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 Matt Cassel 260,2
QB Christian Ponder 20 240,2
RB Adrian Peterson 80 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.

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

QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN GB 20000023011 ***
Bridgewater has yet to throw multiple touchdowns in an NFL game; let's let him do that before we start considering him for a fantasy start.
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN GB 5003200000 ***
McKinnon has carved out some decent yardage and should augment his numbers with receptions and receiving yards, but he's at best a fringe fantasy helper this week.
RB Matt Asiata, MIN GB 2002100000 ***
The Pack has shut out a couple of pretty good backs--LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte--since returning from their bye, so odds are Minnesota's goal line guy isn't looking at a plethora of opportunities here.
WR Charles Johnson, MIN GB 002301000 *
Five different Vikings WRs have paced the team in fantasy scoring this year, a group Johnson joined last week. Somebody could step up and feast on garbage time numbers this week, but the upside isn't tempting enough to offset the risk of identifying which Viking it might be.
WR Greg Jennings, MIN GB 005500000 ***
Jennings has 69 yards and zero TDs in three games against his former team; no reason to think those numbers get a dramatic boost this week.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN GB 002300000 ***
At this point we can stop saying the Vikings haven't figured out how to use Patterson yet--not that it's not true, just that it's so obvious there's no need to keep repeating it.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN GB 003300000 *
The Vikings have rediscovered the tight end position with TE TDs the past two weeks, but Rudy has yet to resume his regularly scheduled duties; until he does, tough to trust him with a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN GB 3311 ***
You don't keep up with the Packers' red-hot offense by kicking field goals, so there's likely a better fantasy option than Walsh this week.

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
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.

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

QB Matthew Stafford, DET @NE 0000025021 ***
Fresh off a disappointing 183 and zero performance in Arizona, Stafford heads to the other side of the US to face the Patriots. While New England has allowed multiple TD tossed in three straight, Stafford is 20 yards per game worse on the road and has a definite ceiling to his upside this week.
RB Theo Riddick, DET @NE 1004301000 ***
Riddick makes an intriguing fantasy play if Reggie Bush is dinged up once again, based primarily on his pass-catching ability and the 168 RB receiving yards and two RB receiving scores the Patriots have surrendered in the past three games.
RB Joique Bell, DET @NE 4003300000 ***
Ideally Bell would get the bulk of the work for the Lions as they kept Tom Brady off the field, but he's a bit dinged up and won't see the volume of touches necessary to carve out a significant fantasy helper against New England.
RB Reggie Bush, DET @NE 3004200000 ***
If Reggie can go he could have some fantasy value in PPR leagues, as the Lions will likely be throwing to keep up and the Patriots have given up their share of receiving yards to opposing backs. Of course, odds are Theo Riddick fills Reggie's shoes once again, so monitor Bush's status leading up to kickoff.
WR Golden Tate, DET @NE 006801000 ***
After holding fantasy value through the first game of Calvin Johnson's return Tate fell off the map last week with just two targets in Arizona. He should thrive with non-Revis coverage against the Patriots, but he's a bit riskier play than when he was the only show going in Detroit.
WR Calvin Johnson, DET @NE 005600000 ***
Megatron has been targeted 27 times in two games since returning from injury, so clearly he's back on Matthew Stafford's radar. He'll see plenty of attention from Bill Belichick this week, but that volume of opportunity should still allow him to carve out a fantasy helper.
TE Eric Ebron, DET @NE 004300000 ***
It's a definite opportunity for Ebron, as the Patriots have allowed a TE TD or 100-plus yards to the position in five straight games. So if you're streaming at the position, he's a quality alternative.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @NE 2222 ***
The Lions finally have a kicker settling in, as Prater has three straight multiple field goal games. However, a road trip to New England doesn't feel like an opportunity for him to extend that roll.

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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