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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
WR Rod Streater 4-60

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 @DEN 0000030011 ***
The Broncos have gone in different directions with the strength of their defense over the last six or so weeks. The run D has stiffened, and the pass defense has struggled mightily in the last five games. No team has yielded more passing yards per game (357), but only one in 19 completions has scored a TD (sixth-lowest frequency). Mayfield should produce respectable stats for owners able or required to field two quarterbacks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Nick Chubb, CLE @DEN 8013400000 ***
Chubb has scored in five straight games and six of the last seven. He has only one game with more than 85 yards in that time on the ground, but his aerial work has helped offset the limited rushing gains. Denver has been night and day better against RBs since giving up 200-yard rushers in consecutive games. Since Week 6, no RB has scored on the ground, and only once it has come through the air. That includes several quality rushing attacks (ARI, KC, HOU, LAC, PIT, CIN, SF). This one could go either way, but Chubb deserves the benefit of the doubt at this stage.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Callaway, CLE @DEN 003601000 ***
Callaway is far to erratic to trust with anything of consequence at stake. The rookie saw only one target and caught it for zero yards against a fantastic matchup last week, and he has only one game with more than three catches since Week 8. The matchup with Denver is prime for success, but can you trust him?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarvis Landry, CLE @DEN 005700000 ***
After a fairly quiet stretch, Landry has reemerged as a fantasy asset in recent weeks, landing a 6-103-0 line in Week 13 and scoring his first TD since Week 7 against the Panthers in Week 14. This time around, Denver is the target. Their secondary has regressed enough to make Landry a sure bet for double figures. The top scorer for each opponent this year has been no worse than 13.6 PPR points, and Denver has faced several horrendous passing offenses.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Breshad Perriman, CLE @DEN 002300000 ***
Perriman is not a fantasy thing, especially for owners in the playoffs. He has five targets in his last three games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE David Njoku, CLE @DEN 004500000 ***
No team has allowed more yardage to tight ends than Denver this year, and Njoku faces a defense that has permitted the third-most catches per game in the last five weeks. Erratic play is a concern, but he is a quality play for gamers willing to take the chance.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Greg Joseph, CLE @DEN 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
vs Rush Catch Pass
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
QB Case Keenum, DEN CLE 0000020010 ***
Even with a strong matchup, Keenum simply isn't a fantasy option. He has an unproven cast of receivers, nothing at tight end, and nothing in the way of a third-down back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Phillip Lindsay, DEN CLE 9013300000 ***
Cleveland has yielded 14 rushing scores in 13 games this year and has permitted four games of at least 28.1 PPR points since Week 5, and four times a back has gone for 30-plus points in 2018. Lindsay shouldn't have much trouble living up to this projection.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Royce Freeman, DEN CLE 300000000 ***
Freeman is of no fantasy worth at this time, regardless of the matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tim Patrick, DEN CLE 005701000 ***
Patrick was able to go for 85 yards on his seven receptions last week and figures to be a big part of the passing game again this week. The Browns cater to this style of play, having given up 184 catches for 2,334 yards on the year but only 12 touchdowns to the position. That is not to say this defense is impenetrable around the stripe, so consider Patrick a reasonable bet for a score. Don't be surprised if his final numbers look similar to last week's like, though.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DaeSean Hamilton, DEN CLE 004500000 ***
Hamilton scored last week in his ascension after the Emmanuel Sanders injury. The rookie did little else with his seven catches, producing a mere 47 yards. The matchup vs. Cleveland suggests he could continue a similar style of play. This is a great opponent to log receptions and yardage against but not ideal for scoring TDs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Courtland Sutton, DEN CLE 003400000 ***
Sutton's time to shine will come in the NFL, but he rookie just isn't polished enough to stand out against double teams on a consistent basis. The Broncos are willing to spread the ball around, and he is part of a run-happy, low-volume offensive system. Look for safer plays with more upside.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN CLE 2222 ***
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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