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
WR Kendall Wright 5-70
TE Kyle Rudolph 5-50

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 Kirk Cousins, MIN @GB 10000020020 ***
The good: Denver has given up a TD pass every 10.9 completions (6th-highest frequency). The rest: This is the worst defense for weekly yardage figures, and it's the third-hardest matchup for generating fantasy points (16.1/game).
RB Latavius Murray, MIN @GB 7011100000 ***
Back in Week 6, Murray wasn't much of a factor. The show was stolen by Jerick McKinnon's two-TD effort. Green Bay remains extremely vulnerable to running backs, though the matchup skews toward pass-catching types. Statistically, this is the worst matchup for rushing touchdowns, but extreme cold at Lambeau could flip the script.
WR Kendall Wright, MIN @GB 0071001000 ***
Wright has emerged in the past two games, landing 17 receptions on 24 targets. He hasn't scored since Week 4. This projection is rose colored but attainable. Cleveland has given up the fourth-most receptions for moderate yardage (14th) per game, with one in 18 landing in the end zone (22nd).
WR Adam Thielen, MIN @GB 0071001000 ***
Receivers have scored with the highest frequency against Green Bay in the past five weeks. One in 5.9 catches has made it into the end zone. The Packers have limited receivers to just 9.4 receptions (28th) and 121.8 yards (28th), but much of those figures can be pinned on facing shaky passing attacks of Baltimore, Carolina, Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Thielen posted a 9-97-0 line in the Stefon Diggs-less Week 6 game. This one is at Lambeau Field in what is forecasted to be single digits.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN @GB 004601000 ***
Diggs missed the previous meeting. The Packers have been a poor defense of receivers all year, but the recent weeks have provided a few matchups that have helped improve the look of the stats. This defense is 28th in receptions and yards allowed per game, but it remains the best for finding touchdowns (1 every 5.9 catches).
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN @GB 004500000 ***
Rudolph (ankle) played in only 20 snaps last week, and he was limited in Tuesday's practice based on the approximation report. Green Bay provides the third-best matchup of the week, one that rates in the top eight for receptions, yardage and touchdown efficiency against.

Update: Rudolph is not on the injury report for Saturday's game.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, MIN @GB 2233 ***
Twenty of the 21 combined kicking attempts were good, with all seven field goals being accurate. This is the sixth-worst matchup for three-pointers and sixth-best for TD-capping tries.

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
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 Jacoby Brissett, IND @BAL 10000018002 ***
Brissett is not a viable fantasy option in any setup and faces a lethal defense to boot.
RB Marlon Mack, IND @BAL 2002200000 ***
Mack has been non-existent for fantasy owners over the past five weeks, and unless he scores a touchdown, his contributions will remain insignificant. Tempting fate to find out if he can take advantage of this fruitful matchup is unwise. Baltimore has, for the record, the softest defense when it comes to allowing running backs to score offensive touchdowns.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND @BAL 004500000 ***
Baltimore is a great matchup for receptions (5th most) and yardage (3rd) but ranks as the toughest defense for permitting touchdowns to receivers. Precisely zero have gone into the end zone on the last 71 tries.
WR Ryan Grant, IND @BAL 002300000 ***
Grant doesn't belong in a lineup against the third-toughest defense of his position. There are better choices for gambling gamers.

Update: Grant will see more looks if Jamison Crowder (questionable) cannot play, yet no gamer should feel inclined to take a chance on him.
WR Chester Rogers, IND @BAL 003300000 ***
The Ravens have not given up a touchdown in the past five games, or 73 receptions worth of action. There is no reason to consider Rogers in any conventional league.
TE Eric Ebron, IND @BAL 004400000 ***
Tight ends have averaged 4.8 snares (11th) for 50.6 yards (15th) and a score every 12 grabs (17th) since Week 10. Ebron has 33 targets, 27 receptions, 248 yards an a TD over that span, making him a viable flex or low-tier TE start.
TE Jack Doyle, IND @BAL 003300000 ***
The Ravens have surrendered the third-highest average number of receptions to tight ends without giving up a touchdown in the past five games. Doyle should be in the mix for yardage and catches for PPR gamers.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND @BAL 1000 *****
The position has missed one of their nine field goal tries and one of the eight PATs provided to them. This combines to create the ninth-fewest kicking chances per game in the last five weeks.

* 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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