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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: NE 30, JAC 13 (Line: NE by 14.5)

Players Updated: Rob Gronkowski

Players to Watch: Cecil Shorts, Wes Welker

Losing to the 49ers last Sunday night dropped the 10-4 Patriots back into the #3 seed which means no bye and only one home field game. But this week they face the 2-12 Jaguars who have already packed their suitcases and are just watching the clock for for week 17 Sunday to be over. That the highest scoring offense in the NFL now faces a team that has declined to the point they do not score touchdowns could be concerning. The Pats will win of course but won't need 40 points to get the job done.

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 34-41
7 NYJ 29-26 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE @ JAC Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 270,2
RB Stevan Ridley 80,1
WR Danny Amendola 8-100,1
TE Rob Gronkowski
PK Stephen Gostkowski 3 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The loss to the 49ers really shook up the Patriots image coming on the heels of them looking so dominant against the Texans the previous week. The reality too is that both those games came at home where the Pats are always far better and losing that #2 seed may come back to haunt them. The Pats cannot afford any more losses either since they are only one game ahead of the Ravens now who have already beaten them back in week three to own that tie breaker should it be an issue.

The Pats almost never take any game lightly no matter what the situation is and in this case, they have to win and may want to flex some muscles doing it after last week's loss.

Tom Brady on the road has been plenty prolific other than facing inter-divisional foes and the Jaguars are soft in the secondary. But the are even worse against the running backs which could end up with a depressed stat line for Brady who won't need 400 yards to compete here.

The running backs are going to be harder to call than usual - and it has been largely impossible anyway - since both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen lost fumbles last week and then disappeared from the game plan while Danny Woodhead had a big game holding onto the ball. Ridley's faux pas ended his six game scoring streak but he's fumbled before and not carried the shame into the next week. It will always be tough to accurately predict who does what here but Ridley should end up with his job back.

What is nice too is that Aaron Hernandez is finally showing up as a major weapon for the Patriots only three months after everyone drafted him with big expectations. He's caught at least eight passes in the last two games while scoring a total of three touchdowns.

Both the Texans and 49ers schemed to take Wes Welker away with great success but Brandon Lloyd picked up the slack finally with 89 yards against the Texans and 190 yards versus the 49ers. While he won't be needed nearly so much this week, it is nice to see him finally being in the game plan and producing more than the roughly 50 yards and no score he had going the rest of the season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 3 2 13 1 1 2
Preventing Fantasy Points JAC 23 32 16 8 32 19

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE BUF 0000020020 *
Brady's 361 and 4 in the earlier meeting with Buffalo was easily the biggest game they've allowed to an opposing QB--but, ho hum, the eight time Brady has topped 300 yards against Buffalo and the ninth time he's taken them for at least three TDs. In fact, Brady has multiple scoring strikes in 14 of his last 16 against Buffalo, with the only misses being late December games in 2013 (122 and 1 on 24 attempts) and 2009 (115 and 1 on 23 attempts). See what we're getting at here? Brady owns the Bills, but with nothing to play for don't be surprised if he doesn't take his full bite here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonas Gray, NE BUF 301000000 *
Gray made it out of Bill Belichick's doghouse last week just long enough to score a touchdown. With LeGarrette Blount likely to sit this one out it's between Gray and Brandon Bolden for carries. You call the coin toss, then Bill Belichick decides to give carries to the back you didn't pick. Good luck with that.
Update: Gray has been ruled out of this week's tilt with an ankle injury. So much for his shot at redemption.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE BUF 2002100000 ***
Running backs in general haven't done much against the Bills but especially pass-catching backs haven't done much--and that doesn't bode well for Vereen. Only three backs have topped 31 receiving yards all year against the Bills, only one of them since Week 4, and Buffalo has only allowed one flukey RB receiving score--last week to lightly-used Raider Jamize Olawale. There's also the chance of Bill Belichick turning to his JV for much of this game, so look elsewhere for running back help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE BUF 004601000 *
It's already tough enough figuring out which defensive flaw Bill Belichick will exploit in any given week; now factor in the possibility of New England resting regulars after getting in a couple quarters of work, and any Patriot becomes a risky fantasy play in Week 17. At least LaFell tallied a couple TDs against the Bills the last time they met, so he has a track record of production against this secondary. Still...
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE BUF 004500000 ***
No reason for the Patriots to expose Julian Edelman to further injury, which might bean another 11 targets for Amendola. He did enough with that number against a bad Jets secondary last week to at least warrant fantasy consideration here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE BUF 001100000 *
Edelman sat out last week's game due to injury, and there's no need to rush him back to the lineup in this meaningless contest.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE BUF 004501000 *
Gronk bash Bills. Gronk's 7-94 in earlier meeting first time Gronk no score vs. Bills... ever. Gronk score in three straight. Gronk stick around long enough to get TD vs. Bills D that's allowed only two TE TD all year? Gronk no block on extra points, though.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Timothy Wright, NE BUF 004500000 **
Wright scored in the earlier meeting with Buffalo, one of only two TE TDs they've allowed all year. His value here comes if (when?) the Pats pull Rob Gronkowski from the game, encase him in bubble wrap, and put him on the shelf until the playoffs start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 1133 **
Gostkowski averages a cool dozen points per game at home and had 13 in Buffalo earlier this year. Assuming the starters put some points on the board in the first half and the backups get him close in the second, it should be another robust outing.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Homefield: J'ville Municipal Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @MIN 23-26 ot 10 IND 10-27
2 HOU 7-27 11 @HOU 37-43
3 @IND 22-17 12 TEN 24-19
4 CIN 10-27 13 @BUF 18-34
5 CHI 3-41 14 NYJ 10-17
6 BYE ----- 15 @MIA 3-24
7 @OAK 23-26 16 NE -----
8 @GB 15-24 17 @TEN -----
9 DET 14-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
JAC vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Henne 230,1
WR Cecil Shorts 5-90,1
TE Marcedes Lewis 4-50
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars have won only once in the last 11 games and the offensive output that seemed to spike with Chad Henne starting has faded to where they cannot even score a touchdown anymore. This is the final home game of the year but that's hardly a reason to expect any progress.

The only difference this week is that Maurice Jones-Drew has not been ruled out yet and HC Mike Mularkey said he was "questionable" this week but closer to playing than he has been. There is really no reason to bring him back - the season was over long ago and MJD is only risking further injury for nothing. One has to expect a more earnest holdout this coming summer since the worst case just happened this year.

Cecil Shorts returned last week after missing the Jets game with a concussion and he turned in 101 yards on six catches in Miami right back to his high level of performance though it was his first time to not score a touchdown in the last five games played. Justin Blackmon has reeled in six catches in each of the last two games but has not scored since week 12. This is the last home game so it should help both receivers facing one of the weaker secondaries in the NFL.

Aqib Talib has been a great addition for the Patriots and he matches on Justin Blackmon which should depress his stats this week, not that they were that big to start with anyway. This will be the final home game for a team that has made very little progress in Mike Mularkey's first season as head coach. If MJD does play this week, it may have to do with it being the final home game but I'll project for another week of Montel Owens until a decision is made.

Sadly facing the Patriots secondary is not as much fun as it was earlier in the season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points JAC 26 32 18 29 30 30
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 30 12 26 30 8 2

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Blake Bortles, JAC @HOU 30000019001 ***
Bortles threw for 336 yards in the earlier meeting with Tennessee, but he accompanied that total with just one TD--and he hasn't had a game as helpful to fantasy owners since. No reason to reach for him here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Toby Gerhart, JAC @HOU 4002100000 ***
The Texans are far from an easy mark from running backs; since their Week 10 bye the haven't allowed a running back touchdown, and only one back (Jeremy Hill) has rushed for more than 60 yards. Gerhart should see the largest volume of carries, but doubtful it will be enough for him to squeeze out fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marqise Lee, JAC @HOU 004500000 ***
It's been a consistent grouping of Jacksonville receivers; last week it was Lee's 4-65 that paced the pack. With three mouths to feed and not a lot of stats to go around, your best bet is to avoid the Jacksonville WR situation entirely.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Allen Hurns, JAC @HOU 005400000 ***
Hurns found the end zone the last time these teams met, part of a 5-36-1 afternoon. He's been wildly inconsistent, with an upside of his 7-112-2 game and a downside of being the third wheel in Jacksonville's passing game. The upside doesn't come nearly frequently enough, so plan accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cecil Shorts, JAC @HOU 002300000 ***
Shorts continues to audition for his impending free agency, though last week's 2-15 won't add much to his bank account. You'll want to find your fantasy receivers elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC @HOU 003400000 ***
Lewis' 69 yards in the earlier meeting with Houston was the biggest TE game the Texans had allowed since Week 1. It was also Lewis' best effort since Week 2; while he scored last week, his typical three or four targets doesn't offer enough opportunity for him to be a reliable fantasy performer.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Scobee, JAC @HOU 2100 ****
Scobee's recent surge has him over five points per game for the season, and he tallied seven when facing the Texans three weeks back. So if something in the half-dozen neighborhood floats your boat, Scobee is your guy.

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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