FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 9
2012
KC at SD (THU) CAR at WAS *DET at JAC TB at OAK
*ARI at GB CHI at TEN *MIA at IND *PHI at NO (MON)
BAL at CLE *DAL at ATL MIN at SEA Bye:
*UPDATED *BUF at HOU DEN at CIN *PIT at NYG NE , NYJ, SF, STL

Prediction: CHI 27, TEN 13 (Line: CHI by 3.5)

Players to Watch: Chris Johnson

The 6-1 Bears maintain a two game lead over the NFC North and are on a five game winning streak. The 3-5 Titans are just 2-2 at home and come off a loss to the visiting Colts last week.

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 13-7 16 @ARI -----
8 CAR 23-22 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI @ TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 10 260,2
RB Matt Forte 90,1 6-40
WR Brandon Marshall 6-100,1
WR Josh Morgan 2-20
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40,1
PK Robbie Gould 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Bears were blessed with a fairly light schedule to open the season and this game is just another that they should be able to win. But starting in week 10 it all gets much tougher with the Texans and Seahawks coming to town and a road trip to San Francisco in addition to four more divisional matchups. The division title may well end up decided in week 15 when the Packers come to town after handing the Bears their only loss so far this year.

Jay Cutler's been good enough to score in all but one game so far but never more than twice and on the season he stands at just nine touchdowns against eight interceptions. He was banged around in the Panthers game last week and that porous Chicago line has given up 11 sacks over just the last two games - both at home no less. The offense is getting pretty predictable when it passes though almost no one has slowed down the connection between Cutler and Marshall.

Marshall averages seven catches per game and he's done better than that in recent weeks. Marshall topped 100 yards in three games already and has not been under 80 yards per game since week three. Problem is that he gets almost no help from his fellow wideouts who collectively share only two scores all year. Alshon Jeffrey is hoping to return in week ten but even he was of marginal production prior to hurting his hand. The tight ends are of no help either though Kellen Davis scored last week on his only catch in the game.

The Bears offense runs through Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. Michael Bush began the year as a factor of sorts with three scores in the first three weeks and nearly splitting carries with Forte but has since declined until bottoming out last week with just three runs for five yards. Forte gets the goal line work now as well and finally scored against the Panthers for the first time since the season opener. Forte's been solid with 90+ total yards in the last three weeks and is in full health again.

This week should see both Forte running well and plenty of chances for Marshall to increase his weekly averages for catches and yardage. The Titans defense remains one of the worst in the league and ranked at #32 against tight ends makes Davis a chance for another score. Though again - it would be his only catch in the game. The Bears are #2 against running backs. That should be plenty good enough to control this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 25 13 12 31 10 1
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 28 30 18 32 28 24

  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.

Tennessee Titans
Homefield: LP Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 NE 13-34 10 @MIA -----
2 @SD 10-38 11 BYE -----
3 DET 44-41 12 @JAC -----
4 @HOU 14-38 13 HOU -----
5 @MIN 7-30 14 @IND -----
6 PIT 26-23 15 NYJ -----
7 @BUF 35-34 16 @GB -----
8 IND 13-19 17 JAC -----
9 CHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
WR Nate Washington 4-60,1
WR Kendall Wright 3-40

Pregame Notes: The Titans have three wins but each time it seems like a trap game that goes well for them. The passing effort remains in neutral with game manager Matt Hasselbeck under center but the rushing effort via Chris Johnson appears to have taken a permanent turn for the better. That still doesn't make the Titans a competitive team yet. What is most germane this week is that the three wins all featured 26 points or more scored. When they lose, they have not scored more than 14 points in any game and that's with ample garbage time. Since no team scored more than 23 points on the Bears this year, the Titans are not looking at a good situation this week.

Hasselbeck will take the start again this week since Jake Locker remains out with a fracture in his left non-throwing shoulder. HC Mike Munchak insists that Locker remains the starter when healthy but that is looking more like week 12 at the earliest. Hasselbeck threw only one touchdown in every start this year and with the recent success of the rushing offense, he's been mostly a game manager only throwing 30 or 40 passes at most.

After a year and a half of Chris-Johnson-Lite, his jump in production is hard to completely buy into. After running for 141 yards in Houston (who let him burn up the clock for them), he only gained 24 yards on 15 runs in Minnesota where Doug Martin went nuts just last week. But Johnson's totaled over 100 yards against the Steelers, Bills and Colts. In Buffalo, he not only ran for 195 yards, he scored two touchdowns. His only touchdowns in fact. It is undeniably encouraging to see him deliver against good defenses like the Texans and Steelers and then post even bigger stats against weaker teams like the Colts and Bills. This week is a major challenge with the Bears sporting the #2 defense against the position and not allowing any running back scores since the season opener. No running back has rushed for more than 81 yards on them. Johnson can prove definitively that he is back with at least a decent performance this week.

Kenny Britt insists he will play this week despite needing a precautionary MRI Monday because of soreness in his surgically-repaired knee. But he's only scored once all year and three of the four games since he returned have produced fewer than 35 yards. Nate Washington is the most consistent receiver but in Tennessee that doesn't mean much. When Britt, Washington or Kendall Wright end up with more than 60 yards in a game, it means it went really well.

If the Titans can only post 13 points on the Colts last week, chances are they not scoring a lot against the Bears. The only interesting aspect this week is to see what Chris Johnson does against a very good rushing defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 21 28 20 8 23 20
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 6 2 12 18 7 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN @PHI 0000026012 ***
Philly has served up multiple touchdown passes in every game except one; Mettenberger has multiple scoring strikes in two of his three NFL starts. He's been less reliable on the road (small sample size, of course) so temper expectations, but there's at least reason for optimism here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN @PHI 6003200000 ***
Sankey is distancing himself from Shonn Greene in the Tennessee backfield, which isn't necessarily that impressive. It did, however, yield a touchdown last week and should do the same against a Philly D that's allowed five RB scores in the past four games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kendall Wright, TEN @PHI 006801000 ***
Wright remains the volume guy in Tennessee, and sometimes even turns that volume into a touchdown. With Philly surrendering five 100-yard games and seven WR TDs in just the past four games there's plenty of opportunity for Tennessee's receiving corps to take advantage.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nate Washington, TEN @PHI 004700000 ***
Despite being dramatically out-targeted Washington found the end zone last week. Philly has given up plenty to opposing WRs over the past month, so if you're in a pinch Washington could at least be on the fringe of your fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hunter, TEN @PHI 003400000 ***
Philly has allowed five 100-yard outings and seven WR TDs in just the past four games, so if there ever were an opportunity for Hunter to dust off his deep ball skills it would be this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN @PHI 003400000 ***
Philly hasn't given up a TE TD since Week 2, and with Walker still dinged up he's a bit of a fantasy risk this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN @PHI 3311 ***
Succop has just one game of double-digit points in the past two months, and that came against Jacksonville. Don't expect a reprise here.

WEEK 9
2012
KC at SD (THU) CAR at WAS *DET at JAC TB at OAK
*ARI at GB CHI at TEN *MIA at IND *PHI at NO (MON)
BAL at CLE *DAL at ATL MIN at SEA Bye:
*UPDATED *BUF at HOU DEN at CIN *PIT at NYG NE , NYJ, SF, STL

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