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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 DEN 10000020020 ***
The good: Denver has given up a TD pass every 10.9 completions (6th-highest frequency). The rest: This is the worst defense for weekly yardage figures, and it's the third-hardest matchup for generating fantasy points (16.1/game).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Kapri Bibbs, WAS DEN 4004400000 **
Bibbs is the next, next, next, next man up for Washington. He will see the receiving work and handle a few carries to spell Samaje Perine. Denver is no joke for running backs of any flavor. Look elsewhere.

Update: Perine (groin) did not practice all week and is unlikely to play. Bibbs should see the majority of work behind a banged up offensive line.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Samaje Perine, WAS DEN 4001100000 *
Just two of the last 121 carries against the Broncos have found the end zone (25th) in the hands of a running back, and they're a matching 25th in the weekly rushing yardage column against this group.

Update: Perine (groin) did not practice all week and is unlikely to play. Kapri Bibbs should see the majority of work behind a banged up offensive line.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Josh Doctson, WAS DEN 003401000 ***
Denver has permitted four receiving TDs over the last 38 receptions by the position, which shakes out to be the the seventh-highest rate in football since Week 10. The rest of the matchup metrics are dismal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS DEN 004400000 ***
This is a terrible opponent for PPR types -- Denver has given up just 7.6 receptions (31st) for 106.2 yards (32nd) since Week 10. The upside is one in 9.5 snares found the end zone. Crowder was limited in Wednesday's practice with a hamstring strain.

Update: Crowder has been limited all week and is a true gametime call. Prepare for his absence.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ryan Grant, WAS DEN 002300000 ***
Grant doesn't belong in a lineup against the third-toughest defense of his position. There are better choices for gambling gamers.

Update: Grant will see more looks if Jamison Crowder (questionable) cannot play, yet no gamer should feel inclined to take a chance on him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, WAS DEN 002201000 *
Denver generally does well at limiting tight ends between the 20s but has struggled most of the year at keeping them out of the end zone. One in nine catches over the last five weeks has resulted in a TD.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dustin Hopkins, WAS DEN 2222 ***
Hopkins returns from IR to face Denver's stifling defense of his position. Kickers have attempted the fewest per-game field goals, resulting in the second-lowest weekly possibility for fantasy points.

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 ATL 0000024020 ***
Despite this being his worst statistical effort as a Saint, the veteran played well (271-2-1) for gamers in the Week 14 matchup at Atlanta. Since Brees isn't much of a runner, we'll remove the one ground TD by quarterbacks and we're left with the third-best matchup of the week. For the record, it is no different with that TD. At any rate, quarterbacks have averaged the sixth-most yards and nearly two TD passes a showing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alvin Kamara, NO ATL 6016701000 ***
A Week 14 concussion against Atlanta ended his day after four touches. Hopefully it didn't end your fantasy season at the same time! Kamara returned for a fine day in Week 15 and gets another shot at the Falcons. Atlanta has given up only two rushing scores in the last five games, but this is the No. 4 matchup to exploit for receptions and 11th-best for receiving yards on a weekly clip.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO ATL 8014300000 ***
These teams met just two weeks ago and it was a narrow Saints loss after their game plan was forced to change when Alvin Kamara went out with a concussion. Ingram finished with 92 yards on 16 touches. The Falcons have surrendered only two rushing TDs in the last five games, or one every 44.5 totes (23rd). The ground work is not enticing, though this is a strong matchup for aerial production by RBs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Thomas, NO ATL 006801000 ***
Thomas has a three-game scoring streak after a seven-contest drought. The second-year wideout has 25 targets in his last two games and enjoyed his finest appearance of 2017 in the Week 14 trip to Atlanta (27.7 PPR points). The Falcons have surrendered 14.4 receptions (3rd) and 161.4 yards (8th) per game, while only being the 19th-best matchup for touchdown frequency. It still comes out to one score per game since Week 10.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ted Ginn Jr., NO ATL 003400000 *
Ginn missed Week 15 with a rib injury and is probably closer to playing than sitting this week.

Update: Ginn has been removed from the injury report. The matchup is moderate, and he's a risky fantasy start in any situation.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO ATL 1144 ***
Of the 19 total kicks, the only two misses came on the eight field goal tries. The Falcons rate as negative matchups in all notable kicking matchup metrics. Lutz was good for just five fantasy points in the meeting two weeks back.

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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