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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: 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 MIN 0000031030 ***
The Vikings haven't given up much to opposing passing attacks thus far, but it's partly because they faced the Rams' backups and partly because the Patriots backed off when they rolled out to a big lead. Brees won't be as merciful.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Khiry Robinson, NO MIN 701000000 ****
With no Mark Ingram this week, Robinson should step into the bulk of the carries for the Saints' backfield. Though he may not get to the 25 carries Stevan Ridley had last week, something akin to the 101 and 1 Ridley dropped on the Vikings feels about right.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO MIN 3003200000 ***
Thomas could see an uptick in carries as well as his typical role in the passing game. Either alone would likely be enough to warrant starting against the Vikings; both makes Thomas an even better fantasy play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO MIN 006901000 ***
If you can look past the goose egg Colston laid last week, he projects to be a solid fantasy play against the Vikings--especially if cornerback Xavier Rhodes is still nursing a groin injury.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO MIN 2006701000 ***
Cooks' speed is bound to give the suddenly blitz-happy Vikings fits; as an added bonus he's been steadily targeted so there's little in the way of downside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO MIN 003300000 ***
Just about every Saint should be in play fantasy-wise this week; the issue with Stills is that he hasn't staked out a consistent role in New Orleans' passing game so there's plenty of risk involved as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO MIN 0071001000 ***
The Vikings kept Rob Gronkowski out of the end zone last week--with a little (a lot of?) help from a limited snap count. Graham is unlikely to suffer the same fate, and Minnesota is equally as unlikely to be able to contain him.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO MIN 2244 ***
The Vikes have allowed multiple field goals in each game this season, and the Saints should give Graham plenty of opportunity to swing the leg this week. Even counting by ones he should be just fine fantasy-wise.

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 @ATL 0000022011 ***
The Falcons have held a pair of talented quarterbacks in relative check--one TD each to Drew Brees and Andy Dalton--while McCown has yet to hit the 200-yard mark in pewter. Tough to see him getting on track enough here to warrant serious fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bobby Rainey, TB @ATL 9013200000 ***
Rainey has more upside than erstwhile starter Doug Martin: he's healthier, and he's coming off a game in which he rolled up 174 yards from scrimmage. No team has surrendered more RB TDs or combo yards to RBs than the Falcons, so while Martin is the riskier share of this split backfield Rainey appears to be the better fantasy option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Doug Martin, TB @ATL 00000000 *
Lots of "ifs" here, with little time to answer them before a Thursday kickoff. Even if Martin plays in an extremely favorable matchup he'll be sharing touches with Bobby Rainey. Is a partial, hobbled Martin worth it against a Falcons D that's allowed more RB combo yardage and RB TDs than any other team this year? Probably not.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Vincent Jackson, TB @ATL 005701000 ****
Subdued Josh McCown numbers have kept a lid on VJax's productivity thus far this season, but he certainly knows his way around the Atlanta secondary--10-165-1 and 10-138-2 in the two-game set last season. Through two games this year Falcons have already allowed three different receivers to score and/or top 75 yards; even with McCown struggling those feel like baseline numbers for Jackson this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB @ATL 005600000 ***
It's been a slow build for the rookie, who has yet to score or top 50 yards as a pro. A date with a Falcons' secondary that's allowed multiple wideouts to turn one or both of those tricks in each of the first two games this season could be just what the doctor ordered to get Evans onto the fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Brandon Myers, TB @ATL 004300000 ***
Myers has filled in admirably while Austin Seferian-Jenkins adjusts to the NFL lifestyle and grapples with injury issues. Admirable, however, doesn't quite cut it for your fantasy lineup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Patrick Murray, TB @ATL 2222 ****
The Falcons have allowed multiple field goal attempts in five of their last six, including both games this season, and last year they let Rian Lindell try three treys in each end of the home-and-home series. That should provide Murray with ample opportunity to build on his one career NFL field goal.

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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