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 0000024021 ***
It's easy to say the Colts have been carved up via the air thus far, but in fairness to them they've faced Peyton Manning and Nick Foles. Still, Henne dropped 331 and 1 on them last December, posted a solid 266 and 2 in Philly, and would have fared better statistically against the Redskins had he not spent the afternoon running for his life. Should be a solid outing here, the kind you wouldn't be embarrassed to plug into a lineup that just lost, say, RG3.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Toby Gerhart, JAC IND 5002100000 ***
At two yards a carry it's going to take some work for Gerhart to carve out fantasy value, even against a Jags D still reeling from the one-two punch of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. But hey, who else they got?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Allen Hurns, JAC IND 003501000 ***
Since sneaking up on Philly in the first half of Week 1, Hurns has exactly two catches for 13 yards. Not quite time to discard him into the one-hit wonder bin, but if you're plugging him into your fantasy lineup you must enjoy playing the lottery.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cecil Shorts, JAC IND 006700000 ***
Shorts practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, which is a positive step for him. Should he play he's the best (only?) playmaker on the Jaguars' offense and warrants a fantasy start against a defense he's taken for 246 yards and two TDs in three career meetings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marqise Lee, JAC IND 004500000 ***
With Cecil Shorts sidelined we've been waiting for Lee to emerge as the go-to receiver Blake Bortles will trust... you know, once the Jaguars hand the keys to Bortles. Through two games, we're still waiting. Not that he can't do some damage against the Colts, but he has yet to demonstrate he's worthy of the trust required to crack a fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Clay Harbor, JAC IND 003301000 *
Hey, Harbor gets the start against an Indy defense that clearly can't cover tight ends! I mean, they've allowed 12-198-3 to... oh, wait, Julius Thomas and Zach Ertz. Never mind; as you were.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Scobee, JAC IND 1122 ***
One more PAT and Scobee will join 27 of his NFL kicking mates in double figures. For the season. Yeah, it's that bad.

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 @NO 0000020012 ***
If the Vikings really want the passing game to pick up the slack left by Adrian Peterson's absence, they'll turn to Teddy Bridgewater. Cassel will continue as a placeholder who can't be banked on for fantasy contributions.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN @NO 6012100000 ***
Asiata isn't going to dazzle anyone with his three yards per carry, though his work in the passing game last week was a welcome surprise. Keep expectations in check and hope for a goal line look to salvage Asiata's fantasy day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN @NO 4005600000 ***
The Vikings need to get the ball into Patterson's hands as often as possible. Emphasis on "need". And "often". Given those parameters, he's bound to carve out some fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN @NO 004500000 ***
The secondary--maybe thirdary, if you include Kyle Rudolph--target in a non-productive passing game doesn't exactly whet the fantasy whistle.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN @NO 005601000 ****
Rudolph scored in Week 1, topped 50 yards last week, and after Cordarrelle Patterson is about all the Vikings' passing game has going for it. Given that the undermanned Vikings are likely to be playing catch-up here, he should see plenty of opportunities--enough to boost his fantasy stock.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN @NO 1122 ***
Opportunities are bound to be hard to come by for Walsh, though any time the Vikings cross midfield he's in range--especially indoors.

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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