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: JAC 17, MIN 27 (Line: MIN by 4)

Player Updates: Justin Blackmon, Adrian Peterson

Players to Watch: Justin Blackmon, Adrian Peterson

The Jaguars were 5-11 last season and probably not that good. The Vikings were only 3-13 and only one once at home. This was supposed to be the battle of the Stud Running Backs but now neither is likely to be in the shape needed to do much. That leaves two very marginal passing attacks and the home Vikes are better there.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Homefield: J'ville Municipal Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @MIN ----- 10 IND -----
2 HOU ----- 11 @HOU -----
3 @IND ----- 12 TEN -----
4 CIN ----- 13 @BUF -----
5 CHI ----- 14 NYJ -----
6 BYE ----- 15 @MIA -----
7 @OAK ----- 16 NE -----
8 @GB ----- 17 @TEN -----
9 DET ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars struggled through last season with a rookie quarterback that ranked dead last among NFL starters. Blaine Gabbert became the starter in week two but ended the year with only 2214 passing yards and 12 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. This in a season where passing stats were setting records everywhere else. Gabbert remains the starter though Jack Del Rio and his staff did not fare as well. The Jaguars went with Mike Mularkey for head coach with Bob Bratkowski as offensive coordinator who will call the plays. This remains a run-first attack but will work on improving the passing in particular.

To give Gabbert a better chance, the Jags grabbed the best receiver in the NFL draft with Justin Blackmon who has been a positive in the preseason once he finally showed up. Blackmon should add a valuable weapon to the offense so long as Gabbert does not continue to be the problem. They also brought in Laurent Robinson as one of the best available free agents. Robinson comes off his 11 touchdown performance in Dallas last season. Bottom line here, the best of 2011 was Mike Thomas (44-415-2) and he's barely hanging on as the #3 wideout. Talent is on either side, now it is all about how well the ball gets to them and if Gabbert can stay upright long enough to throw the ball. He was noted as a rookie for almost taking an immediate knee when the blocking broke down by the end of the season.

An improved Gabbert would help Marcedes Lewis who went from 58-700-10 in 2010 to only 39-460 with zero scores last season. Ten touchdown drop in one year. Yeah, the passing could have been better.

Of course the entire 2011 season was salvaged by Maurice Jones-Drew who somehow led the entire NFL with 1606 rushing yards and he scored eight times. For a team that had no discernible passing attack, what MJD accomplished was even more impressive. You might say "hold out for more money" impressive but you would be wrong. Jones-Drew ended his ill-advised pointless holdout that will actually cost him money in fines and certainly give him a slow start to the season.

With a lesser Jones-Drew and a Gabbert who could vastly improve and yet still be pretty bad, first game out of the gate is likely to be a loss on the road.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points JAC 32 14 32 25 27 18
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 32 17 30 24 32 28

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Chad Henne, JAC @IND 0000018012 ***
Henne has multiple touchdown passes in four straight games, though he hasn't topped 237 yards in any of those outings. He'll be better than Blaine Gabbert (179 & 0) was in the earlier meeting between these clubs; whether he'll do enough to be a fantasy helper is another matter entirely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Brown, JAC @IND 004600000 ***
Indy has shut out the last two receiving corps they've faced, and with Jacksonville down to its depth receivers there isn't much to see here. Brown has been the most successful of late, so if you're reaching he's the one to reach for.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ace Sanders, JAC @IND 003400000 ***
Sanders was a serviceable wingman in the earlier meeting with Indy, but he was a bit player last week against the Titans and has a total of just 63 yards the past three games. Tough to bank on him for any sort of fantasy contribution here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC @IND 005301000 ****
No tight end is hotter than Lewis, who has scored in four straight. It's not a particularly favorable matchup here, but with all of Jacksonville's wideouts hurt Lewis has become the go-to guy.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Scobee, JAC @IND 1111 ****
Scobee has just one double-digit effort all year, and it certainly wasn't his three-point showing in the earlier meeting with Indy. Get your kicks elsewhere.

Minnesota Vikings
Homefield: Metrodome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 JAC ----- 10 DET -----
2 @IND ----- 11 BYE -----
3 SF ----- 12 @CHI -----
4 @DET ----- 13 @GB -----
5 TEN ----- 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS ----- 15 @STL -----
7 ARI ----- 16 @HOU -----
8 TB ----- 17 GB -----
9 @SEA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: Not unlike the Jaguars, the Vikings struggled last year with a stud running back in the backfield and a passing attack that was rarely quite good enough. But the Vikings defense was more of the problem and even once they opted to bench Donovan McNabb, it did not get much better. Christian Ponder could not outscore what his own defense was giving away. But Ponder did have five multiple touchdown games and was consistently better at home than away. He rarely threw for more than around 220 yards but his performance was promising and compared to someone like Blaine Gabbert he was very effective in his first season as a starter.

There are reasons to expect even better passing stats for 2012. Percy Harvin returns after playing all 16 games last year and ending with a total of 1309 yards and eight touchdowns as a true dual threat. The Vikes brought in Jerome Simpson from Cincinnati who has been thrilling this summer. He has to serve a two game suspension but he has Week 4 circled on his calendar, he meshed with Ponder in the preseason, he takes the top off a defense, and Michael Jenkins will hold his place in the lineup for three weeks.

Kyle Rudolph is another key to this year. His rookie season was nothing special but the 2.11 pick from last season is a candidate for a second-year breakout season. He's definitely one to watch in this game since he has the talent level to become one of the best tight ends.

The Vikings remain a team built around Adrian Peterson who tore three ligaments in his knee last January and has since tried to become the fastest healer in the history of orthopedic surgery. He will be active to start the year and how much and how well he will play remains to be seen. The good news is that his knee has not bee problematic so far and not swollen up after use. The bad news is that he never played in any preseason game, only recently started to put on pads and medical marvel or not, he is playing eight months after an injury that would have ended a career only five or ten years ago.

Opening the season at home against a weak offense should make this a win. The Jaguars still have a good defense that will keep the Vikings from getting any major stats here but week one always tends to favor the offenses anyway.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 18 18 19 20 22 17
Preventing Fantasy Points JAC 10 9 7 30 7 17

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Cassel, MIN DET 0000022011 ***
Christian Ponder launched the Vikings' forgettable 2013 season with 236 and 1 against the Lions; now Cassel gets to stake his claim to a roster spot (starting job?) in 2014 with a by-comparison outing in the Metrodome finale. The Lions have allowed only two passing scores in the past four games, so it'll be a stiffer test than you might think for Cassel.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN DET 400000000 *
Right now Adrian Peterson appears to be the healthiest running back on the Vikings roster, but Asiata may work his way back into the mix as well. Still, if Peterson is active he'll get the carries and Asiata will have only memories of his one shining three-touchdown moment a couple weeks back. UPDATE: With Peterson listed as doubtful and Toby Gerhart out, Asiata is expected to get the start this week. He scored thrice a couple weeks back under similar circumstances, but against a stout Detroit defensive line he'll need the offense to set him up with short opportunities to be an effective fantasy back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN DET 0081001000 ***
Jerome Simpson had the big day the last time these teams got together, but much has changed since: Matt Cassel is the quarterback, Jennings his favorite receiver, and explosive rookie Cordarrelle Patterson is seeing more looks as well. Toss in Jarius Wright and it's a crowded house--though target-wise Jennings still tends to be the patriarch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN DET 3013600000 **
The Vikings continue to find ways to get the ball into the hands of the explosive Patterson. He's approaching the franchise kickoff return record, has a couple touchdown runs of late, and last week led the team in targets as well. He's a threat any time he touches the ball, to the point that he at least warrants fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarius Wright, MIN DET 003500000 ***
Wright has been a surprise contributor in the Vikings' passing game, but it's impossible to bank on him being productive when he's at best the team's third option.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN DET 1122 ***
Walsh averages two points more per game at home, and he's facing a Lions' defense that has allowed more points to kickers than any other team in the Metrodome's swan song. Expect him to get ample opportunity to kick the Lions while they're down, as well as try some lengthy field goals in a game with no playoff ramifications whatsoever.

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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