FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17 BAL at CIN DEN at OAK JAC at IND STL at SEA
BUF at NE DET at MIN KC at SD TB at NO
CAR at ATL GB at CHI NYJ at MIA WAS at NYG
*UPDATED CLE at PIT HOU at TEN SF at ARI PHI at DAL

Prediction: TB 6, NO 27 (Line: NO by 13)

This is a replay of week two when the Saints won 16-14 in Tampa Bay. The 4-11 Buccaneers are ending a bad season but truly improved in the second half of the season. The 10-5 Saints have to win here to remain in the hunt for a wild card and are 7-0 in home games. The Saints should win this but the Buccaneers defense is better at holding losses down to lower margins. It's something to hang your hat on when you are about to be 4-12.

1 @NYJ 17-18 10 MIA 22-19
2 NO 14-16 11 ATL 41-28
3 @NE 3-23 12 @DET 24-21
4 ARI 10-13 13 @CAR 6-27
5 BYE WEEK 14 BUF 27-6
6 PHI 20-31 15 SF 14-33
7 @ATL 23-31 16 @STL 13-23
8 CAR 13-31 17 @NO -
9 @SEA 24-27 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
TB @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Mike Glennon 160
RB Bobby Rainey 60 2-10
WR Vincent Jackson 5-70
TE Brandon Myers 4-40,1
TE Timothy Wright 4-40

Pregame Notes: What began as an 0-8 season at least is 4-3 in recent weeks. But the hole dug by that losing streak quickly became far too much to bear and along the way the Buccaneers shook up their offense.

Recall in the first meeting with the Saints that Josh Freeman was still the starter and only passed for 125 yards and one score. He was replaced by Mike Glennon in week four and since then the Bucs have been much more competitive. Glennon threw 17 scores against eight interceptions in the 12 games he's played this year. There's a good chance that the Bucs will be shopping for a new head coach next season but Glennon looks good enough to stick.

The Bucs also were getting surprisingly low production from Doug Martin in the first seven weeks but he hit injured reserve after only scoring once all year and turning in only one effort over 100 yards. He rushed 29 times for 144 yards against these Saints in week two. Mike James stepped in with decent results until he too hit injured reserve in week 11. Bobby Rainey showed up and while no savoir, he is as good as you could possibly hope from a waiver wire scrape after mid-season.

Along the way Timothy Wright became a part of passing downs and scored four times as a rookie. He offers some promise in 2014 though he is purely a receiving tight end and is not on the field in run formations. The Bucs also lost Mike Williams after week eight and yet the winning did not begin until those couple of significant injuries happened. Vincent Jackson was left to fend for himself which resulted in seven touchdowns and four 100 yard games. He's really never been any better than the secondary and comes up big only in the easiest of matchups. He also only scored in one road game all year versus four at home. At Atlanta of course.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The problem here is that the Saints are in a do-or-die situation and they are at home where they play far better defense. No way they overlook this game because there is nothing else that matters but winning here. Bottom line with the 2013 Bucs is you only have to cover Jackson and slow down Rainey and you will get the win. Figure on both Jackson and Rainey as the only reasonable fantasy considerations and both hold as much risk of a complete flop here as they do just a moderate game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 30 25 26 28 27 13
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 4 10 5 10 6 6

 

1 ATL 23-17 10 DAL 49-17
2 @TB 16-14 11 SF 23-20
3 ARI 31-7 12 @ATL 17-13
4 MIA 38-17 13 @SEA 7-34
5 @CHI 26-18 14 CAR 31-13
6 @NE 27-30 15 @STL 16-27
7 BYE WEEK 16 @CAR 13-17
8 BUF 35-17 17 TB -
9 @NYJ 20-26 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 290,3
RB Mark Ingram 30
RB Pierre Thomas 40 4-30
WR Marques Colston 4-50
WR Kenny Stills 2-40
TE Jimmy Graham 9-110,2
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Saints were one of the elite NFC teams but going 1-3 over the last month drops the Saints out of the lead in the division and now battling the 49ers and Cardinals over the two wild cards. Winning here is a near lock but losing five of the last six road games means the playoffs are probably not going to last long for the Saints anyway.

This season hasn't been much different than recent years other than the new defense by Rob Ryan has vastly improved what was the NFL's worst defense (ironically now the team that Ryan left). At least when playing at home, the Saints have been very dominating on defense. Less so when they hit the road.

Drew Brees is second to Peyton Manning by a large margin but the distance between him and the #3 is equally as big. Brees already scored 35 touchdowns this year and always at least once per week, When he's at home, he's been high octane with 24 of those scores in New Orleans and only 11 when he played in eight away games. Brees passed for 322 yards and one score in Tampa Bay in week two.

The Saints rank highly with running back fantasy points and yet no individual player is worth more than a flex play if that. Each week no fewer than three different backs will play and at times five will be given touches. Darren Sproles has obviously shown his age with only four scores on the year and rarely more than about 50 total yards in games. His role as a runner and receiver both declined and on the road he was much too unproductive to merit any fantasy start. Pierre Thomas spent midseason as a meaningful fantasy play but in the last month just disappeared from use thanks to facing three road games and hosting the Panthers. Mark Ingram oddly blew up in two games but otherwise was either injured or dancing with his usual partner of mediocrity.

Jimmy Graham remains the only elite tight end. With Rob Gronkowski's inability to remain healthy, Graham is a major advantage at a position suddenly full of decent receivers and yet just him as a difference maker. Graham turned in a season best 179 yards on 10 catches and scored once in Tampa Bay.

The wide receivers have all but disappeared from use. Kenny Stills caught a few long touchdowns around midseason but very little otherwise. Lance Moore doesn't even equate to an average tight end in production. Marques Colston picked up the pace and contributed since midseason but still only has five scores on the year and three came over the last three weeks. Colston caught four passes for 63 yards in the first meeting with the Bucs.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Saints have to win this week and play far better at home. This should be a very thorough win and post bigger points than the 16 in Tampa Bay to be sure. The Buccaneers will use Darrelle Revis against Colston which would be his natural matchup anyway. But Brees and Graham should end up with big games in this one as will a few other players harder to target. The recent increase in using Mark Ingram makes all the backs risky plays though at least one or more will have a good performance. The Buccaneers have only allowed three rushing scores all year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 3 2 23 1 18 29
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 26 6 16 17 24 9

WEEK 17 BAL at CIN DEN at OAK JAC at IND STL at SEA
BUF at NE DET at MIN KC at SD TB at NO
CAR at ATL GB at CHI NYJ at MIA WAS at NYG
*UPDATED CLE at PIT HOU at TEN SF at ARI PHI at DAL


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