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 Carson Wentz, PHI WAS 0000022011 ***
The matchup suggests a streaming play, but the desperation of Washington could play a huge role. The Redskins have allowed quarterbacks to average 26.8 fantasy points and 290.5 yards per game. The position, since Week 8, has mustered aerial nine TDs in four games, plus one on the ground.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ryan Mathews, PHI WAS 8011100000 *
Mathews returned to practice Wednesday, which suggests he should be in line to play ... how much is anyone's guess. Keep him pegged as a flex in the worst-case scenario. At least the matchup is sweet.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren Sproles, PHI WAS 1005300000 ***
Three running backs with one great matchup ... fantasy cannibalization? Probably. Sproles tackles fantasy's eighth most generous opponent for catches allowed.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Wendell Smallwood, PHI WAS 2001100000 ***
No team has been a bigger turnstile for touchdowns than the Redskins have in the last five weeks. The matchup is right, so Smallwood may get on track.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI WAS 004600000 *
Matthews should be back this week but may not be 100 percent. Check Friday for an update on his status. He's likely to draw Josh Norman if he goes, so look elsewhere if you have a better matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, PHI WAS 003400000 ***
Green-Beckham is maddening, and trusting him with the playoffs on the line is a recipe for disaster.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Zach Ertz, PHI WAS 007601000 ***
Tight ends have averaged 6.5 catches for 76 yards and 0.5 TDs over the last four games against the Redskins. Ertz caught one pass for 22 yards the last time these teams met.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Caleb Sturgis, PHI WAS 2222 ***
Washington has allowed the second most extra point attempts but the sixth fewest field goal tries per contest in the last five weeks.

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 Robert Griffin III, CLE CIN 20000018011 *
While the QB situation has yet to be cleared up, it stands to reason that Griffin should start this week. Cleveland has to get some idea of what he offers in the long run. The Bengals have given up only five TD passes in the last four games, intercepting seven passes along the way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE CIN 4005300000 *
For backs of Crowell's ilk, the Bengals are a thoroughly midrange matchup. This defense ranks as the 14th most exploitable overall but mostly through yardage and catches.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Duke Johnson Jr., CLE CIN 2004200000 *
Receiving backs have snared 6.3 balls for 39.3 yards a game versus the position in the last four games. Johnson has limited flex appeal in PPR setups.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr., CLE CIN 004601000 *
Cincinnati ranks 17th in receptions allowed, 29th in yards per game, 28th in touchdown efficiency, and 28th in PPR points allowed ... Pryor is a risky start in any format.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Corey Coleman, CLE CIN 004500000 *
The quarterback situation is unsettling, and the matchup isn't much better. Only four teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to receivers over the last five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE CIN 004400000 *
RG3 is expected to start, and Barnidge has modest upside. The Bengals are a good matchup, giving up the most TE receptions a game since Week 8. Risky, sure, but you could do worse.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Cody Parkey, CLE CIN 2211 ***
Kickers have converted 14 of 15 combined kicking chances, which registers as the ninth worst matchup for the position.

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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