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: 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
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 Sam Bradford, MIN NYG 0000024010 ***
The positive takeaway is that Bradford hasn't made a mistake yet. The downside is that he offers no upside. The G-Men have punished quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective, ranking as the seventh hardest matchup. While no quarterback has been picked off by New York, this defense has given up only one touchdown per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN NYG 5001100000 ***
There isn't much to like there from the matchup angle, since New York rates as the third toughest on this week's docket. McKinnon will have to step up his game to live up to expectations higher than the flex range.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN NYG 2001100000 ***
Asiata will play second fiddle to Jerick McKinnon and has no playable value at this time. New York's punishing run defense agrees.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN NYG 004801000 ***
New York offers Diggs a matchup that is on the verge of being positive, rating 13th in most points allowed to WRs. Diggs is the go-to receiver but has a floor like last week that is in play most weeks. WR3 territory.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Thielen, MIN NYG 004500000 ***
Thielen is a talented receiver in his own right but doesn't see enough looks to justify a fantasy start. He was in on 59 percent of the offensive snaps last week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN NYG 007800000 ***
Rudolph is tied for the second most PPR points this year. The train could slow down in Week 4, though, as the Giants haven't given up a TE touchdown yet this year. Consider him a sound PPR play, but a touchdown will be gravy.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN NYG 3322 ***
Only San Francisco is a better matchup for fantasy kickers. New York has given up just four extra points, but 11 of 12 field goals have sailed through the uprights.

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 @CHI 20000028020 ***
The matchup isn't ideal -- Chicago has given up just four touchdown passes -- but volume passing alone makes Stafford a playable option each week. This could begin the unraveling for Chicago's fantasy pass defense. Cornerback Kyle Fuller is now on IR. Stafford destroyed the Bears in 2015 (703 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT in two games).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dwayne Washington, DET @CHI 7011100000 **
Washington has the size and speed to do damage, but patience and vision can be questionable attributes at times. He'll see the majority of the ground work for Detroit against Chicago's 12th weakest defense of fake backs. Take a chance on him as a weak RB2 or safer flex.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Theo Riddick, DET @CHI 2005300000 ***
PPR only ... Riddick is lousy at that whole "running" part of being a running back. He's a wide receiver in disguise. This week, Chicago presents a troubling matchup for his mold. RBs have caught only 11 balls for 49 yards through three games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marvin Jones Jr., DET @CHI 0061001000 ***
Jones has been outright dominant this season. Fantasy owners have a prized weapon to keep in their lineups of all fashions. Chicago ranks 21st against fantasy receivers, but from the "not good for Jones" end. Chicago lost its top corner, which can't hurt Jones' cause. Temper your expectations after last week's blow-up performance.

Update: Jones tweaked his hamstring in Thursday's practice but is listed as a full participant Friday and enters the game "questionable." He's likely to play and should remain in fantasy lineups.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, DET @CHI 004301000 ***
The matchup suggests Boldin should be sat down, but Chicago lost its best defensive back and may have a tired defense if Detroit can play up to its offensive potential. Flex the veteran to cover a bye.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @CHI 005500000 ***
Tate needs a big game, but the matchup is less than ideal. He posted 23 PPR points over two games vs. the Bears in 2015. It's clearly a different year. Tate is a fringe lineup play but an understandable one.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET @CHI 005500000 ***
The matchup is not ideal, although there is hope. The Bears have permitted only one touchdown on 13 grabs, which puts them on the lower end of a midrange matchup. Ebron is a top-10 fantasy tight end at this point.

Update: Ebron continues to play through questionable listings, as he is this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @CHI 1133 ***
Five teams have been bigger pushovers against kickers than the Bears, a group that has allowed 9.7 fantasy points per game.

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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