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
WR Josh Gordon, CLE @PIT 0071101000 ***
The Steelers have allowed wide receiver touchdowns in six straight, though of late those scores have been going to secondary targets. Gordon's 14-237-1 on 17 targets in the earlier meeting gives evidence that there really isn't a secondary target in Cleveland, so plan on Josh doing all the heavy lifting once again this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Nate Burleson, CLE @PIT 004500000 ***
Burleson might be the most trustworthy secondary target on the Detroit roster, but even he's been laying eggs of late. WR2s have had success against the Vikings, in part because of emerging shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes' success against WR1s. However, unless Calvin Johnson sits this one out due to injury it's too tough to identify which--if any--Lions wingmen will step up and contribute.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Miles Austin, CLE @PIT 001200000 **
After Dez Bryant takes his bite, and Jason Witten takes his, Austin has to fight Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams for table scraps. Table scraps do not tend to equal fantasy success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE @PIT 001100000 ***
Barnidge will get the Browns' TE looks if Jordan Cameron can't go. Not much fantasy value to be had.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Billy Cundiff, CLE @PIT 1122 ***
Cundiff hasn't seen double-digits since Week 5, managed just three points in the earlier meeting with the Steelers, and now heads to the notoriously hard to kick in Heinz Field. That's not exactly a ringing fantasy endorsement.

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 CLE 0000024020 ***
The Browns have allowed multiple passing scores in 10 straight games, a stretch that includes Big Ben's 217 & 2 in Week 12. Roethlsiberger's yardage has been subdued of late, but he has multiple TD tosses in five of six and will stick around as long as it takes with the Steelers' playoff hopes still clinging to life support.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT CLE 7014300000 ***
Bell rushed for 80 yards in the earlier meeting with Cleveland. Since then the Browns have softened a bit, surrendering 100-yard outings in back-to-back games. Bell rushed for 124 yards last week in Green Bay and has scored in back-to-back games; he also has a couple 50-yard receiving games in that span as well. With the Steelers still playing for something, Bell's about as good a fantasy back bet as there is this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB LeGarrette Blount, PIT CLE 601000000 **
Prior to last week's aberration against the Dolphins, the Bills allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers. They also served up 162 rushing yards to the Patriots in the earlier meeting this season; unfortunately, after Shane Vereen (if healthy) takes his bite off the top the leftovers will be split between Blount and Stevan Ridley--and only Bill Belichick knows who'll get the money shots.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT CLE 005801000 ***
With 92 yards and a TD in Cleveland earlier this season, Brown ain't 'fraid of no Haden. He's scored in three straight and five of six and is consistently Big Ben's favorite target so don't sweat the Iron Haden.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Lance Moore, PIT CLE 002200000 ***
Moore has to battle Kenny Stills and Robert Meachem for secondary looks behind Marques Colston in an offense that throws to the tight end and running backs more than the wideouts. That's not a recipe for fantasy success.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Heath Miller, PIT CLE 003200000 ***
The Steelers have one TE TD in the past nine games, and it went to Matt Spaeth, not Miller. Heath had 5-41 in the earlier meeting with Cleveland, a game sandwiched in between outings in which the Browns gave up multiple touchdowns. So there's at least a glimmer of hope here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shaun Suisham, PIT CLE 2233 ***
Suisham tallied nine in Cleveland last month and has 20 points over the past two games. With the Steelers clinging to playoff hopes, Suisham will be pressed to put points on the board once again.

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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