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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 Devin Hester 1-20
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 NO 0000030020 ***
Ten of the last 11 quarterbacks to face the Saints have thrown multiple touchdowns, with seven of them also topping 300 yards. So if you've been waiting for a quality fantasy effort from Ryan--because he hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns since Week 11--this may be your chance. Something along the lines of his 295 and 2 from the earlier meeting wouldn't surprise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL NO 8016501000 ***
Freeman rolled up 156 yards from scrimmage and scored twice in the earlier meeting with New Orleans. He's regaining his touches and his productivity since coming back from injury, topping 90 combo yards in the three games he's received 20-plus touches and scoring in each of the last two. Over the past eight games the Saints are giving up 191 combo yards and a touchdown to opposing backs; slot Freeman for the lion's share of those numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL NO 0091201000 ***
The Saints haven't had an answer for any receiver of not this season, especially of late as they've surrendered 11 WR TDs in the past month. Julio was "limited" to 6-93 in the previous meeting; that feels like a baseline here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jacob Tamme, ATL NO 003200000 ***
While on the surface the matchup is attractive, the Saints haven't allowed a TE TD in a month; besides, Tamme has been too lightly used over the past month to warrant fantasy attention.

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
WR Vincent Jackson 4-50,1
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 @CAR 20000020012 ***
Volume begats at least modest success against Carolina's pass D, as the last four QBs with 40 or more attempts have all thrown multiple TDs as well. Winston threw for 287 and 2 on 43 attempts in the previous meeting, but he's only been in the 40s or higher twice all season so temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Charles Sims, TB @CAR 2004301000 ***
Sims scored a receiving TD in the earlier meeting with Carolina as Bucs RBs compiled 67 receiving yards. And the Panthers are just a couple weeks removed from Shane Vereen's 8-43-1 receiving line against them. Sims tallied a receiving score last week and has 12-158 receiving over the past three games, so there's PPR and performance upside in this matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Doug Martin, TB @CAR 5001100000 ***
Martin rushed for 106 yards and a TD in the earlier meeting with Carolina, and as he's still very much in contention for the rushing title he'll get plenty of carries. Asking for another hundo is optimistic, however.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB @CAR 003300000 ***
Evans mustered 3-32 against Josh Norman and the Panthers in the earlier meeting while Vincent Jackson went off for 10-147-1 on 15 targets. No VJax this week means more Norman for Evans; he still might be force-fed targets, but the upside is limited by Carolina's pass defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB @CAR 002300000 ***
The upside would be Humphries capitalizing on Carolina's focus on Mike Evans and having the kind of day Vincent Jackson had (10-147-1) against the Panthers. The more likely outcome is another non-fantasy helper for a tertiary Tampa Bay target.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Donteea Dye, TB @CAR 001300000 ***
While Vincent Jackson's absence opens a door, Dye has yet to top one catch in a game so he's not rushing through that opening any time soon.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB @CAR 002200000 ***
ASJ was absent for the earlier meeting with Carolina; now he's back, with 22 targets in the past month and touchdowns in each of the past two games. The Panthers haven't given up as much as 50 yards to a TE since Week 10, only two TE TDs in that span, so lower expectations accordingly.

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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