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 WAS 0000030020 ****
Impressed at the Redskins' pass D numbers? Maybe don't be, as they've faced Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chad Henne. Foles has faced them three times, including his second NFL start; the two more recent meetings have yielded 345 and 298 passing yards. Foles has topped 320 yards in both outings thus far this year and should blow up Washington's stats with a big game this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeSean McCoy, PHI WAS 7014400000 ***
In two meetings with the Redskins during the Chip Kelly era McCoy has racked up 339 yards from scrimmage and scored three times. He's also hit triple digit yardage in both games this season. What's not to like?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darren Sproles, PHI WAS 5005401000 ***
Sproles has 263 combo yards and two TDs in his new gig in Philly, part of Chip Kelly's 1-2 backfield punch. The Redskins won't know what hit 'em.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jeremy Maclin, PHI WAS 006900000 ****
Maclin has hit triple digits each of his last three meetings with the Redskins--and that was before Chip Kelly brought the circus to town. He's scored in each game this season, so whether your scoring system is TD- or yardage-heavy Maclin has you covered.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Riley Cooper, PHI WAS 002300000 ***
Cooper has yet to recapture his glory days of last year, with just 37 yards to date. He didn't do much against the Redskins last year anyway, so no reason to change expectations here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Zach Ertz, PHI WAS 004601000 ****
No question Ertz has stepped up his game this year, seeing 11 targets and producing 163 yards and a TD in two games. The Redskins haven't seen much in the way of tight ends thus far; Ertz might catch them off guard.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Cody Parkey, PHI WAS 3333 ****
Big-legged kicker tacking on points for a squad that's hit 30 in both games thus far; gotta like them odds.

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 @CAR 0000023012 ***
Carolina hasn't allowed as much as a 20-point fantasy game to a visiting quarterback since Russell Wilson barely reached that mark with 320 and 1 in Week 1 of last season. They've held both Josh McCown and Matthew Stafford under that benchmark this season, and with one TD toss to his credit this year it's unlikely Big Ben cracks that mark as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT @CAR 5006500000 ***
The bad news is, Carolina hasn't allowed a RB rushing score or a back to rush for more than 54 yards this season. The good news is, Bell is contributing as a receiver as well and the Panthers have allowed a RB receiving score in each game this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT @CAR 006800000 ***
Even the mighty Megatron could muster only 83 yards without a score against the Panthers secondary, so despite Browns' hot start temper your expectations.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT @CAR 005400000 ***
Wheaton followed up his solid Week 1 showing with a down Week 2. The difficult matchup dictates Week 3 to be more like the latter than the former, which is bad fantasy news.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Lance Moore, PIT @CAR 002200000 ***
This offense usually feeds just two receivers, and against Carolina it will be lucky to provide one fantasy helper. Moore is too far down the depth chart to be banked on for production here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT @CAR 004300000 ***
Heath has yet to produce a fantasy helper this season, and the stout Carolina defense isn't likely to change that fate.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT @CAR 2211 ***
The usually reliable Suisham faces a Carolina defense that has yet to allow a field goal this season. On the bright side, this is bound to be a low-scoring affair which tends to mean fewer TDs and more field goals.

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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