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
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 KC 0000026020 ***
Big Bern has been north of 350 yards three straight and north of 340 six of the last seven. He's been a little more sporadic with the touchdowns, but the yardage serves as insurance to keeps his fantasy value high
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT KC 10016701000 ***
Bell's run of games with 200-plus combo yards came to a halt last week, but Bell augmented his 119 yards from scrimmage with a pair of touchdowns. He's a viable starter regardless of matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT KC 007901000 ***
High volume, high yardage, the occasional touchdown... unless you're in a TD-heavy scoring system Brown is an elite receiver. The Chiefs have allowed only three 100-yard receivers all season, but the high volume guys seemed to make a fantasy mark. Count Brown in that expected category.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT KC 003400000 ***
Bryant is the complimentary target and oversized red zone threat. But the Chiefs don't give up many WR TDs and Bryant generally isn't rolling in the yardage. Plus, the Chiefs have yet to allow multiple WR TDs in the same game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT KC 004600000 ****
On the surface the matchup looks favorable, with Miller coming off a 68-yard game and the Chiefs having allowed eight TE TDs on the year. But only one of those scores has come in the past two months, and Miller is too inconsistently targeted to be banked on for a fantasy contribution.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT KC 2233 ***
Suisham has multiple treys in five straight and at least nine points in four consecutive games; the Chiefs have allowed multiple field goals in three straight and five of the last six games. It adds up to Suisham being a solid fantasy start 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 Greg Little 3-40
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 DEN 0000023021 ***
No guarantee that attempting to keep up with Peyton Manning translates into helpful fantasy stats; didn't work for Derek Carr, Shaun Hill, Alex Smith or Philip Rivers over the past six weeks. Dalton's been too unreliable a fantasy contributor of late to not be lumped in with that mediocre grouping, especially given his penchant for coming up small in big games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN DEN 5004200000 ***
Tre Mason is the only back to find fantasy success against the Broncos. Not that the Bengals won't try with Hill, but his big games have come against bottom-feeding run defenses (New Orleans, Cleveland, and Jacksonville all rank in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to RBs). Dial your expectations back accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN DEN 3003200000 ***
It's official: Gio's a complementary back. And with feature backs having enough trouble carving out fantasy value against the Broncos, no reason to reach for a secondary guy for fantasy help.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR A.J. Green, CIN DEN 005601000 **
It's not impossible for Green to carve out fantasy value against the Broncos, especially given the volume of targets he's bound to see. But it won't be easy, so keep your expectations in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN DEN 003300000 ***
Complementary targets have found the end zone against Denver while primary targets posted bigger yardage--as recently as Week 14, when Sammy Watkins did the heavy lifting with 127 yards while Chris Hogan found the end zone. However, multiple receivers have posted fantasy helpers on the Broncos only four times in 14 games, so Sanu's chances of warranting a spot in your lineup are slim.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Kevin Brock, CIN DEN 001101000 *
With Jermaine Gresham either pouting or hurt--or maybe both--Brock will get the minimal looks Cincy tight ends have been seeing and produce the limited fantasy value they've been posting.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN DEN 1122 ***
Since serving up 16 points to Greg Zuerlein and the Rams in Week 11 the Broncos have allowed a total of 17 kicker points in four games. The Nuge broke a two-game field goal drought with three against the Browns last week, but the overriding trend here is opposing kickers falling short against Denver. Plan accordingly.

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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