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 MIA 0000019012 ***
Bortles continues to flirt with fantasy relevancy, but he isn't getting there on a consistent enough basis yet to be trusted with a fantasy start.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Denard Robinson, JAC MIA 6013200000 *
Robinson shredded the Browns last week, and he should be the Jacksonville back who sees the most touches. However, he'll find the going tougher against a Miami defense that's allowed only one back to top 70 yards all season, so dial back those expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Toby Gerhart, JAC MIA 200000000 **
Update: Gerhart got in two full practices this week and is listed as probable. Denard Robinson will still start; don't expect Gerhart to see much more than token work this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Allen Robinson, JAC MIA 007700000 ***
It was a bit shocking that the Bears couldn't get their talented wide receiver tandem going against the Dolphins last week, the first time in three games Miami hadn't ceded fantasy helpers to multiple WRs. If that means we're forced to pick one this week Robinson has the most upside as he's been the most consistently productive of the Jags' receiving corps.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cecil Shorts, JAC MIA 003400000 ***
Shorts continues to be the most targeted Jaguar since his return from injury, but last week he failed to turn those targets into productivity. He's not nearly reliable enough to be trusted with a fantasy start against a Miami secondary that's allowed just four WR TDs on the year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Clay Harbor, JAC MIA 006400000 ***
Miami has allowed TE TDs in three of four, and Harbor's steady diet of targets at least puts him in line to capitalize on the Dolphins' largess at the position.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Scobee, JAC MIA 0022 ***
Scobee's six-point effort last week was his second-best of the season and pushes his average to more than four fantasy points per game. You have better options at your disposal.

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 @TB 20000019011 ***
Four straight QBs have thrown for multiple touchdowns and at least 286 yards against the Bucs. Bridgewater may not be ready to step up to that level just yet--he's been sub-200 yards the past two weeks and just threw his first NFL touchdown last week--but the opportunity certainly is there.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN @TB 9014200000 ****
McKinnon has topped the century mark in two of the past four games; a defense that's allowed Justin Forsett to rush for 111 yards and the likes of Khiry Robinson (89 and 1), Antone Smith (50 and 1), Steven Jackson (54 and 1), and Zac Stacy (71 and 1) to have success doesn't exactly project to be a stopper here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN @TB 006701000 **
Since the Vikings steadfastly refuse to throw high-volume targets at Cordarrelle Patterson, Jennings remains fantasy relevant. And in a matchup with a defense that's allowed 10 different wideouts to top 50 yards and four different wide receivers to score touchdowns last week alone, relevant means opportunity this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarius Wright, MIN @TB 004600000 ***
Tough to see Teddy Bridgewater feeding three mouths in the passing game, but Wright has managed to carve out some fantasy value on a somewhat regular basis. It's an incredibly favorable matchup, so if you're reaching you could certainly do worse than Wright.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN @TB 002100000 ***
10 receivers have racked up at least 50 yards against the Bucs; four scored against them last week alone. Patterson still isn't getting the targets, but there's no question the Vikings are making an effort to get the ball in his hands. Against this defense, that may be all he needs to have that bustout game we've been waiting for.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rhett Ellison, MIN @TB 001100000 ***
The Vikings didn't complete a single pass to a tight end last week, and nothing in this matchup suggests digging this far down into the Vikings passing game for fantasy help is a smart move.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN @TB 1122 ****
When you're giving up 34 points a game, as the Bucs are doing, opponents are bound to get their kicks against you. And right now Walsh might be the Vikings' best/only offensive weapon.

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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