Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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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
  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 James Jones 4-60,1
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.

Gaining Fantasy Points GB 10 26 3 12 30 19
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 3 8 4 8 3 8

QB Aaron Rodgers, GB CHI 0000030030 ***
Rodgers has multiple touchdowns in five straight games he's finished against the Bears, and last time the Bears came to town he threw six scores. There's also a five-TD game on Rodgers' Lambeau-vs.-Bears recent resume, and after tossing three in the season opener against Chicago there's no reason to shy away from him here.
RB Eddie Lacy, GB CHI 7002100000 *
Lacy has scored in all five career meetings with the Bears, and after last week's 100-yard effort against the Vikings he looks to have his regular gig back as well. Chicago has already surrendered 100-yard games to Thomas Rawls, Adrian Peterson and Ronnie Hillman this year and a rejuvenated Lacy could be knocking on that door as well.
RB James Starks, GB CHI 2005500000 *
Starks returns to his caddy role, with only a modicum of upside against a Bears D that has yet to let two backs from the same team top nine fantasy points in a game.
WR James Jones, GB CHI 005602000 **
After being shut out at home in Week 10 Jones returned with a vengeance last week, restoring confidence that he can be counted on for something at least close to his 4-51-2 from the earlier meeting in Chicago.
WR Randall Cobb, GB CHI 005501000 ***
Cobb has scored in four straight against the Bears, who have let multiple wideouts score in four games this season--including last week. He'll be just fine.
WR Davante Adams, GB CHI 003500000 ***
With the return of James Jones to fantasy relevance Adams fell to third in the passing game pecking order with less than half the targets Jones or Randall Cobb saw last week. He played a bigger role in the season opener against Chicago with eight targets and a team-high 59 yards, but he failed to score. Tough to bank on the Packers going three deep this week, so look for fantasy help elsewhere.
TE Richard Rodgers, GB CHI 002300000 ***
The Bears have allowed only two TE TDs this year, none since their Week 7 bye, and they held Rodgers to 3-27 in the earlier meeting this season. There are better fantasy options out there.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mason Crosby, GB CHI 1144 ***
Crosby comes off a season-high 16 point outing, his first multiple field goal game in more than a month. He counted by ones in the earlier meeting with Chicago but the Bears' D has improved; that actually might bode well for Mason.

Houston Texans
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
  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 Brandon Weeden 240,1
RB Arian Foster 110,1 1-10
WR Nate Washington 5-50
PK Nick Novak 2 FG 2 XP

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.

Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 23 2 31 7 7 3
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 24 13 21 22 14 15

QB Brian Hoyer, HOU NO 0000032030 ***
Every quarterback goes off against the Saints. The only QB who failed to tally multiple scores against them this year has been Brandon Weeden; the last four have all topped 320 yards, and the last three have each thrown at least four TDs each. Enter Hoyer, who has multiple touchdowns in all five games he's finished. Next man up!
RB Alfred Blue, HOU NO 8004400000 ***
While most of the damage against New Orleans is being done via the air they've given up 104 and 88 rushing yards the past two games. Blue's a double-dipper, adding receiving yards (and a score last week) to his gig as Houston's primary ball-carrier, so he should enjoy this matchup as much as the rest of the Texans.
RB Jonathan Grimes, HOU NO 4002200000 ***
Grimes has been reasonably productive with a junior share of Houston's backfield touches. Unless and until that share increases, however, he's not doing enough to warrant fantasy mention.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU NO 00101302000 ***
The four WRs to see double-digit targets against the Saints averaged 5-92-1. That's a low-end estimate for Hopkins, who has just two games without a touchdown or 100 yards (or both). Take the over.
WR Nate Washington, HOU NO 004601000 ***
While Washington has been slightly less targeted than Cecil Shorts with both back in the lineup, there's still upside against a Saints secondary that's allowed 20 different wideouts to score and/or top 50 yards this year.
WR Cecil Shorts, HOU NO 004600000 ***
Shorts has been slightly more targeted than fellow wingman Nate Washington, which gives him first dibs against a Saints secondary that's allowed multiple receivers to score and/or top 50 yards in four of the last five and a total of 20 times this year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, HOU NO 1144 ***
It can't get any more favorable for Novak against a defense that's allowed 130 points the past three games. If not now, when?

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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