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 Kendall Hunter 20 1-10
RB Mark Ingram 30
RB C.J. Spiller
PK Josh Scobee 1 FG 2 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 0000027010 ***
Who needs an intact plantar fascia? Not Brees, who has 753 passing yards and six TDs over the past two games, most of that time spent with the injury. He's vowed to play again this week, though it won't be easy against an Atlanta defense that's held five straight visiting QBs under 220 yards and given up a total of four passing TDs in those five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tim Hightower, NO @ATL 9013400000 ***
Mark Ingram scored twice as the Saints' feature back in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, and Hightower scored twice last week--with 169 combo yards to boot--in that same role. Bodes well for a strong fantasy finish for Hightower.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @ATL 004500000 ***
Cooks has 100 yards and a touchdown in three of his last four, but the Falcons held him in check (4-41) in the earlier meeting and have been solid against WRs of late as well so temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Willie Snead, NO @ATL 003400000 ***
Snead has some PPR upside, but he was held to just 4-55 in the earlier meeting and the Falcons have not given up much to secondary targets--only once in the past 10 games have two receivers from the same team scored and/or topped 60 yards in the same game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, NO @ATL 002200000 *
The last time Fleener was fantasy relevant none of the Colts' current quarterbacks were even a gleam in Indy's eye. Nothing to see here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, NO @ATL 1122 ***
Saints scoring plenty,
and Forbath getting his share;
highest O/U, too

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 James Jones 2-30
WR Jordy Nelson 5-70,1
TE Jared Cook 6-60
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 MIN 0000025020 ***
Behind a banged up line and mired in a two-game mini-slump--longer, if you want to go back to his last 300-yard game back in week 10--Rodgers is no longer a fantasy lock, at home or otherwise. Further limiting expectations are a now-healthy Vikings defense and an underachieving receiving corps.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB MIN 10011100000 ***
Lacy has owned the Vikings, with four straight 100-yard rushing games (after a 94-yard debut) and six touchdowns in five career meetings. The Vikings vow to tackle lower and have returned multiple key defenders to the lineup following injuries, but there's still plenty of reasons to like the wildly inconsistent Lacy's chances this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James Starks, GB MIN 2004401000 ***
Starks had some run as the Packers' pass-catching back, then filled in for the enigmatic Eddie Lacy, and now has returned to limited touches. Given Lacy's track record of success against the Vikings, expect Starks to take a back seat--fantasy and otherwise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR James Jones, GB MIN 005701000 ***
Jones went big with 6-109-1 in Minnesota, but in five games since then he's totaled just 16-196-1. Startable based on the earlier meeting with Minnesota, but inconsistent nonetheless.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB MIN 006700000 **
Cobb has been Aaron Rodgers most reliable target over the past five games, catching two-thirds of his 34 targets for 239 yards but failing to find the end zone since scoring against the Vikings in Week 11. Still, he's the safest of Green Bay's receiver options.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB MIN 003400000 ***
More targets than Cobb since the Vikings game, but he hasn't topped 42 yards since then and has one touchdown--and many more key drops. Unreliable in more ways than one.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jared Cook, GB MIN 003400000 ***
It'd be easier to be fired up about the Niners giving up TE TDs in two of the past three games if Cooks had scored recently. Like, at any point this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Richard Rodgers, GB MIN 002200000 ***
The Vikings haven't given up a TE TD since Week 10 and held Rodgers to 3-7 in the earlier meeting. Rodgers has done little since his Hail Mary back in Week 13 and is too inconsistent to be banked on here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB MIN 22233 ***
Season-high sixteen
in last game against Vikings
Settle for three much?

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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