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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 SD 40000023020 ***
Kaepernick's last fantasy game of note came in Week 6; in eight subsequent games he's failed to throw multiple touchdowns, topped 240 passing yards only twice (topping out at 263) and rushed for more than 26 yards once. Nothing in that stat line suggests he warrants fantasy consideration here
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bruce Miller, SF SD 3004400000 *
With Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde both iffy at best this week the backfield load falls on Miller and Alfonso Smith--who combined for 10 yards on six carries last week. At least Miller produced a little something as a receiver with four catches for 56 yards, so if you're in a PPR league and desperate for backfield help he's your guy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfonso Smith, SF SD 2001100000 ***
Smith could see action as one of the only healthy backs in San Francisco's stable this week. He's done nothing to suggest the experience will be rewarding for fantasy owners.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF SD 006801000 **
It's been a month since a 49ers wideout produced a fantasy helper, and the way Colin Kaepernick is playing further fantasy help is far from imminent from the San Francisco passing attack. If you must start one Boldin has the most recent touchdown and 100 yard game, but even he would be a stretch at this juncture.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF SD 004501000 **
The Niners haven't produced a fantasy helper in quite some time, and the Chargers have been allowing only one fantasy helper per game. If that's the case, Crabtree falls behind Anquan Boldin in the passing game pecking order, though neither has a tremendous shot at a productive fantasy outing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF SD 003300000 ***
A Colin Kaepernick-led passing game barely goes two-deep; three deep seems like a wish upon a star.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF SD 002200000 *****
Remember when Vernon Davis used to be good? And... fantasy relevant? It's all a bit hazy at this point.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF SD 1122 ***
The Bolts have given up double-digit kicker points in three straight, four of six, and five of the last eight games. So we're sayin' there's a chance... likely torpedoed by Colin Kaepernick's quarterback play.

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 ATL 0000027020 ***
The Falcons have held three of their last four foes to one or zero touchdowns, and they limited Brees to 333 & 1 back in the season opener. So don't look for gaudy numbers; settle for pretty good and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO ATL 11022100000 ***
You can run on the Falcons, as no team has given up more fantasy points to running backs. And while he no longer gets all the carries, Ingram gets enough to make a fantasy impact.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO ATL 1006400000 ***
Thomas faces a Falcons' defense that has served up the third-most running back receptions and third-most RB receiving yards. Since his primary function is as a receiver out of the backfield, expect him to capitalize on those stats with a solid fantasy helper here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO ATL 006901000 ***
Stills is handling Brandin Cooks' duties, so it's worth noting that the rookie went for 7-77-1 in the earlier meeting--numbers that could easily be replicated here in the rematch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO ATL 005701000 ***
Colton went for 110 yards in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, but that's not rare against the Falcons. Five different wideouts have hit triple-digits in the past six games; expect Colton to return to their ranks this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO ATL 004500000 ***
Graham continues to rebuild his identity after posting a goose egg in Week 13; a Saints D that's allowed six TE TDs in the past seven games should help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO ATL 2244 ***
Graham tallied double-digit points back in the season opener in Atlanta, but he hasn't been back above that mark since Week 8 and has just one multiple field goal outing in that span so keep those expectations in check.

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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