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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 12
2012
HOU at DET (THU) *BAL at SD *MIN at CHI *SF at NO
NE at NYJ (THU) BUF at IND *OAK at CIN *STL at ARI
WAS at DAL (THU) DEN at KC PIT at CLE TEN at JAC
*UPDATED *ATL at TB GB at NYG SEA at MIA *CAR at PHI (MON)

Prediction: ATL 24, TB 27 (Line: ATL by 1)

Players Updated: Julio Jones

Players to Watch: Harry Douglas, Tony Gonzalez, Doug Martin

This is the game that can make the Falcons the official NFC South "Next Big Thing". The 9-1 Falcons are 4-1 on the road and want to beat the 6-4 Buccaneers to maintain a very safe cushion in the division. Thing is - the Bucs are on a four game winning streak and are averaging 34 points over the last six weeks. This is an all new Buccaneers team from the one that won 16-13 when they hosted the Falcons in week three last year and later lost 24-45 in Atlanta. This should be a great game to watch with big fantasy and NFL implications.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO 27-31
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI 23-19
3 @SD 27-3 12 @TB -----
4 CAR 30-28 13 NO -----
5 @WAS 24-17 14 @CAR -----
6 OAK 23-20 15 NYG -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI 30-17 17 TB -----
9 DAL 19-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL @ TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 310,3
QB Matt Schaub 220,2
WR Julio Jones 4-60
WR Mohamed Sanu 4-50
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons remain two games ahead of all other NFC teams though the lost in New Orleans and then discovered the Cardinals were going to be more like a swarm of hornets than the normal obedient family dog. For being 9-1, the Falcons almost never win by more than a touchdown and now may be without Julio Jones this week. The rest of the schedule is not that daunting though and the Buccaneers high scoring ways have been against defenses not up to the Falcons.

Matt Ryan has been a top quarterback all year and currently stands at 20 passing touchdowns. He's thrown over 300 yards five times including each of the last three games though he did not score against the visiting Cowboys or Cardinals these last few weeks. His five interceptions last Sunday was an exception to be ignored and he's facing perhaps the weakest secondary in the NFL this week. Ryan passed for 330 yards and one score in Tampa Bay last year.

Michael Turner scores in most home games but rarely on the road and his yardage has really waned this season with only one 100-yard effort in the last six weeks. He's been a marginal play all year and Jacquizz Rodgers gets just enough work to make Turner worse and yet not enough to allow Rodgers real fantasy value. He typically only runs a few times per game but has been good for four or five receptions for the past month.

Tony Gonzalez has really fallen off in the last five games. After starting out with four touchdowns in the first five weeks, he's scored and totaled more than 45 yards only once. That was against the ultra-weak Saints. Then again - he goes against a soft secondary again this week.

The big question this week is if Julio Jones can play and what he will be like if he does. Jones twisted his ankle in the Saints game and did not practice but suited up for the Cardinals. He was mostly a decoy, catching only three passes for 33 yards and then limping off in the fourth quarter after re-aggravating the injury. Jones typically has not been a major factor in home games other than his presence alone changes the defense. I'll assume a very hobbled Jones plays and adjust as the week progresses and his status becomes more clear. Roddy White should enjoy a nice game this week that could end up really big against a weak secondary that may be missing a starting corner anyway. Harry Douglas steps up to fill in for Jones when needed though he's hardly a 1:1 replacement for the speedy star.

The good thing is that the Buccaneers defense is so bad that they encourage shootouts most weeks. Even without Jones, the Falcons still have the firepower to get into a shootout that we all want to see.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 4 15 6 3 3 14
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 30 18 32 19 9 9

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL CAR 0000024022 ***
Carolina ranks among the top defenses of quarterbacks, holding the position to just 592 yards and four touchdown passes in three games while picking off four balls. Ryan threw only one touchdown in two late-season games vs. Carolina in 2015.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL CAR 4014300000 ***
Coleman has arrived, folks! Sure, it was the Saints, but he has been gearing up all season. Carolina has ceded three touchdowns in total to RBs, good for 20.7 PPR points per game. Keep Coleman in the lineup despite the intimidating matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL CAR 4004301000 ***
Freeman righted the ship last week with a big day against the Saints. Carolina's defense has given up 11 catches for 87 yards and a TD to running backs via the air. On the ground, the position has racked up 243 yards and two scores. Freeman is a sound PPR play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL CAR 004600000 *
Julio wasn't a factor last week and the Falcons still racked up point after point. Go figure. Jones had his way with Carolina in Week 16 last season, going for 178 on nine catches and scoring from 70 yards out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL CAR 003400000 ***
Sanu is banged up and considered day to day. Check back later in the week for an update.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jacob Tamme, ATL CAR 005601000 ***
Carolina's offensive love for the position is equally matched on defense. They lay down for enemy tight ends, giving up a 15-209-2 line through three weeks. Tamme is a fine flex or TE1 in PPR leagues.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CAR 3322 ***
Carolina has given up only four field goal attempts this year, but they haven't faced an offense as explosive as Atlanta's. Bryant is a fine play in all fantasy formats.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CAR 16-10 10 SD 34-24
2 @NYG 34-41 11 @CAR 27-21
3 @DAL 10-16 12 ATL -----
4 WAS 22-24 13 @DEN -----
5 BYE ----- 14 PHI -----
6 KC 38-10 15 @NO -----
7 NO 28-35 16 STL -----
8 @MIN 36-17 17 @ATL -----
9 @OAK 42-32 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Doug Martin 100,1 4-40
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 5-50,1
WR Vincent Jackson 4-50,1
WR Cecil Shorts 3-50
TE Brandon Myers 4-50,1

Pregame Notes: This week provides a true measuring stick for the Bucs to see just how good they have become. So far this point explosion of the last six weeks have come against mostly below average defenses and teams with losing records. This is a respect sort of game and a confidence builder if they can win it. There are still some bumps left in the road before January - @DEN, @NO and @ATL and a loss this week could turn all the progress around for the rest of the year.

Freeman has been a nice surprise this year, picking up on all the promise of 2010 that fell flat last season. He's thrown for multiple scores in each of the last six games and currently has 21 passing touchdowns - one more than Ryan. His yardage tends to be lower thanks in part to a very good rushing effort by Doug Martin. The addition of Vincent Jackson seems to have been the one element needed to bring it all together.

The rookie Martin rushed for 138 yards in Carolina for his third 100+ yard effort in the last four weeks. He's totaled 100+ yards in each of the last six weeks and scored seven times in that timeframe. He's clearly taken the lead of all rookie running backs, even better than Trent Richardson in Cleveland. The offense started to come together after the first month of the season and can now provide a powerful and balanced attack thanks to Martin. He's the rare workhorse back who does not share his workload with anyone.

Dallas Clark is still rarely good for more than 30 yards in a game but scored in each of the last two games and comes off a season high seven catches for 58 yards in Carolina. That's roughly double what he did in literally every other game though.

Vincent Jackson may not do much until the fourth quarter but he usually has a decent game. Last week it was 94 yards and a score late in the Panthers tilt. That was his seventh touchdown of the season and his workload typically reflects how well the running game is going and how badly the Bucs need to pass. He's been a star in all recent home games except for the Chargers who apparently were not going to be beaten by their ex-wideout. Mike Williams remains a good #2 though a little quieter in recent weeks.

The Falcons secondary has been their defensive strength but less so stopping the run. That should keep Doug Martin busy trying to keep the Falcons offense off the field.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 13 7 14 25 11 13
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 9 25 2 22 4 8

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jameis Winston, TB DEN 20000023012 ***
Which Winston is going to show up this week, the multiple-TD or turnover-laden version? Denver is a terrible matchup for him, and gamers would need to be stuck in tough situation to warrant a start of the promising second-year passer.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Charles Sims, TB DEN 5006701000 ***
Denver's run defense misses Malik Jackson. Sims isn't exactly a world-beater, but his open-field agility allows for unexpected gains in PPR scoring. The Broncos have granted 24.3 fantasy points per game to PPR backs, which is the 13th weakest defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB DEN 005500000 **
Evans is a fringe play. His athleticism and red zone prowess makes him a TD threat, but the matchup is brutal. He'll be double-teamed all day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB DEN 003400000 ***
Humphries is a sneaky play in DFS and even to cover a bye week. He will see singles as Mike Evans is doubled. You could do worse as a flier choice, despite the matchup being harsh.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Vincent Jackson, TB DEN 003200000 ***
Only two teams have been tougher on the position, and it's not like Jackson is doing anything to warrant a starting spot for gamers. Sit him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Cameron Brate, TB DEN 005500000 ***
No Austin Seferian-Jenkins led to a huge day for Brate. He'll remain involved and deserves fantasy love. Denver may have something to say about that since the unit hasn't allowed a touchdown to tight ends.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Roberto Aguayo, TB DEN 3311 ***
The matchup is on the lower end of being acceptable, much like the rookie's accuracy. Can Denver's stalwart defense completely crush Tampa's sometimes-dangerous offense?

WEEK 12
2012
HOU at DET (THU) *BAL at SD *MIN at CHI *SF at NO
NE at NYJ (THU) BUF at IND *OAK at CIN *STL at ARI
WAS at DAL (THU) DEN at KC PIT at CLE TEN at JAC
*UPDATED *ATL at TB GB at NYG SEA at MIA *CAR at PHI (MON)

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