FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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: HOU 20, ARI 22 (Line: ARI by 2.5)

Players of Interest: Case Keenum, Dennis Johnson

The 2-6 Texans continue their free fall with their sixth straight loss while the 4-4 Cardinals sport a 3-1 record at home. Chances are good that this game remains low scoring and the Texans will get a boost from their head coach leaving the hospital. Lost in the drama about the head coach is a Texans offense that is starting to finally find a rhythm.

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 3-34 14 @JAC -
6 STL 13-38 15 @IND -
7 @KC 16-17 16 DEN -
8 BYE WEEK 17 @TEN -
9 IND 24-27 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU @ ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Case Keenum 20 280,2
WR DeAndre Hopkins 4-60
WR Andre Johnson 6-90,1
WR DeVier Posey 2-30
TE Garrett Graham 5-50,1
PK Randy Bullock 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: HC Gary Kubiak was released from the hospital but is uncertain when he will rejoin the team the scary scene that unfolded at halftime overshadowed the tremendous success the Texans were having with the pass and changed the outcome of the game. At 2-6 the Texans are mostly playing for their jobs and adding Case Keenum to the starting lineup has paid immediate and obvious benefits. Just not winning benefits quite yet.

QUARTERBACKS: Two weeks in and Case Keenum is genuinely impressive. After throwing for 271 yards and one score in Kansas City, he posted 350 yards and three touchdowns on the Colts - much of that in the first half. Certainly the more game film there is on a quarterback tends to bring them back to earth but so far Keenum has earned the start and is exceeding expectations.

RUNNING BACKS: Arian Foster was active last week and the announcement was made just in time for owners to make their starting switches. And then before he had even taken one carry he was off the field with a back injury that he has refused to discuss as of this writing. That's a really, really bad sign for a player who started with a bad back, strained a calf muscle, then injured a hamstring and now is back to the back. That doesn't mean that Foster's career is over by any means. It is how final declines start though.

Ben Tate takes over as the starter again this week despite having four broken ribs under his flak jacket that admittedly caused him great pain during and after the loss to the Colts. Dennis Johnson also ran eight times for 36 yards in relief and would be next up if Tate cannot play for any reason.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Two games with Keenum apparently heals whatever ails you. Andre Johnson hadn't scored all year and then turned in three touchdowns and 229 yards last week. DeAndre Hopkins also scored only his second touchdown ever in week eight when he turned in 76 yards on three catches and followed that up with three more receptions for 54 yards. No other wideouts ever matter here but at least the two starters have turned in their best games with Keenum at the helm and not against bad defenses either.

TIGHT ENDS: Garrett Graham remains the starter but still doesn't produce enough for any fantasy relevance.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Cardinals main weakness is against the pass and they've allowed almost two scores per opposing quarterback so far alone with half the games cresting the 300 yard mark. The Cardinals are great against the run and only allowed two rushing scores this year along with very minimal rushing yards. This is not a week to expect big dividends for owning Ben Tate. This might be a week to grab Graham off the waiver wire if you are in bad shape for tight ends because no team is as bad against the position as the Cards. They have allowed eight touchdowns to the position and big yardage to any who receive much. It is a stretch to expect a big game from Graham but he should be better and could offer a bye week replacement. Consider Keenum, Tate, Johnson and maybe even Hopkins for a start this week. Hopkins would still be a bit risky.

WHAT TO WATCH: Case Keenum continues to impress and the backfield situation bears watching. Mostly for Dennis Johnson's effectiveness even in a limited role because the way it is going in Houston he may end up with a bigger workload eventually.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 18 20 15 6 26 28
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 21 3 7 32 17 22

 

1 @STL 24-27 10 HOU -
2 DET 25-21 11 @JAC -
3 @NO 7-31 12 IND -
4 @TB 13-10 13 @PHI -
5 CAR 22-6 14 STL -
6 @SF 20-32 15 @TEN -
7 SEA 22-34 16 @SEA -
8 ATL 27-13 17 SF -
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ARI vs HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer 190,1
RB Andre Ellington 40 4-50
WR Larry Fitzgerald 5-50
WR Michael Floyd 4-60,1
WR Ted Ginn 2-30

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals come off their bye with a win thanks to the visiting Falcons. Now they get to host the Texans and then head to Jacksonville for a three game "good as it gets". The season is half over and the team has just not improved despite having upgraded the offense in a few spots. The lack of a rushing game seems to be more about loyalty to Mendenhall than reading the box scores and Palmer has yet to ignite the offense. But for the next two weeks - it should all look better.

QUARTERBACKS: Halfway through the season and Carson Palmer is just an average fantasy play. He's only thrown 10 touchdowns against 14 interceptions and has always thrown at least one pick in every game. Three of his last six games didn't even break 200 passing yards. The amazing fact is that he's on pace for 3800 yards and 20 touchdowns and yet last season in Oakland with far lesser receivers he passed for 4018 yards and 22 touchdowns with 14 interceptions over 15 games.

Somehow moving from Brandon Meyers and Denarius Moore to first round talents Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd has been a downgrade. Doesn't say much for the coaching.

RUNNING BACKS: Rashard Mendenhall missed the Falcon win with a bad toe but he is tentatively expected back this week. In his absence, Andre Ellington went nuts and ran for 154 yards on 15 carries and scored once. That's led HC Bruce Arian to have an epiphany that maybe he should use Ellington more - and that is why he gets paid the big bucks. That won't necessarily mean that Mendenhall will have a lesser role but that Ellington will get more touches - carries or catches. Ellington has consistently played better than Mendenhall but was limited to no more than seven carries per game until last week. Mendenhall was reported to look good in early practices which should help ensure that Ellington is under-used again.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Both Larry Fitzgerald (4-48) and Michael Floyd (3-30) scored on the Falcons but the mediocrity here is still very much in tact. Floyd only scored twice this year and Fitzgerald has five touchdowns. But the yardage here remains moderate to low in every game other than the one long catch in San Francisco go Fitzgerald. For an offense with marginal rushing and no other receivers beside the two wideouts, this unit is amazingly ineffective - beyond what should happen with just the individual talents considered.

Fitzgerald has been nursing his hamstring pull but should be 100% by now.

TIGHT ENDS: No fantasy value.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Texans rank great against quarterbacks and wideouts but much of that has from facing teams like TEN, SEA, STL, BAL, SF and KC who just don't throw much or all that well. They gave up multiple passing scores in half their games so far though the yardage tends to be marginal. Six games already came in under 200 passing yards. Palmer at hoem should have yet another average sort of game but a shot at multiple passing touchdowns. The Texans are weaker against the run but still have not given up a 100 yard rushing game to any runner and while teams have good rushing games against them no one ever had a monster game against them. Palmer is a very moderate play here and every week. Ellington will get watered down by Mendenhall and yet still manage to offer some fantasy value. Fitzgerald is always worth starting but limit expectations here.

WHAT TO WATCH: The coaches say they want more Ellington and yet are excited that Mendenhall is returning. The Texans are weaker against the run anyway and a big game by Ellington could change their minds. Okay, probably not but he's the only fun player the Cardinals have to watch.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 29 15 19 31 20 11
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 3 18 3 14 18 31

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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