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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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 Ryan Tannehill 30 210,1
RB Knowshon Moreno 100,1 5-30
WR Brian Hartline 4-60

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 Ryan Tannehill, MIA NYJ 20000029021 ****
Tannehill threw for 331 & 2 in last month's meeting with the Jets, and with a playoff berth on the line he's expected to bounce back form the injury (and ineptitude) that knocked him out of last week's embarrassing shutout loss in Buffalo.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Knowshon Moreno, MIA NYJ 5004400000 ***
Three Broncos backs combined for 166 yards and a score in the earlier meeting with Oakland. Expect something similar this time around, with maybe a lighter load for Moreno as Denver rests him for the postseason. Still, his share of the work against an Oakland defense that's allowed 796 RB yards from scrimmage and 11 RB TDs the past month should be more than enough for him to be a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Daniel Thomas, MIA NYJ 201000000 **
Thomas missed the earlier meeting with the Jets, but has two TDs and a 100-yard rushing game since. Assuming the Dolphins can shake off whatever ailed them in last week's embarrassing shutout loss to the Bills, Thomas should find room to rumble against a Jets defense that's allowed RB TDs in three straight, with two backs topping 150 combo yards in that span. UPDATE: Thomas is listed as questionable and was limited in practice Thursday and Friday. That likely reduces the share of carries he swipes from Lamar Miller.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lamar Miller, MIA NYJ 5002200000 ***
After being a stout run D most of the season the Jets have given up RB TDs in each of the past three games. Just prior to that streak starting, Miller produced 85 yards from scrimmage against the Jets in Week 13. He hasn't done much since, while Daniel Thomas has scored twice and had a 100-yard rushing game. But seeing the likes of Edwin Baker get to the end zone against the Jets at least provides hope Miller can do the same.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Wallace, MIA NYJ 007901000 ****
Wallace and Brian Hartline both scored in the earlier matchup with the Jets; both saw double-digit targets last week; and both have scored once in the three games since the last Dolphins/Jets game. With the Dolphins still clinging to a slim playoff chance, both are definitely in play against Gang Green this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brian Hartline, MIA NYJ 005600000 ***
Hartline and Mike Wallace both scored in the earlier matchup with the Jets; both saw double-digit targets last week; and both have scored once in the three games since the last Dolphins/Jets game. With the Dolphins still clinging to a slim playoff chance, both are definitely in play against Gang Green this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Rishard Matthews, MIA NYJ 003200000 ***
Sometimes a third receiver emerges behind Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace. It used to be Brandon Gibson, now it's Matthews, and in most cases it's a desperation fantasy play at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Charles Clay, MIA NYJ 006801000 ***
The Jets have been better against tight ends the second half of the season, but they've still surrendered two 80-yard games and a touchdown to the position over the past month. Clay hit the 80 mark on them in the earlier meeting, and with the Dolphins playing for their postseason lives he's as good a bet as any to be an offensive contributor.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Caleb Sturgis, MIA NYJ 1133 ****
Sturgis has double digits in three of his last four, including three weeks back against the Jets. At home, needing a win for a hope at a playoff spot, Sturgis should have ample opportunity to get his kicks.

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
RB Stevan Ridley 80,1
WR Danny Amendola 5-40
WR Brandon LaFell 5-80
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 BUF 0000026020 ****
Way back in Week 1 Brady took a rag-tag band of receivers and produced 288 yards and two TDs. Four months later Brady still has a rag-tag band of receivers, but he's managed to throw multiple touchdowns to them in four of the past five games, with 340-plus yards in four of five as well. The Bills secondary has gotten healthier--and better--over the course of the season, but with Brady hoping to upgrade the Patriots' playoff situation you don't want to bet against him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Stevan Ridley, NE BUF 500000000 ***
Prior to last week's aberration against the Dolphins, the Bills allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers. They also served up 162 rushing yards to the Patriots in the earlier meeting this season; unfortunately, after Shane Vereen (if healthy) takes his bite off the top the leftovers will be split between Ridley and LeGarrette Blount--and only Bill Belichick knows who'll get the money shots.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE BUF 00000000 *
If Vereen is healthy enough to play after suffering a rib injury last week, no reason to think he can't replicate his 101 rushing yards and 58 receiving yards from the earlier Bills/Patriots meeting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE BUF 00101201000 ****
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Edelman scored twice on 7-79 in the earlier meeting with Buffalo, and after a season of ups and downs and revolving receivers he's back atop Tom Brady's priority list. Pencil him in for a solid fantasy contributor, with the upside of a PPR explosion.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE BUF 005600000 ****
Amendola caught 10 balls for 104 yards in his Patriots debut, then struggled for a while before putting up a remarkably similar 10-131 in Week 15. He's a secondary target, but with the Patriots receiving corps gutted he's essentially atop the wingmen group and as such warrants fantasy attention this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE BUF 004500000 ***
With Steve Smith out last week you'd think LaFell or Ted Ginn would step up, but it was Domenik Hixon who scored the key touchdown against the Saints. Somebody needs to fill the role that has resulted in back-to-back 100-yard receiving games against Atlanta, but there's no real strong trend to support any of Carolina's secondary wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Aaron Dobson, NE BUF 002500000 ***
Dobson is getting healthy and could return to the receiver rotation this week. However, he'll be stacked behind Julian Edleman and Danny Amendola, fighting for scraps--a difficult way to carve out fantasy value.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 2233 ****
Gosty opened the season with a double-digit outing against the Bills; 10 double-digit efforts since, the league's top-scoring kicker should bookend his season against a Buffalo club that's allowed the sixth-most points to opposing kickers.

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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