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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 5
2012
ARI at STL (THU) CHI at JAC MIA at CIN *TEN at MIN
ATL at WAS *CLE at NYG PHI at PIT *HOU at NYJ (MON)
BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

Prediction: DEN 23, NE 31 (Line: NE by 7)

Players to Watch: Willis McGahee

Player Updated: Rob Gronkowski

This is like hearing your favorite song played by the wrong band.

The old Brady vs. Manning takes on an entirely new look. The 2-2 Broncos head to New England to face the 2-2 Patriots. Both are disappointed with their current standing though more so for the Pats who naturally assume to dominate the AFC East.The Patriots beat the Broncos twice last year, winning 41-23 at home in week 15 and then 45-10 in New England during the playoffs. But this game has a completely different slant on it with Peyton Manning on the Broncos.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR -----
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD -----
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC -----
4 OAK 37-6 13 TB -----
5 @NE ----- 14 @OAK -----
6 @SD ----- 15 @BAL -----
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO ----- 17 KC -----
9 @CIN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 300,2
RB Ronnie Hillman 10 2-10
WR Emmanuel Sanders 2-30
WR Demaryius Thomas 6-80,1
WR Wes Welker 7-90
TE Jacob Tamme 4-40,1
PK Matt Prater 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: If Manning does nothing else, at last he stomped on the Raiders in Denver and that alone justified his salary. Now comes a rough part of the schedule with two road games in New England and San Diego after the Broncos are only 0-1 away from Denver. Manning is getting more productive lately but then again he is generating more game tape on what Manning in Denver is all about. So far he has scored in every week and currently has eight touchdowns against three interceptions. All of those picks were in the one road game.

The rushing effort has been solid with Willis McGahee who fell short only against the Texans because they gave him just 12 carries. He gained over 100 yards and scored on both the Falcons and the Raiders. Notable too were the six catches he made last Sunday. McGahee can help maintain good fantasy numbers with that sort of reception work but it was only one game. Over his first three match-ups, McGahee only totaled three receptions for 17 yards. His stock goes up a tick with another game of being used out of the backfield.

Manning is making good use of his two main wideouts. Demaryius Thomas has just one off game but otherwise has been good for 100 yards and/or a touchdown. Thomas account4ed for eight receptions for 78 yards and one score in the only other road game. Eric Decker remains the possession play and he finally scored when the Raiders visited last week. Decker too has been a solid play with at least 50 yards per week. Impressive too was when the Broncos faced the Texans and Decker came through with eight receptions for 136 yards. Brandon Stokley tosses in two or three catches per week but is a fantasy nonfactor.

Jacob Tamme is the preferred tight end and gets the most targets and catches but the last two weeks have seen Joel Dreessen catch a score. That's mostly just Manning hitting the open guy.

This is only the second road game for the PMannings and the first one did not go so well. But Atlanta has a much better defense than the Patriots. Then again - the Pats are at home after their loss to the Cardinals in the only other game there. The Manning angle has to play at least a minor role here. Mostly - both teams are 2-2 and not liking it.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 13 11 7 11 16 20
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 26 17 21 30 8 2

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Peyton Manning, DEN KC 0000030020 ***
Last year's home date with the Chiefs was Manning's only game in Denver where he failed to throw for multiple touchdowns; fantasy owners had to settle for 323 and 1. Against a Chiefs D that just gave up 266 and 2 to Jake Locker, we like his chances of correcting that wrong from a year ago.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Montee Ball, DEN KC 10013200000 ***
Ball scored twice in the front end of last season's series with the Chiefs, then rushed for 117 yards in the rematch--all while sharing 46 touches with Knowshon Moreno. Now that the gig is all Ball's, no reason to think his numbers will be anything other than fantasy stud-worthy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN KC 0061101000 ****
Thomas topped 100 yards in both ends of last season's series, though he failed to find the end zone in either contest. He and Peyton were a little out of sync in Week 1; expect the kinks to be worked out and Thomas to be his usual dominant fantasy self.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN KC 2004600000 ***
All three of Denver's wideouts topped 70 yards in the front end of last season's series with KC, and two reached triple digits in the rematch--with Eric Decker, the guy Sanders replaced, pulling an Abe Lincoln (four scores). While Julius Thomas may be taking a bigger bite, there's still more than enough productivity here for Sanders to be more than a little fantasy-relevant.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN KC 004701000 ****
Thomas scored in the front end of last season's KC series, then missed the rematch with an injury. After blowing up the Colts in the season opener he gets a Chiefs defense that let Delanie Walker find the end zone on them last week. Doesn't take much to figure out Thomas is a dynamite play this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN KC 2144 ***
McManus keeps riding the Broncos' gravy train all the way to... well, at least through Matt Prater's four-game suspension.

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 30-31 12 @NYJ -----
4 @BUF 52-28 13 @MIA -----
5 DEN ----- 14 HOU -----
6 @SEA ----- 15 SF -----
7 NYJ ----- 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL ----- 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 300,3
RB Brandon Bolden 20
RB Stevan Ridley 60,1 2-10
WR Danny Amendola 6-80,1
WR Brandon LaFell 3-40
TE Rob Gronkowski 8-80,1
PK Stephen Gostkowski 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots come off a thrashing of the Bills after losing two games and falling to 1-2. The only problem with believing in that is that the Pats beat the Bills. That is like going down the street and beating up your younger cousin for the 20th time. Yeah, what does that prove? The Pats lost in Baltimore by one point and were held off at home by the Cards. That has to motivate the Patriots but a fair question is "how did that happen in the first place?" Sure, the loss in Baltimore was on the road and against a good team. But at home against the Cardinals. The Pats need to win big here if only to make themselves feel better.

Brady is still cranking out the 300 yard games but was light on touchdowns until posting three passing scores and one rushing touchdown on the Bills last week. That gives Brady eight scores against only one interception this year.He only threw one score against the Ravens and Cardinals but those are very good defenses. All is well in the house of Brady and his fantasy owners can come back in off the ledge.

Brady passed for an insane 363 yards and six touchdowns in the playoff meeting between these teams. He threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns in the home meeting with the Broncos during week 15.

The pasting of the Bills included a second big game for Stevan Ridley (22-106, 2 TDs) and also for the rookie Brandon Bolden (16-137, TD). Bolden did have the bulk of his production later in the game including the fourth-quarter touchdown but was given four runs in the first half when it was still very much an even game. Danny Woodhead had no carries in that game and may be replaced now by Bolden as the relief runner but still figures in as a receiver. With the Pats, you know when you know. Otherwise you are just guessing.

Aside from the Ravens game, Rob Gronkowski is just as deadly with a score in three games and over 60 yards in each of those. Aaron Hernandez remains out with his ankle injury but may practice this week and possibly play in week six. The Kellen Winslow experiment only lasted for one catch before he was released.

Brandon Lloyd produced 108 yards on nine catches in the Ravens tilt but then has been right at 60 yards in every other game and has just one touchdown on the year and that came in the point fest at Buffalo. Wes Welker seemed almost phased out of the offense early on in the year but has roared back with 17 catches for 271 yards in just the last two weeks. The offense is hitting top speed again and that is without Hernandez who will rejoin the starters as early as next week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 7 7 12 1 2 8
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 18 12 18 22 12 12

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE @MIN 0000029020 ***
After shutting out Austin Davis and Shaun Hill last week, the Vikings step up in class to face Brady; it's akin to jumping right from Glass Joe to Mike Tyson in "Punch-Out!!". Don't get overly giddy, as Mike Zimmer's Bengals held Brady to 197 yards and no TDs last year--but that was with Cincy's personnel, not Minnesota's.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE @MIN 7015400000 ***
The Vikings have historically struggled with pass-catching backs, and despite the changes in personnel and scheme they gave up 5-38 to the Rams last week. Vereen didn't see Mike Zimmer's defense when the Patriots played the Bengals last season, but lesser pass catcher Brandon Bolden caught six balls for 40 yards. Mix in Vereen's newfound work as a sometimes-goal line guy and there's more than enough for him to be a solid fantasy play this week regardless of scoring format.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Stevan Ridley, NE @MIN 300000000 ***
Tough to gauge the Vikings' revamped defense after one game against the Rams' backup QBs, but the fact they held Zac Stacy under four yards a carry doesn't bode well for Ridley's fantasy prospects. Neither does Shane Vereen swiping goal line carries, previously a Ridley milieu.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE @MIN 007801000 ***
The Patriots' receiving corps is a mess, but Edelman is the one guy who seems to return consistent fantasy value. He paced the group in catches and yardage last week and would seem to be the safest fantasy bet once again, against a Vikings secondary that may be down a cornerback to begin with.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenbrell Thompkins, NE @MIN 004500000 ***
We have yet to see the Patriots' receiving corps settle into anything resembling predictability. That means you can't bank on any of the secondary personnel getting in on the fantasy fun, which in turn makes Thompkins an unreliable fantasy start at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE @MIN 008901000 ****
The Vikings have historically struggled to defend tight ends, so it's unlikely they'll have an answer for Gronk.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE @MIN 004500000 ***
The switch in schemes and coordinators seems to have only slightly impacted the Vikings inability to defend the tight end position, as last week Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks and Cory Harkey combined for 7-72. Unless and until we see Wright in a more defined role in New England, however, he can't be banked on for fantasy assistance even if the matchup is favorable.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE @MIN 2233 ***
Last week's double makes it 17 straight games with multiple field goals for Gostkowski. Don't see that streak coming to an end in Minnesota.

WEEK 5
2012
ARI at STL (THU) CHI at JAC MIA at CIN *TEN at MIN
ATL at WAS *CLE at NYG PHI at PIT *HOU at NYJ (MON)
BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

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