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: SF 23, GB 30 (Line: GB by 5)

Players to Watch: Randy Moss, LaMichael James, Cedric Benson

2011 ended with the Packers taking a league best 15-1 record and then losing to the visiting Giants in the divisional round. That was a downer for the Green and Gold. The 49ers were the Cinderella last year when they came from nowhere to post a 13-3 record with a dominating defense and then came excruciatingly close to the Superbowl when they too lost to the Giants. The Packers have done little to change in the offseason and why would they with a 15-1 record last year? The 49ers have tried to pump up the volume on the offense to match their defense. First game out and on the road, have to like the Packers in this one.

San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB ----- 10 STL -----
2 DET ----- 11 CHI -----
3 @MIN ----- 12 @NO -----
4 @NYJ ----- 13 @STL -----
5 BUF ----- 14 MIA -----
6 NYG ----- 15 @NE -----
7 SEA ----- 16 @SEA -----
8 @ARI ----- 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The defense won their games last year and it almost advanced them to the Superbowl. Simply having a "just good enough" offense is no longer enough. The 49ers wisely restocked the shelves in an attempt to score more points and mount comebacks when they need.

This still is all held together by Alex Smith who hopes his seventh season is the charm and that he can improve on his career high of just 3144 passing yards in a season. He has yet to throw more than 18 touchdowns in a year. Any argument that he does not have enough weapons no longer applies with Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham now populating the roster. This will never be a pass heavy offense, but perhaps now can become a pass effective offense.

Frank Gore really faded down the stretch with five 100 rushing yard games in the first half od the season and none in the second half. Gore has gone from being quite alone in the backfield now to merely being the biggest dog in the yard. The 49ers still have Kendall Hunter as his back-up (and are pretty happy with him) and they added Brandon Jacobs as a short-yardage guy and the rookie LaMichael James as the speedy, elusive runner. Meanwhile the 29 year-old Gore claims he is fine and has plenty of gas left in the tank. Gore was regularly getting 20 carries a game to start last year but then only had one in his final seven games. Notable will be if they use James for anything more than an occasional gimmick, if Hunter gets more use as just a secondary back and if Jacobs shows up when they get inside the goal line. This could end up complex like the Saints backfield only with a fraction of the total success.

What Randy Moss will do will be interesting to see because he has by all accounts been wowing the coaches in the offseason and preseason with signs that "the old Randy" is back. But then they say he will be on a pitch-count and limited in the number of plays. Michael Crabtree enters his fourth season and still has yet to justify why the 49ers spent a 1.10 pick on him in 2009. Mario Manningham was also brought into the mix. Bottom line - there are way more hands here than passes. It would be nice to think all Smith was waiting for was this, but that's optimistic as an understatement. Then again, Smith actually gets to stay in the same offense for two straight years. Hmmm...

This should be a nice place to start the year with the new receivers facing what was one of the worst secondaries of last year and knowing that the Packers are going to post points regardless who shows up. It is a game to watch just to see what the 49ers are planning offensively for 2012.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 25 20 29 7 1 4
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 29 19 31 31 6 7

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Colin Kaepernick, SF SD 40000023020 ***
Kaepernick's last fantasy game of note came in Week 6; in eight subsequent games he's failed to throw multiple touchdowns, topped 240 passing yards only twice (topping out at 263) and rushed for more than 26 yards once. Nothing in that stat line suggests he warrants fantasy consideration here
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF SD 6004300000 ***
Update: Gore practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday as he works his way back from a concussion, but the Niners expect him to go on Sunday. He hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire anyway, so unless someone planted a hypnotic suggestion that he's Eric Dickerson you'll be better served finding fantasy help elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bruce Miller, SF SD 1002200000 *
With Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde both iffy at best this week the backfield load falls on Miller and Alfonso Smith--who combined for 10 yards on six carries last week. At least Miller produced a little something as a receiver with four catches for 56 yards, so if you're in a PPR league and desperate for backfield help he's your guy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF SD 006801000 **
It's been a month since a 49ers wideout produced a fantasy helper, and the way Colin Kaepernick is playing further fantasy help is far from imminent from the San Francisco passing attack. If you must start one Boldin has the most recent touchdown and 100 yard game, but even he would be a stretch at this juncture.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF SD 004501000 **
The Niners haven't produced a fantasy helper in quite some time, and the Chargers have been allowing only one fantasy helper per game. If that's the case, Crabtree falls behind Anquan Boldin in the passing game pecking order, though neither has a tremendous shot at a productive fantasy outing.
Update: Crabtree is listed as questionable with a knee injury. He practiced only on a limited basis this week, and there's not enough upside to offset this risk.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF SD 003300000 ***
A Colin Kaepernick-led passing game barely goes two-deep; three deep seems like a wish upon a star.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF SD 002200000 *****
Remember when Vernon Davis used to be good? And... fantasy relevant? It's all a bit hazy at this point.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF SD 1122 ***
The Bolts have given up double-digit kicker points in three straight, four of six, and five of the last eight games. So we're sayin' there's a chance... likely torpedoed by Colin Kaepernick's quarterback play.

Green Bay Packers
Homefield: Lambeau Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SF ----- 10 BYE -----
2 CHI ----- 11 @DET -----
3 @SEA ----- 12 @NYG -----
4 NO ----- 13 MIN -----
5 @IND ----- 14 DET -----
6 @HOU ----- 15 @CHI -----
7 @STL ----- 16 TEN -----
8 JAC ----- 17 @MIN -----
9 ARI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: Last year ended in a shocker after the Packers went nearly undefeated (other than the other shocker when the Chiefs beat them). The Giants took them down and walked off with the Championship after also hitting San Francisco. The Packers seemed unstoppable last season. Aaron Rodgers never failed to score at least two touchdowns in every game. About the only thing to learn from the 2011 Packers is to never bet money you cannot afford to lose. They were sure things. It seemed.

No real changes to the offense here with Rodgers at the helm and the same set of receivers. Cedric Benson was brought in once it was certain that James Starks ship had sailed and taken his turf toe with it. Alex Green is nine months removed from ACL surgery and won't likely be a big factor for at least the first of the season. Benson is the interesting one here who will start and who has impressed coaches with his power and burst that we weren't sure were ever there let alone still there. He's in an offense now that terrifies defenses via the pass so Benson may surprise with rushing yardage. But he won't be used much on third downs or as a receiver at least initially if ever.

Greg Jennings was lost for almost all of the preseason with a concussion but is expected to be good to go this week. Future concussions could be an issue but for now he's back to normal. Jordy Nelson had a magical 2011 season when he ended with 68 catches for 1263 yards and 15 touchdowns. That was him being a marginal receiver in all road games (2 TDs) and a Super Star in all home games (13 TDs). He's become a major one-two punch with Jennings with him being the "one" in all those home games. Hopefully he starts excelling more in away games this season. James Jones made it through the summer without being traded while Randall Cobb had a great offseason and was initially a sleeper to some but he is still a #4 in the offense.

Jermichael Finley finally comes off a full 16 game season but only ended with 767 yards and eight scores which is probably his ceiling now that Nelson has become such a major component. Still rock solid in fantasy terms but not the big difference maker he seemed potentially a year ago.

At home this week against a ferocious defense, the Packers should manage to start the year on a good note with plenty of time to prepare and getting home stadium against likely the best defense they will face all year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points GB 1 25 1 12 4 3
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 12 1 21 6 2 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Aaron Rodgers, GB @TB 0000028020 ***
Maybe Rodgers relaxed a little too much last week, as he was blanked by the Bills in Buffalo. It's another road date, and we have more than enough evidence at this point to see that Rodgers is far less effective away from Lambeau. Moreover, the Bucs have been solid since their Week 7 bye, especially at home where they've allowed an average game of 212 passing yards and one passing score. If you survived Rodgers' goose-egg last week your team should be stocked enough to absorb a better--but still not elite--outing here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB @TB 8012200000 ***
So much for a bum hip and sharing touches; Lacy looked perfectly fine last week and should be good to go against a Bucs D that over the past five games has given up an average of 140 combo yards and a touchdown to opposing backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB @TB 0061001000 ***
Nelson's last road TD came in Week 6, giving him a three-game scoring drought on the road heading into Tampa. Tough to bench an elite receiver, but the numbers suggest Jordy's just another guy away from Lambeau... and Tampa's a long ways from America's Dairyland.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB @TB 007901000 ****
Cobb's productivity has held up better on the road than his receiving corps mates; witness his 96 yards last week in the loss to Buffalo. While it's been bigger receivers having the most success against the Bucs they've surrendered stats to some speed guys as well, and Cobb should carve out another fantasy helper in Tampa Bay this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB @TB 002300000 ***
The Packers still haven't received anything resembling a fantasy helper from a third receiver on the road, and there's nothing in the Bucs' pattern of stats surrendered to wideouts to suggest that changes this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB @TB 002200000 ***
The Packers continue to split TE snaps, cutting into any chance at fantasy stats either Quarless or Richard Rodgers might have.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB @TB 2233 ***
Mason has multiple field goals in three straight and six of seven, with double-digit points in five of those seven outings. He should get his kicks again against a Bucs defense that, after a brief and unexpected three-game bout of competency, is back to giving up double-digit points to opposing kickers.

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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