FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 1 BAL at DEN (THU) GB at SF *NE at BUF *TB at NYJ
*ATL at NO MIA at CLE *OAK at IND TEN at PIT
CIN at CHI MIN at DET SEA at CAR HOU at SD (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at STL *KC at JAC NYG at DAL PHI at WAS (MON)

Prediction: NE 34, BUF 17 (Line: NE by 10.5)

Players of Interest: Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Zach Sudfeld

Update: E.J. Manuel is listed as probable and will start this week. He had full practices each day. Danny Amendola is probable and will play after a full practice on Friday. Rob Gronkowski is doubtful on the injury report but was able to have limited practices all week. He is expected to play in week two at the earliest if not possibly in week three.

The Patriots swept the Bills last year while scoring a ton of points. They won 52-38 in Buffalo and later 37-31 at home. The Patriots have won nine of the last ten match-ups and there is little they enjoy more than beating up the Bills. Add in a desire to show the world that Tom Brady is just fine and this will be another beatdown. Just using different players this time.

1 @BUF - 10 BYE WEEK
2 NYJ - 11 @CAR -
3 TB - 12 DEN -
4 @ATL - 13 @HOU -
5 @CIN - 14 CLE -
6 NO - 15 @MIA -
7 @NYJ - 16 @BAL -
8 MIA - 17 BUF -
9 PIT - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE @ BUF Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 310,2
RB Stevan Ridley 100,1
RB Shane Vereen 40,1 4-30
WR Danny Amendola 7-80,1
WR Aaron Dobson 2-40
WR Brandon LaFell 4-60
WR Kenbrell Thompkins 4-70,1
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: It did fall apart since losing the AFC Championship game to the Ravens. Aaron Hernandez has gone from the move tight end to ending his career with a bullet. Rob Gronkowski is injured still and may return at any given time in the next 16 weeks. Wes Welker had a tiff with Bill Belichick and left to the Broncos which will make week 12 a must see kind of game. Basically about 85% of the receptions from last year are on the sideline or just plain gone. But the Patriot way is to fill in, shut up and show up.

QUARTERBACKS: Tom Brady is going to be fine, or at least he thinks he will be. Granted everyone is just about gone but then again - who were they before they played with Brady? Wes Welker was a special teamer in Miami. The amount of receivers who excelled in New England and flopped elsewhere is long. So Tom Terrific has his job cut out for him, but it is hardly something new.

Brady passed for 340 yards and three scores in Buffalo last year.

RUNNING BACKS: Stevan Ridley comes off a big year when he ran 290 times for 1263 yards and 23 touchdowns and he gets an even easier schedule in 2013. He was given an unusually large load last year but shouldered it with no problems and returns as the goal line guy and every down player. Danny Woodhead left for the Chargers but now Shane Vereen takes over and is expected to fill the third down role vacated by Woodhead who turned in 40 catches. Vereen is capable of being a runner as well unlike Woodhead so his role could expand even more depending on how well he plays. The Patriots run so many plays in their up-tempo offense that there are always plenty of touches to share.

The Patriots had no problems running in Buffalo in 2012 when both Brandon Bolden (16-137, TD) and Stevan Ridley (22-106, 2 TD) both had big games and even Danny Woodhead scored on his two catches.

WIDE RECEIVERS: This is where it gets interesting. Danny Amendola replaces Wes Welker as the speedy little white guy from Texas Tech but has never remained healthy. He missed nearly the entire 2011 season and then five more games last year. His best year ever was only 689 yards and three scores though that should be shattered soon enough if he remains on the field. KenBrell Thompkins has won the #2 role despite being an undrafted rookie and he actually looked impressive in the preseason. Stranger things have happened with a Patriot helmet on. Aaron Dobson was the rookie they drafted and who did not manage to break into the starting lineup though he is expected to be used. This is a work in progress with entirely new receivers. The canvas belongs to Tom Brady to paint what he will here.

TIGHT ENDS: Now that Aaron Hernandez is associated only with a legal team, the door is open. Rob Gronkowski has only now returning from forearm surgery and back problems with no timetable when he will play. That leaves undrafted Zach Sudfeld to be the primary tight end this week. He looked good in the preseason and hey, Tom Brady is the quarterback. Sudfeld is the man until Gronk returns assuming Brady still uses tight ends the same.

Gronkowski hauled in five catches for 104 yards and a score in Buffalo last year.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Sure, it is a new set of receivers but the Bills defense has long rolled over for the Patriots and this week there is every reason for Brady and company to want to serve noticed to the league that they are still a contender and capable of senselessly rolling up a score. Considering that they will be facing a either a rookie quarterback or an undrafted rookie quarterback installing a new offense, this has to be the lock of the week. Start Brady, Ridley, Vereen as a flex, Thompkins and Sudfeld only if you are in a bind.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: All of the receivers of course. If Belichick an pull this off, he might just ignore the draft all together and just start interviewing people off the street for openings. Amendola should be good here but what Thompkins and Sudfeld do will help define the new set of receivers for the Patriots.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 4 3 10 1 1 2
Preventing Fantasy Points BUF 26 27 14 12 14 23

 

1 NE - 10 @PIT -
2 CAR - 11 NYJ -
3 @NYJ - 12 BYE WEEK
4 BAL - 13 ATL -
5 @CLE - 14 @TB -
6 CIN - 15 @JAC -
7 @MIA - 16 MIA -
8 @NO - 17 @NE -
9 KC - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BUF vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB EJ Manuel 220,1
RB C.J. Spiller 70,1 3-20
WR Mike Williams 4-70,1
WR Robert Woods 5-70
TE Scott Chandler 2-20
PK Dan Carpenter 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: It may not be apparent this week so much, but the Bills should be headed in the right direction with a team stocked with young talent. The Bills brought in new head coach Doug Marrone and his offense coordinator both from Syracuse. Marrone was the original architect of the Saints prolific offense and seeks to install that sort of scheme. The Bills spent their money of a new quarterback and two new wideouts in the NFL draft. It may not come together this week, but the promise is there for brighter days soon and for a long time.

QUARTERBACKS: Big question this week is who will the starter be? E.J. Manuel or undrafted Jeff Teul. Manuel was looking sharp in the preseason but needed a knee scope and is not a lock for this game. Should he be out there is no other option than Teul since Kevin Kolb was placed on injured reserve. Not exactly how you want to start a new offense.

The starter won't be named until Wednesday at the earliest and could change during the game anyway.

RUNNING BACKS: C.J. Spiller enters his fourth NFL season and finally had a break out in 2012 when he ran for 1244 yards and added 43 catches for 459 yards and a total of eight touchdowns. He ended the year on a very high note and the new regime of Marrone has claimed they want to use him as a workhorse back who also receives. His success could be limited if the passing effort has trouble getting up to speed though and Spiller was held to only 33 yards on eight runs against the visiting Patriots last year. He later had 131 one yards on only nine carries and four catches though. This is one of the rare places that the team wants to use one back heavily.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Steve Johnson has been a solid 1000 yard receiver for each of the last three seasons with Ryan Fitzpatrick and his fortunes will change depending on the new quarterbacking - it may be better at least eventually. The Bills also added 2.09 pick Robert Woods from USC as the #2 and 3.16 pick for Marquise Goodwin to compete with T.J. Graham as the #3 wideout. The Bills spent big money in the NFL draft for three impact offensive players and that will pay dividends if only down the road. Woods has already impressed enough to secure the #2 spot. If Doug Marrone still has any New Orleans left in him, here is where the benefit will be felt.

TIGHT ENDS: Scott Chandler blew his knee out at the end of last year and has been rehabbing since. He is expected to play this week but he is still not up to the same form he had last year when he scored six times and ended with 571 yards on 43 catches. With the new offense and new receivers on board, Chandler is going to mostly be a blocker.

Chandler had two nice efforts against the Patriots in 2012, turning in four catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns in Buffalo and later five receptions for 65 yards and a score as a visitor.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Playing against the Patriots is usually a good old shoot-out but a new offense and so many new players makes it impossible to predict what will happen. Bottom line this week, Spiller is always going to start for you and at least eventually so will Steve Johnson and maybe even Robert Woods. But this week it may not be pretty.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Depending on who plays quarterback it may not matter. If Manuel plays at least a significant portion, then anything that Woods or Goodwin do should be noted. Spiller's success rushing is of course notable but either way may not be that relevant to the future if the offense struggles early.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BUF 21 5 21 27 25 20
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 28 12 26 29 7 2

WEEK 1 BAL at DEN (THU) GB at SF *NE at BUF *TB at NYJ
*ATL at NO MIA at CLE *OAK at IND TEN at PIT
CIN at CHI MIN at DET SEA at CAR HOU at SD (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at STL *KC at JAC NYG at DAL PHI at WAS (MON)


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