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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 CHI 30100023011 ***
Kaep did just enough last week in Dallas, containing himself to 201 and 2 while his defense and ground game did the rest. He may have to work a bit harder this week to keep pace with the Bears' offense, but he certainly doesn't come to the table empty handed--or footed, as it were.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF CHI 401000000 ***
Hyde certainly flashed in the season opener, offering a taste of what's to come once Frank Gore finally calls it a career. He'll be the junior partner in this committee, but considering that the Bills had three backs top 60 combo yards last week there should be more than enough for two Niners to get their fantasy fill.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF CHI 700000000 ***
Chicago still has issues stopping the run, which bodes well for Gore as the lead dog in San Francisco's backfield tag team. Gore should get the early looks; whether or not that also yields goal line opportunities marks the difference between a solid fantasy outing and a really good one.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF CHI 004701000 ***
That Bolden carved out 8-99 against a porous Dallas secondary isn't surprising; that it came at the expense of Michael Crabtree's numbers is. Maybe it's injury related; maybe it's Colin Kaepernick's comfort level. Whatever the case, at this juncture Boldin deserves the same fantasy consideration Crabtree gets; plan your lineup accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF CHI 004400000 ***
Crabtree was less WR1 and more third wheel in the San Francisco passing game last week, taking a back seat to both Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. That should be the exception rather than the rule; we'll give him another opportunity to prove that theory before relegating him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF CHI 002300000 ***
With Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Anquan Boldin all fighting for whatever targets exist in this run-first offense there's hardly enough to make Johnson worthy of fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF CHI 005600000 ***
Shutting out Scott Chandler, like the Bears did last week, is one thing; limiting Davis is another thing entirely. Not saying he'll put up 130-plus yards on the Bears like Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed did last season, but another solid fantasy outing is definitely on the radar.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF CHI 1133 ***
Dawson is still looking for his first field goal of the 2014 season; odds are he'll get it--and then some--this week, as he booted multiple treys in seven of eight by The Bay last year.

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 NYJ 0000028030 ***
After a rocky start in Seattle Rodgers returns home to Lambeau, where he's topped 260 yards in four straight with at least three TD tosses in three of those four. The Jets aren't a pushover, but they did just allow Derek Carr to toss multiple touchdowns in his NFL debut so no reason to fear a fantasy-unfriendly follow-up to Rodgers' Week 1 washout.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB NYJ 5002100000 *
While the Raiders' backfield won't win any prizes, the Jets holding them to 26 yards on 14 carries is still impressive. Between Lacy's concussion and a stout New York run D he's not a lock for fantasy success this week; once he's cleared, then we can quibble about what he may be able to do behind an offensive line that continues to lose regulars to injury.
Update: Lacy has been cleared to play and is listed as probable. However, his offensive line looks to be down another regular and the Jets' defensive front was stout last week so keep a lid on your expectations.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB NYJ 006902000 ****
Multiple Raiders receivers scored against the Jets last week; surely a Green Bay offense that saw two or more wideouts score and/or top 80 yards in 11 of 16 games last season--and one of one this year--can turn a similar trick. Even if not, Nelson has emerged as the WR1 and is the more reliable of the pair for fantasy productivity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB NYJ 006701000 ***
Cobb found the end zone against Seattle, and while he may be a tick behind Jordy Nelson in the passing game pecking order there was enough productivity for multiple wideouts to score and/or top 80 yards 11 times last season; no reason to think that trend can't continue here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarrett Boykin, GB NYJ 003500000 ***
Green Bay's passing attack has traditionally fed three fantasy wideouts, though Boykin is most definitely at the bottom end of the pecking order. As such he's the toughest to bank on for fantasy stats, though a home matchup with a Jets' D that's wafer-thin at corner at least provides optimism.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB NYJ 003300000 ***
Quarless has done little to suggest he's next man up in the Packers' rich tradition of fantasy helpers at the tight end position.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB NYJ 2233 ****
You could certainly do worse than getting your kicks at the back end of the prolific Packers offense.

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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