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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 CAR 20000032020 ***
Ryan has 300-plus yards in four straight and averages 311 and 2 at home; Carolina has given up multiple TD tosses in six of seven on the road. So with the NFC South title on the line expect an upgrade over his 268 and 1 against the Panthers back in Week 11.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL CAR 4012200000 **
Freeman was the quality guy--eight touches, 84 yards and a touchdown--while Jaquizz Rodgers handled the quantity last week after Steven Jackson left the game with an injury. He's a tough start against a Carolina defense that hasn't allowed an RB TD since Week 10, but he's been the most effective of what Atlanta has left in the backfield and looks to be the guy on the field in the passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL CAR 2003200000 ***
With Steven Jackson sidelined it was Rodgers who saw the largest share of carries, though he averaged less than three yards a carry. He'll likely find himself in a similar situation this week: a bevy of unproductive carries.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL CAR 00000000 *
Jackson left Atlanta's Week 16 game prematurely with an injury, and his status for the season finale is unknown.
Update: Officially Jackson is questionable, but he didn't practice all week so that may be optimistic.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL CAR 0081201000 ****
Jones has three straight 100-yard games, wrapped around the one game he missed due to injury, and he's scored in three of his last four as well. That string started after the Panthers held him to 59 yards in Week 11, but as hot as the Atlanta passing game--and Jones in particular--has been he's a must-start with the NFC South crown on the line.
Update: Jones practiced only on a limited basis Friday, and he's listed as questionable. With the NFC South on the line he'll likely find a way to play, and if he plays he needs to be in your lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL CAR 007701000 ***
White has touchdowns in four of his last six, including the earlier meeting with Carolina. It's also worth noting that secondary receivers seem to have success against the Panthers--among them Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Brandon Tate, Torrey Smith, and Chris Owusu.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL CAR 005600000 ***
Douglas is solid when playing the third wheel, but reliable for fantasy help only when either Julio Jones or Roddy White is sidelined. Since both are expected to play, you can find better fantasy options than Douglas this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL CAR 002200000 ***
The Panthers have softened against tight ends over the second half of the season, but Toilolo has done nothing to warrant fantasy consideration.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CAR 2233 ***
Bryant is averaging 11 points per game over the past two months, a stretch that includes 13 against the Panthers in Carolina. Kicking for the NFC South title, indoors... you gotta like Bryant's chances here. Doesn't hurt that he's averaging a robust 12 points per game within his division.

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 @KC 0000024022 **
Rivers has multiple touchdowns in five straight meetings with the Chiefs, as well as multiple scores and/or 300-plus passing yards in six straight visits to Kansas City. The Chiefs haven't seen a ton of great quarterbacks, but they did hold Ben Roethlisberger to 220 and 1 last week and Peyton Manning to 179 and 2 a month ago, so it won't be easy. But history--and San Diego's lack of a running game--suggest Rivers can still get it done.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Branden Oliver, SD @KC 4002100000 ***
With no Ryan Mathews the Chargers' backfield has become a committee affair; at least Oliver's touches suggest he's the committee chair. However, that role hasn't amounted to much in the way of fantasy production for any of the committee members, and a date with a Chiefs defense that's allowed only four RB TDs all year isn't going to help matters.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Donald Brown, SD @KC 2003200000 ***
Brown wasn't even the best Brown on his own team last week, as retread Ronnie Brown was more effective. There's no fantasy value to be found here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD @KC 005600000 **
Let's face it, if your season boils down to Dontrelle Inman doing something for you in Week 17 you need to take a step back and re-evaluate things.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD @KC 003400000 ***
Floyd and Eddie Royal are tag-team replacing Keenan Allen as the Chargers' WR1, both doing enough to remain on the fantasy radar even in what looks to be a pretty tough matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, SD @KC 003400000 ***
No Keenan Allen? No problem, as Royal and Malcom Floyd stepped up their respective games. The Chiefs haven't given up many big games to opposing wideouts, but that doesn't mean Royal can't carve out a fantasy helper here--something along the lines of the 7-72-1 Antonio Brown took KC for last week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD @KC 007702000 ***
Gates (and short-yardage TE John Phillips) scored against the Chiefs in the earlier meeting, but that's to be expected: in 19 career games against KC Gates has found the end zone 15 times. He's also scored in each of his last two games, and with Keenan Allen out--and a playoff spot on the line--he's Philip Rivers' go-to guy.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD @KC 2222 ***
Novak's eight points in the earlier meeting with KC are indicative of his season, as he's hit double-digits just once in the past three months. But that eight is also indicative of what the Chiefs have been giving up to opposing kickers, so it's one of those high floor/low ceiling opportunities.

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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