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: PIT 24, MIN 20 (Line: PIT by 1.5)

Players of Interest: Le'Veon Bell

Update: Christian Ponder is out this week with a rib injury and Matt Cassel will get the start.

The London game should be a real barn burner pitting the 0-3 Vikings against the 0-3 Steelers. Loser has to stay in England and look for a real job. This game is hard enough to call between two good, consistent teams. And neither is a good or consistent team.

1 TEN 9-16 10 BUF -
2 @CIN 10-20 11 DET -
3 CHI 23-40 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 @ MIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 270,2
RB Le'Veon Bell 40,1
WR Antonio Brown 6-80,1
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 4-50,1
TE Heath Miller 5-40,1
PK Shaun Suisham 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Steelers came up with some offense finally though not nearly enough to counteract the four turnovers and two touchdowns that the Bears defense walked away with. The defense is not bad here but no team can withstand constant turnovers and futile drives. The nice thing here is that the Steelers have a real chance to win this given that the Vikings defense is allowing at least 31 points every week.

QUARTERBACKS: At least Ben Roethlisberger finally got over the 200 yard, one touchdown mark when trash time netted him 406 yards and two scores when the Bears had problems covering Antonio Brown. It was the first time that Roethlisberger looked back in control if you can ignore the two interceptions and two lost fumbles. Heath Miller returned but was no factor. The rushing effort has been in a shambles but at least Big Ben finally had one good yardage game thanks to one receiver.

RUNNING BACKS: The Steelers currently rank #32 in running backs because the committee of Isaac Redman, Johnathan Dwyer and Felix Jones could combine and still not make a back worthy of any consideration. All told, the backfield has totaled 143 yards on 43 carries over three games. That's 48 yards per game with no touchdowns and a 3.3 YPG which seems higher than expected.

No matter. The Steelers plan on debuting Le'Veon Bell who is over his foot sprain and ready to play instead of after the week five bye as expected. How much Bell will play will depend on how he runs and if he avoids any setbacks. He's bound to share with this motley crew for the first week back though Redman is likely to be inactive if Bell plays. The nice part for Bell is that he steps into the #32 rushing attack. He cannot make it any worse. He's far more talented than the rest even when he was hopping on one foot.

WIDE RECEIVERS: This group were all underachievers through the first two games but finally Antonio Brown had a breakout game when he caught nine passes for 196 yards and two scores. Part of that came from Charles Tillman being injured but regardless, it was the first time that any Steeler receiver gained more than 80 yards in a game. Emmanuel Sanders is stuck at six catch, 60-yard sort of afternoons. Brown had complained to the coaches about his lack of passes and once again the squeaky wheel gets oiled.

TIGHT ENDS: Heath Miller returned from his blown out knee but only caught three passes for 35 yards and may still be on a snap count to prevent him from overworking it. He looked good blocking and could help Roethlisberger with a much needed outlet but Miller is 260 pounds and 30-years old. Coming back from a fairly catastrophic knee injury may not see him back to form this year.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The great news here is that the Vikings are pretty bad on defense and not just against one thing - a very well rounded bad. The kind that allows the Browns to visit and embarrass you. The worst passing that any quarterback produced against them was Jay Cutler's 292 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Marshall and Josh Gordon recently ravaged the secondary so expect Brown to have a good showing. The rush defense is also bad though mostly because they allow so many yards to backs as receivers which the Steelers really don't do. Roethlisberger and Brown are must starts here and even Bell makes for a desperation flex play though how much and how well he plays is only speculation. The forecast in London is for clear skies so rain should not be a factor.

Heath Miller could be a desperation play as well. The Vikings have already allowed six touchdowns thrown to the position. Six.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Le'Veon Bell comes to town to save the day. Maybe not in the "top ten back in the league" sort of way but at least in the "two guys running from a bear and you only gotta be faster than the other guy" sort of good.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 23 32 5 24 27 32
Preventing Fantasy Points MIN 24 32 19 31 21 29

 

1 @DET 24-34 10 WAS -
2 @CHI 30-31 11 @SEA -
3 CLE 27-31 12 @GB -
4 PIT - 13 CHI -
5 BYE WEEK 14 @BAL -
6 CAR - 15 PHI -
7 @NYG - 16 @CIN -
8 GB - 17 DET -
9 @DAL - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
MIN vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Cassel 220,1
RB Adrian Peterson 90,1 4-20
RB Ben Tate 40 3-20
WR Greg Jennings 5-40
WR Cordarrelle Patterson 2-40
TE Kyle Rudolph 3-40
PK Blair Walsh 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Vikings defense has hit a new low after giving up 31 points to the Cleveland Brown who was starting Willis McGahee and Brian Hoyer in what was expected to be the only slam dunk in survivor contests. It is not that the Vikings offense is bad - it truly is not. The problem is that they can never be quite good enough to make up for how badly the defense plays. In fairness, the offense has thrown five interceptions and lost five fumbles.

QUARTERBACKS: While Christian Ponder has been locked around 230 pass yards in every game, he only has two passing scores to his credit. Last week he ran in two touchdowns against the Browns and even that was not enough. Ponder doesn't even meet the level of a decent game manager and he's thrown five interceptions against the two scores and lost two fumbles. He's no game winner to be sure. The main question is how hard does he make it on the rest of the team with his mistakes?

RUNNING BACKS: Adrian Peterson continues to burn up his prime glory years as the only offensive weapon on the team. He consistently turned in 90 yards or more and scored four times this year. His role as a receiver varies greatly between one and six catches each week. No doubt in a game with minimal preparation that the Vikes will want to rely heavily on Peterson. No wait. That's every week.

WIDE RECEIVERS: No wide receiver has scored this year and only Jerome Simpson topped 100 yards once. Greg Jennings is the pricey free agent addition but so far his best game is only five receptions for 84 yards. There is little consistency here let alone any production. Unless the Vikes swap out Ponder for Matt Cassel, there is no reason to expect any change.

TIGHT ENDS: While Kyle Rudolph is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns (one) he has minimal yardage each week and has lost all fantasy value.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Steelers have problems but defending the pass is not one of them. They have allowed just two passing touchdowns all year and Ponder will be the worst quarterback they will have faced. Peterson remains the lone start from the entire Vikings team.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: With marginal passing it doesn't really matter. Always good to see Peterson run.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIN 20 10 28 22 5 4
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 3 22 3 13 27 31

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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