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
WR Randy Moss 4-50,1
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 ARI 30000021010 **
On behalf of all of Kaepernick's fantasy owners: where the heck has THAT been all year? Keep matched his best three-game rushing total with 151 yards and a score to augment his typical 114 and 1 passing performance, the result being his first fantasy helper in two and a half months. A repeat isn't out of the question against an Arizona defense that just gave up 88 and 1 on the ground to Russell Wilson, but at this point it's hard to believe there are any fantasy teams with Kaepernick on them who qualified for the playoffs, let alone made it to the final game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF ARI 701000000 ***
The Niners should have been wearing throwback uniforms last week given the way Gore turned back the clock with a season-high 26 carries for a season-high 158 yards. Contrast that with the six carries for 10 yards he dropped on the Cardinals in the earlier meeting and you can see why fantasy owners might have been frustrated. Those same Cardinals just gave up 113 and 2 to Marshawn Lynch at home, so another solid outing for Gore certainly isn't out of the question here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF ARI 004601000 **
Crabtree hasn't been seen fantasy-wise since Week 11; no reason to dust him off now.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF ARI 003300000 ***
Boldin is the more likely of San Francisco's receivers to generate some fantasy help, especially against his former team; in four previous meetings he's topped 140 yards twice and scored once. He's also been over 50 yards in 10 of his last 12, which may not sound like much but when Colin Kaepernick is throwing the ball is viewed as a streak of Lou Gehrig proportions.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF ARI 001200000 ***
After seeing what Luke Willson did to these Cardinals you want to reach for Davis... and then you realize, fantasy-wise, he hasn't been there since Week 1. And you weep.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF ARI 1133 ***
Dawson has one multiple field goal outing in his last five, hasn't seen double-digit points since Week 11, and scored a mere two points in the earlier meeting with Arizona. You can find a kicker with a few more positive trends than that.

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 Lestar Jean 1-20
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 CHI 10000028020 ****
Since a disappointing 158 and 1 in Chicago in Week 11 Bridgewater has been steadily building, with four multiple touchdown games and two 300-yard efforts in the five games since. The Bears have allowed 13 passing touchdowns and 1,085 passing yards over their past three road games; while that 361 and 4 average may be aggressive for Bridgewater, it does suggest he'll be on the positive side of a fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN CHI 5013200000 ***
Asiata is a similar style back to Joique Bell and Mark Ingram, who have combined for four TDs in three games against the Bears. Asiata's rushing yardage isn't likely to overwhelm, but he's been bringing more to the table in the passing game and the Bears have given up 70 RB receiving yards per game over the past month.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Charles Johnson, MIN CHI 0071001000 ****
Johnson left last week's loss to the Dolphins prematurely, and early word this week is that he may not be able to practice. If that's the case, no need to risk him in a meaningless game. We'll check on his availability later this week.
Update: Johnson worked his way up to a full practice session Friday. He's listed as probable, and if he's probably going to play he's probably going to receive plenty of attention from Teddy Bridgewater.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN CHI 005601000 ****
In just shy of one season's worth of meetings with the Bears Jennings has amassed 974 yards and six TDs against them. Sure, much of that came with the Pack but despite shaky quarterbacking he mustered 12-162-1 in last season's series. He had one catch in the earlier meeting this year but has taken on a larger role of late and if Charles Johnson can't go could provide Teddy Bridgewater with the WR1 target he'll be needing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarius Wright, MIN CHI 002400000 ***
With Charles Johnson injured and potentially out for this game expect Wright to continue to step up for the Vikings. Over the past three games he's scored twice and topped 100 yards once--and that was with Johnson hogging the looks. The same defense that let Louis Murphy go for 113 yards and Cole Beasley score twice isn't likely to be able to slow Wright's roll, either.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN CHI 2233 ****
The Bears have allowed at least seven kicker points in every game this season and multiple field goals in nine of their last 10. Walsh didn't miss last week, ending a 1-for-6 stretch, and he was two for three on treys the last time he faced the Bears, so seven feels like a baseline 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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