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 @JAC 40000027020 ****
While Jacksonville's defensive numbers are better of late, let's be honest: corralling Charlie Whitehurst and Brian Hoyer isn't exactly shutting down Unitas and Title. Tannehill has multiple TDs in three straight, at least 244 yards in each, and a very good shot at being a viable fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lamar Miller, MIA @JAC 7012200000 ****
Miller has scored in three straight and rolled up 83 yards last night with no Knowshon Moreno to swipe looks. He should have little difficulty taking care of business again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Wallace, MIA @JAC 006901000 ***
Wallace has scored in three straight and five of six this season, and while the Jags' secondary is no pushover there's little reason to think Mike is kept from his appointed rounds here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA @JAC 004600000 ***
The Dolphins always seem to get a second receiver close to fantasy relevancy; a Jags team that's allowed multiple wideouts to either score and/or top 50 yards in five of six should push them over that hump here. And for Miami that second fantasy-relevant receiver is now Landry, so plan accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Charles Clay, MIA @JAC 004501000 **
Miami tight ends have scored in two of the last three, and Clay is seeing the majority of those targets so he's the odds-on favorite to capitalize against a Jacksonville defense that has already allowed five TE TDs on the season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Caleb Sturgis, MIA @JAC 1133 ***
Sturgis has sniffed around the fringe of fantasy relevancy; a date with a Jaguars defense that's allowing an average of better than 10 kicker points per game provides a definite whiff of opportunity.

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 CHI 0000030031 ***
Since his career was left for dead in Kansas City all Brady has done is averaged 304 yards and three TDs in the three subsequent games. Da Bears have given up multiple touchdowns in three of the last four and at least 255 yards in five straight, so they don't seem like the road bump to slow Brady's fantasy resurgence.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Shane Vereen, NE CHI 4005601000 ***
The Bears haven't allowed an opposing back to rush for more than 63 yards against them this year. However, this iteration of the Patriots doesn't look like it minds throwing the ball all over, an approach that certainly fits Vereen's skill set. He'll get the combo yards as well as most of the key carries in the Patriots backfield, a combo platter that lends itself to fantasy productivity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, NE CHI 004601000 ****
It's been the bigger and faster receivers who have found success against Chicago. LaFell is at least the former, and while his numbers dipped last week he's still blipping brightly on Tom Brady's radar and has definite fantasy upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julian Edelman, NE CHI 006700000 ****
Edelman is the volume guy in New England, but undersized receivers haven't been the ones having success against Chicago. Pencil him in for his usual PPR help but don't be surprised if the touchdowns go elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE CHI 006801000 ****
Gronk healthy enough for 10 targets per game. Gronk turning those targets into 90 yards per game. Bears allow three TE TDs in past three games. Gronk likely return to end zone this week. Gronk spike ball. Hard.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE CHI 3333 ****
Every kicker to face the Bears has scored seven points or better; that's a number Gostkowski has matched or bettered in six of seven this season. No worries here until at least the Week 10 bye.

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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