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 Santonio Holmes 3-50,1
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 @NYJ 0000029031 ****
Cutler has multiple TD tosses in each game this year; the Jets have allowed multiple touchdown passes to both Aaron Rodgers (expected) and--in his NFL debut--Derek Carr (far from expected). Assuming one or both of Cutler's top targets manage to make it to the field, he's a rock-solid fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @NYJ 5006400000 ****
Forte is scoreless on the season, and he'll get no help from a stout Jets' run defense. The saving grace is Forte's contribution to the passing game, though he's still facing an uphill battle to provide his usual fantasy stud-ness.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @NYJ 0081002000 ****
Even nicked up Marshall was a rock star last week; no reason to sit him against a Jets defense that just got light up for 209 yards by Jordy Nelson and two TDs by Randall Cobb.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @NYJ 005701000 **
If the Raiders can have multiple receivers find the end zone against the Jets, surely a healthy (or at least healthier) Jeffery can join Brandon Marshall in the fantasy winner's circle this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Santonio Holmes, CHI @NYJ 002200000 ****
Right now Holmes is the third wheel on Chicago's tandem bike of a passing game. Unless one of the starters is ruled out this week, Holmes is an unusable fantasy commodity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @NYJ 006300000 ***
The Jets haven't surrendered much to opposing tight ends, but Bennett serves as the Bears' de facto WR3--and gets an upgrade when one or both of the starters are hobbled or out. He's targeted enough so as to defy the difficult matchup and remain a viable fantasy play.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @NYJ 2233 ****
The Jets provide a situation where bad offenses get nothing and good offenses often have to settle for field goals. That bodes well for Gould, who was forced to count by ones last week against the Niners.

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 @DET 0000026020 ***
Before you pencil Rodgers in for something gaudy, note that in the two meetings since Matt Flynn embarrassed the Lions for 480 and 6 Green Bay QBs have totaled 413 and 1. Rodgers hasn't throw for multiple TDs against Detroit since November 2012 or topped 275 yards against them since November 2011. The Lions haven't allowed a multiple TD tosser this year, though Rodgers is a step up from Eli and Cam. Still, check expectations at the door.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB @DET 4013200000 ***
The good news is similarly-sized backs Rashad Jennings and Jonathan Stewart have both scored against the Lions this year. The bad: Detroit's D is allowing a shade over two yards per carry. Lacy himself is barely above three and was held to 16 yards on 10 carries his last trip to Motown. Still playable in TD-heavy systems, but yardage leagues may want to shop around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB @DET 008901000 ***
30 targets, 18 catches... so what if Jordy hasn't done a think against Detroit since tallying a hat trick in Matt Flynn's record-setter at the end of the 2011 season? Detroit has allowed only one WR TD and one WR to top 50 yards, but given the quarterbacking (and to some degree the receivers) they've faced those numbers are misleading. Nelson's an every-week starter, even if you need to dial back expectations just a hair this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB @DET 005601000 ***
Cobb may be playing second fiddle to Jordy Nelson, but at least one TD in each game is sweet music to fantasy owners. Cobb rushed for 72 yards the last time he faced Detroit, so perhaps he can augment his fantasy value with a little legwork as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB @DET 002400000 ***
Welcome to the party, rookie! Unfortunately, all signs point towards reduced production from the Packers passing game this week and that reduction starts at the bottom, where Adams and Jarrett Boykin are battling for looks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarrett Boykin, GB @DET 001200000 ***
Being blanked by Richard Sherman is one thing; being usurped by a rookie in the Packers' passing game pecking order is something else entirely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB @DET 002200000 ***
The Lions have had their difficulties defending the tight end this year; too bad the Packers don't have a reliable one for fantasy purposes.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB @DET 1133 ***
You'd think Crosby would appreciate going indoors after kicking at Lambeau, but he hasn't mustered multiple field goals in Motown since 2011. The Packers have averaged 16 points per game their last four visits to Detroit, which doesn't help Crosby's prospects.

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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