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 NYG 0000026012 ***
It's potentially a favorable matchup, as the Giants have allowed multiple TDs in four of their last six; just don't tell Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick, who failed to turn the trick. Bottles hasn't thrown a single TD in two games, so he makes it even more difficult to trust him with a fantasy play here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Denard Robinson, JAC NYG 8012100000 ***
Robinson has scored and/or topped 100 yards in all three home games since taking over the starting job. The Giants have allowed three straight 100-yard games on the road and an RB TD and/or 100-plus rusher in every road game this season so Robinson makes a solid fantasy option here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Allen Hurns, JAC NYG 005501000 **
Not much you can count on in the Jacksonville passing game. Hurns has maybe the most fantasy upside given his big-play ability, but it would be a stretch to consider him anything more than a fringe fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cecil Shorts, JAC NYG 006900000 ***
Shorts can be the volume guy in Jacksonville's passing game, but for the most part the volume has been turned down so there's no need to reach for Cecil's fantasy assistance here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC NYG 003300000 **
Lewis returned from an extended injury absence, announcing his presence with authority--and negative five receiving yards. The Giants are a softish mark for opposing tight ends, having given up seven TE TDs in the past six games, but banking on Lewis for a fantasy contribution would be a risky move at best.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Scobee, JAC NYG 1122 ***
Scobee's numbers make it easy to look elsewhere for fantasy help.

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 CAR 0000026020 ***
Bridgewater finally has his first multiple-TD pro game under his belt, but a reprise isn't likely against a Carolina defense that's held three of its past four foes to single scores.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN CAR 6013100000 **
It's been a while since the Vikings had a fantasy-relevant running back performance, even longer since it was McKinnon being relevant. Grinders have had success against the Panthers, and that's not McKinnon's game so don't look for him to end that run here.
Update: McKinnon didn't practice all week due to a back injury, and he's listed as doubtful. There's not enough upside to offset the risk here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN CAR 3011100000 *
Update: With Jerick McKinnon doubtful and Asiata back at practice after being cleared following his concussion, this looks to be Asiata's bit for the weekend. It's not a particularly favorable matchup, however, nor is Asiata a particularly compelling fantasy play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ben Tate, MIN CAR 200000000 ***
No writeup available
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Charles Johnson, MIN CAR 005901000 ***
Johnson has emerged as Teddy Bridgewater's favorite target. That should be enough to get him on the fantasy radar against a Carolina D that's allowed the second-most WR TDs in the league.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN CAR 005601000 ***
Jennings is the wingman in Minnesota's passing game, and it's a passing game that isn't producing enough statistically to warrant multiple fantasy receivers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN CAR 002300000 ***
Patterson limps towards the finish line of his bust of a sophomore season, replaced in the passing game pecking order by a former seventh-round pick and practice squader who's on his third organization in two years. Fantasy relevancy is an afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN CAR 006700000 ****
Rudolph is slowly moving back towards fantasy relevancy after his 3-50 last week. It's not an incredibly favorable matchup, but Rudy still has the potential to be a fantasy factor in the Vikings' offense.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN CAR 1144 ***
Walsh has multiple treys in four of his last five, but in the Vikings offense his upside is still tending to fall shy of double-digit points so keep your expectations in check.

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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