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 @DAL 0000027020 ***
Palmer has delivered multiple TD tosses and at least 250 yards in every game thus far. Dallas is the toughest he's faced to date, but it's still tough to see him failing to make his appointed rounds.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Andre Ellington, ARI @DAL 6006300000 ***
Not that Ellington can't score, but it's a good thing he does enough yardage wise that he doesn't usually need to to be a fantasy factor. The Cowboys have surrendered just four RB TDs all year but do give up more than 120 combo yards to opposing backs. Give Ellington a big dollop of the latter, don't sweat the former, and call it a day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR John Brown, ARI @DAL 003601000 ***
Brown's another speed guy who could give the Cowboys fits, a la Odell Beckham and DeSean Jackson the past two weeks. He outgunned Michael Floyd last week, but Floyd is typically more targeted so it's a bit trickier to bank on Brown this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Floyd, ARI @DAL 004501000 **
Lately it's been speed guys killing the Cowboys: Odell Beckham Jr. scored twice on them and DeSean Jackson went for 136 yards last week. Floyd took a back seat to both Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown last week, and it's a little tough to trust him after posting a goose egg. But it's tough to see him posting another dog here--he has yet to go more than one week without scoring or topping 100 yards--so take that leap of faith this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI @DAL 005600000 ***
Yes, Carson Palmer knows where to find Fitz. He just doesn't do it consistently, or much at all on the road. If you're parsing Arizona wideouts this week the speed guys have an edge, which puts Fitz at the low end of the pecking order. Plan accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE John Carlson, ARI @DAL 002200000 *****
Carlson had his hands on a ball in the end zone; had he hung on it would have maybe brought the total of fantasy-relevant games by Cardinals tight ends since the Jackie Smith era to one. Look elsewhere for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, ARI @DAL 2222 ***
After a fast start Catanzaro has had back-to-back outings with just one field goal, and he's facing a Dallas team that hasn't been overly friendly to kickers this season. However, Chandler hasn't dipped below the six-point mark this season so at least his baseline isn't a killer.

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 STL 30000026021 ***
Kaepernick's best fantasy outing of the season came three weeks back against these very Rams. Now he'll face the same D on his home turf with an extra week of prep and rest; no reason to think he can't do something similar this time around as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF STL 6011100000 ***
Run defense: don't leave home without it. The Rams don't heed that advice, giving up an average of 30-134 to opposing backs when they leave St. Louis, as well as another 4-26 receiving. Gore, who has 100 rushing yards or a TD in all three home games this year, should handle the bulk of those stats; that makes him a very nice fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF STL 200000000 ***
Hyde has 10 carries in each of the last two home games and could carve out a chunk of what should be a healthy dollop of RB stats this week against the Rams.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF STL 006701000 ***
The last time these teams met three different 49ers wideouts scored, including Boldin. He's edging Michael Crabtree for most targeted Niner; the confluence of those two trends make him at least a viable fantasy option in a six-team bye week this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF STL 003401000 ****
Crabtree is battling Anquan Boldin for target supremacy as Colin Kaepernick is getting a bevy of 49ers involved in the passing game. Fortunately, as proven by the last meeting between these two teams, it's a matchup where there should be more than enough to go around, allowing multiple Niners wideouts to be fantasy relevant.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF STL 005500000 ****
With the talent heard thinned by a six-team bye week you could do worse than reaching for Johnson, who has scored in three of the last four games and had 53 yards the last time these teams met.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF STL 003300000 ***
Davis has done nothing of fantasy note since the season opener, a stretch that includes 3-30 when these teams got together three weeks ago. St. Louis isn't surrendering much of anything to the position so no reason to expect a change in Vernon's fortunes this time around.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF STL 3333 ****
Dawson has kicked multiple treys in every home game this year and should have little difficulty doing so again against a Rams' squad that has surrendered double-digit kicker points in three of the last five, including both of its last two road tilts.

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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