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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

Prediction: ATL 27, DET 20 (Line: ATL by 4)

Players to Watch: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones

This is the Saturday game at 8:30 P.M. so you can wrap presents and watch Calvin Johnson. The 12-2 Falcons are 5-2 on the road and have actually lost two of their last three away games including beating the Buccaneers by one point for their only win. What should keep the Falcons honest this week is that they still have not clinched the #1 seed which can happen after this game. The Lions are on a six game losing streak and are only 2-4 at home. They are now nothing more than a vehicle to get Calvin Johnson the single season receiving yard record. But they have two games remaining and only 182 yards left to gain.

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 23-13
5 @WAS 24-17 14 @CAR 20-30
6 OAK 23-20 15 NYG 34-0
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI 30-17 17 TB -----
9 DAL 19-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 300,2
RB Steven Jackson 70 5-30
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 20 2-30
WR Julio Jones 5-100,1
WR Roddy White 6-60
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Just one more win - or a loss by the 49ers - should secure that #1 seed and a bye in the first round along with all-important homefield status throughout the playoffs. The Falcons crushed the Giants last week and completely reversed the thinking that maybe they weren't the cream of the NFC. The Falcons don't have to win this game but if they do they can take it easy in the final week, get a week off to rest and heal up and then play at home all the way.

The fortunate part this week is that Matt Ryan typically has the biggest games when on the road. Four of his last five road trips resulted in 340+ yards and multiple touchdowns. Just as important is that Michael Turner has been horrible on the road. He's scored in each of the last five games but his last three away games all resulted in fewer than 20 rushing yards. The score is nice but there is never any yardage attached to it. His ten touchdowns over then different games may be fine if you are in a touchdown-only league but he's fallen off the map when it comes to yardage.

Roddy White was able to play last week despite the sore knee that limited him in practices. He played well over half of the offensive snaps but only came away with two receptions for 16 yards that came on five targets. Julio Jones not only scored at home for the first time all year but did it twice and gained 74 yards on six catches with only one more target than White had. The expectation is that White will bounce back this week though he's been the under performer in road games this year.

The Lions defense has been getting worse as the season goes and allowed 32 points per opponent on average over the last six weeks. This would be a nice spot for the Falcons to give a productive effort in the passing game so they can take it easy next week but the rushing effort has never done much away from home all year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 15 8 4 3 20
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 15 11 17 24 26 30

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL @NO 0000027030 ***
The last time Ryan saw the Saints he put up 448 yards and three TDs--and it's only the second-biggest game New Orleans has allowed to an opposing QB. In fact, four quarterbacks have topped 30 fantasy points against the Saints. Heck, the deposed Jay Cutler threw two TDs against them last week. Ryan has four straight games with multiple scoring strikes and an average of 362 and 2 in his last three trips to the Big Easy; what's not to like?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL @NO 5001100000 ***
Jackson's numbers have declined in each of his three games as a Falcon, culminating with his 12-52 back in Week 1. And while the Saints have been softer of late against the run, Jackson has been delivering a steady supply of Jackson-like games--especially on the road: 16-50, 17-41, 16-81, 8-22, 13-37, 13-49, 11-46. Those are not the lotto-winning numbers to plug into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL @NO 006901000 ***
Douglas delivered 69 yards as a third wheel in the earlier matchup, so he's usable even if Julio Jones plays. And if Jones can't go... well, you saw last week's 10-131 for yourself.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL @NO 007801000 ***
White has taken a back seat to Julio Jones, both against the Saints and in general. However, he did score in the earlier meeting with New Orleans this year and has scored in each of the past two games. He's not quite 1A again, but he's a solid secondary option worthy of a fantasy start in a game that projects to fill plenty of fantasy mugs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Hester, ATL @NO 003401000 ***
Hester had 99 yards against the Saints in his Atlanta debut, and 85 and a score last week with Julio Jones out. Tough to bank on Atlanta going four deep at receiver again, but if Jones can't go Hester climbs onto the fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @NO 00000000 *
If Jones is deemed ready he's worth the risk against a Saints secondary that's allowed more WR TDs than all but five other teams; something about the 116 yards he had against New Orleans in the opener, or the 42 targets and 26-516-3 he posted the past three games he played.
Update: Jones didn't practice for a second straight week; last week that meant no game, and while he's listed as questionable Atlanta's top beat writer seems to think it means another week without Julio in the lineup. The plan is for him to test his hip on Saturday, so maybe we'll know a little earlier than game time regarding his availability.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @NO 1133 ***
Bryant kicked his way to 13 points the last time he faced the Saints, and he's averaged better than 10 points per game over the past six. New Orleans gave up back-to-back-to-back double-digit games to kickers before encountering the feeble Bears last week. With the Vegas line set at a lofty 56 for this one, expect fireworks--and plenty of opportunities for Bryant.

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 10-38
7 @CHI 7-13 16 ATL -----
8 SEA 28-24 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC 31-14 ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 270,1
RB Joique Bell 30 3-20
RB Reggie Bush 100,1 3-20
WR Calvin Johnson 10-130,1
WR Golden Tate 3-50
TE Brandon Pettigrew
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions are on a six game slide and while it was bad with so many close losses - getting waxed by the Cardinals was almost unimaginable. The good part is that the final two games are at home but against teams with winning records. There's a chance that the Lions could catch the Falcons on a down week following their big home win over the Giants but the Detroit defense hasn't stopped anyone.

Matt Stafford went flat last week in Arizona but he's usually much less productive in away games. At home he's typically turned in 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns. Against the Texans he threw for 441 yards and two scores and 352 yards and three touchdowns on the Seahawks so it is not so much about the quality of the defense.

Mikel Leshoure is back at home where he scored in each of the last three games there but he rarely has more than 60 rush yards and has almost no role as a receiver. He plays like Michael Turner only with fewer touchdowns and marginally better yardage.

The only thing that matters anymore is getting the record for Calvin Johnson who currently needs just 182 yards to surpass Jerry Rice's 1,848 yards set back in 1995. Breaking 2,000 remains out of reach for a wideout but Johnson has to be a lock to reach the mark with only 92 yards per game needed. He's currently on a seven game streak of 100+ yard efforts and is getting upwards of 20 targets per game. It is the only gift the Lions can give their fans and it will happen in a home game.

On the road after a blowout win at home, have to assume the Falcons defense is not going to be nearly so dominating this week. But on this team all that means is throwing 20 times to Calvin Johnson and letting Leshoure score on a short run when Megatron gets tackled inside the 5-yard line.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 7 13 6 6 5 27
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 11 23 3 20 9 4

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET @CHI 0000031030 ***
Stafford hasn't thrown a road TD since Week 8, but a date with the dysfunctional Bears--whom he gutted for 390 and 2 back in Week 13--should get him back on course.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET @CHI 7012200000 ***
Bell gouged the Bears for 91 yards and two TDs just three weeks ago; in the two games since, Chicago has served up 419 combo yards and three TDs to opposing backs. Bell has accounted for 236 combo yards and a pair of scores in the two games since, so there's really nothing preventing him from a repeat of--maybe even improvement on--those solid fantasy stats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET @CHI 00101202000 ***
Megatron has five TDs in his last three against the Bears, including 11-146-2 just three weeks ago. Unlikely that Chicago's secondary has improved enough since Thanksgiving to not consider Johnson one of the better fantasy plays of the week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @CHI 007901000 ***
Tate chipped in 8-89 against Chicago a couple weeks back, then last week scored his first TD in a game in which Calvin Johnson also played significant snaps. He's obviously not as reliable a fantasy play as Megatron, but he should still give you a fantasy helper here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET @CHI 002200000 ***
It's an incredibly favorable matchup, as no team has given up as many TE TDs as the Bears and it isn't even close. However, the Lions have exactly two TE TDs on the year and with the receivers set to have success it's unlikely they suddenly swerve and turn to Ebron.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @CHI 2244 ***
Inking Prater midseason has turned out to be the best move the Lions could have made; he has half the misses of his 2014 predecessors in twice as many games. More importantly, he's booted multiple treys in seven straight, has three consecutive games with double-digit points (including Week 13 against Chicago) and faces a Bears D that's surrendered at least seven points to every kicker they've faced.

WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

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