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 Kenny Britt 4-40
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 TEN 40100018012 *
The Browns will go with Kizer one week after benching him for Kevin Hogan, but there isn't enough upside to chance it, even against a weak pass defense. This is the eighth-best matchup in Week 7.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Kevin Hogan, CLE TEN 0000022021 *
No writeup available
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE TEN 500000000 ***
Tennessee has been easy to pass against and not so friendly to running backs. This defense rates in the bottom half of football and has given up a rushing score once every 58 totes. Crowell is highly risky in fantasy and shouldn't be played if better options are present.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Duke Johnson Jr., CLE TEN 1003400000 *
The Titans have been mildly kind to pass-receiving backs, giving up 4.6 catches for 52.2 yards per appearance, with one in 11.5 catches scoring. Johnson scored 13.4 PPR points last year vs. this defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ricardo Louis, CLE TEN 005600000 **
Receivers have scored seven times in the last five games when facing the Titans. Louis is a flier, sure, but there is plenty of upside with how poorly Tennessee has defended wideouts. This is the ninth-best matchup in PPR.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Britt, CLE TEN 003400000 *
Even if Britt is healthy enough to play, keep away in fantasy ... he's in the doghouse and doesn't have a defined role.

Update: Britt is questionable after three days of limited participation. He's a game-time call.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE David Njoku, CLE TEN 003301000 ***
TEs have averaged 4.4 catches for 46.2 yards and a TD every 11 grabs against. This is a negative matchup in every category but the TDs against, which rates as neutrally.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Zane Gonzalez, CLE TEN 1122 ***
Opposing kickers have missed three extra points against the Titans, which is preventing this from being a midrange matchup. Statistically, it leans negative by a touch. The position has converted eight field goals.

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 @LAC 10000019012 ***
Siemian briefly left last week but returned and should be fine for Week 7. The Chargers have permitted the sixth-fewest fantasy points and yards per contest. QBs have thrown seven TDs in the last five games vs. the Bolts. Siemian tossed one TD in two games last season, failing to top 280 yards in either matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jamaal Charles, DEN @LAC 301000000 ***
Charles continues to see a handful of touches each week but fails to produce enough to warrant a fantasy start. The Chargers at least give up a boatload of yardage to the position, so there's hope for a big play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, DEN @LAC 6002100000 ***
Running backs have averaged 177 offensive yards (4th most), fueled by permitting the second-highest average of rushing yards per game (137.6). The Chargers have given up one touchdown every 42 attempts, though. CJA went for 11.1 PPR points in the only meeting with the Bolts in '16.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN @LAC 005601000 ***
Thomas was shaken up last week but returned and should be fine. Emmanuel Sanders is likely out, so there is more work to go Thomas' way. And defensive attention. The Bolts have given up the seventh-most points in both scoring structures, mostly propelled by seven TDs on 61 catches over the last five appearances.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Bennie Fowler III, DEN @LAC 004300000 ***
Fowler picks up the scraps of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Thomas is banged up, and Sanders is unlikely to play with an ankle sprain. Fowler gets a bump and has a quality matchup. LA has given up seven TDs to wideouts in the last five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE A.J. Derby, DEN @LAC 002100000 ***
Derby doesn't have enough of a role to be more than the wildest of fliers in DFS.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Brandon McManus, DEN @LAC 2122 ***
McManus was uncharacteristically off last week, which was a carryover from the previous week. He has missed three of his seven kicks in that time. The Chargers have surrendered two field goal and as many extra point attempts per game, with only one XPA missing.

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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