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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 Robert Griffin III, WAS @MIN 30000026020 ***
Sounds like this is RG3's gig if he makes it through the practice week unscathed. He's still looking for his first TD of 2014, passing or rushing. The latter might be tough to get against a Vikings defense that's allowed only 11 QB rushing yards on the season, and the former is no lock either against a Minnesota D that's given up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Morris, WAS @MIN 8011100000 ****
RG3's return would be a boon for Morris, as his two best showings came with the threat of RG3 in the same backfield. Morris has 12 or more carries in every game; the seven backs to hit that mark against Minnesota average 70 yards a game and have accounted for four TDs as well. Give those numbers the RG3 boost and this is at minimum a solid opportunity for Alf.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeSean Jackson, WAS @MIN 006901000 ***
The Vikings typically have trouble with speed receivers--like Sammy Watkins, who torched them for 9-122-2 a couple weeks back. That bodes well for DJax, as done the return of RG3 to the helm.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Pierre Garcon, WAS @MIN 006700000 ***
Garcon saw enough early-season volume with RG3 at the helm that his return bodes well for Pierre's stats in PPR formats; also doesn't hurt that the Vikings have allowed multiple WRs to score and/or top 60 yards in four of their last six games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Roberts, WAS @MIN 004300000 ***
If the season opener is any indication, Roberts runs a distant third in Washington's WR pecking order when RG3 is at the helm. No reason to reach for him here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Reed, WAS @MIN 004501000 **
Mike Zimmer has tightened up a Vikings D that traditionally was torched by tight ends; this year they've allowed only two TE TDs and no tight end to top 56 yards against them. Those aren't fantasy-friendly numbers for Reed; add in the fact he's still sharing looks with Niles Paul and he's a fringe fantasy play at best.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, WAS @MIN 2133 ***
Won't be easy for Forbath to get his kicks against a Minnesota defense that either rolls over and gives up PATs (zero field goals, 13 XP attempts Weeks 3-5) or shuts the door altogether (just 47 points allowed total over the past three weeks). Plus, his fantasy prospects are a bone to be chewed when the gales of November come early.

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 @CAR 0000032021 ***
In his career Brees has played a season's worth (16) of games against the Panthers, averaging 22 fantasy points per game in the process. He's also tossed multiple touchdowns in six straight this year and faces a reeling Carolina D that's allowed multiple TD tosses in six of eight. Enjoy the show.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO @CAR 12012100000 ****
With injuries still halving the number of backs in New Orleans' rotation Ingram should be in line for another heavy workload. That's good news, not only because of last week's standout performance but also because backs who get carries against the Panthers do well; to wit, the nine backs who received double-digit carries against Carolina have produced five touchdowns and three 100-yard games. Enjoy the run, Robinson and Thomas will be back eventually.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Travaris Cadet, NO @CAR 2004200000 ***
Cadet is an intriguing play against a Carolina defense that's given up 6- and 12-catch games to running backs as well as three RB receiving scores this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO @CAR 004601000 **
The Panthers have given up more than enough WR TDs to put every Saints wideout in play here, and with 57 yards or better in three of his last four Stills is a large enough part of the receiver rotation to warrant fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO @CAR 006700000 ****
Colston has six touchdowns in his last five meetings with the Panthers, averaging 6-87-1 over that span. He's been the top target in three of four road games, among them a pair of 100-yard efforts. That's about as good as it gets for Colston, who's still just one of a bunch of guys Drew Brees could throw to.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @CAR 005700000 ***
Cooks is much more of a homebody than a road warrior; since his 7-77-1 NFL debut in Week 1 he's totaled 10-71 in three games away from the SuperDome. It's a favorable matchup, but if you're looking for ways to parse the Saints receivers history is not on Cooks' side.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO @CAR 008901000 ***
Graham has scored in five straight and six of seven against the Panthers, has either a TD or 100 yards in seven straight, and has double-digit fantasy points in each of those tilts. Carolina is traditionally strong against the tight end but allowed Luke Willson to beat them last week and has yet to find an answer for Graham. Oh, and Jimmy looked plenty healthy last week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO @CAR 1133 ***
Graham has three straight three-field goal games and faces a Carolina defense that's allowing an average of nine kicker points per game over the past month and a half. He's as good an option as you'll find this week.

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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