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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 @DEN 50000027021 ***
Denver's defensive numbers are a bit deflated by facing Geno Smith and Drew Stanton the past two weeks; look for Kaepernick to be more in line with what Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson did to the Broncos earlier in the year: solid yardage, multiple scores, and more than a dash of rushing stats to sweeten the pot.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF @DEN 400000000 ***
The Niners have been mostly willing to commit to the ground game and Gore, which has worked well at home but failed to yield favorable fantasy numbers on the road. It's taken significant workloads to produce anything resembling fantasy help against Denver, so there's hope for Gore this week--just not a lot.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF @DEN 300000000 ***
Hyde is too junior a member of this backfield committee to bank on for fantasy assistance, especially in a difficult road matchup like this one.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF @DEN 005601000 ***
You'd think shooting it out with the Broncos would yield bigger fantasy numbers for wideouts, but Denver has allowed just three WR TDs and no wideout has topped 60 yards against them since Reggie Wayne's 98 in the season opener. Crabtree clings to fantasy value due to a high number of targets, but it's a good week to lower expectations.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF @DEN 004500000 ****
The Broncos haven't surrendered much to opposing wideouts, and the Niners have been splitting up their productivity to the point that despite his consistent targets Boldin is a risky fantasy proposition at best this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Lloyd, SF @DEN 003500000 ****
80-yard touchdowns are nice and all, but Lloyd's targets are too unreliable to be banked on for fantasy help, especially in what projects to be a less than fruitful matchup for 49ers wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF @DEN 004500000 ***
Johnson gives Colin Kaepernick a viable third option in the San Francisco passing game, but he's clearly behind Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin in the pecking order and as such can't be banked on for fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF @DEN 004401000 **
A healthy VD could make some fantasy noise against a Denver defense that just ceded 10-68-1 to Jace Amaro and has let every opposing TE who gets to four catches score or top 80 yards.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF @DEN 2222 ****
The Broncos have allowed between five and eight kicker points in every game this year. Dawson's recent success (37 points in the last three games) suggest he'll be at the high end of that range.

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 CAR 0000031030 ****
Carolina has allowed multiple TD passes in five of six this year; Rodgers has three or more in three straight and four of five. No reason to think he won't get it done at home this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB CAR 6011100000 ****
Sadly, the Packers are following through on their plan to keep Lacy fresh by giving James Starks more carries earlier in games. Nonetheless, it's a favorable matchup given that Carolina has allowed six RB TDs in just the past three games. And you'd like to believe Lacy will at least be given the opportunity to run the ball.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James Starks, GB CAR 400000000 ***
Starks is seeing an uptick in touches as the Packers try to keep Eddie Lacy rested and healthy. Doesn't mean he's a lock to score, but the upside is there.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB CAR 0081002000 ****
Nelson has scored in three straight and four of five; he's a solid be to put up helpful fantasy digits against a secondary that's allowed multiple touchdown passes in three of the last four.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB CAR 005601000 ****
Cobb knows how to get deep and get open; he'll have every opportunity to get his this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB CAR 004500000 ***
If Adams didn't have to fight an uphill battle against Jordy Nelson and Reggie Wayne he'd be a decent fantasy option against a defense that's allowed multiple WR TDs in three of the last four. Unfortunately Adams does have to fight for his right to catch passes, so adjust accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB CAR 003300000 ***
The Panthers have yet to allow a TE TD, which makes fringe guys that much more iffier. Quarless is a fringe guy, and if Carolina takes him away as the waiver wire says they should he becomes an even trickier fantasy play.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB CAR 1144 ****
The only thing standing between Crosby and big fantasy numbers is an offense that's too efficient, setting him up for one-pointers instead of treys. Solid, with upside for more.

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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