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 DEN 0000028030 ****
Roughly half the quarterbacks who attempt to shoot it out with Peyton Manning put up helpful fantasy numbers, and Brady will definitely be in that upper half. He' rolls in with four straight multiple TD games, including 12 in his last three, while averaging 317 yards per game in that span. He threw for 344 and 3 in last year's meeting and won't take a back seat to Peyton in this tilt, fantasy or otherwise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE DEN 3005601000 ****
Vereen caught eight balls for 60 yards in last year's meeting with the Broncos; this year's iteration has already allowed 5-70 and 4-112 receiving games to opposing backs. Projecting what Bill Belichick does with his backs on a weekly basis is always a sticky wicket, but this one has all the markings of a monster PPR outing for Vereen.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE DEN 300000000 ***
Backs have done virtually nothing against Denver over the past three games, and while Gray has become the team's go-to back for now this one likely shakes out as more of a Shane Vereen production.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE DEN 006801000 ****
The Broncos haven't given up a 100-yard game to an opposing receiver' it's taken high volume just to squeeze out a decent yardage game against them. LaFell saw that volume last week, but he could easily fall behind Gronk, Vereen, and Edelman in the pecking order this week so it's tough to bank on him here--especially if he draws Aqib Talib.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE DEN 002300000 ***
Edelman took a back seat to Brandon LaFell last week, but he was Tom Brady's go-to guy when the Pats beat Denver last year so don't be surprised if he returns to his high-volume role this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE DEN 008901000 ****
The Broncos didn't have an answer for Gronk last year as he rolled them for 7-90-1. They didn't have an answer for Antonio Gates (5-54-2) last week, and they haven't had much of an answer for any competent tight end this year in giving up four 50-yard games and four TE TDs. Gronk comes off a three-TD, 9-149 monster and there's little preventing him from a repeat.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE DEN 002300000 ***
Wright has had success with Gronk's leftovers with touchdowns in three of the last four games, and he may fall into that situation again this week. At minimum he's worthy of consideration in a week with six teams on the bye.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE DEN 2233 ***
It's an immovable force--the Broncos have yet to allow a kicker to top eight points--against an irresistible object--Gostkowski has multiple field goals in seven of eight outings this year. Sounds like a solid kicker showing but nothing to write home about.

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

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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