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 HOU 0000028022 ***
The last four quarterbacks to face Houston have thrown multiple touchdown passes; the last two have both topped 300 yards. Big Ben has thrown for 314 and 365 in two home games, no reason to think he can't put on a show on Monday night.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT HOU 9005400000 ****
Bell has triple-digit yards from scrimmage in every game this season and is a must-start regardless of opponent. Doesn't hurt that Houston has allowed 100-plus combo yards to opposing backs in four straight games, an average of 164 yards per game in that span.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, PIT HOU 300000000 ***
There might be enough table scraps for Blount to fall into some fantasy value on Monday night, but hopefully you have a more reliable option at your disposal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT HOU 008901000 ****
Opposing WR1s have scored in five straight against Houston. Brown has a streak of like a gazillion games in a row with at least five catches, as well as three 100-yard games and five TDs on the season. He's also lights out at home, with 5-116-1 and 7-131-2 to his credit. Plenty to like here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT HOU 004600000 ***
The Texans have allowed multiple wideouts to score in two of their last three, but it's been a while since Wheaton was a fantasy factor--plus, Lance Moore swiped a secondary receiver touchdown last week. He's not unstartable, but there isn't much pointing towards cause for optimism.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT HOU 003200000 ****
The Texans aren't a particularly favorable TE matchup, and Miller isn't a particularly effective fantasy tight end. Odds are you have a more enticing option at your disposal.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT HOU 3322 ***
After a fast start Suisham has been nothing special the last few weeks. If you're cool with solid, he's the kicker for you 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 @IND 0000024011 ***
If this goes according to plan Dalton won't throw enough to put up big fantasy numbers; the Bengals would like to keep him under 30 attempts for the game. However, this could very well turn into a shootout with Andrew Luck, in which case Dalton tops 30 attempts--and, subsequently, 300 yards. He's a solid play with upside, so he's definitely a viable fantasy option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN @IND 7014300000 ***
Lots to like about Gio every week, but specifically this week: every back with double-digit carries against the Colts has reached the end zone, plus no team has given up more receiving scores to RBs than Indy. Regardless of which team imposes its will this week--a run-heavy Hue Jackson game plan or a Luck/Dalton shootout--Gio will get you fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jeremy Hill, CIN @IND 3004200000 ***
Hill isn't necessarily the full-time goal line back in Cincy, but he'll see enough touches that he's a decent bet to register fantasy value against an Indy defense that's allowed RB TDs in five of six games. Plus, who wouldn't want to see another Icky Shuffle?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Tate, CIN @IND 004401000 **
Tate and Dane Sanzenbacher are handling wingman roles with Cincy's receiver rotation jumbled by injuries. There's fantasy value if this turns into a Luck/Dalton shootout; otherwise Tate is a secondary option on what the Bengals hopes is a run-heavy team this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mohamed Sanu, CIN @IND 005700000 ****
Sanu has capably slid into the WR1 slot in Cincy, and with AJ Green and Marvin Jones still on hiatus he'll be Andy Dalton's primary weapon should this turn into a shootout with Andrew Luck. Even if the Bengals control the ball Sanu will get his opportunities, making him the best fantasy play among Cincy receivers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jermaine Gresham, CIN @IND 004500000 **
Last week's 6-68 was Gresham's most prolific pass-catching outing since the middle of the 2012 season. The Colts have allowed four tight ends to top 70 yards against them this year, so given that volume Gresham is a sneaky helpful fantasy play this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Mike Nugent, CIN @IND 2222 ****
On the heels of a missed game-winning chip shot, Nugent goes on the road to face a Colts team that's allowing roughly five points per game to opposing kickers over the past month. You can probably do better fantasy-wise.

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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