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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: IND 17, CHI 27 (Line: CHI by 9.5)

Player Updates: Austin Collie, T.Y. Hilton, Donnie Avery

Players to Watch: Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Michael Bush, Alshon Jeffrey

The Colts finally found out what life without Peyton Manning was like. Ends up not that great. A complete rebuild is underway in Indianapolis while the Bears look to get back to a winning season after ending 8-8 in 2012. This is a dream season opener for the Bears against a Colts offense led by a rookie and without all those Colts stars from the past.

Indianapolis Colts
Homefield: Lucas Oil Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @CHI ----- 10 @JAC -----
2 MIN ----- 11 @NE -----
3 JAC ----- 12 BUF -----
4 BYE ----- 13 @DET -----
5 GB ----- 14 TEN -----
6 @NYJ ----- 15 @HOU -----
7 CLE ----- 16 @KC -----
8 @TEN ----- 17 HOU -----
9 MIA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: Time to start over. The Colts completely imploded in 2011 without Peyton Manning who apparently was the glue. By the bloody end, the team had replaced the entire coaching staff and removed almost all those Colt stars of the past that helped you win your league. Now HC Chuck Pagano takes over and OC Bruce Arians comes over from Pittsburgh. He'll try to build a balanced yet aggressive offense but that may take some time given the lack of running backs.

Foremost was the drafting of Andrew Luck who not only was touted as the most NFL ready quarterback in decades, but so far he has pretty much looked the part. Working with less than stellar receivers he was effective and impressive in the preseason. It is pretty certain that he will be forced to throw a lot this season.

The Colts retained Reggie Wayne who will be the #1 receiver and while initially it was thought that a rookie quarterback was going to really impact the aging star, so far it looks like Wayne is going to be fine. Pierre Garcon left which leaves an opening that has still not been entirely filled. The Colts will be mixing in Donnie Avery, Austin Collie and the rookie T.Y. Hilton and the pecking order will be changing as the season progresses. Especially if Avery and Collie can remain healthy. Encouraging results from Luck indicates all may not be lost here... like last year.

The Colts also brought in Coby Fleener who was Luck's tight end at Stanford. He was a preferred endzone target but never produced more than 35 catches in any season with Luck. The Colts also drafted Dwayne Allen as another high potential tight end and this group of receivers has long-term potential though it may take some time to realize it.

Arians likes his ground attack to be physical but all they have is Donald Brown and Vick Ballard. Brown was heading for the chopping block before late season play made him look better when defenses no longer cared if anyone was rushing by the Colts since it chewed the clock and ended the game faster. Brown is joined by the rookie Ballard as his backup and Mewelde Moore who should contribute on third downs. Overall - this team smacks of using a high pick on a running back in 2013.

This is a must watch game from all the new elements in it but Luck alone cannot be enough to consider this as a likely win for the Colts. On the road against a very good defense will be a nice measuring stick to see what the Colts may end up to be later.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 29 32 17 23 26 31
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 26 7 25 30 14 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Andrew Luck, IND @JAC 20100025021 ***
Luck is missing one of his top targets in Donte Moncrief, but as T.Y. Hilton showed in Week 3, speed kills. Luck heads to London to face a division rival that he hasn't played since 2014. Jacksonville is the eighth easiest matchup for quarterbacks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, IND @JAC 5003200000 ***
Six teams have been kinder to running backs than Gore's Week 4 opponent. The matchup, along with his limited use and marginal effectiveness, call for a trip to the bench in regular situations. Desperation only.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND @JAC 007901000 ***
Hilton showed last week that one big play can turn things around. He was having an OK day until ripping off a monster TD catch-and-run. He should be started in all formats, and this matchup is two thumbs up in his favor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Phillip Dorsett, IND @JAC 003500000 ***
The speedster crosses the pond and has a fine matchup. Jacksonville ranks eighth against wideouts, giving up five touchdowns on 41 grabs. Dorsett has limited fantasy appeal and is best used in non-PPR leagues.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jack Doyle, IND @JAC 003201000 **
Doyle is becoming a playable commodity in fantasy circles, and it's coming at Dwayne Allen's expense. Doyle played in 74 percent of the snaps last week, compared to Allen's 82 percent. Jacksonville is a bottom-10 matchup for tight ends.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dwayne Allen, IND @JAC 003300000 ***
Allen is a tough sell for any fantasy starting lineup ... this week, the going gets rougher. Jacksonville has allowed a line of 11-86-1 to the position. Keep Allen in reserve until he has a better matchup and a larger role.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND @JAC 3322 ***
A trip to London brings a meeting with the fifth easiest kicker matchup. Jacksonville has ceded seven field goals and nine extra points at a 100 percent accuracy clip.

Chicago Bears
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 IND ----- 10 HOU -----
2 @GB ----- 11 @SF -----
3 STL ----- 12 MIN -----
4 @DAL ----- 13 SEA -----
5 @JAC ----- 14 @MIN -----
6 BYE ----- 15 GB -----
7 DET ----- 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR ----- 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Bears were 7-3 when Jay Cutler went down with a broken thumb last year and then dropped the next five straight before clipping the Vikings in the season finale to salvage an non-losing 8-8 record. In the process, the Bears finally agreed that a Mike Martz offense was a poor fit in Chicago and let him go. Mike Tice was promoted to become the offensive coordinator. Martz has been known as a quarterback killer and the shaky offensive line in Chicago could not prevent the pass rush from reaching Cutler. The offensive line is not expected to be much better this season but at least Tice will look to better protect Cutler. Especially now that they know what happens when he is out injured for a stretch.

Matt Forte comes off his big pay day and finds Michael Bush from Oakland there to help out with those goal line runs. Bush is not expected to take a significant amount of carries from Forte. He is expected to take away short yardage touchdowns and Forte has only averaged five per season for his career. Forte has been good for 50+ catches in each of his four seasons and that is expected to continue. Bush is the new guy here and the one to watch to see just how much playing time he gets.

Where the Bears spent their money on offense was to get Cutler some better receivers. Under Martz, there was no real #1 wideout and in fantasy terms, it was a wasteland because none of them had appreciable stats. Now Brandon Marshall is reunited with his old Denver quarterback and Alshon Jeffrey has sparked even more optimism as a credible #2 receiver. Devin Hester also starts if only as a tribute to yesteryear but his value to the team will always be mostly as an elite return man. Out with the old, complicated passing scheme that favored no one and produced little and in with a more traditional attack using just two very talented players - a great thing for fantasy purposes.

Kellen Davis has languished with Martz there as would any tight end. There is reason for optimism with ex-tight end Mike Tice running the offense but Marshall and Jeffrey may end up taking up too much of Cutler's time and not leave much for any tight end.

Nice way to open the season - at home against the worst team from the previous year. Can't ask for more.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 16 13 24 25 22 26
Preventing Fantasy Points IND 17 30 19 26 28 19

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Brian Hoyer, CHI DET 0000026021 ***
There's a reasonable chance that Hoyer keeps the starting job. Check back Friday for Jay Cutler's status update. Until then, presume it's Hoyer's gig for Week 4. The Lions stink when it comes to slowing QBs, allowing 28.9 fantasy points per contest. Only Atlanta has been worse. That said, Hoyer is a fringe consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI DET 00000000 *
Check back for a Friday update on Cutler's playing status.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jordan Howard, CHI DET 7004400000 ***
It's Howard's time to shine -- or continue to, really. The matchup is difficult. Detroit hasn't given up a single touchdown, and they rank in the bottom half of fantasy points allowed. Play Howard with cautious optimism as a flex.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI DET 005701000 ***
Detroit has given up the third most touchdowns to receivers this year. Their best pass rusher, Ziggy Ansah, won't be 100 percent, assuming he even plays. Jeffery makes for a fine WR2 this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kevin White, CHI DET 004400000 ***
White shows signs of traction last week, and there's reason to like him as a PPR flex in Week 4. Detroit has given up 34 receptions, five of which went for touchdowns, for a midrange ranking against WRs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, CHI DET 002300000 ***
Royal belongs no where near fantasy lineups this week or most any.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Zach Miller, CHI DET 006701000 ****
Miller is a must-start with Brian Hoyer at the helm. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that Detroit is the second worst defense of the tight end position, paved by giving up five touchdowns in three games. Literally half of the league hasn't even allowed one TD to TEs.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, CHI DET 2222 ***
Detroit ranks squarely in the middle of the NFL against fantasy kickers, allowing an average of 7.7 points per game. Game flow will matter a great deal in this one.

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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