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 Case Keenum, HOU BAL 0000020011 *
Brees, Rivers, Roethlisberger; those are the three quarterbacks who've had fantasy success passing on the Ravens (Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton augmented their numbers with rushing scores). Keenum is nowhere near those gentlemen and should take up a similar proximity to your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU BAL 6016500000 *
Gutted at quarterback, all the Texans will be able to do is hand the ball to Foster and hope for the best. Unfortunately, it's a brutal matchup with a Ravens defense that hasn't allowed a back to top 68 yards all year or 59 yards in Baltimore. So while Houston will lean heavily on Foster, that doesn't mean big carry numbers will translate directly into big fantasy numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Damaris Johnson, HOU BAL 003500000 ***
No writeup available
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU BAL 004500000 *
Maybe Johnson returns to action this week, but even if he does he has serious issues at quarterback dampening his fantasy impact.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU BAL 00000000 *
The Ravens have had their issues in the secondary, but they've given up just one TD in the past two games and no receiver topped 76 yards in either game. Hopkins should see plenty of targets, but coming from either Thad Lewis or Case Keenum that doesn't necessarily mean much. He's Houston's best bet for fantasy success, but he's far from a sure thing.
Update: Hopkins didn't practice at all this week as he battles an ankle injury. He's listed as questionable, but even if he goes he'll be hampered by both his injury and his quarterback situation.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU BAL 1122 *
Multiple treys are no lock for Bullock, who has turned the trick in just half of his 14 games--and only two of six at home. The Ravens might enable, however, having given up multiple field goals in four straight. Still, we're talking about two field goals and maybe a PAT so don't set the bar too high here.

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 @NYJ 0000025020 ***
The Jets have fallen off the record-setting pace for allowing touchdown passes they were on, but it's still essentially the same defense Brady took for 261 and 3 back in Week 7. Brady's been plenty hot himself, with multiple scoring strikes in 10 straight; no reason to doubt him here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, NE @NYJ 201000000 **
Jets games have tended to bring out the pass-catching backs in New England, so temper expectations for Blount. The Jets aren't a particularly favorable matchup for running backs anyway, and you never know when Brandon Bolden and/or Jonas Gray will get carries to really snarl things up, so keep your expectations in check here.,
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE @NYJ 300000000 ***
Gray was back as the Patriots' leading rusher last week, though he was the only Patriots back who carried the ball who failed to score. He simply can't be trusted with a fantasy start here; if/when he scores, you'll know you've been Belichicked.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE @NYJ 1003200000 ***
Vereen has a couple of solid pass-catching outings against the Patriots, 2-91-1 back in 2012 and 5-71-2 earlier this season. Vereen missed any games in between, and he's far from a sure thing, but all signs point towards him seeing enough action to be a solid PPR fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE @NYJ 008901000 ***
Patriots wideouts did little against the Jets in the earlier meeting, a bit surprising since over the past month the Jets have allowed five 100-yard receivers. Edelman and Brandon LaFell remain the most targeted Patriots wideouts, and with a favorable matchup they can both be counted on for fantasy contributions this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE @NYJ 006600000 ***
LaFell has given Tom Brady a bigger target down the field, one whom Brady mixes and matches with diminutive Julian Edelman to full effect. Both are viable fantasy options this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE @NYJ 005801000 ***
Shocking, really, that Gronk isn't among the dozen tight ends who have scored on the Jets this year; expect that to change this week. Gronkowski has topped the 100-yard mark in each of his last two trips to New York, so he should augment that score with copious yardage as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE @NYJ 2233 ***
The Jets are the only team to hold Gostkowski under double-digit points at home and since he's a less than 50/50 proposition to hit 10 or more on the road (three of seven games this year), don't let your expectations run wild here.

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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