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 Nick Foles, PHI OAK 0000024020 ***
Foles pitched four TD passes in last week's showdown with the Giants and has a decent enough matchup this week. Oakland is 16th in fantasy points allowed (20.2) since Week 10, permitting just six TDs in the last five games. This is the 17th-best defense for limiting passing yards.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jay Ajayi, PHI OAK 8011100000 ***
Running backs have averaged 77.2 rushing yards (24th), 5.0 receptions (19th), 28.2 receiving yards (19th), and a touchdown every 26.3 attempts (10th) vs. the Raiders in the past five weeks. Overall, this is a bottom-nine matchup in both scoring formats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, PHI OAK 200000000 ***
Oakland offers a promising matchup for touchdowns, so maybe gamers get lucky. Avoid Blount and his limited role where possible.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI OAK 004501000 ***
Jeffery has scored four times in his last five outings, which matches what the Raiders have permitted during that stretch. The Oakland defense has given up 10.4 receptions (24th) for 132.4 yards (26th) since Week 10.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI OAK 006700000 ***
For all of Oakland's ails in 2017, this group has been solid enough against wideouts. In recent weeks, the defense even learned how to intercept passes. The last receiver to score was in Week 12, and that includes holding Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Sterling Shepard, Tyreek Hill and Dez Bryant out of the end zone.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, PHI OAK 001200000 ***
Smith has not been enough of a factor to consider him as anything more than the wildest of flex gambles for deeeeeeep leagues.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Zach Ertz, PHI OAK 004601000 ***
Impressively, despite Oakland being the easiest team for giving up receptions to the position, it is also the strongest at limiting touchdowns to the position. Since Week 10, only one of the 31 catches have scored, but the 81.2 yards per contest against ranks first.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Jake Elliott, PHI OAK 1144 ***
In the past five games, kickers have made all 22 attempts -- an even split per FGAs and XPAs -- against Oakland. This is the No. 6 matchup to exploit for Week 16.

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 Stevan Ridley 60,1 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 @HOU 0000031031 ***
No Antonio Brown limits things a little for Big Ben. The matchup is awfully promising, and he has talented playmakers in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant, in addition to the always dangerous Le'Veon Bell from the backfield. Houston has provided quarterbacks a touchdown every 12.3 completions (12th) and surrendered a big day to Blake Bortles a week ago.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT @HOU 6015500000 ***
Bell should see the rock aplenty with Antonio Brown out of action. The dual threat will face a Texans defense giving up big gains on the ground but modest numbers in the passing game to RBs. Since Week 10, this group has allowed 110.4 rushing yards, 34.4 receiving yards, and a rushing score every 17.7 carries (4th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT @HOU 0071202000 ***
The rookie gets to take off the training wheels, if that didn't already happen last year. The Texans have provided wideouts big performances while limiting overall team figures, mostly due to cake matchups. The likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Marquise Goodwin, Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens throttled this secondary in the past five weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT @HOU 006801000 ***
Bryant will assume a larger role with Antonio Brown out. The Texans were gashed by Blake Bortles's merry band of misfits in Week 15, and this could be a fine time to chance starting the downtrodden former rising star. Since Week 10, receivers have scored four times in the last five games vs. the Texans.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eli Rogers, PIT @HOU 002200000 ***
Rogers will be asked to pick up some slack with Antonio Brown out, though gamers have so many better places to find value in Week 16.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jesse James, PIT @HOU 003300000 ***
We won't even rehash the catch controversy from Week 15. James will see a few more looks with Antonio Brown out, but there shouldn't a great deal of confidence in starting him. Houston provides a wonderful matchup, so brave owners may be able to stomach the risk.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT @HOU 1144 ***
On a per-game rate, the Texans offer the top matchup for extra points and the No. 10 matchup for field goal tries. Together this forms fantasy's seventh-best matchup.

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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