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
RB Isaac Redman 30 1-10
RB Ben Tate 40 3-20
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 CIN 0000033020 ***
Big Ben took these Bengals for 350 and 3 at their house just three weeks ago; with the AFC North title on the line, no reason to think he can't put up something just as fantasy friendly here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT CIN 11016500000 ****
Bell blew up the Bengals to the tune of 235 combo yards and three TDs just three weeks ago. While his bountiful yardage-fest has ended he still accounted for 191 yards from scrimmage and three TDs over the past two games. CJ Anderson just took Cincy for 138 combo and a touch last week; feels like baseline numbers for Bell here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT CIN 0081201000 ****
Brown has scored or topped 95 yards in four of his last five meetings with the Bengals, including 9-117 earlier this season. Cincy's secondary is a tough nut to crack but they have given up three 100-yard games the past three weeks, and Brown is too frequently targeted to not amass helpful fantasy numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT CIN 004601000 ****
Over the past three weeks WR1s Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas have both topped 100 yards against Cincy but failed to score; meanwhile, running mates Bryant and Emmanuel Sanders have combined for three TDs. It was a bonus that Bryant also reached triple digits with his 4-109-1 showing in the earlier meeting; while he's the third option in Pittsburgh he's more than earned a spot at the fantasy table.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT CIN 003400000 ***
The Steelers are firmly a two-receiver offense, leaving Wheaton with his nose pressed up against the glass looking in.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT CIN 004500000 ***
Miller made the most of his one catch and one yard in the earlier meeting with Cincy, scoring the only TE TD the Bengals have given up in the past nine games. He's too inconsistently targeted to warrant regular fantasy consideration, and the matchup suggests last time was a fluke so look elsewhere for TE help this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT CIN 3333 ***
Suisham is finishing strong, with at least eight points in each of his last five games--a stretch that includes 10 points in Cincinnati--and multiple field goals in six straight. He might just deliver a Sunday night game worth waiting for.

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
PK Justin Medlock 1 FG 3 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 @DEN 0000023022 ***
Carr threw for 192 and 2 in the earlier meeting with Denver. He's had multiple TDs in two of his last three games but the yardage has been substandard and facing a Broncos team looking to lock down a first-round bye won't help his prospects.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Latavius Murray, OAK @DEN 6002200000 ***
The Raiders hadn't gotten around to using Murray the last time they faced Denver; he saw just two of the teams 13 rushing attempts. Now he's the 20-plus carry lead dog, and all four 20-carry backs have all either scored or topped 100 yards against the Broncos. So we're sayin' there's a chance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren McFadden, OAK @DEN 3001100000 ***
Wouldn't it be fitting if McFadden got hurt in his Raiders' swan song? One more trip through the training room, getting nostalgic with the whirlpool, all while watching Latavius Murray highlights on the TV.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR James Jones, OAK @DEN 006401000 **
Jones has scored in back-to-back games, though his catches dwindled from eight to one last week. At that rate his prospects for this week don't look particularly good.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Holmes, OAK @DEN 003300000 ***
No Raiders receiver topped 30 yards the last time they faced the Broncos, and only two have topped 60 in Denver's last seven. Holmes might be the most frequently targeted Raider, but the ceiling is pretty low for his fantasy prospects.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Mychal Rivera, OAK @DEN 006501000 ****
Rivera might be the best (only?) fantasy play to emerge from the Oakland passing game this weekend. He scored in the previous meeting with Denver (part of a 6-64-1 showing), has 15-153-1 the past three games, and faces a Broncos defense that's given up TE TDs in back-to-back games and seven of their nine TE scores in the second half of the season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Sebastian Janikowski, OAK @DEN 1122 ***
SeaBass goes 14 games without a fantasy helper, then drops 14 on an unsuspecting Buffalo defense. The Broncos aren't likely to be as friendly; they held Janikowski to something closer to his usual, five points in the earlier meeting, and are a good bet to do so again.

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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