FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 4 SF at STL (THU) CIN at CLE NYG at KC SEA at HOU
PIT at MIN (London) IND at JAC PHI at DEN WAS at OAK
CHI at DET NE at ATL BAL at BUF MIA at NO (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at TB DAL at SD NYJ at TEN On Bye: CAR, GB

Prediction: CIN 24, CLE 13 (Line: CIN by 5)

Players of Interest: Giovani Bernard, Brian Hoyer

Update: Billy Cundiff is questionable to play with a thigh injury. You have got to have a better option than the Cleveland kicker.

The Bengals are 2-1 with their lone loss in Chicago during their only road game. The Browns are a very surprising 1-2 after winning in Minnesota in a game that most thought was the only lock for a loss on Sunday. These divisional rivals traded home wins in 2012 with the Bengals winning 34-27 and the Browns taking their game 34-24. Can't imagine lightning can strike twice.

1 @CHI 21-24 10 @BAL -
2 PIT 20-10 11 CLE -
3 GB 34-30 12 BYE WEEK
4 @CLE - 13 @SD -
5 NE - 14 IND -
6 @BUF - 15 @PIT -
7 @DET - 16 MIN -
8 NYJ - 17 BAL -
9 @MIA - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CIN @ CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Andy Dalton 260,2
RB Giovani Bernard 40,1 4-30
WR A.J. Green 6-50
WR Marvin Jones 3-30,1
WR Mohamed Sanu 4-40,1
TE Tyler Eifert 3-20
TE Jermaine Gresham 4-30
PK Mike Nugent 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Bengals did not just win their two home games, they took down the Steelers and the Packers. The defense is solid and even dominating against a weaker team. The offense already has a spark from Giovani Bernard and the upcoming schedule gets lighter for a few weeks. The Bengals will be in the race for the AFC North until the end if they don't win it outright earlier.

QUARTERBACKS: Andy Dalton has been solid so far. While he has yet to turn in a big game, he's never been worse than 235 yards and scores one or two touchdowns every week. Help from the rushing effort this year could keep him in the moderate range in most games this year.

Dalton passed for over 310 yards and three touchdowns in both meetings with the Browns last year.

RUNNING BACKS: This unit has been effective but the splitting of workload leaves two decent fantasy starts instead of one true stud. BenJarvus Green-Ellis already has two scores on the season and gets at least ten or more carries each game. He's never worth more than a flex start but has been consistent with the handful of fantasy points. Giovani Bernard is slowly increasing his workload that began with only five touches but just last week already built up to ten runs for 50 yards and a score plus four receptions for 49 yards. He only needed about a week to become worthy of an every week fantasy start. Against the Steelers vaunted defense, he scored both on a run and a reception.

Green-Ellis never rushed for more than 75 yards versus the Browns in 2012 and never scored.

WIDE RECEIVERS: After opening the year with a monster game, A.J. Green has been held under 50 yards in each of the last two games though he scored on the Packers. Mohamed Sanu is not exactly drawing much attention away from Green though he is worthy of around 50 yards each week. This is where the Bengals still need more productivity and Sanu needs to step up. Remaining as the only real option at wideout will help prop up the fantasy value of Green even if it hurts the Bengals overall offense.

Green rolled up 135 yards and two scores in Cleveland last year.

TIGHT ENDS: After opening the season with 47 and then 66 yards, the rookie Tyler Eifert faced a Packers defense that was weaker against the position. But Eifert only accounted for one catch for seven yards and will likely be inconsistent all season. Jermaine Gresham is less effective but better at posting games with at least four catches.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Browns have been outstanding against the pass but that came against Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco and Christian Ponder so it doesn't really count. Each opponent has rushed for one touchdown though overall they have only allowed 2.6 yards per carry and that includes holding Adrian Peterson to only 88 yards on 25 rushing attempts. But this is an interdivisional matchup which can always end up differently anyway. No reason to shy away from Dalton, Bernard or Green. Realistically, Green is likely to have a lesser game with Joe Haden on the other side and almost certainly dedicated to shadowing him.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bernard is the new element to the offense that the Browns have never seen. He's been increasing his workload and this road game against a good rushing defense will be a big test.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 19 14 13 7 28 12
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 16 20 18 1 14 26

 

1 MIA 10-23 10 BYE WEEK
2 @BAL 6-14 11 @CIN -
3 @MIN 31-27 12 PIT -
4 CIN - 13 JAC -
5 BUF - 14 @NE -
6 DET - 15 CHI -
7 @GB - 16 @NYJ -
8 @KC - 17 @PIT -
9 BAL - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CLE vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Hoyer 240,1
RB Ben Tate 40 3-20
WR Josh Gordon 8-100,1
TE Jordan Cameron 6-60

Pregame Notes: There are those things with easy explanations. There are those it requires an expert to understand. And then there is the Browns winning on the road in Minnesota. The Browns sent Trent Richardson to the Colts in exchange for their 2014 first round pick - certain to be lower than the 1.03 that was used on Richardson in 2012. The new regime in Cleveland is cleaning house and attempting to start the rebuild next year. This season? No matter what they have to say, the season is already over for the 1-2 Browns. From here on out they have to rely on trap games. Any win just makes the draft pick that much worse.

QUARTERBACKS: Brandon Weeden was out with a bad thumb and Brian Hoyer took the start. Instead of the expected mediocre performance, Hoyer passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns in Minnesota. Granted that was actually the worst game allowed by the Vikings, but it shattered expectations of a team in transition. Now that Weeden appears likely to be available, HC Rob Chudzinski is declining to name the starter.

I'll assume they want Hoyer again since he was so successful against the horrible Vikings secondary. Hoyer did lead the game winning drive with under a minute remaining. Hoyer did throw three interceptions though .I'll update as warranted.

RUNNING BACKS: Now that Trent Richardson is gone, the Browns brought in 32-year old Willis McGahee who tore his MCL and finished the season on injured reserve for the Broncos. That would seem like an inadequate replacement but the shelves are pretty bare three weeks into the season and the Browns don't really care. Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya is expected to play at least a slightly heavier role than the couple of catches per week he had. Bobby Rainey ran four times in Minnesota but will return to the bench. Willis Mcgahee only gained nine yards on eight runs. Get used to it, at least until he leaves with another injury which is all but certain.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Josh Gordon returned from his two-game suspension and they wasted no time in working him into the offense. Gordon not only ended with 10 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown, he received 19 passes. He has been reported to also being shopped for a trade and this is showcasing him. Gordon is one slip-up from being out for a whole year. The coaching staff denies they were showcasing him because they are not interested in a trade... wink, wink, say no more...

No other wideout scored this year and should Gordon stop catching ten passes the offense might slow down considerably.

TIGHT ENDS: No denying that Jordan Cameron has been the best surprise of all tight ends. He comes off a three touchdown game in Minnesota and sadly will cool down. It is doubtful he will maintain the pace that would result in 106 catches for 1434 yards and 21 touchdowns. Then again, the way he looks maybe it isn't so unthinkable. Three games in and he trails only Jimmy Graham as the top tight end.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Bengals secondary allowed right at 250 yards for all three previous opponents but Hoyer and Weeden are not exactly Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger or Jay Cutler. Expect that there will be passing yardage if only from trash time but more than one touchdown would be a success for the Browns. Their rush defense held Forte to only 50 yards and the Steelers to a combined 43 yards. No reason to expect that McGahee is going to explode here. Cameron and Gordon remain the only good start here and that is on the premise they will continue to showcase him.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Willis McGahee will be watched but the outlook for him has to be limited. Brian Hoyer is the interesting one if he gets the start because this is a team that will need to throw a lot this season.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 28 30 22 2 26 16
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 12 6 21 12 15 22

WEEK 4 SF at STL (THU) CIN at CLE NYG at KC SEA at HOU
PIT at MIN (London) IND at JAC PHI at DEN WAS at OAK
CHI at DET NE at ATL BAL at BUF MIA at NO (MON)
*UPDATED ARI at TB DAL at SD NYJ at TEN On Bye: CAR, GB


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