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David Dorey
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WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

Prediction: SF 17, NE 27 (Line: NE by 3)

Players Updated: Mario Manningham

Players to Watch: Colin Kaepernick, Brandon Lloyd

This is the Sunday night game and should be a very good one. The 9-3-1 49ers come in with a 4-2 road record and face the 10-3 Patriots who are 5-1 at home having lost to the Cardinals there which is more shocking with every passing week. The Patriots are tied with the Broncos for the #2 seed and just beat the #1 seed Texans. They need this win to qualify for homefield and a first round bye. The 49ers have a half game lead on the Packers for the #2 seed in the NFC with a road game in Seattle left to play. The loser here will probably drop to a #3 seed which is a huge difference. It helps the Patriots significantly to be playing at home with the 49ers forced to travel across the country and play in far colder weather than they are used to. Just like the Texans last Monday night.

San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB 30-22 10 STL 24-24
2 DET 27-19 11 CHI 32-7
3 @MIN 13-24 12 @NO 31-21
4 @NYJ 34-0 13 @STL 13-16
5 BUF 45-3 14 MIA 27-13
6 NYG 3-26 15 @NE -----
7 SEA 13-6 16 @SEA -----
8 @ARI 24-3 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 40 240,1
RB Frank Gore 70,1 3-20
WR Anquan Boldin 4-50
WR Michael Crabtree 6-80,1
WR Steve Johnson 6-80,1
WR Brandon Lloyd 5-60
TE Vernon Davis 2-30
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The 49ers redeemed themselves after losing to the Rams in week 13 by taking down the Dolphins with relative ease but that was at home and this week will be just the third time the 49ers have needed to travel to the northeast. The Seattle game following this is every bit as big and maybe more important, especially if the 49ers lose this week.

Colin Kaepernick has declined as a passer during his four starts and while that partially relates to the quality of opponents, it is somewhat troubling that defenses are catching onto him more now. Against the Dolphins he only passed for 185 yards but scored as a runner for the fifth time this year. So far Kaepernick threw for only three touchdowns. He's making an equally big impact as a runner. This week pits him against a very weak secondary but it is a road game and the Pats are better now. It is a great test to see just where Kaepernick is as a starter. In New Orleans, he only passed for 231 yards and one score but added a second one as a runner for comparison.

Frank Gore is not taking over any games and has been over 20 carries only three times this year. But he scored in each of the last three games which helps his 60 yard or so game he seems stuck at lately. Now that the Brandon Jacobs experiment is very much over, LaMichael James was given his first action of the year and gained 30 yards on eight runs while playing in a role just like Kendall Hunter would have. He is one to watch in this offense that could use a spark.

Mario Manningham was scratched last week because of his shoulder but may return. A.J. Jenkins was active for the first time but the rookie wideout never saw a pass. This week has Michael Crabtree as the standout receiver but he could be shadowed by Aqib Talib who is tentatively expected to play this week after suffering a hip pointer in the Texans matchup. Talib has made a huge difference to the secondary and no doubt will be tasked with Crabtree if possible. This is also the reunion of Randy Moss with his more recent employer. While that often prompts a bigger effort, Moss still likes the Patriots and has been little more than a minor player each week anyway.

The production in this game is dependent on how well the 49ers can slow down the Patriots pass attack. If they cannot, then the run goes away and Kaepernick is forced into a must-throw mode that should be more successful for him than the last several games.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 13 12 24 9 11 17
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 29 12 27 31 8 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Colin Kaepernick, SF WAS 30000023020 ***
The Redskins have allowed multiple TDs to every non-rookie QB they've faced over the past two months, so there's hope for Kaepernick. However, it's been a month and a half since Kaep threw for multiples and he's stopped running as well so despite the favorable matchup he's a fringe fantasy option at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF WAS 9001100000 ***
Gore continues to cling to fantasy relevancy, but keep your expectations in check against a Washington defense that's allowed only four RB rushing scores all year--three of them in one aberration of a game in Minnesota.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF WAS 200000000 ***
It's still Frank Gore's gig, which makes Hyde a fantasy afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF WAS 006801000 ***
Boldin remains in the mix in San Francisco, with a floor of something in the 5-50 range and upside from there. It's not an overly favorable matchup, but after watching Mike Evans have his way with the Washington secondary neither Boldin nor Michael Crabtree should have much difficulty shaking free.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF WAS 004601000 ***
Crabtree's the more likely of the two San Francisco receivers to emulate what Mike Evans did last week. In fact, there's probably enough there for both Crabtree and Boldin to carve out fantasy relevancy, though the pecking order seems to have Crabtree at the top.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF WAS 002200000 ***
Davis hasn't done much of anything since scoring twice in Week 1; until that changes, no reason to reward him with a fantasy starting spot.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF WAS 1133 ***
Dawson is averaging more than 10 points per home game and just posted back-to-back double-digit efforts on the road. Coming home to face the Redskins, he should continue to get his kicks.

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 42-14
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 SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 280,2
RB Stevan Ridley 70,1 2-10
RB Shane Vereen 20
WR Danny Amendola 7-80,1
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots were so thoroughly dominant over the visiting Texans that it makes it hard not to just assume they'll manhandle the 49ers just as bad. The schedule makers were incredibly kind when they opted to give the Pats home venues for the matchups against the Houston and San Francisco defenses. After this week, all that is left is to smack down the Jaguars and then take down the visiting Dolphins who are somewhat spry when they play but always beatable.

Tom Brady had not problems with the Houston secondary as he shredded it for 296 yards and four touchdowns before finally leaving later in the game to go make some more commercials. He scores every week and at home has been less productive in most games because the rushing effort usually takes care of the win as well.

The Patriots are back to a full complement in the backfield with Brandon Bolden back and mixing in with Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen and of course Stevan Ridley. The only consistency here is Ridley who has scored in six straight games and almost always gets 18+ carries in the game. The other three have been active and get some work, but this remains primarily Ridley's backfield and he is the preferred goal line back as well.

Donte Stallworth showed up on Monday night, caught one pass for 63 yards and a score and then suffered a high ankle sprain. He is now on inured reserve with a 63 yard average for the Patriots this year. Deion Branch was re-signed to take his place which was to replace Julian Edelman. What was forgotten was that Brandon Lloyd is still the starter and he finally showed up with seven receptions for 89 yards on the Texans last week. The defense took away Wes Welker (3-52) for most of the game and Lloyd was able to get involved.

This will be even more interesting than the Houston win because the Texans already had experienced problems in their secondary while the 49ers are a top unit across all positions. It does help to play at night on the other side of the country from what the 49ers are used to but this will be equally a good test for the Patriots and a scary thing if they in any way manhandle this defense as they did the Texans.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 4 2 17 1 2 2
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 2 2 2 2 1 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE DET 0000026020 ***
The vaunted Detroit defense has given up multiple passing scores in each of its last two road games and three of four overall. Brady, meanwhile, has multiple scoring strikes in six straight and has no reason to fear the former top-ranked defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE DET 3004401000 ***
The Lions play right into Vereen's strengths, ranking in the top five in RB receptions, RB receiving yards, and RB receiving touchdowns. Now let's hope Bill Belichick sees it the same way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE DET 501000000 **
Tough to see Gray approaching last week's monster game; the Lions have allowed only four RB rushing scores all year, and only one back has topped 60 yards on the season. Dial back the expectations and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE DET 005800000 ***
LaFell is the closest thing the Patriots have to a reliably productive fantasy wideout, and even he is no guarantee. On the bright side, his last two homes games have seen 24 targets, 17 catches, and two TDs so maybe that tilts the field in his favor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE DET 004500000 ***
Edelman remains a volume guy, with eight targets in seven of the past eight games--though he still hasn't posted a 100-yard game this season and has just one TD in the past two months. So there's some risk with his reward.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE DET 002300000 ***
Amendola's an afterthought in this passing game, having topped 20 yards just once all season with only one score to his credit. You could hope for a return TD, but until that week when Bill Belichick decides it's "Bring Danny Amendola to Work" Day he's a fantasy afterthought.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE DET 007801000 ****
At this point you could say that all 11 defenders will build a wall around Gronk and he'd still be one of the best fantasy plays at his position. Since such a strategy is highly unlikely, go with Gronk again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE DET 001200000 ***
Wright's a contributor, just too inconsistent a contributor to be banked on for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE DET 3333 ***
Gotskowski's run of five straight games with multiple field goals was snapped last week, but six PATs provided a soft landing. He's had at least nine points in every home game this year, so expect him to get back on track this week.

WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

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