FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 9
2012
KC at SD (THU) CAR at WAS *DET at JAC TB at OAK
*ARI at GB CHI at TEN *MIA at IND *PHI at NO (MON)
BAL at CLE *DAL at ATL MIN at SEA Bye:
*UPDATED *BUF at HOU DEN at CIN *PIT at NYG NE , NYJ, SF, STL

Prediction: BAL 17, CLE 23 (Line: BAL by 3.5)

Players to Watch: Greg Little, Trent Richardson

This is a replay of week four when the Ravens won 23-16 while the Browns visited. The Ravens are coming off a bye week which will help them but the Browns are playing better and came without seven in Baltimore. The Browns offense has been improving while the Ravens defense has worsened and allowed 72 points over their last two games.

The Browns have not beaten the Ravens in their last nine meetings back to 2007.

Baltimore Ravens
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN 44-13 10 OAK -----
2 @PHI 23-24 11 @PIT -----
3 NE 31-30 12 @SD -----
4 CLE 23-16 13 PIT -----
5 @KC 9-6 14 @WAS -----
6 DAL 31-29 15 DEN -----
7 @HOU 13-43 16 NYG -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @CIN -----
9 @CLE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL @ CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 220,1
RB Justin Forsett 30 2-10
RB Ray Rice 70,1 4-30
WR Jacoby Jones 2-20
WR Steve Smith 7-90,1
WR Torrey Smith 4-60,1
TE Owen Daniels 6-70,1
TE Dennis Pitta 3-30
PK Justin Tucker 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens lead the division and even though the defense has suffered notable injuries, the remaining schedule may smooth over the effects. That would be fortunate since the offense has been less than expected and yet still has all the same players healthy. The new offense had "the wraps" taken off and it still looks pretty much the same. If even that good.

Joe Flacco hasn't passed for more than one score since week three and stands at nine touchdowns against six interceptions. Problem too is that over the last four games, Flacco only threw three touchdowns and lost four interceptions. And it is not as if the rushing game is taking over and consuming the offense. Flacco passed for 356 yards when the Browns visited five weeks ago with one passing touchdown and his only rushing score on the year.

Ray Rice is decent this year with five touchdowns though each came in one of three home games against either the Cowboys, Patriots or Bengals. He comes off his worst game of the year with only 56 total yards in Houston but he almost always totals 100 yards every week even if he's only scored in three games. Even odder has been that his last three games only averaged about two catches for 24 yards in each when his first four match-ups averaged about six catches for 44 yards each week. Losing those catches hurts Rice's ability to produce as consistently as he has in the past. Versus the Browns, Rice rushed for 49 yards on 18 carries and added eight receptions for 47 yards.

Dennis Pitta started the year as one of the surprise tight ends but has evolved back into just another player. He's not been able to gain more than 33 yards since beck in week three and his slide started when he was blanked against the Browns with no catches on his two targets.

The low scoring and marginal passing yardage by Flacco has left the wide receivers with minimal fantasy value. Torrey Smith showed up for two nice games - both at home - but is marginal in all others and was held to fewer than 42 yards in each of the last three games. One of those good efforts was versus the Browns when Smith ended with 97 yards and a score on six receptions. Anquan Boldin hasn't scored since the season opener and varies greatly from week to week with as good as 131 yards (against the Browns) and only seven yards in Philadelphia. One qualifier to the big game when Cleveland showed up - that was without Joe Haden who is back now.

Flacco took advantage of the Browns missing Haden in week four and while Boldin gained 131 yards on the Browns earlier this year, he only managed 32 yards last year in Cleveland while being covered by Haden. The passing defense is much better in recent games since the Browns have not allowed a passing score since week six. They have also not allowed a rushing touchdown at home.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 19 11 11 21 8 9
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 27 20 29 4 12 16

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL @CIN 0000022012 ****
Flacco has just one multiple touchdown outing in his past six games, or since he threw for 140 & 2 against the Bengals back in Week 10. Cincy has allowed only one multiple touchdown since then as well, plus they've surrendered only eight passing scores in seven home games. Last year Flacco came through in the clutch; this season, expectations are diminished.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ray Rice, BAL @CIN 3006300000 ****
The Bengals have allowed exactly one RB TD in Cincinnati this year, and Rice isn't having the kind of season where he would be a good bet to buck that trend. He's essentially splitting carries with Bernard Pierce and only posting helpful fantasy numbers when an easy matchup is at hand. This is not that matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @CIN 200000000 ***
Pierce is seeing a larger share of the workload, but neither he nor Ray Rice are doing anything with those touches--and the matchup isn't particularly favorable, either.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @CIN 004501000 ***
Smith scored in the earlier matchup with Cincy, though it took 15 targets for him to do so. The Bengals have allowed five WR TDs in the subsequent five games, and with Smith still the top-targeted Raven wideout he's the best bet of the passing game to score.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jacoby Jones, BAL @CIN 004500000 ****
Jones and Marlon Brown continue to alternate adequate showings as Baltimore's secondary target. That has some fantasy value in a favorable matchup, but this isn't a favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marlon Brown, BAL @CIN 003400000 ***
Brown and Jacoby Jones continue to alternate adequate showings as Baltimore's secondary target. That has some fantasy value in a favorable matchup, but this isn't a favorable matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dennis Pitta, BAL @CIN 004300000 ***
Pitta is still splitting looks with Ed Dickson; against a Bengals defense that's shut out three straight tight ends, there's just not enough to go around here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @CIN 3311 ***
Tucker has been feast or famine of late: three triple-digit games, wrapped around a couple minuscule single-digit efforts. He posted eight points in the previous meeting with Cincy, and this one is likely to play out in a similar fashion as the two teams battle for playoff spots.

Cleveland Browns
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PHI 16-17 10 BYE -----
2 @CIN 27-34 11 @DAL -----
3 BUF 14-24 12 PIT -----
4 @BAL 16-23 13 @OAK -----
5 @NYG 27-41 14 KC -----
6 CIN 34-24 15 WAS -----
7 @IND 13-17 16 @DEN -----
8 SD 7-6 17 @PIT -----
9 BAL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Ben Tate
WR Miles Austin 6-80
WR Josh Gordon 4-70
WR Andrew Hawkins 5-40
WR Marlon Moore 2-40

Pregame Notes: The Browns come off a win over the Chargers that makes them 2-1 over the last three weeks thanks in great part to a defense that has played far better. A win this week won't change the fact that a losing season is pretty much a certainty but playing well at home is the first step forward and there is only a bye waiting next week to heal everyone up and assess where they are at.

Brandon Weeden was unable to score last week in the rain and wind but was on a three game streak of two touchdowns per week prior and while he did not score on the Ravens in the last meeting, he threw for 320 yards with only one interception in his fourth game ever played in the NFL. And that was previous to the many defensive injuries suffered by the Ravens. The Ravens secondary has lost their best cornerback and Ray Lewis is gone. And they have not been nearly as good as their ranking may suggest thanks to playing the Chiefs in week five. Weeden is still developing and will the rest of the year but he's much better than he was only five weeks back. The same cannot be said about the Ravens.

Trent Richardson has bruised ribs and was no lock to play against the Chargers but gutted it out and ended up with his best game of the year. He rushed for 122 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown. This was his second 100 yard game and while he only gained 47 yards on 14 runs in Baltimore, he scored once on them and added 57 yards on four runs. Now at home versus the Ravens missing their leading tackler Lewis, he's sure to have at least marginally better yardage and could show up big again as he did when the Chargers showed up last Sunday. WIth a bye week to heal up the ribs looming, Richardson should provide decent numbers this week as a fulltime back and could surprise yet again..

Tight ends have not held much importance in the game plans this year but notable is that the best performance by any of them this year was when Benjamin Watson gained 52 yards on five receptions in Baltimore. In most weeks, neither he nor Jordan Cameron have more than a catch apiece.

The rains of last week ended a nice streak for the wide receivers. Josh Gordon scored in three straight games before the Chargers tilt though he never caught more than three passes in a game and is just a deep threat that seems to score well. Greg Little even produced a season best five catches for 52 yards and a score in the week seven game in indy before succumbing to the weather limitations in the Chargers match-up. Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Massaquoi will be back soon and will only serve to give Weeden more targets and yet make the receivers even less reliable individually.

The Ravens were steam rolled by the Texans who scored on them using both the run and the pass with equal ease. On the road, the Ravens have allowed each opponent big games for their running back and well over 250 passing yards to everyone. This should be better than a Browns-Ravens game normally is.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 28 15 21 28 27 12
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 8 27 16 24 23 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Josh Gordon, CLE @PIT 0071101000 ***
The Steelers have allowed wide receiver touchdowns in six straight, though of late those scores have been going to secondary targets. Gordon's 14-237-1 on 17 targets in the earlier meeting gives evidence that there really isn't a secondary target in Cleveland, so plan on Josh doing all the heavy lifting once again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Miles Austin, CLE @PIT 001200000 **
After Dez Bryant takes his bite, and Jason Witten takes his, Austin has to fight Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams for table scraps. Table scraps do not tend to equal fantasy success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE @PIT 001100000 ***
Barnidge will get the Browns' TE looks if Jordan Cameron can't go. Not much fantasy value to be had.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE @PIT 1122 ***
Cundiff hasn't seen double-digits since Week 5, managed just three points in the earlier meeting with the Steelers, and now heads to the notoriously hard to kick in Heinz Field. That's not exactly a ringing fantasy endorsement.

WEEK 9
2012
KC at SD (THU) CAR at WAS *DET at JAC TB at OAK
*ARI at GB CHI at TEN *MIA at IND *PHI at NO (MON)
BAL at CLE *DAL at ATL MIN at SEA Bye:
*UPDATED *BUF at HOU DEN at CIN *PIT at NYG NE , NYJ, SF, STL

 
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