FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) *IND at CHI *PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC *JAC at MIN *PIT at DEN *WAS at NO
*BUF at NYJ *MIA at HOU *SEA at ARI *CIN at BAL (MON)
*UPDATED *CAR at TB *NE at TEN SF at GB *SD at OAK (MON)

Prediction: CIN 13, BAL 24 (Line: BAL by 6)

Players Updated: Jermaine Gresham, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott, Andy Dalton

Players to Watch: Armon Binns, Brandon Tate

There are two things to remember when the Bengals and Ravens play. First, the Ravens usually win since they took the last three meetings though the Bengals won five of the seven games previous to those. Secondly - there are rarely any points in these games. The Bengals lost 24-31 in Baltimore last year and again 16-24 at home. Until last season, they had two straight years where neither team scored more than 20 points in any of their matchups. Chances are good we are in for another low point effort here though the Ravens intend to open up their offense more.

Cincinnati Bengals
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @BAL ----- 10 NYG -----
2 CLE ----- 11 @KC -----
3 @WAS ----- 12 OAK -----
4 @JAC ----- 13 @SD -----
5 MIA ----- 14 DAL -----
6 @CLE ----- 15 @PHI -----
7 PIT ----- 16 @PIT -----
8 BYE ----- 17 BAL -----
9 DEN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Bengals dumped Cedric Benson and brought in BenJarvus Green-Ellis who is a proven scorer from the Patriots. The question now is how many chances he gets in Cincy and he no longer has the feared Patriot passing attack to take a primary concern with every defense. That makes a big difference. They also intend on using Bernard Scott more (Part III) though they never actually do much with him because he has been ineffective. The Bengals rushing attack will be no worse but then again it was only 30th best last year anyway.

The two rookies of 2011 completely energized the offense. Andy Dalton landed in one of the toughest divisions to be a quarterback and yet ended with 20 touchdowns against only 13 interceptions in his first season. He's bound to be better as a sophomore though games like this are one reason he may always have a lower ceiling. At the least, he did bring the Bengals back to the playoffs last year in the only division that produced three playoff teams.

A.J. Green was a great addition when he turned in 65 catches for 1057 yards and seven scores and he too should be better in 2012. The problem for the Bengals may end up the lack of a credible #2 wideout. Jerome Simpson left for the Vikings and in his place no one has locked in a big role. The rookie Mohamed Sanu has been unable to make any progress towards starting and Armon Binns is going against Brandon Tate and they still are unable to distinguish themselves enough to prevent a committee approach. It bears watching to see which one steps up to be the #2 though last year it only meant 50-725-4 for Jerome SImpson.

Jermaine Gresham could be in line for a big improvement on the 56-596-6 that he turned in for 2011. Gresham is not the sort to be split out or used as a wideout but he has sure hands on a team that may have a big need to fill beyond what A.J. Green does. Gresham sprained his knee in the second preseason game and was held out but should be back for this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 22 30 15 17 7 12
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 23 4 30 9 9 8

Baltimore Ravens
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN ----- 10 OAK -----
2 @PHI ----- 11 @PIT -----
3 NE ----- 12 @SD -----
4 CLE ----- 13 PIT -----
5 @KC ----- 14 @WAS -----
6 DAL ----- 15 DEN -----
7 @HOU ----- 16 NYG -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @CIN -----
9 @CLE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Ravens came within three points of advancing to the Superbowl last year so there is not a lot wrong with this team other than the defense is one more year older. At some point very soon that becomes an issue with Ray Lewis (37) and Ed Reed (34) on the back nine of their career with the clubhouse now in sight. The offense remains well suited for a team with a big defense though the hope is that the Ravens can finally become a better passing team.

Joe Flacco enters his fifth season apparently capped at 3600 yards and around 20 or so touchdowns every year. But he has had a great camp while the Ravens try for an "up-tempo" flavor to the offense with a more open passing attack. How that plays out will be worth watching since the Ravens have basically never been a pass-heavy team.

Most optimism revolves around the continued development of Torrey Smith who had a promising rookie season (50-841-7) and should take another step upwards this year. Smith turned in two monster games with over 150 yards in each but otherwise was "merely good" for a rookie. He stands to benefit most if the Ravens can ramp up their offense. Anquan Boldin enters his ninth year and is just a possession receiver good for around 900 yards each season. This offense has never used the slot for much fantasy value so Tandon Doss and Jacoby Jones are unlikely to be of note.

The Ravens actually ranked #3 in the use of tight ends last year but that came from a split between Ed Dickson (54-528-5) and Dennis Pita (40-405-3). Both players enter the season. Pitta was more used near the end of last year but suffered a broken hand in the preseason and is likely to be less used as a receiver early on. Dickson also suffered a shoulder injury but is expected to be able to play this week. He has a better shot at bigger numbers than Pita for now.

Starting out at home against a very familiar opponent should be a good spot to see just how "up tempo" the offense will be this year.

I like a defensive score in this game as well.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 2 3 6 3 11 16
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 8 15 14 16 5 4

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL CAR 0000024011 ***
It took 62 attempts for Flacco to approach fantasy relevancy in Week 1; he hasn't returned to either that number of throws or a significant fantasy contribution since. While Carolina has given up two TD tosses a couple times already--matching last season's total--they have yet to surrender a 20-fantasy point game to a quarterback. And after giving up multiple 100-yard rushers last week you'd think the Baltimore game plan would be run-heavy as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL CAR 5011000000 ***
Update: Pierce is listed as probable this week, but what if any role he returns to in the crowded Baltimore backfield remains to be seen.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL CAR 401000000 ***
On the heels of an 18-91-1 coming out party in Cleveland Taliaferro gets to face a Panthers defense that just got shredded for a matching set of 100-yard games by two Steelers RBs. Expect the fun to continue for the rookie.
Update: Bernard Pierce is expected back, but Gary Kubiak has always been a "hot hand" kind of guy and none of the Baltimore backs is hotter than Taliaferro. Even if Pierce gets the start, expect Taliaferro to remain in the mix--at minimum in goal-line work.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL CAR 5004200000 **
While Forsett is ceding touches to rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro he still has fantasy value as a change-of-pace guy; the Panthers have allowed two RB receiving scores already this season and served up 6-61 receiving to Joique Bell. Doesn't hurt that he'll likely get 10 carries as well, or that he's averaging better than six yards a tote.
Update: Whether it's Bernard Pierce or Taliaferro as the feature back, expect Forsett to maintain his change-of-pace duties. In this matchup, that's good enough to be a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL CAR 0071001000 ****
How can you not like Smith in a revenge game against the club that told him he couldn't play anymore? The Panthers haven't allowed a wideout to top 90 yards against them, but between the volume of targets Smith is seeing and the revenge multiplier there's significant fantasy upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL CAR 002300000 ***
Torrey has taken a back seat to Steve in the Panthers' passing game pecking order, and that's unlikely to change with Steve facing his former club and looking to dish out a measure of revenge.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jacoby Jones, BAL CAR 002200000 ***
Secondary receivers have found little success against the Panthers; no reason to think Jones bucks that trend on Steve Smith Revenge Day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL CAR 004300000 ***
With Dennis Pitta out for the season expect Daniels to take over his familiar role in Gary Kubiak's offense. Unfortunately, he'll open with a stout matchup against a Panthers D that has yet to allow a TE TD on the year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL CAR 2233 ***
Tucker's had multiple field goal attempts in each game this year and has posted back-to-back double-digit points. He's a solid fantasy option again this week.

WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) IND at CHI PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC JAC at MIN PIT at DEN WAS at NO
BUF at NYJ MIA at HOU SEA at ARI CIN at BAL (MON)
  CAR at TB NE at TEN SF at GB SD at OAK (MON)

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