FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: CLE 3, PIT 20 (Line: OFF)

Players to Watch: Emmanuel Sanders

This is a replay of week 12 when the Browns won 20-14 in Cleveland. But the 5-10 Browns are only 1-6 on the road and the 7-8 Steelers need this win to avoid a losing season. Both teams are having a bad year though it is nothing new for the Browns who have already won one more game than last year. It was no worse than the last five seasons. The Steelers have not had a losing season in ten years and that was four years before Mike Tomlin took over. This is all new to the current Steelers. This will be a cold game with a chance of snow.

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 21-38
7 @IND 13-17 16 @DEN 12-34
8 SD 7-6 17 @PIT -----
9 BAL 15-25 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CLE @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Hoyer 180
RB Ben Tate 40 3-20
WR Miles Austin 4-60
WR Andrew Hawkins 3-40

Pregame Notes: The year may have not been a major step forward, but at least the Browns are ending with more points scored than any other time in the last five years. The defense has been instrumental in keeping the team in games and keeping overall scoring lower. This is a team moving in the right direction but they are not breaking any speed records getting to where they want to be.

Brandon Weeden will likely not play this week because of his shoulder injury that kept him out last week. But he has thrown for a respectable 3385 yards and 14 touchdowns with 17 interceptions. Nothing awe-inspiring but considering Colt McCoy led them last year with 1576 yards and six touchdowns... Weeden wasn't all that bad.

The Browns have a storied history of crappy quarterbacks with recent inclusions of Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy and Charlie Frye over the last seven years. This week McCoy is not a lock to play because of his shoulder and may end up letting practice squad player Thaddeus Lewis take the start. And yes, things can always get worse.

Trent Richardson injured his ankle last week but it is not as serious as first feared when he was in a walking boot. He's questionable for the final game and I will assume he plays a limited role and update if needed. He's a risk this week and may end up with Montario Hardesty helping out or even taking the start. I'll project for Richardson but playing in Pittsburgh is going to be tough anyway. Richardson ran for 85 yards on 29 carries and scored once in the first meeting. He even added 27 yards on four catches. He was on a four game scoring streak until last week.

Mohamed Massaquoi was placed on injured reserve because of his knee. Greg Little scored last week for only the third time all year and was held to one catch for six yards against the Steelers in week 12. Josh Gordon went for 60 yards on four receptions in that game. Weeden only passed for 158 yards and one score in that game. On the road, there is no Browns player worthy of a start this week aside from potentially Richardson who will not have a great game in Pittsburgh even if he is completely healthy.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 27 20 22 24 16 13
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 2 6 7 17 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Brian Hoyer, CLE OAK 0000022010 ***
While Oakland has allowed three straight multiple TD games with at least 250 yards in each, Hoyer has just one of the former and two of the latter. Look for fantasy help elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Ben Tate, CLE OAK 1102000000 ****
Mike Pettine vowed changes after last week's struggles, so don't necessarily expect Tate to get the bulk of the work this week. That said, it's a favorable enough matchup that both Tate and Isaiah Crowell could carve out fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE OAK 500000000 **
Great week for a shakeup in the Cleveland backfield, as it looks like Crowell might get first crack at a Raiders' run D that's giving up an average of 131 RB rushing yards and one RB rushing score per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Andrew Hawkins, CLE OAK 007700000 ***
Hawkins is the closest thing to reliable in Cleveland's passing game, and with Oakland allowing at least one WR TD in each of the past three games he's the best bet to capitalize; that combined with his usual PPR volume make him the safest (only?) fantasy play of the bunch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Miles Austin, CLE OAK 003500000 ***
Austin is consistently around 50 yards per week, which isn't enough to blip on the fantasy radar. And since he hasn't seen the end zone since Week 3 he's a difficult fantasy play even in a friendly matchup like this.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, CLE OAK 002200000 ***
Since scoring two TDs two weeks ago Travis has just one catch; clearly the Cleveland passing game is not all about the Benjamin. Upside, to be sure, but lots of risk if you plan on using this home run hitter in your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jordan Cameron, CLE OAK 003301000 **
The Raiders have allowed three TE TDs in the past four games, with the only dissenter being a Cardinals offense that doesn't give its tight ends the time of day. That bodes well for Cameron, who followed up his 102 and 1 against the Steelers with a disappointing one-catch outing against Jacksonville.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE OAK 2233 ***
Cundiff hasn't had a double-digit outing yet this season, and over the past month the Raiders have been giving up too many touchdowns to surrender multiple field goals. That's a bad recipe for fantasy kicking success.

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 24-34
6 @TEN 23-26 15 @DAL 24-27
7 @CIN 24-17 16 CIN 10-13
8 WAS 27-12 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG 24-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 250,1
WR Antonio Brown 5-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-30
WR Lance Moore 4-40
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: No other way to paint the year other than a colossal disappointment for a team that went 12-4 for the last two seasons.This year the offense was supposed to be better and more pass-oriented. It succeeded in not being a run-oriented offense. The best of any runner is Jonathan Dwyer and his 571 rushing yards. While Roethlisberger has improved slightly with touchdowns - 23 over the 21 from last year - he also missed three games and only has 3131 passing yards on the year. Roethlisberger did not play in the first meeting with the Browns this year and Charlie Batch was the starter for that loss.

Roethlisberger has openly questioned the play calling by OC Todd Haley though they claim to have made up now. This has never been a good scoring team and have not managed more than 27 points for 11 weeks now.

The rushing effort has rarely been reliable or productive this year with four running backs often taking carries in each week and even in the first meeting, Dwyer led with only nine runs for 19 yards. Rashard Mendenhall carried four times for six yards and Isaac Redman went seven yards on his two runs. Chris Rainey carried for five runs and gained 17 yards plus the one rushing score. It has been largely that sort of mess all year. Dwyer is the best of the bunch but it doesn't mean much with mo more than 50 yards for the last five weeks.

More bad news - Heath Miller blew his ACL and will miss this final week and get the surgery. He'll be a big 30-year old tight end trying to rehab his knee which means he's likely to be less effective in 2013 and beyond.

Mike Wallace will also possibly miss this week with a strained hip that kept him out of practices. Mike Wallace was held to only one catch for nine yards - with Batch throwing the ball. Antonio Brown was unable to play in that game and Emmanuel Sanders was tops with his 79 yards on five catches. Brown has been on a roll lately with three straight games of catching a touchdown pass.

This is a cold game, maybe snowing. The Browns are using a banged up quarterback or a practice squad player so this all favors the Steelers even without Miller or Wallace. But the overall score is likely to remain low and the only plays here are Roethlisberger, Dwyer and Brown assuming Haden doesn't switch sides and slam-dance with him for the entire game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 14 23 17 5 15 27
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 22 26 28 2 6 12

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT IND 0000024011 ***
While Indy hasn't allowed much to opposing quarterbacks, two of the three biggest games they've surrendered have come outside the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium. Big Ben is averaging 314 and 2 at home (vs. 253 and 1 on the road), so he's not an awful fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT IND 8016500000 ***
Despite holding Giovani Bernard in check at home last week the Colts are still giving up about 130 combo yards per game to opposing backs. Bell is a one-man wrecking machine with triple-digit yards from scrimmage in every game this season. No reason to bet against him here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT IND 005801000 ***
After some early season missteps the Colts have surrendered just one WR TD in the past month. But the rock-solid Brown doesn't need TDs to do his damage; he'll clean up in PPR and performance leagues and may even throw another score for good measure. He's an every-week starter regardless of format.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT IND 003500000 ***
Bryant made a splash in his NFL debut last week, but he has a tough matchup here against a defense that's allowed only one WR TD and one wideout to top 65 yards in the past month. Best wait a week to let the rookie get his feet wetter.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT IND 003400000 ***
It's a reasonably favorable yardage matchup, as the Colts have allowed four tight ends to top 70 yards and gave up 10 catches to Jermaine Gresham last week. But Heath has only one game of fantasy renown this year and is difficult to trust for anything more than fair to middlin' stats.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT IND 2222 ***
No in between for Suisham: four games of six or less, three games of 12 or more. The Colts tend to give up something closer to the "less" side of that spectrum, so plan accordingly.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

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