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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: SF 27, NO 24 (Line: SF by 2.5)

Players Updated: Colin Kaepernick

Players to Watch: Colin Kaepernick

The 7-2-1 49ers (which is admittedly awkward just to write) hit the road where they are 3-1 to face the 5-5 Saints who are on a three game winning streak and finally able to score more than their defense hands out. The 49ers won 36-32 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year held in San Francisco. This is a benchmark game for the Saints and a way to show that the Falcons win was not a fluke. the 49ers come off a Monday night game and maybe have never looked better at least in this millennium.

San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB 30-22 10 STL 24-24
2 DET 27-19 11 CHI 32-7
3 @MIN 13-24 12 @NO -----
4 @NYJ 34-0 13 @STL -----
5 BUF 45-3 14 MIA -----
6 NYG 3-26 15 @NE -----
7 SEA 13-6 16 @SEA -----
8 @ARI 24-3 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 20,1 240,2
RB Frank Gore 100,1 3-20
RB Kendall Hunter 30 3-20
WR Anquan Boldin 5-60
WR Michael Crabtree 5-70,1
WR Steve Johnson 6-80,1
WR Brandon Lloyd 3-40
TE Vernon Davis 5-60,1
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The very same team that could not beat the Rams and ended in the first tie in five years was shifted into high gear last week and added a rocket pack as well named Colin Kaepernick. They brought down the Bears in short order and looked absolutely dominating in every facet of the game. Now instead of playing perhaps the best defense, they get to go face one of the worst.

This could end up messy. Alex Smith is out with a concussion but Colin Kaepernick was so impressive that he's the starter this week and according to HC Jim Harbaugh, he'll continue to be the starter if he has "the hot hand". He certainly did against the Bears throwing for 243 yards and two scores, extending plays with his legs and looking rather Steve Young-ish for one game anyway. This week he draws the Saints secondary which can only make him look better.

Frank Gore ran well and has been in good shape in recent weeks. But he only scored once in the last five weeks and Kendall Hunter is horning in on the action as well with a short rushing score on the Bears Monday night. Gore remains the primary back and takes a big chunk of the workload. LaMichael James and Brandon Jacobs are apparently still playing dominoes in the cafeteria. Gore rushed for 89 yards on 13 runs and caught seven passes for 38 yards in the playoff meeting with the Saints last year.

Vernon Davis hadn't scored in six weeks and was on a steak of sub-40 yard games. Then one Kaepernick later, he turns in a season best six catches for 83 yards and one score. This is not the week to be Alex Smith. Davis had a monster game with Smith in the playoffs when he posted 180 yards and two scores against the Saints.

Michael Crabtree caught four passes for 25 yards and one score versus the Saints last year and on Monday, he ended with 31 yards on three receptions with his third straight game where he scored. Kaepernick had it all working on Monday against a very good defense. He's definitely one to watch this week versus a far less formidable secondary in New Orleans though this time - the defense knows what he looks like.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 12 16 22 12 15 24
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 32 30 31 27 23 3

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Colin Kaepernick, SF CHI 30100023011 ***
Kaep did just enough last week in Dallas, containing himself to 201 and 2 while his defense and ground game did the rest. He may have to work a bit harder this week to keep pace with the Bears' offense, but he certainly doesn't come to the table empty handed--or footed, as it were.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF CHI 401000000 ***
Hyde certainly flashed in the season opener, offering a taste of what's to come once Frank Gore finally calls it a career. He'll be the junior partner in this committee, but considering that the Bills had three backs top 60 combo yards last week there should be more than enough for two Niners to get their fantasy fill.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF CHI 700000000 ***
Chicago still has issues stopping the run, which bodes well for Gore as the lead dog in San Francisco's backfield tag team. Gore should get the early looks; whether or not that also yields goal line opportunities marks the difference between a solid fantasy outing and a really good one.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF CHI 004701000 ***
That Bolden carved out 8-99 against a porous Dallas secondary isn't surprising; that it came at the expense of Michael Crabtree's numbers is. Maybe it's injury related; maybe it's Colin Kaepernick's comfort level. Whatever the case, at this juncture Boldin deserves the same fantasy consideration Crabtree gets; plan your lineup accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF CHI 004400000 ***
Crabtree was less WR1 and more third wheel in the San Francisco passing game last week, taking a back seat to both Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. That should be the exception rather than the rule; we'll give him another opportunity to prove that theory before relegating him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF CHI 002300000 ***
With Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Anquan Boldin all fighting for whatever targets exist in this run-first offense there's hardly enough to make Johnson worthy of fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF CHI 005600000 ***
Shutting out Scott Chandler, like the Bears did last week, is one thing; limiting Davis is another thing entirely. Not saying he'll put up 130-plus yards on the Bears like Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed did last season, but another solid fantasy outing is definitely on the radar.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF CHI 1133 ***
Dawson is still looking for his first field goal of the 2014 season; odds are he'll get it--and then some--this week, as he booted multiple treys in seven of eight by The Bay last year.

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL 31-27
2 @CAR 27-35 11 @OAK 38-17
3 KC 24-27 12 SF -----
4 @GB 27-28 13 @ATL -----
5 SD 31-24 14 @NYG -----
6 BYE ----- 15 TB -----
7 @TB 35-28 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN 14-34 17 CAR -----
9 PHI 28-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 270,3
RB Mark Ingram 30
RB Pierre Thomas 10
WR Marques Colston 5-70,1
TE Jimmy Graham 6-60,1
TE Benjamin Watson 4-40
PK Shayne Graham 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Three straight wins have the Saints at .500 and at least the win over the Falcons says it wasn't just an easy stretch of the schedule. The Saints have a chance to redeem themselves for the loss in the playoffs last year when the 49ers took them down. What is encouraging is that the defense is doing at least incrementally better in recent weeks and the offense is starting to hit a higher gear and even adding in more rushing than before. That may take a downward turn against the 49ers defense this week.

Drew Brees hasn't thrown for less than two scores since week two and threw for three or more seven times already. He hasn't broken 300 yards in the last four games though in part because the rushing effort has been stronger. Brees passed for 462 yards and four scores in San Francisco last January.

Darren Sproles was inactive last week because of his hand and that makes three games he's been out. He is tentatively expected to be back for this game but in his absence, the rushing actually improved. Pierre Thomas is getting an ever-shrinking portion of the work now while Chris Ivory is running 8 to 10 times per game and scored twice in the last three weeks. Mark Ingram has back-to-back games with exactly 67 rushing yards and he scored on a 27-yard run in Oakland. Ingram looks like he is running with more speed and power for some reason. It all mixes in and helped the Saints on their three game winning streak.

No changes here to the trio of receivers with Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham accounting for nearly all the passing yardage and scores. Graham scored in each of the last four games and totals nine touchdowns on the year. He caught five passes for 103 yards and two scores in the last meeting with the 49ers.

The 49ers are bringing one of the NFL's best defenses to town this week but they had just as good last January when the Saints were able to post 462 pass yards. This should be a downturn for the rushers and the return of Sproles means that four guys will be in play in the backfield. No matter the defense, the Saints passing game remains a must play set of players.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 4 9 4 30 20
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 2 1 11 4 2 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO @CLE 0000033020 ***
Joe Haden can't be everywhere, as evidenced by Ben Roethlisberger's 365 yards against the Browns last weekend. Brees is familiar with that neighborhood, topping that number five times last year, and he should at least be in the vicinity this week as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO @CLE 601000000 ***
The goal line back against a defense that allowed two RB rushing scores--including one to a goal line back--last week; seems like another solid opportunity for Ingram to carve out fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO @CLE 3005400000 ***
The pass-catching back against a Cleveland defense that surrendered the second-most RB receiving yards in Week 1--to a Steelers team not exactly known for throwing to its backs, no less. Yep, Thomas's role in the New Orleans offense should once again yield fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Khiry Robinson, NO @CLE 300000000 ***
At this juncture Robinson feels like the most volatile member of the New Orleans backfield triumvirate, with a role less clearly defined than that of either Mark Ingram or Pierre Thomas. As such he's the riskiest fantasy play as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @CLE 006901000 ***
Plenty to like about Cooks' 7-77-1 NFL debut last week. With Joe Haden likely on Marques Colston or maybe even Jimmy Graham, that leaves Cooks with fellow rookie Justin Gilbert or maybe Buster Skrine. The ROY campaign continues...
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO @CLE 005700000 ***
Colston is technically the Saints' WR1, but that's no guarantee he'll draw full-time Joe Haden this week--plus, we saw last week via Antonio Brown that Haden isn't necessarily a death sentence for fantasy stats. Brees is slinging, Cleveland has corner concerns everywhere Haden isn't, and Colston has something to prove after fumbling away last week's game; it adds up to a solid fantasy start this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO @CLE 006801000 ***
All that's missing now is the dunks. No reason to think the Browns have a solution other NFL defenses don't.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO @CLE 2233 ****
It's good to be back tacking on points for an offensive juggernaut like the Saints, especially against a Browns' defense that's allowed multiple field goal attempts in three straight games and seven of the last eight.

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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