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: OAK 17, IND 31 (Line: IND by 9.5)

Players of Interest: Terrelle Pryor

Update: David Ausberry remains out with his shoulder injury.

The Raiders hit the road for the first time and come off a season where they only won once away from Oakland. The Colts were one of the biggest surprises of 2012 when they not only went to the playoffs with a 11-5 record, but they went 7-1 while at home. Hope springs eternal but it takes more than a little optimism to love the Raiders this year.

1 @IND - 10 @NYG -
2 JAC - 11 @HOU -
3 @DEN - 12 TEN -
4 WAS - 13 @DAL -
5 SD - 14 @NYJ -
6 @KC - 15 KC -
7 BYE WEEK 16 @SD -
8 PIT - 17 DEN -
9 PHI - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
OAK @ IND Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Schaub 220,1
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 100,1 2-10
RB Darren McFadden 70,1 2-20
WR Vincent Brown 4-60
WR James Jones 4-70,1
WR Denarius Moore 4-40
WR Kenbrell Thompkins 4-70,1
PK Sebastian Janikowski 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: While everyone has an equal chance in the NFL, theoretically, the Raiders have a lot to prove to dispel the notion that this is going to be one of their worst seasons in a while - which unfortunately really says something. OC Greg Olson takes over the offense. The zone blocking scheme of Greg Knapp managed to destroy the only working part of the offense last year and he was shown the door. Now Olson comes in with a history of matchup up the system to the talent that is already there. Sounds good until you realize what is there. Unfortunately, the Raiders let Carson Palmer leave and with him the only veteran with actual success in his history.

QUARTERBACKS: Apparently Matt Flynn will keep his title as the highest paid quarterback who only looks good on paper. The expectation was that weak-armed Flynn would take over for the departed Palmer but that eventually proved about as workable as it did in Seattle when he was beaten out in training camp by the rookie Russell Wilson. Now Terrelle Pryor is probably going to be the starter. HC Dennis Allen said he would announce it later in the week as if the secret was going to perplex the Colts defense.

Flynn is just not good enough to start despite repeated opportunities. His only hope is that somehow Pryor is even worse which is doubtful since while they both cannot throw that well, at least Pryor takes off on a run all the time. Updates as warranted but you better be in a 32 team league to care.

RUNNING BACKS: Here is where the hope lies with the Raiders. The zone blocking scheme ruined the rushing effort last year and Darren McFadden plunged to only a 3.3 yard per carry average. He ended with only 707 rushing yards on 216 carries and two touchdowns. But McFadden has only once had a decent season back in 2010 when he ran for 1157 yards and seven scores. He still has never started more than 13 games in any season. Over his five year career, he has missed 23 games in all and been injured in many others. Even if you can get the blocking squared away and he can regain his 2010 form, he is just going to get injured again.

This year Rashad Jennings is the primary backup which is less than ideal for a guy you know you will need for about a month or more. Oft-injured Jeremy Stewart could figure in as well as Marcel Reese if Greg Olson decides to use a full back as a runner and receiver in his offense.

McFadden is in a contract year and has everything to win by playing well. But he also has to stay on the field.

WIDE RECEIVERS: When you look at the Raiders receivers, it is like the same feeling when you give your kid a $100 bill at the fair and he comes back with just a snow cone and a plastic whistle. This makes you ask "what in the heck did you spend your money on?" That is the Raiders offense in a nutshell. Money was spent but where it is hard to determine. You still have Denarius Moore who has become better known for his maddening inconsistency and dropping passes than his occasional long pass reception that won't happen with Flynn under center. Jacoby Ford excels as the speedy returner and receiver who disappears more often than the brother-in-law that owes you $200. The best of the bunch is likely undrafted free agent Rod Streater who racked up 39-584 and three scores last year. Darrius Heyward-Bey will start this week only it will be for the Colts and he'll probably be having a lot more fun.

This is not pretty and because of the quarterback situation, it is hard to expect any improvement or breakout players.

TIGHT ENDS: In what has become a tradition in Oakland, yet again the tight end (Brandon Myers) led all receivers for the year and was rewarded with a plane ticket to another team. This time the Giants. Zach Miller went to the Seahawks. Now it is David Ausberry who will be the starting tight end despite sounding like a character on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Ausberry was talked up last year and came up with seven catches (full year, not single game) for 92 yards. In his third season, he is still waiting for the elusive NFL touchdown and the double digit career reception mark.

Not pretty.

MATCH AGAINST THE DEFENSE: The Colts use the same scheme this year with much the same players but what could impact the defense is that the offense under Pep Hamilton will look to use a ball-control scheme and hopefully reduce the amount of plays the opponent gets. It probably doesn't matter so much against the Raiders but the Colts have been below average in most categories defensively. The only Raider that is a recommendation is McFadden anyway and that is assuming that he can get a boost from the new blocking scheme. The best offensive players last year were Carson Palmer and Brandon Myers - both gone.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Raiders are a mess again and only Terrelle Pryor is going to pull them out of it. That is unlikely to happen, but worth watching because without a decent quarterback. it is going to be a long season for the Raiders.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 13 15 19 10 16 31
Preventing Fantasy Points IND 12 20 28 2 25 20

 

1 OAK - 10 STL -
2 MIA - 11 @TEN -
3 @SF - 12 @ARI -
4 @JAC - 13 TEN -
5 SEA - 14 @CIN -
6 @SD - 15 HOU -
7 DEN - 16 @KC -
8 BYE WEEK 17 JAC -
9 @HOU - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
IND vs OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Andrew Luck 20 270,2
RB Vick Ballard 50,1 3-20
RB Ahmad Bradshaw 40 1-10
RB Trent Richardson 90,1 3-20
WR T.Y. Hilton 4-60,1
WR Hakeem Nicks 4-50
WR Reggie Wayne 6-70
TE Coby Fleener 2-20
PK Adam Vinatieri 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Colts were one of the biggest surprises in 2012. After dumping most of their long-time best players for a rebuilding effort, they ended up with a shocking 11-5 record and a trip to the playoffs. Roughly opposite what was expected. The addition of Andrew Luck paid immediate dividends and they thrived despite HC Chuck Pagano missing most of the season being treated for cancer. The change for this year - which could be significant either way - was that OC Bruce Arians left to coach the Cardinals and Pep Hamilton comes over from Stanford to direct the offense with a shorter, ball control style.

QUARTERBACKS: In a year where rookie quarterbacks were all the rage, Andrew Luck stood out with the most passing yardage - 4374 yards and he scored 23 times through the air and five more as a runner. He took what was thought to be one of the worse units in the NFL and made them more than competitive. This season he gets Darrius Heyward-Bey to use along with Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton and the offense he will be running is the same that he used at Stanford when Pep Hamilton was his head coach.

So while it is a new scheme for all the other players other than Coby Fleener, this is the same one that Luck used in college.

RUNNING BACKS: This is a change from last season. Vick Ballard led the team with 211 carries for 814 yards but only scored three touchdowns in all. He'll still have a role this year but Ahmad Bradshaw was brought in to become the primary back and there is an excellent chance that he will be able to play in week one after missing most of camp because of his foot. There are no guarantees on week two however. This will still be a pass-heavy team and the shorter scheme will end up digging even a little more into the running game that now employs either a committee or a guy likely to hop off the field on one leg at any given time. Donald Brown remains on the roster but should be out of sight until injuries happen.

Bradshaw could be a very nice fit here - if he remains healthy enough to take advantage of it. For this first week, Ballard is slated to be the starter since Bradshaw has not had enough time with the team because he was recovering from his foot surgery.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The wideouts should be improved as well. Reggie Wayne returns for one more season but at 35 years of age, he's walking on the edge of a cliff. After a disastrous 2011 season without Peyton Manning, he ended up with the exact same yardage with Luck (1355) as he had in 2010 in the final healthy year of Manning. T.Y. Hilton had an impressive rookie campaign with 50 catches for 861 yards and seven touchdowns which included five games over 100 yards but he also had half his games remain under 40 yards and was inconsistent. He moves to the slot while Darrius Heyward-Bey takes the #2 after coming over from the Raiders.

Heyward-Bey is the interesting one of the bunch as he was the 1.07 pick of the 2009 draft with a rare combination of size (6-2) and speed. He also dropped more than a couple of passes though and was in and out of the game plan in Oakland in a seemingly random fashion. A new team and a great young quarterback is as good a chance as he'll ever get again.

TIGHT ENDS: Coby Fleener gets his old college coach and that seems likely to pay dividends but Fleener has never impressed so far. His rookie season playing with the exact same quarterback he had in college only produced 26 catches for 281 yards and two scores. Fellow rookie Dwayne Allen was more productive (45-521-3) though neither had any real fantasy value. No need to jump on any bandwagon so far - this remains below the radar until something material changes that.

MATCH AGAINST THE DEFENSE: The Raiders welcome back Charles Woodson this year but at 37 years of age he's not going to be a major improvement. The problem for the Raiders and one that should be even more apparent this year is that the offense kills the defense. Meaning that a lack of ability to stay in games and control the ball means the defense is on the field for far too long to not break down. They were one of the worst at stopping the run in part because everyone was running out the clock at end of games. This is a new scheme for the Colts and could have some hiccups, but you couldn't ask for much better than facing the Raiders as the visitors for opening weekend. No reason to shy away from any Colts offensive players.

You have to expect Heyward-Bey to want to stick it to his old team this week.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Really just Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton to see how they handle the sharing after Reggie Wayne gets his catches out of the way. The new offense is worth observing of course.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points IND 10 31 4 17 19 23
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 23 31 10 27 31 15

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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