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: WAS 24, CLE 20 (Line: WAS by 2.5)

Player Updated: Robert Griffin III

Players to Watch: WAS QB, Josh Gordon, Brandon Weeden

The Redskins are on a four game winning streak that has brought them to the bring of the playoffs. The Browns are only 5-8 but have won their last three games and are at home for the last time this year. This game goes smoother with Robert Griffin III under center but we may not be sure about that until late in the week.

Washington Redskins
Homefield: FedEx Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NO 40-32 10 BYE -----
2 @STL 28-31 11 PHI 31-6
3 CIN 31-38 12 @DAL 38-31
4 @TB 24-22 13 NYG 17-16
5 ATL 17-24 14 BAL 31-28
6 MIN 38-26 15 @CLE -----
7 @NYG 23-27 16 @PHI -----
8 @PIT 12-27 17 DAL -----
9 CAR 13-21 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
WAS @ CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Kirk Cousins 10 100,1
QB Robert Griffin III 20 150,1
RB Alfred Morris 100,1
WR Pierre Garcon 6-80,1
WR Leonard Hankerson 4-50
WR Santana Moss 2-30
WR Andre Roberts 3-40
TE Logan Paulsen 2-20
PK Kai Forbath 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: These last four games cements RG3 in the hearts of Redskins fans and coming back to beat the Ravens was almost as good as plowing under the entire NFC East division since the week 10 bye. The question of the week will be how healthy Griffin is and you can find any answer you want if you ask enough people. Some team mates have referred to Kirk Cousins has starting and others have insisted that Griffin will be good to go.

He injured his right knee when it whipped into a defender and caused a Grade 1 sprain to his LCL. The problem that this causes is that he may very well be good enough to play. But if he does, will he run? Will he be replaced mid-game by Cousins if the Skins are winning or losing badly? What if his knee gets popped again by a Cleveland defense that already has 34 sacks on the season?

It is all risk right when you do not want any.

Regardless who starts at quarterback, it is reasonable to assume that the Redskins will want to run more to protect the passer and Alfred Morris is on a three game tear with over 110 rushing yards in each and scores in two of them. Morris is hitting the end of the season strongly and erases any notion that the Skins need a better back. He's already gained 1228 rushing yards and seven scores with a healthy 4.9 yard average.

Any change at quarterback won't really change the passing picture much in fantasy terms. The only reliable player has been Pierre Garcon and he'll most likely end up on CB Joe Haden's dance card all game. The Skins need to run the table to reach the playoffs but this game will be tougher than it may seem at first. Much depends on which quarterback plays and that could be a changing situation even during the game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points WAS 1 22 11 23 17 8
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 20 18 26 6 6 14

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Robert Griffin III, WAS @SF 0000020012 ***
Still waiting for RG3 to take to this offense; a date with a San Francisco defense that's getting players back and held all quarterbacks not named Brees or Manning to one TD toss over the past two months... well, that's not going to help matters much.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Morris, WAS @SF 6002200000 ***
Mark Ingram proved you can grind it out against the Niners, and Morris will get ample opportunity to do the same--though don't look for a TD against a defense that's allowed only five RB TDs all year, just one of them in San Francisco.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Roy Helu, WAS @SF 2003200000 ***
Helu continues to be a PPR helper with three of five north of 40 receiving yards, including each of the past two. That's enough to make him a fringe fantasy contributor in performance based scoring systems.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeSean Jackson, WAS @SF 005700000 ****
The theory remains sound: Jackson's speed is the perfect fit for RG3's deep shots. It worked a couple weeks back in Minnesota, and it could work again--assuming RG3 keeps the starting gig long enough. Right now all the inconsistency does is makes DJax a fringe fantasy contributor.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Pierre Garcon, WAS @SF 003300000 ***
Garcon appears to have become an afterthought with RG3 at the helm; tough to trust an afterthought with a fantasy start at this juncture of the season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Roberts, WAS @SF 002200000 ***
Right now the Redskins' receiver rotation isn't seeing enough productivity for three fantasy options to emerge, and Roberts is most definitely queued up behind DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Niles Paul, WAS @SF 004300000 ***
Update: With Jordan Reed out, look for Paul to step up his looks. It's a somewhat favorable matchup against a 49ers defense that's struggled of late against tight ends, so there's some upside to Paul as a plug-in fantasy option this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Reed, WAS @SF 00000000 *
A healthy Reed definitely comes into play against a 49ers defenses that's allowed three TE TDs in the past two games. Whether or not Reed is healthy, however, remains to be seen.
Update: We can answer the "Is Reed healthy?" questions with an emphatic "no", as he has been ruled out for this week. Expect Niles Paul to see an uptick of looks in Reed's stead.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, WAS @SF 1111 ***
Wanna blame RG3 for something else? Forbath has a total of nine points in three RG3 starts, less than half his average in non-RG3 starts. So if RG3 is at the helm again this week, get your kicks elsewhere.

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 20-14
4 @BAL 16-23 13 @OAK 20-17
5 @NYG 27-41 14 KC 30-7
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
RB Ben Tate 20
WR Miles Austin 6-70,1
WR Josh Gordon 6-80,1
WR Andrew Hawkins 3-50,1
TE Jordan Cameron 2-20

Pregame Notes: The Browns are playing out another losing season but there has been some progress made with the offense. Perhaps not quite enough to prevent the Browns from going after another quarterback in the draft or free agency - Michael Vick's name has been mentioned. The rookie Brandon Weeden has been a definite upgrade from Colt McCoy of 2011 but his 13 passing touchdowns are not enough to spawn confidence. Even the owner has chimed in that a new quarterback will yet again be in the plans and the reality is that Weeden probably makes a great backup.

Where there is contentment is with running back. Trent Richardson has scored ten times this year and while his yardage may not be gaudy yet, it is more on the team around him than his own effort. Richardson has been an effective receiver out of the backfield and a bull at the goal line. What's even better is that he's getting 20+ carries in almost every game since midseason. The only time he shares the ball is when the Browns get a big lead. Then Montario Hardesty comes in for ten runs. But that only happens when the Chiefs visit.

It is also apparent that the supplemental draft pick of Josh Gordon is going to stick and the big price they paid for such a risky move was actually warranted. Gordon has only five touchdowns on the season and only once broke the 100 yard mark but he is by far the best receiver on the team and the only one that offers any sense of consistency and production.

This is the final home game for the Browns and that often prompts a better effort than those cold road games looming in Denver and Pittsburgh. Not enough to take down the Redskins most likely but this could be a surprising game and the Redskins pass defense is still one of the worst in the NFL.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 27 18 25 24 15 10
Preventing Fantasy Points WAS 30 8 31 32 23 2

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Brian Hoyer, CLE @ATL 0000026010 ****
The Falcons have allowed multiple touchdown passes in four straight, which might just be a favorable enough matchup to push Hoyer--who has just one multi-TD outing in his last six games--into fringe fantasy contributor territory.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE @ATL 8012100000 ***
Don't fall for the past two weeks of Atlanta's stats against a pair of run-challenged division foes; they've given up RB TDs in all six non-division games as well as at least 123 yards from scrimmage to the RB position. Crowell was Cleveland's lead dog last week, and with Ben Tate out of the picture he's good for at least half the touches in a backfield that should have its way with the Falcons run D.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Terrance West, CLE @ATL 401000000 ***
West took a back seat to Isaiah Crowell last week after getting 26 carries in the key divisional win over Cincy the previous week. Who knows which back will be Cleveland's primary, but against an Atlanta D that's allowing an average of 186 combo yards and 1.6 TDs to opposing non-division backfields even a share means fantasy success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Josh Gordon, CLE @ATL 005801000 *
How quickly can the Browns re-incorporate Gordon into the mix? Shouldn't take long against a secondary that's allowed 100-yard games to the past three feature receivers it has faced.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andrew Hawkins, CLE @ATL 005600000 ***
Hawkins should retain his role even with the return of Josh Gordon, though there may not be as big of a need for his possession receiver skills.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, CLE @ATL 003400000 ***
Just as Gabriel was starting to carve out a little niche for himself in the Cleveland passing attack, Josh Gordon returns to blow everything up. With Gordon hogging the looks there's unlikely to be as much fantasy value to Gabriel's game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Miles Austin, CLE @ATL 002200000 ***
Austin was supposed to take the place of Josh Gordon, and now Gordon is back. So... it's been a nice run.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Cameron, CLE @ATL 00000000 *
Battling injuries and ineffectiveness, Cameron hasn't been fantasy-relevant since Week 6. The return of Josh Gordon this week overshadows anything Cameron might bring to the table; he's back in "prove it" mode until we see anything that resembles the kind of numbers he put up last year.
Update: Cameron has been ruled out of this week's game... not that he's been much help lately anyway.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE @ATL 2233 ***
After a couple big games at home, Cundiff has turtled. It's not a favorable enough matchup to expect a turnaround that will benefit your fantasy squad.

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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