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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
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 KC 0000031030 ***
Fantasy passers have averaged 284.4 yards and 26.9 fantasy points per game vs. KC since Week 7. Denver's Trevor Siemian thrashed them a week ago, and now it's Ryan's turn.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL KC 5004301000 ***
KC has been more vulnerable through the air than on the ground lately. This is the second strongest defense against rushing touchdowns, but two of the last 17 receptions have found the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL KC 3001100000 ***
Coleman is still getting his sea legs under him, but the matchup is more of a concern. Since Week 7, KC has seen 114 rushing attempts against and not a single one made it into the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL KC 0081201000 ***
While he will draw Marcus Peters more often than not, Jones has a definitive size advantage. The Chiefs present fantasy's sixth best opportunity for points based on data since Week 7.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, ATL KC 005701000 ***
Gabriel has caught fire in recent weeks, and against KC, he is a bona fide starter. The Chiefs have been embattled versus wideouts of late, giving up 193.8 yards per game since Week 7 (fifth most). Wideouts have scored once every 10.8 catches (13th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL KC 005500000 ***
Even with Gabriel's emergence, Sanu is a sound play in PPR leagues. He faces the 13th worst defense for giving up receptions per game, but the Chiefs have allowed the fifth highest per-game yardage figures since Week 7.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Hooper, ATL KC 002200000 ***
KC represents the second worst overall matchup that has resulted in the fifth fewest fantasy points per game surrendered since Week 7. Only one of the last 21 receptions faced have found paydirt.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL KC 3333 ***
The Chiefs have surrendered the 18th most field goal kicks and 22nd most extra points since Week 7. Kickers have averaged 6.2 points in non-distance scoring fantasy leagues.

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 TB 0000032031 ***
Rivers has a wonderful matchup, as Tampa has given up the ninth most fantasy points, on average, since Week 7. This defense has allowed two TD passes and 290.2 yards per outing. This, in part, translates to 25.9 fantasy points per contest.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Melvin Gordon, SD TB 7015400000 ***
Of the last 99 rushing attempts against the Bucs, zero have found the end zone. Gordon is due. The Matchup is negative for the most part, but Tampa Bay has allowed the 16th most offensive yards per game over the past five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD TB 007801000 ***
Inman stands to benefit the most from Travis Benjamin's knee injury and whatever may become of Tyrell Williams, as he is dealing with a shoulder injury of his own. Tampa Bay has allowed averages of 14 grabs (7th), 176 yards (8th) and a TD every 14 receptions (23rd) since Week 7.

Update: Williams (QUE, limited practice) is a game-time decision. Inman becomes a top target for Philip Rivers but also for the defense. He's a risky but worthy play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tyrell Williams, SD TB 004501000 *
Return Friday for a clearer picture of Williams' status. If he plays, there is some risk but a good deal of upside because of the matchup. Tampa Bay has allowed a touchdown per game to receivers over the last five weeks.

Update: Williams is questionable and was a limited participant Friday. Starting him is a huge risk in fantasy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, SD TB 003400000 ***
Still recovering from a PCL sprain, Benjamin won't be right for a few more weeks. Keep him on the bench in all formats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD TB 004501000 ***
The Buccaneers have given up the seventh most yards and fantasy points per game to tight ends over the last five weeks. Gates disappeared last week, but this is a great matchup for him to contribute to gamers' lineups..
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Hunter Henry, SD TB 002300000 ***
It's a great matchup, but Henry isn't a sure thing in terms of involvement from a week-to-week basis. Play him if you must or disagree, as Tampa has given up the seventh most PPR points to tight ends since Week 7.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD TB 1144 ***
Lambo has a negative-leaning matchup with the Buccaneers, but that could be irrelevant if the surging Bucs struggle on the road all the way across the nation.

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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