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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
RB Steven Jackson 60 1-10
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 5-50,1
WR Harry Douglas 5-50,1
WR Devin Hester 1-20
WR Julio Jones 4-60
WR Roddy White 8-120,1
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 TB 0000025021 ****
After facing second- and third-string QBs to start the season, the Bucs might be shocked to see Ryan. He's taken Tampa for 300 yards or multiple TDs in five of the last six meetings, including both last year; don't look for Lovie's Tampa-2 to fare much better.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL TB 601000000 ***
Jackson has been topping out around a dozen carries and 50 or so yards--hardly fantasy-helper numbers. You could expect an uptick against a decimated Bucs d-line that's held DeAngelo Williams and Zac Stacy to 72 and 71 yards, respectively, but you're still barely on the fringe of fantasy respectability, hoping for a pass interference call in the end zone to set you up for a one-yard fall into the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL TB 3001100000 ***
At best Rodgers is sharing the smaller half of the Falcons' backfield pie with the likes of Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman. And while Tampa's defensive front has been hit hard with injuries that's still not enough to suggest he'll be much of a fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL TB 0081101000 ***
Jones missed both ends of this season series last year, but he's scored or topped 100 yards (or both) in three of four career meetings with the Bucs and has scored or topped 100 yards in each game thus far this season. Sounds like a trend worth riding.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL TB 004500000 *
White has topped 75 yards against the Bucs just once in their past 16 meetings, and he hasn't hit that mark yet this season. He has, however, found the end zone and he scored the only time he faced Tampa Bay last season. He's clearly running as WR2 to Julio Jones, but this isn't a bad situation to be running WR2 in.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL TB 004400000 ***
Douglas blew up the Bucs with 6-134-1 and 7-149-1 last season, but Julio Jones missed both outings and Roddy White was available for just one. With both Falcons studs back Douglas is clearly the third wheel, so he's a fringe fantasy option at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL TB 003200000 ****
Given Toilolo's role in this offense you'll need a TD to wring fantasy value out of him. It's something Tony Gonzalez couldn't pull off last year and it's not something you should bank on here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL TB 3333 ****
Only two teams have allowed more field goal attempts thus far this year than the Bucs, so Bryant should have the opportunity to swing his leg this week.

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 Josh McCown, TB @ATL 0000022011 ***
The Falcons have held a pair of talented quarterbacks in relative check--one TD each to Drew Brees and Andy Dalton--while McCown has yet to hit the 200-yard mark in pewter. Tough to see him getting on track enough here to warrant serious fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bobby Rainey, TB @ATL 9013200000 ***
Rainey has more upside than erstwhile starter Doug Martin: he's healthier, and he's coming off a game in which he rolled up 174 yards from scrimmage. No team has surrendered more RB TDs or combo yards to RBs than the Falcons, so while Martin is the riskier share of this split backfield Rainey appears to be the better fantasy option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Doug Martin, TB @ATL 00000000 *
Lots of "ifs" here, with little time to answer them before a Thursday kickoff. Even if Martin plays in an extremely favorable matchup he'll be sharing touches with Bobby Rainey. Is a partial, hobbled Martin worth it against a Falcons D that's allowed more RB combo yardage and RB TDs than any other team this year? Probably not.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Vincent Jackson, TB @ATL 005701000 ****
Subdued Josh McCown numbers have kept a lid on VJax's productivity thus far this season, but he certainly knows his way around the Atlanta secondary--10-165-1 and 10-138-2 in the two-game set last season. Through two games this year Falcons have already allowed three different receivers to score and/or top 75 yards; even with McCown struggling those feel like baseline numbers for Jackson this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB @ATL 005600000 ***
It's been a slow build for the rookie, who has yet to score or top 50 yards as a pro. A date with a Falcons' secondary that's allowed multiple wideouts to turn one or both of those tricks in each of the first two games this season could be just what the doctor ordered to get Evans onto the fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Brandon Myers, TB @ATL 004300000 ***
Myers has filled in admirably while Austin Seferian-Jenkins adjusts to the NFL lifestyle and grapples with injury issues. Admirable, however, doesn't quite cut it for your fantasy lineup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Patrick Murray, TB @ATL 2222 ****
The Falcons have allowed multiple field goal attempts in five of their last six, including both games this season, and last year they let Rian Lindell try three treys in each end of the home-and-home series. That should provide Murray with ample opportunity to build on his one career NFL field goal.

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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