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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 16 ARI at SEA DEN at HOU NE at BAL PIT at GB
CHI at PHI IND at KC NO at CAR TB at STL
CLE at NYJ MIN at CIN NYG at DET TEN at JAC
*UPDATED DAL at WAS MIA at BUF OAK at SD ATL at SF (MON)

Prediction: DEN 34, HOU 17 (Line: DEN by 9.5)

Update: Ben Tate was placed in injured reserve because of the further damage to his ribs. Dennis Johnson now becomes the starting tailback and has been added to the projections. Case Keenum is out because of his thumb and Garrett Graham will be a game time decision with a hamstring strain. Wes Welker remains out from his concussion.

The Broncos lost last week as did five other division leaders but are still 11-3 and have a one game lead for the #1 seed so long as no more mistakes are made. Denver is 4-2 on the road. The Texans are only only 2-12, but are on a 12 game losing streak, no longer have a head coach and only scored three points in their first game without Gary Kubiak. This should be an easy win for the Broncos but we said as much last week. Now this would be a legendary trap game. Most of the Texans offense is injured.

1 BAL 49-27 10 @SD 28-20
2 @NYG 41-23 11 KC 27-17
3 OAK 37-21 12 @NE 31-34
4 PHI 52-20 13 @KC 35-28
5 @DAL 51-48 14 TEN 51-28
6 JAC 35-19 15 SD 20-27
7 @IND 33-39 16 @HOU -
8 WAS 45-21 17 @OAK -
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 300,2
RB Montee Ball 50,1 2-10
WR Andre Caldwell 3-30
WR Emmanuel Sanders 5-40,1
WR Demaryius Thomas 6-100,1
TE Julius Thomas 3-40,1

Pregame Notes: The Broncos could not get out of their way last week and lost to the same team they had beaten by eight points in their stadium. The final two games are on the road but if nothing else, Houston and Oakland are not going to be nearly as cold as Denver. These are two must wins now and that should help focus the Broncos who have spent most recent games asleep until later in the second half.

QUARTERBACKS: While Peyton Manning slipped last week he still had 289 yards and two touchdowns. He's a lock for multiple touchdowns and high yardage but hopefully won't notice that the Texans have not won since September. Losing should help since after the New England game he threw five scores in Kansas City. And after the Indy loss he had four scores on the Redskins.

RUNNING BACKS: Setting aside last week's disaster, Knowshon Moreno turns in around 100 total yards every week and scores once more often than not. Montee Ball was taking 13 + carries in the previous two games before the Chargers arrived. He's a bigger part of the offense so long as they have the luxury of running which should definitely happen this week.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Wes Welker still wasn't cleared to play early in the week and he won't be needed this week anyway. He has a history of concussions and they won't rush him back. In his place, Andre Caldwell basically doubled his season totals when he caught six passes for 59 yards and scored twice against the Chargers. It was a bad game for both Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. But Thomas usually shines in away games and has been productive every other week. He has 11 scores on the year. Welker has ten and Decker needs two more to make it four different receivers with 10+ scores on the same team.

TIGHT ENDS: Julius Thomas has been back for two weeks but his yardage has really been low since midseason while still catching a touchdown nine different games. He's scored in every road game he played this year.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Texans may be without CB Johnathan Joseph and that cuts deeply into the secondary. DE Antonio Smith also injured his knee in Atlanta and may not play this week as well as if the Broncos needed any help. The Texans rank well against the pass because most teams just run to beat them. Nine different opponents threw for multiple scores on them, but Tom Brady was the only one to bother to throw for more than 270 yards. Relevant too is that the Texans have rarely faced any top passing teams. The Texans are in disarray and have multiple injuries on the offense to deal with. All your normal Denver starters apply here and could have big games but the fear is that only moderate stats happen because that alone will easily beat the Texans.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 1 2 1 2 3 9
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 7 20 3 17 21 31

 

1 @SD 31-28 10 @ARI 24-27
2 TEN 30-24 11 OAK 23-28
3 @BAL 9-30 12 JAC 6-13
4 SEA 20-23 13 NE 31-34
5 @SF 3-34 14 @JAC 20-27
6 STL 13-38 15 @IND 3-25
7 @KC 16-17 16 DEN -
8 BYE WEEK 17 @TEN -
9 IND 24-27 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 30 220,2
QB Thaddeus Lewis 200,1
WR DeAndre Hopkins 4-70
WR Andre Johnson 7-90
TE Ryan Griffin 5-60,1
PK Randy Bullock 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Just two more weeks until the nightmare is over and the rebuilding can begin. The loss of the head coach was not motivating judging by the 3-25 loss in Indianapolis and now most of the team is injured to some degree. This is a bad situation that interim head coach Wade Phillips can only try to carry over the finish line without all it all falling apart. This is the final home game before the last loss happens in Tennessee.

QUARTERBACKS: Case Keenum sprained his throwing thumb and is questionable to play to start the week. He comes off his worst game yet with no scores and two interceptions and only 168 passing yards in the loss at Indianapolis. Matt Schaub would likely take over if Keenum cannot play but I will project for Keenum until he is called out. In these final weeks, the last thing the Texans want to do is revert back to Schaub and an even worse offense. Keenum threw just one score in the last four weeks so it doesn't really matter.

RUNNING BACKS: Ben Tate re-injured his broken ribs last week and may be questionable as well. If he cannot play, Dennis Johnson should get the call and the Broncos defense is weaker against the run. Tate only scored in two games all year but did roll up three touchdowns versus the visiting Patriots for a freakishly good effort. He;s been stuck with no score and maybe 70 yards in most weeks. I will assume that Tate will just wrap up, get a shot and play like usual.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Andre Johnson produced three different 100 yard games over the four weeks prior to the Colts disaster. Whatever is going to happen will go through him first. DeAndre Hopkins can reach 70 yards or so in most games but scored only twice this season and rarely ever catches more than three passes per game. There was only one touchdown caught by a wideout that did not end up with Johnson or Hopkins.

TIGHT ENDS: Garrett Graham was held out last week with a bad hamstring and is no lock to play here. There is a small chance that Owen Daniels makes it back after missing the last 11 weeks with a leg injury. For now, I will project for Ryan Griffin who caught six passes for 62 yards last week as the acting primary tight end.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Broncos are not that strong on defense and rolling up points only encourages opponents to throw a lot and get cheap scores at times. But this week the only reasonable fantasy plays would be Ben Tate and Andre Johnson and even they carry risk of a bad game. There is too much going on in Houston aside from just preparing to play the best team in the NFL.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 21 22 15 6 20 30
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 28 25 21 29 14 13

WEEK 16 ARI at SEA DEN at HOU NE at BAL PIT at GB
CHI at PHI IND at KC NO at CAR TB at STL
CLE at NYJ MIN at CIN NYG at DET TEN at JAC
*UPDATED DAL at WAS MIA at BUF OAK at SD ATL at SF (MON)

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