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: NO 27, TB 30 (Line: NO by 3)

Players Updated: Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore, Vincent Jackson

Players to Watch: Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore

The 1-4 Saints bring their 0-2 road record to face the 2-3 Buccaneers who are 2-1 at home. These teams traded home wins in 2011. The Buccaneers won 26-20 in Tampa Bay and the Saints won 27-16 in New Orleans. This is one of those divisional games that ends up closer than expected if not an upset.

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL -----
2 @CAR 27-35 11 @OAK -----
3 KC 24-27 12 SF -----
4 @GB 27-28 13 @ATL -----
5 SD 31-24 14 @NYG -----
6 BYE ----- 15 TB -----
7 @TB ----- 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN ----- 17 CAR -----
9 PHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO @ TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 330,2
RB Pierre Thomas 50,1 3-20
WR Marques Colston 6-100,1
TE Jimmy Graham
TE Benjamin Watson 1-10
PK Shayne Graham 3 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Saints finally broke their winless streak thanks to the visiting Chargers and now faces the Buccaneers with a 0-2 road record. The problem this year has not been the offense nearly as much as the defense. The one win was the only time they held any opponent to fewer than 27 points. Plus the NFL upheld the suspensions stemming from BountyGate during the bye week.

Drew Brees remains at the top of the fantasy quarterbacks with 15 touchdowns over the first five weeks and he passed for over 325 yards in all but one game. The rushing efforts has been far less effective this year and not supported the offense. That's mostly because the defense allows so many points to every opponent that each week becomes another delightful shootout. Brees has been a lock for high yardage and three scores.

Mark Ingram has scored just once and that was the only rushing touchdown by a running back in 2012. The split between all runners means none of them are a decent fantasy play other than Darren Sproles mostly because of his 5+ catches in all but one game. Sproles is well off his 2011 pace but still offers at least moderate fantasy points. No other runner is worth owning on this team let alone starting him.

Jimmy Graham rolled his ankle against the Chargers and only had one catch in that game. He was in a walking boot last week and despite rumors of a high ankle sprain, the official report is that he will play this week. This bears watching during the week for Graham owners as the Saints are not generally very forthcoming on injury information. Graham has not been quite as prolific as he was in 2011 but did score in each of the first three games and has 70+ yards in most games. Good... but not win your league good. Considering how highly he was drafted, he has been at least a slight disappointment.

Marques Colston was a disappointment until week four when he turned in 9-153 with one touchdown and then posted 9-131 and three scores on the Chargers. He's been the primary receiver for the last two games but that came with Graham not scoring these last two weeks. Once Graham was injured last week, Colston was thrown a total of 18 passes. Lance Moore missed the last game with a hamstring injury but has been healing for two weeks now and is expected to return to practice after sitting out all last week.

The receivers need to get healthy here since the Buccaneers were already soft versus the pass and just lost their best cornerback to a four-game suspension. The Saints practices will be closely watched since Graham and Moore both have a big bearing on the Saints offense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 6 4 15 19 25
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 16 15 27 12 18 13

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO ATL 0000027020 ***
The Falcons have held three of their last four foes to one or zero touchdowns, and they limited Brees to 333 & 1 back in the season opener. So don't look for gaudy numbers; settle for pretty good and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO ATL 11022100000 ***
You can run on the Falcons, as no team has given up more fantasy points to running backs. And while he no longer gets all the carries, Ingram gets enough to make a fantasy impact.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO ATL 1006400000 ***
Thomas faces a Falcons' defense that has served up the third-most running back receptions and third-most RB receiving yards. Since his primary function is as a receiver out of the backfield, expect him to capitalize on those stats with a solid fantasy helper here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO ATL 006901000 ***
Stills is handling Brandin Cooks' duties, so it's worth noting that the rookie went for 7-77-1 in the earlier meeting--numbers that could easily be replicated here in the rematch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO ATL 005701000 ***
Colton went for 110 yards in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, but that's not rare against the Falcons. Five different wideouts have hit triple-digits in the past six games; expect Colton to return to their ranks this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO ATL 004500000 ***
The Saints haven't forgotten about the tight end position; they've scored four TE TDs in the past three games. They have, however, apparently forgotten about Graham, who has scored exactly zero of those touchdowns. He's scored in six of eight career meetings with Atlanta, and remains an every-week starter--though a gentle reminder to Sean Payton of his presence would be appreciated.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO ATL 2244 ***
Graham tallied double-digit points back in the season opener in Atlanta, but he hasn't been back above that mark since Week 8 and has just one multiple field goal outing in that span so keep those expectations in check.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CAR 16-10 10 SD -----
2 @NYG 34-41 11 @CAR -----
3 @DAL 10-16 12 ATL -----
4 WAS 22-24 13 @DEN -----
5 BYE ----- 14 PHI -----
6 KC 38-10 15 @NO -----
7 NO ----- 16 STL -----
8 @MIN ----- 17 @ATL -----
9 @OAK ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Doug Martin 100,1 6-40
WR Vincent Jackson 5-80,1
TE Brandon Myers 5-60

Pregame Notes: The Buccaneers reversed a two game losing streak with a monster win over the visiting Chiefs and this week may actually prove to be one of the most "winnable" games left on the schedule.The offense has been very good so long as they face a weak defense like the Saints. And lost a bit has been the improvement of the Buccaneers defense. Losing CB Aqib Talib could be felt in games such as this but they held off Brady Quinn and Dwayne Bowe last week with no problems. Granted - Brees and Quinn maybe not on the same level.

Josh Freeman scored in every game this year and currently totals eight touchdowns against five interceptions. After starting the season with lesser passing yardage, he's topped 299 yards in each of the last two games and gets to face yet another velvety soft secondary with the Saints visiting. Freeman no longer runs the ball but he's been improving with his passing thanks in part to Vincent Jackson giving him both a better target and freeing up Mike Williams.

Doug Martin lost a score to LeGarrette Blount for the last two games and Blount even broke a 53-yarder last week to end with 58 yards on seven runs versus the Chiefs but this remains Doug Martin's show away from the goal line. Martin gained 76 yards on 13 runs versus the Chiefs and added two catches for 55 more yards. Martin hasn't proven to be much better than what the defense allows any rusher but he is facing the #32 unit against running backs this week and that should prove to be major boost. Unless Blount hawks scores and runs again.

Tight ends here are dead last in the league with just 11 completions to the position this year.

This remains a two man show with receivers. Vincent Jackson stumbled against the cornerbacks in Dallas but scored four times over the last four games with two efforts ending with more than 100 yards. His presence has allowed Mike Williams more room to run and he scored three touchdowns with his last two games producing over 110 yards on just four catches in each. With the Saints porous secondary coming to town, both receivers are must starts this week and even Tiquan Underwood could show up in the box score big this week. Sadly the only strength of the Saints is against tight ends and the Buccaneers never used their. This may be the final big game for Tampa Bay players for a while.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 24 20 15 32 12 11
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 29 32 30 2 28 16

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Josh McCown, TB GB 0000025021 ***
Green Bay's defense is nothing special unless they've got you down by a couple touchdowns and force you to be one-dimensional. On the road they've been less dominant, which should allow the Bucs to remain multifaceted and keep McCown from playing the role of sitting duck in the pocket. He had some success against Green Bay last year as a bear, but his upside feels like two TDs and something in the mid-200s; you'll want more during championship week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Doug Martin, TB GB 400000000 ***
We've seen flashes of the Martin of old--not enough to dust him off for a fantasy start, but enough to plant a seed in the backs of minds heading into next year. Splitting touches with Charles Sims takes a bite out of his fantasy potential as well; consider him a placeholder for now.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Charles Sims, TB GB 1003300000 ***
Sims could see extended work as a pass-catcher if the Packers do in fact get out to a big lead and force the Bucs to throw, so there's some fantasy value here for PPR leaguers. Aside from that... not much.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB GB 005802000 ***
Big-bodied receivers--Julio Jones (259 & 1), Brandon LaFell (2 TDs), Jordan Matthews (107 &1), Brandon Marshall (112 & 1), and more--have success against the Packers' secondary. And Evans is plenty big-bodied--not to mention heavily targeted and a red-zone monster. Have to love his opportunity here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Vincent Jackson, TB GB 005900000 ***
Green Bay has noticeable difficulty handling larger receivers--like Jackson, for example, who has 239 yards and four touchdowns in two career meetings with the Packers. That trend has continued this season through the likes of Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Kelvin Benjamin and even Jordan Matthews and Brandon LaFell. So while VJax still plays second fiddle to Mike Evans (another big WR), he should have ample opportunity to build a fantasy portfolio of his own this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Patrick Murray, TB GB 1122 ***
Murray's next game with double-digit points will be his first. No reason to expect it to happen this week.

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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