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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 PHI 50100025020 ***
Keeping up with Philly takes some doing, and all three opposing QBs have responded by throwing multiple touchdowns. That bodes well for Kaepernick; if you add another TD toss to his usual 250 throwing and 50 rushing, he becomes a significant fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF PHI 8011100000 ***
This should be a more favorable matchup for Gore, who was stymied by the Cardinals last week. Three different backs have rushed for at least 70 yards against Philly; so long as Gore doesn't cede too many carries to rookie Carlos Hyde he should be able to turn that workload into a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF PHI 006801000 ***
Lots of opportunities against a secondary that allowed two 100-yard receivers a week ago. Crabtree remains the go-to guy in this passing game, especially if Vernon Davis remains sidelined, and his numbers should reflect that role.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF PHI 004500000 ***
After a big Week 1 Boldin has been quiet--even with Vernon Davis out of the mix last week. Philly just gave up matching 100-yard games to a pair of Redskins receivers, which at least puts Boldin in play for fantasy relevancy this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF PHI 003500000 ***
Johnson stepped up with a big game last week against Arizona, but his 103-yard effort feels more like the exception rather than the rule--especially if Vernon Davis is back in the mix. No reason to chase last week's stat line.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF PHI 005501000 **
Captain Obvious says Davis is a must play if healthy. It's not an overly favorable matchup, but Davis is elite and if he's suited up he belongs in your fantasy lineup.
Update: After not practicing all last week (and subsequently not playing in Week 3), Davis practiced on a limited basis all week. That gives hope he'll play, but it's a late game so you'll need to have a backup plan in case he's scratched Sunday afternoon.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF PHI 1144 ***
Dawson has had inconsistent opportunities thus far this season, but a Philly squad that's allowed multiple field goal attempts in every game this year should tilt the scales towards fantasy usability this week.

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 @DAL 0000032040 ***
Brees has been merely okay by Brees standards, but facing a defense that just gave up a hat trick to Austin Davis you have to think he can ratchet that up a notch on Sunday night.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Khiry Robinson, NO @DAL 500000000 ***
Teams really haven't tried to run against the Cowboys--no back has more than 16 attempts or 67 yards--and with Robinson sharing the workload with Pierre Thomas you can't bank on him for much more than the usual fringe fantasy contribution.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO @DAL 3003200000 ***
The plus side to Thomas is his contributions in the passing game; doesn't hurt that he also swiped a goal line score from Khiry Robinson last week. It's a good matchup but not so good as to elevate Thomas from his usual place amongst the fringe fantasy contributors.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @DAL 007801000 ***
Cooks has been the Saints' most targeted wideout in all three games this season, so he's the most likely of this unit to post helpful fantasy numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO @DAL 002301000 ***
Stills remains a peripheral contributor to this offense. It's a somewhat favorable matchup, maybe even enough to make Stills a viable fantasy option with six teams on the bye.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO @DAL 004600000 ****
New Orleans' passing game hasn't been as explosive as usual, so numbers for the wideouts have been somewhat subdued. If you usually start Colston there's no reason not to do so here, but don't go out of your way to do so.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO @DAL 00101202000 ****
The Cowboys have been an extremely favorable matchup for opposing tight ends--and now they face the best in the business. Should be a banner evening for Graham.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO @DAL 2244 ***
Diminished returns for Graham, and the Cowboys haven't served up a ton of opportunities for opposing kickers. That said, there should be plenty of points scored here so assuming Graham isn't shanking PATs he should be a fantasy helper.

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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