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 @BAL 0000029012 ***
Baltimore has allowed back-to-back 300-yard passing games and four this season of 290 or more, plus multiple TDs to each of the past two QBs they've faced. Sounds like a softer non-dome landing than many expect for Ryan on the road; he'll be just fine this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Antone Smith, ATL @BAL 1004400000 ****
The 2014 season's ultimate big-play threat has scored in every game in which he's received three or more touches. Just because you've hit the lottery before, however, doesn't necessarily mean you'll hit it again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL @BAL 3002100000 *****
Only one team's running backs have found the end zone against the Ravens, and that took a commitment to the run Atlanta has demonstrated only in the 56-14 blowout win over Tampa Bay. As they're unlikely to run the Ravens by 40 points in Baltimore, Jackson won't see enough touches to be fantasy relevant this week given his limited productivity with said touches.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL @BAL 1003200000 *****
Freeman is still fighting an uphill battle for touches and can't be banked on as a fantasy helper just yet.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @BAL 007801000 ****
High volume targets find success against the Ravens, and there's little question Jones is a high-volume target. The twin TDs by Tampa's wideouts last week suggest Atlanta's dynamic duo should find at least a modicum of success in Baltimore.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL @BAL 005400000 ****
White is definitely running WR2 to Julio Jones; moreover, his yardage is capping well shy of triple digits so he'll need the TD to be a major fantasy factor. Tampa Bay's wideouts scored twice on the Ravens last week so it's not an impossibility, but it's at least an unlikelihood.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Hester, ATL @BAL 002300000 ****
Hester's a better play in more favorable matchups. This isn't one, so he's relegated to the "one big play" pile with Antone Smith--and right now Smith is doing it better.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL @BAL 002200000 *****
Since scoring in Week 1 Toilolo has a total of 84 yards and zero scores. He's no Tony Gonzalez; then again, few are. And a matchup with a Baltimore defense that hasn't let a TE top 60 yards this season and surrendered only one TE TD on the year isn't about to make him look like Tony G, either.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @BAL 1111 ***
Bryant's been slightly above average, which is disappointing given the talent on Atlanta's offense. The Ravens have been a mild damper on opposing kickers, so keep your expectations in check here.

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 @SD 0000024020 ***
Derek Carr's four TDs against the Chargers last week make you think with an extra week of prep Smith can at least be productive in San Diego. Plus, the last time he saw the Chargers, albeit at home, he went for 294 and 3. Dial those back a bit and bank on plenty of dumpoff love to Charles and Kelce and Smith carves out a fantasy helper for you this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jamaal Charles, KC @SD 8004201000 ***
Charles is back to at least close to his dominating fantasy self, but before you let expectations run amok consider that he has a grand total of 79 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards--with zero touchdowns--in his past two visits to San Diego. In fact, he's done nothing of fantasy note in America's most beautiful city since 2009. The Bolts aren't giving up much to opposing backs, though they did surrender four RB receiving scores in the first three games and last week let Darren McFreakin'Fadden take them for 80 yards on the ground. So again, Charles is solid, just not blow your socks off elite this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Knile Davis, KC @SD 300000000 ***
Last week's two-carry performance is far more indicative of what you'll get out of Davis with Jamaal Charles healthy--especially in a non-favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dwayne Bowe, KC @SD 005600000 ***
Bowe has a decent track record in three games against the Chargers since Andy Reid took over, averaging roughly seven catches for 80 yards and a score in those tilts. And with the San Diego secondary being exposed by Derek Carr and the vaunted Raiders passing game his chances of another fantasy helper here are more than reasonable.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Travis Kelce, KC @SD 004400000 ***
Tough to trust Kelce for fantasy assistance this week when Anthony Fasano saw twice as many targets last week and the Chargers have allowed just one TE TD on the year and an average of less than 40 yards per game to the position.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Cairo Santos, KC @SD 1133 ***
Santos has topped five points only once, and a San Diego defense that's giving up an average of less than four per game isn't exactly a helper.

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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