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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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Game Predictions Summary

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WEEK 8
2010
*GB at NYJ *CAR at STL *MIN at NE *HOU at IND
*DEN at SF WAS at DET *SEA at OAK ATL, BAL
JAC at DAL *BUF at KC TB at ARI CHI, CLE
*UPDATED MIA at CIN *TEN at SD *PIT at NO NYG, PHI

Prediction: MIN 17, NE 20

Update: Brett Favre has not practiced on Wednesday or Thursday but is still not counted out for the game this weekend. But as weak as the Pats have been against the pass, Favre's fragile condition is a worry so I am lowering projections.

Update #2: Deion Branch has been limited in practice because of his hamstring and is still listed as questionable. I am lowering his projections but realize that with the Pats, this could mean Branch will not play or he will have a big game. Most prudent - expect him to play but be limited. Brett Favre will be a game time decision and even if he starts the game - which looks slightly more likely - there is no guarantee he finishes it.

The Vikings were dealt a crushing blow last week when they lost to the Packers and now they take their 0-3 road record to play against the Patriots who are currently ranked #1 in the NFL by scoring 30 points per game on average and are 3-0 at home.

Minnesota Vikings (2-4)
Homefield: Metrodome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NO L 9-14 10 @CHI --
2 MIA L 10-14 11 GB --
3 DET W 24-10 12 @WAS --
4 Bye - 13 BUF --
5 @NYJ L 20-29 14 NYG --
6 DAL W 24-21 15 CHI --
7 @GB L 24-28 16 @PHI --
8 @NE -- 17 @DET --
9 ARI -- - - -
Vikings Report | Statistics | Roster
MINNESOTA at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre - - 230,2
RB Adrian Peterson 80 30 -
TE Vishante Shiancoe - 40 -
WR Bernard Berrian - 30 -
WR Randy Moss - 60,1 -
WR Percy Harvin 30 50,1 -
PK Ryan Longwell 1 FG 2 XP -
Pregame Notes: The question that may not be answered until game time is will Brett Favre play? As if his retirement drama doesn't cloud every summer, now we get to wonder if he will break his consecutive start streak or not. He says that doesn't matter as if the last three years were not mostly about trying to shove his records too far out for Peyton Manning to catch (oh, oh, and love for the game). The Vikings need a win desperately but an 0-3 road record says it all even aside from Favre's health.

QUARTERBACK: What is worse? Using a washed up, beaten up one time star quarterback who throws interceptions that even surprise the defense or start Tarvaris Jackson? This early date precludes any certainty and my expectation is that Brett Favre will start (record safe) and later give way to Jackson. Favre has an "avulsion" fracture and a stress fracture in the same ankle that was surgically repaired. Judging by last week, Favre is in a bad way and playing in New England is not considered "recuperative".

I am projecting for Favre but again - he may split time with Jackson, he may play the whole game and he may actually sit out. Updates as they are needed and can be made. The Patriots have a soft secondary that has allowed two or more scores to all but one opponent and yardage that usually remains high.

RUNNING BACKS: Adrian Peterson continues his streak of games with over 100 total yards or a touchdown and in Green Bay ticked off 28 carries for131 yards and one score. That gives him 5 touchdowns on the year and 684 rushing yards which is second only to Ahmad Bradshaw. The Vikings bumped up Toby Gerhart to five carries last week but it helped keep Peterson below the 30 mark.

Peterson will find tough times in New England against a defense that has only allowed two rushing scores and just one to a visitor. No runner has exceeded 88 rushing yards on the Pats and Peterson's work as a receiver will help him to sustain his fantasy value. Chances are only moderate rushing yards and no score.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Randy Moss has not provided a big boost in yardage and catches yet but he has scored in two of the three games played as a Viking. His presence has siphoned off any fantasy value from the other receivers except for Percy Harvin who has been at least marginally more effective now that he is no longer the marked man for the defense. Harvin is expanding his duties and even had three runs for 41 yards and one score last week in addition to his five catches for 65 yards.

So Moss is back in New England only three weeks removed from being removed. Wonder if he has told the Vikings anything about the Pats scheme? Wonder if he will have a chip on his shoulder? The Pats have only allowed six touchdowns to opposing wideouts but have faced mostly lower tier passing attacks. Then again - what is a battered Favre or fresh Tarvaris Jackson going to be like?

Moss is a must play here from the "I'm going where?" angle alone. This is the #28 ranked secondary so Harvin is a must play as well no matter who the quarterback will be.

TIGHT ENDS: The Patriots are very soft against the tight ends but Vishante Shiancoe has only been used for a couple of catches per week now that Randy Moss is there. That could step up this week and the Pats have allowed four tight ends to score on them. That makes Shiancoe a lower end start but one with upside and potential.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 30 13 20 16 30 23
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 30 17 28 27 21 10
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) MIN 0 4 8 11 -9 -13


New England Patriots (5-1)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN W 38-24 10 @PIT --
2 @NYJ L 14-28 11 IND --
3 BUF W 38-30 12 @DET --
4 @MIA W 41-14 13 NYJ --
5 Bye - 14 @CHI --
6 BAL W 23-20 15 GB --
7 @SD W 23-20 16 @BUF --
8 MIN -- 17 MIA --
9 @CLE -- - - -
Patriots Report | Statistics | Roster
NEW ENGLAND vs MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady - - 260,1
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 20,1 - -
RB Danny Woodhead 50 40 -
TE Aaron Hernandez - 50 -
WR Brandon Tate - 40,1 -
WR Deion Branch - 40 -
WR Wes Welker - 50 -
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Patriots are 5-1 and keeping up with the Jets who own the tie breaker so far. But sometime around when Randy Moss left, the Patriots ability to post points has taken a nosedive. WIth three early games of 38 + points the average remains high but these last two weeks have been bookend wins of 23-20 that could have gone the other way. These next two weeks will tell just how changed the offense has become but the team that started out with the biggest winning margins are now battling over field goals.

QUARTERBACK: The decline in points draws back to Tom Brady. After starting the season with eight touchdowns in the first three games and right at 250 yards in each, he's settled for only one score per game for the last three matchups and twice only passed for around 150 yards. That's hardly what fantasy leaguers were thinking of back in August. The "all is well" sign never comes down for the Patriots but Brady has been noticeably less productive. He was averaging almost 12 yards per completion after three weeks but has only managed 9.2 yards since.

The Vikings have allowed five passing scores in their last two games but the safest bet now is just the one score like the Vikings were giving up prior to playing Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers. Brady is starting to slip from that tier.

RUNNING BACKS: Danny Woodhead remains the white lightning to BenJarvus Green-Ellis's thunder but he's never had more than 11 carries or gained more than 63 rushing yards. His role as a receiver helps though and the only other home game saw him post five receptions for 52 yards on the Ravens. Green-Ellis has now scored in four straight games but his rushing yardage has dipped to only around 25 each week as the short yardage runner.

The Vikings are decent against the run and only allowed three rushing scores and no 100 yard games. But they have been dinged by runners who also catch the ball so expect a decent to good effort here by Woodhead.

WIDE RECEIVERS: In the weeks since Randy Moss left, the Patriots have only thrown one passing touchdown to a wide receiver (Deion Branch) and Wes Welker has seen his yardage continue to tumble each week. He only had 25 yards on four catches against the Chargers and Deion Branch fell to only four receptions for 39 yards in that game after his big debut of 98 yards on nine catches against the Ravens. The passing game is getting shorter and shorter and that is boxing in Welker who needs some space in the middle to operate.

The Vikings corners have been above average against the wide receivers and the Pats are no longer quite the 1-2 punch they once were. Look for one score here that should favor Branch slightly but the yardage has already turned moderate before the Vikes ever showed up.

TIGHT ENDS:Aaron Hernandez is becoming the primary receiver or at least close to it each week though his yardage remains only around 60 yards per game and he has never scored. Rob Gronkowski has three touchdowns but never any yardage or reliable fantasy value.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 9 7 11 4 7 4
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 5 10 10 3 8 29
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) NE -4 3 -1 -1 1 25

WEEK 8
2010
GB at NYJ CAR at STL MIN at NE HOU at IND
DEN at SF WAS at DET SEA at OAK ATL, BAL
JAC at DAL BUF at KC TB at ARI CHI, CLE
  MIA at CIN TEN at SD PIT at NO NYG, PHI
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