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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 11 IND at TEN (THU) CLE at CIN MIN at SEA SF at NO
ATL at TB DET at PIT OAK at HOU WAS at PHI
BAL at CHI GB at NYG NYJ at BUF NE at CAR (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at JAC KC at DEN SD at MIA On Bye: DAL, STL

Prediction: NE 23, CAR 24 (Line: CAR by 2.5)

Players of Interest: Shane Vereen

Player Update: Shane Vereen has not been activated from IR yet though he is expected to before the game. He is still tentatively expected to play but the Patriots are not forthcoming about his status or his intended use in his first game back in two months. I am lowering his projections because of the risk. I do like Vereen to have a big impact when he is unleashed and back to form but that may or may not be this week. And this is the Monday night game so you may not have any options if you decide to wait. Risky play. Rob Gronkowski has been limited in practice but no different than the last couple of weeks.

This is a very hard game to call. The 7-2 Patriots are only 2-2 on the road and seemed to be stumbling each week until exploding against the Steelers. The 6-3 Panthers are 3-1 at home and allowing less than 13 points per opponent so far. And yet that with only a marginal offense. This will be a great game to watch because there are many equally likely outcomes in this one. This is the Monday night game and one that hopefully goes down to the wire.

1 @BUF 23-21 10 BYE WEEK
2 NYJ 13-10 11 @CAR -
3 TB 23-3 12 DEN -
4 @ATL 30-23 13 @HOU -
5 @CIN 6-13 14 CLE -
6 NO 30-27 15 @MIA -
7 @NYJ 27-30 16 @BAL -
8 MIA 27-17 17 BUF -
9 PIT 55-31 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 270,2
RB Stevan Ridley 50
RB Shane Vereen 20 3-30
WR Danny Amendola 5-40
WR Aaron Dobson 3-40
WR Julian Edelman 2-30
WR Brandon LaFell 5-60
TE Rob Gronkowski 8-100,1
TE Timothy Wright 4-40
PK Stephen Gostkowski 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Pats have a two game lead in the AFC East and that's likely to stick the whole way despite losing to the Jets recently. This is an important week and yet not critical. The Pats need to show they can play better on the road and that the recent improvement in the offense applies everywhere. But this is also the final non-conference game of the year and looming next week is the matchup with the visiting Broncos. One factor that will certainly be at play this week - the Panthers sport the best defense that the Pats will face all year.

QUARTERBACKS: What to believe? Tom Brady throws for 432 yards and four touchdowns against the visiting Steelers like it was 2011 all over again. But his four previous touchdowns required five games in total to score. Now Brady has two games over 300 yards and three that couldn't produce even 200 yards. In his favor he has Rob Gronkowski back and the offense around him is getting healthier if not more cohesive. By the same token, that monster game versus the Steelers was a huge aberration from everything else that happened in 2012. Brady never passed for more than two scores in any other game. He had just nine touchdowns in his initial eight games.

RUNNING BACKS: This is about to all get a little more messy. Stevan Ridley has been solid with a touchdown in each of the last four games and typically decent yardage. He eve scored twice against the Saints and Steelers. But his worst game in that stretch was when he only gained 50 yards in the only road venue. Shane Vereen is expected to make his return in this Monday night game and his only game this year was the season opener when he turned in a total of 159 yards against the Bills. He'll undoubtedly shortcut Brandon Bolden who has been the receiving back until now. But the Pats are back to having four running backs that they will use and how that mixes and matches each week is sure to be changing. The assumption is that Ridley and Vereen will be used for a huge chunk of the game plan but you never quite know until it is too late with HC Bill Belichick calling the shots.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Kenbrell Thompkins was a healthy scratch last week and he's been supplanted by Aaron Dobson who scored in the last two games. Dobson comes off a 130 yard, two touchdown effort against the Steelers and is the deep ball recipient from Brady. Danny Amendola blew up on the Steelers as well with 122 yards on four catches and one score but that game and the season opener sandwich an entire season of injuries and sub-25-yard efforts. Julian Edelman has done little but is starting in front of Thompkins. Dobson has never amounted to anything in a road game nor has any other wideout here other than in the Bills matchup.

TIGHT ENDS: After a very quiet time against the Dolphins, Rob Gronkowski turned in nine catches for 143 yards and one score versus the Steelers which gives him two 100 yard efforts in his three games played so far. Even in New York versus the Jets, Gronkowski caught eight passes for 114 yards.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: On one hand you could argue that the Panthers have yet to face a good passing attack. And that would be fair. But they also have only allowed seven passing touchdowns over their nine games played while intercepting 13 passes and recovering seven fumbles. This will be a big test for both teams and it favors the Panthers some since they are at home. The Panthers have allowed decent yardage to running backs and yet only three touchdowns all year including just one in Carolina. They allowed just two touchdowns to a wideout. Where this favors the Pats is the weakness against tight ends. Gronkowski is a must start who should have a big game again. But the rest of the Patriots - Brady, Ridley, Vereen, Amendola and Dobson - look likely to have a down game.

WHAT TO WATCH: Shane Vereen offers a deadly option as a receiver and his presence can add a new dimension to the offense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 25 8 7 27 1 14
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 1 14 4 15 7 14

 

1 SEA 7-12 10 @SF 10-9
2 @BUF 23-24 11 NE -
3 NYG 38-0 12 @MIA -
4 BYE WEEK 13 TB -
5 @ARI 6-22 14 @NO -
6 @MIN 35-10 15 NYJ -
7 STL 30-15 16 NO -
8 @TB 31-13 17 @ATL -
9 ATL 34-10 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR vs NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 30,1 230,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 40 3-20
RB Mike Tolbert 20 4-30,1
RB DeAngelo Williams 40,1
WR Jerricho Cotchery 4-60
TE Greg Olsen 4-50
PK Graham Gano 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Panthers are on a five game winning streak and while many of those wins came against bottom-feeders, winning in San Francisco was impressive and put a stamp of legitimacy to what the Panthers have been accomplishing. The season will come down to weeks 14 and 16 when they play the Saints and try to reduce the one game lead that they have. The Panthers have been blessed with a great schedule so far and this week needs to be a win just to further prove that they are for real.

QUARTERBACKS: Cam Newton is the rare quarterback that continues to run for good yardage and scores each year without break. He's thrown for 13 touchdowns and added four more as a runner. Newton always scores in home games but his yardage all depends on how well the rushing effort does. More often than not, at home means Newton doesn't have to throw that much.

RUNNING BACKS: This three-headed monster still rarely adds up to more than moderate production and the return of Johnathan Stewart (9-43) only waters it all down even more. DeAngelo Williams is stuck at around 45 rushing yards in every game but did score in two of the last three weeks. Michael Tolbert was the one that took it hardest when Stewart returned since he only managed four touches in San Francisco. But Tolbert leads the team with six touchdowns. All three will play, they will combine for decent stats but individually you cannot reply on more than marginal yardage from any.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Not unlike the running backs, the wide receivers combine for marginal gains every week and yet individually are unreliable other than Steve Smith who will produce right around 60 yards in every game but still has not topped 70 yards in any game and scored just three times. Brandon Lafell is even worse though he has one 100 yard effort to his credit. Ted Ginn pops up occasionally but usually is only worth two catches per week for minimal yardage. This is a standard passing offense on a team that lives by their defense, lack of mistakes and a modicum of rushing.

TIGHT ENDS: Greg Olsen scored three times so far and while he can show up with 50+ yards in home games or against bad secondaries, he's not above turning in sub-20 yard efforts that kill a fantasy team. He's purely a matchup play and it needs to be fairly favorable to merit any consideration.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: You could also argue that the Pats have not faced many decent passing teams as well besides Drew Brees when the Saints struggled in New England. The Pats may get Aqib Talib back this week and he's been shutting opposing teams best receivers down while healthy. That is a little less critical here because Steve Smith was only going to get 60 yards and not score anyway. The Pats have been decent at stopping runners from scoring but will give up chunks of yardage to some runners. Consider Cam Newton a moderate start this week and all other Panthers are risky plays with at least minor upside. This won't end up to be a shootout.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 12 21 23 19 20 6
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 11 22 14 18 10 8

WEEK 11 IND at TEN (THU) CLE at CIN MIN at SEA SF at NO
ATL at TB DET at PIT OAK at HOU WAS at PHI
BAL at CHI GB at NYG NYJ at BUF NE at CAR (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at JAC KC at DEN SD at MIA On Bye: DAL, STL


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