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
WR Emmanuel Sanders 3-40
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-90,1
WR Wes Welker 5-50
TE Jacob Tamme 6-50,1

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 Peyton Manning, DEN SF 0000030030 ***
Neither rain nor snow nor banged up 49ers defense shall keep Peyton from his appointed multiple touchdown, 250-plus yard rounds.
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN SF 6013200000 ****
Hillman had his way with what was supposed to be a tough Jets run D. The Niners are also considered a less than fantasy friendly matchup, but they're also down yet another starting linebacker. You could do worse than the lead back in Peyton Manning's stable.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN SF 0071102000 ****
There aren't many receivers in The League who compare to Thomas. Dez Bryant is one, and the Niners held him to 55 yards in the season opener; Brandon Marshall is another, and he abused them for three touchdowns the following week. Bottom line, Thomas has come out of the bye week on a mission and there's no reason to think San Francisco gets in his way this week.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN SF 0071000000 ***
The Niners haven't seen a WR tag-team like this since Week 3, when Arizona's Michael Floyd went for 114 yards while secondary target John Brown scored twice. With Demaryius Thomas garnering the attention expect Sanders to get his work done just outside the spotlight--more than enough to be a fantasy factor this week.
WR Wes Welker, DEN SF 004500000 ***
Still waiting for Welker to make a fantasy splash this season. Could happen against a defense that let John Brown score on them twice while preoccupied with Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, but it would be nice to actually see Welker do something before committing a fantasy lineup slot to him.
TE Julius Thomas, DEN SF 004501000 ****
The Niners have allowed TE TDs in each of the past two games. Thomas, meanwhile has scored twice in each of the past two games and has at least one touchdown in every game this season. So... yeah.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN SF 2244 ****
Tacking on points for the Broncos isn't the luxury fantasy gig you might think, in part because McManus is counting by ones instead of threes. Mix in a San Francisco D that's held five of six opposing kickers to five points or less and this is anything but a cushy matchup for McManus.

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
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.

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

QB Matt Ryan, ATL @BAL 0000029012 ***
Baltimore has allowed back-to-back 300-yard passing games and four this season of 290 or more, plus multiple TDs to each of the past two QBs they've faced. Sounds like a softer non-dome landing than many expect for Ryan on the road; he'll be just fine this week.
RB Antone Smith, ATL @BAL 1004400000 ****
The 2014 season's ultimate big-play threat has scored in every game in which he's received three or more touches. Just because you've hit the lottery before, however, doesn't necessarily mean you'll hit it again.
RB Steven Jackson, ATL @BAL 3002100000 *****
Only one team's running backs have found the end zone against the Ravens, and that took a commitment to the run Atlanta has demonstrated only in the 56-14 blowout win over Tampa Bay. As they're unlikely to run the Ravens by 40 points in Baltimore, Jackson won't see enough touches to be fantasy relevant this week given his limited productivity with said touches.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL @BAL 1003200000 *****
Freeman is still fighting an uphill battle for touches and can't be banked on as a fantasy helper just yet.
WR Julio Jones, ATL @BAL 007801000 ****
High volume targets find success against the Ravens, and there's little question Jones is a high-volume target. The twin TDs by Tampa's wideouts last week suggest Atlanta's dynamic duo should find at least a modicum of success in Baltimore.
WR Roddy White, ATL @BAL 005400000 ****
White is definitely running WR2 to Julio Jones; moreover, his yardage is capping well shy of triple digits so he'll need the TD to be a major fantasy factor. Tampa Bay's wideouts scored twice on the Ravens last week so it's not an impossibility, but it's at least an unlikelihood.
WR Devin Hester, ATL @BAL 002300000 ****
Hester's a better play in more favorable matchups. This isn't one, so he's relegated to the "one big play" pile with Antone Smith--and right now Smith is doing it better.
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL @BAL 002200000 *****
Since scoring in Week 1 Toilolo has a total of 84 yards and zero scores. He's no Tony Gonzalez; then again, few are. And a matchup with a Baltimore defense that hasn't let a TE top 60 yards this season and surrendered only one TE TD on the year isn't about to make him look like Tony G, either.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @BAL 1111 ***
Bryant's been slightly above average, which is disappointing given the talent on Atlanta's offense. The Ravens have been a mild damper on opposing kickers, so keep your expectations in check here.

* 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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