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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WILDCARD
ROUND

~ 2009 ~

Saturday
Sunday
 
 

Prediction: BAL 24, NE 20

While this is the only playoff game this weekend that is not merely a repeat of a week 17 game, these two teams did meet in week four when the Patriots held off the visiting Ravens 27-21. It is notable that the Patriots along with the Vikings are the only teams to never lose at home this season. The Ravens are only 3-5 in road games which should suggest this to be a big upset. But the Patriots just lost Wes Welker during the loss in Houston. Tom Brady is playing with sore ribs. That is why this game goes off with the Patriots only a 3.5 point favorite.

This game is slated to go off at 25 degrees or less.

Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 KC 38-24 -12.5 36
2 @SD 31-26 +4 41
3 CLE 34-3 -13 38.5
4 @NE 21-27 +2 44.5
5 CIN 14-17 -8.5 42
6 @MIN 31-33 +3 44.5
7 BYE - - -
8 DEN 30-7 +4.5 42.5
9 @CIN 7-17 -3 43.5
10 @CLE 16-0 -11 39
11 IND 15-17 +1 44
12 PIT 20-17 -6 20
13 @GB 14-27 +3 44
14 DET 48-3 -14 40.5
15 CHI 31-7 -10.5 39.5
16 @PIT 20-23 +3 43
17 @OAK 21-13 -10 39
BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco   220,1
RB Ray Rice 90 6-50
RB Willis McGahee 40,1  
TE Todd Heap   4-40
WR Mark Clayton   3-30
WR Kelley Washington   1-20
WR Derrick Mason   4-60,1
PK Billy Cundiff 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens have Ed Reed back and that instantly upgrades the secondary and the return of LT Jared Gaither is another major plus as seen last week when the offense gained 237 rushing yards in Oakland. This week will be a tall order but the Ravens catch the Patriots at the most opportune time with Wes Welker out and Brady banged up but no opponent has won in New England so far. The Ravens are going to need a perfect game to win this.

I like the chance for a defensive score.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco passed for 264 yards and two scores in the first meeting with the Patriots and it ended up to be one of his best efforts of the season. Flacco has been very erratic in passing yards this year but has already seen success against the Pats. The last three visiting quarterbacks to Gillette Stadium have managed to score

In a much colder game, there should be more rushing by both teams this year and lower Flacco's output this time. He still should manage one passing score though even though the yardage will be much lower.

Running Backs: It's a frustrating situation in fantasy football but the Ravens have taken the #1 ranking for running backs with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee combining for a deadly tandem lately. Rice gained 103 yards on 11 carries in New England earlier this year and had five catches for 49 yards while McGahee only gained 11 yards on five runs but scored once on his four catches for 31 yards.

Rice has been well over 100 total yards in nearly every game this year but has scored only once since week ten. McGahee has rolled up 12 rushing touchdowns and two as a receiver this year which includes the three touchdowns and 167 yards he gained just last week.

The Patriots rank well against the run but have been worse with NT Vince Wolfork out but he is slated to return this week as will Ty Warren. That will help but I still like the Ravens rushing game to set the tone here with Rice also turning in receptions to help. McGahee has a good shot at scoring once here and maybe even twice.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason is likely winding down his final season but has been posting nice stats up until last week when the Ravens just rushed the entire game. Mason had seven touchdowns on the season and three games over 90 yards. He caught seven passes for 88 yards and a score in New England back in week four. Kelley Washington (4-31) and Mark Clayton (5-45) played a smaller role that week as in most weeks.

Mason is the best risk for a score again this time but none of the receivers are likely to turn in big stats this week.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap has been chugging along with about 40 or 50 yards in most week and then had two scores in both week 15 and 16. In Oakland he was back to just 40 yards on two catches. Heap is the next best bet to score after Mason but that's too hard to rely on.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 18 1 21 22 13 6
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 14 6 22 8 2 3


New England Patriots (10-6)
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 BUF 25-24 -10.5 47
2 @NYJ 9-16 -6 46
3 ATL 26-10 -4 44.5
4 BAL 27-21 -2 44.5
5 @DEN 17-20 -3.5 41.5
6 TEN 59-0 -9.5 43
7 @TB 35-7 -15.5 44.5
8 BYE BYE - -
9 MIA 27-17 -10.5 47
10 @IND 34-35 +1 48
11 NYJ 31-14 -10.5 45
12 @NO 17-38 +3 56
13 @MIA 21-22 -4.5 46
14 CAR 20-10 -12.5 43.5
15 @BUF 17-10 -6.5 41.5
16 JAC 35-7 -9.5 44
17 @HOU 27-34 +9 46.5
NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady   240,1
RB Sammy Morris 30 2-10
RB Fred Taylor 50,1  
TE Ben Watson   3-30
WR Randy Moss   5-80,1
WR Sam Aiken   3-40
WR Julian Edelman   6-70
PK Stephen Gostowski 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: This will be a very interesting week. The Patriots will play without Wes Welker and Tom Brady has to watch the Ravens pass rush to protect himself. The week four win happened when the Ravens were unable to score from the NE 14-yard line with four chances. This time Tom Brady is banged up and will be playing in the cold. This game will be a major test of the Patriots depth.

Quarterback: Tom Brady has three broken ribs and now will be missing the receiver that has caught more passes than any other receiver in the last three years. Brady only threw for 258 yards and one touchdown against the Ravens in week four but he added his only rushing touchdown of the year. Brady has also cooled down in recent weeks. He threw for four scores against the visiting Jaguars but otherwise has only scored four times in the last other five games.

Brady should manage at least one passing score here as have most opponents of the Ravens. But the yardage is likely to be lower than normal thanks to the weather and absence of Welker.

Running Backs: Laurence Maroney was inactive last week with Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor taking over and he could be again this week. The rushing attack here is always changing and rarely predictable but Maroney has clearly fallen from preference and has been nursing a knee injury of some undefined severity. Taylor scored twice last week in Houston but only had 33 yards on seven carries. Sammy Morris only had nine yards on seven runs but had 95 yards and a score in the previous game against the Jaguars.

I will project for both Taylor and Morris but as always - take that with a gain of salt. You can never be that confident about anything pertaining to the New England backfield.

The Ravens have only allowed three rushing touchdowns in road games this year. Expect no more than that and moderate yardage at best.

Wide Receivers: Wes Welker reportedly tore his ACL and MCL in his left leg and is gone until next year. He will be replaced by Julian Edelman who had eight catches for 98 yards the first time he subbed for the star wideout. Back in week four, Welker only accounted for 48 yards on six receptions in his first game back from injury. Welker ended with 123 receptions despite missing two games and leaving the finale in the first quarter.

Randy Moss caught three passes for 50 yards and one score in the previous meeting with the Ravens and now gets zero help from the other wideouts with Welker gone. Moss is the best bet to catch a touchdown this week despite the obvious coverage he will get. Brady needs a reliable receiver and Edelman has already slipped back to far less production than he had in his first start. Brady will need him though and should Edelman get some benefit from being the less covered starter.

Tight Ends: Ben Watson could be in line for more work with Welker out but that did not happen back in weeks two and three when Welker was sidelined. Watson has scored five times this year but only once since week seven and he has remained well under 50 yards since the season opener.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 7 9 1 25 7 20
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 6 3 13 6 12 5

WILDCARD
ROUND

~ 2009 ~

Saturday
Sunday
 
 
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