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
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Jamaal Charles 80,1 3-20
WR Emmanuel Sanders 3-40
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-90,1

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 Trevor Siemian, DEN OAK 0000015010 *
Siemian apparently will start, but he may cede snaps to rookie Paxton Lynch. Just play it smart and avoid both of them.
QB Paxton Lynch, DEN OAK 20000010010 *
Lynch appears in line to see snaps in the meaningless finale for Denver. Counting on him in fantasy is asking for punishment, even though Oakland has been susceptible to giving up QB points of late.
RB Devontae Booker, DEN OAK 4002200000 *
Booker was at his best last week in some time, which isn't saying much. There is no justifiable reason to consider him a strong play this week, but he could be an OK flier in cavernous formats given all of the RBs injured or sitting.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN OAK 005701000 *
Thomas managed only five catches for 56 yards the last time out, and Oakland has a shot at the No. 1 seed if New England loses. The Raiders have given up only 8.8 receptions (3rd fewest) per game to the position in the last five weeks.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN OAK 004600000 *
It sounds like Gary Kubiak is going to play musical quarterbacks this week. The Raiders are sound against receivers, and Sanders was limited to a 5-47-0 line on 11 targets in Week 9.
TE Jeff Heuerman, DEN OAK 003300000 *
The matchup is neutral, and Denver doesn't utilize the position enough to give us any confidence to recommend Heuerman.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN OAK 2222 **
No team has given up fewer field goal attempts per game than Oakland, which has resulted in allowing the lowest total of fantasy points since Week 11. Only three field goals have been granted by the Raiders in those five games.

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
QB Matt Schaub 240,1
WR Julio Jones 7-100,1
WR Andre Roberts 5-70,1
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.

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

QB Matt Ryan, ATL NO 0000028020 ***
The Saints have given up the 11th most fantasy points per game since Week 11. Most of the success can be attributed to QBs averaging top-10 figures in passing yards per game, TD efficiency, and points per completion. Ryan went for 240-2-0 in the last meeting.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL NO 9025400000 ***
Both Freeman and Tevin Coleman annihilated the Saints in Week 3. Freemen amassed 207 offensive yards and a score on his way to a 31.7-point day.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL NO 6012200000 ***
The Saints offer a top-10 PPR matchup for the versatile, second-year back. Coleman has to be licking his chops for another shot at the Saints. He scored three times and finished with 29.9 PPR points in the Week 3 meeting.
WR Julio Jones, ATL NO 0081001000 **
Jones was shut down in Week 3, grabbing a mere catch on seven targets that went for 16 yards. The Saints have allowed a TD every 11.3 catches by receivers in the past five weeks, and the position has averaged top-10 figures per game in both catches (13.6) and yards (170).

Update: Taylor Gabriel is out, so look for extra targets to come Jones' way.
WR Justin Hardy, ATL NO 002201000 ***
Despite a good matchup, Hardy doesn't see enough volume to warrant a safe fantasy play in Week 17.
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL NO 005600000 ***
Sanu has been too quiet lately, and he hasn't scored since Week 8. He was not much of a factor in the earlier meeting, either. Avoid him in all formats.

Update: Now that Taylor Gabriel has been ruled out, Sanu should have enough of a role to deserve fantasy attention in deeper formats.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL NO 1155 ***
The Saints offer a top-12 opponent for Bryant, giving up 9-for-10 on field goals and 13-for-14 on point-afters since Week 11.

* 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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