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: PHI 17, PIT 23 (Line: PIT by 3)

Players to Watch: Rashard Mendenhall

The 3-1 Eagles are all alone on top of the NFC East thanks to all three being by two points or less. The 1-2 Steelers come off their bye having last been upset by the Raiders and have been stewing about their losing record. This battle of Pennsylvania means much more to the Steelers than the Eagles.

Philadelphia Eagles
Homefield: Lincoln Financial Field
Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @CLE 17-16 10 DAL -----
2 BAL 24-23 11 @WAS -----
3 @ARI 6-27 12 CAR -----
4 NYG 19-17 13 @DAL -----
5 @PIT ----- 14 @TB -----
6 DET ----- 15 CIN -----
7 BYE ----- 16 WAS -----
8 ATL ----- 17 @NYG -----
9 @NO ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Darren Sproles 20 6-70,1
WR Alshon Jeffery 2-20
WR Torrey Smith 5-80,1
TE Brent Celek 6-60,1

Pregame Notes: The Eagles come off a win over the Giants where Michael Vick did not lose a fumble. He did not throw an interception. Actually he only threw one score and 241 yards with a season high 49 rushing yards. Not making mistakes helps the efforts but the Eagles seem destined to play in tight games every week regardless. What will be interesting this week is that Vick has scored at least once in every game - except for the one road match-up in Arizona.

LeSean McCoy finally comes off a big effort when he gained 123 rush yards and added 17 more as a receiver but he still has just one touchdown on the season after rushing in 17 in 2011. And his worst effort was when he only produced 78 total yards in the only road game of the year. McCoy's rushing yardage is not that much off, but he is not scoring and is not turning in much as a receiver this season. He still has nearly no competition for running back touches and yet has been unable to rekindle the success of last year. McCoy had some swelling in his knee after the Giants game but is not expected to miss any time.

Brent Celek may be one reason why McCoy has less presence as a receiver. Celek has not scored but has been very consistent with yardage and catches. That's more of a very low-end fantasy starter without the touchdowns but he continues to be factor in each game at least for first downs.

Jeremy Maclin is past his hip injury though he was a nonfactor last week in his first game back. Maclin scored in each of the first two weeks before the injury and has been the main receiver for Vick in the past. This week is not likely to offer too much with the trip to Pittsburgh. DeSean Jackson has stepped up and scored last week for the first time this year and he has been a solid fantasy starter every week except one... the road game in Arizona. Jason Avant is a nonfactor and that is not going to change.

The Eagles have done well winning close games and in fairness have played a slate of good defenses. That is not going to change this week with their trip to Pittsburgh where the Steelers have been waiting for two weeks to play this game. The Steelers secondary has been a bit softer this year than most but they continue to be very strong against the run. This will be yet another big challenge for the Eagles who have no idea what a big win or a close loss is like.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 14 24 16 7 20 25
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 11 5 14 23 6 19

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Carson Wentz, PHI CHI 10000024020 ***
Chicago has been rather strong against quarterbacks. Matt Stafford was above average last week, accounting for two of the three TDs this group has surrendered in the last four games. Wentz has some upside, but he's more safely a low-end starter than an elite option in Week 12.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jay Ajayi, PHI CHI 901000000 ***
Big plays have kept Ajayi's fantasy value afloat of late. The Bears have been a midrange matchup, which makes him a fringe choice. The position has averaged 88.5 rushing yards on 24.5 attempts, and on in 32.7 carries has found the end zone (10th-highest frequency).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Corey Clement, PHI CHI 4011100000 ***
Clement has proven to be valuable of late. The matchup is favorable, especially for scoring touchdowns, and Chicago has yielded the ninth-most receptions a week. One of 24 catches has scored vs. the Bears since Week 6.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, PHI CHI 300000000 ***
Flip a coin ... Blount is useless without scoring a touchdown. The matchup is at least favorable for that to be accomplished, but game flow will dictate his success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI CHI 004701000 ***
Chicago has given up the seventh-highest weekly average for receiving yardage, but that is about all. This is the ninth-worst matchup for scoring touchdowns.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI CHI 004501000 ***
The only way Agholor offers fantasy value is if he scores a touchdown, which is something Chicago has done a good job of limiting. Only two of the last 44 balls have scored. Overall, this is a moderate matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, PHI CHI 002200000 ***
Smith's only return on investment comes by way of a touchdown. Chicago, conversely, hasn't allowed more than two of them in the last four games against wide receivers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Zach Ertz, PHI CHI 005600000 **
Ertz has cooled lately. The matchup isn't ideal, either. Da Bears have no allowed a score in the last four games against tight ends, rating as the second-hardest opponent overall.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jake Elliott, PHI CHI 0000 *
Elliott is in the concussion protocol and is unclear for this week. The Bears have given up 7.8 fantasy points, on average, which is in the middle of the league.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC -----
2 NYJ 27-10 11 BAL -----
3 @OAK 31-34 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 vs PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 280,2
WR Antonio Brown 4-60

Pregame Notes: The Steelers come off their bye week with a 1-2 record and both losses came in road games. This week is at home but against the Eagles should prove far more competitive than the Jets were when they visited Pittsburgh in week two. The new offense is producing far better passing numbers as intended with Ben Roethlisberger posting eight touchdowns in just three games. He has never thrown for fewer than two scores and has so far been very healthy with the pass yardage. Big Ben only has one interception all year after throwing 120 passes.

The big news - if you are a member of the Mendenhall clan - is that Rashard is back this week and expected to start. Mendenhall has been rehabbing after the knee surgery in the offseason and will make his debut here. His first week will surely be one with limited work and it may take at least a few weeks for him to get back to where he was last year - a mediocre back who almost never had more than 65 rush yards per week and almost never caught the ball.

The difference now is that he has to learn a new offense and the team already has Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer in the mix. If Mendenhall does not get touchdown duty at the goal line - which is likely - then he will lose the only aspect that made him worthy of a fantasy start last season. This all bears watching but chances are high that this underperforming rushing offense is not going to improve much with Mendenhall returning from knee surgery.

Heath Miller has been a huge surprise so far with a score in every game and two touchdowns against the Raiders in week three. Miller has been incorporated into the passing scheme under new OC Todd Haley and become the main reason why the running backs are not scoring this year.

Mike Wallace has also scored in each game and usually turned in big yardage while doing it. Antonio Brown had the big payday and seemed likely to be the preferred target for Roethlisberger but he has just one touchdown so far. Brown is very consistent with 74+ yards every week though and is definitely a must start. Between the two wideouts and Miller, that's all Big Ben has needed.

This week the Steelers come off a bye week rested and prepared to face the Eagles who keep winning by one or two points as long as they are at home. The rushing effort here only gets more diced up with Mendenhall back and offers no reliable fantasy play this week and maybe any week. But Big Ben will get a good test against one of the better secondaries and he will be the one that wins or loses this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 4 22 4 5 19 30
Preventing Fantasy Points PHI 5 6 16 4 19 30

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT GB 0000028020 ***
Green Bay has surrendered 293 yards per game, which ranks as the second most in football. The rest of the matchup isn't too appealing. At home, though, Big Ben and his vast array of weaponry shouldn't have much trouble finding a way to post fantasy-worth stats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT GB 10015500000 ***
Green Bay has been trampled through the air by running backs without giving up a touchdown. This is the fifth-best matchup for receptions and fourth-softest for yardage. On the turf, Bell has a moderate opponent at hand.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT GB 00101201000 ***
This is the fifth-best matchup for receptions, second for yardage, and 10th for TD frequency. Only four teams have allowed more PPR points, and the number is just three more in standard scoring.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT GB 004501000 ***
The rookie faces one of the best matchups in either scoring format. Green Bay has surrendered great numbers for receptions (5th), yardage (2nd), fantasy points (4th) and PPR points (5th). It's the 10th-easiest matchup for TD efficiency.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT GB 003300000 ***
Green Bay is a top-five fantasy matchup in both scoring formats. Bryant is as risky as they come, and the lack of a large enough role should keep him on the pine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jesse James, PIT GB 002200000 ***
James is too inconsistent to be trusted with a valuable lineup spot and no bye weeks. Green Bay is the fifth-hardest matchup, too.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT GB 1144 ***
Green Bay has yielded the third-most possible points and the most actual fantasy points on a weekly basis (tied). Boswell is the No. 2 kicker in the past five weeks but may struggle to find ample three-point tries.

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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