FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 3
2012
*NYG at CAR (THU) *DET at TEN *NE at BAL SF at MIN
*ATL at SD HOU at DEN *NYJ at MIA *STL at CHI
*BUF at CLE *JAC at IND *PHI at ARI TB at DAL
*Updated *CIN at WAS *KC at NO *PIT at OAK *GB at SEA (MON)

Prediction: PIT 20, OAK 16 (Line: PIT by 4.5)

Players to Watch: Brandon Meyers

Player Updated: Heath Miller, Jonathan Dwyer, Sebastian Janikowski

The Steelers come off a solid win over the Jets for a 1-1 record while the Raiders remain 0-2 after being dismantled by the Dolphins. This should be a competitive game but the Raiders are not playing well enough to take advantage of the home venue.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC -----
2 NYJ 27-10 11 BAL -----
3 @OAK ----- 12 @CLE -----
4 BYE ----- 13 @BAL -----
5 PHI ----- 14 SD -----
6 @TEN ----- 15 @DAL -----
7 @CIN ----- 16 CIN -----
8 WAS ----- 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT @ OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 260,2
WR Antonio Brown 7-100,1
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 4-50
WR Lance Moore 5-60
TE Heath Miller 4-30,1
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Steelers had little trouble dispatching the Jets last week but his the road where they had problems in the season opener. This game will be a better measure since the Broncos were debuting new schemes and plays that were hard to prepare against. The Jets same struggles from the summer sunk their chances.

Ben Roethlisberger has been solid with two scores in either game and around 260 yards in each but that is a bit low side to expectations since the offense was supposed to be opened up more. Denver and the Jets have good secondaries so there is no real problem here other than he's still getting sacked about four times every week.

The rushing effort would be poor if all the rushing yards were totaled and given to just one person. For a franchise with some storied running backs in the past, watching Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer is almost painful. They have combined for only 116 yards on 44 carries over two games - a 2.6 yard per carry average. They don't even get more than about one catch per game. When Rashard Mendenhall returns, it will only be worse.

The only receivers of any note remain Antonio Brown who has 75 yards per game and has not scored. Mike Wallace has scored in both games with minimal yardage and then Heath Miller has scored in both games as well and has even less yardage. Assumedly this gets better as the offense comes together and Wallace missed most of the installation this summer. It's nice that Miller is scoring each week but he just has too little yardage to merit fantasy consideration.

The Chargers already won in Oakland with no running game at all and far lesser receivers. Troy Polamalu should be back this week as well.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 13 22 11 13 18 24
Preventing Fantasy Points OAK 14 28 12 6 29 4

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT BAL 0000031021 ***
The earlier meeting with Baltimore was easily Big Ben's worst fantasy outing of the season, with no TDs and 217 passing yards. Since then he's topped 300 twice and 250 two more times along with four multiple touchdown efforts. His track record against the Ravens isn't exactly sterling, with just two multiple TD outings in the past 11 meetings and only one trip north of 300 yards. But fresh off 522 and six, and with six teams on the bye, he's at least worth a look-see this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT BAL 6008700000 ****
Bell has reached triple-digit combo yardage in every game this season, including 107 in the earlier meeting with Baltimore. He had 232 combo yards in last season's series as well, so in performance leagues he's a rock-solid fantasy play. It's be nice if he mixed in a few more touchdowns, however; a Ravens D that's allowed only three RB TDs this year doesn't project to be much of a helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT BAL 0081202000 ***
Brown has had plenty of nice yardage outings against the Ravens, but he's still looking for his first touchdown grab against them. Baltimore has allowed only six WR TDs on the season, so it's no lock for Brown to find the end zone here; however, that he has five TDs in four home games suggests it's at least a strong possibility.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT BAL 003400000 ****
Bryant has three TDs in two NFL games and could be the Steelers new version of Plaxico Burress. He's a red zone option that wasn't at Big Ben's disposal in the earlier meeting; at minimum he's a viable option in TD-heavy scoring systems with six teams on the bye.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT BAL 004300000 ****
The emergence of Martavis Bryant, along with the return of Lance Moore from injury and the presence of Darrius Heyward-Bey, have all conspired to bump Wheaton from viable WR2 to just one of the guys in Pittsburgh. It's not a favorable enough matchup to go this deep into the Steelers' receiver rotation for fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT BAL 004300000 ****
Both of Miller's fantasy helpers this year came at home, so he's got that going for him. Working against him: his 4-35 in the earlier meeting with Baltimore, a Ravens defense that's allowed only one TE TD on the season, and a plethora of targets for Ben Roethlisberger to spread the ball around to.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT BAL 3322 ****
The Ravens haven't allowed a double-digit scoring game to a kicker since Week 1, so there's a ceiling on Suisham's fantasy prospects this week.

Oakland Raiders
Homefield: McAfee Coliseum
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 SD 14-22 10 @BAL -----
2 @MIA 13-35 11 NO -----
3 PIT ----- 12 @CIN -----
4 @DEN ----- 13 CLE -----
5 BYE ----- 14 DEN -----
6 @ATL ----- 15 KC -----
7 JAC ----- 16 @CAR -----
8 @KC ----- 17 @SD -----
9 TB ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
OAK vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Schaub 230,2
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 80,1 2-10
RB Darren McFadden 40 5-40
WR James Jones 3-40
WR Denarius Moore 4-70,1
PK Sebastian Janikowski 3 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Raiders fall to 0-2 and the schedule gets worse for the next two weeks. The absence of any rushing game has crippled the offense and the passing is not good enough to keep the Raiders in games. Jacoby Ford has landed on injured reserve to leave the wide receivers thin and special teams lacking a good returner. The schedule does improve after the week five bye but it may be ugly getting there.

Carson Palmer has thrown just two touchdowns this year but has 670 passing yards thanks to throwing nearly 50 times each game. He's been hampered by drops and wide receiver corps that is not carrying their weight. This should be a strength and instead is the biggest liability. Darrius Heyward-Bey is attracting all the secondary attention and while Denarius Moore returned last week, he only caught three of his eight passes and looked rusty. This will get better but the offense is starting out slowly.

Worse yet is the almost inexplicable struggle of Darren McFadden who has been completely ineffective as a runner. After two weeks, he only has 54 yards on 26 carries. Defenses are keying on him and the offense has been unable to get him free. In Miami, McFadden was even taken out of the game as a receiver. So far McFadden does not have even one decent run. Not one.

Brandon Meyers has been far better than expected with games of 5-65 and 6-86. He is the leading receiver for the Raiders even though the wide receivers get more passes. One or two more games with good receptions and Meyers could be reliable at least for fantasy depth.

Problem this week is that the 0-2 Raiders are facing their best defense so far.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points OAK 14 8 26 11 22 31
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 10 2 15 11 2 22

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Derek Carr, OAK @SEA 0000017012 ****
Carr's had a couple of decent fantasy efforts during his rookie campaign; asking him to go to Seattle and pull one off... well, that's a bit too aggressive.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren McFadden, OAK @SEA 4004200000 ***
McFadden is unlikely to dent the Seahawks on the ground, but he could salvage fantasy value via the air against a Seattle defense that's allowing almost 50 RB receiving yards per game over the past month.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK @SEA 40130000 ***
MJD's last two game have seen him carry the ball nine times for 14 yards. Ugh.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Holmes, OAK @SEA 005600000 **
Holmes will get his targets; the key will be holding on to them. Not enough upside here to warrant a start against a secondary that could very well throttle the life out of Oakland's passing game without blinking an eye.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR James Jones, OAK @SEA 003400000 ***
The Seahawks haven't allowed a WR TD since Week 5 or a WR TD at home since the season opener. Oakland's cast of characters doesn't feel like the group that's going to crack that code.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenbrell Thompkins, OAK @SEA 002300000 ***
If you were wondering where Kenbrell Thompkins ended up... well, here he is. He saw eight targets last week, but given this matchup with Seattle's secondary that number--as well as what Thompkins can do with those catches--is likely to dwindle.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Mychal Rivera, OAK @SEA 003201000 *
Maybe the Raiders' best hope for fantasy value this week comes in the form of Rivera, who posted 7-83 on nine targets last week. He'll have a chance to exploit the lone fantasy weakness in this defense, an inability to defend tight ends. Seattle has surrendered eight TE TDs already this season; if Oakland is to get one, Rivera's probably the best bet.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Sebastian Janikowski, OAK @SEA 1111 ***
Seabass has yet to hit double-digit points, and Seattle seems like an unlikely venue for him to reach that milestone.

WEEK 3
2012
*NYG at CAR (THU) *DET at TEN *NE at BAL SF at MIN
*ATL at SD HOU at DEN *NYJ at MIA *STL at CHI
*BUF at CLE *JAC at IND *PHI at ARI TB at DAL
*Updated *CIN at WAS *KC at NO *PIT at OAK *GB at SEA (MON)

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