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
RB Montell Owens 40,1 1-10
WR Alshon Jeffery 4-50,1
WR Brandon Marshall 8-120,1
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40
PK Jay Feely 1 FG

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 Jimmy Clausen, CHI DET 0000023022 *
Clausen hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since 2010; heck, he's only thrown nine passes total since 2010. Jay Cutler threw for 280 and 2 in Detroit; sans Brandon Marshall, it's a safe bet Clausen won't approach those numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, CHI DET 00000000 *****
Benched for Jimmy Clausen.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Forte, CHI DET 3008700000 ***
Worry. Forte's worst game in years came in Detroit in Week 13, when he rushed for six yards on five carries. 52 receiving yards kind of salvaged the day, but with Jimmy Clausen at the helm you can expect the Lions to focus on Forte. It'll be tough to pull the trigger on a replacement, but this doesn't look particularly good for Forte this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI DET 005601000 ***
You might feel positive about this matchup after seeing Jeffery score twice in the earlier meeting, but consider what's happened since then: no Brandon Marshall to draw coverage, and the uber-rusty Jimmy Clausen throwing the ball. He's still reasonably startable, but not with nearly as much confidence.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marquess Wilson, CHI DET 003200000 ***
Wilson scored in his first extended action in place of Brandon Marshall, but it's a significantly tougher matchup this week--not to mention a quarterback who hasn't had to progress through his reads in game action for almost four years. Temper your expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, CHI DET 007601000 ***
Bennett came up large in the earlier meeting with Detroit, and tight end has been a recent Achilles' heel for the Lions as they've allowed games of 69, 109, and 78 yards and a two-TD game--all in just the past month. Bennett should be a favored target for Jimmy Clausen, but it's still a risky proposition given that Chicago's QB hasn't seen significant action in four years.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jay Feely, CHI DET 1122 ***
It's a telling sign that in two games as a Bear Feely has more onside kick attempts (4) than total points (3). Get your fantasy kicks elsewhere.

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
WR Calvin Johnson 12-160
WR Golden Tate 4-40
TE Kellen Davis 2-20
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 @CHI 0000031030 ***
Stafford hasn't thrown a road TD since Week 8, but a date with the dysfunctional Bears--whom he gutted for 390 and 2 back in Week 13--should get him back on course.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Joique Bell, DET @CHI 7012200000 ***
Bell gouged the Bears for 91 yards and two TDs just three weeks ago; in the two games since, Chicago has served up 419 combo yards and three TDs to opposing backs. Bell has accounted for 236 combo yards and a pair of scores in the two games since, so there's really nothing preventing him from a repeat of--maybe even improvement on--those solid fantasy stats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Calvin Johnson, DET @CHI 00101202000 ***
Megatron has five TDs in his last three against the Bears, including 11-146-2 just three weeks ago. Unlikely that Chicago's secondary has improved enough since Thanksgiving to not consider Johnson one of the better fantasy plays of the week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET @CHI 007901000 ***
Tate chipped in 8-89 against Chicago a couple weeks back, then last week scored his first TD in a game in which Calvin Johnson also played significant snaps. He's obviously not as reliable a fantasy play as Megatron, but he should still give you a fantasy helper here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET @CHI 002200000 ***
It's an incredibly favorable matchup, as no team has given up as many TE TDs as the Bears and it isn't even close. However, the Lions have exactly two TE TDs on the year and with the receivers set to have success it's unlikely they suddenly swerve and turn to Ebron.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET @CHI 2244 ***
Inking Prater midseason has turned out to be the best move the Lions could have made; he has half the misses of his 2014 predecessors in twice as many games. More importantly, he's booted multiple treys in seven straight, has three consecutive games with double-digit points (including Week 13 against Chicago) and faces a Bears D that's surrendered at least seven points to every kicker they've faced.

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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