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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 Josh Freeman 250,1
QB Christian Ponder 20 190,1
RB Adrian Peterson 150,1 4-20
WR Lestar Jean 2-20
WR Greg Jennings 3-50
WR Jerome Simpson 3-40
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 Matt Cassel, MIN DET 0000022011 ***
Christian Ponder launched the Vikings' forgettable 2013 season with 236 and 1 against the Lions; now Cassel gets to stake his claim to a roster spot (starting job?) in 2014 with a by-comparison outing in the Metrodome finale. The Lions have allowed only two passing scores in the past four games, so it'll be a stiffer test than you might think for Cassel.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Matt Asiata, MIN DET 400000000 *
Right now Adrian Peterson appears to be the healthiest running back on the Vikings roster, but Asiata may work his way back into the mix as well. Still, if Peterson is active he'll get the carries and Asiata will have only memories of his one shining three-touchdown moment a couple weeks back. UPDATE: With Peterson listed as doubtful and Toby Gerhart out, Asiata is expected to get the start this week. He scored thrice a couple weeks back under similar circumstances, but against a stout Detroit defensive line he'll need the offense to set him up with short opportunities to be an effective fantasy back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Jennings, MIN DET 0081001000 ***
Jerome Simpson had the big day the last time these teams got together, but much has changed since: Matt Cassel is the quarterback, Jennings his favorite receiver, and explosive rookie Cordarrelle Patterson is seeing more looks as well. Toss in Jarius Wright and it's a crowded house--though target-wise Jennings still tends to be the patriarch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN DET 3013600000 **
The Vikings continue to find ways to get the ball into the hands of the explosive Patterson. He's approaching the franchise kickoff return record, has a couple touchdown runs of late, and last week led the team in targets as well. He's a threat any time he touches the ball, to the point that he at least warrants fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarius Wright, MIN DET 003500000 ***
Wright has been a surprise contributor in the Vikings' passing game, but it's impossible to bank on him being productive when he's at best the team's third option.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Blair Walsh, MIN DET 1122 ***
Walsh averages two points more per game at home, and he's facing a Lions' defense that has allowed more points to kickers than any other team in the Metrodome's swan song. Expect him to get ample opportunity to kick the Lions while they're down, as well as try some lengthy field goals in a game with no playoff ramifications whatsoever.

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 @TEN 0000023020 ***
The Texans have given up multiple touchdown tosses in four straight and seven of eight. Fitz hasn't been nearly that consistent, but for the most part he's capitalized on softer matchups and this is definitely one of those opportunities.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Case Keenum, HOU @TEN 0000010001 *
Matt Schaub is one of only three quarterbacks to take the Titans for multiple touchdown tosses this season; he turned the trip as part of a 298 & 3 outing back in Week 2. That's also the second-most passing yardage allowed by the Titans this season. So of course the Texans will turn the reins over to Keenum this week, facing a Titans defense that's allowed three passing scores in Tennessee all season. Good luck with all that. UPDATE: Keenum is officially a game-time decision; fantasy owners should be able to make their call well in advance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Andre Brown, HOU @TEN 8012200000 *
The Skins have allowed nine RB TDs in the past four games and a league-high 23 on the season. That number includes two from Brown in the earlier meeting, so while he hasn't scored since he should capitalize on the matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Grimes, HOU @TEN 6011100000 **
Opposing backs kill the Titans, but... Jonathan Grimes? The guy who played Uncle Rico, had a role in the vastly underappreciated Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines flick "Running Scared"? No, wait, that's Jonathan Gries. Evidently this guy is a four-year starter from William & Mary with good vision who went undrafted in 2012, then spent time with the Texans, Jets, Texans (again), Jaguars, and after being cut in August returning to Houston last week. Seriously, with the Titans giving up so much on the ground Grimes could be a factor in fantasy leagues decided in Week 17.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU @TEN 004600000 **
Johnson has been heavily targeted the past three weeks--44 looks, compared to 34 for all the other wideouts on the Houston roster. So even though he'll be tangling with Alterraun Verner--who held AJ to 8-76 in the earlier meeting--he's still the Texans' best bet for passing game fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU @TEN 003400000 ***
Hopkins went big on the Titans back in Week 2 while Alterraun Verner was tied up with Andre Johnson. However, he hasn't done much since, making it tough to bank on him for fantasy productivity here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Ryan Griffin, HOU @TEN 005501000 **
The Titans have allowed three TE TDs in the past three games, and they gave up two touchdowns to Texans tight ends in the earlier meeting. Griffin has back-to-back 60-yard games; seems like he's in an ideal spot to capitalize on the opportunity.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU @TEN 1111 ***
Tennessee has given up the fourth-most points to kickers, but only two to Bullock when they crossed paths back in Week 2. Not much upside to Bullock here.

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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