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 Andre Roberts 3-40
TE Logan Paulsen 2-20

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 Kirk Cousins, WAS @DAL 0000018000 *
Cousins finally shook off the road woes with last week's 365 and 4 in Philly, but the Cowboys haven't allowed a 300-yard passer since Drew Brees in Week 4--or a 300-yard passer in Dallas since Drew Brees in Week 4 of last year. Dallas has also held four of five and eight of 10 quarterbacks to one or zero TDs, so you may not like this week's Cousins nearly as much as previous versions.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alfred Morris, WAS @DAL 7011100000 ***
With Matt Jones sidelined Morris has a clearer path to carries; against a Cowboys defense that's given up 426 rushing yards the past three games--at better than five yards a carry--that volume leads to fantasy opportunity.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS @DAL 004500000 ***
Whatever fantasy relevance Crowder had departed when DeSean Jackson returned to the lineup, and the Cowboys don't give up nearly enough to wideouts to dig this deep into the depth chart.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Pierre Garcon, WAS @DAL 003400000 ***
Since DJax arrived in DC Garcon has been an afterthought against the Cowboys--three games of 54 yards or less with no TDs, a far cry from his 11-144-1 in his last DJax-free meeting with the Cowboys. He's still a wingman, and wingmen have been largely quiet against Dallas.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DeSean Jackson, WAS @DAL 002300000 *
In three games as a Redskin Jackson has produced lines of 6-80-1, 2-86-1 and 6-136 against the Cowboys. Don't expect big numbers against a Dalls defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 10 and just three WR TDs in that six-game span, but WR1s have been checking in consistently in the 70-80 yard range so there's a baseline with upside for DJax.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Reed, WAS @DAL 002300000 *
Reed has been unstoppable of late, with 25 catches 333 yards and five TDs in the past three games. Prior to that run Dallas held him to 3-33, easily his worst fantasy game of the season. Can the Cowboys do it again? Only one TE has topped 50 yards against them in the past eight games and only two tight ends have scored in that span, so temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Dustin Hopkins, WAS @DAL 2111 ***
Nothing to play for,
so settling for field goals
not such a bad thing

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 Josh Gordon 6-80,1
WR Brian Hartline 5-70
WR Andrew Hawkins 3-50,1

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 Austin Davis, CLE PIT 0000021011 ***
The Steelers lost to Ryan Mallett last week, so they shouldn't take Davis lightly. Fantasy owners, however, shouldn't take Davis at all.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Duke Johnson, CLE PIT 2004300000 ***
Maybe you can scrape together a PPR helper from Johnson, who had four catches in the earlier meeting with Pittsburgh; after all, the Steelers have allowed 24-208-2 receiving to running backs over the past month and Duke is the Browns' pass-catching back.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE PIT 300000000 ***
Yes, the Steelers have let a feature back rush for 75-plus yards and a score in three of their last four road games, including Javorius Allen last week. Yes, Crowell has three TDs in the past three games. But after Crowell rushed for negative five yards on six carries in the earlier meeting it's impossible to trust him with a fantasy play here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, CLE PIT 003500000 *
The Steelers have allowed two receivers to score or top 60 yards in three straight so you have to believe there's at least one fantasy helper here. And Benjamin is the best bet among Cleveland's thinning receiving corps.

Update: Benjamin was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable due to an ankle injury. You may need to check his status pre-game if you're planning to use him in your Week 17 fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Taylor Gabriel, CLE PIT 002200000 ***
While the Steelers have allowed multiple receivers to score or top 60 yards in three straight games, the last time Gabriel participated in such a game came back in Week 5. Temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE PIT 005501000 ***
The Steelers have shut out tight ends in five straight games since allowing Barnidge to score in Week 10. He's still the Browns' top target, doing more than enough to remain a viable fantasy option.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Travis Coons, CLE PIT 1111 ***
Three points last time out
against the Steelers; at least
this one's in Cleveland

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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