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 OAK 0000021020 ***
Brady has been downright awful for fantasy purposes, and given the success opponents have had running the ball right down the Raiders' throats there's little reason to think Tom will have to dust off the golden days here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Stevan Ridley, NE OAK 701000000 ***
The Raiders have allowed a whopping 363 RB rushing yards through two games; no reason to think the Patriots haven't taken notice and will run Ridley another 25 times this week. And at the 5.2 yards per carry Oakland is allowing, that will add up quickly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE OAK 4006300000 ***
Vereen should touch the ball enough to be effective, and there's always the possibility of a Ridley fumble or some other wrinkle that turns Vereen's share of the Patriots' backfield workload into a majority one.
Update: Vereen is listed as questionable and practiced on a limited basis all week... which is what the Patriots say about pretty much everyone on their roster with a nick, cut, or boo-boo. There has been no indication he won't be available to take his usual turn in the New England backfield, but that turn can vary from week to week so the risk is multiplied here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE OAK 006801000 ****
The closest thing to a sure thing among Patriots receivers, Edelman is consistently targeted and a solid PPR play; he's also the only New England wideout with a touchdown this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE OAK 002200000 ***
All non-Edelman Patriots wideouts have accounted for nine catches and 66 yards this season. Total. Amendola's inconsistent share of that paltry sum isn't worth a fantasy play, even against Oakland.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE OAK 004401000 ***
Even on a snap count, the prospect of a Gronk TD is too likely to have him sit on your fantasy bench. So long as he's only on the field a little over half the time, however, he's a riskier play in yardage-heavy or non-TE mandatory formats.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE OAK 2244 ***
Gosty's a lock for multiple treys and a handful of PATs; what more could you ask for in your fantasy kicker?

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 Jake Locker, TEN @CIN 0000023012 ****
After laying a fantasy egg last week at home against the Cowboys, Locker on the road against a very good Cincy secondary holds no interest.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shonn Greene, TEN @CIN 500000000 ***
What little success Bengals opponents have had on the ground has been generated by speed backs like Justin Forsett and Jacquizz Rodgers. "Shonn Greene" and "speed back" have never been mentioned in close proximity without a qualifier like "is nowhere near anything like a" in between.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dexter McCluster, TEN @CIN 3002100000 ***
McCluster came out of last week's loss to Dallas in a walking boot; if healthy he's the kind of back that has had a modicum of success against the Bengals, so it's a situation worth revisiting later in the week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bishop Sankey, TEN @CIN 200000000 ***
If Sankey were seeing more touches we'd be mildly optimistic; instead, we'll hope this week's dud from Shonn Greene is the impetus the Titans need to elevate their second-round pick to the feature back role.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Hunter, TEN @CIN 004500000 ***
Steve Smith and Julio Jones have forged solid outings against the Bengals; other receivers, not so much. Hunter has the talent to join that crew, but he has displayed said talent so inconsistently--like last week, when he should have toasted Dallas but instead turned six targets into just 2-26--that he's not to be trusted with a fantasy start here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kendall Wright, TEN @CIN 005500000 ***
Wright has been similarly targeted and slightly more productive catch-wise than Justin Hunter, so you could make a tepid case for him as the Titans' WR1. And the Bengals have allowed one receiver to put up good numbers against them each week. So Wright isn't necessarily an awful start, but the hope is at this point in the season you still have other better options at your disposal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Delanie Walker, TEN @CIN 008701000 ***
Cincy has allowed the second-most TE catches thus far this year, a number skewed somewhat by facing Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels in the season opener. That said, Tennessee's passing game has run primarily through Walker thus far this season; don't expect last week's numbers, but neither should you write off his 10-142-1 as a fluke.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN @CIN 2211 ***
Cincy tends to keep a lid on the scoring, so temper expectations for Succop this week.

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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