FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 3 KC at PHI (THU) CHI at PIT HOU at BAL SD at TEN
BUF at NYJ GB at CIN NYG at CAR STL at DAL
ARI at NO CLE at MIN IND at SF TB at NE
*UPDATED ATL at MIA DET at WAS JAC at SEA OAK at DEN (MON)

Prediction: HOU 24, BAL 20 (Line: HOU by 2.5)

Players of Interest: Bernard Pierce

Update: Ray Rice is not expected to play and is listed as doubtful. Bernard Pierce should get the start. Garrett Graham is questionable and not certain to play. He will be a game time decision.

The Texans are 2-0 and hit the road for the second time this year. The Ravens are just 1-1 thanks to a very close home win over the Browns. This is not shaping up to be a great game for the Ravens who may be without Ray Rice.

1 @SD 31-28 10 @ARI -
2 TEN 30-24 11 OAK -
3 @BAL - 12 JAC -
4 SEA - 13 NE -
5 @SF - 14 @JAC -
6 STL - 15 @IND -
7 @KC - 16 DEN -
8 BYE WEEK 17 @TEN -
9 IND - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Arian Foster 60 1-10
WR DeAndre Hopkins 5-80,1
WR Andre Johnson 7-80
TE Garrett Graham 3-20
PK Randy Bullock 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Texans needed a 46-yard Titan field goal attempt to doink off the left goal post to reach overtime where they used only one drive to win with a touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins. The offense has been as productive as ever - maybe more with a better passing game. But the defense has twice allowed opponents to stay in games until the end. Both the Titans and Chargers are surprisingly good this year and heading to Baltimore the Texans face a very different team than the one that won a Super Bowl. The schedule up until the week eight bye is going to be very tough and the Texans cannot afford to allow winnable games get past them.

QUARTERBACKS: Adding in a new hot rookie wideout apparently was just the thing that Matt Schaub was needing. After two weeks, he has back-to-back three touchdown efforts with no fewer than 298 yards in each. Three different receivers have scored and none of them was named Andre Johnson though his 29 targets so far leads the NFL. With a challenging schedule looming, this is not the end of Schaub posting nice passing stats. It needs to be just the beginning.

RUNNING BACKS: And we are back to the two-headed attack. Arian Foster gets the biggest chunk - roughly two-thirds - but he has yet to do more than Ben Tate has with half the runs. Through two games, Foster has gained 136 yards on 37 carries for a 3.7 yard average. Tate has rushed for 148 yards on 18 carries for a spiffy 8.2 yard average. Guess which one is better! Doesn't matter. The Texans are committed to their committee but acknowledge how well Tate has ran without actually saying "a hell of a lot better than that guy".

If either back would just get injured, we could reprise the monster games like the last couple of years for Foster. But combined, each is only a marginal fantasy start. And Foster has the lone rushing score by the Texans this year.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Andre Johnson left in the fourth quarter last week with a concussion but the early speculation is that he will be able to play on Sunday. He currently has 20 receptions for 222 yards which is likely unsustainable since it extrapolates out to a 160 catch season. After Johnson left the game, it did not fall apart. DeAndre Hopkins just took over and not only ended with seven catches for 117 yards and he even had the game winning catch in overtime.

Hopkins has come along remarkably fast and already the Texans have a formidable duo that they have only dreamed about for many years. The passing game has been so successful that the Texans barely make the top ten in running back stats so far.

TIGHT ENDS: Let the rushing game and the wideouts advance the ball. But when they reach the red zone, the tight ends have taken over. Garrett Graham has scored in both games as has Owen Daniels who even doubled up with touchdowns in the opener in San Diego. The yardage has remained moderate for both but to games into the season and there is no proof that either can play and not catch a touchdown.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Ravens have gone through two extremes between being blasted in Denver and then playing the Browns who cannot score at all. This week helps answer how good the Ravens defense really is but when Peyton Manning lays down seven touchdowns on them, it is a sign that their pass defense needs some tuning. No team has had much success running on them as the defensive line remains stout so this game has to be won via the pass. And that plays right into Schaub, Johnson, Hopkins and especially the tight ends since this defense has faced only two so far - Julius Thomas (4-110, 2 TD) and Jordan Cameron (5-95).

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The passing game is going to take center stage again but it will be interesting to see if the same workload ratio exists for Tate and Foster given their disparity in yards per carry.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 6 9 9 1 28 11
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 30 8 27 25 16 12

 

1 @DEN 27-49 10 CIN -
2 CLE 14-6 11 @CHI -
3 HOU - 12 NYJ -
4 @BUF - 13 PIT -
5 @MIA - 14 MIN -
6 GB - 15 @DET -
7 @PIT - 16 NE -
8 BYE WEEK 17 @CIN -
9 @CLE - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL vs HOU Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 240,2
RB Bernard Pierce 70 3-20
WR Marlon Brown 5-70,1
WR Steve Smith 6-60,1
WR Torrey Smith 7-90,1
TE Owen Daniels 5-60,1
PK Justin Tucker 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Coming off a Super Bowl year is always tough but not usually this tough. The Ravens were pummeled in Denver and then entered the third quarter against the visiting Browns down 0-6 before finally winning 14-6. Against the Browns.And it doesn't get any better any time soon with a very tough schedule pretty much through week 17 and even including week 17. Getting Ray Rice dinged up only makes matters worse as the offense has taken a very visible step down. Maybe two. Maybe more.

QUARTERBACKS: While Joe Flacco left Denver with 362 yards and two scores mostly during trash time, he was held to only 211 yards and one score by the Browns. Not having Dennis Pitta means no security blanket and then when Jacoby Jones left because his own team mate tackled him on a punt catch leaves Flacco high and dry. This is shaping up to be a long season but at least Flacco can spend money with wild abandon in the offseason.

RUNNING BACKS: Ray Rice left the Browns game with a left hip flexor and the team did not bother with an MRI which is a good sign. Rice could still play this week even if he never practices but early money is on him missing the game. Bernard Pierce is one of the more capable backups in the NFL and the drop off is minimal.

At least this is an early game so you can know if Rice suits up or not. But even if he does, there is likely no way of knowing what to expect unless he puts in a full practice on Friday which no one thinks will happen. I will assume that Rice lays out this one week.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The offense has mostly shrunk down to throwing the ball to Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown. Smith has remained at 85 yards or more so far while Brown has scored in both matchups. Aside from the freak game by Dallas Clark in the opener during trash time, Smith and Brown is all that Flacco really has for reliable targets. Jacoby Jones is expected to miss another couple of weeks before returning.

TIGHT ENDS: Just when you thought Dallas Clark mattered, he turns in a one catch game for eight yards. No fantasy value here.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Texans have not allowed a rushing score this year and no one has passed for more than 195 yards on them. But they have surrendered six passing touchdowns. Figure on this being a good game for Flacco without being great. Pierce can have a decent showing as well if he does not have to share the load but even then it'll just be some rushing yards likely without a touchdown.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Pierce can have at least a decent showing this week and that will help should Rice remain injured or re-injure himself later. There is nothing else going on with this team though despite the need for better options beyond Smith and Brown.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 18 7 13 17 23 25
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 19 12 13 8 6 20

WEEK 3 KC at PHI (THU) CHI at PIT HOU at BAL SD at TEN
BUF at NYJ GB at CIN NYG at CAR STL at DAL
ARI at NO CLE at MIN IND at SF TB at NE
*UPDATED ATL at MIA DET at WAS JAC at SEA OAK at DEN (MON)


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