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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: TB 17, ATL 27 (Line: ATL by 3)

Players to Watch: Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin

The 13-2 Falcons have wrapped up the #1 seed with all the rights and benefits therein. That makes them very susceptible to resting players though they have not yet admitted the possibility. They will want to keep players fresh of course but a full sixty minutes in a meaningless game? The 6-9 Buccaneers are on a five game losing streak but in week 12, they only lost to the Falcons 23-24. This game could go a number of ways. The better team won't really care about the outcome and the worse team may not be able to do anything about it anyway. The Falcons are 7-0 at home this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CAR 16-10 10 SD 34-24
2 @NYG 34-41 11 @CAR 27-21
3 @DAL 10-16 12 ATL 23-24
4 WAS 22-24 13 @DEN 23-31
5 BYE ----- 14 PHI 21-23
6 KC 38-10 15 @NO 0-41
7 NO 28-35 16 STL 13-28
8 @MIN 36-17 17 @ATL -----
9 @OAK 42-32 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Doug Martin 100,1 4-30
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 40 5-30
WR Vincent Jackson 4-80
TE Brandon Myers 2-20

Pregame Notes: There has been definite progress made in HC Greg Schiano's first season though it doesn't much feel like it currently. The Bucs were only 4-12 last season with a 207 point differential between them and their opponents. This year is nearly even (367-377) and there have been a few additions that are very notable.

Doug Martin has already rushed for 1312 yards and scored 11 touchdowns along with 45 receptions for 454 yards. He has a 4.5 yard per carry average and that is impressive considering the Buccaneers have really struggled in recent road games such as the nine carries for 16 yards he gained in New Orleans. Martin has sent LeGarrette Blount to the bench and become one of the rare workhorse backs in the league.

Marin only gained 50 yards on 21 carries versus the Falcons this year but scored twice.

Josh Freeman is still a work in process but he did have nine games with multiple scores and was posting bigger numbers earlier in the season. His last two games have been killers though - only one touchdown total and yet eight interceptions. Better to do those early in the year than late when they'll hang there all off-season. Freeman only threw eight interceptions over his first 13 games.

Freeman passed for 256 yards against the Falcons in week 12 and it was a rare game with no passing touchdown.

The other notable has been Vincent Jackson who has continued to shine even during the less productive games from Freeman. Jackson has scored eight times this year and topped 90 yards in seven different games. He ended with 96 yards on five catches in the previous Falcons tilt. His success has also brought Mike Williams back to life with 931 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. The passing game is largely limited to the two starting wideouts but they have been more prolific than any duo for the Buccaneers in many years.

The big thing here is that the Falcons have nothing to win having secured the #1 seed. That could well mean a nice game here by Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin and even Mike Williams if only later in the game when the Falcons have gotten their "keep ya fresh" reps and hand off to second-stringers. Hard to rely on but a realistic chance of happening.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 13 11 9 25 14 22
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 10 25 7 22 12 3

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jameis Winston, TB CAR 20000027011 ***
Carolina has given up seven touchdowns while picking off six balls in the last five games. This is a neutral matchup using data from that window. Winston managed only 219 yards and a TD in the Week 5 game vs. the Panthers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, TB CAR 9015400000 ***
Carolina has been a good place to find success for fantasy backs. In the last five games, the position has averaged a rushing TD per game and the second most receptions (6.8).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB CAR 0061001000 ***
He posted a 6-89-1 line in Week 5's meeting, and after a few quiet games, Evans was a help to gamers last week with 22.7 PPR points. The Panthers have given up a lot of yards and catches to receivers of late, but this is the second stingiest defense for allowing TDs. Evans should change that trend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB CAR 004500000 ***
Humphries is a wildcard most any week, and the Panthers provide a top-10 matchup to exploit. You could do worse if the thought is finding a flex flier.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Russell Shepard, TB CAR 002300000 ***
Trusting any receiver not named Mike Evans is merely a coin toss in fantasy. Shepard is wild flier in DFS only.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Roberto Aguayo, TB CAR 3322 ***
The rookie has been pretty darn good over the last five weeks in comparison to his early-season woes. Carolina gave up the most field goal chances per game in the last five weeks, which helps propel this to being Week 17's best matchup for kickers.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO 27-31
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI 23-19
3 @SD 27-3 12 @TB 24-23
4 CAR 30-28 13 NO 23-13
5 @WAS 24-17 14 @CAR 20-30
6 OAK 23-20 15 NYG 34-0
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET 31-18
8 @PHI 30-17 17 TB -----
9 DAL 19-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 230,2
QB Matt Schaub 250,2
WR Julio Jones 4-60,1
TE Jacob Tamme 2-20
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Taking down the Giants and then the Lions in dominating fashion has left the Falcons with nothing to play for this week though as always the word is that they will try really hard and care what happens. They are 7-0 at home and the Buccaneers are struggling more in recent weeks. But it does cast a light of concern for the notable fantasy starters on the Atlanta team. They will get a week off so you do not want to sit around for two weeks and get stale. But you do not want anyone to get injured.

Roddy White is nursing a sore knee and has been missing practices. He only managed two catches for 16 yards against the Giants and then after missing practice all week, he crushed the Lions with 153 yards and two scores. White only gained 57 yards on five catches in the last meeting with the Bucs. It would make a lot of sense to give him most if not all of this game off to rest a knee that has not only been sore for a few weeks but that they hope to be using for another four games.

White is now one of only five players ever to record six straight years of 80 catches and 1,000 yards.

Michael Turner is another concern since the 30-year old back has been marginally effective in recent weeks and could be served with some down time to refresh his legs. Turner already has ten touchdowns this year but is only gaining 3.6 yards per carry. He ran for only 17 yards on 13 carries in Tampa Bay. Turner is a lock for one touchdown in a home game but his yardage is rarely significant.

Jacquizz Rodgers could use more work and he did score his only touchdown on the season when he ran for 49 yards on ten carries in Tampa Bay. Matt Ryan passed for 353 yards and one score in that game but was sacked just once.

This is a team rife with elite offensive players and yet with nothing to play for and already at home, what they'll do may have less to do with matching to a defense than it does keeping the team sharp and yet healthy. It will be a risk to rely on more than moderate showings by any of these players though Roddy White may be even more likely to see reduced snaps this week to rest his knee.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 17 5 4 3 20
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 31 12 31 29 8 17

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL NO 0000028020 ***
The Saints have given up the 11th most fantasy points per game since Week 11. Most of the success can be attributed to QBs averaging top-10 figures in passing yards per game, TD efficiency, and points per completion. Ryan went for 240-2-0 in the last meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL NO 9025400000 ***
Both Freeman and Tevin Coleman annihilated the Saints in Week 3. Freemen amassed 207 offensive yards and a score on his way to a 31.7-point day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL NO 6012200000 ***
The Saints offer a top-10 PPR matchup for the versatile, second-year back. Coleman has to be licking his chops for another shot at the Saints. He scored three times and finished with 29.9 PPR points in the Week 3 meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL NO 0081001000 **
Jones was shut down in Week 3, grabbing a mere catch on seven targets that went for 16 yards. The Saints have allowed a TD every 11.3 catches by receivers in the past five weeks, and the position has averaged top-10 figures per game in both catches (13.6) and yards (170).

Update: Taylor Gabriel is out, so look for extra targets to come Jones' way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hardy, ATL NO 002201000 ***
Despite a good matchup, Hardy doesn't see enough volume to warrant a safe fantasy play in Week 17.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL NO 005600000 ***
Sanu has been too quiet lately, and he hasn't scored since Week 8. He was not much of a factor in the earlier meeting, either. Avoid him in all formats.

Update: Now that Taylor Gabriel has been ruled out, Sanu should have enough of a role to deserve fantasy attention in deeper formats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jacob Tamme, ATL NO 003200000 ***
Tamme has no place in any lineup. He caught 28 yards worth of passes on three receptions in Week 3's meeting. The Saints are a neutral matchup this time around.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL NO 1155 ***
The Saints offer a top-12 opponent for Bryant, giving up 9-for-10 on field goals and 13-for-14 on point-afters since Week 11.

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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