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 @CLE 0000022011 **
Bortles has a marvelous fantasy schedule down the stretch, and it begins here with Cleveland. The Browns rank 10th when rushing touchdowns have been removed, but it's still the 13th-best with them included. One out of every 10.3 completions makes it into the end zone, or two per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Leonard Fournette, JAC @CLE 4012100000 *
Cleveland ranks in the middle of the league against running backs in in basically every notable category. The position has averaged 87 rushing yards, 47.8 receiving gains, and a TD every 42.3 offensive touches.

Update: Fournette was limited Wednesday and Thursday before sitting Friday. He's a gametime call.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB T.J. Yeldon, JAC @CLE 1003300000 ***
Yeldon sees some spell work and checkdowns but isn't a viable fantasy play when Leonard Fournette is alive and well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marqise Lee, JAC @CLE 004501000 **
The Browns are better against wideouts than perception suggests. Since Week 5, the position has averaged only nine catches a game for 131.5 yards. This is the second-best defense to face if you're looking for a WR TD, though.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keelan Cole, JAC @CLE 003400000 ***
Cole isn't likely to have enough of a role to warrant fantasy lineup inclusion, even with Allen Hurns on the mend. The matchup isn't all that appealing, either, even though it is the Browns.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dede Westbrook, JAC @CLE 002300000 *
Assuming he is indeed active for Week 11, all signs point to Westbrook having a bit role. Avoid him for now, but he could be worthy of stashing if Keelan Cole fails to step up with Allen Hurns out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC @CLE 004301000 ***
Cleveland has been a disaster against the position all year. This is currently the seventh-best matchup from a defense that has given up 6.3 catches a game to the position. No Allen Hurns could mean more looks for Lewis. He's a sly play in deep leagues.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, JAC @CLE 1133 ***
Fresh off of nailing the game winner vs. his former boss, Lambo draws Cleveland's top-five matchup for exploitation. Kickers have made 10 of 11 field goals and eighth of 10 PATs against the Browns.

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 Case Keenum, MIN LAR 0000023011 ***
Keenum may have put a stranglehold on the starting job in Week 10. The visiting Rams have been a formidable opponent for quarterbacks. The position has averaged 217.5 yards (25th) and 15.4 fantasy points (29th) on a weekly basis, giving up only one TD per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN LAR 5014300000 ***
If McKinnon indeed lives up to his projected touchdown, it will be only the second time in the past five weeks. The general theme of his matchup is negative. LA ranks 27th in rushing TDs, 20th in total TDs, 18th in rushing yards, 19th in receiving yards, 21st in standard fantasy points and 22nd in PPR points.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Latavius Murray, MIN LAR 6001100000 ***
Murray will have to defy the odds against a solidly negative matchup. Just one time in the past 81 attempts has a running back made it into the end zone. His only justifiable utility is as a flex in deep leagues.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarius Wright, MIN LAR 002201000 ***
Without scoring a TD, Wright is wrong for fantasy purposes. Taking that gamble is unnecessary, especially vs. such a strong defense of the position in the Rams.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Thielen, MIN LAR 006600000 ***
The Rams have been strong against wideouts all season. In the past five weeks, only two of 42 completions have found the end zone by receivers, which is the sixth-lowest rate in football. Thielen faces a defense that has given up just 10.5 catches for 132 yards, on average, to an entire team's worth of wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN LAR 003500000 ***
Only one catch per every 21 against the Rams has found the end zone. This is the sixth-lowest frequency, and LA ranks as the sixth-hardest defense to exploit in fantasy. Wideouts have averaged 10.5 receptions (22nd) and 132 yards per contest (21st).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN LAR 006300000 ***
LA has yielded very little to the position. Only one of the 14 catches has scored in the last four games, and the position has managed just 45.3 yards an outing. Rudolph is a fringe play in this one.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, MIN LAR 2222 ***
Despite allowing a reasonable seven field goal kicks, only two have made it, which depresses this matchup's rating. The position has kicked only five XPAs, and the 2.8 fantasy points per game allowed is the fewest since Week 5.

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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