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 @NE 0000026021 ***
The list of quarterbacks the Patriots have held without multiple touchdowns includes Matt Cassel, Derek Carr, and the Geno Smith/Michael Vick dual entry. While Cutler was held in check by the Dolphins last week, he's certainly more quarterback than any of the aforementioned strugglers so pencil him in for his usual rounds against New England this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @NE 8016600000 ***
Nothing in the three 100-yard rushing games or four RB receiving scores the Patriots have allowed suggest New England has any hopes of containing Forte this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @NE 006701000 **
Assuming Darrelle Revis shows up on time, does he get Marshall or Alshon Jeffery, or some combination of the two? The Pats haven't allowed a receiver to top 81 yards on them, but they also haven't much in the way of WR talent; the two best they've seen, Mike Wallace and AJ Green, both hit that 81-yard mark and scored. Marshall hasn't seen the Pats since his Dolphins days, but he ruined them the last two times he saw them (both in 2011) with a combined 13-282-1. Pencil him in for a minimum of the 81 and 1 and we'll go from there.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @NE 003400000 ***
If Bill Belichick remembers how Brandon Marshall torched them during his days as a Dolphin it might mean Marshall gets Darrelle Revis... and Jeffery gets to run unabated through the New England secondary. He's as talented a wideout as the Pats have seen, and the talented targets have wound up with 80 yards and a score--a decent day's work for Jeffery.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @NE 005601000 **
Bennett's been relatively quiet since both Bears' wideouts returned to health, but he could return to fantasy relevancy here against a Patriots defense that's allowed two TE TDs in the past four games.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @NE 1133 ****
Gould hasn't cracked double-digits yet this season, has multiple field goals just once in the last month, and can no longer be considered a plug-and-play fantasy option.

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 HOU 0000024012 ***
Charlie Whitehurst hasn't been the answer; maybe Jake Locker isn't the answer, either, or maybe he's just not healthy enough to get back in the saddle. Either way, the Titans plan to roll with the rookie this week. He'll get a Texans' defense that's allowed multiple passing scores in five straight games, but it would take a leap of faith to give him a fantasy play in his first NFL start.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jake Locker, TEN HOU 00000000 **
Either Locker isn't ready yet or the Titans have seen enough to know they won't be renewing his contract at the end of the season. Whatever the reason, Tennessee is giving Zach Mettenberger the start this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN HOU 6002100000 ****
Sankey should again see the bulk of the carries, but if he's losing goal line looks to Jackie Battle and passing game snaps to Dexter McCluster his upside here is limited.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shonn Greene, TEN HOU 200000000 **
Update: Greene is expected to return from his injury absence this week. Brace yourself for more excitement, three yards at a time.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hunter, TEN HOU 003701000 **
The receivers with monster games against Houston have been speed guys, and speed is what Hunter does best. He's wildly inconsistent, but if you're into throwing darts direct one at Hunter; he could give you the home run you're looking for.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kendall Wright, TEN HOU 006600000 **
Wright has been the high volume target, though it remains to be seen whom Zach Mettenberger favors. Odds are the rookie goes where the other QBs have gone, which makes Wright a solid PPR play with upside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN HOU 005700000 ****
Lots of reasons not to like the usually reliable Walker this week: he's had a quiet month statistically, the Texans don't give up much to the position, and new quarterback Zach Mettenberger may not be as fond of the tight end as his predecessors. It adds up to looking for fantasy help elsewhere this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN HOU 3311 **
Succop's scored five or fewer points in five of the last six games. With Tennessee's quarterback issues, you should get your kicks elsewhere.

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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