FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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 MIA 0000030030 ***
Forget last week's aberration in St. Louis; Manning is money at home, with at least three TD tosses in every game and an average of 318 yards per home contest. The Dolphins haven't allowed so much as a 300 yard game this year, but it's Manning so anything's possible.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN MIA 7006600000 ***
Looks like Anderson will be the lead dog in Denver this week, against a Miami defense that hasn't let a back go for 50 yards against them in a month. Expect him to pick up a little fantasy help in the passing game, which combined with his share of the run game makes a tidy little fantasy package.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN MIA 0081101000 ***
With or without Emmanuel Sanders, whether or not Brent Grimes plays him man-up the entire game, Thomas is an every-week fantasy starter.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN MIA 004601000 **
If Sanders is cleared from his concussion he belongs in your fantasy lineup, but that's a decision we won't know until later in the week.
Update: Sanders did not practice until Friday, at which point he got in a full session. The official injury report lists him as probable, so the expectation is he'll return from his concussion and play this week. And if he's playing, he belongs in your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Wes Welker, DEN MIA 005500000 ***
Welker could see some extra looks with Emmanuel Sanders out with a concussion, but it's going to take no Sanders in the lineup for Welker to warrant fantasy attention.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Caldwell, DEN MIA 004500000 ***
The Broncos have options if Emmanuel Sanders can't go, with Caldwell being one of them. He'd warrant fantasy attention if Sanders is ruled out; otherwise he's just going to remain a fantasy afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN MIA 003200000 *
It isn't a great matchup, but if Thomas recovers from his ankle injury in time to play he's an every-week fantasy starter. No Thomas, no need to reach for his backups.
Update: Thomas did not practice all week, and his official "questionable" designation seems optimistic. You should have a Plan B at the ready.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN MIA 2133 ***
Tacking on points for Peyton Manning's offense hasn't been as productive as you might think--just one double-digit points game in the past six and only two all year. So keep your expectations in check with McManus and you'll be just fine.

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 CLE 0000023011 ***
Ryan averages better than two TDs per game at home, as well as 40-plus yards per game more at home than on the road. With the Browns having given up multiple TD tosses in two of their last three, Ryan should deliver a solid fantasy showing in the Georgia Dome this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL CLE 6012100000 ****
The Browns have been gashed by the likes of Denard Robinson (22-127-1) and Alfred Blue (36-156), making Jackson a viable fantasy option with his usual 15 or so touches.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL CLE 006701000 ***
White's been the more reliable producer of late, and even though Cleveland's corners are playing better they still gave up 148 combined yards to Houston's WR duo last week and 210 & 2 two weeks prior to the Bucs. With Joe Haden likely locking up on Julio Jones, White should again be a solid fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL CLE 006600000 ***
Jones is seeing plenty of targets to offset any issues presented by being covered by Joe Haden this week. It's a tough matchup, but other WR1s have managed to find success this season and Julio remains an every-week fantasy starter.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL CLE 003400000 ***
It's been more than a month since a WR3 posted anything of fantasy note against the Browns, even longer since Douglas made a fantasy splash. No reason to reach for him this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL CLE 002300000 ***
Toilolo hasn't done anything of fantasy note since Week 1, and a change in that MO is unlikely here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CLE 2222 ***
Coming off a pair of four-field goal games, Bryant is benefitting from an offense that's getting him close but not forcing him to settle for PATs. No weather to worry about, Bryant is a decent plug-in option this week.

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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