Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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* 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: DEN 24, ATL 34 (Line: ATL by 3)

Players to watch: Jacob Tamme, Jacquizz Rodgers

Players Updated: Roddy White

This is going to be a great Monday night game. The Broncos took down the Steelers while Peyton Manning looked mostly back to form while the Falcons put the spank on the Chiefs in Kansas City. Both defenses played much better than 2011 and both offenses look very much improved. This has to favor the Falcons who always play better at home but the Broncos are not going to be pushover.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR -----
2 @ATL ----- 11 SD -----
3 HOU ----- 12 @KC -----
4 OAK ----- 13 TB -----
5 @NE ----- 14 @OAK -----
6 @SD ----- 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO ----- 17 KC -----
9 @CIN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN @ ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 260,2
QB Christian Ponder 200,1
WR Emmanuel Sanders 3-40
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-90,1
TE Owen Daniels 4-40
TE Vernon Davis 4-40,1

Pregame Notes: So far John Elway looks like the smart guy because a nice home win over the Steelers erases the whole Tim Tebow thing. At least for now. Manning looks like the same quarterback with maybe a slight flutter to his passes. But they end up where they are aimed and Manning completed 19 of 26 for 253 yards and two scores with no turnovers. He looked pretty vintage in a good way.

Willis McGahee comes off a decent game of 16 runs for 64 yards but he never caught a pass and he watched Knowshon Moreno hawk his short touchdown on his five runs for only 13 yards. McGahee remains the primary back but he'll take an unwanted hit if Moreno continues to take touchdowns away without offering any real yardage to make him fantasy relevant. Manning knows what he is doing and he almost never relies on a running back as a receiver.

The debate about which receiver Manning would prefer has been answered and it ends up everyone was right. Both Eric Decker (5-54) and DeMaryius Thomas (5-110, TD) had a team high seven targets. Brandon Stokley and Matthew Willis figure in but not nearly enough to yield any fantasy value. Decker is a a possession type with a low yards per catch average while Thomas is lightning in a bottle looking for the homerun with every catch. Last week it was 88 yards for a score - reminiscent of the play that killed the Steelers in the playoffs.

Jacob Tamme reprised his role as favored tight end if only for the one week when he caught five passes for 43 yards and scored once. It's worth tracking to see if that continues or if Tamme fades against other teams.

The Broncos lose the homefield advantage which is more significant than most teams face and head to a site where the Falcons rarely lose a game. This will be a good test to see if Manning and company can keep up with the firepower of the Falcons.

Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 13 23 10 9 27 6
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 23 32 1 25 12 4

QB Brock Osweiler, DEN NE 20000023020 ***
The Patriots have held three of the last four QBs they've faced to one or zero touchdowns, and you have to believe Bill Belichick will throw myriad looks at Osweiler to get in his head. Brock posted a solid 250 and 2 in Chicago in his first NFL start; that feels like his ceiling against The Hoodie this week.
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN NE 7013100000 ***
The Broncos have run the ball 30-plus times in three of their last five games, with Hillman having the upper hand in carries in all three. Expect Denver to try to establish the run against New England; it's not impossible, but only two teams have managed to attempt 25 or more runs against New England. As the lead dog in Denver, Hillman has the best shot of turning those touches into fantasy help.
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN NE 5001100000 ***
Anderson remains the junior partner in Denver's backfield jobshare, and it's not a particularly good matchup in which to be an understudy.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN NE 005501000 **
Thomas is a different player than Odell Beckham or Antonio Brown, but he's every bit the highly-targeted WR1 those two are. And as each of them carved out 100-plus yards and a score against the Patriots, it would stand to reason that Thomas will do the same this week.
WR Cody Latimer, DEN NE 002201000 *
Latimer appears poised to pick up the slack if Emmanuel Sanders remains sidelined. It's a favorable matchup with a secondary that's allowed multiple WRs to score or top 50 yards (or both) in five of the last six games and eight of 10 overall.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN NE 004500000 **
The Patriots have served up 50-plus yards or a TD to multiple receivers in five of the last six games and eight of 10 overall. So if Sanders is healthy enough to go, he has an opportunity to be a very productive fantasy wingman.

Update: Sanders is listed as probable, so plan on him as you usually would.
TE Owen Daniels, DEN NE 004401000 ***
The Patriots have given up only three TE TDs on the season, only one since their Week 4 bye, and only one tight end has topped 45 yards since Heath Miller's 84 in Week 1. With Daniels and Vernon Davis splitting targets, there's too little pie and too many mouths to feed for a fantasy feast.
TE Vernon Davis, DEN NE 005600000 **
Davis has seen his targets increase as he becomes more acclimated to his new team, but he's still splitting said targets with Owen Daniels and there's just not enough to go around in a tough matchup for the position this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN NE 3322 ***
Points have been tougher for the Denver offense to come by of late, but with Brock Osweiler settling in and scoring a necessity to keep up with the Patriots he should be fine this week--with the upside of Denver's D turning this into a kickerfest between McManus and Stephen Gostkowski.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO -----
2 DEN ----- 11 ARI -----
3 @SD ----- 12 @TB -----
4 CAR ----- 13 NO -----
5 @WAS ----- 14 @CAR -----
6 OAK ----- 15 NYG -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI ----- 17 TB -----
9 DAL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 20 310,3
WR Julio Jones 7-100,1
WR Roddy White 5-80,1
TE Tony Moeaki 2-20
TE Jacob Tamme 6-50,1
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 4 XP
PK Shayne Graham 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons entered 2012 as one of the teams most expected to become elite and so far the prediction is looking accurate. Posting 40 points on the Chiefs in Kansas City was impressive and yet allowing them to score 24 points may mean the best of all worlds. The Falcons are going to score lots of points and allow opponents to join in the shootout to the delight of every fantasy owner.

Matt Ryan passed for 299 yards and three scores with no turnovers and just one sack. The Falcons are well off with Roddy White (6-87), Julio Jones (6-108, 2 TD) and Tony Gonzalez (5-53, TD). Those three accounted for 23 of the targets and no other receiver had more than 32 yards last week. That's likely to hold true in almost all games because the trio of studs can get the job done in combination. It will be rare for any defense to handle even one or two of them, let alone all three. Julio Jones has all the marks of the newest elite receiver and a resident at the top of the rankings for years to come.

The rushing game - not so stellar. The offense is faster now and less reliant on any power rushing so the role of Michael Turner would be de-emphasized anyway. But Turner only gained 32 yards on 11 runs in a game where the Falcons had a huge lead. Jacquizz Rodgers did not fare much better as a runner with 22 yards on seven runs but he had two receptions for 13 more yards. Rodgers role could expand in games where the defense forces shorter throws but that is probably not going to happen in many home games and not against the Broncos. Turner is on the downside of his career and all reports that he has lost a step are hard to disprove. That means Rodgers role is bound to increase depending on his success as a receiver and runner. He is still the one to watch here since he will continue to develop as the season progresses.

The Broncos handled the Steelers rushing offense but it was not likely to be much anyway. This game is going to be won through the air and the trio of the Falcons in Atlanta will be a bigger challenge than the Steelers presented.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 1 30 5 7 2 12
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 18 5 18 19 14 11

QB Matt Ryan, ATL MIN 0000027011 ***
Quarterbacks facing the Vikings have ranked with that week's top 10 exactly once all season--David Carr checked in at number 9 in Week 10. So put your expectations for Matty Ryan on ice.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL MIN 6012100000 *
Coleman likely gets the carries with Devonta Freeman still in concussion protocol, but it's not a great week to do so against a Minnesota defense that's allowed only four RB TDs on the year.
WR Julio Jones, ATL MIN 0091201000 ***
The good news is that heavily targeted wideouts have success against Minnesota; the six WRs with at least 10 balls thrown their way have produced an average of 9-102-1, and four of the six have been of the big-bodied ilk a la Jones. So respect the matchup, but don't put Julio on the sidelines because of it.
WR Leonard Hankerson, ATL MIN 000500000 *
Only once all season have two wideouts found the end zone against Minnesota in the same game, and the best yardage output by a secondary receiver is Emmanuel Sanders' 68 back in Week 4. No need to reach here.

Update: Hankerson has been ruled out of this week's game.
WR Roddy White, ATL MIN 002200000 ***
White has been a fantasy afterthought all season; that's unlikely to change against a Vikings defense that allows WR1s to get theirs but holds other wideouts in check.
TE Jacob Tamme, ATL MIN 005600000 **
Tamme's targets tumbled with the return of Leonard Hankerson last week, and a Vikings defense that's allowed only one TE TD in the past month--with no tight end topping 46 yards in that span--isn't going to help Tamme get more looks.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, ATL MIN 0102 ***
Update: Graham will take over Atlanta's kicking duties this week with Matt Bryant out due to a quad injury.

* 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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