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 Jake Locker 10 240,1
RB Shonn Greene 60
RB Dexter McCluster 7-70
WR T.J. Graham 2-20
WR Nate Washington 3-40
WR Kendall Wright 5-70
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 Jake Locker, TEN DAL 10000029020 ***
If you accept the premise that Locker is an upgrade over Kirk Cousins, Matt McGloin, and Christian Ponder--the only quarterbacks in the past nine games not to throw multiple touchdowns against the Dallas secondary--then you have to like his chances of building on Week 1's 266 & 2.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shonn Greene, TEN DAL 701000000 ***
The Cowboys couldn't slow the 49ers' ground game tag team of Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde; no reason to think the Titans' version of Old Guy/Young Guy shouldn't have similar success. And since Old Guy is getting the vast majority of the carries, he's a solid fantasy bet this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hunter, TEN DAL 005801000 ***
Consider Hunter's 3-63 on a team-high eight targets last week as an appetizer; against a Cowboys defense that's been gutted at cornerback, you may get the breakout game you drafted him for.
Update: After practicing on a limited basis Thursday, Hunter should be good to go for this weekend's tasty fantasy matchup with the Cowboys' depleted secondary.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kendall Wright, TEN DAL 0081000000 ***
Wright remains the volume guy, the Mary Ann to Justin Hunter's Ginger. Hey, nothing wrong with Mary Ann--especially against a wafer-thin secondary like Dallas'.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nate Washington, TEN DAL 004500000 ***
You could go three deep against a secondary like the Cowboys, but that's better played once the bye weeks hit; until then, Washington's an unreliable fantasy third wheel.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN DAL 005501000 ****
Walker's no Vernon Davis, who scored twice against the Cowboys last week, but he managed a touchdown of his own and is involved enough in this offense to warrant regular fantasy consideration.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN DAL 1144 ***
Succop doesn't have the added bonus of revenge against his former team, but he should still enjoy the benefits of facing a struggling defense.

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
RB Donald Brown 60
RB Ryan Mathews 40 1-10
WR Malcom Floyd 5-70,1
WR Eddie Royal 2-20
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 SEA 0000020012 ***
The stat bears repeating: only once in the past 17 games has a quarterback facing the Seahawks been worthy of a fantasy start (top 12 fantasy score that week). And in three of their past four games they've faced the upper crust of QBs--Peyton, Rodgers, Brees--and given up an average of just over 14 fantasy points per contest. You wanna throw Rivers up against that wall, you're on your own.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ryan Mathews, SD SEA 4004300000 ***
Mathews remains the kingpin of San Diego's three-headed backfield committee, but with fantasy points at a premium against an elite defense just a share isn't enough to warrant a fantasy start.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Danny Woodhead, SD SEA 2005300000 ***
Woodhead was a fantasy no-show in the season opener, and it's tough to see him getting off the shneid against Seattle here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, SD SEA 003301000 **
In Week 1 the Packers offered up their WR3 as a sacrifice to Richard Sherman. The Chargers won't necessarily do the same, but do you really want to put your fantasy faith in a third receiver against a shutdown D? Really?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keenan Allen, SD SEA 004500000 ***
Allen was shut down by Patrick Peterson last week; now he'll spend at least part of his Sunday battling Richard Sherman. Color us dispositive with regards to his fantasy prospects.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD SEA 003300000 ***
On the bright side, he won't spend the entire day in Richard Sherman's shadow. If that's enough for you to reward him with a fantasy start... well, then you're a braver man than I.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD SEA 007700000 ****
Gates turned back the clock in Week 1 with a game reminiscent of his glory days. He'll have a decent shot at a follow up if for no other reason than he's likely to duck Richard Sherman. If you must back a horse in the San Diego passing game, Gates is probably your guy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Ladarius Green, SD SEA 002300000 ***
Green remains the padawan to Antonio Gates' Jedi; in this matchup with the Death Star of defenses, there isn't enough in the way of fantasy stats to feed two mouths so the junior partner is an even less likely fantasy helper.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD SEA 3311 ***
With points hard to come by, you can cross your fingers and hope San Diego gets close enough for some field goals... or look elsewhere for your fantasy kicker this week.

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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