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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: MIA 13, NE 27 (Line: NE by 10)

Players to Watch: Reggie Bush, Stevan Ridley

The Patriots can win a first round bye with a win here AND a loss by either the Texans (@IND) or the Broncos (vs. KC). The 11-4 Patriots clinched the AFC East several weeks ago and are 5-2 at home. The 7-8 Dolphins are only 2-5 on the road but a win here would give them a .500 season.

This is a replay of week 13 when the Patriots won 23-16 in Miami.

Miami Dolphins
Homefield: Dolphins Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @HOU 10-30 10 TEN 3-37
2 OAK 35-13 11 @BUF 14-19
3 NYJ 20-23 12 SEA 24-21
4 @ARI 21-24 13 NE 16-23
5 @CIN 17-13 14 @SF 13-27
6 STL 17-14 15 JAC 24-3
7 BYE ----- 16 BUF 24-10
8 @NYJ 30-9 17 @NE -----
9 @IND 20-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIA @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 240,2
QB Ryan Tannehill 30 210,1
TE Anthony Fasano 2-20

Pregame Notes: The season winds down for first-year head coach Joe Philbin and his offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. It has been a minor success at least in the sense that the Dolphins have already bested their 6-10 season of 2011 and the defense has been better than most realize. Almost half of the games had their opponents held under 20 points. Sadly, almost half their games also only saw the Fins with 17 points or less.

The new offense held true to its word - it did not need a true #1 wideout like Brandon Marshall. At least it never had anything even close to Marshall and it would have been hard to imagine pairing him with the rookie Ryan Tannehill anyway. The Fins passing attack was never more than just a game managing attempt to dink and dunk. Tannehill has only 12 passing touchdowns on the year against 12 interceptions and three lost fumbles. Road games never saw more than one passing score if that. The yardage tended to be sub-200 as well outside of that freakish 431 yard game in Arizona.

Tannehill only passed for 186 yards in New England and scored once on a run.

Reggie Bush is now being reviewed by the Fins who are leaning towards resigning him in the offseason and prevent him from hitting free agency. Bosh comes off a three touchdown game against the Bills and he's been getting around 20 touches for the last three weeks with decent results. Bush only gained 64 yards on 15 runs in the previous Pats meeting. Lamar Miller was allowed ten carries in the big win over the Bills last week and he gained 73 yards but that was his first time over 20 yards in a game since week three.

Davone Bess only caught one pass in the last game with the Pats and is likely to miss this game with a back injury that kept him out the last two games. That leaves only Brian Hartline who had 84 yards on five catches and a couple of practice squadders as the primary receivers. Anthony Fasano did score in two of the last three games but has been little used and only caught one pass against the Pats.

The Pats already won in Miami and are in the running at least for a first round bye. Played in New England makes a huge difference here and the only reasonable fantasy play is Reggie Bush for moderate yardage. The Pats may be weak on defense, but not as weak as the offense for the Fins.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 28 5 30 31 27 25
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 30 13 27 30 11 2

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, MIA @BUF 0000021012 ***
Slightly aided by the Snow Bowl of Week 14, Buffalo sits as the toughest matchup from the past five weeks of data. This unit was stout before last week, and it ranks in the bottom five against yardage, touchdown efficiency, points per play and yards per completion allowed.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Kenyan Drake, MIA @BUF 10014300000 ***
Drake has beasted of late, and he draws the best matchup of the week. No team has allowed more rushing yards or offensive yards, and this is the third-best place for a touchdown of any offensive kind for running backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Damien Williams, MIA @BUF 00000000 *
Williams (shoulder) didn't practice Wednesday. The matchup is great, but he is no more than a reserve player with the way Kenyan Drake has taken over.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA @BUF 005601000 ***
Miami plays Buffalo twice over the final three games. The Bills have been among the toughest defenses of wideouts over the course of 2017. Since Week 9, this is the worst matchup for yards, and it's a bottom-five team for allowing catches and fantasy points. Just three of the last 50 receptions have scored (24th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, MIA @BUF 003500000 ***
Stills mustered 35 yards and a score in Week 16 last year at the Bills. Over the last four games, this defense has locked down wideouts. It is the ninth-worst matchup for ease of scoring a TD, and it ranks in the bottom five for catches, yardage and fantasy points.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeVante Parker, MIA @BUF 004400000 ***
Parker, at Buffalo late last year, went for 85 and a TD on his four catches. The Bills have been rock-solid against wideouts in 2017, especially of late. This is the third-worst fantasy matchup in both scoring formats. It's in the bottom nine for receptions, yards and TD efficiency allowed.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, MIA @BUF 003300000 ***
Thomas faces the No. 8 matchup to exploit for receptions and yardage per game, though the Bills have stiffened near the stripe. Only one of the past 25 catches has scored, which is the fifth-harshest defensive rating.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Cody Parkey, MIA @BUF 1122 ***
This is the best matchup for combined kicking chances and third-best for both FGAs and XPAs on a per-game basis. The Bills host this one, and the forecast calls for temps in the mid-30s with mixed precipitation.

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 23-16
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 280,2
QB Brian Hoyer 180
WR Danny Amendola 5-40
WR Kenny Britt 3-30,1
TE Dwayne Allen 4-40,1
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots are still in the running for a first round bye but need help to get there and that's at least unlikely. But the Patriots have a history of not taking games off for any reason and with the chance for a bye - they'll all be in this game. Perhaps not Rob Gronkowski who has been out since week 11 with a broken forearm. He has been practicing on a limited basis and the Pats we'll never say more than his serial number but he's no better than a game-time decision this week.

Tom Brady actually had his least productive game of the year when he went to Miami and threw only 238 yards and one score. It was his only single touchdown game since week three. Brady has scored in every game this year but has been less productive in recent weeks because the run has worked well. Brady passed for over 300 yards only once in the last four games.

Now that Brandon Bolden is back, Shane Vereen apparently went tumbling back on the depth chart. But throw in Danny Woodhead in with the constant of Steven Ridley and the backfield is always changing from week to week at least in who relieves Ridley and takes third down duty. Ridley was on a six game scoring streak until the 49ers showed up and he bounced back in week 16 with 84 yards on 18 carries in Jacksonville.

Ridley is the only reliable part of the backfield and ran for 71 yards and a score on 19 carries in Miami this year.

Aaron Hernandez had his season best 97 yards on eight catches in the Miami game and more encouraging is that he's scored in both of the most recent home games.

Since Julian Edelman left, Brandon Lloyd has regained fantasy value with at least 60 yards in each game and a score in the home game versus the Texans. Wes Welker caught 12 passes for 103 yards and one score in Miami as he usually does when he faces his old team. The Patriots will take this game with a balanced approach but the Dolphins are likely to struggle on offense and with a lower score of the opponent, Brady and the passing effort won't have to work too hard against a decent secondary.

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 MIA 15 6 13 11 21 18

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE @PIT 0000031021 ***
Brady had a bad week, but he typically plays poorly in Miami and was without Gronk. He travels to Pittsburgh for a matchup that puts home-field advantage on the line with fantasy's fifth-best matchup of the week. QBs have averaged 255.2 yards (11th) and a TD every 9.4 receptions (3rd).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Rex Burkhead, NE @PIT 6013300000 ***
Through the air, this is a a positive matchup. Burkhead faces the fifth-best yardage opponent. The highlight on the ground is the Steelers have given up a score every 26.8 carries, or four times in the last five contests.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dion Lewis, NE @PIT 8011100000 ***
The position has averaged 87.2 rushing yards, 53.2 aerial yards, 4.6 catches and a TD every 26 touches -- all of these help create the No. 11 non-PPR matchup and 13th-best of the week in PPR.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NE @PIT 005701000 ***
This is the top matchup for fantasy points per play and touchdown ease. One in 7.1 catches goes into the end zone, and the 165.2 yards allowed to receivers is fantasy's ninth-highest figure over the last five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Chris Hogan, NE @PIT 003401000 **
Hogan was the receiving hero in last year's AFC title game, scoring a pair of touchdowns. The Steelers have permitted wideouts to score eight times in the last five games, or once every 7.1 receptions, with is the softest defense in this category. It's a top-10 matchup for yardage, as well, rating third in standard and fourth in PPR scoring.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE @PIT 004500000 ***
One in 7.1 receptions against the Steelers has made it into the end zone over the last five weeks. Unless this one turns into a shootout, Amendola's target count is too low to consider him better than a peripheral play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE @PIT 006800000 ***
Gronk returns for the worst matchup of the week for tight ends. Since Week 9, Pittsburgh has held the position to 13 catches and no scores. Meetings with low-tier tight ends helped fuel this stat. Only Delanie Walker (6-92-0) is remotely close to Gronkowski's class of this group (IND, TEN, GB, CIN, BAL).
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE @PIT 1144 ***
Twenty of the 22 total kicks in the past five games have been true against the Steelers, though this is a heavily lopsided affair for extra points over field goals.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

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