FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 6
2012
PIT at TEN (THU) *DET at PHI *MIN at WAS *STL at MIA
BUF at ARI *GB at HOU *NE at SEA *DEN at SD (MON)
*CIN at CLE *IND at NYJ *NYG at SF Bye:
*Updated DAL at BAL *KC at TB OAK at ATL CAR, CHI, JAC, NO

Prediction: GB 20, HOU 24 (Line: HOU by 5)

Players Updated: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley

Players to Watch: James Starks, Alex Green

The 2-3 Packers bring their 0-2 road record to Houston where the 5-0 Texans come off a short week.The Packers offensive strengths match the Texans defensive strength. I'll raise you one Arian Foster and rake in the chips.

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 28-27 13 MIN -----
5 @IND 27-30 14 DET -----
6 @HOU ----- 15 @CHI -----
7 @STL ----- 16 TEN -----
8 JAC ----- 17 @MIN -----
9 ARI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
GB @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers 20 260,2
RB James Starks 30
WR Randall Cobb 4-60
WR Jordy Nelson 2-40
PK Mason Crosby 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Packers drag their losing record down to Houston with a couple of notable injuries and an inability to score more than 28 points in any game. The Packers were a scoring machine in 2011 but now struggle to post more than two touchdowns against all but the weakest of defenses. Their last three games were all decided by three points or less and came one point away from being a 1-4 record. Playing on the road has been even tougher for the Packers who now miss Cedric Benson, Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley has a bad shoulder.

Aaron Rodgers has bounced back with seven touchdowns in the last two weeks but facing the Saints and Colts have made that happen. Against the tougher defenses of Seattle and Chicago he only totals one touchdown and passed for no more than 223 yards in either game. Rodgers has also been hurt by worse pass blocking and has 21 sacks already this year with 13 coming in just the two games against those two good defenses. Rodgers is dealing with a diminished set of receivers thanks to injuries and this year has not been good enough to rise above the challenges.

Cedric Benson suffered a Lis franc injury to his foot and will be out at least eight weeks meaning he won't show up until the end of the year if even then. In his place the Packers are likely to use a committee between Alex Green who they cannot trust with a full load and James Starks who has been out with a turf toe but should be ready to return. The reality is that even left to just one runner, the rushing stats here have been marginal and Benson had just one touchdown on the year.

Jermichael Finley says that he will play this week though HC Mike McCarthy was less certain after he suffered a shoulder injury last week. Finley has not scored since the season opener and has been stuck at four catches for moderate yardage every week when healthy anyway.

Greg Jennings missed last week with his groin injury and is no lock to return for this game. In his place James Jones has been very effective with two scores in each of the last two games though only around 50 yards in each. In a matter of just two games as a replacement for Jennings, Jones is now the scoring leader for the Packers with five touchdowns. No one else has more than just one. Randall Cobb just had his first touchdown last week and has also seen a nice uptick in receptions and yardage since Jennings left. Jordy Nelson has been unable to rekindle the magic he had in 2011 when he was a scoring machine in every home game. His only truly good fantasy game came at home against the Saints when he posted 93 yards and one score on eight catches. Otherwise he has just struggled to do anything in road games where he has only caught two passes for no more than 30 yards in either Seattle or Indianapolis. He's barely relevant at home and nearly invisible when he is away.

This does not match up well with the Texans who have not allowed more than two scores to any opposing quarterback and after five games no running back has scored a rushing touchdown. The only decent game by a runner was shockingly Chris Johnson when the Texans openly allowed the Titans to run draws when they were hopelessly behind on the scoreboard. Worse yet there have only been two touchdowns given up to any wide receivers and none of them had more than 50 receiving yards in Houston.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points GB 10 26 3 12 30 19
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 3 8 4 8 3 8

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Aaron Rodgers, GB @TB 0000028020 ***
Maybe Rodgers relaxed a little too much last week, as he was blanked by the Bills in Buffalo. It's another road date, and we have more than enough evidence at this point to see that Rodgers is far less effective away from Lambeau. Moreover, the Bucs have been solid since their Week 7 bye, especially at home where they've allowed an average game of 212 passing yards and one passing score. If you survived Rodgers' goose-egg last week your team should be stocked enough to absorb a better--but still not elite--outing here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Eddie Lacy, GB @TB 8012200000 ***
So much for a bum hip and sharing touches; Lacy looked perfectly fine last week and should be good to go against a Bucs D that over the past five games has given up an average of 140 combo yards and a touchdown to opposing backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordy Nelson, GB @TB 0061001000 ***
Nelson's last road TD came in Week 6, giving him a three-game scoring drought on the road heading into Tampa. Tough to bench an elite receiver, but the numbers suggest Jordy's just another guy away from Lambeau... and Tampa's a long ways from America's Dairyland.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Randall Cobb, GB @TB 007901000 ****
Cobb's productivity has held up better on the road than his receiving corps mates; witness his 96 yards last week in the loss to Buffalo. While it's been bigger receivers having the most success against the Bucs they've surrendered stats to some speed guys as well, and Cobb should carve out another fantasy helper in Tampa Bay this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Davante Adams, GB @TB 002300000 ***
The Packers still haven't received anything resembling a fantasy helper from a third receiver on the road, and there's nothing in the Bucs' pattern of stats surrendered to wideouts to suggest that changes this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Andrew Quarless, GB @TB 002200000 ***
The Packers continue to split TE snaps, cutting into any chance at fantasy stats either Quarless or Richard Rodgers might have.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB @TB 2233 ***
Mason has multiple field goals in three straight and six of seven, with double-digit points in five of those seven outings. He should get his kicks again against a Bucs defense that, after a brief and unexpected three-game bout of competency, is back to giving up double-digit points to opposing kickers.

Houston Texans
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 MIA 30-10 10 @CHI -----
2 @JAC 27-7 11 JAC -----
3 @DEN 31-25 12 @DET -----
4 TEN 38-14 13 @TEN -----
5 @NYJ 23-17 14 @NE -----
6 GB ----- 15 IND -----
7 BAL ----- 16 MIN -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @IND -----
9 BUF ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU vs GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 10 210,1
RB Arian Foster 110,1 1-10
WR Andre Johnson 4-70,1

Pregame Notes: The Texans join the Falcons as the only unbeaten teams in the NFL and with three straight home games coming up, that may not change. The schedule becomes much more challenging starting in week ten with four road trips out of five weeks but these Texans are the real deal and their defense will always help them to stay in every game. Add in one of the top rushing attacks in the league and it is a safe bet that the Texans will be still busy in January.

One notable here - ILB and 2011 team MVP Brian Cushing appears to have torn his ACL on Monday night and that will poke a hole in an otherwise great defense.

Matt Schaub is still mostly a game manager and has the luxury of usually playing with a lead. He has scored in all but one game but rarely has more than low 200's in passing yardage and has only eight passing scores over five games played. But he has just two interceptions on the season and never has to throw more than 35 times in any game. With a dominating ground game, Schaub is hard to rely on for a big game because the easier the opponent is, the more likely he'll just hand off for most of the day.

Arian Foster is the top fantasy back in most leagues and has a NFL-best six touchdowns on the season with 106 rushing yards per game. He has not had even a remotely moderate game this year since he has scored every week and produced solid yardage though with minimal receptions. Brandon Tate has been out with a toe injury but his replacement Justin Forsett only gained six yards on four carries against the Jets and is no jeopardy of keeping the back-up spot when Tate is healthy. Safe assumption this week with the Packers visiting is that the Texans will be running the ball no less than they have every week.

The only bad fantasy surprise this year is that Owen Daniels has become the preferred target for Schaub and has scored in each of the last three games while turning in 70 yard or so almost every week. That is bad because Andre Johnson has become an afterthought in this offense and was held to only one catch for 15 yards by the Jets. Worse yet he dropped two of his six targets. No other receiver here remotely matters. Kevin Walter has the only touchdown among wideouts.

This should be interesting since the Packers have a good rushing defense that has only allowed one rushing touchdown for a running back back in the season opener and held all but Frank Gore to under 100 rushing yards. But this is the best rushing team that the Packers have faced and on the road no less. The pass defense has given up two or more touchdowns in all but one game. The Texans are on a shorter week but back at home will be good enough here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 23 2 31 7 7 3
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 24 13 21 22 14 15

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Case Keenum, HOU BAL 0000020011 *
Brees, Rivers, Roethlisberger; those are the three quarterbacks who've had fantasy success passing on the Ravens (Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton augmented their numbers with rushing scores). Keenum is nowhere near those gentlemen and should take up a similar proximity to your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU BAL 6016500000 *
Gutted at quarterback, all the Texans will be able to do is hand the ball to Foster and hope for the best. Unfortunately, it's a brutal matchup with a Ravens defense that hasn't allowed a back to top 68 yards all year or 59 yards in Baltimore. So while Houston will lean heavily on Foster, that doesn't mean big carry numbers will translate directly into big fantasy numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Damaris Johnson, HOU BAL 003500000 ***
No writeup available
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU BAL 004500000 *
Maybe Johnson returns to action this week, but even if he does he has serious issues at quarterback dampening his fantasy impact.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU BAL 00000000 *
The Ravens have had their issues in the secondary, but they've given up just one TD in the past two games and no receiver topped 76 yards in either game. Hopkins should see plenty of targets, but coming from either Thad Lewis or Case Keenum that doesn't necessarily mean much. He's Houston's best bet for fantasy success, but he's far from a sure thing.
Update: Hopkins didn't practice at all this week as he battles an ankle injury. He's listed as questionable, but even if he goes he'll be hampered by both his injury and his quarterback situation.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU BAL 1122 *
Multiple treys are no lock for Bullock, who has turned the trick in just half of his 14 games--and only two of six at home. The Ravens might enable, however, having given up multiple field goals in four straight. Still, we're talking about two field goals and maybe a PAT so don't set the bar too high here.

WEEK 6
2012
PIT at TEN (THU) *DET at PHI *MIN at WAS *STL at MIA
BUF at ARI *GB at HOU *NE at SEA *DEN at SD (MON)
*CIN at CLE *IND at NYJ *NYG at SF Bye:
*Updated DAL at BAL *KC at TB OAK at ATL CAR, CHI, JAC, NO

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