FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) *IND at CHI *PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC JAC at MIN *PIT at DEN *WAS at NO
*BUF at NYJ *MIA at HOU *SEA at ARI *CIN at BAL (MON)
*UPDATED *CAR at TB *NE at TEN SF at GB *SD at OAK (MON)

Prediction: ATL 24, KC 23 (Line: ATL by 2.5)

Players to Watch: Jacquizz Rodgers, Peyton Hillis

The Falcons reached the playoffs last year and look to take another big step (like winning in the playoffs) with a new and more aggressive passing offense and what should be a better defense. The Chiefs come off a nightmare season where they lost Jamaal Charles and continued to lose players and games the entire season though a late season surge left them at 7-9. The Falcons were only 4-4 on the road last year but have to open their season with a win here in order to show they are going to be a force in the NFC. The Chiefs have players back and all new coaches from last year. This could be a sneaky win by the Chiefs but should have the Falcons flexing some muscle.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC ----- 10 @NO -----
2 DEN ----- 11 ARI -----
3 @SD ----- 12 @TB -----
4 CAR ----- 13 NO -----
5 @WAS ----- 14 @CAR -----
6 OAK ----- 15 NYG -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI ----- 17 TB -----
9 DAL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: This has the marks of a very good season for the Falcons who have one of the lightest schedules in the NFL and an offense on the upswing. Matt Ryan already had a break out season with 4177 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011 (Authors note - remember when a 4000 yard season was considered a big one?). He returns all the same receivers and helms a new offensive scheme that will be more open and more predicated on the pass like virtually every other team this year.

The rushing effort will be less relied on according to the plan and that's a good thing given that Michael Turner has apparently lost a step already and looks slow and less powerful. He can be relied on for touchdowns and had 11 last year but if he loses any power rushing ability the Falcons could just throw a scoring pass or try out Jacquizz Rodgers instead which is what they did in the preseason with encouraging results. The hope is that Rodgers takes a much more prominent role this year as both a runner and receiver. This will be a tandem attack and if Turner really has take a turn for the worse, then Rodgers may end up as the back to own here. Rodgers can do himself a huge favor by showing up big this year and making the case to be the man in 2013 while negating the need to bring in any heavy hitter to replace Michael Turner.

Another source of optimism is Julio Jones who is everything that Michael Turner is not - young, comes off a great year and has by all accounts gotten even better this summer. Jones ended his rookie year with 54-959-8 and that was with missing three games. He had five efforts top 100 yards and better yet, he scored six times over the final five games. Roddy White started the year out slowly but picked it up and ended with his second straight 100 catch season. This is a very powerful tandem now and the biggest reason to expect more from the Falcons this year. Harry Douglas takes the #3 role again but there has not been enough passes to trickle down and make him fantasy relevant. This may change a little with the newer offense but not much to go on yet.

Tony Gonzalez returns for what has to be his final season (and he means it this time) but kudos to the best tight end in NFL history. He had a nice 80-875-7 season last year while burying nearly every record for his position.

Chances are best that the Falcons are able to get a win here with a powerful offense and improved defense against a team that will be better than 2011 but also has new schemes and such to install and new players to meld in. Should the Falcons lose this opener, they have to wonder if their road woes are going to continue to be a problem. They catch a break since the Falcons LCB Brandon Flowers has been out with a heel injury and may not play this week and at the least be less than 100%.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 9 10 7 10 12 14
Preventing Fantasy Points KC 11 21 4 8 8 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL DET 0000027011 ***
It's been a month since Ryan tossed multiple scores, and this date with a Detroit defense that begrudgingly gave Drew Brees two TDs last week but has otherwise kept the vaunted Saints in check doesn't project to do him any favors.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL DET 4011100000 *
Jackson is barely startable in a favorable matchup; against a Detroit defense that hasn't allowed a rushing score since Week 4 or a 100-yard rusher all season, there's nothing to like at all.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Antone Smith, ATL DET 2003300000 ***
Still a lottery ticket of a fantasy helper, and last week he failed to cash out. Limited touches and a tough defense make that the more likely outcome again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL DET 2003200000 **
Freeman's share of the workload is increasing, but against a tough D like Detroit's it'll take more than a share to make some fantasy noise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL DET 005701000 **
Detroit gave up multiple 100-yard receivers last week, while White posted his first triple-digit yardage outing of the season. While he's still WR2 to Julio Jones, he's a strong WR2 and a viable fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL DET 006800000 ****
Jones remains an every-week fantasy starter, even against a tough defense like Detroit's; just dial back the expectations a bit.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL DET 004400000 *
Douglas is an iffy play injury wise and a lousy play otherwise against a Detroit defense that isn't allowing much to opposing receivers let alone secondary targets.
Update: Douglas squeezed in two limited practices this week. He's listed as questionable, but between his third-wheel status and a difficult matchup you should look elsewhere for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL DET 1122 ****
Bryant hasn't scored double-digit points since Week 1, and a date with the top defense in the league isn't likely to help matters.

Kansas City Chiefs
Homefield: Arrowhead Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 ATL ----- 10 @PIT -----
2 @BUF ----- 11 CIN -----
3 @NO ----- 12 DEN -----
4 SD ----- 13 CAR -----
5 BAL ----- 14 @CLE -----
6 @TB ----- 15 @OAK -----
7 BYE ----- 16 IND -----
8 OAK ----- 17 @DEN -----
9 @SD ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Chiefs come off a season they want to forget where Jamaal Charles was instantly lost along with Tony Moeaki. That sent the offense into a tailspin. Matt Cassel missed seven games. The Chiefs finally dusted themselves off and got back into the game later in the year but the damage was already done to a lost season. The ownership brought in new coaches and bumped Romeo Crennel to head coach.

Jamaal Charles is right at one year removed from tearing his ACL but has seemed to bounce back exceedingly well. His trademark burst is intact and his speed has not suffered. He played in three preseason games and looked good. What will be a factor this year is the addition of Peyton Hillis who played previously with OC Brian Daboll when he had his big year. The natural assumption is that he becomes the new Thomas Jones. And two seasons ago in what was Charles best year, Jones actually had a lot of carries (265 vs 294). The fantasy fear is that Hillis takes all the short scores but Charles has never had more than seven rushing touchdowns in a year anyway. His role as a runner and a receiver getting big chunks of yardage is his tool in trade. There is room for both in this offense and most notable will be just how much they use Hillis and how much they protect Charles and take him out of short yardage situations. This running attack once again has a lot of potential.

The receivers are also a strength here with Dwayne Bowe seemingly coming off a bad year (81-1159-5) though that was with multiple quarterbacks and he scored 15 touchdowns in 2010 playing all year with Cassel. Jonathan Baldwin is the second-year player who did not get into any fights, did not break his hand and who has be all accounts had a very good camp and should be ready to step up from an otherwise lost rookie year. Steve Breaston will lose more work as Baldwin improves. Tony Moeaki returns from his knee surgery but finds Kevin Boss there to share the load with and there's not enough passes to the position to split the bounty.

This is a home game and the Chiefs always play tough at Arrowhead. At full strength, they'll put up a fight but first week out after coaching upheavals in the offseason make it harder to come together.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points KC 30 19 20 32 28 24
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 19 6 20 20 9 9

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Alex Smith, KC STL 0000019020 ***
The Rams have served up multiple passing TDs in four straight and five of six, as well as back-to-back 300-yard outings to a pair of quarterbacks known more for their running than their throwing. The last time Smith got home cooking he lit up the Patriots for three TDs; have to like his chances of something similar this time around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jamaal Charles, KC STL 9013201000 ****
On the one hand, a Rams D that's allowed only one RB TD all season. On the other, Charles as the focal point of the Kansas City offense. Expect Andy Reid to find ways of getting the ball into Charles' hands--and Charles to find ways of getting the ball into the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Knile Davis, KC STL 400000000 ***
Davis' 11 touches last week suggest he'll be getting a larger share of the workload than previously anticipated; however, the 31 yards those 11 touches produced suggest he still won't be much of a fantasy factor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dwayne Bowe, KC STL 005801000 **
Opposing WR1s have scored in four straight against the Rams, and Bowe is what passes for a WR1 in Kansas City.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Jenkins, KC STL 002400000 ***
Usually there's no need in identifying a WR2 for the Chiefs as their passing game production barely fills the WR1 cup let alone secondary targets. However, the Rams have allowed 10 different receivers to score and/or top 50 yards in just the past four games, so there should be enough for another fantasy helper here. That said, good luck finding one amongst this mötley crüe.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Travis Kelce, KC STL 004300000 ****
The Rams haven't given up much to tight ends this year, though Cooper Helfet got them for a TD last week. Kelce has scored in three of the past four games, so if Helfet opened a door Kelce should be able to push his way through into fantasy relevancy once again.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Cairo Santos, KC STL 1133 ***
Last week's hero now has double-digit efforts in two of the past three games and could be viewed as a fringe fantasy helper here.

WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) IND at CHI PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC JAC at MIN PIT at DEN WAS at NO
BUF at NYJ MIA at HOU SEA at ARI CIN at BAL (MON)
  CAR at TB NE at TEN SF at GB SD at OAK (MON)

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