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 Jay Cutler 240,2
RB Matt Forte 80,1 5-30
WR Alshon Jeffery 4-50,1
WR Brandon Marshall 8-120,1
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40

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 Jay Cutler, CHI @NYJ 0000029031 ****
Cutler has multiple TD tosses in each game this year; the Jets have allowed multiple touchdown passes to both Aaron Rodgers (expected) and--in his NFL debut--Derek Carr (far from expected). Assuming one or both of Cutler's top targets manage to make it to the field, he's a rock-solid fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI @NYJ 5006400000 ****
Forte is scoreless on the season, and he'll get no help from a stout Jets' run defense. The saving grace is Forte's contribution to the passing game, though he's still facing an uphill battle to provide his usual fantasy stud-ness.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Marshall, CHI @NYJ 0081002000 ****
Even nicked up Marshall was a rock star last week; no reason to sit him against a Jets defense that just got light up for 209 yards by Jordy Nelson and two TDs by Randall Cobb.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI @NYJ 005701000 **
If the Raiders can have multiple receivers find the end zone against the Jets, surely a healthy (or at least healthier) Jeffery can join Brandon Marshall in the fantasy winner's circle this week.
Update: Jeffery practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, leaving him as a game-time decision once again. Last week that didn't work out so well for him; maybe this week it's Jeffery's term to have a Brandon Marshall-esque rise from the ashes of an injury?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Santonio Holmes, CHI @NYJ 002200000 ****
Right now Holmes is the third wheel on Chicago's tandem bike of a passing game. Unless one of the starters is ruled out this week, Holmes is an unusable fantasy commodity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI @NYJ 006300000 ***
The Jets haven't surrendered much to opposing tight ends, but Bennett serves as the Bears' de facto WR3--and gets an upgrade when one or both of the starters are hobbled or out. He's targeted enough so as to defy the difficult matchup and remain a viable fantasy play.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, CHI @NYJ 2233 ****
The Jets provide a situation where bad offenses get nothing and good offenses often have to settle for field goals. That bodes well for Gould, who was forced to count by ones last week against the Niners.

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
RB Joique Bell 6-50
RB Reggie Bush 60 2-20
RB Montell Owens 40,1 1-10
WR Calvin Johnson 12-160
WR Golden Tate 4-40

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 GB 0000031020 ***
After facing a combined 60 passes from Geno Smith and Russell Wilson, the Packers' secondary will finally be tested: Stafford has averaged 43 pass attempts per game over the last six meetings. And while he's only tossed multiple touchdowns twice in that span he's had at least 262 passing yards, including 520 and 5 late in 2011 and 330 and 3 the last time Green Bay came to town.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET GB 5012200000 ***
Big backs have fared well against the Raji-less Packers front, with Marshawn Lynch and Chris Ivory combining for three TDs and 4.6 yards per carry. Pass-catching backs haven't exactly struggled, either; the Packers gave up an RB receiving score in Week 1 and 65 receiving yards to Jets backs last week. Bell was limited in practice earlier in the week with a knee issue; if he's good to go by the weekend he should capitalize in both of those arenas--much like the 19-94-1/3-34 line he posted on the Pack the last time they came to town.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Reggie Bush, DET GB 4006600000 ***
Bush's role in this offense has been de-emphasized, so a repeat of last season's 182 yards from scrimmage in the back end of the season series seems unlikely--unless Joique Bell's knee issues force the Lions to load Reggie up with more touches than he's been seeing thus far this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET GB 0071102000 ***
Megatron has reached triple-digit yardage in half of his meetings with Green Bay, including his last four straight; he's also scored in three-fourths of those contests, including four of the last five. After letting Eric Decker and Ricardo Lockette find the end zone against them, it's hard to imagine the Packers secondary keeping Johnson from hitting both of those marks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET GB 006700000 ***
Tate scored twice* the last time he faced the Packers, and that was in Seattle where they throw the ball about half as much as they do in Detroit. Tate's 14 targets through two games as Megatron's wingman speak to his role, and while expectations shouldn't be gaudy a solid outing should be in store.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET GB 002300000 ***
The Lions' tight end production still seems fractured, though Ebron stepped to the fore last week. Green Bay hasn't faced much in the way of pass-catching tight ends, but until Ebron's role in this offense is more stable he can't be trusted with a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nate Freese, DET GB 3233 ***
The Lions were auditioning kickers this week; by the time you read this Freese may be an ex-Lion. You'll want something a little more stable for your fantasy lineup.

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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