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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 @MIN 0000026020 ***
Ryan has thrown three TDs in each of his first two home games, and he should have similar success against the Vikings. Despite stats that suggest they're stout against the pass, teams aren't forced to throw against Minnesota because they threaten no one offensively; also, facing the Rams' Hill/Davis combo and Tom Brady working with a big lead kept the numbers down as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL @MIN 501000000 **
Jackson will get the short-yardage shot(s); just don't look for him to be a great help in yardage leagues.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL @MIN 3002100000 ***
Rodgers heads up a three-headed committee that offers a change of pace to Steven Jackson. There's no reliable fantasy option amongst the three unless and until one emerges as the go-to S-Jax alternative.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @MIN 007901000 ***
What's not to like about Jones' productivity thus far this year? No reason for it to come to an abrupt end here; while the Vikings have yet to allow a 100-yard receiver this season, they haven't faced much in the way of quality wideouts--and the best they've seen (Julian Edelman, Marques Colston) have scored.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL @MIN 004700000 ***
If he's healthy he's usable here, but best wait until the Falcons clear him to return to action.
Update: After practicing on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday White practiced fully on Friday and is listed as probable. No reason to keep him on your fantasy bench.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eric Weems, ATL @MIN 004500000 ***
With Roddy White and Harry Douglas both nursing injuries Weems is the alternative to Julio Jones. There's no compelling reason to play him here, especially with Devin Hester swiping occasional snaps as well.
Update: White is back but Douglas questionable; there should be snaps for Weems, just not enough to make him fantasy relevant.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL @MIN 002200000 ***
The Vikings historically struggle against tight ends, and with Chad Greenway a possible scratch there's even more reason to think that will be the case. Toilolo isn't a compelling fantasy option in and of himself, but if bye week issues have you scrambling it's a favorable matchup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @MIN 2233 ***
Should be plenty of points on the Atlanta side of the ledger, which is usually good news for kickers.

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 JAC 0000027030 ***
Gotta love ol' Bolo Tie against a defense that's allowed at least 250 and 2 in every game thus far. The last time he was at home he sliced up the Seahawks for 284 and 3; solving the Jags should be mere child's play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Donald Brown, SD JAC 7014200000 ***
With every other Bolts back injured, Brown inherits the bulk of the touches against a Jacksonville defense that's giving up 184 combo yards and two TDs a game to opposing backs. Nice timing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keenan Allen, SD JAC 005701000 ***
Plenty of receivers have had their way with the Jacksonville secondary; the question is, will it be Allen's turn or does that just mean he'll keep ceding stats to Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal? Allen's too talented to be off to the lousy start he's having, so bet heavily on the former.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, SD JAC 005600000 ***
It would be easy to say you're chasing Royal's two TDs from last week, but the Jags just let four different Colts wideouts score and/or top 50 yards against them last week so... go ahead, chase.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD JAC 003400000 ***
Seven different receivers have scored and/or topped 50 yards against the Jags, including four last week alone. Floyd has been outperforming Keenan Allen, though Allen has been drawing some pretty elite coverage. This week Floyd likely regresses to WR2, though there's still fantasy value to be had here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD JAC 006802000 ***
One week after lighting up the Seahawks Gates was usurped by Ladarius Green. The split is problematic, but it's an extremely favorable matchup with a Jaguars defense that's allowed four TE TDs already this year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD JAC 2234 ***
With the Jags giving up almost 40 points per game, Novak should have plenty of opportunity to swing the leg this week.

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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