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: SEA 20, ARI 23 (Line: SEA by 2.5)

Player Updates: Marshawn Lynch, Andre Roberts, Robert Turbin, Beanie Wells

Players to Watch: Russell Wilson, Ryan Williams, Michael Floyd

The Seahawks lost 20-23 in Arizona last season but won 13-10 at home in week three. The home team has won seven of the last ten meetings and four of the last five. This is a divisional game and a coin flip that could go either way.

Seattle Seahawks
Homefield: Qwest Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @ARI ----- 10 NYJ -----
2 DAL ----- 11 BYE -----
3 GB ----- 12 @MIA -----
4 @STL ----- 13 @CHI -----
5 @CAR ----- 14 ARI -----
6 NE ----- 15 @BUF -----
7 @SF ----- 16 SF -----
8 @DET ----- 17 STL -----
9 MIN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Seahawks fell to a 7-9 record when they lost their final two games of 2011 but there is an optimism that this season will be better and that at least the potential to reclaim the division exists. There have been a few surreptitious finds along the way that spawn the positive sense that the team is moving forward. Last year it was the discovery that Marshawn Lynch suddenly became the back the 2007 Bills thought he would be when he strung 11 straight games with a touchdown together starting in week four. He had a career best 4.2 YPC and ended with 1204 rushing yards. Throw in the rookie Robert Turbin for a quality backup and the backfield is suddenly in great shape.

The other find was not Matt Flynn who they paid a guaranteed $10 million on a $26 million contract. It was that 3.12 pick Russell Wilson who would decisively win the starting job in his first ever training camp. Wilson fell in the draft in part because at 5-11, 204 lbs he is much smaller than the prototypical quarterback. Then again, incredible accuracy, a big arm and dazzling open field running is not a bad thing. Wilson became a fantasy sleeper overnight and was being drafted far earlier than rational thought would suggest. But - it looks good for Seattle.

The Seahawks have an interesting set of receivers. Doug Baldwin was the undrafted rookie who stole a starting job last year and ended with 51 catches for 788 yards and four scores. Sidney Rice has been the high potential guy that has always been injured for the last two seasons and is coming off two shoulder surgeries in the offseason. Rice finally started practicing in August and is reported to be in good health for now. Terrell Owens was temporarily a Seahawk before the team came to their senses which was also what happened when they acquired Kellen Winslow before someone reminded them that they never use tight ends and that Zach Miller was acquired from Oakland for no apparent reason last year. Braylon Edwards not only made the roster but is 100% recovered from his knee surgery and was making plays and wowing the crowds in camp. At 29 years of age, he could have a rejuvenation of his career if Wilson proves to be an NFL-quality quarterback.

The Seahawks look like a team pointed in the right direction and one that keeps finding good surprises. This week is a coin flip game against a well known divisional opponent but road games have long been the weak spot for the franchise.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 28 13 14 29 20 11
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 14 8 25 10 30 30

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Russell Wilson, SEA OAK 30000023020 ****
After a little tease of what he's capable off, Wilson has returned to doing just what is necessary for a Seahawks win. So while it's a favorable matchup on paper, Seattle may not need much more than the bare minimum from Wilson--about the only damper on his fantasy potential this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Marshawn Lynch, SEA OAK 10012201000 ****
It's a home game, which usually means 20-plus touches for Lynch and the accompanying fantasy stats that go with. Oakland has allowed RB TDs in four straight, no reason to think Lynch grabs the Skittles before adding to that total here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Doug Baldwin, SEA OAK 005601000 **
Game Two post-Percy and Baldwin was still the most targeted and most prolific of Seattle's wideouts--only instead of 123 and 1, now it's back to the usual 61 and no TD. Oakland's allowed five WR TDs in the past four games so maybe Baldwin gets one here, but the passing game hasn't been a Seattle priority for quite some time.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Paul Richardson, SEA OAK 002200000 ***
Four guys caught balls in the battle to be Doug Baldwin's main wingman. Richardson has perhaps the most upside, but in a run-heavy offense with so many mouths to feed he's still more of a fantasy risk than you should need to take.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Luke Willson, SEA OAK 002200000 ****
Gronk and Gates have scored on Oakland, but aside from that they haven't surrendered much to the position--certainly not so much that Willson and his one or two catches a week look like a significant fantasy helper.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Steven Hauschka, SEA OAK 2233 ****
Hauschka's baseline is in the 6-7 point range, which is the minimum the Raiders have allowed and a mark he's bested in all but one outing this season. And things go up from there.

Arizona Cardinals
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SEA ----- 10 BYE -----
2 @NE ----- 11 @ATL -----
3 PHI ----- 12 STL -----
4 MIA ----- 13 @NYJ -----
5 @STL ----- 14 @SEA -----
6 BUF ----- 15 DET -----
7 @MIN ----- 16 CHI -----
8 SF ----- 17 @SF -----
9 @GB ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals finished with an 8-8 record and a 6-2 home mark for 2011 and continue to work on the offense. A preseason battle between John Skelton and Kevin Kolb ended with Skelton getting the nod though both were already well established in ability last year. Like Flynn in Seattle, Kolb was the pricey free agent brought in only to lose out to the guy they already had on the roster for cheap.

Beanie Wells remains the starter though he sat out the entire offseason while recovering from knee surgery but he was cleared and played in the final preseason games. Wells comes off his first 1000 yard season (1047) and only missed one game in 2011 though as always he played with a bad knee most of the year. Wells started the season with seven touchdowns in the first half of the year but then was less consistent in part because of his knee. Ryan Williams was the hot rookie back last year that blew out his knee and spent his first year on injured reserve. He's back after a lost season and looks impressive so far. The pair of backs will share the load though if history serves Wells will miss more games with some injury. In fantasy terms, there is limited value in the backfield until Wells is either out injured or Williams proves to be a significantly better back.

Larry Fitzgerald ended with 80 catches for 1411 yards and eight scores while playing with a 50/50 split between Kolb and Skelton which only shows how great he truly is. In most cases, the quarterback makes the receiver. In this one - the receiver makes the quarterback better. The Cards also drafted Michael Floyd with their 1.13 pick in the NFL draft to become a needed complement to Fitzgerald but Floyd's progress has not been rapid so far. Andre Roberts opens the season as the starter with Floyd mixing in.

Tight end remains a primarily blocking position and Todd Heap is not doing much in the waning years of his career. Robert Housler is the ex-basketball player that you could talk yourself into thinking he is a sleeper type until you realize that the Cardinals have never, ever used the position as a receiver much.

At home should be the key for a win here and this is much the same team that played last year with Williams added to the backfield and Floyd playing as the #3 receiver.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 19 26 10 22 30 19
Preventing Fantasy Points SEA 6 14 5 19 17 24

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Carson Palmer, ARI @DAL 0000027020 ***
Palmer has delivered multiple TD tosses and at least 250 yards in every game thus far. Dallas is the toughest he's faced to date, but it's still tough to see him failing to make his appointed rounds.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Andre Ellington, ARI @DAL 6006300000 ***
Not that Ellington can't score, but it's a good thing he does enough yardage wise that he doesn't usually need to to be a fantasy factor. The Cowboys have surrendered just four RB TDs all year but do give up more than 120 combo yards to opposing backs. Give Ellington a big dollop of the latter, don't sweat the former, and call it a day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR John Brown, ARI @DAL 003601000 ***
Brown's another speed guy who could give the Cowboys fits, a la Odell Beckham and DeSean Jackson the past two weeks. He outgunned Michael Floyd last week, but Floyd is typically more targeted so it's a bit trickier to bank on Brown this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Floyd, ARI @DAL 004501000 **
Lately it's been speed guys killing the Cowboys: Odell Beckham Jr. scored twice on them and DeSean Jackson went for 136 yards last week. Floyd took a back seat to both Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown last week, and it's a little tough to trust him after posting a goose egg. But it's tough to see him posting another dog here--he has yet to go more than one week without scoring or topping 100 yards--so take that leap of faith this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI @DAL 005600000 ***
Yes, Carson Palmer knows where to find Fitz. He just doesn't do it consistently, or much at all on the road. If you're parsing Arizona wideouts this week the speed guys have an edge, which puts Fitz at the low end of the pecking order. Plan accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE John Carlson, ARI @DAL 002200000 *****
Carlson had his hands on a ball in the end zone; had he hung on it would have maybe brought the total of fantasy-relevant games by Cardinals tight ends since the Jackie Smith era to one. Look elsewhere for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, ARI @DAL 2222 ***
After a fast start Catanzaro has had back-to-back outings with just one field goal, and he's facing a Dallas team that hasn't been overly friendly to kickers this season. However, Chandler hasn't dipped below the six-point mark this season so at least his baseline isn't a killer.

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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