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: DET 13, CHI 27 (Line: CHI by 5)

Players to Watch: Matt Forte

The 2-3 Lions come off a nice win in Philadelphia but now face the 4-1 Bears who are coming off their bye and 2-0 at home. These teams traded home wins in 2011. The Lions prevailed 24-13 in Detroit while the Bears won 37-13 in Chicago. The Lions are struggling much more this year while the Bears defense hardly needed a week off to rest.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 STL 27-23 10 @MIN -----
2 @SF 19-27 11 GB -----
3 @TEN 41-44 12 HOU -----
4 MIN 13-20 13 IND -----
5 BYE ----- 14 @GB -----
6 @PHI 26-23 15 @ARI -----
7 @CHI ----- 16 ATL -----
8 SEA ----- 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET @ CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 260,1
WR Calvin Johnson 6-70,1
WR Golden Tate 3-40
TE Kellen Davis 2-20
TE Brandon Pettigrew 7-70

Pregame Notes: The comeback win over the Eagles may have saved their season though more likely it merely delays the inevitable. Matthew Stafford generated offense almost exclusively in the fourth quarter. He still has not thrown more than one touchdown in any game though the yardage has been high when they are not on the road facing a great defense. Like this week. Stafford passed for 329 yards and one score in Chicago last year. That would be success enough this year.

Jahvid Best has been announced as out for the year and the oft-concussed player may never suit up again. Mikel Leshoure has taken over as the primary back but only produced one game of note against the Titans. The Lions are unlikely to give him more than 15 runs per game unless the Lions are well ahead which so far has never been much of an issue.

Joique Bell still figures in as well and ran seven times for 38 yards against the Eagles compared to 15 runs by Leshoure. In fantasy terms, Leshoure is the only play here but really only when facing the weakest of defenses which may happen only once more this year when they host the Colts in week 13.

Brandon Pettigrew started the year on a promising not and while he only has one score, he has been turning in 60 or so yards in most games. Last week only produced three catches for 38 yards while Tony Scheffler had a freak big game with 81 yards on three catches but he's normally a nonfactor.

The receivers outside of Calvin Johnson have not bee much help. Nate Burleson scored twice so far but rarely gains more than 50 yards in a game and has minimal fantasy value. Titus Young has gone from red hot sleeper type to just a little guy who rarely catches more than one or two passes. The only way this team stays in games is when the defense cannot shut down Calvin Johnson. Even that is not often enough to win the game.

This season the Bears defense is even better and the Lions offense is worse. There have only been five touchdowns allowed by Chicago and the Lions hardly present an offensive juggernaut. This is a divisional matchup and the Bears are coming off their bye so any hopes for a trap game are overly optimistic.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 7 12 10 3 1 27
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 1 2 14 29 4 20

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET @NE 0000025021 ***
Fresh off a disappointing 183 and zero performance in Arizona, Stafford heads to the other side of the US to face the Patriots. While New England has allowed multiple TD tossed in three straight, Stafford is 20 yards per game worse on the road and has a definite ceiling to his upside this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Theo Riddick, DET @NE 1004301000 ***
Riddick makes an intriguing fantasy play if Reggie Bush is dinged up once again, based primarily on his pass-catching ability and the 168 RB receiving yards and two RB receiving scores the Patriots have surrendered in the past three games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET @NE 4003300000 ***
Ideally Bell would get the bulk of the work for the Lions as they kept Tom Brady off the field, but he's a bit dinged up and won't see the volume of touches necessary to carve out a significant fantasy helper against New England.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Reggie Bush, DET @NE 3004200000 ***
If Reggie can go he could have some fantasy value in PPR leagues, as the Lions will likely be throwing to keep up and the Patriots have given up their share of receiving yards to opposing backs. Of course, odds are Theo Riddick fills Reggie's shoes once again, so monitor Bush's status leading up to kickoff.
Update: Bush practiced on a limited basis all week and is listed as questionable, neither of which goes a long way towards answering questions about his availability this weekend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @NE 006801000 ***
After holding fantasy value through the first game of Calvin Johnson's return Tate fell off the map last week with just two targets in Arizona. He should thrive with non-Revis coverage against the Patriots, but he's a bit riskier play than when he was the only show going in Detroit.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET @NE 005600000 ***
Megatron has been targeted 27 times in two games since returning from injury, so clearly he's back on Matthew Stafford's radar. He'll see plenty of attention from Bill Belichick this week, but that volume of opportunity should still allow him to carve out a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET @NE 004300000 ***
It's a definite opportunity for Ebron, as the Patriots have allowed a TE TD or 100-plus yards to the position in five straight games. So if you're streaming at the position, he's a quality alternative.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @NE 2222 ***
The Lions finally have a kicker settling in, as Prater has three straight multiple field goal games. However, a road trip to New England doesn't feel like an opportunity for him to extend that roll.

Chicago Bears
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 IND 41-21 10 HOU -----
2 @GB 10-23 11 @SF -----
3 STL 23-6 12 MIN -----
4 @DAL 34-18 13 SEA -----
5 @JAC 41-3 14 @MIN -----
6 BYE ----- 15 GB -----
7 DET ----- 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR ----- 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 10 280,2
RB Matt Forte 80 3-20,1
WR Brandon Marshall 7-100,1
WR Josh Morgan 3-40
TE Martellus Bennett 3-30
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The 4-1 Bears are hitting a three game stretch that is likely as easy as it will get all year and they are fresh off their bye. The loss of Alshon Jeffrey should not be more than a minor hindrance to the offense since he never gained more than 45 yards in a game since the season opener. Jeffrey fractured his right hand and is expected to miss at least a month and likely six weeks. Being a rookie, he'll probably take a little more time to get up to speed anyway and that wasn't fantasy relevant anyway.

Earl Bennett is returning and Devin Hester will play but the bottom line to this passing offense is that no one matters other than Brandon Marshall.

Marshall has three 100+ yard games and a touchdown in each. He's a lock to get about ten targets each week and that can go as high as 17. It has really evolved into wondering why the other receivers are covered when Marshall does all the damage.

Kellen Davis rarely has more than 30 yards in any game and is a nonfactor as a fantasy tight end.

The best part of the Bears is that there are only four fantasy plays here. The defense remains one of the very best. Marshall is on a red hot streak and Jay Cutler tends to throw for high yardage and two scores which depends 100% on if he can connect with Marshall.

And then Matt Forte who has only one touchdown on the year thanks to Michael Bush (3). But Forte posted moderate to good yardage in most games even though his role as a receiver has been impacted by Marshall. Forte is averaging fewer than three catches per week which shortcuts one of his best strengths. Forte missed week three and Michael Bush has carried a surprisingly heavy load in most games but most recent was in Jacksonville where Forte was healthy and productive with 22 carries for 107 yards. Bush was held to just four runs in that game. Forte will command a big chunk of all running back work ongoing but will still be plagued by touchdown hawking by Bush and even Armando Allen. Kahlil Bell was just released.

You can often throw out records when two divisional teams meet but the Lions have been consistently weak against the pass with their three road opponents all scoring twice via the pass and throwing for high yardage for the better quarterbacks. The run game may not be huge this week but should be effective and control the game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 23 13 12 31 6 1
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 15 6 12 27 30 31

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI TB 0000031031 ****
Lovie's defense has held three of the past four QBs they've faced under 250 yards and to one TD toss or less, plus you have to think he has some knowledge of Cutler's game from his days in Chicago. That said, Cutler still has his twin towers plus Matt Forte to lean on, so he should be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI TB 8006501000 ***
The Bucs have allowed five 80-plus yard rushers in their past six games, so Forte should get his on the ground. Add in his passing game contributions and another quality fantasy outing is in the offing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI TB 0071101000 ****
It's a solid matchup, Jeffery against a Bucs' secondary that has struggled with big receivers this season. He's a little less consistently targeted than running mate Brandon Marshall, but both are quality fantasy options this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI TB 0081001000 ****
From way back in Week 1, when Kelvin Benjamin debuted with 92 yards and a touchdown, to Week 10 when Julio Jones rolled up 8-119, the Bucs have struggled with receivers of size. The Bears have size times two in Marshall and Alshon Jeffery; no reason to think this passing game can't have the same success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI TB 004400000 ***
The Bucs haven't given up a tight end touchdown since Week 4, and with outside receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery both expected to have big games there may not be enough left over for Bennett this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI TB 2233 ***
Four of the last six kickers to tee it up against the Bucs have scored double-digit points. Unfortunately, Gould hasn't even scored double-digit points in the last month combined so you'll want to get your fantasy kicks elsewhere.

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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