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: PIT 24, CIN 27 (Line: PIT by 2.5)

Players Updated: Rashard Mendenhall, Baron Batch, Isaac Redman, Armon Binns, Ben Roethlisberger, Jonathan Dwyer

Players to Watch: Andy Dalton

The 2-3 Steelers head to Cincinnati with an 0-3 road record while the 3-3 Bengals are just 1-1 at home. The Steelers swept the Bengals in 2011, winning 35-7 at home and 24-17 in Cincinnati.

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 16-14 14 SD -----
6 @TEN 23-26 15 @DAL -----
7 @CIN ----- 16 CIN -----
8 WAS ----- 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT @ CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 260,2
RB LeGarrette Blount 30
WR Antonio Brown 4-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 2-40
WR Lance Moore 5-70,1
TE Heath Miller 4-50,1
PK Shaun Suisham 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: You have to assume that the loss to the Titans was just a trap game and a number of bad bounces conspired to let the Titans take the win last Thursday. The loss drops them to 2-3 and worse yet 0-3 on the road. Of their two wins, the Eagles fell by only two points. This new offense is nothing special so far and that has translated into mostly disappointing results for fantasy players.

Ben Roethlisberger has scored in every game this year but the last two were only one touchdown each. He has passed for more than 340 yards in the last two road games and only been intercepted twice. But the scores are just not there outside of the Oakland loss. Surprisingly he has only been sacked twice in the last three games and that is freakishly low for a quarterback who ranks near the top of most sacked every season. But just fewer touchdowns. Part of the problem has been a defense that is not meeting expectations and has missed a few players including Troy Polamalu.

Rashard Mendenhall returned in the Philly game with 68 yards on 13 runs and a touchdown on his three catches for 33 yards. And then he injured his Achilles last week and was a killer to every fantasy owner who wanted in on that action they saw in week five. The reality is that Mendenhall is going to share carries and his status this week is not certain though his Achilles is not considered serious and he was mostly held out as a precaution. In his place Isaac Redman turned in 105 yards on four catches against the Titans. This will be another committee backfield though against a weak opponent, Mendenhall could be good enough to merit a fantasy start even with sharing.

Heath Miller started out with four scores in his first three weeks but has not scored since week three. But he remains solid with around 50 yards in most games anyway and usually comes in third for targets on the team.

Mike Wallace was a scary prospect to draft with his holdout but he has more than paid back his draft slot. Wallace has scored in all but one game this year and turns in 75+ yards in most games. Antonio Brown is the disappointment with only one score on the season but he remains the #1 target for Roethlisberger and is very consistent around seven catches for 80 yards in most games. But he only scored once so far and comes off a freakishly low 20 yards on four catches against the Titans.

What is not going to help the Steelers offensive line is being without C Maurkice Pouncey and RT Marcus Gilbert.

One of the biggest challenges this week is that the Bengals secondary has only allowed four scores to wideouts and no receiver has totaled more than 90 yards against them.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 8 15 11 6 9 28
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 21 28 5 22 20 29

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT @BAL 0000026020 ***
Big Ben rolls in after 365 against the Browns; the Ravens just served up 301 to Andy Dalton. It's hard to envision Steelers/Ravens as a shootout; nonetheless, the current iteration of each club suggests Roethlisberger is at least a decent fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT @BAL 6003200000 ***
Bell amassed 235 yards and a TD in last season's series with the Ravens; after putting up 197 and a touch in the season opener, there's no reason to think he'll be lacking in this matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Brown, PIT @BAL 003501000 **
Three different Steelers WRs have seen at least five targets in five of the last six meetings with Baltimore, proof that Ben Roethlisberger is willing to spread the ball around. However, over that same span secondary receivers have accounted for just one 100-yard game and two TDs so keep those expectations in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT @BAL 005700000 ***
Wheaton actually had more targets and catches than Antonio Brown last week and almost as many yards, solidifying his status as Pittsburgh's WR2. Between Ben Roethlisberger's willingness to spread the wealth and the Ravens' track record of keeping Brown in check Wheaton should get plenty of opportunities to continue his breakout season this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT @BAL 004600000 ***
After seeing AJ Green gouge the Ravens last week while Brown was scoring on Joe Haden it's tempting to simply plug Brown is as the fantasy WR1 he is. But his last three against the Ravens have resulted in mediocre 5-6 catch games for 50-59 yards, and Ben Roethlisberger demonstrated last week he's willing to spread the wealth. That dings Brown's fantasy prospects at least a little bit this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT @BAL 003300000 ***
Tyler Eifert was on his way to a very nice outing against the Ravens before messing up his elbow--an outing not unlike the ones Miller has tacked on the Ravens of late. With 200 yards and two TDs in the last three meetings Miller knows how to find the seams in the Baltimore defense--especially in Baltimore, where he's topped 85 yards in back-to-back outings.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT @BAL 3222 ***
Not surprisingly Steelers/Ravens matchups have tended to be low-scoring affairs; unfortunately for Suisham, it's been hit-or-miss as to whether that means just a couple of PATs or multiple field goal opportunities. In turn, that means he's a hit-or-miss fantasy play this week. Coming off three and three against the Browns, Suisham's prospects lean towards "hit".

Cincinnati Bengals
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @BAL 13-44 10 NYG -----
2 CLE 34-27 11 @KC -----
3 @WAS 38-31 12 OAK -----
4 @JAC 27-10 13 @SD -----
5 MIA 13-17 14 DAL -----
6 @CLE 24-34 15 @PHI -----
7 PIT ----- 16 @PIT -----
8 BYE ----- 17 BAL -----
9 DEN ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CIN vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Andy Dalton 10,1 250,2
WR A.J. Green 5-100,1
TE Jermaine Gresham 4-50,1
PK Mike Nugent 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Bengals are on a two game losing streak after opening the year 3-1. This week's game is crucial since a win both keeps them in the divisional race and drops the Steelers back another notch. More than anything is to avoid landing on bye with three straight losses after a strong opening to the season.

Andy Dalton has been highly productive with four of his last five games containing three touchdowns and passing for more than 310 yards three times. Dalton has made good progress this year including other receivers besides A.J. Green. With 12 passing scores, Dalton remains in the top ten of fantasy quarterbacks so far this year.

Proving that his success with the Patriots was because he was "with the Patriots", Benjarvus Green-Ellis only gained 62 rushing yards on 16 runs and did not score on the Browns last week. He's been nothing more than a straight-line plodder who needs first down on the one-yard line to score. That has only happened twice and not since week three.

A.J. Green has been unstoppable so far, scoring in every game since week two and posting three games over 100 yards already. His six receiving scores are tied with Victor Cruz for best in the league and with yardage considered is the #1 wideout with almost 15% more fantasy points than other receiver. Both Armon Binns and Andrew Hawkins figure in each week but their marginal stats leave them outside of fantasy relevance.

Jermaine Gresham scored for the second time this year when he handed in 68 yards on three catches in Cleveland and that makes three of the last four weeks gaining over 60 yards. He's a low level fantasy starter with the upside for a score in every game.

The Steelers will show up with a still decent rushing defense and with Green-Ellis a mediocre runner anyway he remains a marginal play for a but of yardage. But the Steelers have given up nine passing scores this year and and average two each in a road game along with decent yardage. Dalton will be attacking the secondary and that is where this game is lost or won. This game is a chance for Dalton to show that he's progressing against a divisional foe.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 9 25 2 18 15 20
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 11 7 15 23 8 5

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Andy Dalton, CIN ATL 0000028010 ***
The Bengals weren't nearly as run-heavy as anticipated under new OC Hue Jackson, but that was more a function of the opponent. Expect a little more running and a little less passing this week, though not enough to relegate Dalton to certain fantasy bench duty.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN ATL 9015400000 ****
Gio didn't get quite the extensive workout fantasy owners had hoped for under Hue Jackson, but that should change against an Atlanta defense that surrendered 183 combo yards to backs last week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN ATL 301000000 **
Hill was lightly used in his NFL debut, a product of the opponent as much as anything else. Now he'll face a Falcons defense that surrendered three RB rushing scores in Week 1; as Cincy's goal line guy you have to like his odds of slicing off a piece of that pie for himself.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN ATL 0061201000 ****
Mildly surprising that Green didn't have at least as many targets as the rest of Cincy's wideouts combined last week, but not surprising that he thoroughly outproduced them. The Falcons couldn't contain either Marcus Colston or Brandon Cooks last week, unlikely they'll find a way to slow Green's roll here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN ATL 004500000 ***
Until the Pips start producing consistently, which may not be until Marvin Jones returns, AJ Green is the only member of Cincy's wide receiving corps worthy of fantasy attention.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN ATL 003300000 ***
Gresham inherits at least some of the looks vacated by the injury to Tyler Eifert, though he's still a long shot to turn those extra looks into fantasy-relevant productivity.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN ATL 3333 ***
The Nuge got his kicks last week--five of them, in fact, on six attempts--and it's unlikely Atlanta keeps the Bengals off the scoreboard so he's a decent fantasy bet again 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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