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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 7
2012
SEA at SF (THU) *DAL at CAR *NYJ at NE DET at CHI (MON)
*ARI at MIN *GB at STL *PIT at CIN Bye:
BAL at HOU *JAC at OAK TEN at BUF ATL, DEN, KC,
*UPDATED *CLE at IND *NO at TB *WAS at NYG MIA, PHI, SD

Prediction: ARI 17, MIN 27 (Line: MIN by 6)

Players Updated: Arian Peterson, Jerome Simpson

Players to Watch: John Skelton

The 4-2 Cardinals head to Minnesota with a 1-1 road record and a two game losing streak. The 4-2 Vikings lost last week in Washington but are a perfect 3-0 at home. The Vikings won 34-10 when they hosted the Cardinals in 2011.

Arizona Cardinals
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SEA 20-16 10 BYE -----
2 @NE 20-18 11 @ATL -----
3 PHI 27-6 12 STL -----
4 MIA 24-21 13 @NYJ -----
5 @STL 3-17 14 @SEA -----
6 BUF 16-19 15 DET -----
7 @MIN ----- 16 CHI -----
8 SF ----- 17 @SF -----
9 @GB ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI @ MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 270,2
RB Jonathan Dwyer 40
RB Rashard Mendenhall
WR Larry Fitzgerald 6-80,1
WR Michael Floyd 3-30
TE Rob Housler 3-30
PK Jay Feely 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: It was all going so well too. The Cardinals have lost two in a row to less than stellar opponents while the offense has sputtered and been unable to make a difference. They also have to host the 49ers and then play in Green Bay before finally reaching their week 10 bye and it is entirely possible if not probable that they will be 4-5 at that point with a trip to Atlanta waiting on the other side.

Kevin Kolb suffered a shoulder injury, sprained sternoclavicular joint and detached ribs against the Bills and will be out for six weeks or more just trying to figure out what all that stuff is and why it hurts so much. That passes the torch for at least the next month and a half to John Skelton. When he took over in week nine of 2011, Skelton threw 11 touchdowns in the final eight games and helped salvage Larry Fitzgerald's fantasy value. In the first half of that season, Fitzgerald only caught two touchdowns with two games over 100 yards. WIth Skelton, he would score six touchdowns and top 100 yards four different times. Switching from Kolb is not necessarily a bad thing. Skelton also finished out 2010. He is like the Cardinals official closer.

Kolb started the previous game in Minnesota and passed for 232 yards and no scores.

William Powell was an effective replacement for Ryan Williams and gained 70 yards on 13 runs but his limited carries prevented him from delivering fantasy points and he only caught one pass for eight yards. LaRod Stephens-Howling was used for 11 carries but only produced 22 yards and all this against the visiting Bills. The lack of a decent offensive line for the Cardinals prevents them from racking up yardage and scores even against soft defenses.

Fitzgerald needs continuity because he has been producing decent stats for the last four weeks with scores in three games and over 90 yards in almost all. He caught four passes for 66 yards in Minnesota last season so this week will be an interesting benchmark. His number of targets always dwarfs all others and even Andre Roberts who started the year on on a strong note as a scorer has really fallen in the last two weeks. Michael Floyd, Early Doucet, any tight end - it doesn't matter. This offense goes through Fitzgerald and with him is the key to losing or winning.

The switch to Skelton will be the thing to watch in this offense and the Vikings pass defense is really above average against the pass, particularly at home. The Vikings are also dominating against the run so expect low efforts from the two runners this week. I like a defensive score but it won't make enough difference.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 19 31 13 24 21 10
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 25 5 8 26 13 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Carson Palmer, ARI SF 0000026021 ****
Palmer's 298 & 2 in the earlier meeting was the fourth-biggest game the Niners have allowed to a quarterback. However, he's had just one TD toss in each of the past three games, with declining yardage totals so he's a risky fantasy play at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Andre Ellington, ARI SF 4014300000 ****
Ellington scored in Arizona's earlier meeting with the Niners, but he's still playing second fiddle to Rashard Mendenhall in the touches category which makes him a risky play at best in this matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Rashard Mendenhall, ARI SF 500000000 ***
The Niners haven't allowed much in the way of RB TDs, but the last few (Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Jed Collins) have been the goal-line types Mendenhall has made a habit of this season. Not saying it will happen necessarily, but at least acknowledging there's a chance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI SF 0051001000 ****
Glimmers of hope after Larry's tough game against Richard Sherman last week. For starters, Fitz scored as part of a 6-117-1 outing the last time he faced San Francisco. Factor in the Niners giving up touchdowns to WR1s in back-to-back games and Fitz is at least back on the fantasy radar here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Floyd, ARI SF 005601000 ***
The Niners have allowed just three WR TDs in the past seven games, so while Floyd scored last week and scored in the earlier meeting with San Francisco he's still a risky fantasy play given that Larry Fitzgerald still sees most of the Cardinals' WR targets.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ted Ginn, ARI SF 003500000 ***
Ginn is more of a deep threat and less likely to take over Steve Smith's role as the Panthers' go-to wideout should Smith sit this one out. That puts a limit on his upside this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Housler, ARI SF 003300000 ***
If Housler weren't battling Jake Ballard and Jim Dray for looks on his own team, we'd be more optimistic about him taking advantage of a San Francisco defense that's allowed TE TDs in three straight games and a total of 228 yards to the position in that span.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jay Feely, ARI SF 1133 ***
No team has given up fewer points to kickers than the Niners, and they held Feely to just a couple PATs in the earlier meeting. Both teams are still playing for something, but with points at a premium you'll want to get your kicks elsewhere.

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 30-7 14 CHI -----
6 @WAS 26-38 15 @STL -----
7 ARI ----- 16 @HOU -----
8 TB ----- 17 GB -----
9 @SEA ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Christian Ponder 10 240,1
RB Adrian Peterson 100,1 5-30
WR Greg Jennings
WR Jerome Simpson 2-30
TE Kyle Rudolph 4-40,1
PK Blair Walsh 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Vikings ended their three game winning streak in Washington but return home where they remain unbeaten. In a divisional race sure to be competitive all season, the next three home games must be wins before the Vikings hit a brutal stretch to finish the year facing the Packers and Bears twice and adding road games to St. Louis and Houston. Just brutal.

Christian Ponder got his free 300 yard game by showing up against the Redskins and he's tossed two touchdowns in four of the last five games with moderate to good yardage in each. After opening the season without an interception, he's figured out how and was picked off twice in the last two weeks. Getting Jerome Simpson back this week will help the passing effort.

Adrian "The Scoreless" Peterson still has not reached the endzone since the season opener and has been consistent with around 80 rushing yards in every game with a few catches to help boost the total yardage up to around 100. Peterson's left ankle is still not healthy but he is running on it and claims it has not bothered his production. He still has rushed at least 16 times in every game.

Kyle Rudolph is truly coming into his own as a top-flight tight end. His catches and yardage remain lower than desirable and usually he remains below 40 yards in each contest but he has scored five times over the last five weeks. That's not winning your league but it is consistent production that doesn't hurt your team.

Jerome Simpson is expected to play this week after being inactive against the Redskins. His status should be clearer at the end of the week but all signs point to the speedster suiting up after sitting out with back and leg pain and numbness. Simpson has done little in the offense so far but is valued for deep patterns that stretch out the defense and allow Percy Harvin to catch an even more obscene amount of passes. Harvin has become the Vikings version of Wes Welker. Four of his last five games had 10+ targets and 8+ catches in those games. He's scored just once but it was in the most recent home game and he has been solid at delivering over 80 yards per week. He's averaging over eight catches per week.

Home game against a decent defense that has been a bit exposed lately. The Vikings should take this game with a balanced attack and this is legitimately a good spot to finally pick up another touchdown for Adrian Peterson.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 17 21 14 10 4 15
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 3 12 17 3 17 25

  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 7
2012
SEA at SF (THU) *DAL at CAR *NYJ at NE DET at CHI (MON)
*ARI at MIN *GB at STL *PIT at CIN Bye:
BAL at HOU *JAC at OAK TEN at BUF ATL, DEN, KC,
*UPDATED *CLE at IND *NO at TB *WAS at NYG MIA, PHI, SD

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