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: NO 24, GB 37 (Line: GB by 8)

Players to Watch: Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers for any signs of yesteryear

Players Updated: Greg Jennings

This should be one of those great games to watch except these teams combine for a 1-5 record. Say what?

The Packers were shafted come off a tough win loss last week but the defense has been very good and in reality, facing the 49ers, Bears and Seahawks was a trip through some of the best defenses in the league. The Saints? More like ranked #32 on defense. The Saints offense has not been bad, but not quite as prolific as their opponents become whenever they play the defense that has truly earned the moniker "The Big Easy". Expect the Packer win and hope for points all around.

The Packers won their season opener over the Saints last year 42-34

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL -----
2 @CAR 27-35 11 @OAK -----
3 KC 24-27 12 SF -----
4 @GB ----- 13 @ATL -----
5 SD ----- 14 @NYG -----
6 BYE ----- 15 TB -----
7 @TB ----- 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN ----- 17 CAR -----
9 PHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO @ GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 300,3
RB Mark Ingram 30
RB Pierre Thomas 30 3-20
WR Marques Colston 4-50
WR Robert Meachem 3-40
TE Jimmy Graham 6-70,1
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: It is bad enough to be 0-3, but when that comes against the easy part of your schedule it is time to hit the alarm button. The defense has been horrible this year and just made Jamaal Charles look like he was playing in a different time dimension. Untouched for 91 yards? That is not how you draw up a defense. This is all a very bad portent for the future games and by this point we have to hope that Drew Brees and company maintains motivation so our fantasy teams can remain intact.

Brees has scored multiple touchdowns each week and thrown for healthy yardage in his quest to catch up to his opponents. He has five interceptions and is not scoring as well as last year but the scoreboard deficits continue to make him throw 40 or 50 times per game. There is no end in sight for how badly Brees is going to need to throw this year.

The rushing effort has produced only one touchdown by a running back and Pierre Thomas' 110 yards on nine carries in Carolina is a big aberration. Darren Sproles has eked out marginal fantasy value each week but Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas are a big risk to rely on. At least Thomas has been adding four receptions per game.

Jimmy Graham is still cranking out a touchdown every week but is averaging just six catches for 57 yards per week - hardly the sort of numbers that was expected when he was drafted in the first or second round in most leagues. Marques Colston has caught the funk as well with no scores and less than 50 yards these last two weeks. Lance Moore has two scores but only caught two passes for 30 yards in the last road game.

The players are mostly the same from the last couple of seasons but without Sean Peyton there to call plays, the offense has dropped off and the defense has gone into hiding. With Brees throwing in desperation every week, there is still fantasy value here. It is just not nearly as big or consistent as we have been accustomed. And there is no relief in sight because they never get the chance to play themselves.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 4 4 24 6 23 24
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 8 12 4 4 6 23

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO ATL 0000027020 ***
The Falcons have held three of their last four foes to one or zero touchdowns, and they limited Brees to 333 & 1 back in the season opener. So don't look for gaudy numbers; settle for pretty good and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO ATL 11022100000 ***
You can run on the Falcons, as no team has given up more fantasy points to running backs. And while he no longer gets all the carries, Ingram gets enough to make a fantasy impact.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO ATL 1006400000 ***
Thomas faces a Falcons' defense that has served up the third-most running back receptions and third-most RB receiving yards. Since his primary function is as a receiver out of the backfield, expect him to capitalize on those stats with a solid fantasy helper here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO ATL 006901000 ***
Stills is handling Brandin Cooks' duties, so it's worth noting that the rookie went for 7-77-1 in the earlier meeting--numbers that could easily be replicated here in the rematch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO ATL 005701000 ***
Colton went for 110 yards in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, but that's not rare against the Falcons. Five different wideouts have hit triple-digits in the past six games; expect Colton to return to their ranks this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO ATL 004500000 ***
The Saints haven't forgotten about the tight end position; they've scored four TE TDs in the past three games. They have, however, apparently forgotten about Graham, who has scored exactly zero of those touchdowns. He's scored in six of eight career meetings with Atlanta, and remains an every-week starter--though a gentle reminder to Sean Payton of his presence would be appreciated.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO ATL 2244 ***
Graham tallied double-digit points back in the season opener in Atlanta, but he hasn't been back above that mark since Week 8 and has just one multiple field goal outing in that span so keep those expectations in check.

Green Bay Packers
Homefield: Lambeau Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SF 22-30 10 BYE -----
2 CHI 23-10 11 @DET -----
3 @SEA 12-14 12 @NYG -----
4 NO ----- 13 MIN -----
5 @IND ----- 14 DET -----
6 @HOU ----- 15 @CHI -----
7 @STL ----- 16 TEN -----
8 JAC ----- 17 @MIN -----
9 ARI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
GB vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers 30,1 300,2
RB John Kuhn 2-10
WR Randall Cobb 2-30
WR Jordy Nelson 5-70,1
PK Mason Crosby 3 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Packers are 1-2* but that comes after facing great defenses. And opponents have only averaged 18 points per week against them. This week should provide a big turnaround with a home game versus a nearly nonexistent defense. With three road games looming on the other side, this one really needs to be a win.

Aaron Rodgers was the early draft pick in every league but so far his performance has owners cringing. He opened with 303 yards and two scores on the 49ers but then was held to 219 yards and one score by the Bears and no touchdowns against the Seahawks when he ended with just 223 yards. Granted - tough defenses. But this was also a prolific offense above the vexations of match-ups. The Packers have already lost more games than they did in all of 2011 and it is only coming up on week four. But reason to expect a turnaround.

The Saints have been decent against the pass but only faced Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Matt Cassel. And Griffin posted 320 yards and two scores on them. Stomping on the Saints won't prove the Packers are back to form but it will make fantasy owners a lot happier.

Cedric Benson gained 81 yards on 20 carries against the Bears and then scored once on the Seahawks with 45 yards on 17 carries. The tough defenses in these first three games have been a factor but that should change this week - and if only for this week - because the Saints have allowed six touchdowns to running backs and over 100 rushing yards to every opponent. This is the best week to start Benson... maybe in his entire career. Last year the Packers rushed for 102 yards and two scores on the Saints.

Jermichael Finley has only scored once this season and averages only 43 yards per game. He's not been nearly the factor expected but then again everyone is off in this offense. Jordy Nelson was a scoring machine in 2011 and still has yet to reach the endzone. Greg Jennings not only has not scored, but his best game has been six catches for 35 yards.

This game is going to answer some important questions. Are the Packers just stumbling through a slate of great defenses or has the offense finally gone stale? There should be no excuse for some monster performances in a home game against a defense that has allowed 34 points per game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points GB 24 26 11 13 26 10
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 25 32 21 2 32 26

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Aaron Rodgers, GB @TB 0000028020 ***
Maybe Rodgers relaxed a little too much last week, as he was blanked by the Bills in Buffalo. It's another road date, and we have more than enough evidence at this point to see that Rodgers is far less effective away from Lambeau. Moreover, the Bucs have been solid since their Week 7 bye, especially at home where they've allowed an average game of 212 passing yards and one passing score. If you survived Rodgers' goose-egg last week your team should be stocked enough to absorb a better--but still not elite--outing here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB @TB 8012200000 ***
So much for a bum hip and sharing touches; Lacy looked perfectly fine last week and should be good to go against a Bucs D that over the past five games has given up an average of 140 combo yards and a touchdown to opposing backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB @TB 0061001000 ***
Nelson's last road TD came in Week 6, giving him a three-game scoring drought on the road heading into Tampa. Tough to bench an elite receiver, but the numbers suggest Jordy's just another guy away from Lambeau... and Tampa's a long ways from America's Dairyland.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB @TB 007901000 ****
Cobb's productivity has held up better on the road than his receiving corps mates; witness his 96 yards last week in the loss to Buffalo. While it's been bigger receivers having the most success against the Bucs they've surrendered stats to some speed guys as well, and Cobb should carve out another fantasy helper in Tampa Bay this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB @TB 002300000 ***
The Packers still haven't received anything resembling a fantasy helper from a third receiver on the road, and there's nothing in the Bucs' pattern of stats surrendered to wideouts to suggest that changes this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB @TB 002200000 ***
The Packers continue to split TE snaps, cutting into any chance at fantasy stats either Quarless or Richard Rodgers might have.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB @TB 2233 ***
Mason has multiple field goals in three straight and six of seven, with double-digit points in five of those seven outings. He should get his kicks again against a Bucs defense that, after a brief and unexpected three-game bout of competency, is back to giving up double-digit points to opposing kickers.

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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