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: SF 31, MIN 17 (Line: SF by 7)

Players to Watch: Kyle Rudolph

This is going to be just like 25 years ago only not the part where the Vikings have a good team. The 49ers are 2-0 and have the early season look of the team to beat this year. The Vikings are 1-1 thanks to the home game against the Jaguars and just lost on the road in Indianapolis. Hard to imagine this could be a trap game. 49ers are on fire so far and the Vikes defense is not. It is also too early for the 49ers to have a let down game.

San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB 30-22 10 STL -----
2 DET 27-19 11 CHI -----
3 @MIN ----- 12 @NO -----
4 @NYJ ----- 13 @STL -----
5 BUF ----- 14 MIA -----
6 NYG ----- 15 @NE -----
7 SEA ----- 16 @SEA -----
8 @ARI ----- 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF @ MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Blaine Gabbert 150,1
RB Frank Gore 90,1 2-10
WR Anquan Boldin 4-60,1
WR Michael Crabtree 6-70
WR Steve Johnson 4-60,1
WR Brandon Lloyd 6-70
TE Vernon Davis 5-70,1
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: We all knew the 49ers defense was likely to be the best this season. Now the offense is kicking it into a higher gear and that just makes this team even harder to beat. They have already spun through what are two of the highest scoring offenses in the league last year and made it look easy.

Alex Smith has two efforts right around 225 yards and two scores in each with no turnovers. He's been more accurate and now has more weapons. The oddity is that adding Randy Moss and Mario Manningham have just made Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis better. Davis has scored three times to tie for the NFL touchdown lead for the position. Crabtree has 13 catches for 143 yards as the most targeted receiver.

Frank Gore is starting the season red hot just like 2011. Though he has been limited to only 16 or 17 carries per game, he has averaged around 100 yards and scored each week. His role as a receiver has really waned though and that will come into play in future weeks when the 49ers face a tougher rush defense. Gore is running hard and doesn't look like a back who has lost a step. At least not yet.

Kendall Hunter is getting more playing time though not enough to merit any fantasy attention. The rookie LaMichael James has not played yet. So far the offense is limited to Gore, Crabtree and Davis like old times but they are getting the job done. Randy Moss scored in week one but only was thrown one pass last Sunday.

The Vikings have been good against the run but their pass defense has been the downfall and that is after only facing the Jaguars and Colts. The rushing effort may not be huge here but an early and substantial lead would lead to a tired Vikings defense by the end of the game.

I like a defensive score in this game as well.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 11 12 17 7 9 22
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 20 5 24 16 25 16

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Colin Kaepernick, SF WAS 30000023020 ***
The Redskins have allowed multiple TDs to every non-rookie QB they've faced over the past two months, so there's hope for Kaepernick. However, it's been a month and a half since Kaep threw for multiples and he's stopped running as well so despite the favorable matchup he's a fringe fantasy option at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF WAS 9001100000 ***
Gore continues to cling to fantasy relevancy, but keep your expectations in check against a Washington defense that's allowed only four RB rushing scores all year--three of them in one aberration of a game in Minnesota.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF WAS 200000000 ***
It's still Frank Gore's gig, which makes Hyde a fantasy afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF WAS 006801000 ***
Boldin remains in the mix in San Francisco, with a floor of something in the 5-50 range and upside from there. It's not an overly favorable matchup, but after watching Mike Evans have his way with the Washington secondary neither Boldin nor Michael Crabtree should have much difficulty shaking free.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF WAS 004601000 ***
Crabtree's the more likely of the two San Francisco receivers to emulate what Mike Evans did last week. In fact, there's probably enough there for both Crabtree and Boldin to carve out fantasy relevancy, though the pecking order seems to have Crabtree at the top.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF WAS 002200000 ***
Davis hasn't done much of anything since scoring twice in Week 1; until that changes, no reason to reward him with a fantasy starting spot.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF WAS 1133 ***
Dawson is averaging more than 10 points per home game and just posted back-to-back double-digit efforts on the road. Coming home to face the Redskins, he should continue to get his kicks.

Minnesota Vikings
Homefield: Metrodome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 JAC 26-23 ot 10 DET -----
2 @IND 20-23 11 BYE -----
3 SF ----- 12 @CHI -----
4 @DET ----- 13 @GB -----
5 TEN ----- 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS ----- 15 @STL -----
7 ARI ----- 16 @HOU -----
8 TB ----- 17 GB -----
9 @SEA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel 10 270,1
QB Christian Ponder 230,1
RB Adrian Peterson 80,1 2-20
WR Greg Jennings 5-70,1
TE Kyle Rudolph 4-40
PK Blair Walsh 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: While it would seem good that the Vikes are playing each week to three point swings, the reality is that the first two games against the Jaguars and Colts may have represented the easiest opening for any team. And now comes the toughest defense just to show them the difference.

Christian Ponder continues his average play but turned in two touchdowns in Indianapolis for an unusually productive game. He's looked adequate so far but against lesser opponents. Getting back Jerome Simpson next week should help stretch the field and open it up more for the other receivers.

Currently Percy Harvin is the only wideout worth covering and his 21 targets in two weeks dwarf any other receiver. He still has not scored but is averaging 94 yards per game and comes off 12 catches last week. Michael Jenkins offers only marginal help and the only real hope here is that the tight end Kyle Rudolph can fill his potential. The second-year player scored last week but has remained only good for around 50 yards per game. That is a step up from last year though and he will eventually become a bigger part of the passing equation.

Adrian Peterson only managed 60 yards on 16 carries in Indianapolis after his week one scoring spree suggested he was already back in form. It is encouraging to see Peterson used as a receiver three times last week but it will take some time before vintage ADP can be expected.

After two close games, the Vikings face the cream of the crop with the 49ers showing up. This will be a little tougher than the first two weeks facing teams that combined for a 7-25 record last season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 22 15 12 18 4 28
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 17 1 23 27 12 21

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN GB 20000023011 ***
Bridgewater has yet to throw multiple touchdowns in an NFL game; let's let him do that before we start considering him for a fantasy start.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN GB 5003200000 ***
McKinnon has carved out some decent yardage and should augment his numbers with receptions and receiving yards, but he's at best a fringe fantasy helper this week.
Update: McKinnon may see an uptick in work with Matt Asiata out due to a concussion, but there weren't likely to be many goal line shots anyway so that news doesn't move the needle a ton.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN GB 00000000 *
The Pack has shut out a couple of pretty good backs--LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte--since returning from their bye, so odds are Minnesota's goal line guy isn't looking at a plethora of opportunities here.
Update: Asiata has been ruled out of this week's game due to a concussion.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Charles Johnson, MIN GB 002301000 *
Five different Vikings WRs have paced the team in fantasy scoring this year, a group Johnson joined last week. Somebody could step up and feast on garbage time numbers this week, but the upside isn't tempting enough to offset the risk of identifying which Viking it might be.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN GB 005500000 ***
Jennings has 69 yards and zero TDs in three games against his former team; no reason to think those numbers get a dramatic boost this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN GB 002300000 ***
At this point we can stop saying the Vikings haven't figured out how to use Patterson yet--not that it's not true, just that it's so obvious there's no need to keep repeating it.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN GB 003300000 *
The Vikings have rediscovered the tight end position with TE TDs the past two weeks, but Rudy has yet to resume his regularly scheduled duties; until he does, tough to trust him with a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN GB 3311 ***
You don't keep up with the Packers' red-hot offense by kicking field goals, so there's likely a better fantasy option than Walsh this week.

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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