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 0000025011 ****
Fitz hasn't been fabulous, but he gets to face his old team--and a defense that's allowed three TDs to Brian Hoyer, 336 yards to Blake Bortles, and 267 to the Cousins/McCoy combo platter in just the past three weeks. Clearly, stranger things than a Fitz fantasy helper have happened to this defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU @TEN 10014200000 ***
Foster has scored in four straight against Tennessee, and with three consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts against better defenses than the Titans there's little reason to doubt him having success again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Damaris Johnson, HOU @TEN 003401000 **
Johnson hasn't seen more than three targets in a game this season, and while he's contributed the occasional fantasy helper he can't be relied on for such an assist.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU @TEN 006800000 ****
Last week was the first time in a month the Titans didn't allow multiple receivers to score and/or top 50 yards against them. The Texans have been consistently putting two receivers on the fantasy board, though from time to time Demaris Johnson bumps Hopkins or Andre Johnson aside. AJ and Hopkins are still the best bets, however, if not for fantasy greatness then at least for goodness you can plug into your lineup and bank on.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU @TEN 006700000 ****
Would you believe Johnson hasn't scored on the Titans since 2010 or hit the century mark in yardage since 2009? AJ still hasn't hit the century mark this season but he did break his touchdown maiden a couple weeks back and has contributed at least 58 yards each of the past four games. That's not elite, but at least it's solid.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Garrett Graham, HOU @TEN 002200000 *****
The Titans have surrendered four TE TDs in the past four games; if only Graham were seeing enough targets on a consistent basis to warrant a fantasy play, this would be a great opportunity.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU @TEN 3322 ****
Bullock's been inconsistent, but the Titans have been consistently fantasy-friendly to opposing kickers. Upgrade Randy to a fringe fantasy option this week.

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

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 SD 0000030030 *****
Manning has never not thrown for multiple touchdowns or 300-plus yards against the Chargers. Never. And in five of 11 lifetime meetings he's done both. Same could be said for this season, as he's averaging 300-plus and three TDs. Even with no NFL record dangling in front of him, Manning should put up his usual big numbers this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN SD 6003200000 ****
Hillman has been more than okay filling in for the injured Montee Ball. This week's edge comes in the passing game, as the Chargers have already given up five RB receiving scores and Hillman has nine targets in his two starts. No reason to bail on him here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN SD 0071201000 ****
The Chargers have given up just one big game to wideouts... but the Broncos are a different animal, and Thomas is at the head of that pack. He's scored in three of four career meetings with the Bolts, including a 108 and 3 outing last November. No Brandon Flowers certainly doesn't help San Diego's hopes of slowing the Denver passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN SD 005800000 ***
The trickle-down effect of San Diego losing a starting corner helps Sanders' prospects as well. With a whole bunch of Peyton Manning productivity to spread around, Sanders should see his share of the fantasy love.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Wes Welker, DEN SD 005600000 ****
Signs of life from Welker last week, and as long as Peyton Manning is throwing him the ball there's no reason to shy away from him as a fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN SD 003401000 ***
Thomas failed to score for the first time last week, and the Bolts aren't an easy matchup for the position. That said, he's far too involved in the Denver offense to be benched simply for a bump in the road difficult matchup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN SD 3333 ****
The risk with McManus is that he counts by ones instead of threes. Consider the Chargers enablers, as they've allowed only one multiple field goal game since Week 1.

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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