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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 4
2012
CLE at BAL (THU) *MIN at DET *OAK at DEN *TEN at HOU
CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

Prediction: CLE 13, BAL 27 (Line: BAL by 13)

Player to Watch: Jordan Cameron

The 0-3 Browns are hitting an even tougher spot in their schedule with road games to Baltimore and New York while the 2-1 Ravens come off their big win over the Patriots. Ravens swept the Browns in 2001, winning 24-10 at Cleveland and 20-14 at home. Hard to imagine that the Ravens could be so emotionally spent from beating the Pats that they could not rise up and take this win. The Browns have not won this matchup in the last eight meetings.

Cleveland Browns
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PHI 16-17 10 BYE -----
2 @CIN 27-34 11 @DAL -----
3 BUF 14-24 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
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Willis McGahee 80,1 2-10
RB Ben Tate 50,1 2-10
WR Nate Burleson 5-60
WR Josh Gordon 3-40
WR Andrew Hawkins 2-50,1
WR Greg Little 3-30
TE Jordan Cameron 3-30
PK Billy Cundiff 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Sure, the Browns are winless yet again but there are hints of some progress being made at least on offense. Pat Haden remains out for three more games so the defense is not at full strength. But the rookie Brandon Weeden has thrown a score or two in each of his last two games and passes for 322 yards in Cincinnati and then 237 yards against the visiting Bills. Recalling last year, those are huge numbers. Weeden is trying to make so with a less than stellar set of receivers.

That is even more evident when HC Pat Shurmur comes out and says he is considering sending Greg Little to the bench for dropping passes. Little is clearly the best receiver on the team, dropping passes aside. Josh Gordon is providing nearly nothing to the offense and belongs on the league waiver wire. But at least Jordan Cameron had 45 yards on five catches last week and the second-year tight end may be developing something with Weeden.

Mohamed Massaquoi has been the best receiver through the first two games but suffered a hamstring injury and may not play. Travis Benjamin caught a score last week but only has three catches on the season. The problem in Cleveland is no longer the quarterback, it remains with the receivers.

Trent Richardson scored a touchdown in each of the last two games though he only gained 27 yards on 12 runs against the Bills. But he added six catches for 24 yards to preserve his fantasy value. Richardson is not the problem either, he just too rarely reaches the line of scrimmage without finding multiple defenders in his way.

Playing in Baltimore is about as bad as it is going to get for the Browns though Richardson remains a moderate start thanks to his scoring and receiving ability.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 28 10 26 22 21 8
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 18 16 29 20 17 7

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Edwin Baker, CLE @PIT 5004300000 ***
Baker scored in New York--not an easy feat against the Jets--and he appears to be the lead dog in Cleveland's backfield mix. Three other Browns backs did nada in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh, but Baker gets a Steelers defense that has given up five RB TDs and 305 rushing yards the past three weeks--plus he'll get more than the 4-6 carries Wills McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, and Fozzy Whittaker received.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Josh Gordon, CLE @PIT 0071101000 ***
The Steelers have allowed wide receiver touchdowns in six straight, though of late those scores have been going to secondary targets. Gordon's 14-237-1 on 17 targets in the earlier meeting gives evidence that there really isn't a secondary target in Cleveland, so plan on Josh doing all the heavy lifting once again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nate Burleson, CLE @PIT 004500000 ***
Burleson might be the most trustworthy secondary target on the Detroit roster, but even he's been laying eggs of late. WR2s have had success against the Vikings, in part because of emerging shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes' success against WR1s. However, unless Calvin Johnson sits this one out due to injury it's too tough to identify which--if any--Lions wingmen will step up and contribute.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Greg Little, CLE @PIT 003200000 ***
Yes, the Browns have receivers other than Josh Gordon. No, they don't have any fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE @PIT 001100000 ***
Barnidge will get the Browns' TE looks if Jordan Cameron can't go. Not much fantasy value to be had.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE @PIT 1122 ***
Cundiff hasn't seen double-digits since Week 5, managed just three points in the earlier meeting with the Steelers, and now heads to the notoriously hard to kick in Heinz Field. That's not exactly a ringing fantasy endorsement.

Baltimore Ravens
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN 44-13 10 OAK -----
2 @PHI 23-24 11 @PIT -----
3 NE 31-30 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
BAL vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 300,2
RB Ray Rice 120,1 4-40
RB Bernard Scott 10
WR Jacoby Jones 3-50
WR Torrey Smith 5-90,1
WR Brandon Stokley 4-40
TE Dallas Clark 2-20
TE Owen Daniels 7-70,1
TE Dennis Pitta 5-50
PK Justin Tucker 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens came within a point of being 3-0 and now play their third home game in the first four weeks. The only real concern in this game is that the Ravens get complacent and allow a trap game to happen. This will be the easiest game the Ravens play this year.

Joe Flacco gets a chance to light up the scoreboard this week against a secondary that will be without CB Pat Haden and that has allowed eight passing scores over just the first three weeks. Flacco has been passing better this season with six scores already against only two interceptions. This is a great time to face the Browns.

Ray Rice has been the most productive running back this year and he has been golden every week. As if he needed any advantage, Rice rushed for at least 130 yards in both meetings with the Browns last season. He's a lock for a big game this week.

Torrey Smith was the big story last Sunday when he lost his brother on Saturday night and elected to play in the late game on Sunday. Smith had been relatively quiet this year with only two catches in each of the first two games but then posted six receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns in honor of his brother. Anquan Boldin still has not had more than 63 yards in a game and is hard to give a fantasy start with such low stats. The player deserving the attention is Dennis Pitta who no longer splits work with Ed Dickson. Pitta scored twice already this year and so far has never failed to make at least five catches per game. Between Pitta and Rice, there has not been much left over for the wideouts.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 5 6 14 3 4 11
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 28 18 30 10 12 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL @CIN 0000022012 ****
Flacco has just one multiple touchdown outing in his past six games, or since he threw for 140 & 2 against the Bengals back in Week 10. Cincy has allowed only one multiple touchdown since then as well, plus they've surrendered only eight passing scores in seven home games. Last year Flacco came through in the clutch; this season, expectations are diminished.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ray Rice, BAL @CIN 3006300000 ****
The Bengals have allowed exactly one RB TD in Cincinnati this year, and Rice isn't having the kind of season where he would be a good bet to buck that trend. He's essentially splitting carries with Bernard Pierce and only posting helpful fantasy numbers when an easy matchup is at hand. This is not that matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @CIN 200000000 ***
Pierce is seeing a larger share of the workload, but neither he nor Ray Rice are doing anything with those touches--and the matchup isn't particularly favorable, either.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @CIN 004501000 ***
Smith scored in the earlier matchup with Cincy, though it took 15 targets for him to do so. The Bengals have allowed five WR TDs in the subsequent five games, and with Smith still the top-targeted Raven wideout he's the best bet of the passing game to score.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jacoby Jones, BAL @CIN 004500000 ****
Jones and Marlon Brown continue to alternate adequate showings as Baltimore's secondary target. That has some fantasy value in a favorable matchup, but this isn't a favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marlon Brown, BAL @CIN 003400000 ***
Brown and Jacoby Jones continue to alternate adequate showings as Baltimore's secondary target. That has some fantasy value in a favorable matchup, but this isn't a favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dennis Pitta, BAL @CIN 004300000 ***
Pitta is still splitting looks with Ed Dickson; against a Bengals defense that's shut out three straight tight ends, there's just not enough to go around here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @CIN 3311 ***
Tucker has been feast or famine of late: three triple-digit games, wrapped around a couple minuscule single-digit efforts. He posted eight points in the previous meeting with Cincy, and this one is likely to play out in a similar fashion as the two teams battle for playoff spots.

WEEK 4
2012
CLE at BAL (THU) *MIN at DET *OAK at DEN *TEN at HOU
CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

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