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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
RB C.J. Spiller 100,1 3-20
TE Coby Fleener 2-20
PK Kai Forbath 2 FG 3 XP
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 1 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 @ATL 0000027010 ***
Who needs an intact plantar fascia? Not Brees, who has 753 passing yards and six TDs over the past two games, most of that time spent with the injury. He's vowed to play again this week, though it won't be easy against an Atlanta defense that's held five straight visiting QBs under 220 yards and given up a total of four passing TDs in those five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tim Hightower, NO @ATL 9013400000 ***
Mark Ingram scored twice as the Saints' feature back in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, and Hightower scored twice last week--with 169 combo yards to boot--in that same role. Bodes well for a strong fantasy finish for Hightower.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @ATL 004500000 ***
Cooks has 100 yards and a touchdown in three of his last four, but the Falcons held him in check (4-41) in the earlier meeting and have been solid against WRs of late as well so temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Willie Snead, NO @ATL 003400000 ***
Snead has some PPR upside, but he was held to just 4-55 in the earlier meeting and the Falcons have not given up much to secondary targets--only once in the past 10 games have two receivers from the same team scored and/or topped 60 yards in the same game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, NO @ATL 002200000 *
The last time Fleener was fantasy relevant none of the Colts' current quarterbacks were even a gleam in Indy's eye. Nothing to see here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, NO @ATL 1122 ***
Saints scoring plenty,
and Forbath getting his share;
highest O/U, too

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 Kellen Moore, DAL WAS 0000019011 ***
Matt Cassel threw for 222 yards and zero TDs in the earlier meeting with Washington, and we've seen nothing from Moore to make us think things will be any better here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren McFadden, DAL WAS 10011100000 *
McFadden has 35 carries for 199 yards in two Kellen Moore starts and is averaging seven yards per carry with 310 rushing yards over the previous three games. The Cowboys will have to lean on him once again, moreso than the 14-53-1 he saw in Washington a month ago. Given the way he's running, he's a solid bet for more.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Morris, DAL WAS 7011100000 ***
With Matt Jones sidelined Morris has a clearer path to carries; against a Cowboys defense that's given up 426 rushing yards the past three games--at better than five yards a carry--that volume leads to fantasy opportunity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Cole Beasley, DAL WAS 005401000 **
Beasley has the most recent TD by an active Cowboys receiver--and it came back in Week 12. He's third among active wideouts in targets from Kellen Moore, making him an afterthought in a low-octane passing game; that's a tough role to create fantasy value from.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL WAS 003500000 **
With no Dez Bryant it's Williams' time to shine. However, with Kellen Moore at QB it'll be tough for him to capitalize against a Washington defense that's allowed WR1s to score and top 100 yards in three straight and four of the last five--the only exception being the earlier Cowboys/Redskins tilt.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL WAS 004400000 **
Witten is averaging a shade over 30 yards per game with Kellen Moore at the helm, and he still hasn't scored since Week 1. No reason to expect that slump to end here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL WAS 1111 ***
Four treys vs. Redskins
with Cassel at quarterback
You trust Kellen Moore?

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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