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 0000022011 ****
The Beard is back at the helm, just in time to reprise the 227 & 1 he posted on Tennessee a month ago. The Titans haven't allowed a real fantasy helper to an opposing QB since Week 6, so don't look for Fitz to bounce back with a biggie here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU TEN 12023200000 ***
Foster has a "good chance" to play this week, according to his coach. If he does play he has a great chance to be a fantasy stud according to a Titans' defense that's allowed four straight feature backs to score and top 100 yards--a stretch that includes 1501 and 2 (plus a receiving TD) from Foster one month ago.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Blue, HOU TEN 4003200000 ***
If Arian Foster can't go Blue makes a great start against a Tennessee defense that's allowed four straight feature backs to score and top 100 yards. Even if Foster plays you could consider Blue as a fringe option; he racked up 64 yards from scrimmage in a wingman role in the earlier meeting with the Titans.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU TEN 005801000 ***
Hopkins was becoming The Guy with Fitzpatrick at the helm; we'll see if that trend continues here but either way it's a low-end fantasy opportunity at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU TEN 004500000 ***
Johnson has become the wingman to DeAndre Hopkins, and most weeks there's barely enough passing game production to make one of them fantasy relevant; tough to bank on two, especially given the difficult matchup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU TEN 2233 ***
The Titans have given up more than 11 points per game to opposing kickers over their last five outings, so it's an opportunity for the up-and-down Bullock to be up 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
PK Connor Barth 3 FG 1 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 @KC 0000027030 ***
Things could get dicey as Manning hits the road; then again, he's had 400-plus yards and five TDs in two of his last three visits to Kansas City, so he should be just fine. Manning threw for 242 and 3 in the win over the Chiefs earlier this year; that feels like a typical Manning game and about where we should set the bar here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN @KC 6006401000 ***
After shutting down the run for most of the season, the Chiefs have allowed back-to-back 100-yard games and two RB TDs to the Raiders last week. So no reason to fear Anderson gets thwarted by a tough matchup; he's the Broncos back du jour and will enjoy all of the accompanying spoils.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @KC 0061000000 ***
Sanders went for 108 yards in the earlier matchup and has scored and/or topped 100 yards in six straight overall. He's a solid wingman option and belongs in fantasy lineups regardless of matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @KC 006700000 ***
Thomas has 100 yards and/or a touchdown in five straight against the Chiefs; he has a similar eight-game streak going overall as well. No reason to think he won't be his usual fantasy stud this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Wes Welker, DEN @KC 004200000 ***
Welker's touchdown last week was nice but he's still too far down the passing game pecking order to be banked on for a regular fantasy contribution.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @KC 003301000 **
If he's healthy enough to return to action Thomas belongs in your fantasy lineup--and not just because he scored one of two DEN TE TDs in the earlier matchup with KC.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jacob Tamme, DEN @KC 003201000 ***
Tamme scored in the earlier meeting with KC and would be an intriguing fantasy play in the rematch whether or not Julius Thomas is healthy enough to return to action. He's a decent play if Thomas goes but an even better one if he's the Broncos' primary pass-catching tight end.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, DEN @KC 3233 ***
What was your favorite Brandon McManus moment? He didn't have many fantasy biggies, and there's little reason to think Barth changes that pattern here.

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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