FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 5 BUF at CLE (THU) DET at GB NE at CIN SEA at IND
DEN at DAL KC at TEN SD at OAK NYJ at ATL (MON)
BAL at MIA HOU at SF NO at CHI On Bye:
*UPDATED CAR at ARI JAC at STL PHI at NYG MIN, PIT, TB, WAS

Prediction: HOU 20, SF 24 (Line: SF by 7)

Players of Interest: Houston backfield

UPDATE: Andre Johnson is questionable because of his shin but went through limited practices the last two days and is expected to play.

The Texans fall to 2-2 after letting the Seahawks slip past in overtime and their last road trip was being drubbed by the Ravens 30-9. After taking down the Rams in St; Louis, the 2-2 49ers return home hoping to finally string together two straight wins. Both teams are still searching for an identity and with inconsistent results, forecasting how good either team really is still mostly speculation. Bottom line here - the 49ers at home should be better than the Texans on the road. Even if the same was true when the Colts visited there last.

1 @SD 31-28 10 @ARI -
2 TEN 30-24 11 OAK -
3 @BAL 9-30 12 JAC -
4 SEA 20-23 13 NE -
5 @SF - 14 @JAC -
6 STL - 15 @IND -
7 @KC - 16 DEN -
8 BYE WEEK 17 @TEN -
9 IND - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU @ SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 200,1
RB Arian Foster 80,1 3-20
WR DeAndre Hopkins 5-60
WR Andre Johnson 5-60
TE Garrett Graham 3-30,1
PK Randy Bullock 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: It was bad enough when the Ravens had their way with the Texans but to lose at home in overtime thanks in part to throwing another interception returned for a score is a lot to digest for most fans. The Texans have not been bad other than inopportune turnovers but there is little time to set things right with this trip to San Francisco and another away game in Kansas City before reaching the bye week.

QUARTERBACKS: Aside from the Baltimore loss, Matt Schaub posted multiple touchdowns and over 298 yards in each game. But he also tied an NFL record with three straight weeks throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown. One more and he can own the record outright. The rushing effort lagged past years and forced Schaub to throw more and he has a better cast of receivers than ever before. But his turnovers have been costly and he has to be error free in San Francisco if the Texans are going to remain competitive.

RUNNING BACKS: Despite the heart-breaking loss, Arian Foster appeared to finally be in his old form when he ran for 102 yards on 27 carries against the Seahawks defense. He also added six catches for 69 yards and one touchdown. That reverses a three week trend of lagging what Ben Tate was accomplishing and no doubt buys him a bigger share again this week. Until there is clarity, Ben Tate no longer merits any fantasy consideration until his workload increases. Foster wasn't enough to win the game last week but it was the first time he showed his burst and power.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Andre Johnson turned in his second best game of the year when he caught nine passes for 110 yards against the Seahawk's elite cornerbacks. Granted he did not score and rarely ever does. But it made up for the 36 yard clunker he posted the previous week in Baltimore. DeAndre Hopkins did not fare so well dropping back to only two receptions for 27 yards after opening the season with more than 60 yards in every game. Hopkins owns the sole touchdown pass caught by a wideout as well. Had the Texans held on to win last week, Johnson's performance would have been met with more respect.

TIGHT ENDS: While Garrett Graham is only the #2 tight end and typically no better than the fourth or fifth read made by Matt Schaub, he now has scored in three of the four games this year and comes of a career best five catches for 69 yards. The scary part is that in the Ravens loss, Graham was never thrown a single pass. And he had been stuck at a high of just 30 yards. Owen Daniels hasn't scored since the opener and was coming off a 29-yard effort when he posted a season-best 72 yards on the Seahawks. Daniels is the primary but Graham is gaining the confidence of Schaub near the goal line.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The 49ers have only allowed two passing scores since the season opener and never more than 202 yards so a big game here by Schaub would be a surprise. Have to think too that Schaub will be ultra-cautitious this week with the "Pick Six" record hanging in the balance. The 49ers have been average at best against running backs and allowed six touchdowns to the position. This week answers how good the 49ers really are too because since the opener, they have yet to allow more than 59 yards to any receiver and not given up a score to a wideout. Since tight ends account for two passing touchdowns already, Graham comes into play though using him for a fantasy start after three scoring weeks seems begging for another zero catch day. The rushing game should still work here with Foster back to form. The passing game will be moderate at best.

WHAT TO WATCH: Arian Foster was back to form last week. If he can show up as well again here, he effectively keeps Tate on every fantasy bench.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 10 13 22 2 22 20
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 11 23 10 10 12 18

 

1 GB 34-28 10 CAR -
2 @SEA 3-29 11 @NO -
3 IND 7-27 12 @WAS -
4 @STL 35-11 13 STL -
5 HOU - 14 SEA -
6 ARI - 15 @TB -
7 @TEN - 16 ATL -
8 @JAC - 17 @ARI -
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF vs HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Blaine Gabbert 190
QB Colin Kaepernick 30 180,2
RB Frank Gore 90,1 1-10
WR Anquan Boldin 6-60,1
WR Steve Johnson 3-50,1
TE Vernon Davis 5-40,1
PK Phil Dawson 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The 49ers reached .500 after looking unbeatable twice and somewhat pathetic twice. Who the real 49ers are is still up for debate but at least the win in St. Louis brought back the club into respectability after both the Seahawks and Colts had their way with them. The schedule for the rest of the year is not bad and likely the 49ers are going to be favored in all but maybe the New Orleans game. That is assuming that the offense can replicate what happened against the Rams. A home game against a decent Texans team should help to define just which side of the fence the 49ers really belong.

QUARTERBACKS: The win in St. Louis was mostly about not making mistakes and handing the ball to Frank Gore. But Colin Kaepernick threw for two scores and only 167 yards. He also ran for a season low 11 yards on three rushes. Having Vernon Davis back in the lineup was a major help and he may be as key to the offense as any player including Kaepernick. The worrisome part about Kaepernick continues to be his reliance on just Davis and Anquan Boldin. If one gets covered by the defense, the game is tougher to win. If both can be handled, it is almost impossible to move the offense.

RUNNING BACKS: Seems like a simple enough equation. Hand the ball to Frank Gore at least a dozen times and win the game. Last week was a season best 153 yards and one score on 20 runs against the same defense that made DeMarco Murray look all-world the previous week. But Gore covered 82 yards on just 11 runs in the loss to the Colts. Gore also has a score in both wins. The initial plan was to not over-use him early in the year (check) to keep him healthy for the stretch run and January. Gore still has plenty in the tank for this year. Kendall Hunter scored in the last two games as well but is too inconsistently used for any fantasy consideration. He just gets the end of game work when the 49ers get a nice lead.

WIDE RECEIVERS: At least Anquan Boldin turned in his second good game as a 49ers with five catches for 90 yards and a score in St. Louis. He's become a bit of a master at the push off but rarely gets called. But he is also the only 49er wideout of any note. All combined last week the others only totaled three catches for 19 yards and Quinton Patton may be lost for the season. Jonathan Baldwin (2-19) is likely to see more work as the last man standing. But so far this year, it is pretty much Boldin or nothing.

TIGHT ENDS: Vernon Davis said he was only 85% last week and played like it. While he only caught two passes for 18 yards he did score once. His presence helps Boldin to get less focus which in turn really opens up the passing game. Davis should be much better this week with ten more days to heal his hamstrings.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Texans pass defense has been solid but most recently only faced Jake Locker, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson - none of them exactly elite quarterbacks this year. In the season opener in San Diego, they allowed four passing scores for Philip Rivers. The Texans have been only average against the run and allowed three scores to the position. Consider Kaepernick, Gore, Boldin and Davis as all viable plays this week.

WHAT TO WATCH: This is going against a good defense which has not gone well for the 49ers so far this year. This home game needs to be a solid win or there are problems with the offense that will show up again later when the opponents are tougher.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 25 7 31 11 30 24
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 4 18 2 3 22 30

WEEK 5 BUF at CLE (THU) DET at GB NE at CIN SEA at IND
DEN at DAL KC at TEN SD at OAK NYJ at ATL (MON)
BAL at MIA HOU at SF NO at CHI On Bye:
*UPDATED CAR at ARI JAC at STL PHI at NYG MIN, PIT, TB, WAS


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