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 @CLE 0000020011 ***
Carr flashed a couple weeks back against the Chargers, but that was an island of competency in a season-long sea of no fantasy help whatsoever. Not that the Browns' secondary has been particularly good this season--quite the opposite--but you shouldn't bank on the rookie for help here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren McFadden, OAK @CLE 5004200000 ****
Four of six feature backs to face the Browns have rushed for at least 80 yards and a touchdown; with enough touches McFadden could very well do the same. He's a sneaky fantasy play if you're desperate for running back help this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK @CLE 50000000 ***
MoJo's next fantasy-relevant moment as a Raider will be his first. Could happen in this favorable matchup, but right now it appears as if they're willing to ride Darren McFadden right up to his next injury.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR James Jones, OAK @CLE 005501000 **
No need to fear Joe Haden anymore--or Buster Skreen, for that matter. Jones is the closest thing the Raiders have to a reliable contributor in the passing game, so he's the best bet to capitalize on this dramatically underachieving secondary.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Holmes, OAK @CLE 003500000 **
Holmes whetted appetites before dashing hopes with a couple of drops last week. It's a favorable matchup against an underachieving secondary, but it will be tough to trust Holmes with a fantasy lineup spot until he demonstrates some consistency.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brice Butler, OAK @CLE 002300000 ***
Butler might be becoming the Raiders new favorite "go deep" guy. Against a secondary that's struggled as much as the Browns have, there's fantasy value in that role this week. High risk, but there's definitely home run potential here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Mychal Rivera, OAK @CLE 002100000 ***
Jimmy Graham scored the only two TE TDs the Browns have allowed, but that's probably because Joe Haden was covering him. No need to extend that courtesy to Rivera, who is still looking for his first TD--or 35-yard game--of the year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Sebastian Janikowski, OAK @CLE 2211 ***
SeaBass's next double-digit game will be his first, and he's averaging an anemic four points per game. You have better options.

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

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 SD 0000030030 *****
Manning has never not thrown for multiple touchdowns or 300-plus yards against the Chargers. Never. And in five of 11 lifetime meetings he's done both. Same could be said for this season, as he's averaging 300-plus and three TDs. Even with no NFL record dangling in front of him, Manning should put up his usual big numbers this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN SD 6003200000 ****
Hillman has been more than okay filling in for the injured Montee Ball. This week's edge comes in the passing game, as the Chargers have already given up five RB receiving scores and Hillman has nine targets in his two starts. No reason to bail on him here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN SD 0071201000 ****
The Chargers have given up just one big game to wideouts... but the Broncos are a different animal, and Thomas is at the head of that pack. He's scored in three of four career meetings with the Bolts, including a 108 and 3 outing last November. No Brandon Flowers certainly doesn't help San Diego's hopes of slowing the Denver passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN SD 005800000 ***
The trickle-down effect of San Diego losing a starting corner helps Sanders' prospects as well. With a whole bunch of Peyton Manning productivity to spread around, Sanders should see his share of the fantasy love.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Wes Welker, DEN SD 005600000 ****
Signs of life from Welker last week, and as long as Peyton Manning is throwing him the ball there's no reason to shy away from him as a fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN SD 003401000 ***
Thomas failed to score for the first time last week, and the Bolts aren't an easy matchup for the position. That said, he's far too involved in the Denver offense to be benched simply for a bump in the road difficult matchup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN SD 3333 ****
The risk with McManus is that he counts by ones instead of threes. Consider the Chargers enablers, as they've allowed only one multiple field goal game since Week 1.

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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