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Predictions & Projections
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 @HOU 0000024020 ****
Mostly "meh" trends here, as the Texans are neither a bad nor great matchup, Flacco's a little worse on the road but not awful, etc. You'll be okay starting Flacco, but at this juncture hopefully you've got some "wow" arsenal at your disposal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL @HOU 9012200000 ***
The key number is 20 carries. Forsett hasn't been there for a couple games, and not coincidentally Forsett's three-game streak of 100-yard games came to an end at that juncture. The Texans have allowed only three 100-yard rushers on the year, and not coincidentally they've faced only three players who received 20 carries. Yes, the same three. If Forsett was healthy enough to get 16 carries against Jacksonville last week he should make it to 20 this weekend--with appropriate results.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL @HOU 400000000 ***
No reason for Pierce to handle too many touches here, and he'll need some fortunate timing for them to carry any fantasy weight.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL @HOU 006801000 ***
Smith likes facing the Texans: he's scored in all three career games against them while averaging a robust 108 yards per outing. More recently, the Texans have been giving up big yardage to primary receivers but letting secondary targets find the end zone. Hard to tell which Smith is which in any given week for the Ravens, but suffice it to say both have reasonably high fantasy expectations here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL @HOU 004601000 *
Only two teams have allowed more WR TDs than the Texans, so if Smith is healthy enough to play he's a quality fantasy start; the question is whether or not he or Steve Smith will take a turn as Joe Flacco's favorite.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL @HOU 002300000 ***
Daniels, fresh off returning to the end zone last week, against his former team--who just allowed a TE TD last week. Not a particularly strong trend in Daniels' favor, but who's gonna know how to get a tight end open against that defense better than Gary Kubiak?
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL @HOU 1144 ***
Tucker's been solid, with multiple field goals in three of his last four overall and three of his last four at home. Don't expect Houston to disrupt Tucker's flow; in fact, the Texans' QB issues might make it that much easier for the Ravens to play defense and settle for field goals.

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 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.

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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