FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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
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 Carson Palmer, ARI @OAK 0000027020 ***
Palmer has multiple touchdown tosses in both games in which he's played, and the Raiders have served up same in each of the past two games. Plenty to like here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Andre Ellington, ARI @OAK 6011100000 ****
Four of five feature backs to face the Raiders have found the end zone. Factor in Ellington's combo yardage and he's a solid fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Floyd, ARI @OAK 005901000 ***
M. Floyd took the Raiders for 103 and 1 last week; no reason another M. Floyd (no relation) can't capitalize on a similar situation here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI @OAK 003400000 ***
The Raiders let multiple wideouts score on them last week, and Arizona's tandem is certainly more talented than San Diego's receiving corps. With Fitz back on the fantasy radar following last week's 6-98-1 feel free to plug him into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR John Brown, ARI @OAK 003300000 ***
Brown hasn't been in the end zone in a while but he's still hanging around the fringe of fantasy relevancy with a steady supply of targets. It's not an overly favorable matchup this week so no need to go out of your way to get him into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE John Carlson, ARI @OAK 003200000 ***
The Cardinals haven't had a tight end with fantasy value since Jackie Smith. And he may predate fantasy football himself.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, ARI @OAK 2233 ***
Catanzaro has multiple field goals in every game this year, double-digit points in three of the past four, and a date with a Raiders defense that's allowed 30-plus points in each of its last three home games. Enjoy.

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 @DEN 50000027021 ***
Denver's defensive numbers are a bit deflated by facing Geno Smith and Drew Stanton the past two weeks; look for Kaepernick to be more in line with what Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson did to the Broncos earlier in the year: solid yardage, multiple scores, and more than a dash of rushing stats to sweeten the pot.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF @DEN 400000000 ***
The Niners have been mostly willing to commit to the ground game and Gore, which has worked well at home but failed to yield favorable fantasy numbers on the road. It's taken significant workloads to produce anything resembling fantasy help against Denver, so there's hope for Gore this week--just not a lot.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF @DEN 300000000 ***
Hyde is too junior a member of this backfield committee to bank on for fantasy assistance, especially in a difficult road matchup like this one.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF @DEN 005601000 ***
You'd think shooting it out with the Broncos would yield bigger fantasy numbers for wideouts, but Denver has allowed just three WR TDs and no wideout has topped 60 yards against them since Reggie Wayne's 98 in the season opener. Crabtree clings to fantasy value due to a high number of targets, but it's a good week to lower expectations.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF @DEN 004500000 ****
The Broncos haven't surrendered much to opposing wideouts, and the Niners have been splitting up their productivity to the point that despite his consistent targets Boldin is a risky fantasy proposition at best this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Lloyd, SF @DEN 003500000 ****
80-yard touchdowns are nice and all, but Lloyd's targets are too unreliable to be banked on for fantasy help, especially in what projects to be a less than fruitful matchup for 49ers wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF @DEN 004500000 ***
Johnson gives Colin Kaepernick a viable third option in the San Francisco passing game, but he's clearly behind Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin in the pecking order and as such can't be banked on for fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF @DEN 004401000 **
A healthy VD could make some fantasy noise against a Denver defense that just ceded 10-68-1 to Jace Amaro and has let every opposing TE who gets to four catches score or top 80 yards.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF @DEN 2222 ****
The Broncos have allowed between five and eight kicker points in every game this year. Dawson's recent success (37 points in the last three games) suggest he'll be at the high end of that range.

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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