FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 7
2012
SEA at SF (THU) *DAL at CAR *NYJ at NE DET at CHI (MON)
*ARI at MIN *GB at STL *PIT at CIN Bye:
BAL at HOU *JAC at OAK TEN at BUF ATL, DEN, KC,
*UPDATED *CLE at IND *NO at TB *WAS at NYG MIA, PHI, SD

Prediction: BAL 17, HOU 30 (Line: HOU by 6)

Players to Watch: Arian Foster, maybe even Ben Tate

The Ravens squeaked past the Cowboys last week but his the road where they are only 1-1 and just lost two of their best defenders. The Texans come off a crushing defeat by the Packers that knocked them off their unbeaten perch. The Ravens beat the visiting Texas 29-14 in week six last year and later 20-13 when they hosted the Divisional Round of the playoffs. This time the game is in Houston where the Texans are ticked about losing so poorly to Green Bay and they will want revenge on the Ravens whose defense is suddenly shredded by injury.

Baltimore Ravens
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN 44-13 10 OAK -----
2 @PHI 23-24 11 @PIT -----
3 NE 31-30 12 @SD -----
4 CLE 23-16 13 PIT -----
5 @KC 9-6 14 @WAS -----
6 DAL 31-29 15 DEN -----
7 @HOU ----- 16 NYG -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @CIN -----
9 @CLE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL @ HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 10 260,1
WR Steve Smith 5-50
WR Torrey Smith 4-70
TE Owen Daniels 5-70
TE Dennis Pitta 4-30,1
PK Justin Tucker 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Losing CB Lardarius Webb and MLB Ray Lewis for the rest of the year is going to an even bigger hole in a defense that already was dealing with injuries and a reduced ability to stop opponents. Week eight offers a chance to regroup on the bye but a trip to Houston this week is not what this team needed.

For being a wide open passing attack, Joe Flacco has not been the source of scoring in most games. Over the last three weeks, Flacco has only passed for two touchdowns and was blanked in Kansas City. He has managed decent yardage in most home games but only posted 234 yards and one score on the Cowboys last week and never more than 232 yards in a road game. He is connecting better with the wide receivers but at the expense of the tight ends.

Ray Rice may not be quite as prolific as last year but he's still plenty productive and consistent with around 100 total yards as the worst he has offered thus far. Concerning is that Rice has not scored in a road game though his rushing yardage has been healthy even away from Baltimore. There is a minor concern that the loss of defenders for the Ravens could mean higher opponent scores and less ability to just rush the ball. But Rice can catch the ball as well as run it. He has been held to just one catch in the last two weeks though and that too may be a function of Flacco connecting better with wide receivers.

Dennis Pitta was the man for the first three weeks as he racked up 18 catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns. But he has just seven catches for 55 yards in the last three outings and can be safely dropped. Pitta was a factor until the passing game started to hit its stride. He's more of a blocker now.

Anquan Boldin has been responsible for most of the growth of the offense. He has turned in at least 82 yards and four catches in each of the last three weeks including nine catches for 131 yards versus the visiting Browns. Against the Cowboys and their improved cornerbacks. Boldin posted five receptions for 98 yards. Torrey Smith has been mostly quiet for the last couple of weeks though he scored once on the Cowboys. His four touchdowns lead the Ravens while no other wideout has more than one score.

The Ravens will try to run Rice but that should have minimal success since no one has rushed in a touchdown on the Texans and almost all runners end up with fewer than 70 rushing yards. Knowing Rice is central to their offense, the Texans will specifically plot to limit him. But the passing lanes should be better now that both Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning have shown that you can throw on the Texans. The question is if that can be enough with a lack of scoring from Flacco.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 15 7 16 17 7 7
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 12 4 16 9 3 8

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL CLE 0000022010 ***
Flacco was ordinary (217 and 1) in the earlier meeting with Cleveland, and there's little in his season stats, history with the Browns, or Cleveland's season thus far suggest he'll stray far enough from ordinary to warrant fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL CLE 12022100000 ***
After giving up 154 RB rushing yards (63 to Forsett on 11 carries) to the Ravens in the earlier meeting, the Browns have allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers the past two weeks. Forsett has been showing signs of wearing down, but in a must-win for Baltimore expect him to get enough touches--and do enough with them--to be a fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL CLE 004601000 *
After ceding WR1 duties to Steve Smith to start the season, Torrey has been the more productive wideout over the past two months. He's scored six touchdowns in seven games, including two last week in Houston. Maybe he draws Joe Haden this time around, or maybe he capitalizes on not getting Haden with another solid effort. Either way, he's a viable fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL CLE 004500000 ***
Steve bettered Joe Haden to the tune of 105 yards in the earlier meeting, so aside from expected pedestrian numbers from the Baltimore passing game there's no need to fear this matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL CLE 003300000 ***
The Browns limited Baltimore tight ends to 20 yards in the earlier meeting, and Daniels has done nothing since to warrant fantasy consideration here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL CLE 1133 ***
Tucker reached double-digit points in Cleveland; chances are he'll meet or beat that performance when the Brownies limp into Baltimore with nothing to play for.

Houston Texans
Homefield: Reliant Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 MIA 30-10 10 @CHI -----
2 @JAC 27-7 11 JAC -----
3 @DEN 31-25 12 @DET -----
4 TEN 38-14 13 @TEN -----
5 @NYJ 23-17 14 @NE -----
6 GB 24-42 15 IND -----
7 BAL ----- 16 MIN -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @IND -----
9 BUF ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 250,1
RB Arian Foster 120,2 1-10
RB Jonathan Grimes 10

Pregame Notes: The Texans fell from the ranks of the unbeaten when the Packers handled them in most every facet of the game. That probably said more than the Packers than the Texans though and the incoming Ravens do not have nearly as many weapons to use in their passing attack. With only a bye waiting on the other side, figure on this week being about dusting themselves off from last week and reasserting their dominance against a visiting team already weaker on the road and that just lost two more critical defenders.

Matt Schaub was unable to rally the Texans in the face of the onslaught by the Packers and passed for just 232 yards and no touchdowns. He threw a freakish four scores in Denver but otherwise has only four touchdowns over the other five games with most remaining right around that 200 yard "average" mark. It doesn't help Schaub that the Texans always bring in running plays when close to the endzone. He has marginal fantasy value and is hard to rely on even to fill in for a bye.

Arian Foster only gained 29 yards on 17 runs against the suddenly inspired Packers but he still scored two touchdowns. That makes at least one score in every game and eight touchdowns on the year. He is only caught one pass in each of the last four games so his touchdowns are the saving grace in a fantasy sense. Last week was a freakish low rushing total - Foster has been good for at least 80 rush yards in all the other games. He takes up such a big part of the rushing load that Ben Tate has lost all value besides backing up Foster should he ever miss a game.

Owen Daniels was held to just 46 yards on three catches last week but that broke a three week streak of touchdowns and decent yardage. Outside of Andre Johnson, Daniels remains a much used target and preferred receiver for Schaub.

Andre Johnson comes off his most productive game since the season opener when he caught eight passes for 75 yards on the Packers though much of that came later in the game when the defense was allowing the underneath throws. Thanks to the great rushing effort and usually dominant defense, the need to throw to any receiver has not been great in most games and that translates even to Johnson who has not scored since week three and was only good for one catch for 15 yards in the week five match-up against the Jets.

This is a good week to face the Ravens. They just lost their best cornerback and MLB Ray Lewis was not only their leading tackler but the heart and soul of the defense. The Texans should be plenty focused after their loss last week and will look to exploit the injury-ravaged defense.

The Ravens were already weaker against the run before losing Lewis and have allowed six rushing touchdowns already this year. They gave up 216 rush yards to the Cowboys and 200 rush yards to the Chiefs the week before. This will be a good week to own Arian Foster... not that they are not all that way...

I like a defensive score in this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 27 2 30 7 8 8
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 8 20 21 13 23 4

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Case Keenum, HOU JAC 20000018000 ***
At this point it's no longer a surprise that the Jags aren't the cupcake matchup many assume; Tony Romo in Week 10 is the last quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns against them, and not since Philip Rivers in Week 4 have they surrendered a 300-yard game. No reason to think Keenum's stat line gets well this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU JAC 13023200000 ***
Foster has seven touchdowns in seven career games against the Titans; that total includes four 100-yard rushing days as well. He's averaged 25 carries per game over the past three, producing 322 yards in the process. No reason to think he won't find similar success against the Jags this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Blue, HOU JAC 301000000 **
If Arian Foster goes down with an injury, or if the Texans get ahead by so much they can start playing the backups, or if Foster just needs to share the load in what by necessity will be a run-first game plan for Houston... well, then, you're my boy, Blue!
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU JAC 004700000 ***
Reduced quarterback numbers trickle down to reduced receiver numbers, as the Texans haven't had a WR TD or a receiver top 80 yards in almost a month. That stretch includes a combined 10 WR catches (on 14 targets) against the Jags; tough to carve fantasy value out of such a small number, even though Hopkins has taken over as the Texan's WR1.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Garrett Graham, HOU JAC 002200000 ***
Graham's been dinged up, leaving Ryan Griffin to get the targets... except when CJ Fiedorowicz steals the touchdowns. It's a cluster, with not nearly enough production to float one boat let alone three.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU JAC 1144 ***
Bullock has at least nine points in three of his last four, including Week 14 in Jacksonville. Balance the motivation of a Houston squad still alive for the postseason with the issues of a backup-to-the-backup quarterback and you should still get a solid kicker outing this week.

WEEK 7
2012
SEA at SF (THU) *DAL at CAR *NYJ at NE DET at CHI (MON)
*ARI at MIN *GB at STL *PIT at CIN Bye:
BAL at HOU *JAC at OAK TEN at BUF ATL, DEN, KC,
*UPDATED *CLE at IND *NO at TB *WAS at NYG MIA, PHI, SD

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