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 Michael Bush 30
RB Matt Forte 60 6-60
WR Domenik Hixon 3-40
WR Alshon Jeffery 5-80,1
WR Brandon Marshall 8-110,1
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40
PK Jay Feely 1 FG 2 XP
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 @MIN 0000026011 **
Cutler returns to the lineup, facing a team he's thrown for 620 yards and six touchdowns (with four INTs) against in the past two games. He won't have Brandon Marshall, but you have to think his "WTF" approach to throwing into coverage will be exacerbated in what could be his final game as a Bear. That's both good and bad; caution on using Cutler if you're penalized for picks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @MIN 8016500000 ***
Forte is working on a 10-game touchdown drought against the Vikings, but hopefully you play in a yardage league because he's had triple-digit combo yards in each of his last four against Minnesota. The Vikings have given up 100-plus combo yards to six of the last seven feature backs they've faced. PPR leaguers are also fond of the matchup; Forte has 25 catches in those same four against the Vikings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @MIN 0071001000 **
In his last two against the Vikings, Jeffery has 23 catches (not a misprint) for 384 yards and three TDs. With no Brandon Marshall to get in his way, all that stands between Jeffery and more monster numbers is a banged-up Xavier Rhodes.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marquess Wilson, CHI @MIN 003400000 ***
Wilson has been an adequate replacement for Brandon Marshall, but not necessarily someone you should be going out of your way to get into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @MIN 006600000 **
Bennett was nearly nonexistent with Jimmy Clausen at the helm last week, so he'll welcome the return of Jay Cutler. And on the heels of the Vikings giving up 149 yards and a TD to the position last week, Bennett will be happy to be facing Minnesota as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jay Feely, CHI @MIN 1122 ***
Hope Feely didn't opt for performance-based pay, as the Bears have provided him with exactly zero field goal opportunities since signing him to replace the wounded Robbie Gould one month ago. He could match the three points Gould scored in the earlier meeting with Minnesota, but that's hardly enough to stir the fantasy pot.

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
RB Cedric Benson 60,1
WR Randall Cobb 5-70
WR Jordy Nelson 6-100,1
TE Jermichael Finley 4-50,1
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 10000030020 ***
Rodgers was abysmal in the earlier matchup--162 yards, one TD--and he's actually been awful in three straight against the Lions. That run includes two home dates, so it's not just a home/road split. Rodgers hasn't been much of a fantasy helper the past fortnight, and expectations should be kept in check this week as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB DET 8013300000 ***
Lacy has averaged 60 yards from scrimmage per game against the Lions, with no TDs to boot. Doesn't help when Aaron Rodgers attempts to pad his stats by throwing at the stripe rather than giving Lacy a shot, though Lacy has scored in three straight and five of the last six. It's taken burly backs to crack the Lions' code at the stripe--Matt Asiata, LeGarrette Blount, Steven Jackson--and Lacy certainly has the bulk, if given the opportunity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB DET 006902000 ***
Subdued passing numbers for Aaron Rodgers mean subdued numbers for Nelson, who has been fantastic at home but hasn't scored or topped 100 yards against the Lions since New Year's Day of 2012. Check your expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB DET 0071000000 ****
Cobb has been held in check by the Lions as well, with just one career TD and one career 100-yard game against them. He's been a little less volatile than Jordy Nelson, especially on the road, but he hasn't been quite as productive as his running mate in Lambeau either. It's not a great matchup, but at this juncture Cobb is an every-week fantasy play regardless of foe.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB DET 003500000 ***
While Green Bay's receiver depth has been especially productive at home, the Lions aren't giving up enough to feed all three mouths so keep Adams in reserve this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB DET 2233 ****
Crosby has multiple field goals in four straight and seven of his last eight, and double digit points in five of his last eight. He posted a season-low single point in the earlier meeting with Detroit but this one's at home, where he's averaging four more points per game than on the road. So he's good for at least five here, right?

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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