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

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Andy Dalton, CIN DEN 0000023021 ***
No guarantee that attempting to keep up with Peyton Manning translates into helpful fantasy stats; didn't work for Derek Carr, Shaun Hill, Alex Smith or Philip Rivers over the past six weeks. Dalton's been too unreliable a fantasy contributor of late to not be lumped in with that mediocre grouping, especially given his penchant for coming up small in big games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN DEN 5004200000 ***
Tre Mason is the only back to find fantasy success against the Broncos. Not that the Bengals won't try with Hill, but his big games have come against bottom-feeding run defenses (New Orleans, Cleveland, and Jacksonville all rank in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to RBs). Dial your expectations back accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN DEN 3003200000 ***
It's official: Gio's a complementary back. And with feature backs having enough trouble carving out fantasy value against the Broncos, no reason to reach for a secondary guy for fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN DEN 005601000 **
It's not impossible for Green to carve out fantasy value against the Broncos, especially given the volume of targets he's bound to see. But it won't be easy, so keep your expectations in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN DEN 003300000 ***
Complementary targets have found the end zone against Denver while primary targets posted bigger yardage--as recently as Week 14, when Sammy Watkins did the heavy lifting with 127 yards while Chris Hogan found the end zone. However, multiple receivers have posted fantasy helpers on the Broncos only four times in 14 games, so Sanu's chances of warranting a spot in your lineup are slim.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN DEN 004301000 ****
Update: Looks like Gresham will play this week, though he's been little if any fantasy help this season and doesn't look like he'll change that fact this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN DEN 1122 ***
Since serving up 16 points to Greg Zuerlein and the Rams in Week 11 the Broncos have allowed a total of 17 kicker points in four games. The Nuge broke a two-game field goal drought with three against the Browns last week, but the overriding trend here is opposing kickers falling short against Denver. Plan accordingly.

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 @HOU 0000024020 ****
Mostly "meh" trends here, as the Texans are neither a bad nor great matchup, Flacco's a little worse on the road but not awful, etc. You'll be okay starting Flacco, but at this juncture hopefully you've got some "wow" arsenal at your disposal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL @HOU 9012200000 ***
The key number is 20 carries. Forsett hasn't been there for a couple games, and not coincidentally Forsett's three-game streak of 100-yard games came to an end at that juncture. The Texans have allowed only three 100-yard rushers on the year, and not coincidentally they've faced only three players who received 20 carries. Yes, the same three. If Forsett was healthy enough to get 16 carries against Jacksonville last week he should make it to 20 this weekend--with appropriate results.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @HOU 400000000 ***
No reason for Pierce to handle too many touches here, and he'll need some fortunate timing for them to carry any fantasy weight.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL @HOU 006801000 ***
Smith likes facing the Texans: he's scored in all three career games against them while averaging a robust 108 yards per outing. More recently, the Texans have been giving up big yardage to primary receivers but letting secondary targets find the end zone. Hard to tell which Smith is which in any given week for the Ravens, but suffice it to say both have reasonably high fantasy expectations here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @HOU 004601000 *
Only two teams have allowed more WR TDs than the Texans, so if Smith is healthy enough to play he's a quality fantasy start; the question is whether or not he or Steve Smith will take a turn as Joe Flacco's favorite.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL @HOU 002300000 ***
Daniels, fresh off returning to the end zone last week, against his former team--who just allowed a TE TD last week. Not a particularly strong trend in Daniels' favor, but who's gonna know how to get a tight end open against that defense better than Gary Kubiak?
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @HOU 1144 ***
Tucker's been solid, with multiple field goals in three of his last four overall and three of his last four at home. Don't expect Houston to disrupt Tucker's flow; in fact, the Texans' QB issues might make it that much easier for the Ravens to play defense and settle for field goals.

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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