FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 3
2012
*NYG at CAR (THU) *DET at TEN *NE at BAL SF at MIN
*ATL at SD HOU at DEN *NYJ at MIA *STL at CHI
*BUF at CLE *JAC at IND *PHI at ARI TB at DAL
*Updated *CIN at WAS *KC at NO *PIT at OAK *GB at SEA (MON)

Prediction: NE 24, BAL 26 (Line: BAL by 3)

Players to Watch: Kellen Winslow

Players Updated: Brandon Lloyd

What to think with the Patriots losing to the visiting Cardinals last week? The Ravens will present a far better defense than either of the Pats previous opponents. The Ravens are coming home after getting clipped in Philly by one point and should be primed to have a good showing this week at home. The question for this game is which Patriots team is going to show up? The Ravens have a score to settle since the Patriots beat them 23-20 in the Conference Championship last season held at New England.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN 34-13 10 BUF -----
2 ARI 18-20 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
NE @ BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 300,2
RB Stevan Ridley 70,1 3-30
WR Danny Amendola 6-80,1
WR Brandon LaFell 5-60,1
TE Rob Gronkowski 6-70,1
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Perhaps we were a little spoiled with the atmospheric performances of 2011. In his first two games last season, Brady passed for a combined 950 yards and seven touchdowns. Just two games. This year? About half the yardage and only three scores - two for Rob Gronkowski the default scorer and one for Aaron Hernandez who is out for four to six weeks with a low ankle sprain. So far it is Brady-lite and fantasy owners are hurting considering what they paid for him.

Stevan Ridley continues to be a nice fantasy find and while he did not score in week two, he still posted 71 rushing yards and caught three passes for 24 more yards. He was the lone runner in week one but then Danny Woodhead joined in with eight runs for only 18 yards. Ridley remains a solid fantasy play though this week should be about as challenging as any game this year.

The biggest development in the passing game is the loss of Aaron Hernandez and how that will be compensated since he had a significant role in the offense. Kellen Winslow has been signed as interim help and he could show up in box scores but needs to learn the complex offense first and realistically - there is a reason why is still available in week three of the season.

The mystery around Wes Welker is likely something that will never be answered thanks to nothing but cryptic and generalized statements from HC Bill Belichick about anything, let alone personnel assignments. Welker did not start this past week - Julian Edelman did though Welker ended with five catches for 95 yards as opposed to the five catches for 50 yards from Edelman. It certainly looks like Welker has fallen from favor in the final season of his contract. Brandon lloyd has been the primary target for Brady with a team high 21 passes in the last two weeks though he only has 13 catches for 129 yards and no scores so far. The chemistry will improve but is not there yet. And the reality is that Lloyd is the same age as Welker so there is no youth movement afoot.

Playing in Baltimore is going to be a challenge against a motivated Ravens defense. For the first time in a long time, Brady actually seems a risk this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 18 13 21 1 5 11
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 18 14 21 28 8 13

  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.

Baltimore Ravens
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN 44-13 10 OAK -----
2 @PHI 23-24 11 @PIT -----
3 NE ----- 12 @SD -----
4 CLE ----- 13 PIT -----
5 @KC ----- 14 @WAS -----
6 DAL ----- 15 DEN -----
7 @HOU ----- 16 NYG -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @CIN -----
9 @CLE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 250,2
WR Steve Smith 5-100,1
WR Torrey Smith 3-60
TE Owen Daniels 5-60,1
TE Dennis Pitta 7-70,1
PK Justin Tucker 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens came within one point of being 2-0 and return home to face their nemesis of the Patriots. This is the same team that faced them in January but this time it happens in Baltimore where the Ravens have lost only once in the last two years and none last season. This week will be a challenge but one that the Ravens need to win to belong to the next level. Especially at home against a Patriots team that may struggle a bit compared to previous seasons.

Joe Flacco has been effective this year and thrown three scores but only came up with 232 yards in Philly. More interesting is that he was supposed to "take the wraps off the offense" and throw more this year. So far - it has contracted with the tight ends taking a much bigger role and the wideouts much less of a factor.

Torrey Smith entered the season with high expectations but so far has consecutive games with two catches for around 50 yards and no touchdowns. Anquan Boldin was decent in week one with four receptions for 63 yards and a score but then was held to just two catches for seven yards against the good Eagle cornerbacks. Jacoby Jones has a touchdown but only four catches over two games. The wideouts just have not done much here though the few catches they make are usually gaining more yardage.

Dennis Pitta has become the primary receiver in this offense with a team high 24 targets for 13 catches and 138 yards. He scored once in the season opener. Ed Dickson has been just blocking with only one or two catches per game. Pitta is a sign that this offense has changed but not so much for the better in passing.

Ray Rice had no scores in Philly but still turned in 152 total yards with six receptions. Rice was held to only 67 yards in New England last January but is at home this week and that always counts big.

The Ravens need to play solid defense and should in this home stand. While they have allowed more yardage this year, they still have been good holding down the opponents score. This will be a big game for the home town crowd who wants to see retribution for denying the team a chance at a Superbowl last January.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 16 6 20 4 2 4
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 13 4 9 13 14 5

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL @NO 0000022011 ***
Flacco has found plenty of success against the NFC South this season, a total of 891 yards and 10 TDs in three games. While he's tended to be worse on the road, no need to shy away from him in New Orleans as the Ravens try to play keep-up with Drew Brees.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL @NO 6014400000 ****
The Saints have surrendered 296 RB rushing yards in two games against AFC North foes this year, plus another 74 receiving. That touches on both elements that Forsett brings to the fantasy table, and on the heels of 20-112-2 against Tennessee the last time Baltimore took the field he's a solid fantasy play again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @NO 200000000 ***
Pierce battles with Lorenzo Taliaferro for relevancy in the Baltimore backfield, and against New Orleans there might just be enough left over for a second back to generate fantasy help. However, Taliaferro is the more likely back to be fantasy relevant, so keep Pierce on your bench.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL @NO 200000000 ***
The Ravens continue to waffle between Taliaferro and Bernard Pierce as the change-of-pace guy to Justin Forsett. Pierce won the battle last week, if you can call 31 yards on 8 carries "winning". Taliaferro has more fantasy upside as a bull of a goal line back, so if you're picking between the two he's the more palatable option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @NO 004601000 ****
Not that Torrey can't be fantasy relevant, but he's a little less consistent than Steve Smith and as such is a shade riskier as a fantasy play. Plus, the Saints have tended to allow one WR per week to post decent fantasy numbers so reaching down the Baltimore receiver depth chart isn't the shrewdest move.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL @NO 004500000 ***
The Saints have allowed the opposing WR1 to be fantasy relevant in six of their last seven, and Steve is still Baltimore's WR1 so he gets the fantasy nod this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL @NO 005600000 ***
The Saints gave up their first TE TDs since Week 1 last week, making this a tough matchup for Daniels to get fantasy traction in.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @NO 3322 ***
The last three kickers to visit the SuperDome have tallied at least nine points, and three of Tucker's four double-digit efforts have come on the road. In theory, it's a solid opportunity for Tucker to get his kicks this week.

WEEK 3
2012
*NYG at CAR (THU) *DET at TEN *NE at BAL SF at MIN
*ATL at SD HOU at DEN *NYJ at MIA *STL at CHI
*BUF at CLE *JAC at IND *PHI at ARI TB at DAL
*Updated *CIN at WAS *KC at NO *PIT at OAK *GB at SEA (MON)

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