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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: NO 27, DAL 31 (Line: DAL by 3)

Players to Watch: Drew Brees, Tony Romo, the guy running the scoreboard

The 6-8 Saints come off their dominating win over the Buccaneers and now bring their 2-5 road record to Dallas. The 8-6 Cowboys are now in a three-way tie for the NFC East and have won their last three games. Unlike every other recent year, they have not folded in the month of December if only thanks to a schedule that gave them mostly home games to end the year. This is the sort of matchup that week 16 fantasy championships love.

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL 31-27
2 @CAR 27-35 11 @OAK 38-17
3 KC 24-27 12 SF 21-31
4 @GB 27-28 13 @ATL 13-23
5 SD 31-24 14 @NYG 27-52
6 BYE ----- 15 TB 41-0
7 @TB 35-28 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN 14-34 17 CAR -----
9 PHI 28-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO @ DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 310,2
RB Mark Ingram 50,1
WR Marques Colston 5-70
TE Jimmy Graham 6-60,1
TE Benjamin Watson 5-60,1
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: It is a perfect sign of how the NFL goes this year. The Saints were crushed 27-52 by the Giants and the next week they turnaround and shut down the Buccaneers 41-0 while the Giants are beaten 34-0 by the Falcons. While each week is a new world, at least Drew Brees has remained an elite quarterback who stumbled in scoring for two weeks and then picked right back up last week with 307 yards and four scores.

Brees has been less effective on the road this year but only marginally and his string of sub-300 yard games has been replaced with a three game streak of high yardage efforts. What will be interesting this week is how many scores he can throw for since the Cowboys have only allowed one quarterback to throw for more than two and that was the Washington loss that was unlike any other game.

The only change in the running effort was that Pierre Thomas has been used much less while Mark Ingram has enjoyed a six week stretch where he has offered at least marginal value and last week was a season best 90 yards on 14 runs and one score. Darren Sproles has been light on yardage pretty much all year but at least scored three times in the last two weeks.

Jimmy Graham continues to offer only moderate yardage each week with no more than 69 yards in each of the last four games and not scoring since week 11. He has been playing through a wrist injury but is number of targets have been down as well. Despite the high passing yardage, there have been almost no standout performances by any receivers for the last month. Marques Colston has not produced more than 75 yards for the last nine games and Lance Moore usually ends up with even lower yardage and fewer scores. Colston has just one touchdown in the last five weeks.

The Cowboys are at home and are chasing a playoff bid so this should end up as a shoot out. Graham has a great shot at a bigger game this week against the Cowboy's banged up linebacker corps. Lance Moore draws Brandon Carr which should limit him this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 3 7 2 24 21
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 9 15 18 22 23 22

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO MIN 0000031030 ***
The Vikings haven't given up much to opposing passing attacks thus far, but it's partly because they faced the Rams' backups and partly because the Patriots backed off when they rolled out to a big lead. Brees won't be as merciful.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Khiry Robinson, NO MIN 701000000 ****
With no Mark Ingram this week, Robinson should step into the bulk of the carries for the Saints' backfield. Though he may not get to the 25 carries Stevan Ridley had last week, something akin to the 101 and 1 Ridley dropped on the Vikings feels about right.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Pierre Thomas, NO MIN 3003200000 ***
Thomas could see an uptick in carries as well as his typical role in the passing game. Either alone would likely be enough to warrant starting against the Vikings; both makes Thomas an even better fantasy play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO MIN 006901000 ***
If you can look past the goose egg Colston laid last week, he projects to be a solid fantasy play against the Vikings--especially if cornerback Xavier Rhodes is still nursing a groin injury.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO MIN 2006701000 ***
Cooks' speed is bound to give the suddenly blitz-happy Vikings fits; as an added bonus he's been steadily targeted so there's little in the way of downside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO MIN 003300000 ***
Just about every Saint should be in play fantasy-wise this week; the issue with Stills is that he hasn't staked out a consistent role in New Orleans' passing game so there's plenty of risk involved as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO MIN 0071001000 ***
The Vikings kept Rob Gronkowski out of the end zone last week--with a little (a lot of?) help from a limited snap count. Graham is unlikely to suffer the same fate, and Minnesota is equally as unlikely to be able to contain him.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO MIN 2244 ***
The Vikes have allowed multiple field goals in each game this season, and the Saints should give Graham plenty of opportunity to swing the leg this week. Even counting by ones he should be just fine fantasy-wise.

Dallas Cowboys
Homefield: Cowboys Stadium
RealGrass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NYG 24-17 10 @PHI 38-23
2 @SEA 7-27 11 CLE 23-20
3 TB 16-10 12 WAS 31-38
4 CHI 18-34 13 PHI 38-33
5 BYE ----- 14 @CIN 20-19
6 @BAL 29-31 15 PIT 27-24
7 @CAR 19-14 16 NO -----
8 NYG 24-29 17 @WAS -----
9 @ATL 13-19 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DAL vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo 310,3
QB Brandon Weeden 230,1
RB DeMarco Murray 100,1 4-30
WR Dez Bryant 5-70,1
WR Dwayne Harris 4-50,1
TE Jason Witten 5-60,1
PK Dan Bailey 1 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys annual December Meltdown™ has not materialized though perhaps that was because it happened in October this year and the schedule ends up with five of seven final games at home. The Cowboys must win out to get a shot at the playoffs and even if they get past the Saints, the Redskins in Washington are looming in the season finale which will probably be for the division. There is a decent chance that the Cowboys win here and lose next week and they are out yet again.

Tony Romo continues to throw for over 300 yards in every home game and now facing one of the worst secondaries should only continue. More importantly he has thrown only three interceptions over the last seven games and has been good for multiple scores in home games.

DeMarco Murray scored in each of the last three games but has not broken the century mark since the season opener and even lost a fumble at the goal line last week. But he's consistent with four receptions per week and solid yardage in home games. Facing the worst defense against running backs should give him one more chance to break the 100 yard barrier this year.

Jason Witten finally scored last week for only the second time all year but he also ended with only 43 yards against the Steelers. He does tend to have better games when at home and with Dez Bryant banged up will continue to see at least a little more action. Witten generally comes into bigger play as the opposing secondaries are weaker and he's always better at home.

Dez Bryant played with his splinted finger and managed one touchdown on his four catches for 59 yards which makes it six straight games with at least one touchdown. Miles Austin still did not do too much more last week and has only one touchdown in the last seven weeks.

This is the week to start the normal Cowboy fantasy plays. The Saints are the visitors with the worst ranked defense against quarterbacks and running backs. With any luck, this will all turn into a big shootout.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 10 24 3 8 10 24
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 31 31 30 25 21 17

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tony Romo, DAL @STL 0000022011 ****
Romo hasn't been anything special thus far this year, but the Rams have faced Matt Cassel and Josh McCown thus far so they may be caught off guard. At minimum there's upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, DAL @STL 12011100000 ****
Murray has back-to-back hundos this year; the Rams just gave up 145 rushing yards to Bobby Rainey. Can you say "blank check"?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL @STL 007701000 ***
While the Cowboys may have suddenly become run-heavy, Tony Romo knows where to find Dez. And while the Rams have held opposing wideouts in check... well, it's Dez.
Update: Bryant was limited in practice Thursday and Friday, but he says he's going to play and who are we to doubt him?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL @STL 004500000 ****
With the Cowboys becoming more run-heavy, Williams' role in the offense is not blossoming as expected. Keep him on the back burner until a more favorable matchup presents itself.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL @STL 004300000 ***
After squelching tight ends with regularity last season the Rams have picked up where they left off this year. And Witten is riding off into the sunset while the Cowboys carve out a different path offensively. Not much to see here fantasy-wise.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL @STL 3322 ***
Bailey should be looking at multiple field goal attempts again this week, which bodes well for his fantasy prospects.

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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