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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: 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
FieldTurf
  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
MIN @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel 260,2
QB Christian Ponder 20 240,2
RB Adrian Peterson 80 2-10
RB Ben Tate 50,1 2-10
WR Greg Jennings 5-60,1
TE Kyle Rudolph 5-50,1
PK Blair Walsh 2 FG 2 XP

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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 15 16 17 15 10 23
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 21 3 17 31 30 31

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN CAR 0000026020 ***
Bridgewater finally has his first multiple-TD pro game under his belt, but a reprise isn't likely against a Carolina defense that's held three of its past four foes to single scores.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN CAR 6013100000 **
It's been a while since the Vikings had a fantasy-relevant running back performance, even longer since it was McKinnon being relevant. Grinders have had success against the Panthers, and that's not McKinnon's game so don't look for him to end that run here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Charles Johnson, MIN CAR 005901000 ***
Johnson has emerged as Teddy Bridgewater's favorite target. That should be enough to get him on the fantasy radar against a Carolina D that's allowed the second-most WR TDs in the league.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN CAR 005601000 ***
Jennings is the wingman in Minnesota's passing game, and it's a passing game that isn't producing enough statistically to warrant multiple fantasy receivers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN CAR 002300000 ***
Patterson limps towards the finish line of his bust of a sophomore season, replaced in the passing game pecking order by a former seventh-round pick and practice squader who's on his third organization in two years. Fantasy relevancy is an afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN CAR 006700000 ****
Rudolph is slowly moving back towards fantasy relevancy after his 3-50 last week. It's not an incredibly favorable matchup, but Rudy still has the potential to be a fantasy factor in the Vikings' offense.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN CAR 1144 ***
Walsh has multiple treys in four of his last five, but in the Vikings offense his upside is still tending to fall shy of double-digit points so keep your expectations in check.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  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
RB Joique Bell 20
RB Reggie Bush 60 5-30,1
WR Calvin Johnson 5-100,1
WR Golden Tate 2-30
TE Kellen Davis 2-20,1
TE Brandon Pettigrew 5-50,1
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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 6 7 3 4 2 27
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 16 1 22 24 20 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET CHI 0000030021 ***
Stafford has multiple touchdowns each of the last three times the Bears have visited Ford Field. However, he's been scoreless the past two weeks and is playing closer to Teddy Bridgewater/Josh McCown level (one TD each the past two weeks against Chicago) than Tom Brady/Aaron Rodgers level (11 TDs in the two games prior to that). So temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET CHI 6002200000 ***
Looks like Bell will carry the load again for the Lions this week. Split workload, plus a Bears' D that's been significantly better against the run of late... it doesn't add up to much in the way of fantasy help from Joique this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Reggie Bush, DET CHI 2002200000 **
Reggie's nicked up again; even if he goes on a short week he can't be counted on for much in the way of fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET CHI 0071101000 ****
After seeing two Bucs receivers top 100 yards against the Bears last week and another one reach the end zone you have to think we'll see some vintage Megatron this week--the guy who scored thrice in last season's series but who has been largely absent thus far this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET CHI 0081001000 ****
Tate has remained heavily targeted even after Calvin Johnson's return. After three Bucs WRs made fantasy splashes last week, no reason to think both Megatron and Tate can't get theirs against the Bears this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET CHI 004400000 ***
Last week the Bears kept an opposing tight end out of the end zone for the first time in a month. Ebron is seeing enough targets to make fantasy noise, but he's also sharing looks with Joseph Fauria. With the WRs back atop the pecking order, Ebron is more of a reach play than a reliable fantasy helper this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET CHI 3333 ***
Prater has multiple field goals in four straight; the Bears have served up multiple treys in six consecutive games. This may be the most positive confluence of trends involving Detroit's kicker position all season.

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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