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 Ryan Fitzpatrick 220,2
RB Arian Foster 80,1 3-20
WR Andre Johnson 6-80,1

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 Ryan Fitzpatrick, HOU @TEN 0000023020 ***
The Texans have given up multiple touchdown tosses in four straight and seven of eight. Fitz hasn't been nearly that consistent, but for the most part he's capitalized on softer matchups and this is definitely one of those opportunities.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Case Keenum, HOU @TEN 0000010001 *
Matt Schaub is one of only three quarterbacks to take the Titans for multiple touchdown tosses this season; he turned the trip as part of a 298 & 3 outing back in Week 2. That's also the second-most passing yardage allowed by the Titans this season. So of course the Texans will turn the reins over to Keenum this week, facing a Titans defense that's allowed three passing scores in Tennessee all season. Good luck with all that. UPDATE: Keenum is officially a game-time decision; fantasy owners should be able to make their call well in advance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Grimes, HOU @TEN 6011100000 **
Opposing backs kill the Titans, but... Jonathan Grimes? The guy who played Uncle Rico, had a role in the vastly underappreciated Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines flick "Running Scared"? No, wait, that's Jonathan Gries. Evidently this guy is a four-year starter from William & Mary with good vision who went undrafted in 2012, then spent time with the Texans, Jets, Texans (again), Jaguars, and after being cut in August returning to Houston last week. Seriously, with the Titans giving up so much on the ground Grimes could be a factor in fantasy leagues decided in Week 17.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU @TEN 004600000 **
Johnson has been heavily targeted the past three weeks--44 looks, compared to 34 for all the other wideouts on the Houston roster. So even though he'll be tangling with Alterraun Verner--who held AJ to 8-76 in the earlier meeting--he's still the Texans' best bet for passing game fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU @TEN 003400000 ***
Hopkins went big on the Titans back in Week 2 while Alterraun Verner was tied up with Andre Johnson. However, he hasn't done much since, making it tough to bank on him for fantasy productivity here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Ryan Griffin, HOU @TEN 005501000 **
The Titans have allowed three TE TDs in the past three games, and they gave up two touchdowns to Texans tight ends in the earlier meeting. Griffin has back-to-back 60-yard games; seems like he's in an ideal spot to capitalize on the opportunity.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU @TEN 1111 ***
Tennessee has given up the fourth-most points to kickers, but only two to Bullock when they crossed paths back in Week 2. Not much upside to Bullock here.

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 Peyton Manning 250,2
WR Emmanuel Sanders 2-30
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-70,1
WR Wes Welker 7-80
TE Jacob Tamme 3-30
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 3 XP

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
QB Peyton Manning, DEN @OAK 0000033030 ****
Manning already has the touchdown record, and he'll probably stick around in this one just long enough to throw for 266 yards and break the yardage record as well. The Broncos still need to win to lock down home field advantage, so they can't sit Manning right away, but there's a very good chance he finishes this one in a baseball cap.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Montee Ball, DEN @OAK 300000000 ***
Ball's been lightening the load for Knowshon Moreno, and that plan should continue here with maybe the rookie seeing an uptick while Denver gets the veteran some well-deserved rest. Seeing as Oakland has served up 796 combo yards and 11 RB TDs the past month, there's more than enough to go around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @OAK 0051001000 ***
Everybody got fed the last time these squads met--Thomas 94 yards, Eric Decker 133 & 1, Wes Welker 84 & 1--and there's no reason to expect much difference this time around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @OAK 003300000 *
Sanders has scored in four of the last five and is a solid option when Joe Haden has blanket coverage on Antonio Brown. UPDATE: Good news for Sanders, as he is listed as questionable but practiced in full on Friday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @OAK 004401000 ***
However you break it down, Thomas is a good play. He scored against the Raiders in the earlier meeting, he's scored in three of four (and six of eight, and nine of 12), he's scored in every road game, he caught Peyton Manning's record-setting touchdown pass... however you break it down.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DEN @OAK 1144 ***
Should be points a plenty for Prater, who hit for a baker's dozen in the earlier meeting with Oakland and has the second-most kicker points in the league this year.

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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