FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 2
2012
* CHI at GB (THU) * DAL at SEA * MIN at IND * TB at NYG
ARI at NE * DET at SF * NO at CAR * TEN at SD
* BAL at PHI * HOU at JAC * NYJ at PIT * WAS at STL
* Updated CLE at CIN KC at BUF * OAK at MIA DEN at ATL (MON)

Prediction: CHI 20, GB 31 (Line: GB by 6)

Players to watch: Michael Bush, Randall Cobb, Cedric Benson

Updated Players: Greg Jennings, James Jones

The Bears come off a major thumping of the Colts but that was to be expected. The Packers remain at home after allowing the 49ers to visit with a defense that was actually bigger than the Packers offense. The Packers swept the Bears last season, winning 27-17 in Chicago and later 35-21 in Green Bay. The Packers need this win to get back on track but the Bears won't make it easy with an offense that looks improved.

Chicago Bears
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 IND 41-21 10 HOU -----
2 @GB ----- 11 @SF -----
3 STL ----- 12 MIN -----
4 @DAL ----- 13 SEA -----
5 @JAC ----- 14 @MIN -----
6 BYE ----- 15 GB -----
7 DET ----- 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR ----- 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI @ GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 260,2
RB Matt Forte 60 6-60
WR Alshon Jeffery 5-80,1
WR Brandon Marshall 8-110,1
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Opening up the season against the worst team from the previous year can give an unrealistic view of how good you are. But the Bears were hitting on all cylinders and losing the Mike Martz scheme seemed to really do the trick. Where once Jay Cutler was running around throwing to a never-ending cast of receivers, the offense was much more traditional. In fantasy terms, instead of having five or six guys with very mediocre to no fantasy value now there are only a couple but they are really producing.

Cutler ended with 333 yards and two scores against the Colts that was split between Brandon Marshall and everyone else. Marshall had 15 targets and nine receptions for 119 yards and one score. It was a throwback to the pitch and catch days back in Denver. No other receiver or tight end mattered other than the rookie Alshon Jeffrey who took five passes and caught three with 80 yards and a score. Only having to worry about two receivers for fantasy purposes? Nirvana.

The rest of the receivers were even worse than when Martz was still calling plays. Granted - one week at home against the worst team from the previous year hardly proves a major turnaround but then again - it looked every bit as good as you could hope.

Cutler passed for 302 yards and two scores at home against the Packers and later settled for 242 yards and one touchdown in Green Bay.

Matt Forte looked like he was in mid-season form with 16 runs for 80 yards (5.0 YPC) and one touchdown with three receptions gaining 40 more yards. What is troubling - especially for future games where the Bears may not have 28 carries to split up - is that Michael Bush has a significant role. He was given 12 runs and he gained 42 yards with two touchdowns. Both scores were in the first half from the one-yard line. Forte's score game from six yards out. Bush had no role as a receiver which may be a saving grace for Forte. But he was there for the short yardage gimmee touchdowns.

Forte only gained two yards on nine runs in the last game at Green Bay though he added 80 yards on seven receptions. The Packers were softer against the run last week but that was a product of the 49ers defense giving them field position and plenty of reasons to run the ball and chew up the clock - probably not a luxury for the Bears. Bush holds much less attraction here with the Packers likely to not give up many one-yard opportunities. But the passing game should shine once again against a secondary that just allowed two scores and 211 yards to Alex Smith.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 8 2 2 32 10 4
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 21 20 20 17 26 13

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI TB 0000031031 ****
Lovie's defense has held three of the past four QBs they've faced under 250 yards and to one TD toss or less, plus you have to think he has some knowledge of Cutler's game from his days in Chicago. That said, Cutler still has his twin towers plus Matt Forte to lean on, so he should be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI TB 8006501000 ***
The Bucs have allowed five 80-plus yard rushers in their past six games, so Forte should get his on the ground. Add in his passing game contributions and another quality fantasy outing is in the offing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI TB 0071101000 ****
It's a solid matchup, Jeffery against a Bucs' secondary that has struggled with big receivers this season. He's a little less consistently targeted than running mate Brandon Marshall, but both are quality fantasy options this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI TB 0081001000 ****
From way back in Week 1, when Kelvin Benjamin debuted with 92 yards and a touchdown, to Week 10 when Julio Jones rolled up 8-119, the Bucs have struggled with receivers of size. The Bears have size times two in Marshall and Alshon Jeffery; no reason to think this passing game can't have the same success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI TB 004400000 ***
The Bucs haven't given up a tight end touchdown since Week 4, and with outside receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery both expected to have big games there may not be enough left over for Bennett this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI TB 2233 ***
Four of the last six kickers to tee it up against the Bucs have scored double-digit points. Unfortunately, Gould hasn't even scored double-digit points in the last month combined so you'll want to get your fantasy kicks elsewhere.

Green Bay Packers
Homefield: Lambeau Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SF 22-30 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
GB vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers 20,1 320,3
WR Randall Cobb 5-70
WR Jordy Nelson 6-100,1
PK Mason Crosby 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Packers seemed unbeatable in 2011 other than one trap game in Kansas City. Opening at home would surely mean a win regardless of opponent but that's not going to be true. The 49ers came in with a predictably bad-ass defense but their offense fared far better than expected. It wasn't even a lock that they had an offense coming in. But they outscored the Pack in Green Bay and then thwarted the comeback attempt.

Several interesting aspects to that game were seen. Cedric Benson's race up the rankings may have been premature since he only gained 18 yards on nine carries and had no receptions which was expected. Aaron Rodgers was still the leading rusher (5-27). The Packers do not want a ground game beyond the ability to punch in a short score (provided Rodgers does not take it like normal) and to get a few first downs along the way. The opportunity should be akin to Stevan Ridley who gets to play defenses on their heels from the Patriots passing attack. At least last week, no such benefit existed against the 49ers still very potent defense.

The Packers had some success running the ball on the Bears last year but it is too early to rely on Benson for anything beyond some marginal rushing yardage. The Bears defense should be good enough to keep him at bay this week as well unless the Packers get a really big lead. On passing downs, the Packers took to using Randall Cobb in the backfield and that resulted in him leading the team with nine receptions for 77 yards. That's bad for Benson but great for Cobb. It seems a genius move really - the speedy and elusive Cobb barely has room on either side. Why not put him in the backfield? If it works it could start something new in the NFL. This is really something to watch.

The 49ers were able to largely take Greg Jennings (5-34) and Jordy Nelson (5-64) out of the game plan but Cobb and James Jones (4-81, TD) both stepped up along with Jermichael Finley (7-47, TD).

Jennings is listed as doubtful to play because of a groin strain and will be a game time decision. That makes James Jones more interesting and Jennings a huge risk to rely on.

This still remains a potent offense with a lot of weapons. The Packers had a rough opening that they lost at the end. This week is a restart at home against a familiar opponent. That should get them back on track.

 

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points GB 7 32 3 6 32 10
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 12 6 24 23 2 22

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Aaron Rodgers, GB @MIN 0000030030 ***
The only thing stopping Rodgers when these teams met earlier in the year was sportsmanship, as the Packers pulled the plug on A-Rod after just 17 attempts--three of them touchdowns. He's thrown 10 TDs in the past three games and topped 300 yards in all of them, so he's in your fantasy lineup even with the caveat that he may be a short-timer once again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB @MIN 7013400000 ***
Lacy has scored and topped 90 yards in each of his three career games against the Vikings; that includes 13-105-2 earlier this season. No reason to think he can't be just as productive again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB @MIN 0061002000 ***
Nelson has scored in every Packers win--and failed to score in every Packers loss. So if you're picking the Packers here you have to believe Nelson will find the end zone this week. He did so on one catch in the earlier meeting, no reason to think he can't do so again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB @MIN 006801000 ****
Cobb has scored in six of the last seven and topped 120 yards in three of the last four. He scored against Minnesota in the earlier meeting and should have little difficulty getting his in the rematch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB @MIN 002300000 ***
Adams scored in the earlier meeting as the Packers built a big lead and went to the bench. He's more involved now, so he has an even better chance of being a fantasy factor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB @MIN 002200000 ***
Quarless is splitting looks with Richard Rodgers, did little against the Vikings in the earlier matchup, and faces a Minnesota defense that's been surprisingly stout against tight ends all season long. It all adds up to being at the bottom of the pecking order for Aaron Rodgers' stats.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB @MIN 2244 ****
Multiple field goals in three straight and four of five, plus a butt-load (technical term) of PATs; you'll be just fine with Crosby this week.

WEEK 2
2012
* CHI at GB (THU) * DAL at SEA * MIN at IND * TB at NYG
ARI at NE * DET at SF * NO at CAR * TEN at SD
* BAL at PHI * HOU at JAC * NYJ at PIT * WAS at STL
* Updated CLE at CIN KC at BUF * OAK at MIA DEN at ATL (MON)

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