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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 OAK 0000028020 ****
Manning's average outing against Oakland the past two seasons is 326 and 4--and he actually bettered those numbers with 340 and 5 in the earlier matchup this season. There may not be a reason for Manning to stick around for the full game to compile such numbers, but you can bet the Broncos want him back on track for the postseason so he'll get enough reps to fill your fantasy passion bucket.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN OAK 12023100000 ***
Anderson blew up the Raiders by land and air in the previous meeting, amassing 163 combo yards and a touchdown on just 17 touches. He may cede a few looks to Ronnie Hillman to get the former starter some game action before the postseason, but not before doing more than enough to help your fantasy squad.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN OAK 0081201000 ***
Thomas is averaging more than 100 yards per game in his last five meetings with the Raiders, including 11-108 earlier this year. He's only scored in one of those games, however, so he's no lock to help you in a TD-heavy league. That yardage, though, is more than enough of a performance-league cushion.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN OAK 005701000 ***
Sanders scored against Oakland in 2013 as a Steeler; he scored twice against them earlier this season as a Bronco. No reason to think he won't put up another fantasy helper here.
Update: Sanders was limited all week with a hip injury and is officially listed as questionable. He may make an early exit from this tilt should the Broncos take a commanding lead early on.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN OAK 004500000 ***
Thomas' 6-63-2 kicked off a stretch in which the Raiders allowed six TE TDs in a seven-game span. Julius hasn't scored or topped 35 yards since, but the favorable matchup and a need to shake off rust before the postseason starts suggest he'll be at least a viable fantasy option this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, DEN OAK 1144 ***
Barth's at least good for six points; every kicker to face the Raiders has produced at least that number. And with Peyton Manning struggling, maybe he has another of those five field goal games, which he's done in half his outings as a Bronco.

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 Jacquizz Rodgers 30 3-20
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 CAR 20000032020 ***
Ryan has 300-plus yards in four straight and averages 311 and 2 at home; Carolina has given up multiple TD tosses in six of seven on the road. So with the NFC South title on the line expect an upgrade over his 268 and 1 against the Panthers back in Week 11.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL CAR 4012200000 **
Freeman was the quality guy--eight touches, 84 yards and a touchdown--while Jaquizz Rodgers handled the quantity last week after Steven Jackson left the game with an injury. He's a tough start against a Carolina defense that hasn't allowed an RB TD since Week 10, but he's been the most effective of what Atlanta has left in the backfield and looks to be the guy on the field in the passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL CAR 2003200000 ***
With Steven Jackson sidelined it was Rodgers who saw the largest share of carries, though he averaged less than three yards a carry. He'll likely find himself in a similar situation this week: a bevy of unproductive carries.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL CAR 0081201000 ****
Jones has three straight 100-yard games, wrapped around the one game he missed due to injury, and he's scored in three of his last four as well. That string started after the Panthers held him to 59 yards in Week 11, but as hot as the Atlanta passing game--and Jones in particular--has been he's a must-start with the NFC South crown on the line.
Update: Jones practiced only on a limited basis Friday, and he's listed as questionable. With the NFC South on the line he'll likely find a way to play, and if he plays he needs to be in your lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL CAR 007701000 ***
White has touchdowns in four of his last six, including the earlier meeting with Carolina. It's also worth noting that secondary receivers seem to have success against the Panthers--among them Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Brandon Tate, Torrey Smith, and Chris Owusu.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL CAR 002200000 ***
The Panthers have softened against tight ends over the second half of the season, but Toilolo has done nothing to warrant fantasy consideration.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CAR 2233 ***
Bryant is averaging 11 points per game over the past two months, a stretch that includes 13 against the Panthers in Carolina. Kicking for the NFC South title, indoors... you gotta like Bryant's chances here. Doesn't hurt that he's averaging a robust 12 points per game within his division.

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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