FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 1 BAL at DEN (THU) GB at SF *NE at BUF *TB at NYJ
*ATL at NO MIA at CLE *OAK at IND TEN at PIT
CIN at CHI MIN at DET SEA at CAR HOU at SD (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at STL *KC at JAC NYG at DAL PHI at WAS (MON)

Prediction: TEN 14, PIT 20 (Line: PIT by 7)

Players of Interest: Shonn Greene

Though in two different divisions, these teams have faced off in each of the last five years and the home team won all but once. The Titans went 6-10 on the 2012 season and were only 2-6 on the road. The Steelers were 8-8 and 5-3 at home.This is a challenging matchup because the Steelers have no rushing game and the Titans are trying to create a decent passing effort.

1 @PIT - 10 JAC -
2 @HOU - 11 IND -
3 SD - 12 @OAK -
4 NYJ - 13 @IND -
5 KC - 14 @DEN -
6 @SEA - 15 ARI -
7 SF - 16 @JAC -
8 BYE WEEK 17 HOU -
9 @STL - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
TEN @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Locker 20 190,1
RB Shonn Greene 20,1
WR Nate Washington 3-30
WR Kendall Wright 4-50,1
TE Delanie Walker 3-30

Pregame Notes: The third season of HC Mike Munchak is under way and still they want to see Jake Locker become the quarterback they thought they were drafting in the first round of 2011.Locker has only played in 16 games over those two seasons thanks to a shoulder injury last year. This is clearly Munchak's team by now and the offense needs to take a step forward if they are to compete.

QUARTERBACKS: Jake Locker has produced small moments of good play but too often has been unable to pass for more than 200 yards or move the ball much when not at home against a soft defense. The team has brought in more weapons for him to use and Chris Johnson is plenty good enough to keep the defense worried. This year needs to be a major step up for Locker or they will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick who came in after spending five years as a starter for the Bills.

The coaching staff has suggested that Locker run more and that would help his fantasy value, meager as it is.

RUNNING BACKS: Chris Johnson set himself up to be disappointing after rushing for 2006 yards in just his second season (2009). The reality is that he has been above 4.0 YPC each season and never rushed for fewer than 1047 yards. He gained 1243 in 2012 along with 232 more yards as a receiver. After producing double digit scores in his first three years, Johnson has slipped to only four and six respectively these last two seasons. That may not change with the addition of Shonn Greene who is better built for goal line work and according to HC Munchak will be used for more than just short yardage. Greene comes over after four seasons as the starter for the Jets.

WIDE RECEIVERS: There is no shortage of receivers here with Kenny Britt healthy enough to play so far and Kendall Wright back for a second season, Nate Washington trying to hold on to mediocrity and now Justin Hunter was drafted with their 2.02 pick in April. Kendall Wright was solid as a rookie in 2012 but lost time this summer with a sprained knee. He is expected to play on Sunday though technically the starter will be Washington. Kenny Britt is again spawning hope that the first rounder from 2009 might still be more than an injury waiting to happen. He has missed 20 games in the last three years and has never been better than 45 catches in a year.

The rookie Hunter is the odd man out for now but this group could be changing roles throughout the year depending on how well Locker plays and when Britt's knees swell up again.

TIGHT ENDS: Jared Cook left for the Rams to reunite with Jeff Fisher and the Titans opted to bring in Delanie Walker as the starting tight end. But he suffered a knee injury in OTA's during June and needed a knee scope. He started out on the PUP list but has since put in two weeks of work and is expected to start. Walker is already 29-years old and spent seven years in San Francisco where he never produced more than 344 yards in a season. Hard to see him worthy of more than a bye week replacement since he is almost 30 years old, never that productive and with a team that put Jared Cook's progress in reverse.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: This is not an ideal way to open the season. The Steelers defense is one of the best in the league and not only top three against running backs and quarterbacks, but they are even better when at home. Johnson is a must start but only two runners scored in Pittsburgh in all of 2012. Only Jamaal Charles gained more than 65 rushing yards there and the Titans are talking up at least a minor committee using Greene as well. There is nothing in the Titans that suggests starting one of them against the #1 pass defense in Pittsburgh will create fantasy relevant stats. If Locker throws more than one score it will be a big success.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Really tough way to start the season. Do want to see what they intend to do with Shonn Greene if anything though this week may not be a good representative of their future intentions.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 24 28 18 18 23 5
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 2 7 7 16 24

 

1 TEN - 10 BUF -
2 @CIN - 11 DET -
3 CHI - 12 @CLE -
4 @MIN - 13 @BAL -
5 BYE WEEK 14 MIA -
6 @NYJ - 15 CIN -
7 BAL - 16 @GB -
8 @OAK - 17 CLE -
9 @NE - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 260,2
WR Antonio Brown 6-90,1
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 5-80,1
WR Lance Moore 6-80
WR Markus Wheaton 3-50
TE David Paulson 2-20
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Steelers offense lost their punch last year when they never scored more than 27 points in any game and the rushing effort was meager and spread out among six different runners. They tried to rectify that with the drafting of Le'Veon Bell but he injured his foot and remains sidelined for now. Mike Wallace also left but Emmanuel Sanders is expected to fill in with no loss. The Steelers also claim they have revamped the playbook for this year.

QUARTERBACKS: Ben Roethlisberger had another down year in 2012 when he suffered a shoulder and rib injury. He also had a knee scope done in the offseason. After playing for nine years, he has lasted all 16 games only once back in 2008. He misses one to four games each season. He ended with only 3265 yards and yet threw 26 touchdowns in his 13 games played.

Roethlisberger is 31 and has been one of the most sacked quarterbacks of our time. He needs better run game support and blocking.

RUNNING BACKS: Le'Veon Bell injured his foot and by now they are no longer talking about missing most of the season. Now they are saying he is out of the boot and maybe getting a partial practice in this week with a hope he may only miss a game or two. Regardless, Isaac Redman is the starter this week and will get help from newly acquired Felix Jones and possibly even LaRod Stephens-Howling. The problem with last year was going to a committee that had little effect. Until Bell returns, this unit won't be much help.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Mike Wallace left but it should be okay. Antonio Brown assumes the #1 role and while he was not as productive in 2012 as he was in 2011, he did battle an ankle injury and he missed three games. Promising was when he scored in each of the final four games. Emmanuel Sanders gets the big push up the depth charts and now will start for Wallace. Sanders has been light on scoring with only five career touchdowns in three years but this is his first opportunity to be the starter. The Steelers also drafted Marcus Wheaton in the third round and he has already impressed and bought himself playing time.

TIGHT ENDS: Heath Miller finally had a big year when he caught 71 passes for 816 yards and five scores before blowing out his knee in week 16. He enters the season on the PUP list with no set time to return. He has played for nine years already and coming back from a catastrophic knee injury at age of 31 is very tough. David Paulson is just a place holder for now because Matt Spaeth is gone for a few months with a Lis Franc injury.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Titans defense is mostly unchanged but the Steelers have no big rushing game to rely on and tight ends are out of the picture as well. This has to be a game won mostly by Big Ben throwing to the wide receivers. The Titans on the road rarely fare well anyway and there is enough talented diversity in the wideouts now to win games. You can start any Steeler you want since it is at home but the rushing effort is still a bit undefined and a bigger risk. Big Ben and the wideouts are all intriguing starts.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown both need to step up their game especially with no tight end help in sight. We need to see them clicking well with Big Ben and also see if Wheaton can be a factor this early in the season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 15 23 16 8 17 27
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 24 29 23 31 27 26

WEEK 1 BAL at DEN (THU) GB at SF *NE at BUF *TB at NYJ
*ATL at NO MIA at CLE *OAK at IND TEN at PIT
CIN at CHI MIN at DET SEA at CAR HOU at SD (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at STL *KC at JAC NYG at DAL PHI at WAS (MON)


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