FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

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 Josh Gordon 4-50

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 DeShone Kizer, CLE GB 60010021011 ***
Kizer's worth sees a slight uptick with Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon together on the field. Add in tight end David Njoku and we have a reasonable trio to help propel the rookie. Encouraging, but Kizer doesn't belong on a fantasy roster. It's too bad, since Green Bay offers a sweet matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE GB 7001100000 ***
On the ground, the matchup stinks -- two of the past 121 carries over five games have scored, and Green Bay has allowed just 82.4 yards rushing an outing. The aerial work has been a different story, though this isn't exactly Crowell's forte. He has three catches in the last four games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Duke Johnson Jr., CLE GB 2004300000 ***
Johnson has an awesome matchup for catches (3rd easiest) and receiving yardage (1st) against Green Bay. Running backs have averaged 7.4 grabs for 65.8 yards. Surprisingly, none of the 37 catches have found the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Josh Gordon, CLE GB 005901000 *
Gordon showed little rusty after a gargantuan break from the game. He returned in Week 13 to post 85 yards and was heavily targeted. Since Week 8, the Packers have provided wide receivers with averages of 12.8 receptions (8th), 174.8 yards (6th) and a TD every 9.1 receptions (5th). This is the sixth-best matchup in standard and No. 5 in PPR.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Corey Coleman, CLE GB 003500000 **
Green Bay is easily one of the best fantasy matchups of the week, provided this defense doesn't sack DeShone Kizer a million times. Coleman faces a group that has given up top-eight figures per game in receptions, yardage and fantasy points.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE David Njoku, CLE GB 002200000 ***
The talented rook resurfaced last week and has another decent matchup to exploit. Green Bay has given up a touchdown every seven catches to the position, which is the ninth-highest frequency. Otherwise, the rest of the stats suggest it could be a long day for Njoku.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Zane Gonzalez, CLE GB 2222 ***
This is the fourth-best matchup of the week, one that has given up 2.6 field goal attempts per contest (5th-most). Even still, Gonzalez is a wild risk in fantasy.

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
RB Jamaal Charles 80 3-20
WR Emmanuel Sanders 2-30
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-90,1

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 Trevor Siemian, DEN NYJ 10000023021 ***
Even facing the best matchup in fantasy, Siemian is too large of a risk to justify a fantasy spot in any conventional setting.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN NYJ 5004401000 ***
Anderson has posted at least 13.6 PPR points in two of the past three games as part of this three-way backfield headache. The veteran faces a Jets defense that has permitted running backs to score only once in the last 77 carries, also holding them to a mere 59.8 rushing yards a contest. This is one of the worst possible matchups of the week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jamaal Charles, DEN NYJ 1004300000 **
This is the worst per-game matchup for receptions and yardage by running backs. One of the only 12 catches allowed by the Jets to RBs has scored over the past four games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN NYJ 006801000 ***
Averages by wide receivers against the Jets since Week 8: 12.8 receptions, 175 yards, a TD per game. The first two figures rank inside of the top 10 for exploitative purposes, while the scoring stat is 15th.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN NYJ 004500000 ***
This matchup ranks in the top 10 for fantasy points in both systems, receptions per game and yardage figures a week. Sanders has a pretty sound matchup for posting useful PPR stats. New York has surrendered a receiving TD per game since Week 8.

Update: Sanders has run the gamut of practice statuses with an ankle injury this week. He was limited Friday -- officially questionable and a gametime decision.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Bennie Fowler III, DEN NYJ 002200000 ***
Fowler is not a viable fantasy option in any format with playoff consequences.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN NYJ 2222 ***
Kickers have made a matching 7-for-8 on both FGAs and XPAs. The balance creates only the 22nd-best opponent for kicking chances.

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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