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 Ben Tate
WR Josh Gordon 2-20
WR Andrew Hawkins 3-50,1
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
QB Brian Hoyer, CLE BAL 0000020010 ***
The Ravens have limited Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger to a combined one TD, so Hoyer may have to bust his hump just to get to his standard pedestrian 200 and 1. How long until Josh Gordon returns?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Terrance West, CLE BAL 8012100000 ****
The Ravens have allowed almost as much receiving yardage to RBs as they have rushing yardage. West did a little work in the passing game last week and that's his best chance to salvage fantasy value against a defense that limited Giovani Bernard and Le'Veon Bell to a combined 25-107.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE BAL 500000000 ****
Crowell is the junior partner in Cleveland's backfield jobshare, and he'll likely need a goal line look to cull fantasy value this week. Seeing as the Ravens haven't allowed an RB TD this year, outlook not good.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andrew Hawkins, CLE BAL 007800000 ****
22 targets, 14 catches, 157 yards... and not a touchdown to show for it. Other WR1s have put up yardage on the Ravens, and such volume suggests that's what role Hawkins is playing in Cleveland. Don't look for the TD and you'll be just fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, CLE BAL 002201000 **
Being the third receiver on a run-heavy team with a tough matchup doesn't bode well for Benjamin's prospects; neither do three catches in two games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Miles Austin, CLE BAL 004300000 ***
Was last week's 10-target total an aberration or a trend? Doesn't much matter; Andrew Hawkins is Cleveland's de facto WR1 and the Ravens have surrendered just one WR TD all year so Austin's fantasy prospects are dim.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Cameron, CLE BAL 003400000 *
If Cameron can play he's not a bad bet to approach the 5-95 he posted against the Ravens last year when Josh Gordon was out of the lineup. But he's still iffy with the shoulder injury, so at minimum you need to have a backup plan.
Update: Cameron was limited all week in practice and will likely be a game-time decision this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE BAL 3322 ***
No team has allowed more field goal attempts than Baltimore, and with Cundiff churning out regular Chuck Woolerys (two and two) or better he's a solid if unsexy fantasy play this week.

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

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 HOU 0000026012 ***
Sad to say, but Eli's 277 and two against the Cardinals last week feels like his ceiling for the season. A date with a Houston defense that's given up just one passing score in two games and an average of 265 yards certainly isn't favorable.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Rashad Jennings, NYG HOU 6014500000 ***
Jennings has 205 combo yards in two games and is easily the best thing going for the Giants' offense. Houston has allowed the likes of Darren McFadden and Darrel Young to find the end zone while giving up better than six yards per touch to opposing backs, clearing the way for another solid fantasy showing for Jennings.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Victor Cruz, NYG HOU 005701000 **
Well, the Giants heard Cruz's plea for more looks and doubled Victor's targets. But it's still not the offense that made Cruz... well, Cruz. The good news is, receivers targeted double-digit times against the Texans have been productive--combining for 19-189-1. So at least there's a chance here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Rueben Randle, NYG HOU 004500000 ***
Randle is too inconsistently targeted and the Giants' offense too moribund for him to be trusted with a fantasy start.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Larry Donnell, NYG HOU 007700000 ***
Shockingly, Donnell has been the most consistent contributor in the Giants' passing game with 12-137-1 in two games. As tight ends go, you could do worse for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Brown, NYG HOU 1122 ***
Tacking on points for an offense that's averaging 14 points per game is not exactly fantasy fodder.

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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