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David Dorey
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WEEK 11
2012
MIA at BUF (THU) *CLE at DAL *NO at OAK TB at CAR
*ARI at ATL GB at DET NYJ at STL *CHI at SF (MON)
*BAL at PIT *IND at NE PHI at WAS Bye:
*UPDATED CIN at KC JAC at HOU *SD at DEN MIN, NYG, SEA, TEN

Prediction: BAL 17, PIT 16 (Line: PIT by 3.5)

Players Updated: Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman

Players to Watch: Ray Rice, Byron Leftwich

This was to be the battle for the AFC North. The 7-2 Ravens are on a two game winning streak and have a one game lead on the Steelers that could be whittled away with a win here. But the 6-3 Steelers are on a four game winning streak and just lost their franchise quarterback when Ben Roethlisberger was injured in the Monday night game against the Chiefs. That should prove significant to this week.

The Ravens swept the Steelers last year, winning 35-7 in Baltimore and later 23-20 in Pittsburgh..

Baltimore Ravens
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CIN 44-13 10 OAK 55-20
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 25-15 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 10 190,1
RB Justin Forsett 20 2-10
WR Steve Smith 6-100,1
WR Torrey Smith 4-50,1
TE Owen Daniels 5-60,1
TE Dennis Pitta 4-40
PK Justin Tucker 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens remaining schedule just got a whole lot easier looking. With Ben Roethlisberger out this week and potentially more, playing the Steelers twice in three weeks could not have possibly come at a better time. The rest of the schedule is no cakewalk with DEN, NYG and @CIN ending the regular season but the only real competitor in the AFC North is the Steelers anyway.

Joe Flacco comes off his best game of the year when he passed for 341 yards and three scores on the Raiders and he added a rushing touchdown. That was his first effort over 240 yards in five weeks and the first multiple touchdown production in the last six weeks. When at home against a really weak secondary, Flacco really shines. All others - not so much. He's been stuck at sub-200 yard outings in his last three road trips and now faces the #2 defense against quarterbacks.

Ray Rice salvaged some fantasy value with a touchdown last week but only ran 13 times for 35 yards in a game the Ravens won by 35 points. In Houston in week seven he only was allowed nine runs for 42 yards. The Ravens use of Rice has been a surprise this year given his wild success last year and he's still gaining 4.6 yards per carry now. Rice has to be bitter about getting just 13 carries against a Raiders team that yielded 251 yards to Doug Martin the previous week.

Dennis Pitta popped up again in the Oakland game when he scored on his five catches for 67 yards but he was on a five week string of games that never produced more than 33 yards. It was just one decent game and he only scores when at home anyway.

Torrey Smith's not tearing up opponents like he did last year since he only has the one effort against the Patriots when he topped 100 yards but to his credit he has become the preferred scoring target for Flacco. Smith already scored seven times this year and three in just the last two games. His yardage remains low with nothing over 70 yards since week four but he's recorded a score in five of the last seven games. Anquan Boldin produces like a tight end and not even a very good one. He's been held to fewer than 60 yards since week six and has minimal fantasy value.

This game seems destined for a low score and moderate stats at best for the Ravens players who all face top three defenses against their position.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 17 11 18 14 8 6
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 2 3 2 12 12 10

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL PIT 0000026011 ***
Flacco has now thrown 62 passes in back-to-back season openers, but last year he didn't come within a dozen attempts of that number the rest of the season, and he's had more than 37 attempts against the Steelers just once in 12 career meetings. As a result Flacco has but one 300-yard effort and two multiple touchdown outings against Pittsburgh and it's tough to see Baltimore changing its spots enough for him to be a fantasy factor on Thursday night.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL PIT 6013200000 **
Prior to last week's 84 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown it had been five years since Forsett was fantasy relevant. He'll be battling Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro for touches in Baltimore's backfield, but last week's performance puts him in the lead role for now. Against a Steel Curtain that just served up 175 yards and two TDs to the Terrance West/Isaiah Crowell/Ben Tate combo platter, that's enough to warrant consideration this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL PIT 400000000 **
Pierce fumbled away his opportunity to lock up what now looks to be at least a season-long run as the Ravens' feature back; now he's sharing with Justin Forsett and maybe even rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, and as the junior partner in the backfield jobshare he's a difficult fantasy start at best.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL PIT 2001100000 ***
The rookie can't be banked on for a fantasy start just yet, but he has all the traits of the kind of back that emerges from a muddy backfield on a zone-blocking team to become... well, the next Alfred Morris or Arian Foster. If you get potential points he's startable; otherwise he's a bench stash with upside.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL PIT 003601000 ***
Torrey took a back seat to new teammate Steve Smith last week, but historically against the Steelers he's been at the fore: 40 targets in the past five meetings, including 16 (resulting in 9-154-1) last year as he moved out from under Anquan Boldin's shadow. Expect him to be more involved this week, enough so to at least warrant fantasy consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL PIT 007800000 ***
Smith saw twice as many targets as any other Raven last week and turned one of them into a highlight-reel touchdown catch-and-grab. Going forward you can't expect the looks to be so lopsided, but it's worth noting that the leading target for Cleveland last week was the similar-in-stature (and role) Andrew Hawkins.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Dennis Pitta, BAL PIT 005600000 ***
Pitta didn't play in either Steelers game last season and had just one catch in each end of the 2012 season series. But after racking up 33 targets, 20 catches, and 169 yards in a month of action last year--then opening with 10-83 on 15 targets in Week 1 it's clear he's an integral part of this offense. Pittsburgh surrendered 90 yards to a trio of Cleveland tight ends last week; feels like an eminently reachable touchdown for Pitta this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL PIT 1122 ***
Tucker has multiple treys in each of his four career outings against the Steelers; coming off two field goals and three PATs last week he should be in line for another busy evening here.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC 16-13
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 24-17 16 CIN -----
8 WAS 27-12 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG 24-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-40
WR Lance Moore 5-70
TE Heath Miller 4-50
PK Shaun Suisham 3 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The injury to Ben Roethlisberger could mean everything to the Steelers fortunes. He was said to have separated his shoulder, then just sprained his shoulder but it was enough to prompt the Steelers to bring him to the hospital that night. Some sources say that Big Ben has just a sprain and will merely be questionable for this week. Others speculate the injury is more significant and that his throwing shoulder will prevent him form playing for at least a few weeks. With the two meetings with the Ravens coming in the next three weeks this could not be timed worse.

Obviously he'll be tracked all week because the Steelers need him. HC Mike Tomlin says that it is a sternoclavicular sprain which is when the collarbone popped in front/behind sternum. It almost has to keep him out at least this week and could linger. It is the same injury that ended Brett Favre's 297 consecutive starts.

Antonio Brown remains questionable this week because of his ankle sprain and Rashard Mendenhall will also be questionable because of his strained Achilles.

Byron Leftwich is expected to take the start and that makes no one happy. Leftwich only completed seven of 14 passes for 73 yards versus the Chiefs and is a major step down from Big Ben.

The Steelers go with the hot hand at running back and there should be much more focus on the rushing effort if Big Ben is out since the Ravens are weaker versus the run than the pass. Isaac Redman gained 147 yards and a touchdown in week nine but Jonathan Dwyer proved better in the rain and was given 19 carries for 56 yards last Monday night while Redman was limited to eight runs and 21 yards. At best these runners just diminish each other and only producing 77 combined rushing yards against the Chiefs was a very disappointing surprise. It was the first time in four games that one of the two did not rack up over 100 rushing yards.

The rainy weather was not conducive to passing last week but Leftwich was unable to generate anything promising as a passer. That has to downgrade both Mike Wallace and Heath Miller.

This game needs to be a defensive battle because neither offense is likely to do much.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 14 15 14 7 6 31
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 9 21 22 18 28 8

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT @BAL 0000026020 ***
Big Ben rolls in after 365 against the Browns; the Ravens just served up 301 to Andy Dalton. It's hard to envision Steelers/Ravens as a shootout; nonetheless, the current iteration of each club suggests Roethlisberger is at least a decent fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT @BAL 6003200000 ***
Bell amassed 235 yards and a TD in last season's series with the Ravens; after putting up 197 and a touch in the season opener, there's no reason to think he'll be lacking in this matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Justin Brown, PIT @BAL 003501000 **
Three different Steelers WRs have seen at least five targets in five of the last six meetings with Baltimore, proof that Ben Roethlisberger is willing to spread the ball around. However, over that same span secondary receivers have accounted for just one 100-yard game and two TDs so keep those expectations in check.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT @BAL 005700000 ***
Wheaton actually had more targets and catches than Antonio Brown last week and almost as many yards, solidifying his status as Pittsburgh's WR2. Between Ben Roethlisberger's willingness to spread the wealth and the Ravens' track record of keeping Brown in check Wheaton should get plenty of opportunities to continue his breakout season this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT @BAL 004600000 ***
After seeing AJ Green gouge the Ravens last week while Brown was scoring on Joe Haden it's tempting to simply plug Brown is as the fantasy WR1 he is. But his last three against the Ravens have resulted in mediocre 5-6 catch games for 50-59 yards, and Ben Roethlisberger demonstrated last week he's willing to spread the wealth. That dings Brown's fantasy prospects at least a little bit this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT @BAL 003300000 ***
Tyler Eifert was on his way to a very nice outing against the Ravens before messing up his elbow--an outing not unlike the ones Miller has tacked on the Ravens of late. With 200 yards and two TDs in the last three meetings Miller knows how to find the seams in the Baltimore defense--especially in Baltimore, where he's topped 85 yards in back-to-back outings.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT @BAL 3222 ***
Not surprisingly Steelers/Ravens matchups have tended to be low-scoring affairs; unfortunately for Suisham, it's been hit-or-miss as to whether that means just a couple of PATs or multiple field goal opportunities. In turn, that means he's a hit-or-miss fantasy play this week. Coming off three and three against the Browns, Suisham's prospects lean towards "hit".

WEEK 11
2012
MIA at BUF (THU) *CLE at DAL *NO at OAK TB at CAR
*ARI at ATL GB at DET NYJ at STL *CHI at SF (MON)
*BAL at PIT *IND at NE PHI at WAS Bye:
*UPDATED CIN at KC JAC at HOU *SD at DEN MIN, NYG, SEA, TEN

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