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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 5
2012
ARI at STL (THU) CHI at JAC MIA at CIN *TEN at MIN
ATL at WAS *CLE at NYG PHI at PIT *HOU at NYJ (MON)
BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

Prediction: TEN 17, MIN 34 (Line: MIN by 5.5)

Players to Watch: Matt Hasselbeck

Players Updated: Christian Ponder, Kenny Britt

The 1-3 Titans have only their trap game win over the Lions so far; otherwise they have been waxed in every game by 21+ points. The 3-1 Vikings are a surprise and their one loss was on the road. At home they most recently beat the 49ers. The Vikings are far too new to a winning record to take anyone lightly and the Titans are struggling to find any consistent offense. This should be a good game for the purple. It's been a blessing for almost every team to face the Titans.

Tennessee Titans
Homefield: LP Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 NE 13-34 10 @MIA -----
2 @SD 10-38 11 BYE -----
3 DET 44-41 12 @JAC -----
4 @HOU 14-38 13 HOU -----
5 @MIN ----- 14 @IND -----
6 PIT ----- 15 NYJ -----
7 @BUF ----- 16 @GB -----
8 IND ----- 17 JAC -----
9 CHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Jackie Battle 60,1
RB Shonn Greene 40
RB Dexter McCluster 4-40
WR Nate Washington 3-40
WR Kendall Wright 5-80,1

Pregame Notes: Another week, another 21+ point blowout loss. The Titans offense continues to be nowhere near as good as their own defense makes the opponents offense look. Jake Locker will be out this week with his second separated shoulder of the year and there is concern that he may need surgery. Regardless of the longer term implications, Matt Hasselbeck takes back the reins and that cannot be a bad thing. Locker was surprisingly effective against the Lions in their one win but otherwise failed to generate much offense.

Hasselbeck has a decent compliment of receivers with Nate Washington, Jared Cook, the rookie Kendall Wright and eventually Kenny Britt. Last week Britt was held out again because of his ankle and there is no certainty that he will play this week though there is some optimism. But adding the veteran Hasselbeck should help get the offense running better and make better use of the receivers. He passed for 193 yards in Houston and connected on scores with Craig Stevens (2-24) and Wright (4-46).

Chris Johnson shocked the world when he turned in 141 yards on 25 carries in Houston against likely his worst match-up. Three previous games had only combined for 45 rushing yards so it was a bit of an aberration. Johnson claimed after the game that it was because his blocking was better. Most would point at the fact that the Titans lost by 24 points and that most all of what he accomplished came on draw plays later in the game when the defense did not care about giving up eight or ten yards because they were ahead by 24 yards and Johnson was just killing the clock for them.

This is not unlike what Johnson did in 2011. He would have a great out of the blue against the least likely opponent. Then the next week he would be back to a zen-like nothingness. He gained 130 yards and a score against the Panthers and then ran for 13 yards against Atlanta the next week. He went for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Buffalo and then settled for just 23 rush yards in New Orleans the next week. To make it even odder, Johnson only had four decent games last season and three of them were on the road. His lone home success was late season against the Buccaneers who had already given up and went fishing.

This is all to say that you cannot trust what Johnson does and the big game - nice as it was - means almost nothing because it was what the Texans let him do while winning by 24 points. This week he is on the road again but going against the #3 defense versus the run. That means he will probably end up with 14 rushing yards but could end up with 164 yards. Just depends and is a product more of game situation and defensive calls than what the Titans are doing. One interesting tact though - could Hasselbeck be helping out Johnson? Tough call to make and almost always sure to prompt you to do the wrong thing.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 18 32 20 6 24 18
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 19 3 17 26 18 5

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shonn Greene, TEN HOU 301000000 ***
It only took four months for Green to live up to the job share we were anticipating back in August. Greene saw almost as many carries as Chris Johnson and swiped his touchdown; he now owns three of Tennessee's last four RB rushing scores. Both teams are playing out the string, and if Greene is going to get a similar workload it's tough to bet against him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kendall Wright, TEN HOU 0061001000 ****
Wright owns four of the last five double-digit target outings by Titans receivers, including 20 two weeks ago. He also turned 11 targets into 54 yards and a score when the Titans faced Houston in Week 2 and is without question Tennessee's top downfield target.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nate Washington, TEN HOU 003400000 ***
Washington is an occasional contributor as the Titans' secondary receiver, battling Justin Hunter for looks. Ultimately, it's not a gig that offers a ton of fantasy upside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hunter, TEN HOU 002400000 ***
Assuming Hunter doesn't run afoul of team rules again, he'll get a chance to show his stuff as the deep threat/big play complement to Kendall Wright's steady possession receiver.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN HOU 003301000 ***
Walker scored in the earlier meeting with Houston back in Week 2. More recently he has 18 targets, 88 yards and a touchdown in the past two games. And with the Texans having given up three tight end touchdowns in the past four games, Walker makes a very good fantasy play this week.

Minnesota Vikings
Homefield: Metrodome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 JAC 26-23 ot 10 DET -----
2 @IND 20-23 11 BYE -----
3 SF 24-13 12 @CHI -----
4 @DET 20-13 13 @GB -----
5 TEN ----- 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS ----- 15 @STL -----
7 ARI ----- 16 @HOU -----
8 TB ----- 17 GB -----
9 @SEA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel 280,1
QB Christian Ponder 10 230,2
RB Adrian Peterson 110,1 2-10
WR Greg Jennings
WR Jerome Simpson 4-60
TE Kyle Rudolph 6-60,1
PK Blair Walsh 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The most surprising part of the 3-1 record of the Vikings is not that they have never scored more than 26 points in a game. It is that the defense has held opponents to 23 or fewer points each week. Granted - the Jaguars and Colts were not offensive powerhouses but the 49ers and Lions were heavily favored in their games. The defense is what has saved the Vikings so far, not Adrian Peterson though he too is making a mark.

Christian Ponder has only thrown four touchdowns and twice been blanked. His last two games produced under 200 passing yards. But the one good stat he has - no interceptions.123 pass attempts and not one interception. The new defense is playing well enough already that when the team makes no mistakes, they remain in the game. Even the one loss in Indianapolis came within three points. Ponder is not a fantasy quarterback but he is playing well enough to get the job done for the Vikings.

Adrian Peterson has not scored since the season opener and after 79 runs for 332 yards and a 4.2 rushing average, he is over his knee surgery. He may still be a tad slower trying to reach the edge laterally but he is mostly a north-south guy anyway and gets to face the #29 defense against running backs visiting this week. Peterson is already breaking off 10+ yard runs and should only get better as the season progresses.

Kyle Rudolph was the heartbreaker in week four since his two touchdown game against the 49ers prompted many fantasy owners to snatch him and start him only to watch his worst game of the year - two receptions for eight yards. Rudolph had been good for at least 35 yards each week but fell out of the gameplan in Detroit.

Jerome Simpson had his first game as a Viking and led all receivers with four receptions for 50 yards in Detroit. The Lions specifically plotted to limit Percy Harvin (3-22) who ended up scoring on a return anyway. Simpson's moderate debut is very encouraging since Michael Jenkins was never going to be more than a minimal addition to the offense. Simpson can stretch the field and should be better the more he gets to play with Ponder.

The Titans defense is bad. Bad against running backs and quarterbacks and the worst against tight ends. This should be a very nice win for the Vikings. I like a defensive score in this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 23 21 23 20 11 7
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 28 29 15 32 28 28

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Cassel, MIN DET 0000022011 ***
Christian Ponder launched the Vikings' forgettable 2013 season with 236 and 1 against the Lions; now Cassel gets to stake his claim to a roster spot (starting job?) in 2014 with a by-comparison outing in the Metrodome finale. The Lions have allowed only two passing scores in the past four games, so it'll be a stiffer test than you might think for Cassel.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN DET 400000000 *
Right now Adrian Peterson appears to be the healthiest running back on the Vikings roster, but Asiata may work his way back into the mix as well. Still, if Peterson is active he'll get the carries and Asiata will have only memories of his one shining three-touchdown moment a couple weeks back. UPDATE: With Peterson listed as doubtful and Toby Gerhart out, Asiata is expected to get the start this week. He scored thrice a couple weeks back under similar circumstances, but against a stout Detroit defensive line he'll need the offense to set him up with short opportunities to be an effective fantasy back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN DET 0081001000 ***
Jerome Simpson had the big day the last time these teams got together, but much has changed since: Matt Cassel is the quarterback, Jennings his favorite receiver, and explosive rookie Cordarrelle Patterson is seeing more looks as well. Toss in Jarius Wright and it's a crowded house--though target-wise Jennings still tends to be the patriarch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN DET 3013600000 **
The Vikings continue to find ways to get the ball into the hands of the explosive Patterson. He's approaching the franchise kickoff return record, has a couple touchdown runs of late, and last week led the team in targets as well. He's a threat any time he touches the ball, to the point that he at least warrants fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarius Wright, MIN DET 003500000 ***
Wright has been a surprise contributor in the Vikings' passing game, but it's impossible to bank on him being productive when he's at best the team's third option.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN DET 1122 ***
Walsh averages two points more per game at home, and he's facing a Lions' defense that has allowed more points to kickers than any other team in the Metrodome's swan song. Expect him to get ample opportunity to kick the Lions while they're down, as well as try some lengthy field goals in a game with no playoff ramifications whatsoever.

WEEK 5
2012
ARI at STL (THU) CHI at JAC MIA at CIN *TEN at MIN
ATL at WAS *CLE at NYG PHI at PIT *HOU at NYJ (MON)
BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

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