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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

Prediction: SD 13, PIT 27 (Line:PIT by 3)

Players to Watch: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown

The 4-8 Chargers are on a four game losing streak and are 2-4 on the road. The 7-5 Steelers just won in Baltimore and are 4-1 at home.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK 22-14 10 @TB 24-34
2 TEN 38-10 11 @DEN 23-30
3 ATL 3-27 12 BAL 13-16
4 @KC 37-20 13 CIN 13-20
5 @NO 24-31 14 @PIT -----
6 DEN 24-35 15 CAR -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @NYJ -----
8 @CLE 6-7 17 OAK -----
9 KC 31-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SD @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 230,1
RB Danny Woodhead 10 4-20
WR Stevie Johnson 6-80
TE Jeff Cumberland 5-50
TE Antonio Gates 3-40

Pregame Notes: The season continues to swirl down the drain certain to take Norv Turner with it and all associated coaches with it. There still remains a chance for wins over the visiting Panthers and Raiders but even they are hardly a lock because the Chargers finally belong to the pantheon known as "truly bad teams". And the later in the season you go with "tbt's", the harder it is to rely on anything.

Philip Rivers was on a mini-scoring spree against the likes of the Buccaneers and Chiefs but only threw one score over the last two home games. On the plus side, he only threw one interception and lost a fumble in that time. On the negative, only having two turnovers is his only positive. On the road against the #1 defense against quarterbacks and receivers is not likely to be much of a treat at all... except for Steeler defense owners.

The 31-year old Ronnie Brown is playing out his one-year contract and will be gone. He's on the field an amazing amount of time for a player who has never scored and rarely accounts for more than maybe 30 total yards as the third down back. Ryan Mathews comes off his worst showing of the entire year with only 26 yards on nine runs last week because HC Norv Turner has managed to misuse and destroy the confidence of a running back who gained over 1000 rushing yards and had 50 catches for 455 yards. It doesn't help matters when the offensive line is dealing with multiple injuries

Danario Alexander still represents the only positive in the passing game and comes off 102 yards on six catches in Cincinnati. He's dwarfed what any other receiver has accomplished in San Diego this year and become a must start prospect in the process. Unfortunately, he'll be facing the best pass defense in the league. The Steelers RCB Ike Taylor injured his ankle and will be out for a few weeks though and that should help.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 19 13 26 11 20 6
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 4 1 10 13 16

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Philip Rivers, SD NO 0000032030 ***
The Saints haven't picked off a pass yet, although this unit has allowed only one TD per game. The yardage against (927) is high. Rivers has a limited receiving corps at this time, so play him only if your other options are obviously worse.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Melvin Gordon, SD NO 10022200000 ***
Gordon has earned a lineup spot and seems matchup proof to date this season. The Saints are the most favorable of opponents for running backs in fantasy, surrendering seven touchdowns this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dexter McCluster, SD NO 002200000 ***
McCluster knows this offense from his time with the Titans under Chargers play caller Ken Whisenhunt. The miniature runner has only PPR appeal and could materialize as a worthy play given New Orleans' troubles at stopping pass-catching backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, SD NO 006802000 ***
Benjamin could be in for a big game if the Bolts have to heave the ball more than usual. The Saints are the ninth easiest matchup for wideouts, and Benjamin is a must-play with varying degrees of confidence based on your scoring format.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tyrell Williams, SD NO 0061001000 ***
The Saints offer a plus matchup (ranked 9th) and could force San Diego into passing a ton. Williams is a worthwhile fantasy play in all formats, but better in non-PPR.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD NO 003400000 ***
Inman picks up scraps and doesn't see enough looks to warrant a fantasy play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Hunter Henry, SD NO 004500000 ***
In the event Antonio Gates (hamstring) is capable of playing, Henry has zero value. Should the rookie get the start, he has practically no value. New Orleans has been dominant against tight ends, allowing only 12 catches for 87 yards and no touchdowns.

Update: Gates is once again doubtful to play.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD NO 0055 ***
The Saints have been evenly weak in terms of allowing extra points (8-for-8) and field goals (6-for-7) to create the eighth weakest defense of kickers in fantasy.

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 14-20
4 BYE ----- 13 @BAL 23-20
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 SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 250,2
RB DeAngelo Williams 50 2-10
WR Antonio Brown 4-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-50,1

Pregame Notes: Go figure. In just one week, Charlie Batch went from the guy that threw three interceptions and let the Browns beat the Steelers to taking down the Ravens in Baltimore and passing for 276 yards and a score in the process. Fortunately fate will not be tempted again since Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return this week from his shoulder/rib injury he suffered in the Kansas City game four weeks ago. He was apparently medically cleared to play last week but the team did not want to take a chance on him re-injuring himself. Throw Batch to the wolves and look what happened. Batch openly wept after the game mostly because he just justified why the Steelers had been paying him a salary for so many years.

Rashard Mendenhall doesn't even play any more. Johnathan Dwyer scored last week in Baltimore but that was his first all year and he only ran for 49 yards on 16 carries. He still splits with the healthy-again Isaac Redman who was given nine runs for 43 yards in that game. It isn't much of a rushing attack unless it faces a weak defense. Dwyer will prove to be more of a workhorse in an easier game which is likely to include this one.

Antonio Brown finally returned last week and caught five of his ten targets for 58 yards in Baltimore. He looked very healthy and no doubt will welcome back Roethlisberger this week. Heath Miller - maybe not so much. After all, he just turned in his season best 97 yards on five catches and one score with Batch. That was his first score since week eight.

There could be an emotional let down this week after a big win in Baltimore and now at home against a very weak Chargers team that should not be too much of a challenge. But the return of Roethlisberger and the specter of making the playoffs should be plenty to keep the team focused this week. The rest of the schedule should be pretty much downhill though the road trip to Dallas might be interesting. The final two weeks against the Browns and Bengals should be easy enough.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 15 20 20 7 13 29
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 17 15 22 5 2 26

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT KC 0000028021 ***
The stats are somewhat skewed by picking off Ryan Fitzpatrick six times last weekend ... Quarterbacks have thrown only two touchdown passes and have averaged just 15.3 fantasy points per game -- the fourth fewest.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT KC 10015401000 ***
Bell returns from his suspension and is believed to be in line for a full workload. The matchup ahead is favorable for him on both the ground and via the air. Welcome him back to your fantasy lineups with open arms.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT KC 0071101000 ***
Brown should draw arguably the best cover-corner in the NFL in Marcus Peters, so be prepared for a minor letdown. The Chiefs are the ninth toughest matchup for PPR receivers, having yielded one touchdown.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Sammie Coates, PIT KC 004600000 ***
Coates is a home run waiting to happen, which makes him a naturally risky player. KC makes it harder for him, as this group gave up only one touchdown in the last 40 catches to receivers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jesse James, PIT KC 003200000 ***
James was on the field for 97 percent of the snaps in Week 3, which offers hope. Unfortunately, the return of Le'Veon Bell could snuff out many of his opportunities. KC has crushed the position ... giving up only eight catches for 61 yards and no scores.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT KC 2233 ***
KC's defense has surrendered just four touchdowns but nine three-point tries (seven made). This game could come down to field position and game flow.

WEEK 14
2012
DEN at OAK (THU) *CHI at MIN MIA at SF SD at PIT
*ARI at SEA *DAL at CIN *NO at NYG *STL at BUF
*ATL at CAR *DET at GB NYJ at JAC *TEN at IND
*Updated BAL at WAS KC at CLE PHI at TB HOU at NE (MON)

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