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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 13
2012
NO at ATL (THU) *CLE at OAK *MIN at GB *SEA at CHI
*ARI at NYJ HOU at TEN NE at MIA *SF at STL
CAR at KC *IND at DET *PHI at DAL TB at DEN
*UPDATED *CIN at SD *JAC at BUF *PIT at BAL NYG at WAS (MON)

Prediction: NO 23, ATL 31 (Line: ATL by 4)

Players to Watch: Darren Sproles, Jacquizz Rodgers

This is a replay of week 10 when the Saints beat the visiting Falcons 31-27 to hand them their only loss on the year. This is also probably the best Thursday night matchup they scheduled all year. There is an excellent chance that the Falcons will remember what happened three weeks ago and be out for some revenge.

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 21-31
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 @ ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 320,2
RB Mark Ingram 40
WR Marques Colston 4-50
TE Jimmy Graham 8-70,1
TE Benjamin Watson 4-40
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Just when a three game winning streak made it all seem in reach, the 49ers showed up with a reminder that the Saints are not there yet. Trailing the Falcons by five games is plenty clear enough that the division is not in play and now that the 5-6 record dips below the .500 mark again, even a wild card or a winning season is looking like a very outside chance. At least in fantasy terms the Saints still post the points and have several games left to play where high scores are a lock.

Drew Brees is not posting the 300 yard games he once did. It has been five weeks since he threw for that much thanks mostly to an improved rushing effort but he has thrown for multiple scores in each of the last nine weeks and posted 298 yards and three scores when they hosted the Falcons in week ten.

Darren Sproles returned last week and went right back to catching seven passes against the 49ers. He was out in week ten when Mark Ingram rushed for 67 yards on 16 carries and Chris Ivory turned in a touchdown on his seven runs for 72 yards. The success of the rushing effort that week was a surprise but has carried over for the last two weeks. Ingram was held to only 27 yards by the 49ers top-ranked defense but he scored and ran for 67 yards in the previous week in Oakland.

Jimmy Graham has been much lower with his yardage this year and scored eight times. And his best game of the year was when he caught seven passes for 146 yards and two scores on the Falcons.

Marques Colston matches on Asante Samuel again and last time that limited him to only 26 yards on three catches though he scored once. Lance Moore was bigger in that game with seven receptions for 91 yards but he almost never scores and had just one game with a touchdown in the last seven weeks.

Expect lower number for most this week playing in Atlanta in a game they'll be more focused to win. Now that their wideouts are all healthy again, the Saints are sure to be forced to abandon the run in the game which means good things for the fantasy fortunes of Brees and the receivers.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 2 8 7 3 30 23
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 6 25 3 22 10 9

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO TB 0000029030 ****
Ah, home sweet dome. It's been almost three full seasons since the last time Brees didn't throw for either 300-plus yards or multiple touchdowns at home. In fact, he has multiple TDs in 23 of his last 24 at home and 300-plus yards in nine straight and 18 of 24 at home. With the Saints needing a win to make the postseason, expect Brees to be firing on all cylinders.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO TB 4004300000 ***
The Saints haven't scored a running back touchdown in five games, with Thomas and Mark Ingram taking turns being the primary ball-carrier. Expect a little more than the 75 yards three New Orleans backs combined for in the earlier meeting between these teams, but it will be so fractured that a legit fantasy helper is unlikely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO TB 300000000 ***
The Saints haven't scored a running back touchdown in five games, with Ingram and Pierre Thomas taking turns being the primary ball-carrier. Expect a little more than the 75 yards three New Orleans backs combined for in the earlier meeting between these teams, but it will be so fractured that a legit fantasy helper is unlikely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO TB 004500000 ***
Colston paced Saints receivers in the earlier meeting, but that was pre-Darrelle Revis. This time around Colston might find the going tougher against a healthy Revis, but he's been an inconsistent fantasy play anyway. Weigh the home uptick the Saints' offense gets with the possibility of Revis blanking Colston and he's pretty much right back where he started--a good play but hardly a sure thing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO TB 002400000 ***
Stills is the last non-Colston Saints wideout to score... and that was back in Week 10. This passing game runs through the tight end, with an assist from the running backs; even at home, where the Saints' numbers tend to climb, Stills is too far down the pecking order to be banked on for fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO TB 0091102000 ***
The last time Graham saw the Bucs he went for 10-179-1--and that was on the road. If you only count his home games, Graham would still rank third among tight ends with nine touchdowns. So, yeah, he's a good play... again.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO TB 2233 ***
Graham tallied seven points in his Saints debut, more than half his team's points. Should be a significantly easier row to hoe this week--not to mention a home date in the SuperDome--so expect Graham to have ample opportunity to get his kicks this week.

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 24-23
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 vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 330,3
RB Steven Jackson 80 2-20
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 30 4-30
WR Julio Jones 4-80,1
WR Roddy White 8-110,1
TE Tony Gonzalez 8-70,1
PK Matt Bryant 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons currently have a two game lead over the entire NFC and may end up throwing the week 17 finale against the Buccaneers if it doesn't matter. The Giants are the toughest remaining opponent but the Falcons could certainly run the board. They are barely beating teams and seven victories came with less than a touchdown lead. But playing well enough to win every week is the mark of a great team and they're generating nice fantasy points even without blowout wins.

Matt Ryan has been much less productive scoring in the last month where he only managed to throw for one touchdown in Tampa Bay last week and none against the visiting Cowboys and Buccaneers recently. But sandwiched between those two games was the best of the season - 411 yards and three touchdowns against the Saints. Ryan may not be scoring as much but he is on a four game streak of 300+ yard games.

Jacquizz Rodgers is getting more playing time in recent weeks and even ran in a score in Tampa Bay. He only posted 29 rushing yards in New Orleans and added four catches for 33 yards in that game. Michael Turner is running like someone tied a blocking sled to him. His worst game of the year was in New Orleans when he only gained 15 yards on 13 runs and just last week it was only 17 yards on 13 carries in Tampa Bay though he scored in that matchup. The rushing effort should have at least some better success in a home game this week assuming the Saints do not yet again surprise the Falcons with a big lead.

Tony Gonzalez has really slowed down. Over the last six weeks, he's only managed to score in one game or gain moire than 62 yards. He's been stuck mostly at around 30 yards per week. The exception of course was when he caught 11 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns in New Orleans for his best game of the year.

No doubt this turns into a lot of passing and in the last meeting, Julio Jones gained 75 yards on four catches while Roddy White ended with 114 yards on seven receptions Jones proved he was plenty healthy last week when he gained 147 yards and White has been outstanding in every home game this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 16 8 4 3 19
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 32 31 30 25 24 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL CAR 0000028011 ***
Ryan threw for 219 & 1 in the earlier meeting with the Panthers, but that was in Carolina. Then again, venue hasn't mattered much to the Panthers, who have allowed only one multiple passing TD game all season. Ryan just took the 49ers for 348 & 2 in San Francisco so all is not lost, but with Carolina playing for a playoff spot it's tough to see Ryan having much success here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL CAR 5003200000 ***
Jackson has six touchdowns in his last four games--a little late for those looking to him as a fantasy RB1 or even RB2 back on draft day, but you take what you can get. However, He mustered just 57 yards (and no TDs) on 13 carries in the earlier meeting with Carolina and is unlikely to dent a Panthers defense that's given up one RB rushing TD in the past 11 games and four RB TDs all year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL CAR 005600000 ***
White has seen double-digit targets in three of the last four games, resulting in some old-school Roddy White numbers: 12-141-1, 8-74, 10-143. He didn't play in the earlier meeting with Carolina, but he had 100-plus yards and a score in both ends of last season's series and has scored in three straight against the Panthers. While his prognosis is less optimistic against a Carolina defense that's allowed just three WR TDs in the past 13 games, at least there's a chance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Drew Davis, ATL CAR 002300000 ***
Davis had a brief moment when both Julio Jones and Roddy White were out of the lineup and he was wingman to Harry Douglas. Jones is back, the matchup is tough, and Davis goes back in the bargain bin.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL CAR 003300000 ***
Douglas had 82 yards in the earlier matchup with Carolina--a pretty good WR game against the Panthers--but he's been relatively quiet the past month while Roddy White has returned to WR1 status in Atlanta so keep your expectations in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Tony Gonzalez, ATL CAR 0091201000 *****
Gonzo had 6-81-1 in the earlier matchup with Carolina; now he's scored in four straight and catches the Panthers having given up 239 yards and four TDs to the position in just the past three outings. Maybe the season didn't go quite as Gonzo had hoped, but he's certainly closing his Canton-worthy career with a flourish.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL CAR 2211 ***
Bryant has one double-digit effort in the past three months and posted just four points in the earlier meeting with Carolina. The Panthers are playing for something, the Falcons are not; unlikely this ends well for Bryant.

WEEK 13
2012
NO at ATL (THU) *CLE at OAK *MIN at GB *SEA at CHI
*ARI at NYJ HOU at TEN NE at MIA *SF at STL
CAR at KC *IND at DET *PHI at DAL TB at DEN
*UPDATED *CIN at SD *JAC at BUF *PIT at BAL NYG at WAS (MON)

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