FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

Prediction: DEN 24, BAL 20 (Line: DEN by 3)

Players to Watch: Joe Flacco

The 10-3 Broncos remain in the fight for a first round bye with the 9-4 Ravens still not yet clinching the AFC North. The Broncos are on an eight game winning streak and are 5-2 in away games while the Ravens are on a two game losing streak but are 5-1 at home.

Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PIT 31-19 10 @CAR 36-14
2 @ATL 21-27 11 SD 30-23
3 HOU 25-31 12 @KC 17-9
4 OAK 37-6 13 TB 31-23
5 @NE 21-31 14 @OAK 26-13
6 @SD 35-24 15 @BAL  
7 BYE ----- 16 CLE -----
8 NO 34-14 17 KC -----
9 @CIN 31-23 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
DEN @ BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Peyton Manning 290,2
RB Ronnie Hillman 20 1-10
WR Demaryius Thomas 5-80,1
WR Wes Welker 7-90,1
TE Jacob Tamme 3-20
PK Matt Prater 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Broncos are on a roll to be sure with eight wins in a row and only this week to provide a challenge for the rest of the regular season. This is a "load 'em up" week for the Broncos who could then go on to an eleven game streak to end the year with only home games against the Browns and Chiefs remaining. The only losses on the road so far were to the Falcons and Patriots in Manning's first two road efforts of the year.

Manning remains a lock for a score and high yardage every week. His last four games at home produced three touchdowns each along with decent yardage. The only scary part for Manning owners is if they start to protect him for the playoffs after this week. A need to continue to win to secure a bye and homefield advantage should keep him in the game but for how long against the Browns and Chiefs is needed to ensure a win?

Knowshon Moreno is living proof that running back is one of the most interchangeable positions on the playing field. He comes off a 119 yard effort in Oakland and catches four passes in every game as well. Moreno even showed great yards after first contact last week but it was only the Raiders. Still he has been pretty much "McGahee" good so far and the rushing effort has not evaporated just because the Broncos had to dust off Moreno and point him in the right direction.

Demaryius Thomas suffered a shoulder sprain that continues to be sore but he still played with it and ended with five catches for 83 yards in Oakland. It was his first non-scoring game since week ten and he remains one of the most productive wideouts in the league. Eric Decker came to life last week with 88 yards one eight catches thanks to the matchup but was much less used over the last month. Brandon Stokley is back from a wrist injury though he had no catches last Sunday.

Terrell Suggs did not play last week for the Ravens and may not here. His absence decreases the pass rush pressure and Manning doesn't need much help anyway. Ray Rice is eligible to return this week and would obviously give a spark to the defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 8 21 2 8 16 3
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 10 22 12 12 28 5

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 13-10
3 NE 31-30 12 @SD 16-13
4 CLE 23-16 13 PIT 20-23
5 @KC 9-6 14 @WAS 28-31
6 DAL 31-29 15 DEN -----
7 @HOU 13-43 16 NYG -----
8 BYE ----- 17 @CIN -----
9 @CLE 25-15 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 220,1
RB Justin Forsett 2-10
RB Bernard Pierce 20 1-10
WR Steve Smith 5-70
WR Torrey Smith 5-70
TE Owen Daniels 3-40,1
TE Dennis Pitta 4-50,1
PK Justin Tucker 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens may be the only team that dumped their offensive coordinator while sporting a 9-4 record and leading their own division. Cam Cameron was at odds with both Joe Flacco and HC John Harbaugh for the last two seasons and the loss in Washington provided that final straw. The Ravens offensive scheme has been hard to fathom this season since it was supposed to be the big "opening up" of the passing game, the breaking out of Torrey Smith and Joe Flacco taking the next step up to being an elite quarterback.

None of that happened.

What did happen was mediocre passing that was worse than last season, and then amazingly the under-use of Ray Rice while using Bernard Pierce in even measures at times. Rice has not had a bad year with nine touchdowns already but just not to the level of 2011. More than anything, he has been used inconsistently week to week.

Rice also suffered a hip pointer last week but continued to play with the injury in overtime and is not expected to be limited at all this week.

The firing of Cam Cameron throws the entire offense into an unpredictable state this week. He is replaced for now with Colts ex-head coach Jim Caldwell who was the QB coach. Again - not often that a 9-4 team dumps the offensive coordinator and how that plays out is going to be hard to predict. The move no doubt will be a positive to Flacco and Rice but how that plays out with the play calling this week may not be as good at first.

Anquan Boldin has suddenly if not mysteriously exploded the last two weeks with three touchdowns and at least 78 yards in both games but matches on Champ Bailey. The Broncos are also solid against the run which should limit Rice to some extent though they may use him more as a receiver this week. Just no way of knowing what changes are going to happen in this first week post Cameron.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 18 11 15 21 7 5
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 12 7 8 30 10 11

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Joe Flacco, BAL CAR 0000024011 ***
It took 62 attempts for Flacco to approach fantasy relevancy in Week 1; he hasn't returned to either that number of throws or a significant fantasy contribution since. While Carolina has given up two TD tosses a couple times already--matching last season's total--they have yet to surrender a 20-fantasy point game to a quarterback. And after giving up multiple 100-yard rushers last week you'd think the Baltimore game plan would be run-heavy as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bernard Pierce, BAL CAR 5011000000 ***
Update: Pierce is listed as probable this week, but what if any role he returns to in the crowded Baltimore backfield remains to be seen.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL CAR 401000000 ***
On the heels of an 18-91-1 coming out party in Cleveland Taliaferro gets to face a Panthers defense that just got shredded for a matching set of 100-yard games by two Steelers RBs. Expect the fun to continue for the rookie.
Update: Bernard Pierce is expected back, but Gary Kubiak has always been a "hot hand" kind of guy and none of the Baltimore backs is hotter than Taliaferro. Even if Pierce gets the start, expect Taliaferro to remain in the mix--at minimum in goal-line work.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Justin Forsett, BAL CAR 5004200000 **
While Forsett is ceding touches to rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro he still has fantasy value as a change-of-pace guy; the Panthers have allowed two RB receiving scores already this season and served up 6-61 receiving to Joique Bell. Doesn't hurt that he'll likely get 10 carries as well, or that he's averaging better than six yards a tote.
Update: Whether it's Bernard Pierce or Taliaferro as the feature back, expect Forsett to maintain his change-of-pace duties. In this matchup, that's good enough to be a fantasy helper.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Smith, BAL CAR 0071001000 ****
How can you not like Smith in a revenge game against the club that told him he couldn't play anymore? The Panthers haven't allowed a wideout to top 90 yards against them, but between the volume of targets Smith is seeing and the revenge multiplier there's significant fantasy upside here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, BAL CAR 002300000 ***
Torrey has taken a back seat to Steve in the Panthers' passing game pecking order, and that's unlikely to change with Steve facing his former club and looking to dish out a measure of revenge.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jacoby Jones, BAL CAR 002200000 ***
Secondary receivers have found little success against the Panthers; no reason to think Jones bucks that trend on Steve Smith Revenge Day.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Owen Daniels, BAL CAR 004300000 ***
With Dennis Pitta out for the season expect Daniels to take over his familiar role in Gary Kubiak's offense. Unfortunately, he'll open with a stout matchup against a Panthers D that has yet to allow a TE TD on the year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Justin Tucker, BAL CAR 2233 ***
Tucker's had multiple field goal attempts in each game this year and has posted back-to-back double-digit points. He's a solid fantasy option again this week.

WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

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