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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 @ARI 0000027021 ***
Arizona remains tough versus quarterbacks, giving up the eighth fewest points per game (19.1) since Week 7. Only one team has allowed fewer yards per game, and the Cards rank as the fourth best D in touchdown efficiency. That said, Cousins is still very playable for gamers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Robert Kelley, WAS @ARI 4002101000 **
Dallas slowed the Kelley hype train last week, but the Cardinals present a decent shot at getting back on track. Running backs have scored six times in the last 98 carries and 102 offensive touches, which ranks second and third, respectively. Arizona ranks as the toughest against allowing combined yardage per game over the last five weeks, though.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Chris Thompson, WAS @ARI 2003200000 ***
This is the stoutest defense of pass-receiving backs in the past five weeks: Only eight catches for 59 yards have been permitted.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS @ARI 007901000 ***
Crowder has authored six straight games of double-digit PPR points, including scoring TDs in four of those contests. Arizona is must stronger on the outside than in the slot, and receivers like Crowder have averaged the fifth most catches and seventh most yards per game over the last five weeks when facing the Cardinals.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Pierre Garcon, WAS @ARI 006500000 ***
Garcon has quietly put together a fine fantasy season. The veteran faces a Cardinals defense that has allowed the fifth most receptions and seventh most yards per game to receivers since Week 7 -- right up his alley for a WR3 PPR showing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeSean Jackson, WAS @ARI 003400000 ***
D-Jax is an all-or-nothing play most of the time. Arizona has given up a TD ever 14.5 receptions, which is the ninth least efficient rate for receivers. Wideouts have scored the 11th fewest points per play against the Cards since Week 7.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, WAS @ARI 006500000 ***
Davis comes and goes which makes his utility suspect in any fantasy format. The Cardinals have destroyed tight ends over the last five weeks. Arizona is the toughest matchup for catches, yards, touchdown ease, and fantasy points against ... yikes.

Update: Jordan Reed will not play this week, which normally would be a great boost for Davis, but this matchup is stifling.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dustin Hopkins, WAS @ARI 2233 ***
Arizona has granted twice as many extra point attempts as the seven field goal tries afforded to the position over the past five weeks.

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 0000031040 ***
Brees' last two games vs. DET: 340 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (2014) and 341 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT (2015). The Lions have the best statistical defense of quarterbacks using data from the last five weeks, but we're talking games with Minnesota (twice), Jacksonville and Houston.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tim Hightower, NO DET 3003301000 ***
Since Week 7, running backs have averaged 77.3 rushing yards, 51.8 receiving yards, five receptions and 20.9 PPR points per game against the Lions. Hightower has little upside during this crucial stage of the season.

Update: in the event Mark Ingram sits out (QUE, GTD), Hightower's value increases considerably. Check the inactives to be safe before starting him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO DET 5002200000 ***
Detroit has allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season, and no receiving scores in the last five weeks. This is the sixth worst overall index rating for opportunities. Ingram has mild appeal, because focusing on so many passing weapons can let him get loose from time to time.

Update: Ingram is questionable and was limited Friday after failing to practice both Wednesday and Thursday. He was non-committal about his status and is a true game-time decision.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Thomas, NO DET 006801000 ***
Detroit has not exactly faced powerful offenses (MIN, JAX, HOU, MIN) in the last five weeks, but the stats show at least the Lions can handle weak opponents. Thomas has plenty of upside and has proven he belongs in lineups each and every week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO DET 005701000 ***
Cooks wasn't pleased with his role last week, but that should not be an issue this time around. The Lions have granted the eighth most catches per game over the last five weeks. The rest is up to him given his game-breaking speed.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Willie Snead IV, NO DET 005500000 ***
Detroit has given up the eighth most catches but the worst ratio of catches that led to scores since Week 7. Snead has low-end PPR flex appeal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, NO DET 004501000 ***
The Lions have been one of the most generous teams for tight ends to exploit all season. In the last five weeks, tight ends have scored the fifth most PPR points per game when facing this defense.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO DET 1144 ***
Detroit has allowed more field goal attempts than extra point kicks over its last five weeks, but that won't be the theme of the day vs. Drew Brees and Co. in Week 13.

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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