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
CLE @ BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Robert Griffin III 30,1 270,2
WR Josh Gordon 3-40
WR Brian Hartline 5-40
WR Andrew Hawkins 2-50,1

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
QB Austin Davis, CLE PIT 0000021011 ***
The Steelers lost to Ryan Mallett last week, so they shouldn't take Davis lightly. Fantasy owners, however, shouldn't take Davis at all.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Duke Johnson, CLE PIT 2004300000 ***
Maybe you can scrape together a PPR helper from Johnson, who had four catches in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh; after all, the Steelers have allowed 24-208-2 receiving to running backs over the past month and Duke is the Browns' pass-catching back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE PIT 300000000 ***
Yes, the Steelers have let a feature back rush for 75-plus yards and a score in three of their last four road games, including Javorius Allen last week. Yes, Crowell has three TDs in the past three games. But after Crowell rushed for negative five yards on six carries in the earlier meeting it's impossible to trust him with a fantasy play here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, CLE PIT 002200000 ***
While the Steelers have allowed multiple receivers to score or top 60 yards in three straight games, the last time Gabriel participated in such a game came back in Week 5. Temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE PIT 005501000 ***
The Steelers have shut out tight ends in five straight games since allowing Barnidge to score in Week 10. He's still the Browns' top target, doing more than enough to remain a viable fantasy option.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Travis Coons, CLE PIT 1111 ***
Three points last time out
against the Steelers; at least
this one's in Cleveland

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 Trent Richardson 50,1 5-40
WR Steve Smith 5-70
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 Ryan Mallett, BAL @CIN 400540020012 **
Mallett was less horrible than expected last week against the Steelers, but he'll likely live up (down?) to expectations against a Cincy D that's given up just two passing scores in the past five games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Javorius Allen, BAL @CIN 4005400000 ***
Allen was a surprising success last week, finding the end zone and contributing 114 yards from scrimmage against the Steel Curtain. However, a healthy Ravens backfield mustered just 58 combo yards in the earlier meeting with Cincy--plus the Bengals have something to play for and have given up a total of 212 rushing yards in their last four home games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kamar Aiken, BAL @CIN 005601000 **
Aiken is the Ravens' volume guy, but against a Cincy defense that's given up one WR TD in their last four at home, with only one WR topping 65 yards in that span, volume can only take him so far.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jeremy Butler, BAL @CIN 003400000 ***
A secondary target against a Bengals defense that's allowed only one WR TD in its last four at home--and has Ryan Mallet throwing the ball in his general direction--is a bad fantasy bet.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Wallace, BAL @CIN 002300000 ***
Wallace was blanked in the earlier meeting with Green Bay and is far too inconsistent to be anything more than a wildly tossed fantasy dart.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Benjamin Watson, BAL @CIN 007801000 ***
Watson was a monster in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, racking up 10-127-1. However, the Falcons have only given up one TE TD since their Week 10 bye and only one tight end has topped 55 yards since Watson's outburst so a repeat is hardly guaranteed--especially after Watson's disappointing 1-5 last week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Maxx Williams, BAL @CIN 003200000 ***
Williams has been decent since returning from a concussion, but there's a different between "decent" and "fantasy-relevant"--especially against a Bengals defense that's given up one TE TD all season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @CIN 0011 ***
Two and a half points
less per game without Flacco
Thanks, Schaub and Clausen

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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