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 JAC 0000021010 ****
The Jags have held seven of the last nine quarterbacks they've faced to one or zero touchdown passes. And for a guy who's tended to be better at home Flacco's Baltimore averages of a shade under 250 yards and two TDs isn't all that impressive. While the ceiling is low the floor is relatively high, especially since Flacco has added rushing scores to his repertoire the past two weeks. Consider him solid, but don't expect too much.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL JAC 10022100000 ***
Five straight feature backs have scored and/or topped 100 yards against the Jaguars. Forsett's personal streak with those milestones is four straight, including 71 and 1 last week despite limited touches due to his sore knee. Assuming he's still healthy enough to get 15 touches he's a solid fantasy prospect with significant upside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL JAC 300000000 ***
Pierce is somewhere between Option 2 and Option 3 in Baltimore. Last week Lorenzo Taliaferro saw more touches, so you would have to think Pierce is closer to third than second on the depth chart. Either way, he's a tricky start in what is overall a favorable matchup for the Ravens' backfield.
Update: Bump Pierce up slightly, as Taliaferro didn't practice all week and may not go on Sunday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL JAC 006801000 ***
WR1s have had the most success against Jacksonville recently--Beckham 7-90, Hilton 4-122-1, Bryant 6-158-2--and with Torrey Smith hurt Steve is clearly Baltimore's top option. That should help him put up numbers more in line with last week (7-70-1) and Week 12 (4-89-1) and less like Weeks 13 (1-2) or 10 (3-17).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kamar Aiken, BAL JAC 004500000 ***
Aiken moved up to wingman duties with Torrey Smith out, producing a solid 6-65-1. He's less likely to have such success against a Jacksonville defense that in the past month has held WR2s to stat lines like 4-17, 3-52, 4-38, and 0-0.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL JAC 004500000 *
Update: Smith is a game-time decision, but he was still hobbling at practice Friday so even if he's cleared you might want to look elsewhere for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL JAC 1144 ***
Tucker's gotten his kicks of late with two double-digit efforts in his past three games, and a date with a Jacksonville D that's allowed at least six points to each of the past seven kicker's they've faced doesn't hurt his prospects.

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
WR Andre Johnson 5-80,1

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 Ryan Fitzpatrick, HOU @IND 0000019011 ***
Fitz proved his six-pack against the Titans was a fluke by going belly-up to the tune of 135 and zero in Jacksonville. After throwing for 212 and one in a home loss to Indy, there's no reason to look for another fluke here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU @IND 9014201000 ***
Sticking with the run produces fantasy numbers against Indy; so do pass-catching backs, as the Colts have allowed three 50-yard receivers in the past six games. Foster is both, so a reprise of his 109 & 2 rushing, 3-32 receiving performance from the earlier meeting with Indianapolis seems likely. After all, in six career outings against the Colts he's averaging 143 yards and more than a touchdown per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Blue, HOU @IND 300000000 ***
Blue will need to get to 10 touches to be a fantasy factor; he hasn't done that in a game in which Foster has played in in a month and a half.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU @IND 007800000 ***
While the transition of Hopkins from wingman to WR1 may be complete, he has yet to prove it against Indy. And the way Andre Johnson has killed the Colts in the past, he may have to wait until AJ calls it a career before he gets his turn. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't likely to feed two fantasy WRs, so if you're picking between the two Hopkins falls short against the Colts.
Update: Hopkins might be Houston's WR1 by default if Andre Johnson can't go, but any optimism that generates is negated by news that Indy's top cover corner, Vontae Davis, likely returns for this game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU @IND 003400000 *
Johnson has historically killed the Colts, including his 7-99-1 in the earlier meeting with Indy. He's topped 100 yards three of his last four in Indy, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick likely to feed only one fantasy wideout Johnson's track record gets the nod over DeAndre Hopkins.
Update: Johnson did not practice until Friday--and then only on a limited basis--due to a concussion, and his availability for Sunday is far from assured. Best have a backup plan ready to roll if Johnson is inactive.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU @IND 2122 ***
Bullock has 43 points in his last four road games but was held to just four when Indy came to town earlier this year. So any upside is offset by an Indy D that's allowed just one game north of seven points since Week 2.

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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