FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) *IND at CHI *PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC *JAC at MIN *PIT at DEN *WAS at NO
*BUF at NYJ *MIA at HOU *SEA at ARI *CIN at BAL (MON)
*UPDATED *CAR at TB *NE at TEN SF at GB *SD at OAK (MON)

Prediction: NE 30, TEN 20 (Line: NE by 6.5)

Players Updated: Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley

Players to Watch: Jake Locker, Chris Johnson, Kendall Wright

The Patriots come off a standard season of 13-3, handily win the division by five games, reach the playoffs and then lose to the Giants again. The Titans managed a 9-7 season but missed the playoffs, suffered through Chris Johnson-Lite but ended the year with two wins to secure a winning record. This would be a nice win if the Titans can pull it off but beating Belichick in week one is always very, very hard.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN ----- 10 BUF -----
2 ARI ----- 11 IND -----
3 @BAL ----- 12 @NYJ -----
4 @BUF ----- 13 @MIA -----
5 DEN ----- 14 HOU -----
6 @SEA ----- 15 SF -----
7 NYJ ----- 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL ----- 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Patriots had another dream season that ended up in the Superbowl and unfortunately it was the Giants again who slapped a little reality on them. But in the process Tom Brady passed for over 5000 yards and the Patriots featured the best pair of tight ends in the history of the NFL. As we say every year, the offense looks at least as good as last year and maybe even better.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis left for the Bengals and Stevan Ridley has been promoted up. Shane Vereen should be a bigger factor this year after a rookie season lost to various and unnamed injuries. Danny Woodhead will figure in. Figure on at least one running back no one ever heard of showing up by the end of the season. It seems safe to assume that Ridley is taking the place of Green-Ellis who ran for 667 yards and scored 11 touchdowns last year. Relying on anything in this backfield has historically been a recipe for heartache but Ridley has the look of the primary back.

Rob Gronkowski (90-1327-18) and Aaron Hernandez (79-910-7) spent 2011 shattering franchise and NFL records while most opposing offensive coordinators took notes. Gronk badly twisted his ankle in the playoffs and required surgery in the offseason. He's not been limited in camp and should be 100% healthy for the season opener. Speculation has it that Hernandez will become the primary pass catcher which almost happened last year had he not missed two games. But Gronkowski is a touchdown machine and has the magic with Brady.

Brandon Lloyd was brought in which immediately set some off as the second coming of Randy Moss (the 2007 version, not the later iterations). Lloyd does join back up with his old coach Josh McDaniels and he did have 1448 yards and 11 scores in Denver. But that was when he was clearly the best and nearly only option for receivers. There's plenty of other hands here to feed and Wes Welker usually takes 100 off the top. Lloyd never has shown much chemistry with Brady so far but the potential is certainly there. Beyond Lloyd and Welker it doesn't really matter. Greg Salas was signed, Julian Edelman hangs on and Deion Branch was released but rumored to be re-signed soon.

All in all - just another year that looks like major fantasy points. And a defense that should not be good enough to let Brady and the offense take a game off.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 3 28 11 1 3 7
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 7 28 10 21 14 6

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE BUF 0000026010 ***
Brady's worst fantasy outing of the year came in Week 13 against this defense. It marked the first game since Week 1 he didn't throw a touchdown pass. Versus Buffalo since Week 10, QBs have averaged 216.8 yards (25th) and 15 fantasy points (31st) per contest, tossing a TD every 27 catches (30th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James White, NE BUF 3005300000 ***
White will get a few looks added to his workload with Rex Burkhead out of commission. The Patriots will spread it around, and Dion Lewis is the most likely recipient of the majority of extra touches. Buffalo has not allowed a receiving TD over the past 24 receptions. White caught four of his six targets for 32 yards in the Week 13 trip to Western New York.

Update: White is questionable and should be considered a gametime decision.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mike Gillislee, NE BUF 3001100000 *
Gillislee will see some action in all likelihood with the expected loss of Rex Burkhead (knee). While it would be poetic if the former Bill rank roughshod over his former employer, starting and capping fantasy seasons with a bang, we can't bank on recommending him.

Update: Burkhead is indeed out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Chris Hogan, NE BUF 002200000 ***
Hogan was a surprise scratch last week after playing through his shoulder injury in Week 14. If he cannot go, the offense loses a quality weapon in the intermediate- and long-range passing game. The Bills have held wideouts to three scores in the past five games, or once every 19 catches (25th). This is a bottom-six matchup in both scoring systems.

Update: Wait until about 90 minutes before kickoff, since the Patriots shroud everything in mystery. He's questionable and was limited Friday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE BUF 0081101000 ***
Gronk went for 147 yards on nine catches in the Week 13 trip to Buffalo. He torched them in the one game with Tom Brady last year, too, and 21-plus PPR points in three of his last four visits with the Bills. Since Week 10, this defense rates 12th-easiest in PPR (16th in standard).
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 2233 ***
All 11 extra point chances have been on the mark, and 11 of the 14 three-point kicks have been good. While this is the No. 17 matchup for XPAs, it is the third-best place to find a field goal.

Tennessee Titans
Homefield: LP Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 NE ----- 10 @MIA -----
2 @SD ----- 11 BYE -----
3 DET ----- 12 @JAC -----
4 @HOU ----- 13 HOU -----
5 @MIN ----- 14 @IND -----
6 PIT ----- 15 NYJ -----
7 @BUF ----- 16 @GB -----
8 IND ----- 17 JAC -----
9 CHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Titans enter the second season of the Chris Palmer offense with the hopes that Chris Johnson merely took a year off in 2010 and that Jake Locker got the proper seasoning on the bench and is now ready to play. The Titans selected Locker with their 1.08 pick last year and he finally beat out Matt Hasselbeck for the job. Locker never played as a rookie and that brings some unknowns into the season but his time has come and the Titans hope to start a new era.

Chris Johnson wasn't as bad as most remember last year but he held out all summer, got paid big and then showed up for the first game. But he rarely had much success until the second half of the season. That sank the fortunes of the gamblers who had drafted him for their fantasy team. Johnson has gone through all the conditioning and practices of a normal offseason and preseason this year and is ready to make up for what happened in 2011. There is a question if his 408 touches of 2009 when he gained 2006 rushing yards took something permanent out of him and his yards per carry went from 5.6 ypc to 4.3 ypc in 2010 and then only 4.0 for 2011. Worth watching to see just how back to form CJ2K really is.

The Titans will get Kenny Britt back after a one game suspension for his latest arrest and he is still recovering from two knee surgeries in the offseason including one in late June. Britt miss training camp and preseason games but is hoped to be ready for some limited action in week two. Reportedly his knee looks good but that may only be temporary for a player that has missed 17 games over the last two years. When he is healthy and there, he is a difference maker. That just doesn't happen often in recent years.

The Titans used their 1.20 pick in the NFL draft to grab the Baylor star Kendall Wright who was the main target for Robert Griffin III. So far the pick has looked like more than mere insurance against Britt absences. Wright has been impressive since the offseason and brings in a very polished and mature presence that has consistently been making plays in camp and preseason games. Real game experience will be good to see and Wright gets to start out his NFL career in New England against what was the worst secondary last season. Nate Washington remains the other starter and he had his first 1000 yard season in 2011 when Britt was gone and there was no one else helping out. Now the presence of Wright should at least return Washington to his more normal 600 or so yards per season.

Jared Cook enters his fourth season and ended 2011 with games of 103 and 169 yards versus divisional rivals Indianapolis and Jacksonville. He's been far less prolific in all other games and he too will not be as needed with Wright on board to compensate for the missing Britt.

This game is bound to be some big passing yards but it is the first time Locker has been the starting quarterback. He had some success playing in three games last year but he's still missing a track record to make you certain what he can do. Playing in New England should at least show how many yards he can throw in one game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 13 22 13 18 15 26
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 31 20 32 2 4 5

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN LAR 20000019012 ***
Los Angeles presents a solidly average matchup for Mariota. Tennessee's offense has been mostly ineffective over the second half of 2017, and the Rams pose one of the more daunting pass rushes in football. Look for a better option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dion Lewis, TEN LAR 10021100000 ***
Lewis figures to see the majority of handles with Rex Burkhead on the mend. Buffalo allowed Lewis to average 6.1 yards on his 15 attempts in Week 13. This is one of the best matchups of the season, even if this defense has slightly improved in recent weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Derrick Henry, TEN LAR 401000000 ***
For as ferocious as the Rams can be on defense, their running back control has been shoddy most of the season. In the past five games, this is the 12th-best non-PPR opponent. One of every 27 carries, or four in the last five games, has found the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Rishard Matthews, TEN LAR 005800000 ***
Matthews is the only receiver of this crop with playability, and that is stretching the word out to include fringe flex considerations. Los Angeles has given up just three WR touchdowns in the past five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN LAR 005401000 ***
Walker faces a Rams defense that has given up only 19 catches in the last five games (22nd), yet four of them have scored (2nd). TEs have gone for 46.6 yards, on average (19th). The veteran has a hint of upside but may be a disappointment without scoring.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN LAR 1122 ***
It's as neutral as one will find this week, ranking 14th in both field goal and extra point attempts, 16th in combined kicks, 13th in possible points and 19th in actual fantasy points per contest.

WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) IND at CHI PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC JAC at MIN PIT at DEN WAS at NO
BUF at NYJ MIA at HOU SEA at ARI CIN at BAL (MON)
  CAR at TB NE at TEN SF at GB SD at OAK (MON)

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