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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 Andre Roberts 3-40
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 NO 0000028020 ***
The Saints have given up the 11th most fantasy points per game since Week 11. Most of the success can be attributed to QBs averaging top-10 figures in passing yards per game, TD efficiency, and points per completion. Ryan went for 240-2-0 in the last meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL NO 9025400000 ***
Both Freeman and Tevin Coleman annihilated the Saints in Week 3. Freemen amassed 207 offensive yards and a score on his way to a 31.7-point day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL NO 6012200000 ***
The Saints offer a top-10 PPR matchup for the versatile, second-year back. Coleman has to be licking his chops for another shot at the Saints. He scored three times and finished with 29.9 PPR points in the Week 3 meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL NO 0081001000 **
Jones was shut down in Week 3, grabbing a mere catch on seven targets that went for 16 yards. The Saints have allowed a TD every 11.3 catches by receivers in the past five weeks, and the position has averaged top-10 figures per game in both catches (13.6) and yards (170).

Update: Taylor Gabriel is out, so look for extra targets to come Jones' way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hardy, ATL NO 002201000 ***
Despite a good matchup, Hardy doesn't see enough volume to warrant a safe fantasy play in Week 17.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL NO 005600000 ***
Sanu has been too quiet lately, and he hasn't scored since Week 8. He was not much of a factor in the earlier meeting, either. Avoid him in all formats.

Update: Now that Taylor Gabriel has been ruled out, Sanu should have enough of a role to deserve fantasy attention in deeper formats.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL NO 1155 ***
The Saints offer a top-12 opponent for Bryant, giving up 9-for-10 on field goals and 13-for-14 on point-afters since Week 11.

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
TB vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 10 230,2
RB Doug Martin 100,1 4-40
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 5-50,1
WR DeSean Jackson 4-60
PK Nick Folk 1 FG 2 XP

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 CAR 20000027011 ***
Carolina has given up seven touchdowns while picking off six balls in the last five games. This is a neutral matchup using data from that window. Winston managed only 219 yards and a TD in the Week 5 game vs. the Panthers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB CAR 10000023011 ***
The Bills have allowed the third lowest per-game yardage figure (207) over the past five games, and quarterbacks have averaged 19.0 points in standard fantasy scoring. Fitzpatrick is not worth relying on in traditional setups.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, TB CAR 9015400000 ***
Carolina has been a good place to find success for fantasy backs. In the last five games, the position has averaged a rushing TD per game and the second most receptions (6.8).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB CAR 0061001000 ***
He posted a 6-89-1 line in Week 5's meeting, and after a few quiet games, Evans was a help to gamers last week with 22.7 PPR points. The Panthers have given up a lot of yards and catches to receivers of late, but this is the second stingiest defense for allowing TDs. Evans should change that trend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeSean Jackson, TB CAR 0061001000 ***
Jackson has been as hot as anyone entering this one, and he did some damage the first time around, too, with a 5-96-1 line. New York has nothing at stake and could rest key defenders.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB CAR 004500000 ***
Humphries is a wildcard most any week, and the Panthers provide a top-10 matchup to exploit. You could do worse if the thought is finding a flex flier.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Roberto Aguayo, TB CAR 3322 ***
The rookie has been pretty darn good over the last five weeks in comparison to his early-season woes. Carolina gave up the most field goal chances per game in the last five weeks, which helps propel this to being Week 17's best matchup for kickers.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Folk, TB CAR 2222 ***
Buffalo is a solid matchup for Folk. The Bills have given up 9-for-10 on FGAs and 14-for-14 on XPAs in the last five weeks.

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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