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: 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 @PIT 0000031030 ****
Does it really matter what the Steelers have or haven't allowed? Luck is en fuego right now, with multiple touchdowns in every game and five straight (and six of seven) with 300-plus yards. Pep Hamilton has seen the light!
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, IND @PIT 6014401000 ****
Three backs have rushed for at least 75 yards against the Steelers in the past two games, and two backs have scored receiving touchdowns. Talk about teeing one up right in Bradshaw's wheelhouse...
Update: Trent Richardson hasn't practiced all week and is officially listed as questionable. Whether he's limited or out entirely, it means more touches for Bradshaw. And that's a very good thing, fantasy-wise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Trent Richardson, IND @PIT 3002100000 **
Richardson continues to get most of the between-the-tackle work, and while he hasn't topped 80 yards yet he's at least found the end zone a couple times in the past month. He's not as safe a fantasy bet as Ahmad Bradshaw, but it's a favorable enough matchup to be a viable fantasy option this week.
Update: While listed as questionable, Richardson did not practice all week. Even if he goes he clearly won't be at 100 percent, so dial back your expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND @PIT 009900000 ***
Hilton has at least 80 yards in five straight, triple-digit yardage in three of the last four, and stakes first claim to Andrew Luck's copious yardage total.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Donte Moncrief, IND @PIT 004500000 ****
Moncrief has been seeing an uptick in playing time, and the injury to Reggie Wayne should lead to more targets as well. It's a big pie Andrew Luck is creating; you could do worse than banking on Moncrief to carve out a slice this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Hakeem Nicks, IND @PIT 002300000 ***
Nicks remains on the fringe of relevancy, both for the Colts and fantasy wise. So long as Andrew Luck keeps churning out 300-yard games Nicks has a shot at being a fantasy helper. Reggie Wayne's possible absence this week certainly doesn't hurt Nicks' chances.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dwayne Allen, IND @PIT 003501000 ****
Allen is slightly more targeted and slightly more productive than his running mate at tight end. With Indy scoring at least one TE TD in every game thus far one--or both--need to be in fantasy lineups, and Allen is the slightly safer bet.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, IND @PIT 002201000 ***
While he's playing second fiddle to Dwayne Allen Fleener is still a fantasy factor in his own right with touchdowns in three of the past five games. Indy has at least one TE TD in every game, so if you're reaching for help at the position you could certainly do worse than Fleener.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND @PIT 1144 ***
My Cousin Vinny is averaging better than nine points per game; opposing kickers are averaging better than nine points per game against the Steelers. Pencil Adam in for something north of nine and call it a day.

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 Jay Cutler, CHI @NE 0000026021 ***
The list of quarterbacks the Patriots have held without multiple touchdowns includes Matt Cassel, Derek Carr, and the Geno Smith/Michael Vick dual entry. While Cutler was held in check by the Dolphins last week, he's certainly more quarterback than any of the aforementioned strugglers so pencil him in for his usual rounds against New England this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @NE 8016600000 ***
Nothing in the three 100-yard rushing games or four RB receiving scores the Patriots have allowed suggest New England has any hopes of containing Forte this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @NE 006701000 **
Assuming Darrelle Revis shows up on time, does he get Marshall or Alshon Jeffery, or some combination of the two? The Pats haven't allowed a receiver to top 81 yards on them, but they also haven't much in the way of WR talent; the two best they've seen, Mike Wallace and AJ Green, both hit that 81-yard mark and scored. Marshall hasn't seen the Pats since his Dolphins days, but he ruined them the last two times he saw them (both in 2011) with a combined 13-282-1. Pencil him in for a minimum of the 81 and 1 and we'll go from there.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @NE 003400000 ***
If Bill Belichick remembers how Brandon Marshall torched them during his days as a Dolphin it might mean Marshall gets Darrelle Revis... and Jeffery gets to run unabated through the New England secondary. He's as talented a wideout as the Pats have seen, and the talented targets have wound up with 80 yards and a score--a decent day's work for Jeffery.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @NE 005601000 **
Bennett's been relatively quiet since both Bears' wideouts returned to health, but he could return to fantasy relevancy here against a Patriots defense that's allowed two TE TDs in the past four games.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @NE 1133 ****
Gould hasn't cracked double-digits yet this season, has multiple field goals just once in the last month, and can no longer be considered a plug-and-play fantasy option.

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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