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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 @OAK 0000033030 ****
Manning already has the touchdown record, and he'll probably stick around in this one just long enough to throw for 266 yards and break the yardage record as well. The Broncos still need to win to lock down home field advantage, so they can't sit Manning right away, but there's a very good chance he finishes this one in a baseball cap.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Montee Ball, DEN @OAK 300000000 ***
Ball's been lightening the load for Knowshon Moreno, and that plan should continue here with maybe the rookie seeing an uptick while Denver gets the veteran some well-deserved rest. Seeing as Oakland has served up 796 combo yards and 11 RB TDs the past month, there's more than enough to go around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @OAK 0051001000 ***
Everybody got fed the last time these squads met--Thomas 94 yards, Eric Decker 133 & 1, Wes Welker 84 & 1--and there's no reason to expect much difference this time around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN @OAK 003300000 *
Sanders has scored in four of the last five and is a solid option when Joe Haden has blanket coverage on Antonio Brown. UPDATE: Good news for Sanders, as he is listed as questionable but practiced in full on Friday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, DEN @OAK 004401000 ***
However you break it down, Thomas is a good play. He scored against the Raiders in the earlier meeting, he's scored in three of four (and six of eight, and nine of 12), he's scored in every road game, he caught Peyton Manning's record-setting touchdown pass... however you break it down.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Prater, DEN @OAK 1144 ***
Should be points a plenty for Prater, who hit for a baker's dozen in the earlier meeting with Oakland and has the second-most kicker points in the league this year.

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 BUF 0000026020 ****
Way back in Week 1 Brady took a rag-tag band of receivers and produced 288 yards and two TDs. Four months later Brady still has a rag-tag band of receivers, but he's managed to throw multiple touchdowns to them in four of the past five games, with 340-plus yards in four of five as well. The Bills secondary has gotten healthier--and better--over the course of the season, but with Brady hoping to upgrade the Patriots' playoff situation you don't want to bet against him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Stevan Ridley, NE BUF 500000000 ***
Prior to last week's aberration against the Dolphins, the Bills allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers. They also served up 162 rushing yards to the Patriots in the earlier meeting this season; unfortunately, after Shane Vereen (if healthy) takes his bite off the top the leftovers will be split between Ridley and LeGarrette Blount--and only Bill Belichick knows who'll get the money shots.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE BUF 00000000 *
If Vereen is healthy enough to play after suffering a rib injury last week, no reason to think he can't replicate his 101 rushing yards and 58 receiving yards from the earlier Bills/Patriots meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE BUF 00101201000 ****
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Edelman scored twice on 7-79 in the earlier meeting with Buffalo, and after a season of ups and downs and revolving receivers he's back atop Tom Brady's priority list. Pencil him in for a solid fantasy contributor, with the upside of a PPR explosion.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE BUF 005600000 ****
Amendola caught 10 balls for 104 yards in his Patriots debut, then struggled for a while before putting up a remarkably similar 10-131 in Week 15. He's a secondary target, but with the Patriots receiving corps gutted he's essentially atop the wingmen group and as such warrants fantasy attention this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE BUF 004500000 ***
With Steve Smith out last week you'd think LaFell or Ted Ginn would step up, but it was Domenik Hixon who scored the key touchdown against the Saints. Somebody needs to fill the role that has resulted in back-to-back 100-yard receiving games against Atlanta, but there's no real strong trend to support any of Carolina's secondary wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Aaron Dobson, NE BUF 002500000 ***
Dobson is getting healthy and could return to the receiver rotation this week. However, he'll be stacked behind Julian Edleman and Danny Amendola, fighting for scraps--a difficult way to carve out fantasy value.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 2233 ****
Gosty opened the season with a double-digit outing against the Bills; 10 double-digit efforts since, the league's top-scoring kicker should bookend his season against a Buffalo club that's allowed the sixth-most points to opposing kickers.

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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