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 CHI 0000030031 ***
Since his career was left for dead in Kansas City all Brady has done is averaged 304 yards and three TDs in the three subsequent games. Da Bears have given up multiple touchdowns in three of the last four and at least 255 yards in five straight, so they don't seem like the road bump to slow Brady's fantasy resurgence.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE CHI 4005601000 ***
The Bears haven't allowed an opposing back to rush for more than 63 yards against them this year. However, this iteration of the Patriots doesn't look like it minds throwing the ball all over, an approach that certainly fits Vereen's skill set. He'll get the combo yards as well as most of the key carries in the Patriots backfield, a combo platter that lends itself to fantasy productivity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE CHI 004601000 ****
It's been the bigger and faster receivers who have found success against Chicago. LaFell is at least the former, and while his numbers dipped last week he's still blipping brightly on Tom Brady's radar and has definite fantasy upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE CHI 006700000 ****
Edelman is the volume guy in New England, but undersized receivers haven't been the ones having success against Chicago. Pencil him in for his usual PPR help but don't be surprised if the touchdowns go elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE CHI 006801000 ****
Gronk healthy enough for 10 targets per game. Gronk turning those targets into 90 yards per game. Bears allow three TE TDs in past three games. Gronk likely return to end zone this week. Gronk spike ball. Hard.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE CHI 3333 ****
Every kicker to face the Bears has scored seven points or better; that's a number Gostkowski has matched or bettered in six of seven this season. No worries here until at least the Week 10 bye.

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 @CIN 0000027020 ****
Flacco threw for 345 and one in the earlier meeting. Now he rolls in with multiple TD tosses in two straight and three of four, facing a Cincy D that's allowed multiple touchdowns in three straight. What's not to like?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL @CIN 4006501000 ***
Forsett racked up 84 combo yards and a TD in the season opener against Cincy; he remains a solid fantasy bet against a Bengals defense that's allowed RB TDs in four straight.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @CIN 301000000 ***
Working in Pierce's favor is that the Ravens inexplicably prefer him to Lorenzo Taliaferro, and that other sluggish backs such as Shonn Greene and Stevan Ridley have found the end zone against Cincy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL @CIN 0051001000 ****
Steve has hit triple digits three of the past four times he's faced the Bengals, including 118 and 1 in the season opener against Cincy. While Torrey Smith has seen an uptick in production of late, Steve remains the go-to receiver and top fantasy bet in this passing game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @CIN 004800000 ****
Torrey produced 3-50 in half the targets of Steve Smith back in the season opener against Cincy. His role in the Baltimore offense has expanded of late, so expect an improvement on those numbers this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Crockett Gillmore, BAL @CIN 003300000 **
Update: With Owen Daniels out, Gillmore gets the call as the Ravens' tight end. He's more of a blocker, though the team has thrown to him more frequently of late. Tough to bank on him for production right out of the gate, however.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL @CIN 00000000 *****
Daniels scored last week and is seeing plenty of targets in an offense he's intimately familiar with. That should serve him well in an extremely favorable matchup against a defense that's served up four TE TDs and let five different TEs top 50 yards in just the past three games.
Update: Daniels surprised everyone by having a knee procedure on Friday. He'll miss this week's game, leaving third-stringer Crockett Gilmore as the Ravens' tight end.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @CIN 1133 ****
Cincy has surrendered almost 14 kicker points per game over the past month, while Tucker is averaging double-digit points per game for the season and has multiple field goals in every road game. He's a rock-solid fantasy kicking option again 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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