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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
TE Coby Fleener 2-20

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 DET 0000031040 ***
Brees' last two games vs. DET: 340 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (2014) and 341 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT (2015). The Lions have the best statistical defense of quarterbacks using data from the last five weeks, but we're talking games with Minnesota (twice), Jacksonville and Houston.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO DET 6002201000 ***
Detroit has allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season, and no receiving scores in the last five weeks. This is the sixth worst overall index rating for opportunities. Ingram has mild appeal, because focusing on so many passing weapons can let him get loose from time to time.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tim Hightower, NO DET 3003300000 ***
Since Week 7, running backs have averaged 77.3 rushing yards, 51.8 receiving yards, five receptions and 20.9 PPR points per game against the Lions. Hightower has little upside during this crucial stage of the season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Thomas, NO DET 006801000 ***
Detroit has not exactly faced powerful offenses (MIN, JAX, HOU, MIN) in the last five weeks, but the stats show at least the Lions can handle weak opponents. Thomas has plenty of upside and has proven he belongs in lineups each and every week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO DET 005701000 ***
Cooks wasn't pleased with his role last week, but that should not be an issue this time around. The Lions have granted the eighth most catches per game over the last five weeks. The rest is up to him given his game-breaking speed.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Willie Snead IV, NO DET 005500000 ***
Detroit has given up the eighth most catches but the worst ratio of catches that led to scores since Week 7. Snead has low-end PPR flex appeal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, NO DET 004501000 ***
The Lions have been one of the most generous teams for tight ends to exploit all season. In the last five weeks, tight ends have scored the fifth most PPR points per game when facing this defense.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO DET 1144 ***
Detroit has allowed more field goal attempts than extra point kicks over its last five weeks, but that won't be the theme of the day vs. Drew Brees and Co. in Week 13.

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
RB Darren McFadden 60 3-30
RB Alfred Morris 100,1
WR Dez Bryant 5-70,1
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 Dak Prescott, DAL @MIN 20100023011 ***
Fantasy's No. 7 overall quarterback in the last five weeks, Prescott continues to get things done with his legs. His aerial game isn't too shabby, either, but he can be stunted as last week proved. The Vikings have the fifth toughest matchup rating overall, ranking negatively in all major factors used.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL @MIN 9014300000 ***
Minnesota has offered the 10th most yards per game to the position, but only one of 60 carries and 47 offensive touches have resulted in a touchdown from Week 8 on.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cole Beasley, DAL @MIN 006601000 ***
While wide receivers have scored once per game since Week 7 versus the Vikes, the position has been stifled overall. Beasley has an uphill climb when he faces a defense that rates in the bottom nine in receptions per game, yards per contest, points per reception (PPR), matchup rating, and fantasy points allowed per outing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL @MIN 003500000 ***
Minnesota does a great job of taking receivers out of the game plan, and you know which one will draw the attention of Mike Zimmer's group this week. The Vikings have allowed receivers to average a touchdown per game, so there is some hope here for Dez, but we're looking at a bottom-five overall matchup rating.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL @MIN 006500000 ***
Minnesota blanked Eric Ebron two weeks ago, and this still is the 10th most exploitable matchup overall. Witten isn't a big TD guy, so focusing on catches (18th) and yards (8th) per game reveals a midrange matchup for the veteran.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL @MIN 1133 ***
The Vikes have permitted the third most three-point attempts, on average, which is offset by ranking in the bottom 10 of touchdown-capping kick tries. Game flow and field position should dictate Bailey's chances.

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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