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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
TEN @ MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brandon Weeden 270,1
WR Eric Decker 6-80
WR Harry Douglas 2-30
PK Ryan Succop 1 FG 2 XP

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
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN @PIT 20000019011 ***
The Steelers have softened slightly of late against quarterbacks. It could continue that way with the loss of Joe Haden. Mariota faces a defense that hasn't given up a score on the ground, and quarterbacks have thrown for only five in the past four games. Pittsburgh has conceded 257.8 yards worth through the sky.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, TEN @PIT 4003200000 ***
This is a truly awful matchup. None of the last 69 carries went into the end zone, and the same can be said for the 19 receptions allowed. The Steelers have given up only 52 rushing yards (31st).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Derrick Henry, TEN @PIT 300000000 ***
As we've seen countless times, Henry is effectively useless for fantasy when DeMarco Murray is alive and well. Furthermore, Pittsburgh is the harshest matchup of the week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Rishard Matthews, TEN @PIT 003401000 ***
Pittsburgh had been a terrible matchup for wideouts most of the year. They recently lost CB Joe Haden, which definitely hurts. This defense has given up one touchdown per game since Week 5 to the position. Wideouts have averaged 172.9 yards (8th most) on just the 18th-highest average for weekly receptions.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eric Decker, TEN @PIT 004300000 ***
Wide receivers have averaged 10.8 receptions (18th), 172.8 yards (8th) and a touchdown every 10.8 snags (6th). While the matchup rating has drastically improved from just a few weeks ago, Decker is a risky fantasy start in any setting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Corey Davis, TEN @PIT 003300000 ***
Davis was awfully close to scoring a TD last week before losing it out of bounds for a touchback. The bright spot is he was targeted 10 times on the day. Pittsburgh has given up a TD every 10.8 receptions, which is the sixth-highest frequency in football. Overall, it's a positive enough matchup to make Davis a starter in a pinch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN @PIT 004500000 ***
The total stat line against the Steelers since Week 5: 14 catches, 146 yards, one TD. That's it. This is a bottom-six matchup in both scoring systems.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN @PIT 2211 ***
This is a routine matchup stats-wise for Thursday's contest. It should come down to game flow and situational football more than usual. The veteran kicker has been good enough to earn the benefit of the doubt this year.

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 Sam Bradford 240,1
WR Michael Floyd 2-20
TE Kyle Rudolph 6-60,1

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 Case Keenum, MIN LAR 0000023011 ***
Keenum may have put a stranglehold on the starting job in Week 10. The visiting Rams have been a formidable opponent for quarterbacks. The position has averaged 217.5 yards (25th) and 15.4 fantasy points (29th) on a weekly basis, giving up only one TD per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jerick McKinnon, MIN LAR 5014300000 ***
If McKinnon indeed lives up to his projected touchdown, it will be only the second time in the past five weeks. The general theme of his matchup is negative. LA ranks 27th in rushing TDs, 20th in total TDs, 18th in rushing yards, 19th in receiving yards, 21st in standard fantasy points and 22nd in PPR points.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Latavius Murray, MIN LAR 6001100000 ***
Murray will have to defy the odds against a solidly negative matchup. Just one time in the past 81 attempts has a running back made it into the end zone. His only justifiable utility is as a flex in deep leagues.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarius Wright, MIN LAR 002201000 ***
Without scoring a TD, Wright is wrong for fantasy purposes. Taking that gamble is unnecessary, especially vs. such a strong defense of the position in the Rams.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Thielen, MIN LAR 006600000 ***
The Rams have been strong against wideouts all season. In the past five weeks, only two of 42 completions have found the end zone by receivers, which is the sixth-lowest rate in football. Thielen faces a defense that has given up just 10.5 catches for 132 yards, on average, to an entire team's worth of wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN LAR 003500000 ***
Only one catch per every 21 against the Rams has found the end zone. This is the sixth-lowest frequency, and LA ranks as the sixth-hardest defense to exploit in fantasy. Wideouts have averaged 10.5 receptions (22nd) and 132 yards per contest (21st).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN LAR 006300000 ***
LA has yielded very little to the position. Only one of the 14 catches has scored in the last four games, and the position has managed just 45.3 yards an outing. Rudolph is a fringe play in this one.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, MIN LAR 2222 ***
Despite allowing a reasonable seven field goal kicks, only two have made it, which depresses this matchup's rating. The position has kicked only five XPAs, and the 2.8 fantasy points per game allowed is the fewest since Week 5.

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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