FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
Follow Follow @DMDorey
 

Predictions Summary »  Player Rankings (Projections) »  myHuddle Projections by Team »  Projections Summary by Team »

WEEK 12
2012
HOU at DET (THU) *BAL at SD *MIN at CHI *SF at NO
NE at NYJ (THU) BUF at IND *OAK at CIN *STL at ARI
WAS at DAL (THU) DEN at KC PIT at CLE TEN at JAC
*UPDATED *ATL at TB GB at NYG SEA at MIA *CAR at PHI (MON)

Prediction: PIT 17, CLE 20 (Line: PK)

Players to Watch: Trent Richardson, Charlie Batch

The 6-4 Steelers won nine of the last ten meetings between these teams and on paper have a lot more going for them than the 2-8 Browns. But the Steelers are down to their third-string quarterback and the Browns are playing much better. These games almost always go off with very few points scored.

The Steelers swept the Browns last year, winning 14-3 in Pittsburgh and later 13-9 in Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC 16-13
2 NYJ 27-10 11 BAL 10-13
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
vs Rush Catch Pass
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 4-70
WR Lance Moore 6-70,1
TE Heath Miller 4-40
PK Shaun Suisham 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Steelers are within two games of the Ravens for the AFC North lead and have to travel to Baltimore next week - that'll make overlooking this game slightly easier though with a major problem at quarterback the team has enough issues to remain focused. The season rides on the next three road games - two divisional and then in Dallas. They'll have to realistically win out to take the division and likely lose no more than one or two more to even have any wildcard hopes.

Ben Roethlisberger is not expected back this week - that much has been conceded. Next week may be possible as he heals from a rib and shoulder injury but week 14 seems much more likely. Sadly that misses the two road games against divisional foes including the all-important Ravens match-up. Byron Leftwich did not make it a whole game before getting injured and is not expected to play with rib fractures. He's likely taken his last playing time with the Steelers at the least.

Charlie Batch will take the start this week and likely next. He's a career backup in Pittsburgh for the last 11 years and at 38-years old, what he'll be able to do against the Browns and Ravens secondaries is hard to predict. He's only started three games in the last four years and was considered worse than Leftwich.

Isaac Redman is out with a concussion but may be able to play this week assuming he clears all tests. He's expected back but would just be the #3 guy behind Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer. The Steelers are using equal measures of Mendenhall and Dwyer and there's no more room for another runner. As it is, the two "starters" water each other down to where either is just a marginal fantasy play.

The passing game becomes less attractive and harder to predict this week with Batch at the helm and on the road to Cleveland where CB Joe Haden is expected back this week. The Steelers also signed Plaxico Burress this week though he's not likely more much of a role this week. Antonio Brown is questionable this week and missed the last two games because of his ankle. If Brown cannot play, Emmanuel Sanders will start again and he was the lead receiver last week with 82 yards on three catches.

Playing the Browns is usually more fun than this is shaping up to be. All Steelers will carry far more risk this week in a road game with Batch at the helm.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 16 18 15 9 10 32
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 22 24 29 3 13 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT BAL 0000031021 ***
The earlier meeting with Baltimore was easily Big Ben's worst fantasy outing of the season, with no TDs and 217 passing yards. Since then he's topped 300 twice and 250 two more times along with four multiple touchdown efforts. His track record against the Ravens isn't exactly sterling, with just two multiple TD outings in the past 11 meetings and only one trip north of 300 yards. But fresh off 522 and six, and with six teams on the bye, he's at least worth a look-see this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT BAL 6008700000 ****
Bell has reached triple-digit combo yardage in every game this season, including 107 in the earlier meeting with Baltimore. He had 232 combo yards in last season's series as well, so in performance leagues he's a rock-solid fantasy play. It's be nice if he mixed in a few more touchdowns, however; a Ravens D that's allowed only three RB TDs this year doesn't project to be much of a helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT BAL 0081202000 ***
Brown has had plenty of nice yardage outings against the Ravens, but he's still looking for his first touchdown grab against them. Baltimore has allowed only six WR TDs on the season, so it's no lock for Brown to find the end zone here; however, that he has five TDs in four home games suggests it's at least a strong possibility.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT BAL 003400000 ****
Bryant has three TDs in two NFL games and could be the Steelers new version of Plaxico Burress. He's a red zone option that wasn't at Big Ben's disposal in the earlier meeting; at minimum he's a viable option in TD-heavy scoring systems with six teams on the bye.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Markus Wheaton, PIT BAL 004300000 ****
The emergence of Martavis Bryant, along with the return of Lance Moore from injury and the presence of Darrius Heyward-Bey, have all conspired to bump Wheaton from viable WR2 to just one of the guys in Pittsburgh. It's not a favorable enough matchup to go this deep into the Steelers' receiver rotation for fantasy assistance.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT BAL 004300000 ****
Both of Miller's fantasy helpers this year came at home, so he's got that going for him. Working against him: his 4-35 in the earlier meeting with Baltimore, a Ravens defense that's allowed only one TE TD on the season, and a plethora of targets for Ben Roethlisberger to spread the ball around to.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT BAL 3322 ****
The Ravens haven't allowed a double-digit scoring game to a kicker since Week 1, so there's a ceiling on Suisham's fantasy prospects this week.

Cleveland Browns
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PHI 16-17 10 BYE -----
2 @CIN 27-34 11 @DAL 20-23
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 15-25 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
WR Miles Austin 5-70,1
WR Josh Gordon 4-60,1
WR Andrew Hawkins

Pregame Notes: The Browns nearly beat the Cowboys in Dallas and are playing far better defense in recent weeks. The offense still has struggled to post more than 20 points in any week and at 2-8 the reality is that tryouts for next year have already started. In particular, Brandon Weeden will be under the microscope for the next six games to determine if he will lead the Browns in 2013 or they, yet again, go back to the well.

Weeden's only thrown for 11 touchdowns so far and compared to other NFL quarterbacks he's been only marginally successful. Compared to anything else that lined up behind center in Cleveland for the last many years - he's done quite well. He's topped 200 yards seven times and crested 300 yards twice. His passing stats declined in the last few weeks but only in proportion to the success of Trent Richardson.

The rookie rushed for at least 95 yards in each of the last three games and scored six times on the year. He's even adding more receptions to the package with six catches in both of the last couple of outings. Those came against the Ravens and Cowboys. Richardson lags Doug Martin in the war of rookie running backs but he's come on nicely in recent weeks and against very good defenses.

The passing scheme doesn't use any one or two wideouts extensively. Weeden is spreading the ball around well and so far no receiver has topped 100 yards though Josh Gordon came close a few times. Gordon has been quiet the last three weeks while the rushing effort improved. His three game scoring streak stands alone against all other receivers here since they've all combined for just six scores all year. Weeden is taking what is given and using the players he has at his disposal fairly well. Last week Benjamin Watson scored twice in Dallas with a season best 47 yards on four catches.

This week should be a lower outcome from the passing game going against the best secondary in the NFL. The rush defense is also tops but on the road with their own offense less likely to do well means better field position and a different game than most PIT-CLE matchups.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 29 14 28 23 17 15
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 3 1 7 10 14

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Brian Hoyer, CLE TB 0000023010 ***
Hoyer has bounced between ordinary and bad fantasy-wise, but this may be an opportunity to get well against a Bucs' secondary that's allowed multiple TD tosses and 300-plus passing yards in all three road games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ben Tate, CLE TB 802000000 ***
Tate continues to undeservedly get the bulk of the carries in Cleveland; he's averaged 2.5 yards per tote over his last 56 attempts, encompassing three games. Fortunately for Tate's fantasy owners, Mike Pettine hasn't figured out just how bad Tate is yet. Also, the Browns have gotten Tate close enough to score three touchdowns in those three games. And the Bucs have allowed all eight backs who received at least 14 carries against them to score and/or top 60 yards. It won't be pretty, so don't watch the game; just check the last column of Tate's box score late Sunday and you'll be fine.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andrew Hawkins, CLE TB 007901000 ****
No team has allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Bucs, and the closest thing to a consistent contributor among Cleveland's wideouts has been Hawkins. How's that for a ringing endorsement?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Miles Austin, CLE TB 003500000 ***
Multiple wideouts have posted fantasy helpers against the Bucs in five straight games, but you're tempting fate digging this deep into the Browns' inconsistent receiver rotation.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, CLE TB 003500000 ***
The Bucs have allowed multiple receivers to either score or top 55 yards or both in each of the past five games. There isn't much of a discernable pecking order to Cleveland's receiving corps, but Gabriel has been coming on of late with 60-plus yards in three of the past five games so if you're throwing a dart he's worthy of consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jim Dray, CLE TB 001100000 ***
The Bucs aren't a particularly favorable fantasy matchup for tight ends, and Dray isn't a particularly exciting fantasy plug-in for the injured Jordan Cameron.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE TB 2233 ****
Cundiff's been building to his first double-digit points game, which came last week against the Raiders. Now hosting a Bucs' squad that's served up multiple treys in three straight outings you have to like his chances of a repeat.

WEEK 12
2012
HOU at DET (THU) *BAL at SD *MIN at CHI *SF at NO
NE at NYJ (THU) BUF at IND *OAK at CIN *STL at ARI
WAS at DAL (THU) DEN at KC PIT at CLE TEN at JAC
*UPDATED *ATL at TB GB at NYG SEA at MIA *CAR at PHI (MON)

a d v e r t i s e m e n t