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
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
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.

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

QB Sam Bradford, MIN @PHI 0000022000 ***
Bradford hasn't thrown for 300 yards in any of his four starts, and he has sandwiched a pair of one-TD efforts in between two-score bookends. Solid numbers, but nothing special. Minnesota had a bye week to prep, abut the matchup is statistically the worst in fantasy.
RB Matt Asiata, MIN @PHI 1013200000 ***
Asiata has a midrange matchup but will need to score to salvage a positive return on investment for your lineup spot.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN @PHI 5002200000 ***
Versatile backs do well against the Eagles. This D has allowed a touchdown every 22 touches of the ball, which ranks among the league's worst at preventing offensive touchdowns.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN @PHI 004600000 *
Diggs returned to practice Wednesday and should be good to play this week. Return Friday for a final update.

Update: Look for Diggs to suit up, but it may be a game-time decision after he was limited Friday.
WR Adam Thielen, MIN @PHI 003400000 ***
Philly is a bottom-five matchup for WRs, giving up only two scores on 60 catches over five games played. Thielen is a risky proposition.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN @PHI 003300000 ***
Patterson has been involved more in the past few weeks, somewhat because Stefon Diggs has missed time. CP has tremendous upside that he has not been able to harness. Playing him is too risky for most situations.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN @PHI 006500000 ***
Rudolph has been so good gamers can't take the chance of reserving him, but the matchup, on paper anyway, is awful. Vernon Davis scored last week against the Eagles, but prior to Week 6, the position combined for a 9-52-0 line. That included Gary Barnidge and Zach Miller.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN @PHI 3322 ***
The Eagles have allowed just 4.8 points on average, which is the third lowest in the NFL. Walsh, however, should get ample kicks because of the strength of Philly's D vs. the lack of explosiveness on offense for the Vikes.

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 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.

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

QB Matthew Stafford, DET WAS 0000024021 ***
Quarterbacks have averaged only one passing touchdown per game versus Washington. This D has four interceptions in six contests and checks in among the 10 toughest matchups. Stafford is the offense of the Lions, so benching him is ill-advised, but lowering expectations is appropriate.
RB Dwayne Washington, DET WAS 3002100000 *
Washington was limited Wednesday and has a shot at playing this week as part of a committee approach. Return for a Friday update.
RB Justin Forsett, DET WAS 2001100000 ***
Forsett has no fantasy value and, frankly, looks washed up. Avoid him regardless of what happens with Theo Riddick.
RB Zach Zenner, DET WAS 300000000 *
Washington has allowed a rushing score every 20 carries, and backs have averaged 122.3 yards on the ground -- the third most in the NFL. Zenner is limited because of a committee in Detroit and his overall lack of talent.
WR Marvin Jones Jr., DET WAS 006701000 **
It's unclear if Jones will draw Josh Norman, but one can assume so with relative safety assured. Play him, but keep your expectations at a moderate level.
WR Anquan Boldin, DET WAS 006401000 ***
The Redskins pose a tough matchup, ranking as the seventh worst for wideouts. The position has averaged 12.2 receptions, 169.8 yards and a score every 14.6 catches.
WR Golden Tate, DET WAS 004400000 ***
Tate exploded last week after a miserable start to the season. Will it continue? Probably not this week, unless Washington makes errors in coverage and affords him a huge play. Tate is a PPR flex against the seventh hardest WR matchup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET WAS 2222 ***
Kickers have been perfect -- 10-for-10 on FGAs and 16-for-16 on XPAs -- against the Redskins. Prater should be a sound fantasy play, particularly if Detroit continues to struggle on the ground.

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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