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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
TB @ ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 210,1
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 40 5-30

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 20000021012 ***
Winston's Week 8 game against the Panthers was his worst fantasy effort with more than 13 attempts this year. Over the past five weeks, Carolina has been slaughtered by the position. No team has been worse, in fact. In those contests, quarterbacks averaged 286.5 yards (2nd) and a TD every 10.8 connections (4th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Peyton Barber, TB @CAR 4002200000 **
Barber probably will see the majority of the touches, though he has a matchup that isn't too appealing. Carolina has given up a TD every 25.3 totes since Week 10, which is good for ninth. Otherwise, every other notable fantasy determinant is in the bottom half of the league.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB @CAR 007700000 ***
No team has provided receivers more receptions (15.8), yards (204.5), standard fantasy points (31.1) and PPR points (43) per outing than the Panthers in the past five weeks. Evans caught 50 percent of his Week 8 targets for a 5-60-0 line vs. Carolina.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB @CAR 004500000 ***
Humphries could see a few more looks if D-Jax doesn't play. Even then, his role is limited. Despite the upside of the best matchup of the week, starting him is tough to justify.

Update: Jackson will not play in Week 16.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Cameron Brate, TB @CAR 006601000 ***
Carolina presents a so-so matchup -- tough on receptions, easier on allowing scores -- for Brate. His role will be increased by the severity of O.J. Howard's injury, one that has landed him on IR.

Update: Brate (hip, knee) is questionable and was limited in practice all week. He's a gametime decision.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, TB @CAR 2222 ***
The Chargers present the fourth-worst matchup for each of FGAs per game, fantasy points per contest, combined kicking chances and possible fantasy points since Week 10.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Patrick Murray, TB @CAR 2211 ***
The weekly rates of 2.25 FGAs and 2.75 XPAs translate to the 11th-most fantasy points out of the seventh-highest possible figure.

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 Logan Paulsen 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 0000023012 ***
Ryan was terrible in the Week 14 game, tossing three picks against one TD and 221 yards gained. He has just three TD passes in his last four games and doesn't deserve consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL @NO 6013200000 ***
Freeman is coming off his best performance of the year and most well-rounded effort. The Falcons could be without Tevin Coleman again, so check back Friday. The Saints provided Freeman 91 yards on 24 carries in the Week 14 contest. He scored once and didn't add a reception. The Saints are a midrange defense stats-wise over the last five weeks.

Update: Coleman has been removed from the injury report.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL @NO 3002200000 *
Coleman remains in the concussion protocol as of Wednesday's session. He last played in Week 14 against these Saints, finishing with 32 yards on nine carries before an early exit. They may not rush him back with the way Devontae Freeman played last week.

Update: Coleman has been removed from the injury report.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hardy, ATL @NO 002301000 ***
Hardy has two scores in the past five weeks (3 games), though gamers can look elsewhere for a deep flier.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @NO 004600000 ***
Jones (ankle) has just two scores (in one game) over the last eight contests, and his season total is somehow only three. The last time he played the Saints was just two short weeks ago, and the veteran saw 11 targets for five catches and 98 yards worth of gains. New Orleans has allowed big receptions (6th) and yardage (4th) figures over the last five games, though only one in 13.6 snares has found paydirt (17th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL @NO 003400000 ***
Sanu (knee) is enjoying his best fantasy season to date, and his strongest PPR effort came two weeks again vs. New Orleans (6-83-1). The veteran sidekick gets another crack at exploiting a defense that will be trained on limiting Julio Jones. Wideouts have scored six times in the last five games vs. this defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Hooper, ATL @NO 002300000 ***
Hooper has gone five straight games without a score, and his limited role makes the second-year tight end a fantasy anchor without finding the end zone. He caught a 2-23-0 line in Week 14 vs. the Saints.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @NO 2222 ***
Bryant has a midrange matchup, on paper, but anything can happen went two divisional talents face off. The Saints have given up two field goal attempts and 2.4 extra point tries per game, or the 13th-most for both on a weekly average.

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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