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
PHI @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Mark Sanchez 100
RB LeSean McCoy 80 4-20
RB Darren Sproles 20 6-70,1
WR Jeremy Maclin 3-40
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 Nick Foles, PHI @HOU 0000031022 ****
Extremely favorable matchup for Foles, who has multiple TDs in three straight and already has four 300-plus yard games to his credit this year. Houston has served up multiple touchdown tosses in six straight, 299 yards or more in three of the last four. It all adds up to big things for Foles this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeSean McCoy, PHI @HOU 6002100000 ***
Maybe the Texans aren't quite ready for big-boy football, NFC East style: in three previous games against the division this year the worst game by a feature back was Alfred Morris' 14-91. That's better than six yards a carry, if you're scoring at home (or even if you're by yourself). Rashad Jennings banged out a 34-176-1 and DeMarco Murray posted a 31-136 plus another 56 receiving yards. So it's a great opportunity for McCoy to follow in that 5.1 yards per carry, 134 rushing yards per game mode--especially if Darren Sproles continues to be limited or absent due to his knee injury.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren Sproles, PHI @HOU 2005400000 *
Only seven teams have allowed more RB receiving yards than the Texans, so if Sproles is healthy he should return to his usual place among PPR/performance league RB contributors.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI @HOU 006701000 ****
Receivers have had success getting behind the Houston secondary, from James Jones (112 & 1) to Victor Cruz (107 & 1) to Mike Williams (84 & 1) to... well, the list includes at least one receiver from every team the Texans have faced since Week 2. With Maclin heavily targeted and clearly capable of getting behind defenses himself, he's a fabulous fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Riley Cooper, PHI @HOU 005800000 ****
Cooper's targets are trending up, just in time for a favorable matchup with a Houston secondary that's allowed multiple receivers to either score or top 60 yards in five of eight games this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI @HOU 004500000 ***
Matthews' fantasy owners have to hope Jeremy Maclin isn't a ball hog. Three times this year the Texans have allowed a 100-yard receiver; in all of those games the feature receiver has also scored, but no other wideout has scored or tallied as much as 50 yards. In the other five games, multiple receivers have scored and/or topped 60 yards. So... share, Jeremy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Zach Ertz, PHI @HOU 005500000 ***
Ertz has been consistent, notching between 39 and 48 yards in each of the past five games. Unfortunately he's also been consistently held out of the end zone, scoring just once in that span. Houston is a moderately favorable fantasy matchup for tight ends and it is a six-team bye week so Ertz likely clings to a lineup spot. But we can't offer a ringing endorsement.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Cody Parkey, PHI @HOU 3222 ****
Though his numbers have dipped each of the past couple games Parkey is still a rock-solid fantasy kicking option, having tallied eight or more points six times in seven outings. No need to shy away from this matchup.

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
WR Lance Moore
TE Heath Miller 4-40,1
PK Shaun Suisham 3 FG 2 XP

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 BAL 0000031021 ***
The earlier meeting with Baltimore was easily Big Ben's worst fantasy outing of the season, with no TDs and 217 passing yards. Since then he's topped 300 twice and 250 two more times along with four multiple touchdown efforts. His track record against the Ravens isn't exactly sterling, with just two multiple TD outings in the past 11 meetings and only one trip north of 300 yards. But fresh off 522 and six, and with six teams on the bye, he's at least worth a look-see this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT BAL 6008700000 ****
Bell has reached triple-digit combo yardage in every game this season, including 107 in the earlier meeting with Baltimore. He had 232 combo yards in last season's series as well, so in performance leagues he's a rock-solid fantasy play. It's be nice if he mixed in a few more touchdowns, however; a Ravens D that's allowed only three RB TDs this year doesn't project to be much of a helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT BAL 0081202000 ***
Brown has had plenty of nice yardage outings against the Ravens, but he's still looking for his first touchdown grab against them. Baltimore has allowed only six WR TDs on the season, so it's no lock for Brown to find the end zone here; however, that he has five TDs in four home games suggests it's at least a strong possibility.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT BAL 003400000 ****
Bryant has three TDs in two NFL games and could be the Steelers new version of Plaxico Burress. He's a red zone option that wasn't at Big Ben's disposal in the earlier meeting; at minimum he's a viable option in TD-heavy scoring systems with six teams on the bye.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT BAL 004300000 ****
The emergence of Martavis Bryant, along with the return of Lance Moore from injury and the presence of Darrius Heyward-Bey, have all conspired to bump Wheaton from viable WR2 to just one of the guys in Pittsburgh. It's not a favorable enough matchup to go this deep into the Steelers' receiver rotation for fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT BAL 004300000 ****
Both of Miller's fantasy helpers this year came at home, so he's got that going for him. Working against him: his 4-35 in the earlier meeting with Baltimore, a Ravens defense that's allowed only one TE TD on the season, and a plethora of targets for Ben Roethlisberger to spread the ball around to.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT BAL 3322 ****
The Ravens haven't allowed a double-digit scoring game to a kicker since Week 1, so there's a ceiling on Suisham's fantasy prospects this week.

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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