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
WR Alshon Jeffery 5-80,1
WR Eddie Royal 2-20
PK Connor Barth 1 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 Matt Barkley, CHI SF 0000026021 *
Barkley tossed three TDs but two INTs in his starting debut last week. The Niners offer a great matchup to exploit. Quarterbacks have averaged 28.3 fantasy points per contest since Week 7, and this has the second highest overall opportunity index rating. That means Barkley would have to really stink to not post decent fantasy stats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jordan Howard, CHI SF 11014300000 ***
How does a home tilt with fantasy's second most vulnerable defense of running backs sound? The Niners have given up the most PPR points by a wide margin, which comes from being the fourth worst at stopping RB touchdowns and second most lenient against the production of yardage over the last five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marquess Wilson, CHI SF 005701000 **
Wilson enjoyed a strong game last week with Matt Barkley chucking the ball, and it should continue against the 49ers' lowly pass defense. San Fran is the second best opportunity for points, which has translated to the third most PPR points scored per game since Week 7.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cameron Meredith, CHI SF 004601000 ***
San Francisco has given up averages of the fourth most receptions (15.3), second most yards (217), and fifth most points per reception (3.1) in PPR since Week 7. Wideouts have scored once per 8.7 catches, which is the eight most efficient clip.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Daniel Brown, CHI SF 004500000 *
San Fran has been rock solid versus tight ends over the last five weeks, allowing only one touchdown on 18 grabs.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, CHI SF 1144 ***
San Fran has allowed the most extra points by such a margin that ranking 11th in field goal attempts still makes this the highest combined ranking for opportunities.

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
TE Jared Cook 5-50,1
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 HOU 30000028031 ***
Rodgers is the hottest thing going among fantasy quarterbacks right now, and Houston's once-strong pass defense has trended the wrong direction for several weeks now. QBs have averaged a TD every 11.3 completions, which ranks 10th best for exploitation.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James Starks, GB HOU 4004300000 ***
The Texans have bent quite a bit versus RBs, but on this unit has not broken on the ground. Through the air, though, the Texans have allowed three TDs on the last 29 receptions faced. Starks is used a lot in the screen game, so there is hope for a sneaky TD. Don't bank on it, though.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB HOU 006601000 ***
Cobb is extremely tough to play on a weekly basis, but facing a Houston defense that has allowed a touchdown per game since Week 7, he has a puncher's chance at success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB HOU 005601000 ***
Adams has seen at least six targets in every game since Week 6, and he has found the end zone five times during that stretch. While he has been a little streaky, gamers must keep him in lineups. The Texans have regressed against receivers of late, so this is another worthy matchup for the blossoming wideout.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB HOU 003401000 ***
Nelson's return tour rolls on with a decent enough matchup to instill a hint of confidence in the extension of his five-game string of double-digit fantasy points. He has scored a TD in four of his last five outings, and the Texans have given up one touchdown, on average, over the last five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jared Cook, GB HOU 004300000 ***
Houston has given up 23 catches and two of them found the end zone, but given Cook's erratic involvement, it's tough to justify plugging the veteran into a fantasy lineup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB HOU 1133 ***
Houston offers a solidly neutral matchup for Crosby. This group has given up 6.5 fantasy points per contest over the last five weeks to kickers.

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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