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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 1 BAL at DEN (THU) GB at SF *NE at BUF *TB at NYJ
*ATL at NO MIA at CLE *OAK at IND TEN at PIT
CIN at CHI MIN at DET SEA at CAR HOU at SD (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at STL *KC at JAC NYG at DAL PHI at WAS (MON)

Prediction: MIN 20, DET 24 (Line: DET by 4.5)

Players of Interest: Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Patrick Edwards

The Vikings swept the Lions in 2012, winning 20-13 in Detroit and later 34-24 at home. The Vikings were only 3-5 on the road last year while the Lions struggled everywhere. The Vikes swept them last year and the Lions did the sweeping in 2011. This year home wins are likely the rage.

1 @DET - 10 WAS -
2 @CHI - 11 @SEA -
3 CLE - 12 @GB -
4 PIT - 13 CHI -
5 BYE WEEK 14 @BAL -
6 CAR - 15 PHI -
7 @NYG - 16 @CIN -
8 GB - 17 DET -
9 @DAL - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Josh Freeman 10 230,1
QB Christian Ponder 220,1
RB Adrian Peterson 110,1 2-10
WR Greg Jennings 4-80,1
WR Cordarrelle Patterson 3-50
TE Kyle Rudolph 3-30
PK Blair Walsh 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Vikings made an improbable trip to the playoffs (as gauged by my ill-fated bet with John Tuvey) but did that almost entirely with an opportunistic defense and mostly just everyone sitting back and watching Adrian Peterson run up and down the field. Over and over. It was a one-man show and almost an all-time record for a running back. Will it be enough this year? It only gets you to the playoffs unfortunately. Other strides have been made.

QUARTERBACKS: On one hand you can hardly blame low stats from Christian Ponder who was asked to just give to Peterson 348 times last year and even 50 passes were thrown to him as well. But Ponder was one of the least productive quarterbacks in the NFL with only 2935 pass yards and 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. Over half of his games produced under 200 pass yards and six failed to reach 150 yards. With the defense chasing Peterson all over, passing should have been easier. A lack of receivers is also to blame in fairness and the Vikes have tried to improve that situation.

Ponder passed for only 111 yards in Detroit last year.

RUNNING BACKS: What to say? Adrian Peterson was coming off a a three-ligament tear and was naturally not considered to be as good as he was in the previous season when he had rushed for 1298 yards and 12 touchdowns. Only Peterson became the workhorse of all time (nearly anyway) when he rushed 348 times for 2097 yards and 23 scores. He was unstoppable from about week six onward and ended with ten games over 100 rushing yards, seven of those over 150 yards and two of those over 200 yards. He's 28 and should have a season or two of prime rushing left. Then again he may be immortal after last year and our grandsons will discuss whether to start him against the Barcelona Bulls in 2045.

Peterson rushed for 102 yards on 21 carries and added 20 yards on four receptions in Detroit last season.

WIDE RECEIVERS: This was a mess in 2012. Percy Harvin crashed and burned after week eight and apparently Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson were never meant to be #1 and #2 anywhere. Not a problem anymore. Greg Jennings came over from the Packers and the Vikes used their 1.29 pick on Cordarrelle Patterson. That is a major upgrade from last year and a replacement of both starters. This is where the VIkings must improve and where their fortunes will be made or lost. Peterson is great but he cannot do it all. No matter that he tried. Ponder has to be able to use his wideouts better and now he has no excuses.

TIGHT ENDS: Kyle Rudolph is a popular pick in drafts this summer and he did score nine times last year. But he only caught 53 passes for 493 yards despite the team needing anyone to step up. HC Leslie Frazier said he wanted to use Rudolph less this year because he was on the field all the time as a blocker or receiver.

Rudolph only managed two catches for eight yards in Detroit last year though he would later rack up seven receptions for 64 yards and one score in the home matchup. Rudolph was the #1 target (93 passes) last year and that won't happen again with both Jennings and Patterson now offering upgraded options in the passing scheme.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Both teams have the same offenses and defenses and already know each other all too well. Peterson already gained 102 yards in Detroit last year and later 171 yards in the rematch. He is an automatic start regardless of matchup. It is still too early to assume that an improvement in the passing is immediate. Ponder on the road was the only quarterback who never scored in Detroit. Kyle Rudolph is worth starting but lower expectations from last year. Jennings is also worth a start against a typically bad Lion's secondary but it is too early to consider Patterson.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The passing game is what has to happen here. How well Ponder is able to connect with Jennings and Patterson will define their season. Patterson is a rookie with a learning curve but Jennings is a seven-year veteran who is very familiar with the Lions defense. He should be good in this game if the connection with Ponder is to work at all.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 27 6 29 20 4 13
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 18 6 24 15 28 28

 

1 MIN - 10 @CHI -
2 @ARI - 11 @PIT -
3 @WAS - 12 TB -
4 CHI - 13 GB -
5 @GB - 14 @PHI -
6 @CLE - 15 BAL -
7 CIN - 16 NYG -
8 DAL - 17 @MIN -
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 280,2
RB Joique Bell 40 1-10
RB Reggie Bush 20 6-60,1
WR Calvin Johnson 7-110
WR Golden Tate 4-60,1
TE Brandon Pettigrew 4-40
PK David Akers 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions come off a terrible 4-12 season but that was all put to the side as we watched Calvin Johnson set the all-time record for receiving yards and nearly clip the 2000 yard mark. The same coaches and scheme return here and the only real change is adding Reggie Bush to the roster which could make a significant addition until he finally gets injured like virtually every other Lion's back since Barry Sanders. Starting the season out at home against a very familiar opponent should be better than most weeks.

QUARTERBACKS: While Matthew Stafford still maintain great yardage - his 5038 yard performance of 2011 only declined to 4967 yards, but his touchdowns plummeted from 41 to only 20. The offense lost all sense of balance last year and became little more than pitch and catch with Calvin Johnson who received 204 passes his way of which he caught 122. The next best wideout was Titus Young with 33 receptions before he hitched a ride to the dark side in the offseason. Adding Reggie Bush should help here and balance will make Stafford more effective than throwing an NFL record 727 passes last year.

Stafford passed for 319 yards and one score on the visiting Vikings last year.

RUNNING BACKS: Adding Reggie Bush should prove a very fortuitous acquisition. He is slated to return to more the same role he enjoyed in New Orleans as a dangerous receiver first and a runner second. The Dolphins never used him much as a receiver while Bush proved he could hang as a normal running back. In Detroit, he won't need to run 220 times as he did in Miami. he just needs to show up more as a receiver in a role that saw him catching 88 and 73 passes over his first two years. Joique Bell will fill out the rest of the committee and do the heavier lifting. Bell outplayed Mikel LeShoure this summer and assumes the other starting role. He ran for 5.0 yards per carry on his 82 runs last year and scored three times. Look for those numbers to jump in 2013.

And if history serves, Bell becomes the starter when Bush is injured like all Detroit primary backs.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Calvin Johnson comes off an all-time NFL record season but he has to get help. He can almost do it all and certainly tried in 2012 but for the sake of wins and losses, a suitable #2 is needed. But Ryan Broyles blew out his knee again last year and is getting more frail by the day. Nate Burleson has never been the answer. Now the Lions are looking to start incorporating undrafted rookie Patrick Edwards. The offense needs diversity and Reggie Bush gives them that. But a suitable #2 wideout has to emerge for the sake of the entire offense.

Calvin Johnson was held to five catches for 54 yards against the Vikings last year but later totaled 12 receptions for 207 yards and one score in Minnesota.

TIGHT ENDS: After a career best 83 catches for 777 yards in 2011, Brandon Pettigrew settled down to only 59 receptions for 567 yards and three scores last year. He did suffer through ankle and knee injuries and missed two games in 2012. His development has already reached his best and now regressed slightly.

Pettigrew caught seven passes for 67 yards on the visiting Vikings last season.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The only real change here was the loss of Charles Woodson which really wasn't all that significant. These teams are very familiar with each other and the schemes are all the same. But now in addition to Stafford throwing to Megatron all game, Reggie Bush provides the best running back in Detroit for many years and with his receiving ability adds a new and needed dynamic to the offense that the Packers have not faced before. Bush joins Stafford and Johnson as the must starts but no one else ranks as someone you could or eve should use this week.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Reggie Bush will be of great interest and should be tracked to see how he impacts the offense. But the non-Megatron receivers are where improvement is also needed desperately. Burleson will start but Patrick Edwards will be worked in as well. Edwards wasn't drafted but he led the nation with 20 touchdown catches at the University of Houston last year. Definitely worth watching.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 8 10 5 5 6 28
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 30 11 27 20 10 5

WEEK 1 BAL at DEN (THU) GB at SF *NE at BUF *TB at NYJ
*ATL at NO MIA at CLE *OAK at IND TEN at PIT
CIN at CHI MIN at DET SEA at CAR HOU at SD (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at STL *KC at JAC NYG at DAL PHI at WAS (MON)


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