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
RB Steven Jackson 60 4-20
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 2-10
WR Harry Douglas 3-30
WR Julio Jones 6-90,1
WR Roddy White 5-80
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 CLE 0000023011 ***
Ryan averages better than two TDs per game at home, as well as 40-plus yards per game more at home than on the road. With the Browns having given up multiple TD tosses in two of their last three, Ryan should deliver a solid fantasy showing in the Georgia Dome this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL CLE 6012100000 ****
The Browns have been gashed by the likes of Denard Robinson (22-127-1) and Alfred Blue (36-156), making Jackson a viable fantasy option with his usual 15 or so touches.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL CLE 006701000 ***
White's been the more reliable producer of late, and even though Cleveland's corners are playing better they still gave up 148 combined yards to Houston's WR duo last week and 210 & 2 two weeks prior to the Bucs. With Joe Haden likely locking up on Julio Jones, White should again be a solid fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL CLE 006600000 ***
Jones is seeing plenty of targets to offset any issues presented by being covered by Joe Haden this week. It's a tough matchup, but other WR1s have managed to find success this season and Julio remains an every-week fantasy starter.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL CLE 003400000 ***
It's been more than a month since a WR3 posted anything of fantasy note against the Browns, even longer since Douglas made a fantasy splash. No reason to reach for him this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL CLE 002300000 ***
Toilolo hasn't done anything of fantasy note since Week 1, and a change in that MO is unlikely here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CLE 2222 ***
Coming off a pair of four-field goal games, Bryant is benefitting from an offense that's getting him close but not forcing him to settle for PATs. No weather to worry about, Bryant is a decent plug-in option this week.

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 Donald Brown 60,1
RB Ryan Mathews 80,1 1-10
WR Malcom Floyd 6-80
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 STL 0000025020 ****
Rivers is banged up and has back-to-back bad fantasy games to his credit; a date with a Rams defense that hasn't allowed multiple touchdown tosses in a month and shut down the high-flying Broncos last week doesn't seem like an opportunity for Philip to get back in the saddle.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ryan Mathews, SD STL 6001100000 ***
Mathews returned to action last week and didn't look bad against the Raiders... but it's the Raiders. The Rams offer a legitimate defensive challenge, which spells bad news for Mathews--especially if he's still sharing the workload with Branden Oliver.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Branden Oliver, SD STL 3002100000 ***
Last week's touches were split almost 50/50 as Ryan Mathews returned from injury, yet neither back did much damage against a shaky Oakland run D. Now, facing a far more formidable Rams unit, expectations should be lowered even further.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keenan Allen, SD STL 008701000 ***
Allen still sees the bulk of the targets in San Diego, and the Rams have given up five 100-yard receivers in the past five games. But he's been so infuriatingly disappointing this season it's tough to bank on him for fantasy help, even with a favorable matchup staring him in the face.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD STL 004601000 **
Less targeted than Keenan Allen, Floyd somehow has been more consistently productive. However, a banged up Philip Rivers and a tough matchup make him a problematic fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, SD STL 003300000 ***
Royal's been dormant for about a month, which means another one of those "helps no one" two-TD games is just around the corner.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD STL 003400000 ***
It's been a month since the Rams allowed a TE TD, making this a difficult matchup at best for Gates. Since he's back to sharing snaps with Ladarius Green, you can probably find a better fantasy matchup elsewhere.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD STL 2222 ****
The Rams haven't been a hotbed for kicker points, and Novak has been more good than great. Keep your expectations in check and you'll be fine.

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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