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 Santonio Holmes 5-80,1
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 @NYJ 0000029031 ****
Cutler has multiple TD tosses in each game this year; the Jets have allowed multiple touchdown passes to both Aaron Rodgers (expected) and--in his NFL debut--Derek Carr (far from expected). Assuming one or both of Cutler's top targets manage to make it to the field, he's a rock-solid fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @NYJ 5006400000 ****
Forte is scoreless on the season, and he'll get no help from a stout Jets' run defense. The saving grace is Forte's contribution to the passing game, though he's still facing an uphill battle to provide his usual fantasy stud-ness.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @NYJ 0081002000 ****
Even nicked up Marshall was a rock star last week; no reason to sit him against a Jets defense that just got light up for 209 yards by Jordy Nelson and two TDs by Randall Cobb.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @NYJ 005701000 **
If the Raiders can have multiple receivers find the end zone against the Jets, surely a healthy (or at least healthier) Jeffery can join Brandon Marshall in the fantasy winner's circle this week.
Update: Jeffery practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, leaving him as a game-time decision once again. Last week that didn't work out so well for him; maybe this week it's Jeffery's term to have a Brandon Marshall-esque rise from the ashes of an injury?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Santonio Holmes, CHI @NYJ 002200000 ****
Right now Holmes is the third wheel on Chicago's tandem bike of a passing game. Unless one of the starters is ruled out this week, Holmes is an unusable fantasy commodity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @NYJ 006300000 ***
The Jets haven't surrendered much to opposing tight ends, but Bennett serves as the Bears' de facto WR3--and gets an upgrade when one or both of the starters are hobbled or out. He's targeted enough so as to defy the difficult matchup and remain a viable fantasy play.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @NYJ 2233 ****
The Jets provide a situation where bad offenses get nothing and good offenses often have to settle for field goals. That bodes well for Gould, who was forced to count by ones last week against the Niners.

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 @STL 0000022011 ****
Romo hasn't been anything special thus far this year, but the Rams have faced Matt Cassel and Josh McCown thus far so they may be caught off guard. At minimum there's upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, DAL @STL 12011100000 ****
Murray has back-to-back hundos this year; the Rams just gave up 145 rushing yards to Bobby Rainey. Can you say "blank check"?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL @STL 007701000 ***
While the Cowboys may have suddenly become run-heavy, Tony Romo knows where to find Dez. And while the Rams have held opposing wideouts in check... well, it's Dez.
Update: Bryant was limited in practice Thursday and Friday, but he says he's going to play and who are we to doubt him?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL @STL 004500000 ****
With the Cowboys becoming more run-heavy, Williams' role in the offense is not blossoming as expected. Keep him on the back burner until a more favorable matchup presents itself.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL @STL 004300000 ***
After squelching tight ends with regularity last season the Rams have picked up where they left off this year. And Witten is riding off into the sunset while the Cowboys carve out a different path offensively. Not much to see here fantasy-wise.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL @STL 3322 ***
Bailey should be looking at multiple field goal attempts again this week, which bodes well for his fantasy prospects.

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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