Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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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: MIN 20, DET 30 (Line: DET by 5.5)

Players to Watch: Jerome Simpson, Mikel Leshoure

Players Updated: Mikel Leshoure, Matthew Stafford, Kyle Rudolph

The 1-2 Lions have not lost a home game to the Vikings since 2009 and return after two straight road losses to the 49ers and Titans. The 2-1 Vikings come off their big upset over the 49ers and hit the road where they had their only loss. The Lions swept the Vikings last year, winning 26-23 at Minnesota and later 34-28 at Detroit. This time the Lions may have a running back while the Vikings are still trying to get Adrian Peterson 100% back.

Minnesota Vikings
Homefield: Metrodome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 JAC 26-23 ot 10 DET -----
2 @IND 20-23 11 BYE -----
3 SF 24-13 12 @CHI -----
4 @DET ----- 13 @GB -----
5 TEN ----- 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS ----- 15 @STL -----
7 ARI ----- 16 @HOU -----
8 TB ----- 17 GB -----
9 @SEA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
WR Kendall Wright 4-50
TE Kyle Rudolph 5-50,1

Pregame Notes: Big win over the 49ers no matter if it was a trap game or not. The defense stepped up to hold them to just one touchdown and the offense saw Christian Ponder not only pass for two scores, but added a rushing touchdown on his seven runs for 33 yards. Ponder had almost never rushed this year before the 49ers showed up. That gives Ponder four touchdowns on the season against no interceptions and he is averaging a respectable 237 yards per game.

This week he gets Jerome Simpson off suspension and with that a sorely needed complement to Percy Harvin. Simpson will provide the deep patterns to either pull the defense back or make them pay for single coverage. Until now, the passing effort has evolved around finding Percy Harvin on short routes that rarely top ten yards. If Simpson can "take the top off the defense" it will free up Harvin even more for better yards after the catch. Simpson was impressive and exciting in the preseason and no one else has stepped up in the last three weeks.

Kyle Rudolph is now the leading scorer for the team with two touchdowns against the 49ers added to the one in week two versus the Colts. His yardage is lacking but again - Simpson can add an element to the passing game that should open it up for the other players like Rudolph and Harvin. Rudolph is not getting enough work to suggest he is a new elite tight end, but scoring three times in just two games means he may be on his way.

Adrian Peterson opened the year nicely with two scores on the Jaguars but has been less effective since. He gained 60 yards on 16 carries against a weak defense in Indianapolis and then 86 yards on 25 runs in the win over the 49ers. Not bad stats but also not exactly what we had been used to seeing. Peterson has run 58 times for 230 yards and just under a four yard rushing average. He may not be all the way back, but he is definitely back enough to matter.

The Lions have been great against the run with only one rushing score allowed while in San Francisco. But the passing defense has been average at best and Ponder again gets a chance to shine plus uses Jerome Simpson for the first time.

Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 15 16 17 15 10 23
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 21 3 17 31 30 31

QB Kirk Cousins, MIN @GB 10000020020 ***
The good: Denver has given up a TD pass every 10.9 completions (6th-highest frequency). The rest: This is the worst defense for weekly yardage figures, and it's the third-hardest matchup for generating fantasy points (16.1/game).
RB Latavius Murray, MIN @GB 7011100000 ***
Back in Week 6, Murray wasn't much of a factor. The show was stolen by Jerick McKinnon's two-TD effort. Green Bay remains extremely vulnerable to running backs, though the matchup skews toward pass-catching types. Statistically, this is the worst matchup for rushing touchdowns, but extreme cold at Lambeau could flip the script.
WR Kendall Wright, MIN @GB 0071001000 ***
Wright has emerged in the past two games, landing 17 receptions on 24 targets. He hasn't scored since Week 4. This projection is rose colored but attainable. Cleveland has given up the fourth-most receptions for moderate yardage (14th) per game, with one in 18 landing in the end zone (22nd).
WR Adam Thielen, MIN @GB 0071001000 ***
Receivers have scored with the highest frequency against Green Bay in the past five weeks. One in 5.9 catches has made it into the end zone. The Packers have limited receivers to just 9.4 receptions (28th) and 121.8 yards (28th), but much of those figures can be pinned on facing shaky passing attacks of Baltimore, Carolina, Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Thielen posted a 9-97-0 line in the Stefon Diggs-less Week 6 game. This one is at Lambeau Field in what is forecasted to be single digits.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN @GB 004601000 ***
Diggs missed the previous meeting. The Packers have been a poor defense of receivers all year, but the recent weeks have provided a few matchups that have helped improve the look of the stats. This defense is 28th in receptions and yards allowed per game, but it remains the best for finding touchdowns (1 every 5.9 catches).
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN @GB 004500000 ***
Rudolph (ankle) played in only 20 snaps last week, and he was limited in Tuesday's practice based on the approximation report. Green Bay provides the third-best matchup of the week, one that rates in the top eight for receptions, yardage and touchdown efficiency against.

Update: Rudolph is not on the injury report for Saturday's game.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, MIN @GB 2233 ***
Twenty of the 21 combined kicking attempts were good, with all seven field goals being accurate. This is the sixth-worst matchup for three-pointers and sixth-best for TD-capping tries.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 STL 27-23 10 @MIN -----
2 @SF 19-27 11 GB -----
3 @TEN 41-44 12 HOU -----
4 MIN ----- 13 IND -----
5 BYE ----- 14 @GB -----
6 @PHI ----- 15 @ARI -----
7 @CHI ----- 16 ATL -----
8 SEA ----- 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 280,2
WR Golden Tate 2-30
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions have dropped their two road games but were competitive in both and should have won in Tennessee. This week they face the familiar Vikings with only the bye week waiting on the other side. This is a must win or the Lions will drop to 1-3 with a very tough four road match-ups in their next five games after the bye. Having already gone 0-2 away from Detroit, that will be brutal.

Matthew Stafford was knocked from the game last week but Shaun Hill came in and threw two scores while completing 10 of 13 for 172 yards. He is a more than capable backup. Stafford has the yardage each week but still only has one touchdown pass per game. He missed out a chance at nice stat padding in Tennessee but returns home where he last posted 378 yards and two scores on the Vikings. Stafford has a hamstring issue and is no lock to play but even if he cannot, the Lions are in good shape with Hill. Particularly at home against a very familiar opponent.

The big news last week was that Mikel Leshoure finally had his first game after missing his entire rookie season and then serving a suspension. He rushed for 100 yards and a score on 26 runs and added 34 yards on four catches. Granted he was only third straight back to do as much against the Titans this year but the important part was that he was given nearly all the carries while Kevin Smith never saw the field. Joique Bell provided a handful of carries to give Leshoure a breather but it was a nice coming out party and buys him plenty of playing time until he too falters or gets injured like all other Detroit backs.

Calvin Johnson remains the uber-stud here and comes off a big ten catch, 164 yard effort in Tennessee with one score. Titus Young finally provided more than one meaningless catch per game when he caught the Hail Mary carom before halftime but that is going to be hard to rely on. Megatron is the only constant here with the other receivers rising and falling in relation to how bad or good the secondary is.

Brandon Pettigrew has also offered some consistency for a tight end and comes off a season high eight catches for 61 yards but he has only one score so far.

The Lions have to win this game and should. Their defense will be tested by an improved Vikings team but the Lions have something new in Leshoure as well. More importantly, they are at home against a secondary they should be able to beat.

Gaining Fantasy Points DET 6 7 3 4 2 27
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 16 1 22 24 20 10

QB Matthew Stafford, DET @CIN 0000027020 ***
Quarterbacks have posted top-10 figures in fantasy points and yards per game against the Bengals over the past five weeks. The downside is this is the eighth-hardest defense for registering passing touchdowns. Stafford, if for nothing but volume alone, is a midrange starter.
RB Theo Riddick, DET @CIN 2004301000 *
Riddick underwent double wrist surgery last offseason, so we played it safe with this one and omitted him from the projections. He'll return Friday after practicing in full Wednesday -- barring a setback, of course. Statistically, Washington has given up substantial gains on the ground but almost nothing via the sky to running backs over the past five weeks.
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET @CIN 3002100000 **
Abdullah is likely to be removed from the rankings after Theo Riddick enters in Friday's update. Riddick had a scare with his surgically repaired wrist but is good to go. The matchup is pretty positive, but there is little reason to trust Abdullah even if Riddick were to wind up sitting.
RB LeGarrette Blount, DET @CIN 200000000 ***
Oakland offers a promising matchup for touchdowns, so maybe gamers get lucky. Avoid Blount and his limited role where possible.
WR Golden Tate, DET @CIN 006801000 ***
Tate belongs in lineups, but the matchup is not overly appealing. Cincinnati has given up bottom-half figures in relation to the rest of the league in the past five weeks. Detroit's passing volume should keep his fantasy value afloat.
WR Marvin Jones Jr., DET @CIN 004600000 ***
Receivers have averaged 11 catches (21st) for 134 yards (23rd) and a touchdown every 18.3 balls (23rd) since Week 10. That is 11.3 percent below league average, and in the last three weeks the number jumps slightly to being 3 percent off the mark. Kendall Wright (20.7) and Stefon Diggs (14.7) have been solid over the last two outings.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET @CIN 002400000 ***
There is nothing redeeming about the matchup for such a fringe player. Cincinnati is the ninth-worst opponent for the week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @CIN 3322 ***
Kickers have made 12 of 13 point-afters and 11 of 13 three-point attempts in the past five weeks against the Bengals. This is the fourth-best prospective matchup and third most favorable in reality.

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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