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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

Prediction: ATL 27, DET 20 (Line: ATL by 4)

Players to Watch: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones

This is the Saturday game at 8:30 P.M. so you can wrap presents and watch Calvin Johnson. The 12-2 Falcons are 5-2 on the road and have actually lost two of their last three away games including beating the Buccaneers by one point for their only win. What should keep the Falcons honest this week is that they still have not clinched the #1 seed which can happen after this game. The Lions are on a six game losing streak and are only 2-4 at home. They are now nothing more than a vehicle to get Calvin Johnson the single season receiving yard record. But they have two games remaining and only 182 yards left to gain.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO 27-31
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI 23-19
3 @SD 27-3 12 @TB 24-23
4 CAR 30-28 13 NO 23-13
5 @WAS 24-17 14 @CAR 20-30
6 OAK 23-20 15 NYG 34-0
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI 30-17 17 TB -----
9 DAL 19-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 300,2
QB Matt Schaub 260,2
WR Julio Jones 5-100,1
PK Matt Bryant 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Just one more win - or a loss by the 49ers - should secure that #1 seed and a bye in the first round along with all-important homefield status throughout the playoffs. The Falcons crushed the Giants last week and completely reversed the thinking that maybe they weren't the cream of the NFC. The Falcons don't have to win this game but if they do they can take it easy in the final week, get a week off to rest and heal up and then play at home all the way.

The fortunate part this week is that Matt Ryan typically has the biggest games when on the road. Four of his last five road trips resulted in 340+ yards and multiple touchdowns. Just as important is that Michael Turner has been horrible on the road. He's scored in each of the last five games but his last three away games all resulted in fewer than 20 rushing yards. The score is nice but there is never any yardage attached to it. His ten touchdowns over then different games may be fine if you are in a touchdown-only league but he's fallen off the map when it comes to yardage.

Roddy White was able to play last week despite the sore knee that limited him in practices. He played well over half of the offensive snaps but only came away with two receptions for 16 yards that came on five targets. Julio Jones not only scored at home for the first time all year but did it twice and gained 74 yards on six catches with only one more target than White had. The expectation is that White will bounce back this week though he's been the under performer in road games this year.

The Lions defense has been getting worse as the season goes and allowed 32 points per opponent on average over the last six weeks. This would be a nice spot for the Falcons to give a productive effort in the passing game so they can take it easy next week but the rushing effort has never done much away from home all year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 6 15 8 4 3 20
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 15 11 17 24 26 30

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL TB 0000028020 ***
Ryan dismantled Tampa Bay last year in both contests, going for 25.7 fantasy points in Week 1 and 33.2 two months later. They haven't played yet in 2017. This is one of the more neutral matchups, though mismatches can be found on the outside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL TB 8011100000 ***
The Bucs have given up the 10th-most fantasy points per game in either format, mostly fueled by allowing rushing touchdowns with the 6th-highest ease. Coleman was pretty good in his lone meeting last year with the Bucs, posting nearly 17 PPR points.

Update: Devonta Freeman has been ruled out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL TB 0081101000 ***
Jones averaged nearly 20 PPR points a game in two games last year against the Bucs. Wideouts have gone for 12 receptions, 161.8 yards and a TD per outing since Week 6.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL TB 003401000 ***
Sanu is on a heater and was a valuable fantasy play last year vs. the Buccaneers as he posted lines of 5-80-1 and 5-74-0. This is a positive-leaning matchup against a defense giving up a TD per game over the last five.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, ATL TB 003500000 ***
Gabriel is too erratic to warrant a fantasy play in any format.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Hooper, ATL TB 006600000 **
One of the last 19 receptions by tight ends went into the end zone against the Bucs. Hooper is a fringe play with some upside.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL TB 3333 ***
This is as even of a matchup as one is likely to find for kickers. Tampa has given up the 14th-highest average of combined field goals (16th) and extra points (12th).

Detroit Lions
Homefield: Ford Field
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 STL 27-23 10 @MIN 24-34
2 @SF 19-27 11 GB 20-24
3 @TEN 41-44 12 HOU 31-34
4 MIN 13-20 13 IND 33-35
5 BYE ----- 14 @GB 20-27
6 @PHI 26-23 15 @ARI 10-38
7 @CHI 7-13 16 ATL -----
8 SEA 28-24 17 CHI -----
9 @JAC 31-14 ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 270,1
WR Marvin Jones Jr. 2-20
WR Golden Tate 3-50
PK Matt Prater 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Lions are on a six game slide and while it was bad with so many close losses - getting waxed by the Cardinals was almost unimaginable. The good part is that the final two games are at home but against teams with winning records. There's a chance that the Lions could catch the Falcons on a down week following their big home win over the Giants but the Detroit defense hasn't stopped anyone.

Matt Stafford went flat last week in Arizona but he's usually much less productive in away games. At home he's typically turned in 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns. Against the Texans he threw for 441 yards and two scores and 352 yards and three touchdowns on the Seahawks so it is not so much about the quality of the defense.

Mikel Leshoure is back at home where he scored in each of the last three games there but he rarely has more than 60 rush yards and has almost no role as a receiver. He plays like Michael Turner only with fewer touchdowns and marginally better yardage.

The only thing that matters anymore is getting the record for Calvin Johnson who currently needs just 182 yards to surpass Jerry Rice's 1,848 yards set back in 1995. Breaking 2,000 remains out of reach for a wideout but Johnson has to be a lock to reach the mark with only 92 yards per game needed. He's currently on a seven game streak of 100+ yard efforts and is getting upwards of 20 targets per game. It is the only gift the Lions can give their fans and it will happen in a home game.

On the road after a blowout win at home, have to assume the Falcons defense is not going to be nearly so dominating this week. But on this team all that means is throwing 20 times to Calvin Johnson and letting Leshoure score on a short run when Megatron gets tackled inside the 5-yard line.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 7 13 6 6 5 27
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 11 23 3 20 9 4

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matthew Stafford, DET MIN 0000025020 ***
Stafford's worst game of 2017 was against the Vikings in Week 4. He finished with 16 and 18.6 fantasy points, respectively, in the two meetings last year. Minnesota is one of the better defenses against quarterbacks, but this game has so much riding on it.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ameer Abdullah, DET MIN 5011100000 ***
Would you have guessed right if the question was against which team did Abdullah enjoy his most fantasy success in 2017? Yep. The Vikings permitted him 94 rushing yards and a TD in Week 4, and he added a 3-15-0 line through the air. This time around, Minnesota enters with the 22nd-best matchup for Abdullah, based on data since Week 6.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Theo Riddick, DET MIN 2003300000 ***
Minnesota has had Riddick's number. He has just seven catches and no touchdowns over the last three meetings. Since Week 6, the Vikings have granted RBs seven catches a game (6th-most) but no aerial TDs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marvin Jones Jr., DET MIN 005701000 ***
Jones failed to score in any of the last three meetings with Minnesota. The Vikings have surrendered just two TDs in the past 47 receptions by wideouts. With only one poor game in the past seven weeks, Jones is a decent gamble.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Golladay, DET MIN 002500000 ***
Golladay may be good for a big play here or there, which is about all right now. It's tough to bank on his limited involvement translating into fantasy rewards, particularly so against a stout defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Golden Tate, DET MIN 003300000 ***
Tate had 16 catches in two games last year against the Vikes, scoring once and racking up 156 yards. The 2017 Week 4 meeting left much to be desired (3-29-0). Consider this a slightly conservative projection, but Minnesota ranks in the bottom dozen teams against WRs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Eric Ebron, DET MIN 002301000 *
Ebron caught only two balls for 27 yards the last time out against the Vikings. Minnesota has not yielded a tight end touchdown in the last 19 grabs. This is a low-end matchup across the board, and Ebron's projection is optimistic.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DET MIN 1133 ***
This is a solidly negative matchup. The position has made seven of eight field goal attempts and six of the seven point-afters. Prater made two of his three kicks in the previous meeting.

WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

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