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

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 SD 0000030030 *****
Manning has never not thrown for multiple touchdowns or 300-plus yards against the Chargers. Never. And in five of 11 lifetime meetings he's done both. Same could be said for this season, as he's averaging 300-plus and three TDs. Even with no NFL record dangling in front of him, Manning should put up his usual big numbers this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN SD 6003200000 ****
Hillman has been more than okay filling in for the injured Montee Ball. This week's edge comes in the passing game, as the Chargers have already given up five RB receiving scores and Hillman has nine targets in his two starts. No reason to bail on him here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN SD 0071201000 ****
The Chargers have given up just one big game to wideouts... but the Broncos are a different animal, and Thomas is at the head of that pack. He's scored in three of four career meetings with the Bolts, including a 108 and 3 outing last November. No Brandon Flowers certainly doesn't help San Diego's hopes of slowing the Denver passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN SD 005800000 ***
The trickle-down effect of San Diego losing a starting corner helps Sanders' prospects as well. With a whole bunch of Peyton Manning productivity to spread around, Sanders should see his share of the fantasy love.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Wes Welker, DEN SD 005600000 ****
Signs of life from Welker last week, and as long as Peyton Manning is throwing him the ball there's no reason to shy away from him as a fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN SD 003401000 ***
Thomas failed to score for the first time last week, and the Bolts aren't an easy matchup for the position. That said, he's far too involved in the Denver offense to be benched simply for a bump in the road difficult matchup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN SD 3333 ****
The risk with McManus is that he counts by ones instead of threes. Consider the Chargers enablers, as they've allowed only one multiple field goal game since Week 1.

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 DET 0000027011 ***
It's been a month since Ryan tossed multiple scores, and this date with a Detroit defense that begrudgingly gave Drew Brees two TDs last week but has otherwise kept the vaunted Saints in check doesn't project to do him any favors.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL DET 4011100000 *
Jackson is barely startable in a favorable matchup; against a Detroit defense that hasn't allowed a rushing score since Week 4 or a 100-yard rusher all season, there's nothing to like at all.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Antone Smith, ATL DET 2003300000 ***
Still a lottery ticket of a fantasy helper, and last week he failed to cash out. Limited touches and a tough defense make that the more likely outcome again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL DET 2003200000 **
Freeman's share of the workload is increasing, but against a tough D like Detroit's it'll take more than a share to make some fantasy noise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL DET 005701000 **
Detroit gave up multiple 100-yard receivers last week, while White posted his first triple-digit yardage outing of the season. While he's still WR2 to Julio Jones, he's a strong WR2 and a viable fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL DET 006800000 ****
Jones remains an every-week fantasy starter, even against a tough defense like Detroit's; just dial back the expectations a bit.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL DET 004400000 *
Douglas is an iffy play injury wise and a lousy play otherwise against a Detroit defense that isn't allowing much to opposing receivers let alone secondary targets.
Update: Douglas squeezed in two limited practices this week. He's listed as questionable, but between his third-wheel status and a difficult matchup you should look elsewhere for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL DET 1122 ****
Bryant hasn't scored double-digit points since Week 1, and a date with the top defense in the league isn't likely to help matters.

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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