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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 Mohamed Sanu 4-50
TE Logan Paulsen 4-50,1
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 0000023012 ***
Ryan was terrible in the Week 14 game, tossing three picks against one TD and 221 yards gained. He has just three TD passes in his last four games and doesn't deserve consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL @NO 6013200000 ***
Freeman is coming off his best performance of the year and most well-rounded effort. The Falcons could be without Tevin Coleman again, so check back Friday. The Saints provided Freeman 91 yards on 24 carries in the Week 14 contest. He scored once and didn't add a reception. The Saints are a midrange defense stats-wise over the last five weeks.

Update: Coleman has been removed from the injury report.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL @NO 3002200000 *
Coleman remains in the concussion protocol as of Wednesday's session. He last played in Week 14 against these Saints, finishing with 32 yards on nine carries before an early exit. They may not rush him back with the way Devontae Freeman played last week.

Update: Coleman has been removed from the injury report.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hardy, ATL @NO 002301000 ***
Hardy has two scores in the past five weeks (3 games), though gamers can look elsewhere for a deep flier.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @NO 004600000 ***
Jones (ankle) has just two scores (in one game) over the last eight contests, and his season total is somehow only three. The last time he played the Saints was just two short weeks ago, and the veteran saw 11 targets for five catches and 98 yards worth of gains. New Orleans has allowed big receptions (6th) and yardage (4th) figures over the last five games, though only one in 13.6 snares has found paydirt (17th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL @NO 003400000 ***
Sanu (knee) is enjoying his best fantasy season to date, and his strongest PPR effort came two weeks again vs. New Orleans (6-83-1). The veteran sidekick gets another crack at exploiting a defense that will be trained on limiting Julio Jones. Wideouts have scored six times in the last five games vs. this defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Hooper, ATL @NO 002300000 ***
Hooper has gone five straight games without a score, and his limited role makes the second-year tight end a fantasy anchor without finding the end zone. He caught a 2-23-0 line in Week 14 vs. the Saints.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @NO 2222 ***
Bryant has a midrange matchup, on paper, but anything can happen went two divisional talents face off. The Saints have given up two field goal attempts and 2.4 extra point tries per game, or the 13th-most for both on a weekly average.

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 Jacquizz Rodgers 20 5-50,1
WR DeSean Jackson 4-60

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 20000021012 ***
Winston's Week 8 game against the Panthers was his worst fantasy effort with more than 13 attempts this year. Over the past five weeks, Carolina has been slaughtered by the position. No team has been worse, in fact. In those contests, quarterbacks averaged 286.5 yards (2nd) and a TD every 10.8 connections (4th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Peyton Barber, TB @CAR 4002200000 **
Barber probably will see the majority of the touches, though he has a matchup that isn't too appealing. Carolina has given up a TD every 25.3 totes since Week 10, which is good for ninth. Otherwise, every other notable fantasy determinant is in the bottom half of the league.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB @CAR 007700000 ***
No team has provided receivers more receptions (15.8), yards (204.5), standard fantasy points (31.1) and PPR points (43) per outing than the Panthers in the past five weeks. Evans caught 50 percent of his Week 8 targets for a 5-60-0 line vs. Carolina.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB @CAR 004500000 ***
Humphries could see a few more looks if D-Jax doesn't play. Even then, his role is limited. Despite the upside of the best matchup of the week, starting him is tough to justify.

Update: Jackson will not play in Week 16.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Cameron Brate, TB @CAR 006601000 ***
Carolina presents a so-so matchup -- tough on receptions, easier on allowing scores -- for Brate. His role will be increased by the severity of O.J. Howard's injury, one that has landed him on IR.

Update: Brate (hip, knee) is questionable and was limited in practice all week. He's a gametime decision.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, TB @CAR 2222 ***
The Chargers present the fourth-worst matchup for each of FGAs per game, fantasy points per contest, combined kicking chances and possible fantasy points since Week 10.

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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