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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

Prediction: Adrian Peterson 17, HOU 27 (Line: HOU by 7.5)

Players to Watch: Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster

Adrian Peterson's team is currently 8-6 and still in the running for a wild card along with four other teams. The Vikings are only 2-5 on the road. The 12-2 Texans are 6-1 at home and have clinched the AFC South and remain the #1 seed in the AFC by one game over the Broncos. Gotta still win and that's a very good thing here in week 16 for every Andre Johnson and Arian Foster owner.

Minnesota Vikings
Homefield: Metrodome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 JAC 26-23 ot 10 DET 34-24
2 @IND 20-23 11 BYE -----
3 SF 24-13 12 @CHI 10-28
4 @DET 20-13 13 @GB 14-23
5 TEN 30-7 14 CHI 21-14
6 @WAS 26-38 15 @STL 36-22
7 ARI 21-14 16 @HOU -----
8 TB 17-36 17 GB -----
9 @SEA 20-30 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Christian Ponder 20 190,1
RB Adrian Peterson 150,1 4-20
WR Greg Jennings 3-50
WR Jarius Wright 2-30
TE Kyle Rudolph 5-50,1
PK Blair Walsh 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: This is absolutely amazing. Honestly. Amazing. The Vikings literally have no passing game anymore. There is no one worth covering even if Christian Ponder could get the passes thrown accurately which is apparently not possible anyway. All eleven defenders know all they have to do is stop one guy. Just one guy. No need to respect anything else but one guy and yet they cannot do it. Adrian Peterson is only about 190 yards away from a 2,000 yard season and about 300 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time record of 2,105 yards.

(Side note - did you realize that O.J. Simpson broke 2,000 yards in a 14 game season?)

The wildcard is possible though maybe less likely than for any of the other contending teams thanks to a schedule that ends with this game in Houston and then hosting the Packers.

There is no fantasy value on this team aside from maybe the team defense other than Peterson. Christian Ponder has not passed for more than 159 yards for the last four weeks. For the last three weeks, he hasn't even passed more than 25 times in a game. Meanwhile, Peterson has ran more than that for the last two weeks and racked up 576 yards in just the last three games. Every play could not be more obvious if Ponder grabbed the middle linebackers facemask and screamed at him "WE ARE GOING TO RUN PETERSON NOW!". The receivers have become such afterthoughts here that they might as well all carry huge arrows and then follow Peterson around on every play while pointing at him so the camera doesn't get lost.

Returning from a catastrophic knee injury in nine months is already miraculous. Challenging for 2000+ yards is jaw-dropping. Doing all this on the worst passing team is inconceivable. Peterson is the only fantasy play here. I know it. You know it. The defenses all know it. No one is stopping him. This is the #1 rushing defense playing at home. This will be interesting. And JJ Watt is back too...

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 29 7 31 18 6 16
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 19 1 25 29 5 3

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Teddy Bridgewater, MIN ATL 20000020011 ***
Atlanta's improved secondary has limited the likes of Drew Brees and Andy Dalton to one TD toss apiece; maybe they surrender Bridgewater's first NFL scoring strike, but don't expect much more than that.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN ATL 5014300000 ***
Unlikely this undermanned version of the Vikings offense gets Asiata close enough for a goal line plunge, but if he remains the pass-catching back--no lock, as Jerick McKinnon is creeping up on him targets-wise--he could salvage fantasy value against a Falcons defense that's allowed the second-most RB receptions and third-most RB receiving yards thus far this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN ATL 3005701000 *
Two reasons to like Patterson this week. First, big-bodied receivers have found success against the Falcons, from Marques Colston's 110 yards to Vincent Jackson's touchdown. Second, the Vikings are fresh out of playmakers and desperately need to find ways to get the ball into Patterson's hands.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN ATL 006600000 ***
Jennings saw an uptick in productivity with the Vikings changing quarterbacks and forced to the air, but there's still no reason to expect much more than adequate numbers here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rhett Ellison, MIN ATL 002100000 ***
Ellison's a nice special teams player, but he's no replacement for Kyle Rudolph--especially in a matchup with a Falcons D that has yet to allow a TE TD this year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN ATL 1122 ***
Pros: Kicking inside, an offense that has a demonstrated ability to settle for field goals. Cons: an offense that may not provide many opportunities on the business side of midfield.

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 14-42
6 GB 24-42 15 IND 29-17
7 BAL 43-13 16 MIN -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @IND -----
9 BUF 21-9 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 210,1
RB Arian Foster 80,1 6-40
WR Andre Johnson 6-80,1
TE Garrett Graham 2-20,1

Pregame Notes: Just win this week and the #1 seed is their clear and simple. A previous win over the Broncos ensures even if the Colts won in Indy in the season finale' that a tied record would not matter. This is the final home game and a chance to treat the hometown fans for the last time until the second round of the playoffs.

Stopping Adrian Peterson will be key as it has for every defense. But even Chris Johnson gashed the Texans for 141 yards back in week four in Houston and Peterson is capable of breaking a long one on any given play... and has... with regularity in recent games.

Matt Schaub at home should always throw at least one touchdown but his yardage will vary depending on need and how well Arian Foster is running. Last week Foster turned in a season best 165 yards on 27 carries but failed to score in a home game for only the second time all year. He was on a three game scoring streak previous and has been a lock for high yardage whenever in Houston.

The passing effort has waned in recent weeks though the Texans kept on winning thanks to rushing scores and good defensive play. The secondary got it back together after the New England loss and held Andrew Luck to only 186 yards last week. All that really matters on the offense now is Foster and Andre Johnson. Ben Tate is back as the #2 but has minimal use. Johnson has been significantly more productive in the second half of the season and comes off a 151 yard last week which was only his third highest game in the last five weeks.

Knowing that a win here means week 17 does not matter, the Texans will give their final home game a total effort like we saw last week. The only way this is anything close to being a close game is if Adrian Peterson can have big success against the best defense versus running backs. It's like the immoveable object and the unstoppable force. Plus Andre Johnson. And Arian Foster. The only weakness of the defense counters the weakness of the Minnesota offense.

This game should have so much running in it that it may be over before any other game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 18 1 25 3 4 5
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 27 14 22 21 10 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, HOU BUF 0000025010 ***
Buffalo hasn't been a creampuff but they have allowed fantasy helpers to Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers. Fitz hasn't been anything special but his attempts climbed last week sans Arian Foster and he could be without his ground game again this week. It's an opportunity, one you may need to reach for with six teams on the bye this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Blue, HOU BUF 7011100000 ***
Blue is in line for another week of feature back touches with Arian Foster nursing a hamstring injury. He was a'ight last week in New York, and while the Bills don't necessarily offer an overly favorable matchup he might wind up being a decent enough volume play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU BUF 00000000 *
Update: Foster will be a game-time decision due to his hamstring issues. Even if he goes, the plan is to give Alfred Blue at least a share of the workload. Probably best served on your bench unless you see him doing sprints during pregame.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU BUF 007901000 ***
Despite fewer targets than Andre Johnson in every game this season, Hopkins owns the only 100-yard game among Texans wideouts and two of the unit's three TDs. Buffalo let WR1s handle them in Weeks 1 and 2 before ceding scores to secondary targets last week. Either way, Hopkins is the more productive fantasy option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU BUF 006700000 ***
Johnson has been the more targeted Texan, but DeAndre Hopkins has led Houston WRs in fantasy scoring each game this year. Expect more of the same against a Buffalo secondary that's no pushover but has allowed at least one WR TD every game this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Garrett Graham, HOU BUF 002200000 ***
Graham is healthy and his targets on the upswing, but let's let him do something fantasy-wise before trusting him with a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU BUF 3322 ****
Bullock sandwiched a 12-point game between a couple of five-point efforts, while the Bills were doing the same with fours and an eight. Odds are you won't get shut out, and there's certainly upside to Bullock's fantasy opportunity this week.

WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

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