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Daily Fantasy Football: FanDuel Roster Building Championship Weekend

We’ve finally reached the last stop in our degeneracy tour for the 2013 daily fantasy football season.

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New England @ Denver

Patriots

$$

Broncos

$$

Tom Brady

$8,700

Peyton Manning

$11,000

LeGarrette Blount

$8,200

Knowshon Moreno

$8,900

Stevan Ridley

$6,800

Montee Ball

$5,000

Shane Vereen

$6,000

Demaryius Thomas

$9,200

Julian Edelman

$7,200

Eric Decker

$8,400

Danny Amendola

$6,400

Wes Welker

$8,000

Julius Thomas

$6,800

 

Sunday kicks off with a rematch from week 12. In that game, New England won 34-31 in overtime in a bizarre game that featured a combined 11 fumbles (six lost), heavy winds and the Broncos blow a 24 point halftime lead.

The Patriots enter on a three game winning streak where they have just been bludgeoning opponents, winning by a combined score of 118-49. The big stat that immediately jumps out is that they have rushed for 214 yards per game over that same stretch, with LeGarrette Blount accounting for 431 of those on a robust 6.7 yards per carry. One of the biggest misnomers about football is that teams win because they run, when in fact teams run because they are winning. The Patriots fit that latter part to a tee (we also seen this from them in 2012), and here’s the breakdown of their past three games.

WEEK

OPP.

LOSING

TIED

WINNING

RUN %

PASS %

16

BAL

0:00

5:15

54:45

55.1

44.9

17

BUF

0:00

8:48

51:12

60.8

39.2

DIVISIONAL

IND

0:00

1:15

58:45

62.2

37.8

TOTAL

0:00

15:18

164:42

59.4

40.6

 

Leading for 91 percent of the time over a three week stretch is sure to inflate any running game, and New England hasn’t spoiled the opportunity. To get an even better feel on what that means for a team like the Patriots, here are their regular season splits based on the scoreboard.

SCORE

RUN %

PASS %

LOSING

33.3

66.7

TIED

43.8

56.2

WINNING

52.3

47.7

 

That’s give or take the norm for the entire NFL. In comparison, the Seahawks were the most run heavy team this season, rushing 52.9 percent of their offensive plays. When they were losing this year, that number dropped to 46.3 percent.

Let’s get back to what that means for this Sunday. While I won’t try to predict the scoreboard to you, I can tell you that it’s likely that New England will try to slow this game down in a similar recipe that San Diego did in their meetings with Denver. There were only four games this season in which Denver failed to score 30 points and three were against the Chargers.

While they want to run, it’s extremely unlikely that this turns into a full on boatrace like the three weeks prior. Teams only attempt an average of 25.8 runs against Denver (again, because they are winning most of the time), but it’s not like they cannot stop the run. The Broncos allow only 3.9 yards per carry, which is good for the seventh best mark out of all defenses.

Blount will still be the lead dog in tighter game situations, but his $2,600 price bump make it hard to justify plugging him in this week. If you want to pony up, by all means go for it, he’s posted 91.1 points over the past three weeks despite only playing 40.5 percent of the offensive snaps. It’s possible that snap percentage increases if the game is tighter, but that is screaming regression from a mountaintop.

Ridley has been getting his touches (41 carries in the past three weeks), but it’s extremely hard to gauge what his role exactly is going to be in a close game scenario. His price jumped again this week to a point where there’s really no way you can use him unless you are really in love with the feeling of gambling and not playing probability.

The player that this game could set up to benefit the most is Vereen, and his salary follows suit. He’s the sixth highest running back in terms of price on a weekend with only two games. When the Pats need to throw, he’ll be in the game as well. He’s played on 53.8 percent of all passing plays since his return in week 11 and that number jumps up to 59.2 percent if you take away the Baltimore game in which he left with an injury.  He also leads the Patriots in receiving touchdowns from inside the 10 yard line since his return with three.

Edelman is very much my favorite receiver this weekend. Not only did he roast Denver in the first meeting for nine catches for 110 yards and two scores, but Chris Harris was lost for the remainder of the postseason. Before Harris was injured last weekend, Keenan Allen had just one reception for 19 yards. Replacement Quentin Jammer promptly entered and allowed three receptions for 95 yards and a score. With Edeleman and Brady clicking over the past five weeks and the fact that Rob Gronkowski won’t be a part of this one, he should be in line for a strong game.

Like I stated in the intro, you have limited options at quarterback this week and you really can’t feel comfortable playing either one from the NFC tilt. Brady isn’t going to come with the 24 points he posted last meeting, as his elite performances are tied into Gronk beingon the field, but his median to ceiling is much higher than the other two players in his price range.

On the other side, Manning clocks in at 18 percent of your allotted funds this week, making him a really tight fit. He’s far and away the best option at his position this week, so it’s hardly chasing if you have the equity. Don’t look too far into his performance in the first game (19-36 for 150 yards with 2 TD/1 INT). Weather and Denver babysitting their lead cramped his output and he’ll have Julius Thomas at his disposal this go around. I personally don’t believe in the playoff heebie-jeebies narrative existing and expect him to shred the Patriots this week.

Demaryius didn’t play well in the first game, catching only four of nine targets for 41 yards with three drops. He should see plenty of Aqib Talib this week, who has hardly been the same player the back half of the season. Since week 11, opposing quarterbacks have a 97.3 quarterback rating when throwing into his coverage, nearly double the 59.2 mark he allowed over the first six weeks.  The last receiver he faced that was as physically daunting as Thomas was Josh Gordon and we all know how that went for him.

Last week was the best game that Alonzo Dennard played all season, but he still allowed a 38 yard touchdown to Lavon Brazill and is not really a threat in clamping down either Thomas or Decker if they find their way to his coverage. Decker was hardly involved in the first meeting (one catch for five yards) and his production dropped back down with the return of Wes Welker last week, but he will be in a position to make the most plays Sunday if Peyton shies away from Talib.

Welker is avoidable at his salary. Even though Denver has used him as a major option inside the 10-yard line (eight touchdowns), he’s still only met this price once in his past ten games played. The yards just won’t be there for him to blow away his price if he can even meet it.

Another Patriot defender who played the best game of his season last week was Jamie Collins, who had six tackles, a sack and an interception while playing solid coverage. Julius Thomas poses a far bigger threat than the soft Coby Fleener though and the better tight ends that New England has seen this year have all done major damage to them. Choosing between him or Vernon Davis this week is an easy call.

In the first game, Denver ran for a season high 280 yards in large part a 224 yard, 37 carry effort from Knowshon Moreno. Those 37 attempts were the most in a game by one player since 2009. He’s easily my highest rated back of the weekend as the Patriots still struggle mightily through the middle. Don’t look for 200 yards again, but get him in if you can make room.

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