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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 BAL 0000028021 ***
Until last week's egg against Cincy Brees was money at home. Write that off as an aberration, keep in mind that the Ravens are just a couple weeks removed from giving up a six-pack to Ben Roethlisberger, and start Brees with confidence.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO BAL 7015300000 ***
It's a relatively simple equation: give Ingram 90 percent of the carries--which is exactly what he's seen over the past month--and he'll produce helpful fantasy numbers. Those numbers won't be gaudy against a Ravens defense that's allowed only three RB rushing scores all year, just one in the past seven games, but there's still performance-league fantasy help to be had here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO BAL 004700000 ***
The Ravens have served up three 100-yard WR efforts in the past four games, and the Saints best bet to extend that run might be Stills. Give him his stats plus those of the injured Brandin Cooks and suddenly Kenny is more than just one of the better deep threats in the game--with plenty of fantasy value to boot.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO BAL 004600000 ***
It's been a month since Colston's 111-yard effort against Detroit, as he's returned to his frustratingly pedestrian numbers. The absence of Brandin Cooks might float all the other boats in the Saints' receiving corps, so nudge Colston from fringe to decent fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO BAL 008902000 ***
The Ravens have allowed only two TE TDs all year, but this is Jimmy Graham we're talking about. He's an every-week starter and a matchup nightmare for most defenses, so there's always plenty of fantasy upside.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO BAL 1133 ****
The Ravens haven't allowed a double-digit kicker game since the season opener, and Graham has been mostly ordinary the past three games. On the bright side, he's at home and indoors, and the Saints offense still can light up a scoreboard from time to time.

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 @NYG 0000027020 ***
Romo has multiple touchdowns in seven straight meetings with the Giants, with at least 250 yards in each game as well. That run includes a 279 and 3 from earlier this year, and there's little reason to think he'll fall much shy of those benchmarks in the rematch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeMarco Murray, DAL @NYG 10014200000 ****
After a brief hiccup Murray got back in the 100-yard swing of things the last time Dallas took the field. After taking the Giants for 128 and 1 in the earlier meeting, Murray should have little difficulty slapping another hundo on a New York defense that's allowed three 100-yard games (and a 95-yarder) in the past five outings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dez Bryant, DAL @NYG 0071001000 ***
Bryant hasn't scored against the Giants since 2011, but he has three 100-yard games in the past four meetings including 151 earlier this year. He's an every week fantasy starter, and this week is no different.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrance Williams, DAL @NYG 003500000 ***
The last time both Williams and Dez Bryant were fantasy relevant in the same game was a month ago--when the Cowboys hosted the Giants and Williams scored while Bryant topped 150 yards. Bryant is obviously the better option, but Williams definitely is in play this week as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jason Witten, DAL @NYG 004501000 ***
A fortuitous confluence: the Giants have allowed six TE TDs in the past five games, and the Cowboys have rediscovered Witten's role in their offense, with three touchdowns and three games north of 60 yards in the past five outings. It adds up to another quality opportunity for Witten to ring the fantasy bell.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dan Bailey, DAL @NYG 2233 ***
Bailey has single field goals in four straight; maybe his offense has been too good. He should get some PATs again this week, probably enough to keep him fantasy relevant.

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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