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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 10 WAS at MIN (THU) DAL at NO JAC at TEN STL at IND
CIN at BAL HOU at ARI SEA at ATL MIA at TB (MON)
BUF at PIT DEN at SD OAK at NYG On Bye:
*UPDATED CAR at SF DET at CHI PHI at GB CLE, KC, NE, NYJ

Prediction: DAL 24, NO 37 (Line: NO by 7)

Players of Interest: DeMarco Murray

Update: Dez Bryant rested his back this week but is probable and will play without limitation. Initially described as having a disc issue in his back, the Cowboys said that was inaccurate and that his back injury was muscle related. Bryant had a full practice on Friday.

Marques Colston was limited all week but may play. I will include him in the projections but he is not a safe play. Jimmy Graham was also listed as questionable and was limited in practices but is no different than last week and remains a safe play. Sproles was cleared from his concussion and will be active.

The 5-4 Cowboys bring their 1-3 road record to New Orleans where the 6-2 Saints are a perfect 4-0. This game looks like a shootout and it may end up that way but the one very relevant angle on this one is that DC Rob Ryan wasn't happy when he was dumped last summer while on vacation and he knows plenty about that Cowboy offense after a few years seeing them daily in practice. That has to be a difference maker.

1 NYG 36-31 10 @NO -
2 @KC 16-17 11 BYE WEEK
3 STL 31-7 12 @NYG -
4 @SD 21-30 13 OAK -
5 DEN 48-51 14 @CHI -
6 WAS 31-16 15 GB -
7 @PHI 17-3 16 @WAS -
8 @DET 30-31 17 PHI -
9 MIN 27-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DAL @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo 290,2
RB DeMarco Murray 50,1 3-20
WR Cole Beasley 3-50,1
WR Dez Bryant 6-80
WR Terrance Williams 6-70,1
TE Jason Witten 5-50
PK Dan Bailey 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys squeaked past the visiting Vikings which should probably be counted more like a loss. But it was the first time that they actually won a close game since the previous three times the scores were close the Cowboys lost every one. The reality is that this game doesn't really matter so much since the Cowboys have no hope for anything more than winning the division and that can happen later by beating the Giants, Redskins and Eagles again later this season.

QUARTERBACKS: No arguing that Tony Romo is having a good year. He's on a pace for 4500+ passing yards and 35 touchdowns. Oddly his worst games have been wins over divisional rivals and he's thrown for multiple scores in almost all others along with solid yardage. The Cowboys pulled out a win last week thanks to a final drive by Romo but doing that again with Rob Ryan against him won't be easy.

RUNNING BACKS: DeMarco Murray returned his MCL problem but only was given four runs to gain 31 yards. All it took was the Vikings safety to step forward and Romo would call off the run. But Murray did catch six passes for 19 yards. He's been a marginal fantasy play in all but one game and always a risk to leave injured or just be vastly under-used. Murray has the only success as a runner for the team and the Cowboys like to say they want more balance but it never happens. Going against a juggernaut like the Saints, probably not going to be a lot of running this week either.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Miles Austin is down to healthy scratches by now. This unit is one of the most productive in the league though each week can be something very different. Dez Bryant is the constant and yet he's only scored in one of the last four games. Terrance Williams was on a four game scoring streak but then flopped with only two catches for 33 yards against the Vikings. Cole Beasley is not only as good as six catches for 68 yards and as bad as one catch for eight yards but those came in back-to-back games. And now Dwayne Harris caught the winning score against the Vikings. The pecking order is clear with Bryant and then Williams but Romo is making use of the other two wideouts as well if only occasionally.

TIGHT ENDS: Just when it seemed that Jason Witten was completely written out of the game plan, he roars back with eight catches for 102 yards and one score against the Vikes. Since week two, he's only scored in one other game and only been better than 67 yards once. Worse yet - all three high yardage games with a score came at home. Over the four previous road games he's only averaged around 31 yards per game.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Saints secondary is vastly improved and have never allowed more than two passing scores to any team. They've allowed just eight on the year and kept most teams to moderate passing yards despite ample trash time for several. They're not as good against the run with six touchdowns allowed but when playing in New Orleans the yardage has never been very high and trusting that Murray suddenly shifts from four carries at home against the Vikings to a big road game versus the Saints is a very hard sell. And trumping all of this is that longhaired paunchy defensive coordinator who would absolutely revel in beating Dallas, especially after just losing to the Jets. The normal starts apply here - Romo, Witten, Murray, Bryant and Williams but how well they perform has a better chance of falling short than exceeding expectations.

WHAT TO WATCH: All the clips of Rob Ryan on the other sideline after anything big happens with his defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 8 28 4 8 9 2
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 5 17 10 4 7 6

 

1 ATL 23-17 10 DAL -
2 @TB 16-14 11 SF -
3 ARI 31-7 12 @ATL -
4 MIA 38-17 13 @SEA -
5 @CHI 26-18 14 CAR -
6 @NE 27-30 15 @STL -
7 BYE WEEK 16 @CAR -
8 BUF 35-17 17 TB -
9 @NYJ 20-26 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 400,4
RB Mark Ingram 20
RB Pierre Thomas 40 4-40,1
WR Marques Colston 4-40
WR Robert Meachem 3-60
WR Kenny Stills 3-60,1
TE Jimmy Graham 10-130,2

Pregame Notes: The Saints stumbled twice in their last three games though both were on the road. The remaining schedule is not as easy as the first half of the season and the next four games include the Cowboys, 49ers and Seahawks. After that comes two matchups with the Panthers that are likely to the key to who wins the NFC South this year.The Saints are dealing with a few injuries on the offense currently and that could impact this game if either Darren Sproles or Marques Colston cannot play this week.

QUARTERBACKS: Despite the problems with injuries, Drew Brees is still one of the best fantasy plays every week and already scored 23 touchdowns on the season while topping 300 yards in all but two games -both on the road. Facing the #32 defense against quarterbacks while being the home team pretty much ensures that Brees will be having a very nice game this week.

RUNNING BACKS: Darren Sproles left with a concussion last week and will have to pass all the test to play in this one. I am going to hold him out of the projections for now and update as needed. Mark Ingram finally returned from his toe injury which made Khiry Robinson inactive but Ingram only ran four times for 19 yards. So he is back to normal. Pierre Thomas is the primary rushing back but he's never ran one in this year and his fantasy value relies more on his receiving than rushing.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Marques Colston was inactive last week because of his knees and is no lock to play here. I'll hold him out as well until he is able to practice and becomes likely to play. Lance Moore had a nice matchup in New York and was thrown ten targets but only caught six passes for 70 yards and never scored. Robert Meachem (4-93) came up big for the only time as a Saint and yet Kenny Stills was held to just 35 yards on three catches after scoring three times over the previous two weeks. This unit has been one of the worst producers in the NFL this year and worse yet won't use any of the wideouts consistently. Facing a nice matchup this week should generate some decent fantasy points but where they end up is very hard to forecast.

TIGHT ENDS: Jimmy Graham is nearly back to 100% which means he's better than any other tight end in the NFL. He scored twice on the Jets and brought in nine receptions for 116 yards and two scores. He's back to form and now facing one of the worst secondaries for stopping tight ends.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Cowboys very in how good or bad they are but the bottom line is that they have allowed four teams to pass for over 400 yards and now will play on the road against Drew Brees. Expect high yardage if not scores from all the usual starts - Brees, Thomas, Graham and at least one wideout that you probably won't get right. Lance Moore is in the right spot yet again but did not do much last week. Either the or Stills or Meachem will have a big game and there's no key as to determining which is more likely. De Marcus Ware may return but that won't be enough to stop this offense.

WHAT TO WATCH: All the clips of Rob Ryan on the other sideline after anything big happens with his defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 2 9 28 1 5 20
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 32 24 20 31 14 2

WEEK 10 WAS at MIN (THU) DAL at NO JAC at TEN STL at IND
CIN at BAL HOU at ARI SEA at ATL MIA at TB (MON)
BUF at PIT DEN at SD OAK at NYG On Bye:
*UPDATED CAR at SF DET at CHI PHI at GB CLE, KC, NE, NYJ


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