FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 3
2012
*NYG at CAR (THU) *DET at TEN *NE at BAL SF at MIN
*ATL at SD HOU at DEN *NYJ at MIA *STL at CHI
*BUF at CLE *JAC at IND *PHI at ARI TB at DAL
*Updated *CIN at WAS *KC at NO *PIT at OAK *GB at SEA (MON)

Prediction: ATL 20, SD 24 (Line: SD by 3)

Player to Watch: Ryan Mathews

Player Updated: Ryan Mathews, Julio Jones, Roddy White

The battle of the unbeatens. The Falcons come off their Monday night win over the PMannings and facer a short week to travel across the country. The Chargers have won both their games over two of the six teams that have not beaten anyone yet. What makes this game more interesting is that the Chargers should be getting back Ryan Mathews and Antonio Gates while the Falcons discovered that Michael Turner celebrated the MNF win a bit too much and got a 5 AM DUI that will be the talk this week. Turner plays against his old team but it has been four years and he already revisited back in 2009.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO -----
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI -----
3 @SD ----- 12 @TB -----
4 CAR ----- 13 NO -----
5 @WAS ----- 14 @CAR -----
6 OAK ----- 15 NYG -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI ----- 17 TB -----
9 DAL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL @ SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 20 290,2
QB Matt Schaub 230,2
WR Julio Jones 6-90,1
WR Aldrick Robinson 5-70,1
TE Jacob Tamme 3-30
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Solid win over the Broncos thanks to all facets of the game. The Falcons defense has improved and quietly made a bigger difference this year - and that is what will get the Falcons into the playoffs for several weeks. Intercepting Peyton Manning on each of his first three series shows how much better they are playing.

Matt Ryan has been stellar so far with five touchdowns and no turnovers and while he peppered Julius Jones in week one, he switched over to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez on Monday. He is showing a nice command of the offense and all weapons.

The rushing game is where the Falcons fall to earth with Michael Turner totaling 28 runs for only 74 yards though he bulled over a score against the Broncos. He has no role as a receiver - none of the tailbacks do so far - and has been a marginal rusher at best. Jacquizz Rodgers has not been any more effective really and is not making any headway into more playing time as was expected. This is a passing offense but needs at least some rushing ability. Currently the Falcons are one of the worst running back teams in the entire NFL.

If an opponent can cover three players, the Falcons might be stopped cold but the problem is that no one has come close to stopping all three. Julio Jones had a quieter second week after an explosion in the season opener. But Roddy White stepped up with right receptions for 102 yards and one score. Jones had a drop and spent much of his time on the right side against Champ Bailey when he usually lines up as a the split end on the left. Bottom line is it all worked with the win but Jones owners went from big stats in week one down to only four catches for 14 yards in week two. That is a significant tumble. But realize this - that is what he did in 2011. Maybe not quiet so dramatically but each of his five 100 yard games were all on the road then. He still is not showing up as well in home games which is counter intuitive to how most players are.

Tony Gonzalez may be in his swan song but there is nothing quiet about it. He has a score in each game and at least 50 yards in both. He is as big as they need him to be and still a difference maker.

The Falcons are on a short week after a big game and that will matter. They also travel to the west coast to face a Chargers team that should finally be at full strength offensively. The Chargers have been outstanding against the run so this game is waged through the air. But assessing what to expect is still tough given the Chargers have only faced the TItans and Raiders. This should be a close game and a win here would be huge but this may be just a little more than the Falcons can handle on a short week. It will be a very good test.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 1 31 2 9 1 10
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 9 11 10 12 4 6

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL CAR 0000024022 ***
Carolina ranks among the top defenses of quarterbacks, holding the position to just 592 yards and four touchdown passes in three games while picking off four balls. Ryan threw only one touchdown in two late-season games vs. Carolina in 2015.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL CAR 4014300000 ***
Coleman has arrived, folks! Sure, it was the Saints, but he has been gearing up all season. Carolina has ceded three touchdowns in total to RBs, good for 20.7 PPR points per game. Keep Coleman in the lineup despite the intimidating matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL CAR 4004301000 ***
Freeman righted the ship last week with a big day against the Saints. Carolina's defense has given up 11 catches for 87 yards and a TD to running backs via the air. On the ground, the position has racked up 243 yards and two scores. Freeman is a sound PPR play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL CAR 004600000 *
Julio wasn't a factor last week and the Falcons still racked up point after point. Go figure. Jones had his way with Carolina in Week 16 last season, going for 178 on nine catches and scoring from 70 yards out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL CAR 003400000 ***
Sanu is banged up and considered day to day. Check back later in the week for an update.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jacob Tamme, ATL CAR 005601000 ***
Carolina's offensive love for the position is equally matched on defense. They lay down for enemy tight ends, giving up a 15-209-2 line through three weeks. Tamme is a fine flex or TE1 in PPR leagues.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CAR 3322 ***
Carolina has given up only four field goal attempts this year, but they haven't faced an offense as explosive as Atlanta's. Bryant is a fine play in all fantasy formats.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK 22-14 10 @TB -----
2 TEN 38-10 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 ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 250,1
RB Dexter McCluster 5-50
WR Stevie Johnson 4-60,1
TE Antonio Gates 5-60,1

Pregame Notes: The Chargers are undefeated but that comes after playing two of the weaker teams so far. In fairness, the Chargers have not been at full strength with Ryan Mathews out and along with him any shred of rushing offense. Antonio Gates was held out from his sore ribs last week but Philip Rivers was still able to get the job done. The Changers defense has made the biggest difference but this week the offense should kick it up a notch even playing against a better defense from Atlanta.

Rivers had a marginal game in Oakland to start the year but comes off a 284 yard, three touchdown effort against the Titans where he pretended that Dante Rosario was Antonio Gates and gave him a career best game. Rivers is getting it done with a sub-standard set of wideouts that include Robert Meachem who was unable to catch any of his four passes. Meachem has clearly been a bust for a wideout that somehow made them think he could become a #1 replacement for Vincent Jackson.

Malcom Floyd remains the lone wideout with any production or consistency. Eddie Royal injured his shoulder last week and may be questionable for this game but he's been little used and has no fantasy value anyway. Gates should be back given that he went up to game time before calling it off because of his ribs and lack of preparation. He'll be needed more than week than the first two games.

But the story of the week will be the return - hopefully for more than a week - of Ryan Mathews from his broken clavicle. He was listed as questionable in week two but never intended to play because he was not working out with the first team. The offense desperately needs him since the depth chart is not pretty for running backs. Jackie Battle did end up with two scores last week but he and Curtis Brinkley will grab the pine if Mathews can play a full game. With a great defense and so far more than adequate passing attack, Mathews is the final piece of the offense that has already won two games.

This week they face the Falcons who visit and are always a bit less formidable away from Atlanta. Notable too is that they have been weaker against the run than the pass and Mathews is expected back. This is a good test for both the Falcons defense and the Chargers offense but a balanced attack will go a long ways this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 12 7 28 6 3 26
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 23 31 1 31 5 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Philip Rivers, SD NO 0000032030 ***
The Saints haven't picked off a pass yet, although this unit has allowed only one TD per game. The yardage against (927) is high. Rivers has a limited receiving corps at this time, so play him only if your other options are obviously worse.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Melvin Gordon, SD NO 10022200000 ***
Gordon has earned a lineup spot and seems matchup proof to date this season. The Saints are the most favorable of opponents for running backs in fantasy, surrendering seven touchdowns this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dexter McCluster, SD NO 002200000 ***
McCluster knows this offense from his time with the Titans under Chargers play caller Ken Whisenhunt. The miniature runner has only PPR appeal and could materialize as a worthy play given New Orleans' troubles at stopping pass-catching backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, SD NO 006802000 ***
Benjamin could be in for a big game if the Bolts have to heave the ball more than usual. The Saints are the ninth easiest matchup for wideouts, and Benjamin is a must-play with varying degrees of confidence based on your scoring format.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tyrell Williams, SD NO 0061001000 ***
The Saints offer a plus matchup (ranked 9th) and could force San Diego into passing a ton. Williams is a worthwhile fantasy play in all formats, but better in non-PPR.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD NO 003400000 ***
Inman picks up scraps and doesn't see enough looks to warrant a fantasy play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Hunter Henry, SD NO 004500000 ***
In the event Antonio Gates (hamstring) is capable of playing, Henry has zero value. Should the rookie get the start, he has practically no value. New Orleans has been dominant against tight ends, allowing only 12 catches for 87 yards and no touchdowns.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD NO 0055 ***
The Saints have been evenly weak in terms of allowing extra points (8-for-8) and field goals (6-for-7) to create the eighth weakest defense of kickers in fantasy.

WEEK 3
2012
*NYG at CAR (THU) *DET at TEN *NE at BAL SF at MIN
*ATL at SD HOU at DEN *NYJ at MIA *STL at CHI
*BUF at CLE *JAC at IND *PHI at ARI TB at DAL
*Updated *CIN at WAS *KC at NO *PIT at OAK *GB at SEA (MON)

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