FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

Prediction: DET 27, ARI 13 (Line: DET by 6 )

Players Updated: Ryan Lindley

Players to Watch: Calvin Johnson, Megatron, WR Johnson

The 4-9 Lions are on a five game losing skid and are only 2-5 on the road this year. But the 4-9 Cardinals are on a nine game losing streak. These teams have the same record but not much else is similar. The Lions last four losses came by a touchdown or less. The Cardinals just lost by 58 points last week. That is hard to bounce back from and especially without a quarterback.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 STL 27-23 10 @MIN 24-34
2 @SF 19-27 11 GB 20-24
3 @TEN 41-44 12 HOU 31-34
4 MIN 13-20 13 IND 33-35
5 BYE ----- 14 @GB 20-27
6 @PHI 26-23 15 @ARI -----
7 @CHI 7-13 16 ATL -----
8 SEA 28-24 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC 31-14 ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET @ ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 290,2
RB Joique Bell 30 5-40
RB Reggie Bush 80,1 3-20
RB Montell Owens 60 1-10
WR Calvin Johnson 8-120,2
WR Golden Tate 4-60
TE Brandon Pettigrew
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions have just about perfected "not quite good enough" but have a realistic chance of winning a road game this week. The last two games come at home but go against division leaders of the Bears and Falcons which is probably not going to go well. Once again, the Lions are just playing for little more than the glory of Calvin Johnson since that is about all they have left to play for.

Johnson has already gained 1546 yards on 96 receptions with three games left to play. He is on pace to break the all-time single season record of 1848 yards set by Jerry Rice and it would be a fitting accolade to the player that has meant so much to the Lions and a positive way to end an otherwise dreary season. The Cardinals are typically good against wide receivers though this is the same team that watched Brian Hartline go off for 253 yards back in week four. Besides, it is hardly like every defense has not been plotting against Johnson every week.

Matthew Stafford tends to throw for fewer yards when he is on the road but still is good for at least one score every week if not multiples. With Ryan Broyles and Titus Young gone, the offense is devolving into little more than pitch-and-catch with Megatron anyway. Stafford has added four rushing touchdowns so far.

Mikel Leshoure snapped his three game scoring streak last week in Green Bay but did score four times in road games this year. The Cardinals defense has been good at home against the run but has allowed a 100 yard rusher in each of the last four games. Something about futility not being a great motivator. The wheels are coming off the Cardinals wagon and even the opposing running backs are having fun there.

In a fantasy sense, there is just Calvin Johnson on this team. Brandon Pettigrew is hobbled with a sore ankle and may not play this week. Tony Scheffler was due to get more work but settled for just three catches and 20 yards in Green Bay though one was his first touchdown of the year. The Lions are so thin at wideout that they called up a practice player Kris Durham from the minor league practice squad and made him a starter. His first ever start resulted in nine targets, four catches and 54 yards. There is just nothing reliable here in the passing game outside of Johnson.

Coming off a 58 point shutout means the Cards will want to have a good game here and have absolutely none of the tools to accomplish that.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 5 10 6 6 4 26
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 4 9 13 4 11 30

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET CHI 0000030021 ***
Stafford has multiple touchdowns each of the last three times the Bears have visited Ford Field. However, he's been scoreless the past two weeks and is playing closer to Teddy Bridgewater/Josh McCown level (one TD each the past two weeks against Chicago) than Tom Brady/Aaron Rodgers level (11 TDs in the two games prior to that). So temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET CHI 6002200000 ***
Looks like Bell will carry the load again for the Lions this week. Split workload, plus a Bears' D that's been significantly better against the run of late... it doesn't add up to much in the way of fantasy help from Joique this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Reggie Bush, DET CHI 2002200000 **
Reggie's nicked up again; even if he goes on a short week he can't be counted on for much in the way of fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET CHI 0071101000 ****
After seeing two Bucs receivers top 100 yards against the Bears last week and another one reach the end zone you have to think we'll see some vintage Megatron this week--the guy who scored thrice in last season's series but who has been largely absent thus far this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET CHI 0081001000 ****
Tate has remained heavily targeted even after Calvin Johnson's return. After three Bucs WRs made fantasy splashes last week, no reason to think both Megatron and Tate can't get theirs against the Bears this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET CHI 004400000 ***
Last week the Bears kept an opposing tight end out of the end zone for the first time in a month. Ebron is seeing enough targets to make fantasy noise, but he's also sharing looks with Joseph Fauria. With the WRs back atop the pecking order, Ebron is more of a reach play than a reliable fantasy helper this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET CHI 3333 ***
Prater has multiple field goals in four straight; the Bears have served up multiple treys in six consecutive games. This may be the most positive confluence of trends involving Detroit's kicker position all season.

Arizona Cardinals
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SEA 20-16 10 BYE -----
2 @NE 20-18 11 @ATL 19-23
3 PHI 27-6 12 STL 17-31
4 MIA 24-21 13 @NYJ 6-7
5 @STL 3-17 14 @SEA 0-58
6 BUF 16-19 15 DET -----
7 @MIN 14-21 16 CHI -----
8 SF 3-24 17 @SF -----
9 @GB 17-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Lindley 190,1
QB Carson Palmer 250,2
WR Larry Fitzgerald 5-50,1
WR Michael Floyd 4-50
TE Rob Housler 4-40

Pregame Notes: What to say about a team devoid of any fantasy relevance that just lost 0-58 in one of the all-time bad beats in recent history. It was like one of those first week college games where some Div. III PoDunk Univ. somehow gets a game against Alabama. In Alabama. That loss comes at a time when the Cardinals are already on a horrific losing streak. And it wasn't like Seattle rolled the score up Patriot-style. They yanked Marshawn Lynch from the game after 11 carries because he already had three touchdowns and 128 yards. It could have been much worse.

The owner Bill Bidwell has already said that HC Ken Whisenhunt will remain through the season which is another way of saying start cold calling your coaching buddies for a assistant gig next year. With the Bears and 49ers left to play, it is not going to get any better. This is one of the worst teams in recent history and that's on more than just the head coach - the quality of players he's saddled with has been sub-standard outside of Larry Fitzgerald.

The Cardinals picked up Brian Hoyer off waivers from the Steelers but he's not expected to play until maybe next week when he has a uniform, a playbook and has met some of his new team mates. Whisenhunt has not yet named a starter but it really doesn't matter. Kevin Kolb is out and picking between John Skelton or Ryan Lindley is like deciding which hammer to use to whack yourself in the head. It's just going to hurt no matter what.

Beanie Wells is three games away from finishing an NFL season and never gaining as much as 50 yards in any game.

Larry Fitzgerald is unstartable now along with all other players in Arizona. For the next three games, they will combine to provide an excellent way to score points for the Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco defenses while no doubt allowing opponents to shine just when you need them the most. To that I say thank you Arizona.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 29 32 21 30 25 9
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 19 11 21 29 24 28

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Stanton, ARI @ATL 0000025010 ***
Yes, on paper it's a favorable matchup for Stanton. However, he has yet to throw a road TD this year and he hasn't topped 167 yards away from Arizona. He may not have Larry Fitzgerald at his disposal, either; it all adds up to Stanton being a lousy fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Andre Ellington, ARI @ATL 9015400000 ****
No team has allowed more fantasy points to the running back position than the Falcons, including a league-high 15 RB TDs and the fourth-most receiving yards to backs. So even if Ellington loses a goal line touch or two he should carve out plenty of yardage--both on the ground and in the air--and be one of the better fantasy RB options on the board.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Floyd, ARI @ATL 005701000 ***
You would think with Fitz likely out again this week that Floyd moves up to WR1 status--last week's blanking at the hands of the Seahawks notwithstanding. It's an incredibly favorable matchup against a secondary that's allowed four straight 100-yard games to WR1s, so if you can bring yourself to trust the inconsistent Floyd he has monster fantasy upside this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR John Brown, ARI @ATL 005700000 ***
Brown could leapfrog the inconsistent Michael Floyd to capture some of the stats the Falcons have made available to WR1s over the past month. Even if he's running as wingman this week he's a big-play threat who could make some fantasy noise in a reasonably favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jaron Brown, ARI @ATL 003300000 ***
Brown is too far down a passing game pecking order that will struggle to produce enough stats for one, maybe two wideouts; you can find better fantasy options elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI @ATL 00000000 ***
Update: Fitz practiced on a limited basis Friday and is optimistically listed as questionable; however, he is not expected to play so play accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE John Carlson, ARI @ATL 003300000 ****
Carlson has seen an uptick in targets, but the jump to four last week hasn't yielded much in the way of fantasy results. Get your fantasy help elsewhere.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, ARI @ATL 4322 ****
Catanzaro hasn't had multiple field goals in a game since Week 6, so the switch from Carson Palmer to Drew Stanton isn't necessarily leaving Arizona with more field goal opportunities. This isn't an overtly favorable matchup, so settle for the usual from Chandler--and the usual hasn't been particularly good.

WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

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