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Predictions & Projections
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
vs Rush Catch Pass
WR Pierre Garcon 6-80,1
WR Jeremy Kerley 5-80
TE Logan Paulsen 2-20

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 Matt Barkley, SF SEA 0000020013 ***
After tossing eight picks in his last two games, there is no reason to consider Barkley on the road against the Vikings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tim Hightower, SF SEA 2003200000 ***
Atlanta has been tough on RBs lately, and Hightower wasn't a factor in the last meeting. Avoid him in any consequential situation.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Pierre Garcon, SF SEA 006801000 **
Garcon served up a modest PPR offering in Week 3's matchup with the Giants, going for 59 yards on five grabs. He has been too hot to ignore in recent weeks and deserves a start despite a statistically poor matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jeremy Kerley, SF SEA 003300000 ***
Seattle has given up big numbers to receivers lately, but that doesn't make Kerley any better than a flier. The Niners simply are not prolific enough on offense to be given the benefit of the doubt.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Garrett Celek, SF SEA 003300000 **
Celek shouldn't be trusted in any format. Seattle has given up only 15 catches in the last five games to the position.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, SF SEA 2211 *
Washington gives up a lot of chances -- 5.2 combined a game in the last five -- but only 88.5 of those kicks have cleared. That's still good for being the 11th best matchup of the 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 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
WR Danny Amendola 7-80,1
TE Dwayne Allen 2-20
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 @MIA 0000029020 ***
Brady has struggled in Miami throughout his career, but this time around should be much different: The Dolphins are the second best matchup for quarterbacks when using the last five weeks' data. He did not play in the last meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mike Gillislee, NE @MIA 301000000 ***
Running backs have scored twice on 16 catches and once every 34.5 rushing attempts when facing the Jets since Week 11. Gillislee caught a touchdown on his only target in the first meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dion Lewis, NE @MIA 5002200000 ***
No team has allowed more receptions per game to RBs in the past five weeks, but Lewis shares third-down chores. Consider him only in PPR DFS.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Rex Burkhead, NE @MIA 4003200000 ***
Burkhead is not even a fringe play in the deepest of leagues. He doesn't factor enough into the game play to deserve attention.

Update: Burkhead could see more work if Jeremy Hill (questionable) is limited.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James White, NE @MIA 003300000 ***
A great matchup for the time-sharing back ... avoid him unless you're looking to make a huge gamble.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Chris Hogan, NE @MIA 006901000 ***
Hogan caught 4-60-0 without TB12 in the earlier meeting this year. The Dolphins have allowed six WR scores in the last five games, or one every 9.8 receptions. Hogan has a hint more upside than we projected, but these are safe numbers.

Update: Hogan could see more looks with Malcolm Mitchel being doubtful.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE @MIA 006601000 ***
Miami has allowed a TD every 9.8 receptions in the last five weeks, and PPR receivers have averaged 37.3 fantasy points a game as a team. Edelman was good for 7-76-0 without Tom Brady in Week 2.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NE @MIA 004500000 ***
The Falcons have allowed only two touchdowns on the last 61 catches by receivers, which is the third stingiest ratio in the league over the past five weeks. Cooks was held to two catches on eight targets for 13 yards in Week 3 vs. the Falcons.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dwayne Allen, NE @MIA 002200000 ***
Allen is largely useless for fantasy owners. It's a crapshoot to predict his involvement most weeks.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE @MIA 2233 ***
Miami is a negative-leaning matchup for kickers, having given up 15 extra point attempts (5th most) but only nine FGAs (six good) in the last five games.

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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