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: TEN 16, SD 24 (Line: SD by 4.5)

Players to watch: Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews

Players Updated: Nate Washington, Ryan Mathews, Antonio Gates, Kenny Britt, Jake Locker

The Titans come off a disappointing home loss to the Patriots which saw Chris Johnson flop worse than he had last season. The Chargers are on a short week after their Monday night win and may be getting their starting running back into the lineup this week. The Chargers are not that great this year, but they should be plenty good at home against a team with a struggling offense.

Tennessee Titans
Homefield: LP Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 NE 13-34 10 @MIA -----
2 @SD ----- 11 BYE -----
3 DET ----- 12 @JAC -----
4 @HOU ----- 13 HOU -----
5 @MIN ----- 14 @IND -----
6 PIT ----- 15 NYJ -----
7 @BUF ----- 16 @GB -----
8 IND ----- 17 JAC -----
9 CHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
TEN @ SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel 200,1
RB Dexter McCluster 7-70
WR Harry Douglas 2-30
WR Kendall Wright 5-70
TE Anthony Fasano 3-30
PK Ryan Succop 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Titans had a terrible start to their year - new starter Jake Locker was knocked from the game while trying to make a tackle on his interception. The rushing effort netted nine yards on 14 carries and the Titans could only manage one touchdown at home in a game where they trailed the entire time and had plenty of trash time to roll up at least more yardage if not points.

Locker passed for 229 yards and one score while losing a fumble and throwing an interception. He separated his non-throwing shoulder on the play but is expected to wear a brace and play in this game. He has no structural damage so he'll have to play with a sore shoulder. That means Matt Hasselbeck will be standing up on the sideline with his helmet always nearby.

Chris Johnson was reported by the coaches as showing a new commitment to playing and that he was going to make amends for a 2011 season that netted him $55 million and the hatred of every fantasy owner. Rushing for only four yards on 11 carries is hardly a good start though he added 47 yards on six catches to salvage some fantasy value. Johnson was bottled up on most runs and rarely reached the line of scrimmage untouched but he was never able to break any run. That's a scary reminder of last year for everyone who spent a first or second round pick on him. Still plenty of football to play but definitely got off on the wrong foot. Javon Ringer missed the game with an elbow infection that had him hospitalized.

Nate Washington scored last week though he had just two catches for 53 yards and suffered a bruised leg. He is expected back this week with no limitations. The rookie Kendall Wright only produced 37 yards on five catches against what was the worst secondary from last season. That too was a disappointment and little better than Damian Williams (5-33). Kenny Britt is slated to start practicing this week and then play at least a limited role on Sunday.

Bringing this show on the road may not improve much. The Chargers held Darren McFadden to just 32 yards on 15 carries and is now back at home where they play even better. McFadden turned in 13 catches for 86 yards which is where Johnson is more likely to rack up yardage. Locker will likely play and he may have Britt on some plays which will help. But relying on this stumbling offense for more than a score and moderate yardage is hard to justify. Last week should have been the softest defense in the first seven weeks and it was just a flop. Right now - there are no clearly good fantasy plays on this team.

Quentin Jammer has a broken hand and may not play this week - that would be good for Locker and the receivers.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 19 21 20 19 20 29
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 16 28 9 18 11 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN @IND 0000025012 ***
Following last week's shutout of Ryan Tannehill the Colts have gone back-to-back games of holding QBs without multiple TDs for the first time this season. So it's a favorable matchup for Mettenberger; he's just not well-equipped to take advantage.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN @IND 3002200000 ***
Mike Mularkey says Sankey will get more playing time this week--this after Sankey took over the Titans ground game last week following a pair of Antonio Andrews turnovers. It's a favorable matchup, but it'll take stones the size of Pluto to trot out Sankey in a Week 17 championship game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Antonio Andrews, TEN @IND 4001100000 *
Indy's run defense rallied last week, holding Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi to a shade over two yards per carry--though Miller did score. Andrews scored on the Colts earlier this year, but he may not get the 13 touches he received in that game. So there's a smidgen of fantasy upside here--which, in Week 17, may be enough.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN @IND 004700000 ***
DGB went from 113 against the Pats to a goose egg against Houston, so reliability may not be his strong suit. He scored over Vontae Davis in the earlier matchup this year, and the Colts have allowed six 90-plus yard WRs in the past month so there's undeniable upside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN @IND 008901000 ***
The Colts have been pretty good against tight ends this season, but they surrendered 7-68 to Walker (and 55 yards to other Titans TEs) in the earlier meeting. And Walker has seen double-digit targets in three of the last four games, scoring three TDs and compiling 26-286 in that span. He's Tennessee's go-to pass catcher, and nothing in the Titans' current state of wideouts suggests a deviation from that plan.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN @IND 1122 ***
Has not topped ten points
Nine in earlier meeting
No fantasy help

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK 22-14 10 @TB -----
2 TEN ----- 11 @DEN -----
3 ATL ----- 12 BAL -----
4 @KC ----- 13 CIN -----
5 @NO ----- 14 @PIT -----
6 DEN ----- 15 CAR -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @NYJ -----
8 @CLE ----- 17 OAK -----
9 KC ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SD vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 260,2
WR Malcom Floyd 5-70,1
WR Stevie Johnson 6-80,1
TE Antonio Gates 6-70,1

Pregame Notes: The Chargers scratched out a win in Oakland thanks in part to the Raiders losing their long snapper. Now with two home games to play this week may be as easy as it will get all year. Philip RIvers only managed to pass for 231 yards and one score though he had several very short fields to work with in the second half. Needing five field goals from Nate Kaeding is a sign that all is not right.

One huge gain this week should be the return of Ryan Matthews who was inactive in Oakland but expected to return from his broken clavicle this week and start. Even if he only plays a limited role it will help since Ronnie Brown (5-5) and Curtis Brinkley (10-12) almost never passed the line of scrimmage. Matthews is going to need to stay healthy this year because so far behind him there is almost no help at all. We'll assume Matthews has no setbacks and will start but may be limited. He'll be one to follow through practices this week.

The passing attack was pretty pedestrian against the Raiders with Antonio Gates turning his team high eight targets into just four catches for 43 yards. He left with a rib contusion but later returned and had a catch. Robert Meachem managed to get deep once but never scored and ended with just two receptions for 49 yards. His lack of chemistry with Rivers still exists though the one long catch was nice. Malcom Floyd scored the one touchdown and ended with a team best 66 yards on four catches. Overall - not a stellar night and it did not spawn much optimism for the future. Gates remains the lone true weapon and he was injured in his first game.

Mathews will be the key here against a Titans team that made Stevan Ridley look like a stud with his 125 yards and one score on just 21 carries. While they held Tom Brady to only 236 yards and two scores, that was all he needed to do for an easy win and he completed 23 of 31 passes with no turnovers. For projections, we'll only consider Matthews because Brinkley and Brown are just not relevant yet and may never be.

Bottom line here - this may be as good as it gets this year. Home game against a struggling offense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 23 15 27 23 1 17
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 19 23 4 32 22 26

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Philip Rivers, SD @DEN 0000024001 ***
Rivers' quest for the passing title takes a hit against the league's top pass defense. The Broncos limited him to 202 yards in the earlier meeting, and he hasn't thrown for 300 yards against Denver since January of 2011. Don't expect much here with the Broncos still playing for playoff positioning.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Danny Woodhead, SD @DEN 1005600000 ***
Game script suggests plenty of throwing, and the Broncos' pass rush suggests plenty of checkdowns to Woodhead. That's the extend of the upside in San Diego's backfield this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, SD @DEN 003500000 *
The Steelers have allowed two receivers to score or top 60 yards in three straight so you have to believe there's at least one fantasy helper here. And Benjamin is the best bet among Cleveland's thinning receiving corps.

Update: Benjamin was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable due to an ankle injury. You may need to check his status pre-game if you're planning to use him in your Week 17 fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD @DEN 004400000 ***
Inman proved to be Philip Rivers' go-to guy last week, and the Broncos have been much more lenient of late in giving up five WR TDs over the past three games. But seeing as how Chargers wideouts combined for four catches and 60 yards against Denver just a month ago, expectations should be limited.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Javontee Herndon, SD @DEN 005300000 ***
Herndon's top NFL outing is 5-47, and he's still looking for his first pro TD. Unlikely to come against a top pass defense on a team going nowhere... at least until the offseason.

Update: Herndon is listed as questionable with a chest injury, but after limited practice sessions early in the week he was available for the full session on Friday so he should be good to go this weekend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD @DEN 003300000 ***
Banged up, facing an elite pass defense, with nothing to play for... tough to get excited about Floyd's fantasy prospects here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD @DEN 006500000 ***
The Broncos haven't given up a TE TD in a month, with Gates' 6-50 the top TE game against them in that span. He's topped five catches and 50 yards each of the past three meetings with Denver, with three TDs in those three games, so there's at least a little upside to him here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD @DEN 1100 ***
Three points in home game
vs. DEN; even altitude
won't be enough help

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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