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
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Adrian Peterson 90,1 2-10
WR Mike Wallace 4-70,1
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 @ATL 20000017010 ***
If things are working as the Vikings want, Teddy won't throw many passes--certainly not enough to be a big fantasy helper. And if things are working the way the Falcons want, however many passes Teddy is throwing aren't doing much damage. Either way, Bridgewater's not a shrewd fantasy play this week.
RB Adrian Peterson, MIN @ATL 11012200000 ***
On the surface this looks like a tough matchup for Peterson against a defense that has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher and hasn't even allowed a team to rush for 100 yards in Atlanta. But none of the Falcons' opponents have really tried, averaging just 21 rushing attempts per game. AP eats that for breakfast, and the last time he didn't get his 20 touches (like last week against Green Bay) he roared back with 192 yards from scrimmage. Moreover, the Falcons have let guys like Matt Jones and Chris Polk find the end zone against them; surely AP can do the same.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN @ATL 004500000 ***
Since DeAndre Hopkins went for 157 back in Week 4 the Falcons haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver; heck, since Jamison Crowder's 87 in Week 5 they haven't even allowed a 60-yard receiver, with only one WR TD in that span. Tough matchup for the Minnesota passing game, so keep a lid on expectations for the rookie.
WR Jarius Wright, MIN @ATL 002200000 ***
Wright got some run out of the slot last week, but given the way Atlanta is shutting down opposing wideouts it seems silly to look for another such effort here.
WR Mike Wallace, MIN @ATL 001200000 ***
Since Stefon Diggs took over as Minnesota's WR1 Wallace has hit the skids, failing to top 40 yards in six straight games. Nothing to see here.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN @ATL 004501000 ***
The Falcons have given up seven TE TDs and six games of 50-plus yards to the position, and last week Rudy returned to favor in Minnesota with his biggest game of the season. Maybe another 6-106-1 isn't in the offing, but half the yardage and another score wouldn't surprise.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN @ATL 2222 ***
Walsh was on a roll until last week, and he might not get back on another one until next week as the Falcons have held four of five foes to one or fewer field goals.

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 Frank Gore 110,1
WR Andre Johnson 5-60,1
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 Matt Hasselbeck, IND TB 0000027021 ***
Six of the last seven quarterbacks to face the Bucs have tallied multiple touchdowns, and Matt Cassel barely counts. Hasselbeck has tossed two TDs in each of his last two games and seems a safe bet to continue that trend here.
RB Frank Gore, IND TB 6001100000 *
Gore out-touched Ahmad Bradshaw last week yet Bradshaw's two TDs made him the more productive fantasy back. Tampa Bay's run D has tightened up, but they've been susceptible to pass-catching backs so Gore should salvage value there--though again Bradshaw's two TDs both came on receptions so there's a limit to his upside.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, IND TB 2003200000 *
Bradshaw is the junior member of Indy's backfield tandem, but he's scored three receiving TDs in the past two weeks and is better suited to exploiting a Bucs D that's allowed two 60-yard RB receivers and two RB receiving TDs in the past month.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND TB 004501000 **
Moncrief was Indy's most targeted wideout last week, but he's caught a total of 12 balls in three games with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, totaling 119 yards. Tampa's secondary has been playing significantly better since they swapped out their cornerbacks, so don't look for big things from Moncrief this week.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND TB 006700000 ***
Hilton hasn't scored with Matt Hasselbeck under center, and his targets have declined each game under the backup QB. Tampa's pass D has been better of late, and Indy's receiving corps under Hass has been nowhere near as productive as when they were Luck-led so temper expectations accordingly.
WR Andre Johnson, IND TB 003400000 ***
Johnson had one big game with Hasselbeck at quarterback, 6-77-2 against his former team, but he's been nonexistent in the other two tilts. Can't bank on him in a surprisingly tough matchup against an improving Bucs secondary.
TE Coby Fleener, IND TB 006601000 **
It'll take a ton of targets to make a TE fantasy-relevant against Tampa Bay; three tight ends each with double-digit targets have accounted for three of the four TDs and all three games north of 45 yards. Such targets aren't out of the question for Fleener, as he saw such a workload in Matt Hasselbeck's first start this season in place of Andrew Luck. So we're sayin' there's a chance.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND TB 3322 ***
Vinny's been merely ordinary thus far, and the combo of a backup quarterback and an improving Bucs defense hardly seems the impetus for change.

* 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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