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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 @NO 0000023012 ***
Ryan was terrible in the Week 14 game, tossing three picks against one TD and 221 yards gained. He has just three TD passes in his last four games and doesn't deserve consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL @NO 6013200000 ***
Freeman is coming off his best performance of the year and most well-rounded effort. The Falcons could be without Tevin Coleman again, so check back Friday. The Saints provided Freeman 91 yards on 24 carries in the Week 14 contest. He scored once and didn't add a reception. The Saints are a midrange defense stats-wise over the last five weeks.

Update: Coleman has been removed from the injury report.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL @NO 3002200000 *
Coleman remains in the concussion protocol as of Wednesday's session. He last played in Week 14 against these Saints, finishing with 32 yards on nine carries before an early exit. They may not rush him back with the way Devontae Freeman played last week.

Update: Coleman has been removed from the injury report.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hardy, ATL @NO 002301000 ***
Hardy has two scores in the past five weeks (3 games), though gamers can look elsewhere for a deep flier.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @NO 004600000 ***
Jones (ankle) has just two scores (in one game) over the last eight contests, and his season total is somehow only three. The last time he played the Saints was just two short weeks ago, and the veteran saw 11 targets for five catches and 98 yards worth of gains. New Orleans has allowed big receptions (6th) and yardage (4th) figures over the last five games, though only one in 13.6 snares has found paydirt (17th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL @NO 003400000 ***
Sanu (knee) is enjoying his best fantasy season to date, and his strongest PPR effort came two weeks again vs. New Orleans (6-83-1). The veteran sidekick gets another crack at exploiting a defense that will be trained on limiting Julio Jones. Wideouts have scored six times in the last five games vs. this defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Hooper, ATL @NO 002300000 ***
Hooper has gone five straight games without a score, and his limited role makes the second-year tight end a fantasy anchor without finding the end zone. He caught a 2-23-0 line in Week 14 vs. the Saints.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @NO 2222 ***
Bryant has a midrange matchup, on paper, but anything can happen went two divisional talents face off. The Saints have given up two field goal attempts and 2.4 extra point tries per game, or the 13th-most for both on a weekly average.

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
RB Kareem Hunt, KC MIA 11016401000 ***
Following five games of borderline bench-worthy play, the slumbering monster has come out of hibernation. Should he struggle on the ground, Miami is an awesome matchup through the ski. This defense has granted the second-most receptions (8.2), fourth-most yards (60.8) and a trio of aerial TDs in the last five games to go with as many on the ground.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Kerwynn Williams, KC MIA 300000000 *
Williams' status is unclear at this time. He missed Wednesday's session with a quad injury. Check back Friday for more details.

Update: It seems unlikely Williams will play after failing to log more than one limited session all week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Sammy Watkins, KC MIA 004701000 ***
The matchup trends against Tennessee break with Watkins' typical style, so this one really could go either way. The Titans have permitted receivers to march up and down the field with receptions (12th) and yardage (10th) on a weekly clip. However, this is the seventh-toughest defense for scoring against in the past five weeks. On the year, this is a much better matchup, statistically speaking.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tyreek Hill, KC MIA 005600000 ***
Since Week 10, wideouts have managed only two touchdowns in five games against the Dolphins. This is the worst team for racking up receptions, and only two teams have provided more yardage on a weekly rate.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Travis Kelce, KC MIA 006801000 ***
Tight ends have gone for 4.4 receptions (16th), 62.2 yards (4th) and a touchdown every 7.3 catches (10th) -- Kelce shouldn't have much trouble finding room in the middle vs. Miami.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Harrison Butker, KC MIA 2233 ***
The match is moderate, and Butker is among the best fantasy options when KC's offense is clicking. Most (13) of the 21 kicking chances against the Dolphins have been PATs.

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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