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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

Prediction: CLE 13, DEN 27 (Line: DEN by 13)

Players to Watch: Demaryius Thomas, Ben Watson

The 11-3 Broncos just inherited the #2 seed thanks to the Patriots loss to the 49ers so they'll keep winning to get that bye week and one home field game. Denver is merely on a nine game winning streak while the 5-9 Browns are venturing out with a 1-5 road record. Not a good equation.

Cleveland Browns
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PHI 16-17 10 BYE -----
2 @CIN 27-34 11 @DAL 20-23
3 BUF 14-24 12 PIT 20-14
4 @BAL 16-23 13 @OAK 20-17
5 @NYG 27-41 14 KC 30-7
6 CIN 34-24 15 WAS 21-38
7 @IND 13-17 16 @DEN -----
8 SD 7-6 17 @PIT -----
9 BAL 15-25 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass

Pregame Notes: The season is winding down and the Browns have established that they are no longer in the bottom tier of teams - they are the next one. The one before you get to just an average team level. The Browns are now good enough to beat a bad team like the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers. But unfortunately they do not play in the AFC West.

The Browns are getting by with marginal success passing and the running of Trent Richardson who has scored in each of the last four games and currently stands at 12 touchdowns on the season. What has waned every week for the last seven games is the rushing yardage which went from a high of 122 yards against the Chargers down to only 28 yards in the Redskins game. But he scored twice in that game as he did the previous week against the Chiefs.

Richardson has been blessed with what became one of the softer schedules in the NFL but that definitely ends this week in Denver. And he's been marginal as a runner now for the last month with sub-4.0 yard averages. Richardson is playing through chest and finger injuries though.

Brandon Weeden is playing well enough that the consensus has him returning next season as the starter again. He only thrown 14 scores on the year and he'll get a big test in Denver versus a defense that allows two scores to almost every opponent but has yet to give up a 300 yard game all year.

Josh Gordon remains the primary who usually only comes up with say 50 or 60 yards per week but has the upside to turn in a nice game in any week. He scored just once in the last seven weeks is may end up with Champ Bailey at least part of the time. Travis Benjamin scored on a 69-yard catch last week which should at least make the secondary account for him too. Greg Little hasn't scored since week seven and is only capable of marginal yardage.

The Browns are bad on the road and the Broncos want to cement their #2 seed. Expect much of the yardage and any passing scores to come late in the game when it doesn't matter.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 27 19 22 24 16 11
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 12 3 9 32 4 12

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Baker Mayfield, CLE @BAL 20000026011 ***
Mayfield torched the Bengals last week and has at least 22.9 points in five of his last seven starts. The Ravens have been quite harsh on the quarterback position in 2018, though. He faces a defense that held Philip Rivers to only 181 yards and two picks in Week 16, marking consecutive games a respectable quarterback (Jameis Winston) hasn't topped 10 points in fantasy. Matt Ryan was good for just 11 points in Week 13. Going all the way back to Week 5, Mayfield threw for 342 yards and a touchdown, adding an interception to his line, vs. Baltimore. He is a major risk but offers a hint of upside for brazen owners.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Nick Chubb, CLE @BAL 5013400000 ***
The rookie has seven straight games with at least 10 fantasy points in PPR, and he hasn't scored in the last two weeks. Chubb hasn't been much of a factor lately in the passing game but has a string of consecutive 100-yard games coming into Week 17. Baltimore has been the second-toughest matchup for RBs in 2018.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarvis Landry, CLE @BAL 004500000 ***
Landry has scored one time since Week 7 and is a tough sell in any format against the Ravens' stout pass defense. He caught five of his 10 looks in the earlier meeting and posted 69 yards without scoring. There isn't much upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Callaway, CLE @BAL 002400000 ***
The rookie has one TD in the last month and two since Week 8. He's extremely inconsistent and posted a goose egg against an extremely weak Cincy defense last weekend. Look for better options. Baltimore held him to just 22 yards in Week 5.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Rashard Higgins, CLE @BAL 002300000 ***
Higgins has two touchdowns in the last month and posted a season-best 6-60-1 line last week against a feeble Bengals defense. The Ravens permitted Higgins to go for 66 yards and a score in the Week 5 meeting. He's a boom-or-bust type, with more weight on the latter in most situations.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE David Njoku, CLE @BAL 007701000 ***
The second-year tight end has exactly three catches in four straight outings and one touchdown to show for it. Njoku scored in Week 12, as well, and he made a little bit of an impact in PPR against Baltimore during their Week 5 meeting (6-69-0). The Ravens, however, have been stout vs. TEs in 2018, until the last six weeks when the position has scored four of its six TDs.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Greg Joseph, CLE @BAL 2222 ***
No writeup available

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR 36-14
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD 30-23
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC 17-9
4 OAK 37-6 13 TB 31-23
5 @NE 21-31 14 @OAK 26-13
6 @SD 35-24 15 @BAL 34-17
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO 34-14 17 KC -----
9 @CIN 31-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 250,2
WR Emmanuel Sanders 2-30

Pregame Notes: The only fear now is that the Broncos get complacent and get a trap game happening. The last two games of the year - against the visiting Browns and Chiefs - may be the easiest matchups of them all. Wanting to hold the #2 seed will keep the Broncos playing to win but now you have to fear what happens when the game is obviously well in hand? Week 17 is a lock to have some absences and slow downs if only in the second half. But it could happen here as well - what is the incentive to push the score higher and higher when it becomes apparent that the Browns can't score much at all?

The projections will reflect a full effort given but there is at least a small element of risk even this week. Next week against the Chiefs all bets will be off after the first touchdown is scored since that alone may be enough to beat them.

Peyton Manning has already slowed down of sorts with only one score in each of the last two games. He's been good for two and usually three touchdowns in every home game this year though his yardage has been lower in most because the rushing effort has maybe even improved with Knowshon Moreno as the starter. He has the benefit of a nice schedule to be sure, but with him running for over 100 yards and scoring in the last two games, the need for Manning to produce points has declined.

Jacob Hester has become a goal line back and scored last week on his seven runs for 20 yards. Moreno has been running with very fresh legs and a sense of determination he never showed before. His final two games are both going to be profitable so long as they do not yank him at any point to save him for the playoffs.

Eric Decker comes off one of his best games of the year with eight catches for 133 yards in Baltimore but he's been significantly less productive in the five previous games. Demaryius Thomas thrown down his first stinker game of the year with only 13 yards on four receptions but he was overthrown on one touchdown and the Broncos won the game handily anyway.

The only concern here is that the Broncos don't realize they have already sewn up the #2 with two easy games left to play. Peyton Manning typically did not do that in Indianapolis so at least for this week, we should see enough playing time in earnest to feel comfortable starting the usual players this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 9 14 2 7 9 3
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 20 24 27 2 6 13

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Royce Freeman, DEN LAC 701000000 ***
The season-ending wrist injury for Phillip Lindsay will make Freeman the primary ball carrier this week. The matchup is somewhat favorable but mostly toward PPR backs. He has flex appeal with the hopes of finding the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Devontae Booker, DEN LAC 2003300000 ***
Booker has a minute level of appeal for PPR purposes but shouldn't be in any lineups, even with an increased role now that Phillip Lindsay is done. The Chargers are a neutral matchup that leans positive, especially in PPR formats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Courtland Sutton, DEN LAC 005701000 ***
Sutton was held to only three catches on six looks in the Week 11 trip to LA, but he was able to muster 78 yards out of those snags. He scored last week and has two TDs in his last four appearances. The rookie has yet to break 85 yards in any game and is borderline useless without a touchdown. The Chargers have seeding at stake and will play a normal game. Consider this an optimistic projection due to the TD.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DaeSean Hamilton, DEN LAC 006500000 ***
The rookie has scored twice in the last three games after being thrust into action following the loss of Emmanuel Sanders. Hamilton has caught at least six balls in each of those games but has failed to top 50 yards in any contest this year. He has WR3 or flex utility in PPR formats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tim Patrick, DEN LAC 003400000 ***
Patrick's targets, receptions and yardage have all decreased each of the past two games after a season-high 10 targets, seven grabs and 85 yards in Week 14. He's a fringe consideration in expansive PPR situations.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN LAC 1122 ***
No writeup available

WEEK 16
2012
ATL at DET (SAT) CLE at DEN NO at DAL *SF at SEA
BUF at MIA *IND at KC *NYG at BAL STL at TB
CHI at ARI MIN at HOU OAK at CAR *TEN at GB
*Updated CIN at PIT *NE at JAC SD at NYJ WAS at PHI

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