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 Michael Bush 20 1-10
RB Matt Forte 40 4-30
WR Devin Aromashodu 2-30
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 @MIN 0000026011 **
Cutler returns to the lineup, facing a team he's thrown for 620 yards and six touchdowns (with four INTs) against in the past two games. He won't have Brandon Marshall, but you have to think his "WTF" approach to throwing into coverage will be exacerbated in what could be his final game as a Bear. That's both good and bad; caution on using Cutler if you're penalized for picks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @MIN 8016500000 ***
Forte is working on a 10-game touchdown drought against the Vikings, but hopefully you play in a yardage league because he's had triple-digit combo yards in each of his last four against Minnesota. The Vikings have given up 100-plus combo yards to six of the last seven feature backs they've faced. PPR leaguers are also fond of the matchup; Forte has 25 catches in those same four against the Vikings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @MIN 0071001000 **
In his last two against the Vikings, Jeffery has 23 catches (not a misprint) for 384 yards and three TDs. With no Brandon Marshall to get in his way, all that stands between Jeffery and more monster numbers is a banged-up Xavier Rhodes.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marquess Wilson, CHI @MIN 003400000 ***
Wilson has been an adequate replacement for Brandon Marshall, but not necessarily someone you should be going out of your way to get into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @MIN 006600000 **
Bennett was nearly nonexistent with Jimmy Clausen at the helm last week, so he'll welcome the return of Jay Cutler. And on the heels of the Vikings giving up 149 yards and a TD to the position last week, Bennett will be happy to be facing Minnesota as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jay Feely, CHI @MIN 1122 ***
Hope Feely didn't opt for performance-based pay, as the Bears have provided him with exactly zero field goal opportunities since signing him to replace the wounded Robbie Gould one month ago. He could match the three points Gould scored in the earlier meeting with Minnesota, but that's hardly enough to stir the fantasy pot.

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 0000024020 **
The Redskins have given up multiple touchdown passes in four straight, with two of those quarterbacks topping 370 passing yards. Romo was knocked out of the earlier meeting with Washington; if he doesn't finish this time it will be because the Cowboys have already clinched their fate--likely due to a solid fantasy helper from Romo.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, DAL @WAS 601000000 *
Murray dominated the Redskins like no other back in the earlier meeting, with 221 yards from scrimmage. He won't likely see enough touches to match that performance as the Cowboys rest their feature back (and specifically his busted hand) for the playoffs, and he was ineffective with a reduced workload against Indy last week. He's still starter-worthy, but your expectations need to be lowered dramatically.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joseph Randle, DAL @WAS 3002200000 ***
Randle saw his biggest workload last week (13 carries) and did little with it (37 yards). With a tougher matchup this week there's no reason to expect those numbers to trend upwards, even if Randle ends up with a larger share of the touches.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL @WAS 004601000 ****
Dez has scored in his last two against the Redskins; he's also scored 10 TDs in his last eight games, a streak that started with a subdued 3-30-1 against Washington. With DeMarco Murray dinged the offensive onus is on the passing game, and in turn Tony Romo leans on Dez. Start him with confidence here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL @WAS 003400000 ***
Williams returned to the end zone--twice--last week as the Dallas passing game picked up the slack left by the injury to DeMarco Murray. However, secondary targets rarely fare well against the Redskins--and when they do it tends to be at the expense of the primary guy. Since it's unlikely that Dez Bryant falters here, don't look for big things for Williams this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL @WAS 005501000 ***
Witten scored in the earlier meeting with Washington, and after watching the Redskins give up 15-115 to Zach Ertz last week---and 4-61-2 to Jared Cook two weeks prior to that, and 4-127-2 to Coby Fleener the week before that--you have to like Witten's chances of another big outing.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL @WAS 1133 ***
Bailey has been counting by ones instead of threes, with just one multiple field goal game in the past two and a half months. On the bright side, he's had at least four PATs in five of the last six games so even though the ceiling isn't high the floor isn't that low.

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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