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 DAL 0000026011 ***
RG3 threw four TDs in his first game against the Cowboys, back in November 2012; in 57 attempts he hasn't thrown one since, though he did run for one in the back end of the 2012 series. Colt McCoy couldn't crack the Cowboys for a scoring strike (though he did run one in) in the earlier meeting this season; sensing a theme here? RG3 came close to a rushing score in Week 15, but he'll need one to be a fantasy factor this week--and he hasn't had one since that 2012 Week 17 game against Dallas.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Morris, WAS DAL 701000000 ***
Alf has scored in all five of his career meetings with the Cowboys, including a TD in the earlier meeting which, at 18-73-1, was actually his least productive effort against Dallas. The Cowboys have allowed seven RB TDs in the past five games, so Alf should have ample opportunity to extend his streak here--unless Darrel Young swipes his scores again.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeSean Jackson, WAS DAL 0051101000 ****
Jackson dropped 136 yards on the Cowboys in the front end of this season series, but he hasn't caught a touchdown pass against them since December of 2010--and he's been in their division for years. Bank on the yardage--DJax just posted 126 on his former mates from Philadelphia last week--but don't count on a touchdown.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andre Roberts, WAS DAL 003500000 ***
The last time Roberts had fantasy value was right after the Redskins signed him to start opposite Pierre Garcon. Much has happened since then, none of it beneficial to Roberts' fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Pierre Garcon, WAS DAL 004500000 ***
Garcon has shown moderate signs of life, but his biggest outing came when DeSean Jackson was out of the lineup so when the Redskins are at full strength he's clearly a second banana. Look for a first banana before settling this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Reed, WAS DAL 005500000 ***
Reed split 67 yards with Niles Paul in the earlier matchup with Dallas, but he's made the tight end position his own over the past month. That makes him the most likely to take advantage of a Dallas defense that's allowed 10 TE TDs on the year as well as six games of 50-plus yards.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, WAS DAL 2222 ****
Forbath has actually been adequate of late, if you're into something in the eight-point neighborhood. That seems to be the ceiling, however, so you can likely do better 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
WR Miles Austin 6-70,1
WR Josh Gordon 6-80,1
WR Andrew Hawkins 3-50,1
TE Jordan Cameron 2-20
PK Garrett Hartley 1 FG 4 XP

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 Connor Shaw, CLE @BAL 10000016002 ***
The undrafted rookie is taking all the first-team snaps in practice and will likely make the start in Baltimore in place of the injured Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer. An undrafted rookie, activated off the practice squad, starting in Baltimore against a Ravens team that needs to win. Yeah, that's going to end well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE @BAL 500000000 **
With the Browns starting a third-string quarterback in Week 17 for the fifth straight season--talk about a cursed franchise--the onus will be on the ground game to carry the offensive load. The problem there is that feature backs average 45 yards per game in Baltimore, and the Ravens have allowed only one RB rushing score in Baltimore this season--and a total of six RB TDs altogether. Crowell saw the bulk of the carries last week with Terrence West pinned to the bench due to lack of practice effort, but if the upside is less than 50 yards you'll want to look elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, CLE @BAL 004600000 *
It's been tough finding fantasy wideouts in Cleveland all year, let alone when they're scraping the bottom of the quarterbacks barrel in Week 17 on the road facing a Baltimore squad in a do-or-die situation. So... nah.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andrew Hawkins, CLE @BAL 003200000 *
It's tough to be a PPR threat when there are few "R"s to go around, and with Cleveland's quarterback issues this week that's likely to be the case.
Update: Making matters worse is that Hawkins is listed as questionable with a thumb injury. He practiced only on a limited basis this week and doesn't have the upside to offset the risk of little or no game action here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Josh Gordon, CLE @BAL 00000000 *
No matter how good Gordon is, he can't throw the ball to himself. And between a banged-up Brian Hoyer, journeyman Tyler Thigpen and undrafted rookie Connor Shaw the Browns have all kinds of issues at quarterback. So much for that big late-season push after stashing Gordon, eh?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Cameron, CLE @BAL 003300000 *
It took until Week 16 but Cameron finally delivered on expectations last week with 88 yards and a touchdown. Now he'll face a tough matchup--the Ravens have allowed just five TE TDs on the year--while saddled with quarterback issues. Tough to bank on him for fantasy help this week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Garrett Hartley, CLE @BAL 1100 **
Hartley has been a solid addition since replacing Billy Cundiff, though the Johnny Manziel-led offense hasn't provided a ton of opportunities. Cundiff had three points in the earlier meeting with Baltimore; tough to bank on Hartley providing a dramatic upgrade, especially if it's undrafted rookie Connor Shaw at quarterback for the Brownies.

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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