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 Ryan Mathews 80,1 3-30
RB Darren Sproles 20 6-70,1
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 PIT 0000025011 ***
The second overall pick has looked the part. Stats haven't necessarily shown it for fantasy owners, but he more than passes the eyeball test. Wentz has a bright future but is not a smart fantasy start this week. Quarterbacks have hurled nearly 700 yards worth against Pittsburgh but only one touchdown pass.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ryan Mathews, PHI PIT 3011100000 ***
The matchup is quite positive, which is great, but can Carson Wentz keep defenders out of the box? Will he be outschemed? Mathews faces the 23rd-ranked defense of running backs, propelled by 15 catches for 162 yards and a score through the air.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren Sproles, PHI PIT 2003200000 ***
Here's a fair opportunity to toss Sproles into a PPR lineup if you can take the risk. Pittsburgh has been trampled through the air by receiving running backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI PIT 006901000 ***
Matthews has been on the field for 95 percent of Philly's offensive snaps. Receivers have caught 32 balls against the Steelers, but none of them have crossed the stripe. Matthews could be the first and best be in all traditional lineups.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI PIT 004600000 ***
Agholor could turn in a fine game, but trusting in him is so difficult. Pittsburgh's defense ranks 16th against the position. This stems from 32 catches for 405 yards, with zero touchdowns afforded to the position. Truly bend but don't break.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, PHI PIT 002300000 ***
His only real hope for fantasy production is by finding the end zone against a pass defense that hasn't given up a touchdown to receivers yet. That's not a risky owners should be willing to take.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Trey Burton, PHI PIT 004400000 ***
Seven targets, five catches, 49 yards and a score. Not too shabby for the third-year H-back. The Steelers have granted tight ends 14 catches for 128 yards, ranking as the 22nd strongest defense of this position. Play Burton if you like taking unnecessary chances.

Update: Zach Ertz has been ruled out this week, solidifying Burton's role as a total flier.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Caleb Sturgis, PHI PIT 1122 ***
Sturgis has no fantasy value for Week 3 in a matchup that shouldn't provide enough kicking chances.

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
RB Daryl Richardson 20,1 2-10
RB DeAngelo Williams 40 2-10
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 @PHI 0000026011 ***
Cleveland and Chicago have been No. 1-ranked Philadelphia's opponents ... hardly a real ranking it would appear. The Steelers have the weaponry to take advantage of this system. Trust Big Ben once again, but maybe slightly less that usual in the event this defense is not a product of weak matchups.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeAngelo Williams, PIT @PHI 8015400000 ***
The Eagles have given up 137 rushing, 62 receiving yards and two ground TDs. DAW is a fine play to continue his strong contributions in what should be his final start without Le'Veon Bell.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT @PHI 0061001000 ***
AB was shut down by his standards last week, which our projections accurately reflected if we may toot our own horn. The stud receiver will get back on track this week. The matchup doesn't agree on paper, but neither did Brown's history versus Cincy last week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Sammie Coates, PIT @PHI 003700000 ***
Coates has been doing exactly what he does best -- big plays, averaging 38.5 yards per catch on just four grabs. He's an all-or-nothing type and has a place only in non-PPR leagues as a risky flex or a DFS wildcard. Philly has given up the fourth most plays of 40-plus to wideouts.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eli Rogers, PIT @PHI 004500000 **
Following a nice Week 1 debut, which was inflated by a deflected touchdown grab, Rogers disappeared in the sequel. He's back for another shot at it against this presumably fake pass defense. Don't chance it unless you have no other viable selections.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jesse James, PIT @PHI 003300000 ***
James scored in Week 1 and is a nice safety outlet for Ben Roethlisberger. Philly has been dominant against the position by holding Zach Miller and Gary Barnidge to six total catches for 42 yards. James is a wild gamble.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT @PHI 2222 ***
Safe but unspectacular production should come from Boswell's accurate leg against the No. 27 PK defense.

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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