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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
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 Josh McCown, TB @ATL 0000022011 ***
The Falcons have held a pair of talented quarterbacks in relative check--one TD each to Drew Brees and Andy Dalton--while McCown has yet to hit the 200-yard mark in pewter. Tough to see him getting on track enough here to warrant serious fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bobby Rainey, TB @ATL 9013200000 ***
Rainey has more upside than erstwhile starter Doug Martin: he's healthier, and he's coming off a game in which he rolled up 174 yards from scrimmage. No team has surrendered more RB TDs or combo yards to RBs than the Falcons, so while Martin is the riskier share of this split backfield Rainey appears to be the better fantasy option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Doug Martin, TB @ATL 00000000 *
Lots of "ifs" here, with little time to answer them before a Thursday kickoff. Even if Martin plays in an extremely favorable matchup he'll be sharing touches with Bobby Rainey. Is a partial, hobbled Martin worth it against a Falcons D that's allowed more RB combo yardage and RB TDs than any other team this year? Probably not.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Vincent Jackson, TB @ATL 005701000 ****
Subdued Josh McCown numbers have kept a lid on VJax's productivity thus far this season, but he certainly knows his way around the Atlanta secondary--10-165-1 and 10-138-2 in the two-game set last season. Through two games this year Falcons have already allowed three different receivers to score and/or top 75 yards; even with McCown struggling those feel like baseline numbers for Jackson this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB @ATL 005600000 ***
It's been a slow build for the rookie, who has yet to score or top 50 yards as a pro. A date with a Falcons' secondary that's allowed multiple wideouts to turn one or both of those tricks in each of the first two games this season could be just what the doctor ordered to get Evans onto the fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Brandon Myers, TB @ATL 004300000 ***
Myers has filled in admirably while Austin Seferian-Jenkins adjusts to the NFL lifestyle and grapples with injury issues. Admirable, however, doesn't quite cut it for your fantasy lineup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Patrick Murray, TB @ATL 2222 ****
The Falcons have allowed multiple field goal attempts in five of their last six, including both games this season, and last year they let Rian Lindell try three treys in each end of the home-and-home series. That should provide Murray with ample opportunity to build on his one career NFL field goal.

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
RB Steven Jackson 50 2-20
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 40 5-30
WR Harry Douglas 3-40
WR Julio Jones 4-60,1
WR Roddy White 3-40
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 TB 0000025021 ****
After facing second- and third-string QBs to start the season, the Bucs might be shocked to see Ryan. He's taken Tampa for 300 yards or multiple TDs in five of the last six meetings, including both last year; don't look for Lovie's Tampa-2 to fare much better.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL TB 601000000 ***
Jackson has been topping out around a dozen carries and 50 or so yards--hardly fantasy-helper numbers. You could expect an uptick against a decimated Bucs d-line that's held DeAngelo Williams and Zac Stacy to 72 and 71 yards, respectively, but you're still barely on the fringe of fantasy respectability, hoping for a pass interference call in the end zone to set you up for a one-yard fall into the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL TB 3001100000 ***
At best Rodgers is sharing the smaller half of the Falcons' backfield pie with the likes of Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman. And while Tampa's defensive front has been hit hard with injuries that's still not enough to suggest he'll be much of a fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL TB 0081101000 ***
Jones missed both ends of this season series last year, but he's scored or topped 100 yards (or both) in three of four career meetings with the Bucs and has scored or topped 100 yards in each game thus far this season. Sounds like a trend worth riding.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL TB 004500000 *
White has topped 75 yards against the Bucs just once in their past 16 meetings, and he hasn't hit that mark yet this season. He has, however, found the end zone and he scored the only time he faced Tampa Bay last season. He's clearly running as WR2 to Julio Jones, but this isn't a bad situation to be running WR2 in.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL TB 004400000 ***
Douglas blew up the Bucs with 6-134-1 and 7-149-1 last season, but Julio Jones missed both outings and Roddy White was available for just one. With both Falcons studs back Douglas is clearly the third wheel, so he's a fringe fantasy option at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL TB 003200000 ****
Given Toilolo's role in this offense you'll need a TD to wring fantasy value out of him. It's something Tony Gonzalez couldn't pull off last year and it's not something you should bank on here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL TB 3333 ****
Only two teams have allowed more field goal attempts thus far this year than the Bucs, so Bryant should have the opportunity to swing his leg this week.

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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