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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 5
2012
ARI at STL (THU) CHI at JAC MIA at CIN *TEN at MIN
ATL at WAS *CLE at NYG PHI at PIT *HOU at NYJ (MON)
BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

Prediction: CLE 13, NYG 30 (Line: NYG by 10)

Players to Watch: Any CLE receiver who actually catches the ball

Players Updated: Hakeem Nicks, Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Martellus Bennet, Mohamed Massaquoi

The 0-4 Browns now head to New York in search of their first win but the 2-2 Giants just lost a close one in Philadelphia and will be primed to make this game a statement.

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 16-23 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 70 6-40
RB Ben Tate
WR Josh Gordon 2-20
WR Andrew Hawkins 3-50,1
WR Greg Little 4-70,1
TE Jordan Cameron 3-20
PK Billy Cundiff 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: Sure, the Browns have not won any games. But they have certainly been in most games and there are enough positives to hope for better times ahead, if only in 2013. Brandon Weeden has been genuinely impressive with over 320 passing yards during the two road efforts in Cincinnati and Baltimore. He only has three touchdowns against seven interceptions but given the number of dropped passes by several receivers it is a miracle he has the yardage he did. Weeden is getting better fast and trying to drag his band of mediocre receivers along with him.

Greg Little is thrown the most passes and has the most drops - by far. He let a touchdown go through his hands in Baltimore and this team has too few opportunities to let that happen. Amazingly, Weeden has two efforts over 320 yards and yet there are no receivers here that are worth a fantasy start. Josh Gordon has been a colossal flop so far. Travis Benjamin and Jordan Norwood help out when they too are not dropping passes. Mohamed Massaquoi has been marginal and that was when he was healthy.

Second-year tight end Jordan Cameron seemed to be on the rise with seven targets in week three that resulted in five receptions for 45 yards but then he was only able to hang onto one of his six passes in Baltimore while Benjamin Watson had his best game of the year of five catches for 52 yards. None of these receivers have any consistency if they even have one decent game.

Trent Richardson is pretty light on the rushing yardage but he has scored once in each of the last three games. Richardson has gained 222 yards on 64 runs for a 3.5 yard rushing average - not that bad considering how many times he is met in the backfield by a defender. He's propping up his fantasy value with around four or five catches per game.

No doubt going to New York after the Giants are coming off a loss will not make it any better. The Browns played a competitive game against the Ravens but this non-divisional matchup is going to be even harder. The Giants should have enough defense here to keep the Browns from making this into a close game. But once again, Weeden will need to throw early and often.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 29 12 25 23 17 9
Preventing Fantasy Points NYG 21 11 22 8 14 10

  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.

New York Giants
Homefield: Meadowlands Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 DAL 17-24 10 @CIN -----
2 TB 41-34 11 BYE -----
3 @CAR 36-7 12 GB -----
4 @PHI 17-19 13 @WAS -----
5 CLE ----- 14 NO -----
6 @SF ----- 15 @ATL -----
7 WAS ----- 16 @BAL -----
8 @DAL ----- 17 PHI -----
9 PIT ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NYG vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning 310,3
RB Peyton Hillis
WR Victor Cruz 6-100,2
WR Mario Manningham 4-40
WR Hakeem Nicks
TE Kellen Davis 2-20

Pregame Notes: Tough loss to the Eagles means the Giants are now 0-2 in their own division and have a tough slate looming once this game is over. A home game is not likely to become a trap after a loss and the Giants are losing any margin of error already this early in the season.

Eli Manning has again fallen short against a divisional rival but in fantasy terms has been no worse than solid. He passed for 309 yards and two scores on the Eagles and has never failed to score at least once each week. Manning is good enough that he doesn't miss Hakeem Nicks, he just switches over to whomever the replacement is that week and makes them a temporary fantasy stud.

Last week it was Domenik Hixon with six receptions for 114 yards and the previous game Ramses Barden ended with nine catches for 138 yards. Nicks has not yet practiced and suffered a setback with his knee which made him downgraded to doubtful and then not play. Until he can practice and looks good to go, Hixon will replace him. Victor Cruz comes off his second big game of the year when he posted nine receptions for 109 yards and a score on the Eagles and he remains the one consistent player for the Giants. He'll especially enjoy the absence of CB Joe Haden who continues to serve a suspension.

Last week was a disappoint when Martellus Bennett only came away with one catch for two yards after three straight weeks of scoring and gaining decent yardage. He had a 38-yard catch to open the game nullified with an unrelated penalty but then they shifted away from him. Bear Pascoe even scored a touchdown in his only catch in the game. Bennett will be back and is in no jeopardy of being phased out.

Fantasy hell happened too when Ahmad Bradshaw returned and he not only had a mediocre game of 39 rush yards and 38 receiving yards with no touchdowns, he completely killed off all value of Andre Brown (5-14). This is back to being Bradshaw's show and that one big game by Brown may not happen again if Bradshaw can somehow remain healthy,

The Browns secondary is not at full strength and has allowed nine touchdowns already this year and three games over 310 yards. Expect a strong showing here by the passing game and just moderate numbers from the rushing effort as the Browns have yet to allow any running back to rush in a score.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NYG 11 17 2 12 3 22
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 29 19 31 3 7 27

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Eli Manning, NYG WAS 0000022021 ***
Manning continues to dribble easy matchups down his leg, so no matter that only four teams have given up more passing scores than Washington; Manning's a risky fantasy play at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Rashad Jennings, NYG WAS 4005300000 ***
Jennings has been far and away the most productive back on the Raiders' roster; as a thanks for salvaging their ground game following yet another Darren McFadden injury, he got a kick-in-the-teeth score vultured by McFadden last week. No reason to think he'll do anything of note against a Denver defense that's motivated to lock down the top seed.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jerrel Jernigan, NYG WAS 005701000 ***
The Redskins have allowed only two WR TDs in the past month, none to the Giants in the earlier meeting. Between Eli Manning's foibles and the underachieving, injury-depleted Giants receiving corps, the frequently targeted Jernigan might be the best/only fantasy play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG WAS 006800000 ***
Nicks is making a late push for free agency money, but it's not a particularly forceful push--certainly not one that warrants fantasy attention.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Rueben Randle, NYG WAS 00000000 ***
Randle continues to be frequently targeted, but with the Giants' passing game struggling mightily there just isn't enough here to bank on fantasy help. UPDATE: Randle did not practice Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable. Not enough upside to offset the risk of using him in your fantasy lineup this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Brown, NYG WAS 1133 ***
Brown has been all-or-nothing this year: four double-digit games, yet he ranks 30th in kicker scoring. He managed six points against the Redskins a month ago, no reason to expect a significant uptick here.

WEEK 5
2012
ARI at STL (THU) CHI at JAC MIA at CIN *TEN at MIN
ATL at WAS *CLE at NYG PHI at PIT *HOU at NYJ (MON)
BAL at KC *DEN at NE *SD at NO Bye:
*Updated BUF at SF GB at IND SEA at CAR DAL, DET, OAK, TB

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