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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
RB Felix Jones 80 3-30
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling 4-20
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 CLE 0000024020 ***
The Browns have allowed multiple passing scores in 10 straight games, a stretch that includes Big Ben's 217 & 2 in Week 12. Roethlsiberger's yardage has been subdued of late, but he has multiple TD tosses in five of six and will stick around as long as it takes with the Steelers' playoff hopes still clinging to life support.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT CLE 7014300000 ***
Bell rushed for 80 yards in the earlier meeting with Cleveland. Since then the Browns have softened a bit, surrendering 100-yard outings in back-to-back games. Bell rushed for 124 yards last week in Green Bay and has scored in back-to-back games; he also has a couple 50-yard receiving games in that span as well. With the Steelers still playing for something, Bell's about as good a fantasy back bet as there is this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, PIT CLE 601000000 **
Prior to last week's aberration against the Dolphins, the Bills allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers. They also served up 162 rushing yards to the Patriots in the earlier meeting this season; unfortunately, after Shane Vereen (if healthy) takes his bite off the top the leftovers will be split between Blount and Stevan Ridley--and only Bill Belichick knows who'll get the money shots.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT CLE 005801000 ***
With 92 yards and a TD in Cleveland earlier this season, Brown ain't 'fraid of no Haden. He's scored in three straight and five of six and is consistently Big Ben's favorite target so don't sweat the Iron Haden.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Lance Moore, PIT CLE 002200000 ***
Moore has to battle Kenny Stills and Robert Meachem for secondary looks behind Marques Colston in an offense that throws to the tight end and running backs more than the wideouts. That's not a recipe for fantasy success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT CLE 003200000 ***
The Steelers have one TE TD in the past nine games, and it went to Matt Spaeth, not Miller. Heath had 5-41 in the earlier meeting with Cleveland, a game sandwiched in between outings in which the Browns gave up multiple touchdowns. So there's at least a glimmer of hope here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT CLE 2233 ***
Suisham tallied nine in Cleveland last month and has 20 points over the past two games. With the Steelers clinging to playoff hopes, Suisham will be pressed to put points on the board once again.

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
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis 60 4-20
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 BAL 0000027020 ***
Dalton has multiple touchdown tosses in four straight home games and three straight overall, plus he took the Ravens for 274 & 2 in the earlier meeting between these clubs. Baltimore has held both Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady to single scoring strikes the past two weeks, however, so if Dalton is to help both your fantasy team to a title and his Bengals to the postseason he'll have to earn it.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jason Campbell, CIN BAL 20000023010 ***
Campbell was knocked out of the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh after 124 yards, with Brandon Weeden finishing out the game for Cleveland. It'll be Campbell at least to start this time around, against a Steelers squad with a faint playoff heartbeat. Pittsburgh hasn't allowed more than 251 passing yards since Weeden and Campbell combined for 333 in that Week 12 game, plus Campbell has just one passing score in the past two games combined. In other words, not a whole lot of optimism for Campbell this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN BAL 4007401000 ***
Gio had 95 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in the earlier meeting with Baltimore. His ability to create via the passing game as well as on the ground make him the safer fantasy play as he shares the workload with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN BAL 300000000 ***
Baltimore has allowed five RB rushing scores in the past four games; since it takes a short-yardage plunge for BJGE to create fantasy value out of his job-share gig, that the Ravens have been dented of late is somewhat reassuring.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN BAL 0061001000 ****
Green has scored or topped 90 yards in four straight, and he did both as part of his 8-151-1 showing in the earlier meeting with Baltimore. Recency, primacy... either way you slice it, Green's a great play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marvin Jones, CIN BAL 005400000 ***
Jones and Mohamed Sanu have each scored in the past fortnight, but neither did anything in the earlier meeting with Baltimore--nor should either be banked on for fantasy help here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN BAL 002400000 ***
Sanu and Marvin Jones have each scored in the past fortnight, but neither did anything in the earlier meeting with Baltimore--nor should either be banked on for fantasy help here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN BAL 3333 ****
The Nuge has but one double-digit game on the season, hasn't topped six points in a month, and mustered only five in the earlier meeting with Baltimore. If Cincy is to secure a playoff spot, they'll likely do so relying on something other than Nugent's leg.

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