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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: ARI 3, SF 24 (Line: SF by 16.5)

Players to Watch: Brian Hoyer, Randy Moss

The loss in Seattle last week means that the 49ers have to win this week (or Seattle lose) in order to secure the NFC West title. A loss would mean just a wildcard. The 5-10 Cardinals are only 1-6 on the road and lost to the 49ers 3-24 in Arizona back in week eight.

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 38-10
7 @MIN 14-21 16 CHI 13-28
8 SF 3-24 17 @SF -----
9 @GB 17-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Jonathan Dwyer 40,1 1-10
WR Larry Fitzgerald 5-50

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals wind down a disastrous season with nothing accomplished and yet no hot rumors that Ken Whisenhunt is about to get fired despite the 5-10 mark. The defense was actually better than average here and that was amazing considering how little the offense did anything to help the defense. The NFL draft in April needs to be used for primarily offensive positions with so many needs and we'll see a very new team take the field in 2013.

Beanie Wells was benched last week and even he openly admits he won't likely be back with the team next year. Problem for him is that he is not likely to get anything more than a backup gig somewhere else. He's only 25 next year but has been in the league for four inglorious seasons and only averaged a paltry 2.7 YPC this year while continuing to show how brittle the big back is. He's really not suited for much more than goal line duty and his days of "being the man" are over.

The Cardinals expect Ryan Williams back next year though he remains on injured reserve because of his shoulder. There is also a good chance that La 'Rod Stephens-Howling leaves in free agency which loses not only a good change-of-pace back but also a valuable special teams returner. He and William Powell will likely get the most carries this week unless they want to run Wells for some reason. None of the runners have any fantasy value this week anyway in San Francisco.

Rob Housler will miss the final game because of a shoulder injury in Sunday's loss to the Bears. He finishes the year as the best tight end for the Cardinals who were able to go all sixteen games and yet never once throw a touchdown to any one in the position.

The one accomplishment of the entire season was that Ryan Lindley has buried the NFL record for most passes thrown without a touchdown, now up to 158 passes on the year. He was benched for Brian Hoyer last week now that the ex-Steelers practice squad quarterback has been with the Cardinals for two whole weeks. The Cardinals have not thrown a touchdown pass now for six straight games.

Larry Fitzgerald finally had his first decent game in six weeks when he ended with 111 yards on eight catches against the Bears last week. It was a small spark in an otherwise cold season.

Playing in Fan Francisco, none of these players are recommended starts.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 31 32 26 30 28 7
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 7 4 4 16 2 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Stanton, ARI SF 0000019011 ***
In this offense Carson Palmer posted matching gems of 298 and 2 and 407 and 2 against the Niners. Stanton is capable of running Bruce Arians' offense, but until we see more--a touchdown pass would be nice, for starters--he can't be banked on for fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Andre Ellington, ARI SF 7003200000 ***
At this point the injury risk--the limited practice time, the questionable status, the game-time decision--is assumed. But thus far Ellington has produced, 181 yards from scrimmage in two games of work. He racked up 131 combo yards and a touchdown on 24 touches in last season's series; with a greater workload his numbers should uptick as well, especially against a San Fran D that served up 143 combo yards to DeMarco Murray in its last road game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Dwyer, ARI SF 201000000 ***
In a true WTF moment, Dwyer managed to roll the worst of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson into one midweek arrest. Don't expect to see him mentioned here again any time soon.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Floyd, ARI SF 004601000 **
Floyd has yet to make the love connection with Drew Stanton, but six targets suggest it wasn't due to lack of trying. It's not a tremendously favorable matchup, but Floyd has scored or topped 90 yards in each of his last three matchups with the Niners and can't be discounted here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI SF 006500000 ****
Fitz loves when the Niners come to town; over his 10 year career he's posted five 100-yard games and scored six times in home games against San Francisco. He may be slipping down the Cardinals' passing game pecking order, but don't dock him due to Drew Stanton helming the club rather than Carson Palmer; after all, he's succeeded with worse.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR John Brown, ARI SF 003400000 ***
Drew Stanton isn't digging as deep into the Arizona receiver depth as Carson Palmer did, which dings Brown's fantasy value. So does a matchup with a San Francisco secondary that has yet to allow a wideout to top 60 yards against them this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE John Carlson, ARI SF 003300000 ***
The Cards have yet to generate 100 yards among its tight ends this season; the Niners have allowed but 60. Nothing to see here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, ARI SF 2122 ***
Catanzaro has multiple field goals in each game this season... but the Niners have allowed but one trey all year. In what will likely be a low-scoring affair, best side with the defense and seek your fantasy kicks elsewhere.

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 31-21
4 @NYJ 34-0 13 @STL 13-16
5 BUF 45-3 14 MIA 27-13
6 NYG 3-26 15 @NE 41-34
7 SEA 13-6 16 @SEA 13-42
8 @ARI 24-3 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 40,1 220,2
RB Frank Gore 60 1-10
WR Anquan Boldin 7-80
WR Michael Crabtree 5-70,1
WR Steve Johnson 6-70,1
TE Vernon Davis 2-20
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG

Pregame Notes: After spending much of the season as one of the teams to beat, the 49ers were just that - beaten. And by teams in their own division. Two of the last four games were losses to the Rams and Seahawks and now the 49ers are hobbling into the playoffs instead being in the drivers seat. Their biggest problem has been road games and now they'll get only one home venue for the first round and then be away for how long they last.

Last week was a hurtful one besides losing to the Seahawks. Mario Manningham tore the ACL and PCL in his left knee when a defender tackled him low. Now Randy Moss steps up into the #2 role but he's never had more than three catches since the season opener. He may not physically hold up to that much work. Vernon Davis also suffered a concussion last week but it was considered mild and the team is very optimistic that he'll pass all baselines and be in this final game. With Manningham out, using Davis more makes great sense but defenses have learned that taking the tight end out of the passing scheme has really worked well against the 49ers.

Frank Gore comes off his worst game of the year with just 28 yards on six runs in Seattle and he only managed 55 yards on 16 runs in Arizona during week eight. Gore has not gained more than 85 yards for the last six weeks and the problem this week is that the 49ers should be able to win this game with ease so resting Gore would make sense since the 49ers are not getting any bye week in the first round. LaMichael James still has not rushed for more than 31 yards in a game or scored after three weeks of being active.

The 49ers have to win this game so they are not going to be sitting or resting anyone. But were they able to get an early and significant lead, chances are that Gore and maybe Moss would be given less work if not eventually pulled from the game later on. Michael Crabtree hauled in five catches for 72 yards and two scores in Arizona earlier and is the best bet in this game as well. This should be a place where the 49ers work Vernon Davis into the equation more though he only had 34 yards on two catches in the previous matchup.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 11 14 24 6 9 16
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 2 19 10 13 13 32

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Colin Kaepernick, SF @ARI 50100023011 ***
Kaep has been a little slow to get going this season, but a date with the Cardinals should help speed up the process. Arizona allowed Eli Manning to take them for 277 and 2 last week, and in three career starts against Arizona Kaepernick has never failed to throw for at least 250 yards and multiple touchdowns.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF @ARI 6011100000 ***
Gore's 13-carry, 14-yard effort against Arizona at the end of last season was particularly disappointing because up until that point he had consistently killed the Cards with three 100-yard rushing games, 6 100-combo yard games, and a 13 touchdowns in the previous 14 meetings. Gore's share of the San Francisco workload is slipping, however, so you'll have to set your sights a shade lower and hope Carlos Hyde doesn't swipe his goal line look.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF @ARI 200000000 ***
Hyde was active and productive in San Francisco's win, absent in the Niners' loss--or maybe the correlation works the opposite way. Right now all he's doing is biting into Frank Gore's numbers, and in a matchup that isn't overly favorable he's a difficult fantasy start at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF @ARI 006700000 ****
Two of the last three times Boldin has faced his former squad he has lit them up: 9-149-1 last year and 7-145-1 as a Raven in 2011. And if the Cards throw Patrick Peterson at Michael Crabtree, Boldin will have every opportunity to reach those numbers again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF @ARI 005600000 ***
Crabtree has 100 yards or a touchdown in five of eight career meetings with the Cards, but he was held to 3-29 in his only game against Arizona last season. Moreover, Patrick Peterson has shut down WR1s thus far this season, leaving WR2s to do the bulk of the producing--and the Niners have a capable alternative in Anquan Boldin. Keep your expectations in check for Crabtree this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF @ARI 005601000 *
Davis scored in both ends of last season's series, including a monster 8-180-2 in the front end of the series when Michael Crabtree was absent. The Cards have been unable thus far to contain Antonio Gates or Larry Donnell, each of whom went for 81 yards, so if Davis' ankle allows he's a quality fantasy play this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF @ARI 3322 ***
The Cards have allowed but one field goal this season. However, Dawson has kicked three in each of his matchups with Arizona as a member of the Niners and there's no reason to think he'll stray from that productive path this week.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

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