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 Blake Bortles, JAC @SD 30000023012 ***
Bortles makes his first NFL start in San Diego, which isn't an overly favorable fantasy matchup. However, there does project to be plenty of garbage time and given Jacksonville's lack of a ground game he's looking at another high volume opportunity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Toby Gerhart, JAC @SD 3003200000 ***
The Bolts are giving up 61 RB rushing yards per game, and Gerhart has demonstrated nothing to suggest he's capable of topping that number. Plus, he'll be ceding a larger share of the touches to Denard Robinson.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Allen Robinson, JAC @SD 007700000 ***
Robinson was neck and neck with Cecil Shorts in the targets department last week, and with Marqise Lee likely out again he'll be Option #2 in Jacksonville. Unfortunately, it's not a favorable enough matchup for that to hold much fantasy cache.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cecil Shorts, JAC @SD 006500000 ***
If Shorts is healthy, and his presence on the field last week suggests he is, he'll be the primary target in this passing game. Targets equal opportunity, making Shorts the best fantasy play among Jacksonville's wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Allen Hurns, JAC @SD 002400000 ***
Hurns has become the Jaguars' big play threat, but this isn't a particularly favorable matchup and you'd be pinning your hopes on one big play as Hurns trails both Cecil Shorts and Allen Robinson in the targets department.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Clay Harbor, JAC @SD 002200000 ***
Update: Harbor is slowly working his way back into snaps, and into the Jacksonville game plan. He's listed as probable this week and with no other healthy tight ends the Jags may be forced to use him more than they'd like. Whether he can translate those snaps into fantasy productivity is another matter entirely.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Scobee, JAC @SD 1111 ***
Scobee is a steady supplier of one field goal and a PAT or two; your fantasy team can do better.

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 Teddy Bridgewater, MIN ATL 20000020011 ***
Atlanta's improved secondary has limited the likes of Drew Brees and Andy Dalton to one TD toss apiece; maybe they surrender Bridgewater's first NFL scoring strike, but don't expect much more than that.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN ATL 5014300000 ***
Unlikely this undermanned version of the Vikings offense gets Asiata close enough for a goal line plunge, but if he remains the pass-catching back--no lock, as Jerick McKinnon is creeping up on him targets-wise--he could salvage fantasy value against a Falcons defense that's allowed the second-most RB receptions and third-most RB receiving yards thus far this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN ATL 3005701000 *
Two reasons to like Patterson this week. First, big-bodied receivers have found success against the Falcons, from Marques Colston's 110 yards to Vincent Jackson's touchdown. Second, the Vikings are fresh out of playmakers and desperately need to find ways to get the ball into Patterson's hands.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN ATL 006600000 ***
Jennings saw an uptick in productivity with the Vikings changing quarterbacks and forced to the air, but there's still no reason to expect much more than adequate numbers here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rhett Ellison, MIN ATL 002100000 ***
Ellison's a nice special teams player, but he's no replacement for Kyle Rudolph--especially in a matchup with a Falcons D that has yet to allow a TE TD this year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN ATL 1122 ***
Pros: Kicking inside, an offense that has a demonstrated ability to settle for field goals. Cons: an offense that may not provide many opportunities on the business side of midfield.

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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