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: CHI 27, DET 17 (Line: CHI by 3)

Players to Watch: Calvin Johnson

The Bears are still in the hunt for the final NFC wildcard though they will need some help to get there. That makes this remake of the week seven win in Detroit still have NFL meaning instead of just being a vehicle to see if Calvin Johnson can break 2,000 receiving yards for the first time in history. Nothing would make the Lions happier though they are on a seven game losing streak.

Chicago Bears
Homefield: Soldier Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 IND 41-21 10 HOU 6-13
2 @GB 10-23 11 @SF 7-32
3 STL 23-6 12 MIN 28-10
4 @DAL 34-18 13 SEA 17-23
5 @JAC 41-3 14 @MIN 14-21
6 BYE ----- 15 GB 13-21
7 DET 13-7 16 @ARI 28-13
8 CAR 23-22 17 @DET -----
9 @TEN 51-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CHI @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Sanchez 170
WR Kendall Wright 2-30

Pregame Notes: The Bears offense has sputtered most of the year thanks mostly to a terrible offensive line and then an injury to Jay Cutler who plays the part of a tackling dummy in most games. This is a must-win and thankfully comes against a team that the Bears have beaten in eight of the last nine meetings. The defense has struggled in recent weeks but Brian Urlacher could be back which would help. But the offense has always been about only two players - Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall.

Forte aggravated his right ankle injury last week and had to wear a walking boot. He is optimistic that he can play and since this is a gotta-win event, he'll be there if at all possible. He already rushed for 96 yards on 22 carries at home versus the Lions and added three catches for four yards. The Bears would have to rely on Kahlil Bell otherwise along with Armando Allen. Even a banged up Forte is better than those options.

Cutler passed for only 150 yards and one score in the previous meeting and was sacked the obligatory five times. Cutler has been good for a touchdown every week he played but his yardage has rarely topped 200 in recent weeks and he is not playing 100% healthy anyway.

Alshon Jeffrey is the clear #2 wideout here and yet that is still true despite the one catch he totaled over the last two weeks. Like Megatron on the other side of the field, Marshall is the beginning and end of the passing game and already stung the Lions for one touchdown on his six catches for 81 yards in week seven. He is currently on a three game scoring streak and has 11 touchdowns on the season along with seven 100+ yard games. He's already caught 113 passes for 1466 yards. This has been a remarkable year that has exceeded all expectations for Marshall even if his success comes literally at the expense of all other receivers.

This is a must win which means as heavy of a dose of Marshall and Forte as they can get away with. Outside of those two, there are no decent fantasy plays on this team.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CHI 26 16 15 32 20 1
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 19 8 23 23 24 28

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Mitchell Trubisky, CHI CLE 10000024020 ***
Unless you play in a deep, two-quarterback league or want to take a wild flier in DFS, the rookie should remain out of starting lineups ... even against the Browns.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jordan Howard, CHI CLE 7011100000 ***
Since Week 10, Cleveland has given up only two rushing scores on 134 carries, which is 26th. The position has 32 receptions over this time, which is the sixth-highest average. Howard faces an underrated run defense that laid the smack down on a red-hot Alex Collins last week. Howard's versatility will be his best asset in this one.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI CLE 2004201000 **
Cohen has just one PPR game over 10 points in the last month. He's a fringe option for a lineup spot in championship contests. Cleveland has given up only one receiving TD to RBs over the last 32 catches, but this is a top-10 matchup for weekly receptions and yardage by the position.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kendall Wright, CHI CLE 0071001000 ***
Wright has emerged in the past two games, landing 17 receptions on 24 targets. He hasn't scored since Week 4. This projection is rose colored but attainable. Cleveland has given up the fourth-most receptions for moderate yardage (14th) per game, with one in 18 landing in the end zone (22nd).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Joshua Bellamy, CHI CLE 004500000 ***
Wideouts have averaged 14.4 receptions (4th) for 148.2 yards (14th) and a TD every 18 hauls (22nd). There is little reason to like Bellamy with a title on the line.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, CHI CLE 002300000 ***
Inman has enjoyed a few decent games this year but remains too much on the peripheral to be trusted in fantasy. Cleveland has given up just four WR scores in the last five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Adam Shaheen, CHI CLE 002200000 **
Cleveland has permitted tight ends a touchdown every 7.7 receptions over the last five weeks, so there is the off-chance the rookie finds the end zone. Don't pay to find out, however.

Update: The rook is questionable and didn't practice in full all week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CHI CLE 1133 ***
All 11 extra points and 11 of 13 field goal tries have made it through the verticals vs. the Browns in the last five weeks. This is the sixth-best matchup for possible points and No. 4 for success.

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 18-31
8 SEA 28-24 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC 31-14 ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs CHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 320,1
WR Marvin Jones Jr. 4-60,1
WR Golden Tate 4-40
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: it is fortunate that the season is winding down with Calvin Johnson setting an all-time NFL record because there would be little else worth noting. The offense has never taken off as it did in 2011 and once again suffered through not only rampant injuries but even had a receiver who somehow decided intentionally sabotaging plays was a good idea. The rushing game never saw Jahvid Best return but was able to squeeze an average year from Mikel Leshoure.

There are parts to build on for next year though Titus Young has played his last for the Lions if in the NFL at all. Nate Burleson was lost in week seven and Ryan Broyles was encouraging until he blew out his knee again. Broyles was a star in Oklahoma and should have been a lock for a nice NFL career but his knees apparently are going to stay in the way.

And yet through it all, Calvin Johnson has been amazing since the defenses all know exactly what is going to happen and yet they cannot stop him. Megatron has topped 100 yards in each of the last eight games and caught 10+ passes for the last four weeks. He gained 225 yards against the Falcons last week to break Jerry Rice's record. Now he only needs 108 yards yards to break 2,000 at home in front of all his fans in a season otherwise bleak and meaningless. And what is even better is that everyone has been happy for him and believes he deserves the accolades.

After seven straight losses and now facing a top 5 defense, the chance the Lions could pull off a trap win is hard to expect but outside of the Chicago area, this game will be watched just to see Johnson for the last time this year and likely securing what some thought could never be accomplished.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 8 12 6 7 6 28
Preventing Fantasy Points CHI 4 3 11 3 3 20

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET @CIN 0000027020 ***
Quarterbacks have posted top-10 figures in fantasy points and yards per game against the Bengals over the past five weeks. The downside is this is the eighth-hardest defense for registering passing touchdowns. Stafford, if for nothing but volume alone, is a midrange starter.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Theo Riddick, DET @CIN 2004301000 *
Riddick underwent double wrist surgery last offseason, so we played it safe with this one and omitted him from the projections. He'll return Friday after practicing in full Wednesday -- barring a setback, of course. Statistically, Washington has given up substantial gains on the ground but almost nothing via the sky to running backs over the past five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET @CIN 3002100000 **
Abdullah is likely to be removed from the rankings after Theo Riddick enters in Friday's update. Riddick had a scare with his surgically repaired wrist but is good to go. The matchup is pretty positive, but there is little reason to trust Abdullah even if Riddick were to wind up sitting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tion Green, DET @CIN 300000000 ***
Green figures to be the lead back when Friday's rankings update comes out. Theo Riddick was removed because we were being cautious about his wrist injury. He's now ready to go. This means Ameer Abdullah is poised to return to fantasy obscurity. At any rate, the matchup is rock-solid for Green, should gamers be in a position to take a chance. He's best left for DFS lineups only.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @CIN 006801000 ***
Tate belongs in lineups, but the matchup is not overly appealing. Cincinnati has given up bottom-half figures in relation to the rest of the league in the past five weeks. Detroit's passing volume should keep his fantasy value afloat.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marvin Jones Jr., DET @CIN 004600000 ***
Receivers have averaged 11 catches (21st) for 134 yards (23rd) and a touchdown every 18.3 balls (23rd) since Week 10. That is 11.3 percent below league average, and in the last three weeks the number jumps slightly to being 3 percent off the mark. Kendall Wright (20.7) and Stefon Diggs (14.7) have been solid over the last two outings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Golladay, DET @CIN 002400000 ***
There is nothing redeeming about the matchup for such a fringe player. Cincinnati is the ninth-worst opponent for the week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET @CIN 004400000 ***
Tight ends have averaged 4.8 snares (11th) for 50.6 yards (15th) and a score every 12 grabs (17th) since Week 10. Ebron has 33 targets, 27 receptions, 248 yards an a TD over that span, making him a viable flex or low-tier TE start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @CIN 3322 ***
Kickers have made 12 of 13 point-afters and 11 of 13 three-point attempts in the past five weeks against the Bengals. This is the fourth-best prospective matchup and third most favorable in reality.

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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