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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  

Sortable Player Projections | Game Predictions Summary | Projections by Team

WEEK 15
2011
JAC at ATL (thu) * CIN at STL * MIA at BUF SEA at CHI
DAL at TB (sat) * CLE at ARI NE at DEN * TEN at IND
BAL at SD * DET at OAK * NO at MIN WAS at NYG
* UPDATED CAR at HOU GB at KC * NYJ at PHI * PIT at SF (mon)

Prediction: DET 27, OAK 20

Update: Kevin Smith is listed as questionable but had two recent days of limited practice and is expected to play. Darren McFadden has been ruled out, of course, as has Jacoby Ford but Denarius Moore has practiced and is expcected to be active this week.

The Lions are 8-5 and still in the hunt for a wild card and are 4-2 in road games this year. The Raiders are 7-6 and on a two game losing streak with a 3-3 home record and trail the Broncos by a game in the AFC West. The loser of this game needs to worry about their chances of any postseason play.

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 27-20 10 @CHI 13-37
2 KC 48-3 11 CAR 49-35
3 @MIN 26-23 12 GB 15-27
4 @DAL 34-30 13 @NO 17-31
5 CHI 24-13 14 MIN 34-28
6 SF 19-25 15 @OAK -
7 ATL 16-23 16 SD -
8 @DEN 45-10 17 @GB -
9 Bye -      
Lions Report | Statistics | Roster
DETROIT at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford - - 270,2
RB Kevin Smith 80,1 40 -
TE Brandon Pettigrew - 40 -
WR Calvin Johnson - 90,1 -
WR Titus Young - 60,1 -
WR Nate Burleson - 40 -
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: The Lions stumbled after being 6-2 on their bye week but losing to the Packers and Saints was not unexpected and the Bears loss merely evened the score with a team that has since imploded with injuries. Notable in this game is that the previous two meetings with AFC West teams went extremely well with 35 and 45 point wins. And the Lions welcome back Ndamukong Suh to the defense to help seal up the middle and yet not take "stomp your opponent" quite so literally.

QUARTERBACK: So far Matthew Stafford scored in every game this year and currently has a career best 29 passing touchdowns though his pace has slowed in recent weeks in part because some rushing help from Kevin Smith. The Raiders secondary has been very generous handing out two touchdown games nine times already and that should fold neatly into what Stafford typically does in road games. The coaching staff wants Stafford to open up the passing game a bit more than in recent games which will help.

Stafford should be safe for mid 200's and a couple of scores with upside for more. That depends in part on what Kevin Smith can or cannot do.

RUNNING BACKS: Kevin Smith was not able to finish the Saints tilt because of his ankle but he scored once and had 80 total yards before leaving in the first half. He did not attempt to play last week but insists he will be ready for this week after getting rest and treatment. Smith makes a big difference for a team that otherwise has minimal success with rushing.

Assuming at least for now that he is good to go, Smith makes an attractive fantasy starter. The Raiders rank only 28th against the position and have allowed 14 touchdowns to running backs. Smith also doubles as a receiver and should have a nice showing here if the ankle holds up.

WIDE RECEIVERS: There is a growing concern about Calvin Johnson. In the fantasy world, it is more like frustration since Megatron was the best wideout through the first half of the season with 11 touchdowns and five 100+ yard performances. And since then? Only one touchdown in five weeks, no games over 89 yards and even was limited to 29 yards against the Vikings who did not even bring a secondary with them last week. HC Jim Schwartz admitted they should have thrown more than just four passes to the premier wideout in the league and that should be rectified this week.

Titus Young has been more productive than Johnson in recent games though marginally so. Nate Burleson has maintained his possession role. All is fine other than Johnson.

The Raiders have been weaker against wide receivers and this should be at least a good game for Johnson and were this eight weeks ago, you would expect two scores. I'll credit the other to Young but more as a placeholder. The second score could end up anywhere.

TIGHT ENDS: Brandon Pettigrew comes off his best effort since week three when he scored once on his six catches for 57 yards versus the Vikings. Pettigrew had scored just once in the previous six games and his yardage has been held to fewer than 40 yards in almost every single game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 5 9 5 4 8 2
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 28 28 23 16 22 28


Oakland Raiders
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 23-20 10 @SD 24-17
2 @BUF 35-38 11 @MIN 27-21
3 NYJ 34-24 12 CHI 25-20
4 NE 19-31 13 @MIA 14-34
5 @HOU 25-20 14 @GB 16-46
6 CLE 24-17 15 DET -
7 KC 0-28 16 @KC -
8 Bye - 17 SD -
9 DEN 24-38      
Raiders Report | Statistics | Roster
OAKLAND vs DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer - - 250,1
RB Michael Bush 80,1 20 -
TE Kevin Boss - 20 -
WR Louis Murphy - 30 -
WR Jacoby Ford - 40 -
WR Denarius Moore - 80 -
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey - 50,1 -
PK Sebastian Janikowski 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Raiders two recent losses have made catching up to the Broncos tough but not impossible. They traded road wins too so if it comes down to a tie, it will fall into tie breakers and the Raiders have two more divisional games left including in Kansas CIty to make amends for getting shut out at home in week seven. Carson Palmer is getting more familiar with the offense and yet defenses are getting more familiar with him as a Raider. A loss this week doesn't doom the Raiders, but it comes pretty close.

QUARTERBACK: It was a disappointment to see Carson Palmer face off against the Packers who give up tons of yards and scores to opposing quarterbacks and then he settles for only 245 yards and one score with four interceptions. Granted, Palmer was still without Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore but both have a chance to play this week.

The Lions are better versus the pass than their ranking suggests thanks to having played Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo. Otherwise opponents rarely have more than one score and moderate yardage and Ndamukong Suh will be back to help the pass rush.

RUNNING BACKS: The Raiders finally admitted that Darren McFadden suffered a Lis franc injury in his right foot, but insisted the running back is not done for the year. Of course there are only three games remaining with the specter of missing the playoffs. Michael Bush will take his seventh straight start and has scored eight times already this year and combined for around 100 total yards in most games. Bush has been a savior so far for fantasy teams and the Raiders as well.

The Lions are good against the run and only allowed five rushing touchdowns but Bush gets the start and should have at least a decent showing here with total yards and a chance for a touchdown since he almost never shares and takes pretty much all of whatever is there.

WIDE RECEIVERS: This is the area that Palmer could use some help. Jacoby Ford has been out with a foot injury and while he has been able to run straight lines, he still has not been able to make cuts. If he plays, it will be more like "hey, go long". Denarius Moore has been out with a sore ankle but also may play depending on practices. Getting either back will make a difference. Chaz Schilens re-aggravated an old foot injury and could not finish the Packers game. At least Darrius Heyward-Bey came through with 78 yards on five catches though that was after 11 targets and DHB did drop a couple of passes.

There should be some fantasy value here but until we can be certain who plays and who does not (if we can know), it is too risky to merit a start. I will revisit these wideouts and update as warranted. I will assume they all play and will be somewhat limited for now.

TIGHT ENDS: No real fantasy value but Kevin Boss does have two touchdowns on the season along with almost no yardage.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 20 3 18 26 14 15
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 22 11 15 7 30 20

WEEK 15
2011
JAC at ATL (thu) CIN at STL MIA at BUF SEA at CHI
DAL at TB (sat) CLE at ARI NE at DEN TEN at IND
BAL at SD DET at OAK NO at MIN WAS at NYG
  CAR at HOU GB at KC NYJ at PHI PIT at SF (mon)

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