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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 Mike Glennon, TB MIN 0000026021 ****
Glennon's posted three straight two-TD games, with at least 249 yards in each and 300-plus yards in two of the three. Minnesota has given up multiple touchdown tosses or at least 273 yards in all four road games, so they're not likely to keep Glennon from his appointed rounds.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bobby Rainey, TB MIN 2011100000 ***
Rainey's the touchdown/fumble guy. Given that the Vikings have allowed at least one RB TD in five of the past six games, there's a chance Rainey reaches fantasy relevancy despite getting fewer touches than Doug Martin.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Doug Martin, TB MIN 5003200000 ***
The Vikings are giving up five yards per carry on the road and have let their last three hosts all rush for better than 100 yards. Martin remains the quantity guy in Tampa Bay, and this provides an opportunity for him to turn back the clock to when he was fantasy relevant.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Vincent Jackson, TB MIN 006801000 ***
Bucs wideouts should be splitting up 160 or so receiving yards this week, which is what the Vikings surrender to wide receivers in a typical road game. As the top target Jackson takes his cut off the top, more than enough to be a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Louis Murphy, TB MIN 006701000 **
Tough to dismiss Murphy against a Vikings defense that's allowed multiple wideouts to score and/or top 50 yards in three straight road games, but he's definitely the third wheel behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans so he'll have to hope for copious table scraps.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB MIN 003400000 ***
The Vikings have allowed only one TE TD all year and ASJ is still sharing targets with Brandon Myers so keep that breakout game for the rookie on hold for the time being.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Patrick Murray, TB MIN 1133 ***
The Vikings are giving up less than six points per game to opposing kickers, which is great because Murray has scored less than six points in more than half of his games. You can do better elsewhere.

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 DET 0000027011 ***
It's been a month since Ryan tossed multiple scores, and this date with a Detroit defense that begrudgingly gave Drew Brees two TDs last week but has otherwise kept the vaunted Saints in check doesn't project to do him any favors.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL DET 4011100000 *
Jackson is barely startable in a favorable matchup; against a Detroit defense that hasn't allowed a rushing score since Week 4 or a 100-yard rusher all season, there's nothing to like at all.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Antone Smith, ATL DET 2003300000 ***
Still a lottery ticket of a fantasy helper, and last week he failed to cash out. Limited touches and a tough defense make that the more likely outcome again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL DET 2003200000 **
Freeman's share of the workload is increasing, but against a tough D like Detroit's it'll take more than a share to make some fantasy noise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL DET 005701000 **
Detroit gave up multiple 100-yard receivers last week, while White posted his first triple-digit yardage outing of the season. While he's still WR2 to Julio Jones, he's a strong WR2 and a viable fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL DET 006700000 ****
Jones remains an every-week fantasy starter, even against a tough defense like Detroit's; just dial back the expectations a bit.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL DET 005600000 **
Douglas is an iffy play injury wise and a lousy play otherwise against a Detroit defense that isn't allowing much to opposing receivers let alone secondary targets.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL DET 1122 ****
Bryant hasn't scored double-digit points since Week 1, and a date with the top defense in the league isn't likely to help matters.

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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