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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 STL 30000026021 ***
Kaepernick's best fantasy outing of the season came three weeks back against these very Rams. Now he'll face the same D on his home turf with an extra week of prep and rest; no reason to think he can't do something similar this time around as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF STL 6011100000 ***
Run defense: don't leave home without it. The Rams don't heed that advice, giving up an average of 30-134 to opposing backs when they leave St. Louis, as well as another 4-26 receiving. Gore, who has 100 rushing yards or a TD in all three home games this year, should handle the bulk of those stats; that makes him a very nice fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF STL 200000000 ***
Hyde has 10 carries in each of the last two home games and could carve out a chunk of what should be a healthy dollop of RB stats this week against the Rams.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF STL 006701000 ***
The last time these teams met three different 49ers wideouts scored, including Boldin. He's edging Michael Crabtree for most targeted Niner; the confluence of those two trends make him at least a viable fantasy option in a six-team bye week this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF STL 003401000 ****
Crabtree is battling Anquan Boldin for target supremacy as Colin Kaepernick is getting a bevy of 49ers involved in the passing game. Fortunately, as proven by the last meeting between these two teams, it's a matchup where there should be more than enough to go around, allowing multiple Niners wideouts to be fantasy relevant.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF STL 005500000 ****
With the talent heard thinned by a six-team bye week you could do worse than reaching for Johnson, who has scored in three of the last four games and had 53 yards the last time these teams met.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF STL 003300000 ***
Davis has done nothing of fantasy note since the season opener, a stretch that includes 3-30 when these teams got together three weeks ago. St. Louis isn't surrendering much of anything to the position so no reason to expect a change in Vernon's fortunes this time around.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF STL 3333 ****
Dawson has kicked multiple treys in every home game this year and should have little difficulty doing so again against a Rams' squad that has surrendered double-digit kicker points in three of the last five, including both of its last two road tilts.

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 DEN 0000028030 ****
Roughly half the quarterbacks who attempt to shoot it out with Peyton Manning put up helpful fantasy numbers, and Brady will definitely be in that upper half. He' rolls in with four straight multiple TD games, including 12 in his last three, while averaging 317 yards per game in that span. He threw for 344 and 3 in last year's meeting and won't take a back seat to Peyton in this tilt, fantasy or otherwise.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE DEN 3005601000 ****
Vereen caught eight balls for 60 yards in last year's meeting with the Broncos; this year's iteration has already allowed 5-70 and 4-112 receiving games to opposing backs. Projecting what Bill Belichick does with his backs on a weekly basis is always a sticky wicket, but this one has all the markings of a monster PPR outing for Vereen.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE DEN 300000000 ***
Backs have done virtually nothing against Denver over the past three games, and while Gray has become the team's go-to back for now this one likely shakes out as more of a Shane Vereen production.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE DEN 006801000 ****
The Broncos haven't given up a 100-yard game to an opposing receiver' it's taken high volume just to squeeze out a decent yardage game against them. LaFell saw that volume last week, but he could easily fall behind Gronk, Vereen, and Edelman in the pecking order this week so it's tough to bank on him here--especially if he draws Aqib Talib.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE DEN 002300000 ***
Edelman took a back seat to Brandon LaFell last week, but he was Tom Brady's go-to guy when the Pats beat Denver last year so don't be surprised if he returns to his high-volume role this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE DEN 008901000 ****
The Broncos didn't have an answer for Gronk last year as he rolled them for 7-90-1. They didn't have an answer for Antonio Gates (5-54-2) last week, and they haven't had much of an answer for any competent tight end this year in giving up four 50-yard games and four TE TDs. Gronk comes off a three-TD, 9-149 monster and there's little preventing him from a repeat.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE DEN 002300000 ***
Wright has had success with Gronk's leftovers with touchdowns in three of the last four games, and he may fall into that situation again this week. At minimum he's worthy of consideration in a week with six teams on the bye.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE DEN 2233 ***
It's an immovable force--the Broncos have yet to allow a kicker to top eight points--against an irresistible object--Gostkowski has multiple field goals in seven of eight outings this year. Sounds like a solid kicker showing but nothing to write home about.

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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