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 CAR 0000024011 ***
It took 62 attempts for Flacco to approach fantasy relevancy in Week 1; he hasn't returned to either that number of throws or a significant fantasy contribution since. While Carolina has given up two TD tosses a couple times already--matching last season's total--they have yet to surrender a 20-fantasy point game to a quarterback. And after giving up multiple 100-yard rushers last week you'd think the Baltimore game plan would be run-heavy as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL CAR 5011000000 ***
Update: Pierce is listed as probable this week, but what if any role he returns to in the crowded Baltimore backfield remains to be seen.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL CAR 401000000 ***
On the heels of an 18-91-1 coming out party in Cleveland Taliaferro gets to face a Panthers defense that just got shredded for a matching set of 100-yard games by two Steelers RBs. Expect the fun to continue for the rookie.
Update: Bernard Pierce is expected back, but Gary Kubiak has always been a "hot hand" kind of guy and none of the Baltimore backs is hotter than Taliaferro. Even if Pierce gets the start, expect Taliaferro to remain in the mix--at minimum in goal-line work.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL CAR 5004200000 **
While Forsett is ceding touches to rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro he still has fantasy value as a change-of-pace guy; the Panthers have allowed two RB receiving scores already this season and served up 6-61 receiving to Joique Bell. Doesn't hurt that he'll likely get 10 carries as well, or that he's averaging better than six yards a tote.
Update: Whether it's Bernard Pierce or Taliaferro as the feature back, expect Forsett to maintain his change-of-pace duties. In this matchup, that's good enough to be a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL CAR 0071001000 ****
How can you not like Smith in a revenge game against the club that told him he couldn't play anymore? The Panthers haven't allowed a wideout to top 90 yards against them, but between the volume of targets Smith is seeing and the revenge multiplier there's significant fantasy upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL CAR 002300000 ***
Torrey has taken a back seat to Steve in the Panthers' passing game pecking order, and that's unlikely to change with Steve facing his former club and looking to dish out a measure of revenge.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jacoby Jones, BAL CAR 002200000 ***
Secondary receivers have found little success against the Panthers; no reason to think Jones bucks that trend on Steve Smith Revenge Day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL CAR 004300000 ***
With Dennis Pitta out for the season expect Daniels to take over his familiar role in Gary Kubiak's offense. Unfortunately, he'll open with a stout matchup against a Panthers D that has yet to allow a TE TD on the year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL CAR 2233 ***
Tucker's had multiple field goal attempts in each game this year and has posted back-to-back double-digit points. He's a solid fantasy option again this week.

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 BUF 0000025010 ***
Buffalo hasn't been a creampuff but they have allowed fantasy helpers to Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers. Fitz hasn't been anything special but his attempts climbed last week sans Arian Foster and he could be without his ground game again this week. It's an opportunity, one you may need to reach for with six teams on the bye this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Blue, HOU BUF 7011100000 ***
Blue is in line for another week of feature back touches with Arian Foster nursing a hamstring injury. He was a'ight last week in New York, and while the Bills don't necessarily offer an overly favorable matchup he might wind up being a decent enough volume play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Arian Foster, HOU BUF 00000000 *
Update: Foster will be a game-time decision due to his hamstring issues. Even if he goes, the plan is to give Alfred Blue at least a share of the workload. Probably best served on your bench unless you see him doing sprints during pregame.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU BUF 007901000 ***
Despite fewer targets than Andre Johnson in every game this season, Hopkins owns the only 100-yard game among Texans wideouts and two of the unit's three TDs. Buffalo let WR1s handle them in Weeks 1 and 2 before ceding scores to secondary targets last week. Either way, Hopkins is the more productive fantasy option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Johnson, HOU BUF 006700000 ***
Johnson has been the more targeted Texan, but DeAndre Hopkins has led Houston WRs in fantasy scoring each game this year. Expect more of the same against a Buffalo secondary that's no pushover but has allowed at least one WR TD every game this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Garrett Graham, HOU BUF 002200000 ***
Graham is healthy and his targets on the upswing, but let's let him do something fantasy-wise before trusting him with a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Randy Bullock, HOU BUF 3322 ****
Bullock sandwiched a 12-point game between a couple of five-point efforts, while the Bills were doing the same with fours and an eight. Odds are you won't get shut out, and there's certainly upside to Bullock's fantasy opportunity 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

a d v e r t i s e m e n t