I pegged Tom Terrific’s exact statline last week, which was probably a bit of a disappointment to his fantasy owners. He has failed to throw more than 1 TD pass in each of his past four games. However, I think he’s a good bet to buck that trend this week against a generous Cleveland pass defense. The Browns are giving up more than 240 yards and nearly 2 TDs per game to opposing QBs. I think Brady is a safe bet for 250+ yards and 2-3 TDs this week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him among the highest scorers for Week 9.
Welker has been extremely quiet the past few weeks with just 102 receiving yards since the bye. He has a healthy 14 receptions, but the yardage and TDs haven’t been there. However, the Browns are extremely vulnerable in the passing game, so this could be the week that Wes busts out with a more Welker-like statline of 7-8 grabs for 90-100 yards. he could snap his scoreless streak as well, but that is probably a 50-50 proposition.
Branch stands to benefit most from Cleveland’s inability to stop the pass. Branch has just 5 catches for 60 yards in his past two games, but Brady has been looking his way often. Against a less-imposing Cleveland secondary, he should shine. His statline from the past two weeks is probably his floor for this week’s game, but his ceiling is probably closer to 7-8 catches for 110 and a score.
Tate made an outstanding play to score on a scramble play in the second half, and he remains a strong threat in the return game. However, I think his fantasy ceiling is a bit limited by a lack of opportunities. He’s only had four catches in the three games since the bye. If your league gives points for return yardage, he might be worth a roster spot, but the presence of so many other good players clearly limits his value in most leagues.
I sold The Law Firm short in my projections last week. He torched a formidible Vikings front en route to 100+ yards and two scores. Cleveland has allowed the fewest rushing TDs in the league and is yeilding just 3.9 yards per carry to opposing running backs this year, so I don’t expect to see a repeat performance. Unless the Patriots get up by a wide margin and need to salt away a win, I don’t think we’ll see much more than a 60-70 yard, 1 TD performance. He’s a solid play as a flex starter or #2 RB.
I pegged Woodhead’s statline last week as well. Woodhead has accumulated at least 100 yards from scrimmage or a TD in four of his last five games, and he has been a useful resource in the passing game. The Browns typically give up a lot of receptions to opposing RBs, so I would be surprised if he didn’t rack up at least 60-70 total yards on a dozen touches. In leagues that award a point per reception, he’s a solid #2 RB.
Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski
I whiffed on my projections for the team’s tight ends last week, as neither player was a big part of the gameplan. The Patriots ran the ball more than I expected, and when they did throw, the Vikings dropped 7 or 8 into coverage on almost every play. The Patriots also used Alge Crumpler as an extra blocker more than any other game this season. Brady only completed 16 passes, and that left few opportunities for the team’s young TEs. However, Cleveland has been especially generous to tight ends this season, so I would expect Hernandez to bounce back with solid yardage and possibly his first TD. I would only start Gronkowski in TD-heavy leagues though, as he doesn’t get many looks between the 20s.
New England Defense/Special Teams
The Patriots defense played a solid game against a dynamic Vikings offense last week, but those efforts did not lead to many fantasy points. Since they don’t usually accumulate a lot of sacks or force many turnovers, this unit’s value is tied to its ability to put points on the scoreboard. The Browns have been slightly more successful on offense this season based on their ability to limit turnovers and sacks. Still, a young QB and/or Jake Delhomme do not inspire much fear. The Browns aren’t going to light up the scoreboard, but in formats that heavily value points allowed, they might not be a bad flyer this week. In most shallow leagues, there are probably better options.