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 WAS 0000023010 ***
Washington has allowed multiple passing scores in six straight games. Bridgewater has one in each of the past two, his first two NFL passing scores, and he has yet to dazzle the home crowd with a scoring strike. Maybe it's all coming together right here, right now, for the Vikings' QB of the future? Even so, there's a ceiling of maybe 250 and 2 so set your lineup accordingly.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN WAS 9013200000 ***
McKinnon has yet to score an NFL TD, and a first is unlikely here against a Washington D that's given up only a couple of moderately big fantasy games to opposing backs--and with all due respect to McKinnon he ain't Arian Foster or DeMarco Murray.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN WAS 2005601000 *
That whole "getting the ball in Patterson's hands" thing isn't exactly happening just yet. However, a Washington defense that's allowed multiple fantasy helpers in all four road games could be just what the doctor ordered for Patterson to carve out a slice of fantasy value this week.
WR Greg Jennings, MIN WAS 006500000 ***
Seven of the 10 WR TDs the Redskins have allowed have come on the road, and they've allowed a score and/or 69-plus yards to multiple receivers in all four games away from DC. That puts Jennings in play as either Teddy Bridgewater's top target or his backup plan if Cordarrelle Patterson can't shake free. Either way, it's a decent fantasy opportunity.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN WAS 2222 ***
Walsh has been as wildly inconsistent as the Vikings offense; factor in the Vikings playing outdoors and you likely have a better fantasy option elsewhere.

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 @NYG 20000031030 ****
Luck has six straight 300-yard games and multiple touchdowns in every game this season; you're going to trot him out against any defense, doesn't matter who. Though it doesn't hurt that the Giants have allowed multiple TDs in back-to-back games, does it?
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, IND @NYG 4004401000 ***
Bradshaw gets the third-down work, a healthy share of the goal line work, and if Trent Richardson isn't fully healthy an increased share of all the other stuff as well. He's the more dynamic and more effective back in Indy's stable, so he's at least as good of a bet as Richardson to capitalize on a Giants' defense that's allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers and at least one RB TD in six of seven games this year.
RB Trent Richardson, IND @NYG 401000000 **
Richardson returns to action just in time to face a Giants defense that's allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts and at least one RB TD in six of seven games. Whether or not he returns to his lead role in the Indy backfield remains to be seen however, and even if he does Ahmad Bradshaw has been the more effective fantasy play anyway.
WR Hakeem Nicks, IND @NYG 004601000 **
It's a revenge game for Nicks, who dogged the Giants with a zero-TD swan song last season. Revenge would be more likely has Nicks not amassed a paltry 8-86 in the five games since he last saw the end zone. It's not a matter of targets, either; that 8-86 came on 26 targets. It would take a concerted effort by the Colts to rub Tom Coughlin's face in a Nicks TD for revenge to happen here, and Indy probably doesn't care that much about a free-agent-to-be WR3.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND @NYG 0081100000 ****
Three straight 100-yard efforts, six straight with at least 80 yards... yeah, Hilton's handling the transition to WR1 just fine. No reason for his roll to slow against a Giants secondary that's already allowed four feature receivers to reach triple-digit yardage.
WR Donte Moncrief, IND @NYG 003400000 ***
Moncrief has moved into the WR2 role in Indy, just in time to capitalize on a matchup with a Giants' secondary that's allowed fantasy helpers to multiple WRs in three of the past five games.
TE Dwayne Allen, IND @NYG 002201000 ****
Over the past two games the Giants have allowed 210 yards and four TDs to opposing tight ends. The Colts have a TE TD in every game this season, and even if Allen has to share some stats with Coby Fleener this is a favorable enough matchup that Allen--heck, maybe both Indy TEs--belongs in your fantasy lineup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Adam Vinatieri, IND @NYG 2144 ***
Multiple PATs in every game, multiple FGs in every game since Week 1... Vinatieri is getting ample opportunity to swing the leg on an every-week basis.

* 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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