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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  

Sortable Player Projections |  Projections by Team | Game Predictions Summary

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

Prediction: NO 24, GB 30

Players to Watch: Mark Ingram, James Starks, Darren Sproles, Alex Green

This should be a great first game of the season pitting the Super Bowel champion Packers against the 2009 Champion Saints. Both teams return with all the same coaches and schemes and the only difference from 2010 is likely a better rushing game - for both. We can only hope that the Packers defense yields to the Saints and we start the year with a nice bang.

Update: Lance Moore has been already ruled out this week.

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB - 10 @ATL -
2 CHI - 11 Bye -
3 HOU - 12 NYG -
4 @JAC - 13 DET -
5 @CAR - 14 @TEN -
6 @TB - 15 @MIN -
7 IND - 16 ATL -
8 @STL - 17 CAR -
9 TB - - - -
Saints Report | Statistics | Roster
NEW ORLEANS at GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees - - 270,2
RB Mark Ingram 30,1 10 -
RB Pierre Thomas 40 10 -
TE Jimmy Graham - 30,1 -
WR Marques Colston - 40 -
WR Lance Moore - 30 -
WR Devery Henderson - 50 -
WR Robert Meachem - 60,1 -
PK John Kasay 1 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Saints hope to rekindle their rushing game while still sporting a top passing attack and the additions of Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles could be just the ticket. The Saints best rushing year was 2009 when they coincidentally won the Super Bowl, a fact not lost on them last season while sorting through the bargain bin for healthy running backs. This is a tough opener to be sure but it will also be the toughest game of the year.

QUARTERBACK: Drew Brees marches on as the fantasy stud who has passed for over 4300 yards in each of the last five years and had 33 or more touchdowns in each of the most recent three seasons. Even if the rushing game is improved, that won't mean less for Brees who had 4388 yards and 34 scores in 2009.

Brees faces one of the best defenses from 2010 and no quarterback passed for more than two scores on the Packers.

RUNNING BACKS: The Saints have reloaded at running back, keeping Pierre Thomas as the starter for now at least and adding Mark Ingram in the draft and Darren Sproles as the third down replacement for Reggie Bush. Sproles has been more durable than Bush and should maintain the receiver side of the equation. Mark Ingram comes in with a Heisman trophy and a national championship to his credit but the team is not planning on letting him just take over. Thomas remains very much in the mix and Ingram has only locked up the shorter yardage and goal line carries for now.

The ratios - and successes of players - is worth to watch because this is a high powered offense that generates plenty of fantasy points. If they settle on any one back significantly, that back is the one to start every week.

WIDE RECEIVERS: There could be trouble here. Marques Colston has been nursing a problem knee since last year and it is still a factor. He will play this week but his longer term outlook is not as bright as it once was. His knees could be an issue every week potentially. Lance Moore has been the star in camp and assumes the #2 role (that may be the #1) but he has a groin injury and will be questionable for the first game. He may be a game time decision so be aware if you want to rely on him this week. Robert Meachem remains the slot receiver with Devery Henderson mixing in when they use four wide sets.

The Packers defense is solid and usually is only beaten by the best talent. That is less clear this week so consider any score for a receiver as hard to predict.

TIGHT ENDS: Jimmy Graham was everyone's favorite sleeper tight end after ending last season with four touchdowns in his final three games. Of course he only had 11 catches for 70 yards combined from those games but the scores were easier to remember. Fortunately the Packers only weakness last year was against the position, making Graham a decent start this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 5 15 5 7 11 24
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 4 3 3 26 9 9

Green Bay Packers
Homefield: Lambeau Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 NO - 10 MIN -
2 @CAR - 11 TB -
3 @CHI - 12 @DET -
4 DEN - 13 @NYG -
5 @ATL - 14 OAK -
6 STL - 15 @KC -
7 @MIN - 16 CHI -
8 Bye - 17 DET -
9 @SD -      
Packers Report | Statistics | Roster
GREEN BAY vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers 30 - 250,2
RB Ryan Grant 50 10 -
RB James Starks 40,1 10 -
TE Jermichael Finley - 50,1 -
WR Greg Jennings - 60,1 -
WR Jordy Nelson - 40 -
WR Donald Driver - 20 -
WR James Jones - 20 -
PK Mason Crosby 3 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Packers Super Bowl win was made even more impressive given the amount of injuries that they incurred during the season. Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant are back along with that dominating defense. The schedule is more daunting this year but the Packers have already beaten big odds last year when they constantly had to adjust to a changing roster. The Packers no longer get to be the underdogs though. They get to be the team that everyone circles on their calendar.

QUARTERBACK: A starter for three seasons now, Aaron Rodgers has passed for around 4000 yards and 28 touchdowns each year and added nice yardage and scores as a runner as well. He almost always has at least two scores and over 250 pass yards in every home game.

RUNNING BACKS: The most recent word has it that Ryan Grant and James Starks will rotate into the backfield and that the rookie Green will be lesser used for now though he could show up in any game. Grant returns from his fractured knee and torn ligament and there have been conflicting reports as to him being back in the same form. It speaks more that they want to go with equal carries with Starks in this first game. Grant also took a pay cut to remain with the team.

This is a big watch because taking a primary role for the Packers will result in consistently good fantasy points every week. Sharing would be a disaster and unlike what the team prefers in the past. Look for the hot hand and if Starks shows up Grant this week, it could be the start of a downward spiral for Grant.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Greg Jennings comes off a big year of 76-1265 and 12 scores that started mostly once Jermichael Finley was gone. Jennings has done no worse than 1100 yards for the last three years but he really shifted into overdrive in the later parts of the 2010 season. Donald Driver is the Hines Ward here - the venerable old wideout who remains as much from mutual loyalty as anything else. Both Jordy Nelson and James Jones continue to fight for a bigger role and it appears that Nelson likely has it but until Driver disappears it will limit what other wideouts can do.

The Saints had the #1 defense against quarterbacks and wide receivers last year. That should hold all the receivers in check.

TIGHT ENDS: Jermichael Finley seemed to be on a path for a breakout in 2010 when he topped 100 yards in his second and third games and scored in the fourth. But he was lost for the season when he tore a meniscus in his knee. He's back to health and ready to resume his role as a preferred receiver for Rodgers.

Gaining Fantasy Points GB 2 31 2 20 15 5
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 1 19 1 11 16 20

NO at GB (thu) CIN at CLE MIN at SD SEA at SF
BUF at KC DET at TB PHI at STL NE at MIA (mon)
  CAR at ARI IND at HOU PIT at BAL OAK at DEN (mon)

a d v e r t i s e m e n t