FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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: DAL 20, CAR 13 (Line: DAL by 1)

Players Updated: Dez Bryant

Players to Watch: Felix Jones

The 2-3 Cowboys were clipped by the Ravens in a game they almost had and now take their 1-2 road record to face the 1-4 Panthers who have only beaten the Saints. Neither team can afford a loss in this game but the Cowboys in particular would be crushed after nearly beating the Ravens and falling into the NFC East cellar.

Dallas Cowboys
Homefield: Cowboys Stadium
RealGrass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NYG 24-17 10 @PHI -----
2 @SEA 7-27 11 CLE -----
3 TB 16-10 12 WAS -----
4 CHI 18-34 13 PHI -----
5 BYE ----- 14 @CIN -----
6 @BAL 29-31 15 PIT -----
7 @CAR ----- 16 NO -----
8 NYG ----- 17 @WAS -----
9 @ATL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DAL @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo 280,2
QB Brandon Weeden 10 240,2
RB DeMarco Murray
WR Dez Bryant 7-80,1
TE Jason Witten 6-80,1
PK Dan Bailey 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys got their offense back to scoring against the Ravens but were doomed by special teams, bad clock management and just the general bad mojo that usually keeps them down. Tony Romo had a solid effort with 261 yards and two scores with just one interception - quite a step down from the five he threw against the Bears in week four. Coming off their bye week with a loss hurts but at least the NFC East doesn't have any powerhouse team in it again this year.

DeMarco Murray was running strong finally but then was lost for at least the next week and maybe more with ligament damage to his foot. That means Felix Jones gets to be the free agent darling this week since his three carries from the first four games combined persuaded most owners to part ways. Jones looked better than usual against the Ravens when he gained 92 yards and a score on 18 runs though in fairness the Ravens defense was already missing players and continued to lose them. Then again the Panthers this week have an even worse rushing defense.

Jason Witten finally looks healthy and completely back on track with 13 catches against Chicago and then six receptions for 88 yards in Baltimore when Romo peppered him with five passes in the fourth quarter trying for the comeback. Witten caught the tough passes and picked up yardage after the catch.

Dez Bryant stepped up his game yet again with a career best 13 catches in Baltimore for 95 yards and two touchdowns though of course he dropped the final two point conversion that could have tied the game. Those were his first scores on the year and the third straight game with six or more catches. Romo is forcing the issue by throwing to Bryant while cutting back on Miles Austin more each week. Austin is still the receiver leader with three touchdowns but comes off a season worst two catches for 31 yards. He had not been worse than 57 yards in any game previous while scoring in three of the four. Kevin Ogletree was blanked last week, completing the decline from his week one career best effort.

The Panthers have been decent against the pass and most team just try to run against them since they are among the weakest in the NFL versus the rush. Every opponent has thrown at least one score and often high yardage but only Matt Ryan had a big game as a quarterback against this defense and that was a road game for the Panthers. The loss of Murray comes at a terrible time for his owners looking to finally cash in but will make Felix Jones finally become a factor this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 16 18 7 12 26 30
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 17 31 6 17 32 14

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tony Romo, DAL IND 0000027031 ***
Romo has three or more TD tosses in four of his last five games, and with DeMarco Murray dinged or out he'll be forced to shoulder more of the offensive load. Indy's pass defense numbers of late have been artificially inflated by them shutting down the likes of Tom Savage, Brian Hoyer and Blake Bortles. Romo is more of the Tom Brady (257 & 2), Eli Manning (359 & 2), Ben Roethlisberger (522 & 6) ilk; expect similar positive results.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joseph Randle, DAL IND 2011100000 **
Don't be surprised if Randle gets the call, either to start if DeMarco Murray sits or to replace Murray after a couple hits to his broken hand (and subsequent fumbles). Indy's a favorable matchup for running backs, so if/when Randle winds up with the workload he has a very good chance of making fantasy noise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, DAL IND 7001100000 *
Dr. Jerry Jones thinks there's still a chance Murray plays despite surgery on a broken hand earlier this week. Dr. Reality Check thinks even if he does his fantasy impact will be limited due to ball security concerns and risk of more damage. Then again, Murray's a free agent after the season so maybe use and dispose is the game plan?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lance Dunbar, DAL IND 1003300000 ***
No writeup available
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL IND 006801000 ***
Vontae Davis is a shutdown corner, but he's also human. Bryant can beat any matchup given enough targets, and he usually is--especially if DeMarco Murray is limited or out of this one. Proceed as per usual with Bryant in your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cole Beasley, DAL IND 003401000 ***
Beasley has been more productive of late than fellow secondary target Terrance Williams, and with Vontae Davis likely shadowing Dez Bryant Tony Romo might throw a little more frequently at his alternate receivers. That puts Beasley at least on the fringe of fantasy relevance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL IND 002400000 ***
Williams played second fiddle to Dez Bryant for a while, but now Cole Beasley is horning in on his action. It's been far too long since Williams posted anything of fantasy relevance to be trusted at this critical juncture.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL IND 005601000 ***
Indy's been a favorable matchup for tight ends, and with Witten coming off his largest target game of the season he's back on Tony Romo's radar. The combination of Vontae Davis on Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray's injury only add to the probability of Witten posting a fantasy helper here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL IND 1144 ***
Bailey has but one multiple field goal effort in his past eight games; fortunately he's salvaged fantasy value with four or more PATs in four of his last five games. The Vegas sharps like this game for lots of points; no reason Bailey can't get his share of the fun.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 10-16 10 DEN -----
2 NO 35-27 11 TB -----
3 NYG 7-36 12 @PHI -----
4 @ATL 28-30 13 @KC -----
5 SEA 12-16 14 ATL -----
6 BYE ----- 15 @SD -----
7 DAL ----- 16 OAK -----
8 @CHI ----- 17 @NO -----
9 @WAS ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 50,1 190
RB Jonathan Stewart 30 2-20
RB DeAngelo Williams 50
TE Greg Olsen 6-80

Pregame Notes: The Panthers come off their bye thankful for the New Orleans Saints keeping them from being 0-5. The Panthers are no longer inspiring teams to prepare to beat them as evidenced by the two and four point losses to the Falcons and Giants respectively. They still won. The biggest problem here is once again the Offensive Rookie of the Year returns to display almost none of the passing acumen that served them so well as a rookie. Sam Bradford is still trying to return to form two seasons later. Newton is different in that he has three rushing touchdowns to help prevent his fantasy value from being a complete nosedive but has only thrown four touchdowns this season and his last two home games did not produce any passing touchdowns.

Steve Smith started the year with back-to-back 100+ yard games (TB and NO) but since declined each week and only produced 40 yards on four catches in the latest game. He still has not scored. Brandon Lafell started the season looking like he had taken the next step but it was just a function of playing the Bucs and Saints. Lafell only caught four passes for 71 yards over the last three games. Hopefully the game in week nine against the Redskins will allow the Panthers to once again find their passing offense.

Greg Olsen did the opposite of the other wideouts. He had nearly nothing in the first two weeks and then posted games if 6-89 and 7-98 against the Giants and Falcons. He finally synched up with the rest of the receivers with only two catches for 37 yards against the Seahawks.

The running game is no different from last year. DeAngelo Williams has the best stats with two touchdowns and never more than 73 total yards in any game. Jonathan Stewart has been less effective with each game he plays and only scored back in week two. He has no real fantasy value in any capacity currently. The loss of center Ryan Kalil will definitely hurt the Panthers who were already struggling.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 12 26 28 20 32 9
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 4 14 1 10 11 28

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Cam Newton, CAR CLE 10000025011 ***
Maybe Cam goes this week, but can you trust him to run--key to his fantasy value--with two busted bones in his back? Probably not, which leaves him to his throwing--not nearly enough to warrant a fantasy start in championship week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR CLE 8011100000 ***
You can run on the Brownies; see Cincy's 241 yards and three TDs last week. And with little to no DeAngelo Williams and quite likely no Cam Newton culturing, it'll be another 20-tote day for Stewart. He's produced 228 yards and a touchdown with his last two 20-carry outings; have to like him here as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR CLE 200000000 ***
Williams hasn't played for two weeks and hasn't seen more than 14 carries in a year. All he's doing is harshing Jonathan Stewart's mellow.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR CLE 005600000 **
Joe Haden is not infallible. He also hasn't had a great deal of success with bigger receivers, especially tandems: Mike Evans went for 7-124-6 (or Vincent Jackson had 6-86, take your pick); DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson split 148 yards; and Julio Jones scored (with 68 yards to boot) while Roddy White tallied 96. Benjamin doesn't have nearly as high-profile a running mate, but he's still a solid bet to see his usual volume of targets and provide fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jerricho Cotchery, CAR CLE 004500000 ***
You could play the "not covered by Joe Haden" card here, but Kelvin Benjamin's dramatic size advantage over Haden likely puts that matchup in favor of the receiver, negating the need to lean any more heavily on Cotchery than usual.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR CLE 007801000 **
Cleveland has been pretty good against tight ends--except for Jimmy Graham, whom they misguidedly tried to defend with the much smaller Joe Haden. Unlikely that the Browns sic Haden on Olsen, which should free him up to do his usual damage.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR CLE 3322 ***
Gano is heating up at just the right time; with multiple treys in three straight and double-digit points in back-to-back tilts, it's fortuitous that he bumps into a Browns defense that has served up multiple field goals in three straight and double-digit kicker points in three of its last five.

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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