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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: WAS 13, NO 34 (Line: NO by 9)

Player Updates: Marques Colston

Players to Watch: Robert Griffin III, Leonard Hankerson, WAS running backs

The Skins went through their annual personnel upheaval and chances are best that they have not yet meshed well enough to open with a road win. But the Saints may not be as good as the team that went 13-3 last year and won every home game with Sean Payton suspended for the year and the team sporting temporary players and coaches for a few weeks to the full year. Lots of distractions are not good and the effects of Bountygate may end up really affecting this team. But at home against a rookie quarterback for the Redskins. Still plenty good enough this week. Plus something to prove to the world.

Washington Redskins
Homefield: FedEx Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NO ----- 10 BYE -----
2 @STL ----- 11 PHI -----
3 CIN ----- 12 @DAL -----
4 @TB ----- 13 NYG -----
5 ATL ----- 14 BAL -----
6 MIN ----- 15 @CLE -----
7 @NYG ----- 16 @PHI -----
8 @PIT ----- 17 DAL -----
9 CAR ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: Two years of HC Mike Shanahan have led to 6-10 and 5-11 seasons and a total of 12 different running backs who took a handoff for the Skins. Since Shanahan has not been able to find the next Terrell Davis (since the last Terrell Davis), he set his sites on the next John Elway and drafted Robert Griffin III (AKA "Bob").

Griffin won the Heisman Trophy last year over Andrew Luck and he's a very impressive mixture of a huge arm, pinpoint passing and a an accomplished runner. He came out after his Junior season but has displayed incredible quick learning skills. His final season at Baylor saw him play 13 games with 4293 yards and 37 scores as a passer, and added 699 yards and ten more touchdowns as a runner. He's an exciting player to be sure and rather unlike the never ending cast of signal callers that have gone through Washington in the past few years. The Fantasy world wants to believe there can be another Cam Newton. Griffin may be. Danny Snyder hopes so.

Griffin has already been sharp for a rookie passer and made his receivers look serviceable when not all quarterbacks could do that (certainly none in Washington recently). Pierre Garcon came over from the Colts and while history is rife with #2 wideouts who leave their elite quarterback and then flop as the #1 elsewhere (see Robert Meachem) but Garcon may be an exception. He's looked very good so far and appears to already have nice chemistry with the rookie quarterback. Garcon is joined by Santana Moss who Payroll has forgotten to remove from their files and Leonard Hankerson will take the final starting spot. Hankerson competed with Josh Morgan and won the job. If Bob ends up to be as good a quarterback as is hoped, then Hankerson could develop into a nice complement to Garcon. Moss may get more passes initially but he was no lock to be kept and in his 12th season is starting to lose a step.

Fred Davis is a dark horse here as well. The Skins franchise player, Davis was having a nice season but was suspended for the final four games for violating the drug policy. In only 12 games, Davis already had 59 catches for 796 yards and three scores. That was a pace for a 1000 yard season. Bob has not been working with Davis in preseason games and their relationship is still a bit unclear. Rookie quarterbacks usually love their tight ends but Bob may end up good enough that he doesn't need any crutch.

The rushing game remains Shanahan-esque. Releasing Tim Hightower cuts it down to only three backs that will almost certainly start for the Skins in a random rotation. Not per game, per week. Roy Helu seemed like the best option and he was effective last season. But then Evan Royster looked good in the preseason. And then Alfred Morris did well. Now Shanahan says he knows which will start in week one but is not saying. Why? Because he hates you and wants to punish you for taking any of the three backs. it makes zero difference to the Saints who shows up. We will faithfully do our best to guess what Shanahan is going to do but getting more than 33% of them right will be a success.

Starting out in New Orleans where the Saints are smarting from their Bountygate scandal is not optimal. The Saints will want to start the year with a "we're still the team to beat" victory while the Skins are trying out all the new parts.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points WAS 21 17 18 16 17 28
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 25 26 26 5 19 2

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Kirk Cousins, WAS TEN 0000032021 ***
The last three QBs to face Tennessee have all thrown for 292 yards or better, averaging 340 and better than two TDs per outing. And we're not talking upper echelon QBs here, as that group includes Brian Hoyer and Blake Bortles. No reason Cousins, who himself has 250 yards or better in every outing this year and is averaging 330 yards per start, can't go off again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Morris, WAS TEN 601000000 ***
Morris hasn't hit the century mark yet this season, in part because his volume of touches is down and in part because of Jay Gruden's more pass-happy offense. Still, it's a favorable matchup against a Titans defense that's allowed four RB TDs in its past two road games and 100 yards or a score to five straight feature backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeSean Jackson, WAS TEN 0051001000 ****
WR1s have done some damage to the Titans, and Jackson certainly appears to have blown past Pierre Garçon to claim that honor in DC. He's had back-to-back 100-yard games with a touchdown against solid secondaries; shouldn't be a problem for him to do the same in a more favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Pierre Garcon, WAS TEN 006700000 ***
Garçon's volume has taken a hit as DeSean Jackson has emerged in the Kirk Cousins-led Washington passing game. He's still a solid option, but expectations need to be kept in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Roberts, WAS TEN 005400000 ***
Roberts has become a sneaky PPR play in the pass-heavy Washington attack. However, most of the damage against Tennessee's secondary is coming at the hands of WR1s so wait for a more favorable matchup to plug Andre into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Reed, WAS TEN 006801000 ****
Washington tight ends kept Reed's role in the offense plenty warm, so it wasn't at all shocking to see Reed return to 11 targets and 8-92 in his first game back from injury. He's a great play this week against a Titans defense that's allowed TE TDs in three straight games.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, WAS TEN 1133 ***
Forbath has been hit or miss this year, and the Titans aren't a favorable enough matchup to bank on the "hit".

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS ----- 10 ATL -----
2 @CAR ----- 11 @OAK -----
3 KC ----- 12 SF -----
4 @GB ----- 13 @ATL -----
5 SD ----- 14 @NYG -----
6 BYE ----- 15 TB -----
7 @TB ----- 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN ----- 17 CAR -----
9 PHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Saints lost to the 49ers in the Divisional Round last January after yet another great 13-3 season where the offense recorded seven games of more than 40 points and topped out at 62-7 against the visiting Colts. But Bountygate would ripple through the organization. HC Sean Payton is gone for a year, Interim Head Coach Joe Vitt is gone for eight games along with the GM Mickey Loomis. OL Coach Aaron Kromer will be the replacement replacement Interim Head Coach. LB Jonathan Vilma has eight games and DE Will Smith chills out for four games. The Saints are itching to prove they are above this significant disruption and week one at home against the Skins - they probably will look like it.

All this will happen under the Stalin-esque huge picture of HC Payton looking down on the field at the Superdome.

Really no personnel changes outside of losing Robert Meachem which is only a marginal loss. Drew Brees returns from his 5476 yard record setting season which was followed by his holdout. $100 million dollars later, Brees has a five-year contract that has $60 million guaranteed. He has all the same weapons this year and the chance that the defense is not as good which only prompts even more passing.

The Saints had the highest scoring backfield in the league for 2012 and yet that was all divvied up among Darren Sproles, Mark INgram and Pierre Thomas. Throw in a dash of Chris Ivory and you have a highly productive committee in total. Sproles led the NFL with 86 catches by a running back and totaled nine touchdowns and 1313 yards. Mark Ingram came in as a very highly anticipated rookie that never took over anything from anyone other than goal line duty in games when he was healthy (just 10). Ingram scored five times as a rookie and should see more use this season health permitting. Thomas gets the third most use unless Ingram is out which then he has fantasy value. Makes you long for the days when Edgerrin James would literally have every running back touch for the Colts. For the year.

Jimmy Graham exploded in his second season with 99 catches for 1310 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's been the first tight end taken in most leagues because he is the primary receiver for the Saints now. in a reception point league, he's a gold mine.

The wideouts continue to never be as good as the prolific passing seems to indicate. Marques Colston continues to be around 100 yards per season with eight or so scores. Lance Moore is the clear #2 this season and should improve on his 52 catches of 2012. Back in 2008, Moore turned in 928 yards and ten scores - that is not out of the question again this year. Beyond that it gets ugly with Devery Henderson as the #3 that never quite produces enough for any fantasy value.

"Start your Saints"is maybe rule #1 in fantasy football. In week one at home against the Skins with a rookie quarterback. Yeah. This will be a good week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 2 1 5 2 2 27
Preventing Fantasy Points WAS 15 12 12 28 31 18

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO @DET 0000027011 ****
Some might consider it overcoaching, but there are certainly reasons to be wary of Brees this week: road game, staunch opponent, no Jimmy Graham. That said, he's delivered multiple touchdowns on a consistent basis. Plus, if Kyle Orton can throw for 300 yards in Detroit there's no logical reason Brees can't do the same.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO @DET 3014300000 *
If you must start a Saints back this week, Thomas has the most upside given his role as the pass-catcher. It's still not a favorable matchup, but at least Thomas isn't banging heads inside with Ndamukong Suh.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO @DET 400000000 *
The expectation is that Ingram returns to his pre-injury gig, which consisted of roughly half of the New Orleans rushing attempts. That's enough to be a fantasy factor when the matchup is favorable; this matchup isn't, and since we don't know for sure Ingram regains his former role you should ease him back into your fantasy lineup--as in, maybe look elsewhere for help this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Khiry Robinson, NO @DET 300000000 *
With the return of Mark Ingram the Saints' backfield is once again a three-ring circus. The matchup with Detroit isn't favorable to begin with; divide those numbers by three and you get a whole lot of fantasy bench fodder.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @DET 007800000 **
Plenty of targets, but Cooks hasn't seen the end zone since Week 1 and is a difficult start against a Detroit secondary that's allowed but two WR TDs all year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO @DET 005400000 ***
What's more unexpected, that the Saints have only scored two WR TDs this year or that the Lions have only given up two WR TDs this year? With Jimmy Graham out maybe Colston gets a few more looks, but given the Lions' defensive prowess this year--as well as Drew Brees' penchant for spreading the ball around--best look elsewhere for fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Josh Hill, NO @DET 004501000 *
No Jimmy Graham means the Saints will use a combo platter of Hill and Ben Watson. If there's a weak spot to this Detroit D it's tight ends, who have scored more touchdowns against the Lions than wide receivers and as many as running backs. Hill's been in the end zone this season twice already, so he gets the nod to return over Watson.
Update: Graham is listed as questionable; if he's active he'll get the looks and you can relegate Hill to the bench.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Benjamin Watson, NO @DET 003400000 **
Jimmy Graham or no the tight end is a major part of the New Orleans offense. The Saints have used Watson and Josh Hill in Graham's absence, with Hill the more likely bet to score. However, don't rule out Watson at least getting you some catches and yardage against a Detroit defense that has struggled to defend the position this season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO @DET 2222 ***
A perfect Week 5 and the bye have put distance between Graham and a couple of shanks, so his job tacking on points for a quality offense looks secure. That said, it's a tough matchup and the Saints tend to score less on the road so there are better options available.

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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