FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 4 SF at STL (THU) CIN at CLE NYG at KC SEA at HOU
PIT at MIN (London) IND at JAC PHI at DEN WAS at OAK
CHI at DET NE at ATL BAL at BUF MIA at NO (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at TB DAL at SD NYJ at TEN On Bye: CAR, GB

Prediction: ARI 13, TB 17 (Line: TB by 3.5)

Players of Interest: Michael Floyd, Mike Williams

Update: Nothing like changes a few hours after writing this. The Buccaneers are switching gears and starting ex-North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon who was their 3.11 pick back in April. How that plays out this week is obviously hard to gauge since he has not yet played in the regular season. Glennon is a talent and was the third quarterback selected behind E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith who are both already NFL starters on their teams. I will ratchet down the projections a little but the effect could be better numbers potentially.

Update #2: Larry Fitzgerald is probable to play and was a full participant in all practices. Both Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are questionable to play this week after both missed Wednesday and Thursday practices but had a limited day on Friday. They are still expected to play and Jackson's ribs are less an issue than Williams's hamstring. They did not practice with Mike Glennon which would have been preferred as well.

The Cardinals slip to 1-2 with losses in both road games and now comes the third away venue in just the first four weeks of the season. The Buccaneers are 0-3 with a bullet thanks to only scoring 13 points per game (second worst in the NFL). The game mixes the bad road team of the Cardinals with the teetering Buccaneers who only lost to the Saints by two points in their only other home game. Bringing in defensive help in the offseason will pay dividends for the Buccaneers in games like this where the opponent has only a few weapons to worry about.

1 @STL 24-27 10 HOU -
2 DET 25-21 11 @JAC -
3 @NO 7-31 12 IND -
4 @TB - 13 @PHI -
5 CAR - 14 STL -
6 @SF - 15 @TEN -
7 SEA - 16 @SEA -
8 ATL - 17 SF -
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI @ TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 230,1
RB Andre Ellington 20 3-30
WR Larry Fitzgerald 6-60
WR Michael Floyd 4-60
TE Rob Housler 4-30,1

Pregame Notes: After opening with a close loss in St. Louis and yet getting a big stat day from Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, the offense has slowed considerably. No coincidence that has much to do with Larry Fitzgerald who is nursing a sore hamstring that hasn't stopped him but has really limited his role. A rushing effort that rarely works combined with the lower output when passing has once again really limited the offense. With a string of very good defenses for the next month, hard to see any real improvement until the second half of the season.

QUARTERBACKS: After opening with 327 yards and two scores in St. Louis, Carson Palmer has thrown only one touchdown against three interceptions and comes off a 187 yard performance in New Orleans that was about the opposite of how most fared there last season. Palmer misses a healthy Fitzgerald and has not been able to bring up the level of play of the other receivers. On the plus side, Fitzgerald is getting better.

RUNNING BACKS: Rashard Mendenhall did not miss the game because of his toe injury but he only ran for 29 yards on nine carries. By this point, the backfield remains a mess with Alfonso Smith running in the score against the Saints but being used for just three carries and one catch. Andre Ellington has been the best rusher for the last two weeks though he has yet to receive more than four rushing attempts in a game. He plays the third down back but even that has not been worth more than three receptions. The rotation negates whatever minor fantasy value could be here. If Mendenhall would get injured and miss a game, it might help to make Ellington matter more.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Larry Fitzgerald is better as evidenced by his five catches for 64 yards in New Orleans but that was with just six passes. In the season opener, he received 14 targets. Michael Floyd needs Fitzgerald to excel and take away coverage in order to matter in this offense so far. Andre Roberts has declined from an eight catch, 97 yard effort in the opener to only one reception last week. The offense remains sorely limited with an ineffective rushing game and little more than Larry Fitzgerald in the passing equation.

TIGHT ENDS: Rob Housler returned from his ankle injury but only caught one pass. He's below the fantasy radar as are all Cardinal tight ends forever and ever.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Buccaneers have been outstanding against the run - no one has rushed for more than 65 yards on them though the Pats divided up their effort. The Buccaneers have not allowed any touchdowns by a running back so far and that is highly unlikely to change this week against the motley crew of Mendenhall Etc.. The secondary is much improved this season as well and only allowed four passing scores this year despite facing Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Knowing that Fitzgerald will get plenty of attention and likely by Darrelle Revis paints another down effort by the Cards this week. Palmer and Fitzgerald are only marginal starts at best and while Floyd has the best chance to score, it is by no means a lock to happen. Robert Housler has a shot at a score given that the Bucs were hurt by Kellen Winslow and Jimmy Graham this year but with one catch on the season he's impossible to rely on.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Michael Floyd has to become a bigger factor and especially in a game like this one.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 30 16 15 29 20 25
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 14 14 4 29 29 16

 

1 @NYJ 17-18 10 MIA -
2 NO 14-16 11 ATL -
3 @NE 3-23 12 @DET -
4 ARI - 13 @CAR -
5 BYE WEEK 14 BUF -
6 PHI - 15 SF -
7 @ATL - 16 @STL -
8 CAR - 17 @NO -
9 @SEA - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
TB vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Mike Glennon 190,1
RB Doug Martin 80,1 2-20
WR Vincent Jackson 5-60,1
TE Brandon Myers 3-30

Pregame Notes: The offense has been so sluggish that it obscures just how much better the defense has become this year. Allowing only three touchdowns to Drew Brees and Tom Brady combined is a nice feat, especially when so little help comes from the offense. Doug Martin has not dropped off at all but the passing game is bad and getting worse. This is the final game before the bye and a home win here would go far to help a team that is teetering on the edge of collapse with only an average of eight points per game.

QUARTERBACKS: HC Greg Schiano once again endorsed Josh Freeman as the starting quarterback but it isn't that he's taken a step backwards this year. It is more like a dead on sprint in regression. Freeman has only two touchdowns on the year against three interceptions and an average of only 190 yards per game. He has completed only 46% of his passes and is not long to remain the starter unless he pulls out of this tailspin.

Rookie Mike Glennon would get the starting call if that happens. And at current rate - it will happen.

RUNNING BACKS: Doug Martin is not producing to the level of an elite back but he has remained productive in what they give him. He still gets 20+ carries per week and averages just over 4.1 yards per carry but he only scored once and has nearly no role as a receiver. In 2012, he was getting at least three receptions per game and at times as many as seven. Despite being a good outlet for Freeman, Martin is being used just as a runner and then a blocker on passing downs.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Vincent Jackson injured his ribs last week and could not finish the game but he's been reasonably productive as a receiver in the first two weeks with 12 catches for 231 yards. He has yet to score but is clearly the only receiver of any note on this team currently. Mike Williams offered a nice complement last year but has lost nearly all fantasy value with only seven catches for 74 yards over the last two weeks. The passing effort is in decline and taking everyone down with it. Jackson is all that is left. His rib injury is not expected to be an issue this week.

TIGHT ENDS: When Dallas Clark left, he apparently took all the tight end playbooks with him. All combined, the position has only totaled four catches for 44 yards over three weeks.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Cardinals have been very good against the run and not allowed any touchdowns on the ground or more than 63 rushing yards to an individual. But Martin is the best they will have faced and do so on the road so Martin should be fine. He could matter more with a few more receptions but that has not happened yet. The passing game is where this game should be won and where Freeman should look decent if for only one week. The Cards have allowed at least two passing scores to each opponent and never under 275 passing yards. Freeman will likely establish new lows for what the Bucs allow but that can still be his best game of the year. CB Patrick Peterson should match on Vincent Jackson and that'll depress the entire passing game if Freeman cannot manufacture yards and scores using someone else. The Cardinals have been really bad against tight ends so this would be a nice time for Freeman to use the position that has already scored four times on the Cardinals.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Not unlike the Cardinals, the #2 receiver needs to do more here and that means Mike Williams. There is a chance that they move Jackson around enough that the Cardinals cannot just stick Peterson on Jackson and be done with it. Bottom line - the better that Williams can do, the more it is going to really help the offense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 31 28 25 30 31 7
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 29 13 9 32 18 19

WEEK 4 SF at STL (THU) CIN at CLE NYG at KC SEA at HOU
PIT at MIN (London) IND at JAC PHI at DEN WAS at OAK
CHI at DET NE at ATL BAL at BUF MIA at NO (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at TB DAL at SD NYJ at TEN On Bye: CAR, GB


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