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: MIN 20, IND 23 (Line: MIN by 1)

Players to watch: Coby Fleener, Kyle Rudolph

The Vikings come off a overtime win over the Jaguars and in the process did what no one thought possible - they made Blaine Gabbert look like a real quarterback. Oh, and Adrian Peterson played. The Colts come off a a solid loss in Chicago but Andrew Luck's debut was not all bad and the Colts at home have a real chance to win this coin flipper. This will be one of the easier games this year for the Colts but that is hardly a lock. But both teams are trying to find themselves and the Colts at home should squeak this out against the 2-6 road team from last year.

Minnesota Vikings
Homefield: Metrodome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 JAC 26-23 ot 10 DET -----
2 @IND ----- 11 BYE -----
3 SF ----- 12 @CHI -----
4 @DET ----- 13 @GB -----
5 TEN ----- 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS ----- 15 @STL -----
7 ARI ----- 16 @HOU -----
8 TB ----- 17 GB -----
9 @SEA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN @ IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel 200,1
QB Christian Ponder 200,1
RB Adrian Peterson 90,1 2-10
WR Greg Jennings
TE Kyle Rudolph 5-50
PK Blair Walsh 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Credit special teams with keeping the Vikes in the game and eventually winning in overtime. The biggest news was Adrian Peterson returning after only nine months removed from his knee injury. Peterson ran for 84 yards on 17 carries and scorer twice. Peterson has always been a north-south sort of runner and his straight line power and speed seemed back to form. He'll get better incrementally as the season progresses but his start exceeds all expectations and prognosis. Tony Gerhart still had six runs but only gained 18 yards. Peterson has already reclaimed his spot and made Gerhart remain just a footnote.

Christian Ponder passed for 270 yards last week but had no scores. So far in his brief career he's been less effective away from home where he had four touchdowns over six away games. This will be a good test for Ponder against a secondary that just gave up 333 yards to Jay Cutler.

Percy Harvin remains the stud here but no other wideout has stepped up last year or in the first game of the year. Michael Jenkins (3-45) and Devin Aromashodu (3-61) factor in but neither do much to lessen the focus of the defense on Harvin. The one other receiver that does matter may end up to be tight end Kyle Rudolph who enters his second season as the best college tight end from 2011. Rudolph was second to only Harvin with five catches for 67 yards versus the Jaguars. This offense needs him to break out this year and so far the signs are starting to grow.

The Colts biggest advantage is just that they are home and the Vikings are on the road. This game is going to come down to a battle of quarterbacks and either Ponder steps up and plays better or Luck just does as well as last week with fewer turnovers.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 27 9 21 20 4 23
Preventing Fantasy Points IND 25 31 31 1 23 27

QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN @TB 20000019011 ***
Four straight QBs have thrown for multiple touchdowns and at least 286 yards against the Bucs. Bridgewater may not be ready to step up to that level just yet--he's been sub-200 yards the past two weeks and just threw his first NFL touchdown last week--but the opportunity certainly is there.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN @TB 9014200000 ****
McKinnon has topped the century mark in two of the past four games; a defense that's allowed Justin Forsett to rush for 111 yards and the likes of Khiry Robinson (89 and 1), Antone Smith (50 and 1), Steven Jackson (54 and 1), and Zac Stacy (71 and 1) to have success doesn't exactly project to be a stopper here.
WR Greg Jennings, MIN @TB 006701000 **
Since the Vikings steadfastly refuse to throw high-volume targets at Cordarrelle Patterson, Jennings remains fantasy relevant. And in a matchup with a defense that's allowed 10 different wideouts to top 50 yards and four different wide receivers to score touchdowns last week alone, relevant means opportunity this week.
WR Jarius Wright, MIN @TB 004600000 ***
Tough to see Teddy Bridgewater feeding three mouths in the passing game, but Wright has managed to carve out some fantasy value on a somewhat regular basis. It's an incredibly favorable matchup, so if you're reaching you could certainly do worse than Wright.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN @TB 002100000 ***
10 receivers have racked up at least 50 yards against the Bucs; four scored against them last week alone. Patterson still isn't getting the targets, but there's no question the Vikings are making an effort to get the ball in his hands. Against this defense, that may be all he needs to have that bustout game we've been waiting for.
TE Rhett Ellison, MIN @TB 001100000 ***
The Vikings didn't complete a single pass to a tight end last week, and nothing in this matchup suggests digging this far down into the Vikings passing game for fantasy help is a smart move.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN @TB 1122 ****
When you're giving up 34 points a game, as the Bucs are doing, opponents are bound to get their kicks against you. And right now Walsh might be the Vikings' best/only offensive weapon.

Indianapolis Colts
Homefield: Lucas Oil Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @CHI 21-41 10 @JAC -----
2 MIN ----- 11 @NE -----
3 JAC ----- 12 BUF -----
4 BYE ----- 13 @DET -----
5 GB ----- 14 TEN -----
6 @NYJ ----- 15 @HOU -----
7 CLE ----- 16 @KC -----
8 @TEN ----- 17 HOU -----
9 MIA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
IND vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Andrew Luck 10 300,2
RB Ahmad Bradshaw 80,1
RB Trent Richardson 70,1 2-10
WR Hakeem Nicks 5-70,1
WR Reggie Wayne 8-110,1
TE Coby Fleener 6-60,1
PK Adam Vinatieri 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The opener was predictably painful but the loss in Chicago was not unexpected and did have some positives from it. Andrew Luck looked very credible throwing for 309 yards and one score in his first NFL start and his three interceptions will get better. Luck faced an aggressive Bears defense primed to play the rookie but this week the Vikings bring in a secondary that was exploited by Blaine Gabbert. That is not a resume builder for the secondary and no doubt where the Colts focus will be.

Luck threw 18 passes to Reggie Wayne who caught nine of them for 135 yards. For some perspective, understand that Wayne never had nine catches or 135 yards in any game last year. That is a positive. Luck also used Donnie Avery (3-37, TD) for eight pass attempts. But the second best receiver on the team proved to be his old college buddy Coby Fleener who caught six passes for 82 yards. For some perspective, understand that Fleener only once had more than four catches in any game during his four years at Stanford. That is a positive.

The receivers will likely evolve as the season progresses but at least Luck hit the ground passing. Now he just needs to limit the catches to his own team mates.

Donald Brown scored once and gained 48 yards on nine carries as the primary back. Vick Ballard turned four runs into only six yards at the end of the game. Brown was mostly met at the line but did manage an 18 yard run when he scored in the second quarter.

The Vikings weak secondary carries over from last year and now faces Luck on the road instead of Gabbert at Minny. The game will revolve around what Luck can accomplish.

Gaining Fantasy Points IND 21 27 9 10 31 9
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 22 19 16 22 17 10

QB Andrew Luck, IND @PIT 0000031030 ****
Does it really matter what the Steelers have or haven't allowed? Luck is en fuego right now, with multiple touchdowns in every game and five straight (and six of seven) with 300-plus yards. Pep Hamilton has seen the light!
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, IND @PIT 6014401000 ****
Three backs have rushed for at least 75 yards against the Steelers in the past two games, and two backs have scored receiving touchdowns. Talk about teeing one up right in Bradshaw's wheelhouse...
Update: Trent Richardson hasn't practiced all week and is officially listed as questionable. Whether he's limited or out entirely, it means more touches for Bradshaw. And that's a very good thing, fantasy-wise.
RB Trent Richardson, IND @PIT 3002100000 **
Richardson continues to get most of the between-the-tackle work, and while he hasn't topped 80 yards yet he's at least found the end zone a couple times in the past month. He's not as safe a fantasy bet as Ahmad Bradshaw, but it's a favorable enough matchup to be a viable fantasy option this week.
Update: While listed as questionable, Richardson did not practice all week. Even if he goes he clearly won't be at 100 percent, so dial back your expectations accordingly.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND @PIT 009900000 ***
Hilton has at least 80 yards in five straight, triple-digit yardage in three of the last four, and stakes first claim to Andrew Luck's copious yardage total.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND @PIT 004500000 ****
Moncrief has been seeing an uptick in playing time, and the injury to Reggie Wayne should lead to more targets as well. It's a big pie Andrew Luck is creating; you could do worse than banking on Moncrief to carve out a slice this week.
WR Hakeem Nicks, IND @PIT 002300000 ***
Nicks remains on the fringe of relevancy, both for the Colts and fantasy wise. So long as Andrew Luck keeps churning out 300-yard games Nicks has a shot at being a fantasy helper. Reggie Wayne's possible absence this week certainly doesn't hurt Nicks' chances.
TE Dwayne Allen, IND @PIT 003501000 ****
Allen is slightly more targeted and slightly more productive than his running mate at tight end. With Indy scoring at least one TE TD in every game thus far one--or both--need to be in fantasy lineups, and Allen is the slightly safer bet.
TE Coby Fleener, IND @PIT 002201000 ***
While he's playing second fiddle to Dwayne Allen Fleener is still a fantasy factor in his own right with touchdowns in three of the past five games. Indy has at least one TE TD in every game, so if you're reaching for help at the position you could certainly do worse than Fleener.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND @PIT 1144 ***
My Cousin Vinny is averaging better than nine points per game; opposing kickers are averaging better than nine points per game against the Steelers. Pencil Adam in for something north of nine and call it a day.

* 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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