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: OAK 27, DEN 34 (Line: DEN by 6.5)

Players to Watch: Bronco RB's

Players Updated: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Darren McFadden, Brandon Myers, Willis McGahee,
Rod Streater, Derek Hagan

This is always one of the oddest match-ups in the NFL. Since 2008, the road team has won seven of the last eight meetings with 2010 the exception when the Raiders swept the Broncos. The plus side to these is that this tends to be a high scoring shootout. Three of the last four have produced over 60 total points. Peyton Manning will try to be the first Denver quarterback to win at home since 2007 when Jay Cutler beat Josh McCown.

The Raiders won 23-20 in Denver but lost 38-24 in Oakland last year.

Oakland Raiders
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SD 14-22 10 @BAL -----
2 @MIA 13-35 11 NO -----
3 PIT 34-31 12 @CIN -----
4 @DEN ----- 13 CLE -----
5 BYE ----- 14 DEN -----
6 @ATL ----- 15 KC -----
7 JAC ----- 16 @CAR -----
8 @KC ----- 17 @SD -----
9 TB ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
OAK @ DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Schaub 270,2
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 100,1 5-40,1
RB Darren McFadden 80,1 4-40
RB Marcel Reece 4-20
WR James Jones 2-30
WR Denarius Moore 5-70,1
PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Raiders followed the lead of the NFL when they were 0-2 with no sign of much offense and then beat the Steelers and both the run and pass worked better than ever despite clearly facing their toughest defense. It was just one of the many unexplainable endings to week three. The Raiders head to their bye week after this so a win reaches .500 instead of a 1-3 record. History says they win this but they'll have to play more like week three and a lot less like the first two games.

Carson Palmer passed for a season low 209 yards versus the Steelers but threw three touchdowns. The lack of yardage is troubling after throwing for around 300 yards in the initial games but he only scored once in each. This week should be a better view of what to expect with a road game against a secondary that gives up points.

Darrius Heyward-Bey suffered one of those horrible hits where he laid motionless for ten minutes but in the end it was just a concussion and he was released in short order from the hospital. Early speculation has him not playing this wee at the least. It was a savage under-the-chin sort of hit that really rocked his head. Denarius Moore ended with a touchdown though he still has not had a monster game yet as he did a few times in 2011. Rod Streater and Derek Hagen are little more than dressing and rarely contribute more than a couple of catches. Streater did score in week one when he replaced Moore and should see more action if Heyward-Bey is out.

Brandon Myers also received a concussion last week and has been a great outlet for Palmer. Myers has gained at least 55 yards every week though the one touchdown thrown to a tight end this year ended up with Richard Gordon on his only catch. Meyers and Heyward-Bey both may miss this week though Meyers seemed much less severe.

After two very forgettable weeks, Darren McFadden finally broke long runs and ended with 113 yards on 18 carries and one score on the Steelers. He had only gained 54 yards on 26 runs in the first two weeks so this game should help determine if week three was a fluke or that he is finally getting into gear. McFadden ran for 150 yards in Denver last year.

The game takes a different slant this year with the Broncos defense better and Payton Manning at the helm. As in all years, you can throw out past stats and trends and just watch whatever is going to happen. The good thing is that it almost always has a lot of points. Missing Heyward-Bey and maybe Myers is going to hurt though.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 13 8 23 11 20 31
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 26 11 24 28 15 18

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Derek Carr, OAK @NE 0000020013 ***
Carr has been meh through his first two games, and aside from garbage time there's no reason to expect him to outperform Matt Cassel (202 & 1) or Ryan Tannehill (178 & 2) against the Patriots.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren McFadden, OAK @NE 4003200000 ***
McFadden's best bet, assuming he gets the snaps because Maurice Jones-Drew and his bum hand can't go, is some sort of receiving score; the Pats have allowed RB receiving TDs in back-to-back contests. Otherwise, nothing compelling about McFadden's ground potential against the Pats this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR James Jones, OAK @NE 005501000 ***
Jones has scored in each of his games as a Raider, but all that means is Darrelle Revis will be acutely aware of where Jones is at all times. Nothing says you have to start a Raider this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Denarius Moore, OAK @NE 003400000 ***
Moore is clinging to the fringe of fantasy relevancy as he battles Andre Holmes and Rod Streater for looks in Oakland's unproductive passing game. If you're using him here you're playing the "not being covered by Revis" card. Good luck with that.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Mychal Rivera, OAK @NE 003300000 ***
Rivera has posted matching 31-yard performances thus far, so if 31 yards gets you bonus points in your fantasy league... he's your guy.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Sebastian Janikowski, OAK @NE 1111 ***
No kicker has fewer fantasy points; 30 have more. You can do better.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR -----
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD -----
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC -----
4 OAK ----- 13 TB -----
5 @NE ----- 14 @OAK -----
6 @SD ----- 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO ----- 17 KC -----
9 @CIN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN vs OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 280,3
WR Demaryius Thomas 4-80,1
WR Wes Welker 7-70,1
TE Jacob Tamme 4-40,1
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: So far the Manning difference has led to a 1-2 opening but in fairness starting out against the Steelers, Falcons and Texans is hardly all giggles and skipping to the endzone. The Broncos scored at least 21 points each week and finally faces a defense that may not be among the elite in the league. This is Manning's first foray into one of the great rivalries in the league.

There are still questions about Manning's arm strength and perhaps a new slight flutter are on passes, but at least he has scored every week and twice each in the two home games despite facing the Steelers and Texans. Manning has not thrown an interception at home but is getting used to something new - sacks. While Manning was one of the least sacked quarterbacks every year while in Indianapolis, he has been taken down at least two or three times each week. Fortunately the Raiders have only managed three sacks overall on the season.

The big question here is if Willis McGahee can play. He left the game last week with a rib injury and while HC John Fox has been less than clear about his status, it is believed to involve cartilage which would make it rather painful. They have medication for that very thing but his status is still not certain. He needs to play here since McGahee ran for 163 yards and two scores in the one game he started against the Raiders last year. And the only other road game for the Raiders was when Reggie Bush scorched them for 197 yards and two scores. Chances are Lance Ball would be the primary if McGahee could not play though Knowshon Moreno would also figure in. In the fantasy world, we all want McGahee to play the entire game.

Jacob Tamme injured his groin last week but still came back to play. But he has been a lesser factor since that season opener and even Joel Dreessen scored the touchdown last week. Neither are safe starts,

Eric Decker has really come on as the "Welker" of the offense and had a career best eight catches for 136 yards against the Texans. He still has not scored but is taking a possession role over the middle while Brandon Stokley keeps the defense honest with deeper routes and Demaryius Thomas makes them pay with yards after catch. Thomas only had 34 yards against the Texans but was very effective in the first two weeks.

Another Raider game means anything can happen. But the rushing game should be very fruitful if only McGahee can play. if not, then a coin flip between Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno may decide the workload assignments. This game smacks of some high scoring for the home team.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 18 19 7 16 25 12
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 27 26 23 23 22 3

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Peyton Manning, DEN @SEA 0000027021 ****
Wash the taste of the Super Bowl out of your mouth, take a deep breath, and tell yourself Peyton has three TD tosses in every game so far. Sure, he's entering the place where fantasy quarterbacks go to be erased--see Aaron Rodgers, Week 1--but you didn't draft Peyton to ride pine behind... well, anybody.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Montee Ball, DEN @SEA 5004200000 ***
No opposing back has topped 40 yards against the Seahawks and only John Kuhn has found the end zone. Temper expectations mightily for Montee this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @SEA 004801000 ***
Sanders cedes his slot position to the returning Wes Welker, which likely means he'll find himself draped by Richard Sherman at some point during the afternoon. He's a fringe fantasy start based on the matchup, and the return of Welker creates some wait-and-see regarding his role going forward as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @SEA 006600000 ***
You can bet the Broncos will move Demaryius around so as to avoid an entire afternoon of Richard Sherman. However, at some point the two are bound to tangle, and with Peyton's overall numbers subdued the same pall needs to be cast over the receiving corps as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @SEA 004501000 ***
Antonio Gates took the Seahawks for a hat trick last week, which certainly bodes well for the fantasy prospects of Thomas here; after all, he turned in a hat trick of his own in Week 1 and followed that up by finding the end zone last week as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN @SEA 2222 ****
Can the Broncos emulate their AFC West brethren and drop 30 on the Seahawks? Possible. But if you've been riding McManus while waiting for Matt Prater to return in a couple weeks, and with Denver's bye coming up, this wouldn't be a bad time to bail on Brandon and find a more favorable kicker matchup.

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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