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 DeAngelo Williams 50
WR Antonio Brown 4-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 2-40
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 0000030020 ***
Since an Abe Lincoln (four scores) back in 2007, Big Ben has as many goose eggs (two) in Cleveland as he has multiple touchdown games. He's also never had a 300-yard performance in Cleveland. After last week's crushing disappointment in Baltimore Roethlisberger has now gone more than a calendar year--eight games, dating back to Week 14 of last season--since throwing multiple touchdowns on the road. Don't let Big Ben disappoint you again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeAngelo Williams, PIT @CLE 8013200000 ***
Williams' only dog since taking over for the injured Le'Veon Bell was a 54-yard bummer against the Browns in Week 10. He's scored in five of the other six games and rushed for 100 yards in three of the six. Can he be trusted here? The Browns D has been better of late: only one RB rushing score in the past eight games, no 100-yard rushers or 30-yard receiving backs in the past seven. This isn't the layup you were hoping for.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT @CLE 0091101000 ***
Death, taxes, and Brown tearing up the Browns. He's topped 100 yards in three straight against Cleveland and scored double-digit points in PPR leagues in eight straight meetings--all the way back to his very first game against the Browns, when he was held to 4-52. Cleveland's injury-riddled secondary has allowed 11 WR TDs and four 100-yard efforts in the past six games; Brown is a solid candidate to boost both of those numbers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT @CLE 004601000 *
Bryant ravaged the Browns for 178 yards and a touchdown in the earlier meeting. He's playing second fiddle to Antonio Brown--and sharing those duties to some extent with Markus Wheaton--but he's still a solid fantasy bet against a Cleveland secondary that's allowed 11 WR TDs in the past six games.

Update: Bryant did not practice Wednesday or Thursday due to illness, but he returned for a full session on Friday. He's listed as questionable, but all signs point towards business as usual for him.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT @CLE 004500000 ***
There wasn't much left over after Bryant and Brown accounted for 317 yards and three TDs in the earlier meeting, and given Ben Roethlisberger's road success--or lack thereof--the pie will be significantly smaller here. That said, Wheaton's role as the Steelers' third receiver has produced fantasy helpers in four of five since the bye and this matchup is certainly not to be feared.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT @CLE 003300000 ***
Since Miller's 4-40 in the Week 10 meeting the Browns have given up one TE TD, and no tight end has hit the 50 yard mark. Miller hasn't scored against the Browns since January of 2011; no reason to think that slump ends here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT @CLE 1133 ***
Streak of six straight
with double-digit points snapped;
start new streak this week

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
WR Brandon LaFell 2-20
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 A.J. McCarron, CIN BAL 0000027020 ***
The Ravens shut out Ben Roethlisberger last week; can they get up for another division rival, on the road this time? McCarron has single TDs and 200 yards or less in each of his two starts, so don't expect fireworks here even though the matchup appears favorable.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN BAL 501000000 ***
While Hill struggled in the earlier meeting (21 yards on 12 carries), the Ravens' run D has softened since that Week 3 meeting. In five of their last six games Baltimore has faced a back who got at least 15 carries; four of those five backs have scored or topped 100 yards or both. Hill has 19 carries in each of AJ McCarron's two starts, so he'll get the volume; Baltimore's track record suggests that volume is enough for a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN BAL 4003400000 ***
Gio can still give you some PPR help--he has four catches in each of AJ McCarron's two starts--but he has a total of 94 yards on 30 touches in those two games. He's the backseat driver to Jeremy Hill, and while the matchup is favorable on paper it's not such that Gio can be a big fantasy helper alongside Hill.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN BAL 0071101000 ***
Green blew up the Ravens for 10-227-2 earlier this season, and AJ McCarron knows where to find him so you can expect good things again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon LaFell, CIN BAL 004400000 ***
LaFell is hurt, just like most of the rest of the Patriots. However, unlike Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman his fantasy value isn't such that he's worth waiting for.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Tyler Eifert, CIN BAL 005501000 ***
Eifert has cleared concussion protocol, but he'll likely be eased back into the mix and is tough to trust with a fantasy start.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN BAL 1144 ***
Always fun to use
Ted songs in Nugent write-up
Wang Dang Sweet... you know

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