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: PHI 34, CLE 13 (Line: PHI by 8)

Players Updated: Trent Richardson, Ben Watson

Players to Watch: Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon

On the plus side, no one is calling the Eagles "the team to beat" this year so there is a minimal amount of pressure. Finishing 8-8 only thanks to a four game winning streak at the end means the Eagles are looking to gain back their mojo that never appeared in 2011. Oddly enough they were 5-3 on the road though. The Browns come off another 4-12 sort of season once again trying to rebuild a struggling team. The Eagles already have plenty incentive to start the year out with a big win while the Browns will, yet again, take time to learn the new offense and integrate new players.

For what it is worth - which is really nothing - the Eagles beat the Browns 27-10 just two weeks ago.

Philadelphia Eagles
Homefield: Lincoln Financial Field
Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @CLE ----- 10 DAL -----
2 BAL ----- 11 @WAS -----
3 @ARI ----- 12 CAR -----
4 NYG ----- 13 @DAL -----
5 @PIT ----- 14 @TB -----
6 DET ----- 15 CIN -----
7 BYE ----- 16 WAS -----
8 ATL ----- 17 @NYG -----
9 @NO ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Eagles remain remarkably the same in a league that thrives on constant change. Same players, same coaches, same scheme. It used to work pretty well before last year. Worked great in 2010. On the plus side, it makes this team less of a challenge to forecast.

Michael Vick is back only wearing Kevlar this time. He spent most of the preseason injured of course but has a new vest to wear that the manufacturer guarantees will prevent him from injury. it is not yet known which lawyers will handle the class action suit when 25,000 fantasy owners lose their league when Vick is yet again injured. The only notable here is that Nick Foles beat out Mike Kafka to be the backup that will start at least three games if history holds true.

LeSean McCoy is poised for yet another big year with no real backup which is never used anyway and an offense that uses him as both a runner and a receiver. Two straight years of 1600+ total yards and last year he had a career best 20 touchdowns.

Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson return as the starters and provide most of the receiving game. Jackson fell from 47-1056-6 to only 58-961-4 last year and admitted that he played to not get hurt until he got his contract redone in the offseason for five-years and $47 million. Jackson provides the deep threat while Maclin is the possession receiver. Jason Avant remains the #3 but has lived outside of fantasy relevance.

Brent Celek had a sprained MCL but is ready to go for the season opener. He has been a sleeper to some and did finish 2011 with 62-811-5 and more importantly scored in each of the final three games. This is the same passing attack of 2011 and 2010. The Eagles are entirely unchanged and hoping to have it all work better this year. At least Jackson may be trying really hard this time.

The Browns were outstanding against the pass last year mostly because of LCB Joe Haden and the fact that everyone beat up on the Browns with the run and then lost interest. Haden may end up suspended for failing a drug test which would be great for DeSean Jackson. With the Browns starting a rookie quarterback, I like the chance for a defensive score here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 8 15 9 13 16 9
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 3 24 1 14 21 8

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Nick Foles, PHI @HOU 0000031022 ****
Extremely favorable matchup for Foles, who has multiple TDs in three straight and already has four 300-plus yard games to his credit this year. Houston has served up multiple touchdown tosses in six straight, 299 yards or more in three of the last four. It all adds up to big things for Foles this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeSean McCoy, PHI @HOU 6002100000 ***
Maybe the Texans aren't quite ready for big-boy football, NFC East style: in three previous games against the division this year the worst game by a feature back was Alfred Morris' 14-91. That's better than six yards a carry, if you're scoring at home (or even if you're by yourself). Rashad Jennings banged out a 34-176-1 and DeMarco Murray posted a 31-136 plus another 56 receiving yards. So it's a great opportunity for McCoy to follow in that 5.1 yards per carry, 134 rushing yards per game mode--especially if Darren Sproles continues to be limited or absent due to his knee injury.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren Sproles, PHI @HOU 2005400000 *
Only seven teams have allowed more RB receiving yards than the Texans, so if Sproles is healthy he should return to his usual place among PPR/performance league RB contributors.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI @HOU 006701000 ****
Receivers have had success getting behind the Houston secondary, from James Jones (112 & 1) to Victor Cruz (107 & 1) to Mike Williams (84 & 1) to... well, the list includes at least one receiver from every team the Texans have faced since Week 2. With Maclin heavily targeted and clearly capable of getting behind defenses himself, he's a fabulous fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Riley Cooper, PHI @HOU 005800000 ****
Cooper's targets are trending up, just in time for a favorable matchup with a Houston secondary that's allowed multiple receivers to either score or top 60 yards in five of eight games this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI @HOU 004500000 ***
Matthews' fantasy owners have to hope Jeremy Maclin isn't a ball hog. Three times this year the Texans have allowed a 100-yard receiver; in all of those games the feature receiver has also scored, but no other wideout has scored or tallied as much as 50 yards. In the other five games, multiple receivers have scored and/or topped 60 yards. So... share, Jeremy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Zach Ertz, PHI @HOU 005500000 ***
Ertz has been consistent, notching between 39 and 48 yards in each of the past five games. Unfortunately he's also been consistently held out of the end zone, scoring just once in that span. Houston is a moderately favorable fantasy matchup for tight ends and it is a six-team bye week so Ertz likely clings to a lineup spot. But we can't offer a ringing endorsement.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Cody Parkey, PHI @HOU 3222 ****
Though his numbers have dipped each of the past couple games Parkey is still a rock-solid fantasy kicking option, having tallied eight or more points six times in seven outings. No need to shy away from this matchup.

Cleveland Browns
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PHI ----- 10 BYE -----
2 @CIN ----- 11 @DAL -----
3 BUF ----- 12 PIT -----
4 @BAL ----- 13 @OAK -----
5 @NYG ----- 14 KC -----
6 CIN ----- 15 WAS -----
7 @IND ----- 16 @DEN -----
8 SD ----- 17 @PIT -----
9 BAL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: Big changes here with a new offense installed by new OC Brad Childress and plenty of personnel to get integrated in the new system. The Browns may have struggled for more years than most third-world countries but at least they are trying. The NFL draft may have finally served up some notable offensive help that is desperately needed for a team that ranked in the bottom five of almost every offensive category last year.

The Oklahoma State star Brandon Weeden has won the starting job away from Colt McCoy and the 28-year old rookie simply cannot be any worse than the long line of quarterbacks that have gone through Cleveland. One worry is that Weeden has not only been accurate and picked up the offense well, he has also shown a profound ability to give the ball to the opponent via a fumble or interception. That needs to be fixed.

The Browns also drafted the first running back when the took Trent Richardson who was described as the best product from college since Adrian Peterson. That set fantasy fans clamoring for the rookie runner who ranked top ten until he needed to have his left knee scoped a month ago. That was to clean up his knee and was the second scope of the year. That forced him to miss the entire preseason and makes him a much bigger risk for now. The Browns all said that Richardson would be fine for week one but have recently backtracked on that prediction. Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson lay in wait behind the rookie and while Hardesty has been named the #2, both runners will contribute when Richardson cannot play.

The changes do not stop there. Greg Little (61-709-2) led all Cleveland receivers as a rookie but has been joined by Josh Gordon who was acquired in the supplemental draft for a second round pick - that was not cheap for a player who was unable to play last year. But Gordon has already impressed if only occasionally. He started slowly in training camp until he started to get into better shape after such a lengthy layoff from football. Gordon should provide a second viable option for Weeden and is worth tracking to see how quickly he can become a part of the offense. He'll be given every chance to make a difference.

Ben Watson remains the starter but missed out on all four preseason games with an undisclosed injury that is not expected to be an issue in week one. Watson only turned in 37 catches for 410 yards and two scores last year anyway and the Browns want to develop Jordan Cameron, the 6'5" ex-basketball player in his second-year. The offense has no big call for receiving tight ends so Cameron's development is only mildly interesting.

First week out against the Eagles defense that is rested, healthy and prepared won't end that well. The Browns are pointed in the right direction but it will take time to get the motor running.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 27 31 27 11 29 32
Preventing Fantasy Points PHI 13 25 13 9 1 21

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Brian Hoyer, CLE TB 0000023010 ***
Hoyer has bounced between ordinary and bad fantasy-wise, but this may be an opportunity to get well against a Bucs' secondary that's allowed multiple TD tosses and 300-plus passing yards in all three road games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ben Tate, CLE TB 802000000 ***
Tate continues to undeservedly get the bulk of the carries in Cleveland; he's averaged 2.5 yards per tote over his last 56 attempts, encompassing three games. Fortunately for Tate's fantasy owners, Mike Pettine hasn't figured out just how bad Tate is yet. Also, the Browns have gotten Tate close enough to score three touchdowns in those three games. And the Bucs have allowed all eight backs who received at least 14 carries against them to score and/or top 60 yards. It won't be pretty, so don't watch the game; just check the last column of Tate's box score late Sunday and you'll be fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andrew Hawkins, CLE TB 007901000 ****
No team has allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Bucs, and the closest thing to a consistent contributor among Cleveland's wideouts has been Hawkins. How's that for a ringing endorsement?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Miles Austin, CLE TB 003500000 ***
Multiple wideouts have posted fantasy helpers against the Bucs in five straight games, but you're tempting fate digging this deep into the Browns' inconsistent receiver rotation.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, CLE TB 003500000 ***
The Bucs have allowed multiple receivers to either score or top 55 yards or both in each of the past five games. There isn't much of a discernable pecking order to Cleveland's receiving corps, but Gabriel has been coming on of late with 60-plus yards in three of the past five games so if you're throwing a dart he's worthy of consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jim Dray, CLE TB 001100000 ***
The Bucs aren't a particularly favorable fantasy matchup for tight ends, and Dray isn't a particularly exciting fantasy plug-in for the injured Jordan Cameron.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE TB 2233 ****
Cundiff's been building to his first double-digit points game, which came last week against the Raiders. Now hosting a Bucs' squad that's served up multiple treys in three straight outings you have to like his chances of a repeat.

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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