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
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 CLE 0000022010 ***
Flacco was ordinary (217 and 1) in the earlier meeting with Cleveland, and there's little in his season stats, history with the Browns, or Cleveland's season thus far suggest he'll stray far enough from ordinary to warrant fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL CLE 12022100000 ***
After giving up 154 RB rushing yards (63 to Forsett on 11 carries) to the Ravens in the earlier meeting, the Browns have allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers the past two weeks. Forsett has been showing signs of wearing down, but in a must-win for Baltimore expect him to get enough touches--and do enough with them--to be a fantasy helper this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL CLE 004601000 *
After ceding WR1 duties to Steve Smith to start the season, Torrey has been the more productive wideout over the past two months. He's scored six touchdowns in seven games, including two last week in Houston. Maybe he draws Joe Haden this time around, or maybe he capitalizes on not getting Haden with another solid effort. Either way, he's a viable fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL CLE 004500000 ***
Steve bettered Joe Haden to the tune of 105 yards in the earlier meeting, so aside from expected pedestrian numbers from the Baltimore passing game there's no need to fear this matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL CLE 003300000 ***
The Browns limited Baltimore tight ends to 20 yards in the earlier meeting, and Daniels has done nothing since to warrant fantasy consideration here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL CLE 1133 ***
Tucker reached double-digit points in Cleveland; chances are he'll meet or beat that performance when the Brownies limp into Baltimore with nothing to play for.

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
WR Miles Austin 6-80
WR Josh Gordon 4-70
WR Andrew Hawkins 5-40
WR Marlon Moore 2-40
PK Garrett Hartley 3 FG 3 XP

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
QB Connor Shaw, CLE @BAL 10000016002 ***
The undrafted rookie is taking all the first-team snaps in practice and will likely make the start in Baltimore in place of the injured Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer. An undrafted rookie, activated off the practice squad, starting in Baltimore against a Ravens team that needs to win. Yeah, that's going to end well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE @BAL 500000000 **
With the Browns starting a third-string quarterback in Week 17 for the fifth straight season--talk about a cursed franchise--the onus will be on the ground game to carry the offensive load. The problem there is that feature backs average 45 yards per game in Baltimore, and the Ravens have allowed only one RB rushing score in Baltimore this season--and a total of six RB TDs altogether. Crowell saw the bulk of the carries last week with Terrence West pinned to the bench due to lack of practice effort, but if the upside is less than 50 yards you'll want to look elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, CLE @BAL 004600000 *
It's been tough finding fantasy wideouts in Cleveland all year, let alone when they're scraping the bottom of the quarterbacks barrel in Week 17 on the road facing a Baltimore squad in a do-or-die situation. So... nah.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andrew Hawkins, CLE @BAL 003200000 *
It's tough to be a PPR threat when there are few "R"s to go around, and with Cleveland's quarterback issues this week that's likely to be the case.
Update: Making matters worse is that Hawkins is listed as questionable with a thumb injury. He practiced only on a limited basis this week and doesn't have the upside to offset the risk of little or no game action here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Josh Gordon, CLE @BAL 00000000 *
No matter how good Gordon is, he can't throw the ball to himself. And between a banged-up Brian Hoyer, journeyman Tyler Thigpen and undrafted rookie Connor Shaw the Browns have all kinds of issues at quarterback. So much for that big late-season push after stashing Gordon, eh?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Cameron, CLE @BAL 003300000 *
It took until Week 16 but Cameron finally delivered on expectations last week with 88 yards and a touchdown. Now he'll face a tough matchup--the Ravens have allowed just five TE TDs on the year--while saddled with quarterback issues. Tough to bank on him for fantasy help this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Garrett Hartley, CLE @BAL 1100 **
Hartley has been a solid addition since replacing Billy Cundiff, though the Johnny Manziel-led offense hasn't provided a ton of opportunities. Cundiff had three points in the earlier meeting with Baltimore; tough to bank on Hartley providing a dramatic upgrade, especially if it's undrafted rookie Connor Shaw at quarterback for the Brownies.

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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