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 DET 0000026020 ***
The vaunted Detroit defense has given up multiple passing scores in each of its last two road games and three of four overall. Brady, meanwhile, has multiple scoring strikes in six straight and has no reason to fear the former top-ranked defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE DET 3004401000 ***
The Lions play right into Vereen's strengths, ranking in the top five in RB receptions, RB receiving yards, and RB receiving touchdowns. Now let's hope Bill Belichick sees it the same way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE DET 501000000 **
Tough to see Gray approaching last week's monster game; the Lions have allowed only four RB rushing scores all year, and only one back has topped 60 yards on the season. Dial back the expectations and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE DET 005800000 ***
LaFell is the closest thing the Patriots have to a reliably productive fantasy wideout, and even he is no guarantee. On the bright side, his last two homes games have seen 24 targets, 17 catches, and two TDs so maybe that tilts the field in his favor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE DET 004500000 ***
Edelman remains a volume guy, with eight targets in seven of the past eight games--though he still hasn't posted a 100-yard game this season and has just one TD in the past two months. So there's some risk with his reward.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE DET 002300000 ***
Amendola's an afterthought in this passing game, having topped 20 yards just once all season with only one score to his credit. You could hope for a return TD, but until that week when Bill Belichick decides it's "Bring Danny Amendola to Work" Day he's a fantasy afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE DET 007801000 ****
At this point you could say that all 11 defenders will build a wall around Gronk and he'd still be one of the best fantasy plays at his position. Since such a strategy is highly unlikely, go with Gronk again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE DET 001200000 ***
Wright's a contributor, just too inconsistent a contributor to be banked on for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE DET 3333 ***
Gotskowski's run of five straight games with multiple field goals was snapped last week, but six PATs provided a soft landing. He's had at least nine points in every home game this year, so expect him to get back on track this week.

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 Zach Mettenberger, TEN @PHI 0000026012 ***
Philly has served up multiple touchdown passes in every game except one; Mettenberger has multiple scoring strikes in two of his three NFL starts. He's been less reliable on the road (small sample size, of course) so temper expectations, but there's at least reason for optimism here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN @PHI 6003200000 ***
Sankey is distancing himself from Shonn Greene in the Tennessee backfield, which isn't necessarily that impressive. It did, however, yield a touchdown last week and should do the same against a Philly D that's allowed five RB scores in the past four games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kendall Wright, TEN @PHI 006801000 ***
Wright remains the volume guy in Tennessee, and sometimes even turns that volume into a touchdown. With Philly surrendering five 100-yard games and seven WR TDs in just the past four games there's plenty of opportunity for Tennessee's receiving corps to take advantage.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nate Washington, TEN @PHI 004700000 ***
Despite being dramatically out-targeted Washington found the end zone last week. Philly has given up plenty to opposing WRs over the past month, so if you're in a pinch Washington could at least be on the fringe of your fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hunter, TEN @PHI 003400000 ***
Philly has allowed five 100-yard outings and seven WR TDs in just the past four games, so if there ever were an opportunity for Hunter to dust off his deep ball skills it would be this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN @PHI 003400000 ***
Philly hasn't given up a TE TD since Week 2, and with Walker still dinged up he's a bit of a fantasy risk this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN @PHI 3311 ***
Succop has just one game of double-digit points in the past two months, and that came against Jacksonville. Don't expect a reprise here.

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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