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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 Ryan Tannehill 30 210,1
RB Arian Foster 80,1 3-20

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 Ryan Tannehill, MIA @CIN 0000031022 ***
There is some bad that has to be accepted with Tannehill's good, and this week should be no different. Cincinnati has permitted the five most fantasy points to quarterbacks, mainly because of the nine touchdowns allowed in three games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Kenyan Drake, MIA @CIN 4002100000 ***
Drake is the de facto starter after Arian Foster went down. The rookie is explosive in the open field be needs to run with more patience to make the most of his touches -- carries that are shared with Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams. Cincy has yielded 21.5 PPR points to RBs, but only one back has run into the end zone with a football in his hands.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jay Ajayi, MIA @CIN 2002200000 ***
Ajayi was on the field for 27 percent of the snaps in Week 3, with Isaiah Pead seeing 18 and Damien Williams seeing 16 behind Kenyan Drake's 40. The Bengals offer a midrange matchup, so this could go either way. Safely, Ajayi doesn't figure see the field enough to justify a non-DFS play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA @CIN 0081001000 ***
Landry is an obvious PPR play every week and has another fine matchup on his hands. He is listed as questionable with a shoulder, but all signs point to him playing. The Dolphins have given up the third most touchdown grabs to the position, ultimately registering as the 11th most generous matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeVante Parker, MIA @CIN 005801000 ***
When he's on the field, Parker is dynamite. The second-year receiver is a dangerous weapon who has a knack for finding the end zone. Toss him into all lineups this week against the 11th easiest WR matchup in fantasy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, MIA @CIN 003500000 ***
The matchup is right (11th easiest) if you want to take a DFS flier or need to fill a hole because of a bye week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dion Sims, MIA @CIN 002300000 ***
Sims should be the starting tight end with Jordan Cameron banged up, but that's not enough to warrant a fantasy play. Furthermore, he's questionable, even though Sims practiced in full. Cincy has given up three touchdowns on only nine catches, so take the chance if you're feeling lucky.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Andrew Franks, MIA @CIN 2222 ***
Franks has only four attempts on the year (27th) and faces a top-12 unit against fantasy feet.

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
WR Danny Amendola 5-40
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 Jacoby Brissett, NE BUF 30000016000 ***
The Patriots are preparing Brissett for his second straight start after he injured ligaments in his throwing hand. It is hard to imagine he plays, and media reports say the Patriots are also working on getting Jimmy Garoppolo back on the field. If not, they are actually comfortable with Julian Edelman at quarterback. Anyway, avoid whoever starts at quarterback.

Update: Brissett is questionable as a limited practice participant. Jimmy Garoppolo is, too. Translation: Good luck guessing how this plays out. Smart money says it will be Brissett.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, NE BUF 1202000000 ****
Maybe with the exception of kicker Stephen Gostkowski, Blount is probably the only playable Patriot this week. The QB situation is untenable and will have a ripple effect. Blount is on a roll and gets the 11th easiest matchup for RBs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James White, NE BUF 2002100000 **
Buffalo has done a good job limiting pass-catching backs, holding them to only 80 yards on 13 grabs. White's best utility is when the Pats are playing catchup, and it is doubtful that will happen in this one. Sit him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE BUF 004300000 ***
His upside is greatly lowered if Jacoby Brissett is the starter. Edelman is an acceptable PPR option against Buffalo's league-worst defense of PPR powerhouses, having given up 53 catches in three games (most in NFL).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE BUF 003200000 ***
Amendola is a fringe option for rosters and belongs in precisely no fantasy lineups, even against the worst defense of PPR wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE BUF 004500000 *
Total guesswork as to whether he plays meaningful reps, but the guess is likely so ... either way, the matchup is brutal. Buffalo ranks as the strongest unit against the position, having allowed only seven catches through three games. Those numbers are somewhat skewed because of matchups with Arizona and the Jets.

Update: Gronkowski is once again listed as a limited practice participant and is questionable for Week 4. He should play, but it may be another limited outing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Martellus Bennett, NE BUF 002200000 ***
The quarterback situation matters greatly for this one ... and so does Gronk's health. If he is again limited, Bennett is a reasonable fantasy gamble. Knowing that, coming out of NE, is a shot in the dark, and that is against the best defense of TEs in the NFL.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 3322 ***
The Bills rank in the middle of the league against kickers -- something that usually comes with game flow. Gostkowski is arguably New England's best weapon given its quarterback woes.

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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