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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: 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
Grass
  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
WR Emmanuel Sanders 3-40
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-90,1
WR Wes Welker 5-50
TE Jacob Tamme 6-50,1
PK Connor Barth 1 FG 2 XP

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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 13 23 10 9 27 6
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 23 32 1 25 12 4

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Peyton Manning, DEN @CIN 0000025020 ***
Cincy's been solid against the pass all season; Peyton's been ordinary the past couple of weeks. Dial back expectations, though you needn't go so far as to bench Manning here.
Update: Peyton has been limited in practice by the same thigh injury that sent him into the locker room early last week. No indication he'll miss the Monday night game, but if you have a roster spot you may want to stash Brock Osweiler... just in case.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN @CIN 10014301000 ***
The Broncos are going to run Anderson plenty--109 carries over the past four games, resulting in 478 yards and four rushing scores. The Bengals couldn't contain similarly heavy-loaded backs like Stevan Ridley (27-113-1), Terrance West (26-94-1) or Le'Veon Bell (26-185-2), so expect Anderson to work back towards his 100-yard days after a couple weeks under that milestone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @CIN 0071001000 ***
Cincy's secondary has been among the best this year at shutting down opposing wide receivers. That said, the last time they say a tandem even close to the talent level of Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders they gave up matching 100-yard games to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. No worries about Demaryius making his appointed rounds this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @CIN 004600000 ***
It's not a particularly favorable matchup, and Sanders has taken a back seat to Demaryius Thomas the past couple of weeks against tougher defenses. But the pattern set by the Steelers, with both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant topping 100 yards, seems to be the closest fit to what Denver brings to the table this week. Consider Sanders just a half-step behind Thomas at the top end of the Denver passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @CIN 003400000 ***
Thomas had one catch in his return to action last week. Now he'll face a Cincy D that was beaten by Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen earlier in the year but held Jimmy Graham in check and has allowed only one TE TD in the past two months. He's still a threat, but if you've found a quality backup plan during his absence you'll want to give serious consideration to employing it for at least one more week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, DEN @CIN 2233 ***
Peyton Manning's struggles are to Barth's benefit, as he's booted five field goals in two of the past three games; prior to that Denver had just two multi-field goal games all year. Cincy's surrendered multiple treys in three straight, so Barth's fun times three should continue this week.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  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
RB Steven Jackson 70,1 3-20
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 30 3-20
WR Harry Douglas 2-30
WR Julio Jones 7-100,1
WR Roddy White 5-80,1
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 4 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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 1 30 5 7 2 12
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 18 5 18 19 14 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL @NO 0000027030 ***
The last time Ryan saw the Saints he put up 448 yards and three TDs--and it's only the second-biggest game New Orleans has allowed to an opposing QB. In fact, four quarterbacks have topped 30 fantasy points against the Saints. Heck, the deposed Jay Cutler threw two TDs against them last week. Ryan has four straight games with multiple scoring strikes and an average of 362 and 2 in his last three trips to the Big Easy; what's not to like?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL @NO 5001100000 ***
Jackson's numbers have declined in each of his three games as a Falcon, culminating with his 12-52 back in Week 1. And while the Saints have been softer of late against the run, Jackson has been delivering a steady supply of Jackson-like games--especially on the road: 16-50, 17-41, 16-81, 8-22, 13-37, 13-49, 11-46. Those are not the lotto-winning numbers to plug into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL @NO 006901000 ***
Douglas delivered 69 yards as a third wheel in the earlier matchup, so he's usable even if Julio Jones plays. And if Jones can't go... well, you saw last week's 10-131 for yourself.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL @NO 007801000 ***
White has taken a back seat to Julio Jones, both against the Saints and in general. However, he did score in the earlier meeting with New Orleans this year and has scored in each of the past two games. He's not quite 1A again, but he's a solid secondary option worthy of a fantasy start in a game that projects to fill plenty of fantasy mugs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Hester, ATL @NO 003401000 ***
Hester had 99 yards against the Saints in his Atlanta debut, and 85 and a score last week with Julio Jones out. Tough to bank on Atlanta going four deep at receiver again, but if Jones can't go Hester climbs onto the fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @NO 00000000 *
If Jones is deemed ready he's worth the risk against a Saints secondary that's allowed more WR TDs than all but five other teams; something about the 116 yards he had against New Orleans in the opener, or the 42 targets and 26-516-3 he posted the past three games he played.
Update: Jones didn't practice for a second straight week; last week that meant no game, and while he's listed as questionable Atlanta's top beat writer seems to think it means another week without Julio in the lineup. The plan is for him to test his hip on Saturday, so maybe we'll know a little earlier than game time regarding his availability.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @NO 1133 ***
Bryant kicked his way to 13 points the last time he faced the Saints, and he's averaged better than 10 points per game over the past six. New Orleans gave up back-to-back-to-back double-digit games to kickers before encountering the feeble Bears last week. With the Vegas line set at a lofty 56 for this one, expect fireworks--and plenty of opportunities for Bryant.

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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