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: HOU 27, DEN 24 (Line: HOU by 2)

Players to Watch: Owen Daniels

This should be a great game to watch. The 2-0 Texans hit the road after dominating both the Dolphins and Jaguars. The Broncos return home on a short week after losing to the Falcons on Monday night. Where this game turns is that the Broncos have not faced any decent rushing attack and now faces one of the best backfields in the NFL. And the Texans are #1 against quarterbacks but that was built up playing Ryan Tannehill in his first NFL game and a freebie going against Blaine Gabbert. This game should end up with the Texans but it won't be easy or over early. Enough unknowns here to make this a coin flip game.

Houston Texans
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 MIA 30-10 10 @CHI -----
2 @JAC 27-7 11 JAC -----
3 @DEN ----- 12 @DET -----
4 TEN ----- 13 @TEN -----
5 @NYJ ----- 14 @NE -----
6 GB ----- 15 IND -----
7 BAL ----- 16 MIN -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @IND -----
9 BUF ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU @ DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brandon Weeden 10 260,1

Pregame Notes: The started about as well as could be hoped. The defense squashed both opponents while the running game trampled them for plenty of yards and scores. Matt Schaub opened the season with 266 yards and one score against the Dolphins but the Jacksonville game became a laugher and was controlled by Arian Foster (28-110, TD) and B en Tate (12-74, 2 TD). This is an offense predicated on the run and with the blocking to allow this throw back to the old power rushing ways of the NFL to thrive. A stingy defense only encourages more rushing.

Arian Foster and Ben Tate are must start players though Tate's production tends to fluctuate far more than Foster who has been good for 26 carries per game after two weeks. That is a pace for 430 carries and will slow down soon enough. Maybe this week. The Broncos have not allowed more than 43 rushing yards to any runner and that is maybe one quarter's worth from Tate and Foster. Something has to break and it probably not going to be the so far unstoppable rushing tandem.

This week will see the Andre Johnson vs. Champ Bailey matchup unless the Texans can somehow move Johnson around to get a mismatch. But the Texans have no other wideout of any concern to a secondary let alone as good as the Broncos. No other wideout for the Texans has more than 34 yards in any game. The lone passing score went to Johnson.

But Owen Daniels has been the second best target behind Johnson and turns in around five catches per game. That's high production in this offense and an advantage this week against a team that has allowed tight end scores each week.

The Houston defense can dictate this game if they can rattle Manning and that would mean more rushing attempts. But the Broncos are legitimately a better team with Manning there so just rushing would be a luxury likely not afforded in this road game. This game is a measuring stick as well after opening the year with two cakewalks.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 32 1 31 14 8 14
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 15 7 18 18 10 9

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Brock Osweiler, HOU JAC 10000024010 ***
The Chargers have held four straight quarterbacks to one or zero touchdown pass and 216 yards or less, including Osweiler's 166 and 1 in Week 13. Osweiler has averaged better than 300 yards in the three games since facing San Diego, and a home date with playoff positioning on the line should yield better results than the earlier meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Blue, HOU JAC 801000000 ***
Blue seems slated for the largest share of touches against a defense that's allowed four RB TDs in the past two games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lamar Miller, HOU JAC 7004300000 ***
Miller scored last time out against New England, scored last week... and can't be trusted with a fantasy start because the Dolphins inexplicably bench him even when he's producing. There's upside with touches, but Jay Ajayi looms.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Chris Polk, HOU JAC 200000000 ***
Polk crept up on Alfred Blue's carries last week, swiping 11 of his own. Were he more productive than three yards a pop we'd project more in a favorable matchup--but he wasn't, so we won't.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU JAC 0081102000 ***
Hopkins gouged the Jags for 10-148-2 in the earlier meeting, and a defense that's given up four straight 100-yard games to WR1s--with three also finding the end zone--is no better equipped to slow him than before.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Ryan Griffin, HOU JAC 002200000 ***
Griffin hasn't scored in a month, hasn't topped 30 yards in longer, and didn't even see the field in the earlier matchup with Jacksonville. Little reason to like him here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, HOU JAC 2233 ***
Multiple field goals
in three straight games for Novak
That's a solid trend

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR -----
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD -----
3 HOU ----- 12 @KC -----
4 OAK ----- 13 TB -----
5 @NE ----- 14 @OAK -----
6 @SD ----- 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO ----- 17 KC -----
9 @CIN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN vs HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Sanchez 210,1
WR Emmanuel Sanders 2-30
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-70,1

Pregame Notes: Tough loss at Atlanta on Monday night and now a short week to prepare to meet the NFL's best rushing attack. Peyton Manning made a game of it in Atlanta despite throwing three interceptions to open the game. That makes two weeks and around 250 passing yards in each matchup. Back at home should be better but then again it means there is now two weeks of tape to review about the Colts offense with Manning at the helm. This team will live and die with whatever Manning does and this will be his third tough defense to start the year.

Willis McGahee was already effective with 64 yards on 16 runs against the Steelers and then cranked it up in Atlanta with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 22 runs. He gets spelled by Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball but he's the primary back here that has yet to turn in a bad game. He's proving a very nice value to fantasy owners who picked him up towards the end of starting running backs.

Under Manning there has been only two consistent receivers. Eric Decker has games of 5-54 and 4-53. And Demaryius Thomas has a touchdown in each game along with a team high 18 targets for 13 receptions and 188 yards. Thomas is the main weapon in the passing game while Decker just provides a possession role. No other receiver has mattered - even Jacob Tamme only caught two passes for 13 yards on Monday night.

This will be the toughest defense yet faced by the Broncos but it will be at home. And no matter the mistakes he might make, Manning is never out and always dangerous.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 9 26 10 10 28 1
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 1 18 2 1 1 8

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN SD 6011100000 **
The Chargers haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 6, but the way the Broncos are splitting carries down the middle it's unlikely either Denver back gets enough touches to threaten triple digits. Anderson was the more productive back last week; give him the narrow edge to claim the RB TD the Chargers have allowed in each of the last two games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN SD 6002200000 ***
Hillman remains in the mix, sharing carries with CJ Anderson, and he'll add some value in PPR leagues as the pass-catching back. But it still adds up to a fringe fantasy play at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN SD 007801000 ***
There's maybe a touchdown up for grabs; Thomas claimed it as part of a 6-61-1 effort in the last meeting and is the more likely candidate again given his 38 targets over the past three games. But the Bolts haven't allowed a 100-yard receiving game since Week 9, so there's a ceiling on the upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN SD 003600000 ***
Sanders isn't necessarily a bench candidate, but the Chargers haven't given up touchdowns to multiple receivers since Week 7 and the best wingman game since then is 68 yards. With Demaryius Thomas the more targeted Bronco, Sanders has to settle for leftovers--and there aren't likely to be many.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN SD 2222 ***
Nine-plus points just once
with Osweiler at QB;
Who likes chicken parm?

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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