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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 Sam Bradford 190
QB Shaun Hill 10
RB Adrian Peterson 80 2-10
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.

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 Sam Bradford, MIN DAL 0000027010 ***
Dallas has given up the third highest per-game yardage figure since Week 7 at 306.2, so Bradford has a hint of upside if WR Stefon Diggs returns. The Cowboys have allowed quarterbacks to average a TD every 16.9 completions, which is the ninth toughest defense of this category.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN DAL 2012200000 ***
Dallas has yielded rushing touchdowns at the 10th easiest rate for the position. Over the past five weeks, the position has allowed 65.4 rushing yards per game in this time.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN DAL 4001100000 ***
The Vikings face Dallas, a defense that has given up the 15th most points despite having the seventh best opportunity rating. The disconnect has been the offensive yardage allowed, which is only 114.2 per game since Week 7.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN DAL 0081001000 **
Diggs should return after missing a week. The Cowboys went from being a strong defense of receivers to one of the more easily exploited units. In the last five weeks, the position has taken advantage of two key injuries and racked up averages of 15.8 receptions (3rd), 165.6 yards (11th) and 38.4 PPR points (11th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Thielen, MIN DAL 006700000 ***
Thielen is questionable but expected to play and should have an outside chance at contributing meaningful fantasy stats in PPR formats. He is risky, but the matchup is prime. Dallas has allowed the 11th most points per contest to the position in that scoring system over the last five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN DAL 003200000 ***
Dallas has allowed the third most catches and ninth highest yardage average per game over the last five weeks, but tight ends have scored only once every 18 receptions.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, MIN DAL 3322 ***
The position has kicked the fourth highest average of field goal attempts since Week 7, although only one team has granted fewer extra point kicks in this time.

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
WR Anquan Boldin 4-50,1
WR Andre Roberts 4-50
WR Golden Tate 2-30
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 @NO 20000025021 ***
Despite having the 10th highest opportunity rating, quarterbacks have averaged only the 23rd most fantasy points points meeting with the Saints. Quarterbacks have averaged 263 yards and a touchdown every 13.1 completions since Week 7 vs. New Orleans.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Theo Riddick, DET @NO 7005301000 ***
In its last five games, New Orleans has permitted averages of 4.2 catches, 54.2 yards and 0.2 touchdowns to RBs ... not exactly inspiring for Riddick owners. This is the 12th worst matchup for PPR backs, but C.J. Prosise, Todd Gurley and DuJuan Harris all caught at least four balls. Harris and the rookie produced 80-plus yards each.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dwayne Washington, DET @NO 3001100000 ***
Washington continues to see minimal work and have no viable path to fantasy lineup worthiness.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @NO 007801000 ***
Tate has reemerged as Detroit's top receiving target among wideouts. He's the safest bet of this group to post across-the-board numbers that garner respect and deserve a lineup spot. The Saints have allowed receivers to average 12.4 catches (17th), 151.2 yards (21st) and a score per game (17th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marvin Jones Jr., DET @NO 004500000 ***
There was a glimpse of Jones last week after his midseason descent. Shot out of a cannon to begin the season, Jones has gone from a top-flight starter to a barely playable option. He has fringe PPR appeal this week in the off-chance Detroit finds itself in a shootout.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, DET @NO 003300000 ***
A lack of a running game has made Boldin a favorite around the stripe, so don't downplay his upside. However, he cannot score every game (right?!?). The Saints have given up one receiver score per contest over the last five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET @NO 005600000 ***
Ebron faces a Saints defense that has given up 13.6 PPR points per game over the past five weeks, which is the 15th most. Two of the 23 catches surrendered found the stripe, so there is hope here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @NO 3322 ***
Only two teams have granted more fantasy points per game to kickers since Week 7, and most of which came from distance. The Lions have given Prater 11 kicking tries from three-point land in this time.

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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