Week Seventeen Analysis: The Wes Welker revenge tour gets a reboot this week as he faces his former team, the Dolphins, in the season finale. In Welker's last eight games against Miami, he's had no fewer than eight catches, no fewer than 70 yards and has topped 100 yards five times. Since the Pats will still have playoff seeding to play for and since Bill Belichick does not make a habit of resting guys in Week 17, you can expect to see a full helping of Welker this weekend.
Week Sixteen Analysis: Wes Welker has now topped 100 receptions for the fifth time in the last six years. The only problem is that he's scored only four times this season and only twice in the last eight games. However, Welker really digs playing in Florida. In his last six games in the Sunshine State, Welker is averaging over nine catches and 121 yards per game. Maybe it's his love of fresh citrus fruit, but we like Welker's chances in Jacksonville this weekend. The Jags have allowed the 12th-most yards to wide receivers this season, but have only given up 11 touchdowns to the position. So yardage, at least, seems like a lock. I still like Welker this week because the Jags have allowed multiple touchdown passes in three of the last four games, and he's in Florida.
Week Fifteen Analysis: In a rare turn of events, Wes Welker played third, or maybe even fourth fiddle in the passing game behind Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Donte' Stallworth last Monday. The Texans did everything in their power to knock Welker out of the passing game, but he still managed nine targets, 52 yards and a few key defensive penalties. He should be back in vogue this week against the 49ers. San Francisco has had no trouble defending the bigger outside receivers, but have allowed great performances to smaller slot receivers such as Percy Harvin, Chris Givens and Danny Amendola.
Week Fourteen Analysis: Since the injury to Rob Gronkowski rocked the fantasy world two weeks ago, the Patriots have had two red zone passing touchdowns. Both were caught by Wes Welker. After a few down weeks, Welker has reestablished himself as Tom Brady's go to guy. He's garnered double digit targets in each of the last four games, including 18 targets, 12 receptions, 103 yards and a score last week in Miami. He's an absolute must-start in PPR formats as he's had six or more receptions in ten straight weeks. His prime time opponent, the Texans, have been very beatable in the passing game recently, with star corner Johnathan Joseph out. In the last four weeks seven different wide receivers have topped 77 yards, with four going over 105 yards.
Week Thirteen Analysis: Fantasy players across the land are wondering who's going to get Rob Gronkowski's workload, now that he's out. Aaron Hernandez seems like the obvious answer, but wait. Tom Brady threw three passes in the red zone last week, and the only touchdown went to Welker. This week Welker faces off against his former team, the Miami Dolphins. Last season, Welker averaged 10 catches and 149 yards with three touchdowns in his two games against Miami. What makes it worse for Miami fans is that every competent wideout that has faced the Dolphins has either topped 100 yards or scored. That list includes Andre Johnson, Santonio Holmes, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, Reggie Wayne and even Andre Roberts.
Week Twelve Analysis: Rob Gronkowski was tied for the league lead in red zone targets through last week, but he also had two functioning arms at that time. Wes Welker should end up being a beneficiary of Gronk's lost time. Since the beginning of 2010, Welker's 37 red zone receptions trail Gronk by only three, although he does trail Gronkowski by 16 touchdowns. A familiar foe awaits the Patriots this weekend as they visit the Jets. While Gang Green has the distinction of not allowing a wide receiver to top 86 yards this season, they have allowed five touchdowns to wideouts in their last two games, including two red zone scores just last week to St. Louis' Brandon Gibson.
Week Eleven Analysis: Wes Welker has made a habit of bunching together good and bad weeks. For instance, in Weeks 2 through 6, Welker topped 95 yards in five straight games, while scoring in two of those contests. In his last three games Welker has not reached the 75-yard mark or scored, including dropping an easy touchdown last week. I feel confident that he can start a hot streak again versus Indy. The Colts have allowed the third-most touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and have allowed both Cecil Shorts and Brian Hartline to beat them for more than 100 yards in the last two weeks.
Week Ten Analysis: In his last three games against the Bills, Wes Welker has averaged 10 receptions, 100 yards, and has two scores. In the previous six games against the Bills, Welker averaged only 55 yards and did not score once. So did Welker and Bill Belichick figure out how to burn the Bills? Yes, and so did everyone else. Buffalo has allowed five quarterbacks to top both 260 yards and two touchdowns this season. Four wide receivers have topped 90 yards against Buffalo in just the last five weeks, and during that time span they faced the inconsistent passing attacks from Alex Smith, Kevin Kolb and Matt Hasselbeck.
Week Eight Analysis: The Hoodie must not be mad at Welker anymore, because he's back where he usually is, at the top of the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards. This week Welker heads to Wembley Stadium to face a much improved Rams secondary. With Cortland Finnegan likely sticking to an outside receiver, probably Brandon Lloyd, it's likely that Welker gets the much easier matchup against rookie starter, Janoris Jenkins, who has allowed a touchdown under his coverage in each of the last two weeks.
Week Seven Analysis: Wes Welker has now topped 95 yards in five straight games after an impressive 10 catch, 138 yard performance against the Seahawks last week. In the last three weeks, Welker has had 10 more receptions than any other player in the league. He may return to earth this week has the Pats host the Jets. In 14 career games against the Jets, Welker is averaging only 66 yards and has only scored three times. The Jets have not allowed a wide receiver to score since Week 2 and no receiver has topped 87 yards against Gang Green this season. Who needs Darrelle Revis?
Week Six Analysis: After being left out of the game plan for the first week of the season, Welker is averaging 97 yards per game this season and has topped 95 yards in each of his last four games. Welker has had 14 more targets than Brandon Lloyd over the last two weeks. This week Welker faces off against a Seattle secondary that is one of the best in football. With both corners, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, at a height of 6'3", they've held every wideout to 63 yards or less this season. If you need a glimmer of hope for Welker, how about this esoteric angle: of the five receivers that have managed 50 or more yards against the Seahawks, three of them have been under six feet tall (Danny Amendola, Chris Givens, Andre Roberts), and were able to squirm their way to yardage. Wes Welker is 5'9".
Week Five Analysis: After getting the Bill Belichick "freeze-out" for the first couple of weeks, Wes Welker has become an integral part of the Patriots offense again. In fact, in the last three weeks only Brian Hartline has more receiving yardage than Welker. The last time Welker faced off against Denver (in the Divisional Playoff game last season) he accounted for 55 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos have allowed 70 or more yards to a wide receiver five times in their four games this season.
Week Four Analysis: For those of you who still believe the Wes Welker freeze-out is on, know that in the last two weeks he has received 21 targets to Brandon Lloyd's 25 and Rob Gronkowski's 12. So maybe the age of the Gronkowski freeze-out is upon us? Not likely. Welker caught eight passes for 142 yards last week against the Ravens, but is still scoreless on the season. The Pats travel to Buffalo this week to take on a Bills squad that is tied for the most wide receiver touchdowns allowed in the NFL. Welker's last trip to Buffalo was memorable, and not just because of his photos from Niagra Falls. Last year in Week 3, Welker came to Buffalo and burned the Bills to the tune of 16 catches, 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Week Two Analysis:Welker had only three receptions last week. Last season he had four or fewer receptions twice. In each game after Welker was "not featured" in the offense, he put up some huge numbers. Those two games were: eight catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and 12 catches for 138 yards. So do you panic and throw in the towel off of the first game of the season, or do you go with the guy who had seven games with eight or more receptions and eight games with 110 or more yards last season? There's simply too much history to indicate that now is the time to give up after one bad game. That said, if he plays only half the snaps again this week, he'll be moving down my rankings significantly next week. His opponent on Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals, allowed the third-most receptions and the fourth-most yards to wide receivers last season.
Week One Analysis: For those who think that Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will cut into the production of Wes Welker, I'd like to know what you were watching last year. Welker's league-leading seven-and-a-half receptions per game last season were two more than Gronkowski and three more than Hernandez. What's more is that Welker only had one fewer red zone reception than the great Gronk last year. Welker remains the most frequent target of Tom Brady, and this week he takes on the Titans. Last year, Tennessee's numbers against the pass looked a lot better than they actually were. The Titans only faced one quarterback who was in the top seven in passing yards last year and this season's team will be without their best cover corner, Cortland Finnegan, who left in free agency.
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