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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 TB 0000029030 ****
Ah, home sweet dome. It's been almost three full seasons since the last time Brees didn't throw for either 300-plus yards or multiple touchdowns at home. In fact, he has multiple TDs in 23 of his last 24 at home and 300-plus yards in nine straight and 18 of 24 at home. With the Saints needing a win to make the postseason, expect Brees to be firing on all cylinders.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO TB 4004300000 ***
The Saints haven't scored a running back touchdown in five games, with Thomas and Mark Ingram taking turns being the primary ball-carrier. Expect a little more than the 75 yards three New Orleans backs combined for in the earlier meeting between these teams, but it will be so fractured that a legit fantasy helper is unlikely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO TB 300000000 ***
The Saints haven't scored a running back touchdown in five games, with Ingram and Pierre Thomas taking turns being the primary ball-carrier. Expect a little more than the 75 yards three New Orleans backs combined for in the earlier meeting between these teams, but it will be so fractured that a legit fantasy helper is unlikely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO TB 004500000 ***
Colston paced Saints receivers in the earlier meeting, but that was pre-Darrelle Revis. This time around Colston might find the going tougher against a healthy Revis, but he's been an inconsistent fantasy play anyway. Weigh the home uptick the Saints' offense gets with the possibility of Revis blanking Colston and he's pretty much right back where he started--a good play but hardly a sure thing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO TB 002400000 ***
Stills is the last non-Colston Saints wideout to score... and that was back in Week 10. This passing game runs through the tight end, with an assist from the running backs; even at home, where the Saints' numbers tend to climb, Stills is too far down the pecking order to be banked on for fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO TB 0091102000 ***
The last time Graham saw the Bucs he went for 10-179-1--and that was on the road. If you only count his home games, Graham would still rank third among tight ends with nine touchdowns. So, yeah, he's a good play... again.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO TB 2233 ***
Graham tallied seven points in his Saints debut, more than half his team's points. Should be a significantly easier row to hoe this week--not to mention a home date in the SuperDome--so expect Graham to have ample opportunity to get his kicks this week.

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 @CHI 10000027031 ***
The last time we saw Rodgers he was being thrown to the Lambeau turf by the Bears; that was two months ago. Maybe he returns in time for this do-or-die NFC North battle, but there would be a lot of rust to shake off.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB @CHI 12012100000 **
Two months ago Lacy rushed for 150 yards and a score against the Bears, kicking off a stretch in which the Bears have allowed eight 100-yard rushers in eight games--along with 10 RB rushing scores in that span. Assuming he's healthy enough to play, he's money this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James Starks, GB @CHI 300000000 ****
If Eddie Lacy can't go this week Starks is a great fallback plan. He had 40 yards and a touchdown on limited carries in the earlier meeting with Chicago, averaged 4.7 yards per carry in relief of Lacy last week, and is poised to push the Packers into the postseason if Lacy is out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB @CHI 0071001000 ****
Giving up so much on the ground cuts into receiver production against Chicago; they haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 3. They have, however, served up five WR TDs in the past four games. Nelson would be a fantasy stud once again if Aaron Rodgers plays; if it's Matt Flynn, he's a nice play with upside but nowhere near a must-start.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarrett Boykin, GB @CHI 003501000 **
With the return of Aaron Rodgers the entire Green Bay passing game gets a lift--especially secondary targets like Boykin. Of course, that lift will take a hit if Randall Cobb gets healthy and takes snaps away from Boykin.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB @CHI 003200000 ***
Quarless has had a couple decent games in the past month, and while the Bears have only allowed five TE TDs on the year no team has given up more yardage to the position. Still, much of Quarless' fantasy value depends on whether or not it's Aaron Rodgers at the helm.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB @CHI 1144 ****
Crosby has been the tortoise, a steady contributor with just two games of less than seven points all season long. He can handle the elements and will be banked on for points in a must-win game for the Packers, so he definitely has fantasy upside this week.

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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