FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: MIA 13, NE 27 (Line: NE by 10)

Players to Watch: Reggie Bush, Stevan Ridley

The Patriots can win a first round bye with a win here AND a loss by either the Texans (@IND) or the Broncos (vs. KC). The 11-4 Patriots clinched the AFC East several weeks ago and are 5-2 at home. The 7-8 Dolphins are only 2-5 on the road but a win here would give them a .500 season.

This is a replay of week 13 when the Patriots won 23-16 in Miami.

Miami Dolphins
Homefield: Dolphins Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @HOU 10-30 10 TEN 3-37
2 OAK 35-13 11 @BUF 14-19
3 NYJ 20-23 12 SEA 24-21
4 @ARI 21-24 13 NE 16-23
5 @CIN 17-13 14 @SF 13-27
6 STL 17-14 15 JAC 24-3
7 BYE ----- 16 BUF 24-10
8 @NYJ 30-9 17 @NE -----
9 @IND 20-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIA @ NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Jay Cutler 240,2
QB Ryan Tannehill 30 210,1
TE Anthony Fasano 2-20

Pregame Notes: The season winds down for first-year head coach Joe Philbin and his offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. It has been a minor success at least in the sense that the Dolphins have already bested their 6-10 season of 2011 and the defense has been better than most realize. Almost half of the games had their opponents held under 20 points. Sadly, almost half their games also only saw the Fins with 17 points or less.

The new offense held true to its word - it did not need a true #1 wideout like Brandon Marshall. At least it never had anything even close to Marshall and it would have been hard to imagine pairing him with the rookie Ryan Tannehill anyway. The Fins passing attack was never more than just a game managing attempt to dink and dunk. Tannehill has only 12 passing touchdowns on the year against 12 interceptions and three lost fumbles. Road games never saw more than one passing score if that. The yardage tended to be sub-200 as well outside of that freakish 431 yard game in Arizona.

Tannehill only passed for 186 yards in New England and scored once on a run.

Reggie Bush is now being reviewed by the Fins who are leaning towards resigning him in the offseason and prevent him from hitting free agency. Bosh comes off a three touchdown game against the Bills and he's been getting around 20 touches for the last three weeks with decent results. Bush only gained 64 yards on 15 runs in the previous Pats meeting. Lamar Miller was allowed ten carries in the big win over the Bills last week and he gained 73 yards but that was his first time over 20 yards in a game since week three.

Davone Bess only caught one pass in the last game with the Pats and is likely to miss this game with a back injury that kept him out the last two games. That leaves only Brian Hartline who had 84 yards on five catches and a couple of practice squadders as the primary receivers. Anthony Fasano did score in two of the last three games but has been little used and only caught one pass against the Pats.

The Pats already won in Miami and are in the running at least for a first round bye. Played in New England makes a huge difference here and the only reasonable fantasy play is Reggie Bush for moderate yardage. The Pats may be weak on defense, but not as weak as the offense for the Fins.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 28 5 30 31 27 25
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 30 13 27 30 11 2

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jay Cutler, MIA @KC 0000023012 ***
Quarterbacks have thrown a mere four TDs in the last five games, averaging only 231.4 aerial yards in those contests, against the Chiefs. This is the seventh-worst matchup of the week as the position averaged 18.2 fantasy points in that string of contests.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Kenyan Drake, MIA @KC 9015400000 ***
Drake has been a fantasy goldmine in the last three weeks, going for at least 23 PPR points in each contest. Over the past five weeks, KC has yielded five offensive TDs in as many games. The matchup is soundly neutral, which works in Drake's favor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA @KC 006601000 ***
KC offers the sixth-hardest matchup in PPR and fourth-worst in standard scoring. The Chiefs have allowed only one of the last 59 receptions by the position to score, traversing five games of action.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeVante Parker, MIA @KC 004500000 ***
Since Week 10, wideouts have one touchdown in five games against the Chiefs. That rate of one every 59 catches is the third toughest to exploit in football. This matchup sits 22nd for yardage and 15th for receptions on a weekly basis.

Update: Parker (ankle) is questionable, though he should be fine after fully practicing Friday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, MIA @KC 002300000 ***
While Stills is always the scoring threat from anywhere on the field, KC has done a masterful job of limiting receiver touchdowns in the past five games. Only one of the last 59 catches by the position has found the end zone, and this is a bottom-six matchup in both scoring formats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Julius Thomas, MIA @KC 003200000 ***
No writeup available
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Cody Parkey, MIA @KC 1122 ***
This is the eighth-worst matchup for combined kicking chances (18th FGA, 26th XPA), and 82.4 percent of all kicks made it through the posts.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN 34-13 10 BUF 37-31
2 ARI 18-20 11 IND 59-24
3 @BAL 30-31 12 @NYJ 49-19
4 @BUF 52-28 13 @MIA 23-16
5 DEN 31-21 14 HOU 42-14
6 @SEA 23-24 15 SF 34-41
7 NYJ 29-26 16 @JAC 23-16
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 280,2
QB Brian Hoyer 180
WR Danny Amendola 5-40
WR Kenny Britt 3-30,1
TE Dwayne Allen 4-40,1
TE Martellus Bennett 4-40
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots are still in the running for a first round bye but need help to get there and that's at least unlikely. But the Patriots have a history of not taking games off for any reason and with the chance for a bye - they'll all be in this game. Perhaps not Rob Gronkowski who has been out since week 11 with a broken forearm. He has been practicing on a limited basis and the Pats we'll never say more than his serial number but he's no better than a game-time decision this week.

Tom Brady actually had his least productive game of the year when he went to Miami and threw only 238 yards and one score. It was his only single touchdown game since week three. Brady has scored in every game this year but has been less productive in recent weeks because the run has worked well. Brady passed for over 300 yards only once in the last four games.

Now that Brandon Bolden is back, Shane Vereen apparently went tumbling back on the depth chart. But throw in Danny Woodhead in with the constant of Steven Ridley and the backfield is always changing from week to week at least in who relieves Ridley and takes third down duty. Ridley was on a six game scoring streak until the 49ers showed up and he bounced back in week 16 with 84 yards on 18 carries in Jacksonville.

Ridley is the only reliable part of the backfield and ran for 71 yards and a score on 19 carries in Miami this year.

Aaron Hernandez had his season best 97 yards on eight catches in the Miami game and more encouraging is that he's scored in both of the most recent home games.

Since Julian Edelman left, Brandon Lloyd has regained fantasy value with at least 60 yards in each game and a score in the home game versus the Texans. Wes Welker caught 12 passes for 103 yards and one score in Miami as he usually does when he faces his old team. The Patriots will take this game with a balanced approach but the Dolphins are likely to struggle on offense and with a lower score of the opponent, Brady and the passing effort won't have to work too hard against a decent secondary.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 3 2 13 1 1 2
Preventing Fantasy Points MIA 15 6 13 11 21 18

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tom Brady, NE BUF 0000026010 ***
Brady's worst fantasy outing of the year came in Week 13 against this defense. It marked the first game since Week 1 he didn't throw a touchdown pass. Versus Buffalo since Week 10, QBs have averaged 216.8 yards (25th) and 15 fantasy points (31st) per contest, tossing a TD every 27 catches (30th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dion Lewis, NE BUF 10021100000 ***
Lewis figures to see the majority of handles with Rex Burkhead on the mend. Buffalo allowed Lewis to average 6.1 yards on his 15 attempts in Week 13. This is one of the best matchups of the season, even if this defense has slightly improved in recent weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James White, NE BUF 3005300000 ***
White will get a few looks added to his workload with Rex Burkhead out of commission. The Patriots will spread it around, and Dion Lewis is the most likely recipient of the majority of extra touches. Buffalo has not allowed a receiving TD over the past 24 receptions. White caught four of his six targets for 32 yards in the Week 13 trip to Western New York.

Update: White is questionable and should be considered a gametime decision.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mike Gillislee, NE BUF 3001100000 *
Gillislee will see some action in all likelihood with the expected loss of Rex Burkhead (knee). While it would be poetic if the former Bill rank roughshod over his former employer, starting and capping fantasy seasons with a bang, we can't bank on recommending him.

Update: Burkhead is indeed out.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NE BUF 004400000 ***
Cooks' worst fantasy game of the year came in the Week 13 trip to Buffalo. He finished with two catches for 17 yards. The Bills have limited receivers to the seventh-fewest points per play, and this defense has given up just three WR touchdowns in the past five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Danny Amendola, NE BUF 003300000 ***
Amendola has one touchdown to his credit in the past 10 games, and he was limited to a 2-34-0 line in the Week 13 meeting at Buffalo. The Bills rate among fantasy's toughest defenses of his position.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Chris Hogan, NE BUF 002200000 ***
Hogan was a surprise scratch last week after playing through his shoulder injury in Week 14. If he cannot go, the offense loses a quality weapon in the intermediate- and long-range passing game. The Bills have held wideouts to three scores in the past five games, or once every 19 catches (25th). This is a bottom-six matchup in both scoring systems.

Update: Wait until about 90 minutes before kickoff, since the Patriots shroud everything in mystery. He's questionable and was limited Friday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE BUF 0081101000 ***
Gronk went for 147 yards on nine catches in the Week 13 trip to Buffalo. He torched them in the one game with Tom Brady last year, too, and 21-plus PPR points in three of his last four visits with the Bills. Since Week 10, this defense rates 12th-easiest in PPR (16th in standard).
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 2233 ***
All 11 extra point chances have been on the mark, and 11 of the 14 three-point kicks have been good. While this is the No. 17 matchup for XPAs, it is the third-best place to find a field goal.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

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