell Williams was held to no catches in the first half last week but then ended with six receptions for 69 yards with a team high nine targets. Dontrelle Inman is a non factor with rarely more than one catch. That gives Williams at least 60 yards per game since he started and Benjamin has been worth 80+ yards.

TIGHT END : Antonio Gates was inactive last week with a hamstring strain and is no lock to show up this week. That meant that the rookie Hunter Henry got his first start and responded with five catches for 76 yards though he lost a critical fumble. The assumption is that Gates misses another game and Henry starts. Updates as warranted.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Saints have faced three good quarterbacks and allowed just three touchdowns but that was lessened by the six touchdown given up to the running backs. The only reason that Matt Ryan did not throw for over 300 yards like every other opponent was because the Saints gave up 194 rushing yards and three rushing scores. The only position that they have been good against was tight end but that in part was because they have not gone against any elite tight ends yet.

Needless to say, Rivers is a must start this week and should have a monster game unless Gordon has a really big performance - less likely though. Rivers, Gordon, Williams and Benjamin are must starts this week and should all have big fantasy performances.

Gaining Fantasy Points SD 12 6 13 19 8 6
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 16 32 24 8 25 14

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