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 @NE 0000026021 ***
The list of quarterbacks the Patriots have held without multiple touchdowns includes Matt Cassel, Derek Carr, and the Geno Smith/Michael Vick dual entry. While Cutler was held in check by the Dolphins last week, he's certainly more quarterback than any of the aforementioned strugglers so pencil him in for his usual rounds against New England this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @NE 8016600000 ***
Nothing in the three 100-yard rushing games or four RB receiving scores the Patriots have allowed suggest New England has any hopes of containing Forte this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @NE 006701000 **
Assuming Darrelle Revis shows up on time, does he get Marshall or Alshon Jeffery, or some combination of the two? The Pats haven't allowed a receiver to top 81 yards on them, but they also haven't much in the way of WR talent; the two best they've seen, Mike Wallace and AJ Green, both hit that 81-yard mark and scored. Marshall hasn't seen the Pats since his Dolphins days, but he ruined them the last two times he saw them (both in 2011) with a combined 13-282-1. Pencil him in for a minimum of the 81 and 1 and we'll go from there.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @NE 003400000 ***
If Bill Belichick remembers how Brandon Marshall torched them during his days as a Dolphin it might mean Marshall gets Darrelle Revis... and Jeffery gets to run unabated through the New England secondary. He's as talented a wideout as the Pats have seen, and the talented targets have wound up with 80 yards and a score--a decent day's work for Jeffery.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @NE 005601000 **
Bennett's been relatively quiet since both Bears' wideouts returned to health, but he could return to fantasy relevancy here against a Patriots defense that's allowed two TE TDs in the past four games.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @NE 1133 ****
Gould hasn't cracked double-digits yet this season, has multiple field goals just once in the last month, and can no longer be considered a plug-and-play fantasy option.

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 WAS 0000028020 ***
Much to like here, both historically--Romo has multiple touchdowns in four of his last five against the Redskins--and recently, as the Redskins have allowed multiple touchdowns in five straight while Romo has thrown multiple scoring strikes in five consecutive as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, DAL WAS 12012100000 *****
The Redskins haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 1 and have surrendered only one RB rushing score all season... but c'mon, Murray just broke a Jim Brown record so this season must be magical. Triple-digit yardage is all but a given, and a TD more likely than those Redskins stats might lead you to believe.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL WAS 0061101000 ***
The Redskins aren't really shutting down opposing passing games, so expect Bryant to get his--which at home has meant 100 yards or a touchdown in his last three at Jones Majal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL WAS 005701000 ****
Washington has surrendered touchdowns to multiple receivers in each of the past two games, so even if Dez gets his and DeMarco Murray gets his there should be enough left over for Williams to carve out some fantasy assistance this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL WAS 005500000 ****
Witten's fantasy value is being usurped by Gavin Escobar, who has scored three of the Cowboys' last four TE TDs. It's not a compelling enough matchup to make Witten anything other than a fringe fantasy helper at best.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL WAS 2244 ***
Bailey has been solid, but just one double-digit points effort in the past month leaves him a bit shy of spectacular. Plan accordingly.

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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