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 WAS 20000030030 ***
Luck eased up last week, turning a season-low 32 attempts into just 253 and 1. The Redskins aren't a pushover, but there's no reason to think he can't get back in the saddle with the usual attempts turned into what's become the norm: multiple TDs and something approaching 300 yards.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dan Herron, IND WAS 3005300000 ****
Herron has moved into roughly half the Indy backfield workload, but he's not doing enough with those touches to warrant significant fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Trent Richardson, IND WAS 4002200000 ***
Richardson has become purely a volume guy, and with half his volume going to Dan Herron--and the Redskins a relatively tough matchup for opposing RBs--he's a fringe fantasy entity at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND WAS 0081202000 ***
Washington's allowed a gaudy WR performance each of the past two weeks--Mike Evans' 7-209-2, Anquan Boldin's 9-137-1--and Hilton is the Colt most likely to follow that lead.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Reggie Wayne, IND WAS 005601000 **
Wayne's a solid wingman but not much of a fantasy option against a team that hasn't allowed multiple WR fantasy helpers in more than a month.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Hakeem Nicks, IND WAS 003400000 ***
Nicks is too lightly targeted and too inconsistently productive to bank on for fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, IND WAS 002300000 ***
Given his performance the previous two weeks, last week's 2-28 from Fleener was a genuine disappointment. Washington's a bit softer of a TE matchup so Fleener's a slightly better bet to put that disappointment in the rear view mirror and deliver a fantasy helper here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND WAS 3333 ****
My Cousin Vinny hasn't been below eight points since the season opener and hit double-digits three of the past four games. He's as money a kicker as you can find right now.

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 @DET 0000024021 ****
This "Lions as an elite defense" may feel new, but Cutler has just one multiple TD outing against Detroit in their last seven meetings dating back to 2010. And while the Lions have been softer of late Cutler has hardly been a consistent fantasy contributor and is more likely to honor the holiday with a turkey here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @DET 5006601000 ***
The back end of last season's series with the Lions was the first time in 12 meetings that Forte didn't score and/or top 100 yards from scrimmage against the Lions. He's too big a part of the Chicago offense to be pushed aside, even given the tough matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @DET 006601000 ****
Jeffery topped 100 yards in both ends of last season's series with the Lions, and by virtue of two healthy ankles he may be the better Bears option in a tough matchup this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @DET 006500000 ***
Marshall appears to be hobbling once again, and with this being a tougher matchup and a short week the Bears may opt to lean on Alshon Jeffery instead.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @DET 004400000 ***
Bennett has been quiet since the Bears' Week 9 bye, though he could see an uptick in targets if Brandon Marshall is indeed hobbled. That's what his fantasy owners will have to hope for, as aside from that this matchup doesn't play out in his favor.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @DET 2222 ***
While the Lions have made visiting kickers quite comfortable over their last three at home, Gould's whopping 11 points in the past five games suggest you keep him far, far away from your fantasy lineup.

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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