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 Brandon Weeden 220,1

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
RB Lamar Miller, HOU PIT 5002200000 ***
Pittsburgh offers one of the better matchups of the week in both scoring formats, and it's an excellent rating for trying to find a cheap touchdown. One in 16.7 carries over the past five games have scored, plus RBs added an aerial TD to the mix. Houston will likely want to run it to keep the game as close as possible. Nevertheless, counting on Miller for more than flex numbers could get games in trouble. He has two scores in his last 93 touches.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU PIT 005801000 ***
Hopkins saw 13 targets last week, landing only four, but he salvaged a respectable fantasy line. The Steelers have permitted seven receiver touchdowns in the last five games, or once every 8.0 receptions (4th). This is the 17th-best matchup for weekly receptions and yards.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Will Fuller V, HOU PIT 003400000 ***
Fuller hasn't offered much since Deshaun Watson went down. This matchup is good for the flier touchdown gamble, but there is little else to like about it.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Braxton Miller, HOU PIT 002300000 ***
Update: Miller is not on the injury report and should play. Avoid him in all formats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Stephen Anderson, HOU PIT 002200000 ***
Anderson has caught a pathetic eight of his last 24 targets and offers no credible reason to enter a fantasy lineup. The Steelers haven't given up a TE score over the last 27 catches.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ka'imi Fairbairn, HOU PIT 2211 ***
This matchup is great for extra points (3rd) and not so much for field goals (23rd). Houston isn't particularly good at racking up either.

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
WR Kenny Britt 5-70,1
TE Dwayne Allen 3-30
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 BUF 0000026010 ***
Brady's worst fantasy outing of the year came in Week 13 against this defense. It marked the first game since Week 1 he didn't throw a touchdown pass. Versus Buffalo since Week 10, QBs have averaged 216.8 yards (25th) and 15 fantasy points (31st) per contest, tossing a TD every 27 catches (30th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James White, NE BUF 3005300000 ***
White will get a few looks added to his workload with Rex Burkhead out of commission. The Patriots will spread it around, and Dion Lewis is the most likely recipient of the majority of extra touches. Buffalo has not allowed a receiving TD over the past 24 receptions. White caught four of his six targets for 32 yards in the Week 13 trip to Western New York.

Update: White is questionable and should be considered a gametime decision.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mike Gillislee, NE BUF 3001100000 *
Gillislee will see some action in all likelihood with the expected loss of Rex Burkhead (knee). While it would be poetic if the former Bill rank roughshod over his former employer, starting and capping fantasy seasons with a bang, we can't bank on recommending him.

Update: Burkhead is indeed out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Chris Hogan, NE BUF 002200000 ***
Hogan was a surprise scratch last week after playing through his shoulder injury in Week 14. If he cannot go, the offense loses a quality weapon in the intermediate- and long-range passing game. The Bills have held wideouts to three scores in the past five games, or once every 19 catches (25th). This is a bottom-six matchup in both scoring systems.

Update: Wait until about 90 minutes before kickoff, since the Patriots shroud everything in mystery. He's questionable and was limited Friday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE BUF 0081101000 ***
Gronk went for 147 yards on nine catches in the Week 13 trip to Buffalo. He torched them in the one game with Tom Brady last year, too, and 21-plus PPR points in three of his last four visits with the Bills. Since Week 10, this defense rates 12th-easiest in PPR (16th in standard).
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 2233 ***
All 11 extra point chances have been on the mark, and 11 of the 14 three-point kicks have been good. While this is the No. 17 matchup for XPAs, it is the third-best place to find a field goal.

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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