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 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 @DET 0000024021 ****
This "Lions as an elite defense" may feel new, but Cutler has just one multiple TD outing against Detroit in their last seven meetings dating back to 2010. And while the Lions have been softer of late Cutler has hardly been a consistent fantasy contributor and is more likely to honor the holiday with a turkey here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @DET 5006601000 ***
The back end of last season's series with the Lions was the first time in 12 meetings that Forte didn't score and/or top 100 yards from scrimmage against the Lions. He's too big a part of the Chicago offense to be pushed aside, even given the tough matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @DET 006601000 ****
Jeffery topped 100 yards in both ends of last season's series with the Lions, and by virtue of two healthy ankles he may be the better Bears option in a tough matchup this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @DET 006500000 ***
Marshall appears to be hobbling once again, and with this being a tougher matchup and a short week the Bears may opt to lean on Alshon Jeffery instead.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @DET 004400000 ***
Bennett has been quiet since the Bears' Week 9 bye, though he could see an uptick in targets if Brandon Marshall is indeed hobbled. That's what his fantasy owners will have to hope for, as aside from that this matchup doesn't play out in his favor.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @DET 2222 ***
While the Lions have made visiting kickers quite comfortable over their last three at home, Gould's whopping 11 points in the past five games suggest you keep him far, far away from your fantasy lineup.

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 0000027030 ***
Romo has six 300-yard games in his last 11 against Philly and has seven TDs in two games since returning from his back injury. The Eagles have given up multiple TD tosses in every game except one this year, and this one isn't shaping up to be an exception to that trend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, DAL PHI 12014300000 ****
Even if Murray doesn't get to triple-digit yardage--and there's no reason he shouldn't--he can pad his number with a score against a Philly D that's allowed RB TDs in five straight games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL PHI 0071102000 ***
Bryant's last four against the Eagles have resulted in 394 yards and four TDs. Coming off back-to-back two-TD efforts, he's a money play against a Philly D that's allowed nine WR TDs and five 100-yard efforts in their past five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL PHI 002300000 ***
In theory Williams should be a good start against a Philly D that's allowed nine WR TDs and five 100-yard efforts in just the past five games. However, he's playing with a busted finger and ceding looks to Cole Beasley, so there's a ceiling to his upside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL PHI 005501000 ***
Witten roasted Philly for 12-135 the last time they visited Dallas--and 6-108 the visit before. He's scored in two straight, three of four and four of six and is a solid fantasy play against an Eagles D that's allowed two 100-yard games to TEs in the past three weeks.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL PHI 2244 ***
Bailey's been a consistent mid-tier point producer--never fewer than five in any game this season, a solid average of eight per game this year--and the upside of a points cornucopia with Philly on Thanksgiving makes him that much more enticing.

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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