FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

Prediction: HOU 31, NE 27 (Line: NE by 4)

Players to Watch: Arian Foster, Tom Brady

Now this is a good Monday Night Football game. The 11-1 Texans have already clinched a playoff berth and are two games ahead of New England, Baltimore and Denver for the #1 seed in the AFC. So far, the Texans are a perfect 6-0 on the road and are on a six game winning streak. The 9-3 Patriots are 4-1 at home and also on a six game winning streak. Here is another wonderful angle - this pits the #1 against the #2 scoring team. And the Texans secondary has been hard hit by injuries to make this even more fun.

Houston Texans
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 MIA 30-10 10 @CHI 13-6
2 @JAC 27-7 11 JAC 43-37
3 @DEN 31-25 12 @DET 34-31
4 TEN 38-14 13 @TEN 24-10
5 @NYJ 23-17 14 @NE -----
6 GB 24-42 15 IND -----
7 BAL 43-13 16 MIN -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @IND -----
9 BUF 21-9 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 10 180,1
RB Arian Foster 90,1 5-30
WR Andre Johnson 6-100,1
TE Garrett Graham 2-20

Pregame Notes: This is an all important game for the Texans and could well be the precursor to the AFC Championship game. With two home games to follow against the Colts and Vikings, the Texans could make that season finale' against in Indianapolis a moot point by remaining two games ahead of the AFC pack. While this may be a particularly bad time to be missing a couple of cornerbacks, the Texans have risen up and got the job done before and tend to play up or down to whatever their opponent is like.

If this moves entirely to the air later in the game, Matt Schaub can hang with that having thrown for multiple scores in half his games and scorching the Jaguars for 527 yards and five scores in week 11 followed by 315 yards and a score in Detroit. This will not be a game decided purely by the Texans running offense and Schaub can mix it up when needed.

Arian Foster scored his fifteenth touchdown on the year in Tennessee last Sunday but was limited to only 14 carries partly to rest him up for this week. Foster has shouldered a heavy load this year and even added three to five receptions per week as well. Ben Tate remains the #3 thanks to Justin Forsett's recent three game streak of over 60 yards per game. Those came against weaker defenses to be sure and his role is likely to be scaled back in a tough game like this with such important consequences at play. The Patriots rank well against running backs and yet have not faced many of the top backs. And Foster is the top back.

Owen Daniels already has six touchdowns this year and now will face the weakest secondary against tight ends. He was turning in 60+ yard efforts every week until recently when the opponents became easier to beat. He's sure to play a big role this week and Garrett Graham may be out this week which would call up James Casey into play and further the importance of Daniels.

The Patriots secondary is better but still allows big yardage and scores to primary receivers like Andre Johnson. He's no hidden weapon to be sure but did just post 9-188 and 14-273 in two of the last three games. No doubt he'll come into heavy play again this week. Foster could do better in New England than they expect and if so, that could lower the passing production from both sides.

I like a defensive score in this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 17 1 27 2 4 8
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 30 13 28 32 3 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, HOU @TEN 0000025011 ****
Fitz hasn't been fabulous, but he gets to face his old team--and a defense that's allowed three TDs to Brian Hoyer, 336 yards to Blake Bortles, and 267 to the Cousins/McCoy combo platter in just the past three weeks. Clearly, stranger things than a Fitz fantasy helper have happened to this defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU @TEN 10014200000 ***
Foster has scored in four straight against Tennessee, and with three consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts against better defenses than the Titans there's little reason to doubt him having success again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Damaris Johnson, HOU @TEN 003401000 **
Johnson hasn't seen more than three targets in a game this season, and while he's contributed the occasional fantasy helper he can't be relied on for such an assist.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU @TEN 006800000 ****
Last week was the first time in a month the Titans didn't allow multiple receivers to score and/or top 50 yards against them. The Texans have been consistently putting two receivers on the fantasy board, though from time to time Demaris Johnson bumps Hopkins or Andre Johnson aside. AJ and Hopkins are still the best bets, however, if not for fantasy greatness then at least for goodness you can plug into your lineup and bank on.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU @TEN 006700000 ****
Would you believe Johnson hasn't scored on the Titans since 2010 or hit the century mark in yardage since 2009? AJ still hasn't hit the century mark this season but he did break his touchdown maiden a couple weeks back and has contributed at least 58 yards each of the past four games. That's not elite, but at least it's solid.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Garrett Graham, HOU @TEN 002200000 *****
The Titans have surrendered four TE TDs in the past four games; if only Graham were seeing enough targets on a consistent basis to warrant a fantasy play, this would be a great opportunity.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU @TEN 3322 ****
Bullock's been inconsistent, but the Titans have been consistently fantasy-friendly to opposing kickers. Upgrade Randy to a fringe fantasy option this week.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN 34-13 10 BUF 37-31
2 ARI 18-20 11 IND 59-24
3 @BAL 30-31 12 @NYJ 49-19
4 @BUF 52-28 13 @MIA 23-16
5 DEN 31-21 14 HOU -----
6 @SEA 23-24 15 SF -----
7 NYJ 29-26 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 290,3
RB Stevan Ridley 70 2-10
RB Shane Vereen 30 2-10
WR Danny Amendola
WR Brandon LaFell 1-10
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Not unlike the Texans, this is a big game for the Patriots and as soon as this is over, the 49ers show up next week for two games against likely the two toughest defenses they will face this year. The final weeks in Jacksonville and hosting the Fins are sort of "gimmees" but these next two weeks will go far in defining what the Patriots are going to do in the playoffs and where they will fall in the seeding. With a current three-way tie for the #2 seed, any loss is going to be hard to compensate.

Tom Brady comes off his worst game of the year when he only managed 238 pass yards and one score in Miami that included only his fourth interception of the year. He was also sacked a season-high four times. But Brady has been golden almost every week this year with seven efforts over 300 yards and multiple scores in the previous six games. Catching the Texans with a banged up secondary only makes it better.

The Patriots placed Julian Edelman on injured reserve from his broken foot which leaves them thin enough at wideout to call back Donte Stallworth. With Rob Gronkowski still out, the passing game has shrunk to mostly Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. Brandon Lloyd has just gone cold despite the need for help and last week comes off a single catch in Miami of his only pass target in the game. Edelman was starting to take hold on a role in the offense but now his workload is likely just absorbed by Welker and Hernandez.

Brandon Bolden has concluded his four-game suspension but the Pats rushing effort has been more than solid and combined ranks #2 in fantasy points. Stevan Ridley is currently on a five game scoring streak and gets help from Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead already. No real place for Bolden currently. This week they all face the best rushing defense in the league so their stats are bound to take a dip. In the end, this will be mostly about Brady exploiting the banged up Texans secondary and Houston trying to run Foster as much as they can to delay the inevitable aerial war that will break out.


RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 3 2 15 1 2 2
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 15 1 20 24 7 5

  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.

WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

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