FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 4
2012
CLE at BAL (THU) *MIN at DET *OAK at DEN *TEN at HOU
CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

Prediction: CHI 13, DAL 20 (Line: DAL by 3.5)

Players to Watch: Jay Cutler

Players Updated: Matt Forte, Michael Bush

Here is an interesting game. The 2-1 Bears have two big wins at home against weak opponents and then got beat big on the road in Green Bay. None of these necessarily define the Bears so far but this week should be the final piece. The Cowboys are 2-1 with only a loss in Seattle but last week against the Buccaneers was a win played in slow motion at about half speed. The defense continues to do their job for the Cowboys but the offense has flopped twice now since the opener in New York. Cowboys at home and Bears on the road should be a win for the home team. But expecting any fireworks and big points is looking optimistic.

Chicago Bears
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 IND 41-21 10 HOU -----
2 @GB 10-23 11 @SF -----
3 STL 23-6 12 MIN -----
4 @DAL ----- 13 SEA -----
5 @JAC ----- 14 @MIN -----
6 BYE ----- 15 GB -----
7 DET ----- 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR ----- 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI @ DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 20 180,1
RB Matt Forte 40 4-30
WR Alshon Jeffery 3-40
WR Brandon Marshall 5-60
TE Martellus Bennett 6-70,1
TE Dante Rosario
PK Jay Feely 2 FG 3 XP
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: Since opening against the Colts, this is no offensive machine. The absence of Matt Forte is certainly telling and he may even start practicing this week but chances are still best that he will miss this game. Originally, his prognosis was four to six weeks so getting to even limited practice after two weeks would be a very favorable sign. This is a Monday night game too so no place to turn if you want to hold out hope for Forte.

Jay Cutler is going to be the key to this entire game. He has struggled in the last two games with never more than 183 passing yards and just one score. He was intercepted four times in Green Bay and once by the visiting Rams. Worse yet, Cutler has been sacked 11 times this season and bashed far more times than that. The offensive line continues to be a major issue here and facing the Cowboys in Dallas is not going to do anything to improve the blocking. As Jay goes, so go the Bears.

Michael Bush took over for Forte and scored once but only gained 55 yards on 18 runs versus the Rams. Kahlil Bell was also allowed ten runs for a whopping 20 yards last week so Bush is not getting the full load. He merely replaces Forte and then Bell comes up as the new Bush. On the road that is not likely to produce much fantasy value unless they throw the ball more to Bush who only had two catches last week.

Alshon Jeffrey has been fairly solid for a rookie in his first three games though his lone road trip resulted in just one catch in Green Bay. Brandon Marshall also flopped in that road game with two reception but has been a big plus as long as the Bears are at home and facing weaker teams. The two starting wideouts are all that really matter here with Earl Bennett and Devin Hester rarely accounting for more than a catch or two. That is going to be a problem this week since the Cowboys have yet to allow any passing touchdown to a wide receiver or even more than 58 yards.

The Cowboys offense has been enigmatic but the defense has remained very good. That's enough to make all the Bears offensive weapons get a downgrade on Monday.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 30 11 21 32 14 1
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 1 15 1 16 7 16

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI NO 0000030021 ***
The last time Cutler hosted a beatable secondary from the NFC South he went belly-up against the Bucs, so it's understandable if you're skittish about using Cutler here. The Saints have served up 661 passing yards and five passing scores the past two weeks, however, so there's some cause for optimism as well. You know the risks of using Cutler; at least with this matchup there's an upside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI NO 9017601000 ***
It's an extremely favorable matchup for Forte against a Saints defense that's allowed four straight feature backs to top 150 yards from scrimmage and three straight to find the end zone. When you consider Forte has at least 100 combo yards in every home game as well as at least one TD or 169 combo yards in each game at Soldier Field this season, he may be one of the best fantasy plays of the week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI NO 0091201000 ***
No Brandon Marshall makes Jeffery the man, though with touchdowns in four straight it's tough to argue he wasn't at least WR1A already. The Saints have let opposing WR1s score in five straight, as if you needed validation to get Jeffery in your lineup this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marquess Wilson, CHI NO 003400000 ***
Wilson likely inherits Brandon Marshall's role, though he isn't likely to see the same volume of touches. Plus, the Saints haven't allowed multiple WRs to score in the same game since Week 7 so after Alshon Jeffery takes his bite the pickings might be pretty slim.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI NO 007800000 ***
Bennett is the most likely beneficiary of Brandon Marshall's absence. When you consider that he already has seen 26 targets the past two weeks, and faces a defense that has allowed 19-164-1 to the tight end position the past two weeks, he's without question a quality fantasy play this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jay Feely, CHI NO 2133 ***
After a two-point dog against the Cowboys in his return to the league, Feely has a real opportunity against a Saints defense that's allowed multiple field goals in five straight and double digits in three straight.

Dallas Cowboys
Homefield: Cowboys Stadium
RealGrass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NYG 24-17 10 @PHI -----
2 @SEA 7-27 11 CLE -----
3 TB 16-10 12 WAS -----
4 CHI ----- 13 PHI -----
5 BYE ----- 14 @CIN -----
6 @BAL ----- 15 PIT -----
7 @CAR ----- 16 NO -----
8 NYG ----- 17 @WAS -----
9 @ATL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DAL vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo 270,1
QB Brandon Weeden 10 230
RB DeMarco Murray 70,1 3-20
RB Ryan Williams 80 3-20
WR Dez Bryant 6-60
TE Jason Witten 3-30
PK Dan Bailey 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys are 2-1 but no one is that happy at team headquarters. The defense has been good to great each week but the offense has recently played like this is December and the annual slide to .500 has begun. Penalties and dropped passes like the Cowboys just kind of lost interest after the Giants win. I almost never happens this early in the year. It almost always does happen in December.

Last week against the visiting Buccaneers, Tony Romo only managed to throw for 283 yards, one interception and two lost fumbles. The Bucs. Visiting no less. He has been good for 250+ yards in every game but has just one touchdown over the last two weeks. This is almost the same scenario as the Bears except they beat the Colts and the Cowboys beat the reigning Superbowl champs. Since then - same same.

Even more perplexing was how DeMarco Murray only gained 38 yards on 18 carries. He opened with his first 100 yard rushing effort in a road game ever. Since then, never more than 44 rush yards in a game. And Murray was always at his best at home in the past.

Top of the list of "what is wrong with you guys" is Jason Witten who claims he is no longer hampered by his lacerated spleen and yet he only had two catches for eight yards versus the Buccaneers and that included several outright drops. Three weeks of Witten so far has netted just 76 yards and no scores.

Miles Austin is the lone receiver meeting expectations each week and he has two scores and 243 yards on the year compared to no scores and 164 yards by Dez Bryant. Kevin Ogletree continues to be more productive than Bryant.

With only a bye waiting on the other side, the Cowboys need this home win and yet will be facing a very formidable defense which has allowed only three offensive touchdowns this year. Chances are this will be more of a repeat of last week for the Cowboys only against a better defense. The Cowboys have a brutal five game stretch after their bye and losing this game puts the season at risk.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 20 22 6 29 30 25
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 2 5 11 17 10 27

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tony Romo, DAL @PHI 0000023021 ***
Romo's one fantasy dog since returning from injury was his 199 & 0 at home against the Eagles. It was, surprisingly, Philly's only defensive effort of note since their Week 7 bye. Since that previous game seems to be an aberration on both ends, expect a return to the norm for Romo--which definitely makes him a fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, DAL @PHI 8007401000 ***
The Eagles have allowed triple-digit combo yardage to three of the last four feature backs they've faced, including Murray's 20-73-1 rushing/6-40 receiving in the earlier meeting. The Cowboys proved last week they aren't afraid to load up Murray with carries, and they'll likely try to do so here to keep Chip Kelly's offense on the sidelines. More carries equals that many more opportunities for Murray to have a big fantasy game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL @PHI 006801000 **
Bryant's 4-73 in the earlier meeting was the first time in five games against Philly in which he didn't either score or top 100 yards or both. Don't bet against him getting back in the saddle, but don't let your expectations run amok either.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cole Beasley, DAL @PHI 004400000 ***
Big receiver numbers against Philly have tended to go to WR1s this year. Beasley may be a hot pickup after scoring twice last week, but he did so on just three catches and can't be looked to as a reliable fantasy contributor just yet.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL @PHI 002300000 ***
Williams has been a non-fantasy factor for the past five weeks, with little reason to anticipate that trend turning around here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL @PHI 002200000 ***
Philly has given up one TE TD all year, and they held Witten to eight yards in the earlier meeting. Plus, Gavin Escobar is swiping touchdowns. Add it up and it makes Witten a difficult fantasy play at best this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL @PHI 1122 ***
Bailey went too long between double-digit points efforts to be viewed as a top-flight fantasy producer, and the last time he faced Philly he mustered a season-low four points. Keep a lid on those expectations this week.

WEEK 4
2012
CLE at BAL (THU) *MIN at DET *OAK at DEN *TEN at HOU
CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

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