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 @SF 0000029021 ***
If your league penalizes for INTs... well, you likely knew that going in so Cutler's picks won't come as a surprise. But he's also a solid bet for multiple touchdowns and decent yardage, and for as vaunted a defense as the Niners sport they've allowed 281, 407 and 348 yards in their last three regular-season tilts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @SF 8007600000 ****
It wouldn't be off base to characterize Forte as a rich man's DeMarco Murry. And given that Murray carved out 143 yards from scrimmage against the Niners in the season opener, Forte's fantasy prospects are favorable once again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @SF 006701000 *
Marshall remains the top dog in Chicago's passing game pecking order, especially if Alshon Jeffery's injury limits his availability. The Niners held Dez Bryant in relative check (4-55) in the season opener, but don't let that dissuade you from plugging Brandon into your fantasy lineup.
Update: Marshall did not practice all week and is listed as questionable for this week's game in San Francisco. With Alshon Jeffery also questionable, the Bears will take some pregame monitoring for fantasy purposes.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @SF 004701000 *
Jeffery has some injury issues to deal with, so keep tabs on his status later in the week. Assuming he goes, he's an every week fantasy start with upside against a defense that allowed three different wideouts to top 50 yards last week in Dallas.
Update: Jeffery's only practice this week came on a limited basis Friday, and he is officially listed as questionable for this week due to the hamstring injury that knocked him out of Chicago's Week 1 loss to Buffalo. You'll likely need to wait for a game time confirmation to use Jeffery with confidence this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Santonio Holmes, CHI @SF 002300000 ***
The Niners forced Tony Romo to diversify last week, and he responded by generating three 50-yard receivers and another with 42. Holmes is clearly the third wheel in Chicago, but if San Fran takes a similar approach to defending Marshall and Jeffery he could force himself into the fantasy photo.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @SF 003300000 ***
With both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in and out of the lineup with various nicks and bruises last week, Bennett stepped up with 10 targets, eight catches, 70 yards and a TD. He could be in line for something similar if Jeffery's injury limits his availability; otherwise temper expectations as Bennett is clearly behind Marshall and Alshon in the passing game pecking order.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @SF 2222 ***
Old Candlestick wasn't particularly kind to opposing kickers; six of the eight who visited San Fran last season left with one or zero field goals. Whether or not the new digs will be as frustrating remains to be seen; in the interim, Gould remains a decent fantasy play tacking on points for a reasonably prolific offense.

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 Jake Locker, TEN DAL 10000029020 ***
If you accept the premise that Locker is an upgrade over Kirk Cousins, Matt McGloin, and Christian Ponder--the only quarterbacks in the past nine games not to throw multiple touchdowns against the Dallas secondary--then you have to like his chances of building on Week 1's 266 & 2.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shonn Greene, TEN DAL 701000000 ***
The Cowboys couldn't slow the 49ers' ground game tag team of Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde; no reason to think the Titans' version of Old Guy/Young Guy shouldn't have similar success. And since Old Guy is getting the vast majority of the carries, he's a solid fantasy bet this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hunter, TEN DAL 005801000 ***
Consider Hunter's 3-63 on a team-high eight targets last week as an appetizer; against a Cowboys defense that's been gutted at cornerback, you may get the breakout game you drafted him for.
Update: After practicing on a limited basis Thursday, Hunter should be good to go for this weekend's tasty fantasy matchup with the Cowboys' depleted secondary.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kendall Wright, TEN DAL 0081000000 ***
Wright remains the volume guy, the Mary Ann to Justin Hunter's Ginger. Hey, nothing wrong with Mary Ann--especially against a wafer-thin secondary like Dallas'.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nate Washington, TEN DAL 004500000 ***
You could go three deep against a secondary like the Cowboys, but that's better played once the bye weeks hit; until then, Washington's an unreliable fantasy third wheel.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN DAL 005501000 ****
Walker's no Vernon Davis, who scored twice against the Cowboys last week, but he managed a touchdown of his own and is involved enough in this offense to warrant regular fantasy consideration.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN DAL 1144 ***
Succop doesn't have the added bonus of revenge against his former team, but he should still enjoy the benefits of facing a struggling defense.

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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