FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 5 BUF at CLE (THU) DET at GB NE at CIN SEA at IND
DEN at DAL KC at TEN SD at OAK NYJ at ATL (MON)
BAL at MIA HOU at SF NO at CHI On Bye:
*UPDATED CAR at ARI JAC at STL PHI at NYG MIN, PIT, TB, WAS

Prediction: BUF 20, CLE 23 (Line: CLE by 4.5)

Players of Interest: Willis McGahee

Buffalo rises to 2-2 with their win over the visiting Ravens and now head out on only their second road game. The Browns are also 2-2 and on a two game winning streak after it was thought they were tanking the season. Beating the Vikings wasn't the toughest of matchups but beating the visiting Bengals was impressive.

The Bills won 24-14 in Cleveland last year.

1 NE 21-23 10 @PIT -
2 CAR 24-23 11 NYJ -
3 @NYJ 20-27 12 BYE WEEK
4 BAL 23-20 13 ATL -
5 @CLE - 14 @TB -
6 CIN - 15 @JAC -
7 @MIA - 16 MIA -
8 @NO - 17 @NE -
9 KC - ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BUF @ CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB E.J. Manuel 20 210,1
RB Fred Jackson 30,1 5-40
RB C.J. Spiller 40 3-20
WR T.J. Graham 2-30
WR Robert Woods 4-30
TE Scott Chandler 3-40
PK Dan Carpenter 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Bills have been amazingly consistent. Neither they nor their opponents have scored less than 20 points or more than 27 points which means every game is going to be close. The young team is already exceeding expectations but still has a long way to go before they can be considered contenders. They are on the right track but are now facing a fairly brutal stretch of the schedule that will almost certainly keep them below .500 by the week 12 bye.

QUARTERBACKS: Maybe E.J. Manuel isn't a fantasy gem quite yet but the rookie has thrown a touchdown in every game and currently stands at five touchdowns against only three interceptions. It is a bit worrisome that his only road game so far was when the Jets sacked him eight times and was a loss. Manuel is still in the learning phase but he is definitely on the right track.

RUNNING BACKS: This is the early game this week and both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are banged up with little time to heal. Spiller has been mostly a disappointment anyway with minimal role as a receiver, no touchdowns and marginal rushing yardage. He sprained his ankle against the Ravens but is tentatively expected to play. How limited he might be is difficult to gauge with such little time for the team to practice. Jackson also suffered a "mildly" sprained MCL last week but is also expected to play on Thursday night's game against the Browns.

Chances are that Tashard Choice will need to be used more this week but overall it is watering down of what is already a committee.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Stevie Johnson was limited in practices last week because of his hamstring but was able to play. Sort of. He only ended with one catch for a one yard loss. He was blanketed by the Ravens secondary anyway. Robert Woods comes off a career best four catches for 80 yards and one touchdown and is establishing a nice chemistry with Manuel. T.J. Graham has yet to catch more than two meaningless passes. This offense succeeds or fails with what these two wideouts can accomplish.

Hopefully Johnson's hamstring will be better this week.

TIGHT ENDS: Scott Chandler has his annual big game in week three when he caught five passes for 79 yards and one score. Against the Ravens, Chandler fell back to a more normal two receptions for 28 yards. He does this every year.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Browns have played far better defense than most realize and now that their offense has worked slightly better, they are winning games. Joe Haden has been shutting down every opponent's #1 receiver and his natural match is on Robert Woods unless they specifically want him on Stevie Johnson. That's not going to be known until game time and could change within the course of the game, particularly if Johnson is at all limited by his hamstring. Both main runners are gimpy to some degree this week and the Browns are only allowing 2.7 yards per carry to opponents. This game smacks of a low scoring affair and having at least potential health problems with Spiller, Jackson and Johnson doesn't help. Consider all the Bills players to be a risky start this week and likely only a moderate output at best.

WHAT TO WATCH: The offense just needs to be healthy. Tashard Choice could be getting more playing time but it is unlikely to be enough to matter. This would be hard enough to call but being on Thursday makes it even more risky to rely on players here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BUF 29 10 25 23 7 9
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 9 6 11 5 16 20

 

1 MIA 10-23 10 BYE WEEK
2 @BAL 6-14 11 @CIN -
3 @MIN 31-27 12 PIT -
4 CIN 17-6 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 BUF Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Hoyer 290,2
RB Chris Ogbonnaya 20 5-20
RB Ben Tate 30 1-10
WR Josh Gordon 6-100,1
TE Jordan Cameron 8-90,1
PK Billy Cundiff 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Browns are on a two game winning streak since they traded away Trent Richardson and opted for Brian Hoyer over an injured Brandon Weeden. Now that Weeden is healthy again, he gets to experience being "Pipped" by Hoyer who has remained the starter. Whether or not Hoyer is responsible for the wins are somewhat immaterial. He was there when they happened and that's good enough to get the start this week. The Browns enjoy the softest stretch of their schedule now with the Bills and Lions as visitors for the next two weeks. It gets much worse really fast.

QUARTERBACKS: Brandon Weeden has been cleared to play but Brian Hoyer remains the starter. Hoyer has thrown five touchdowns over the last two weeks compared to only one by Weeden in his two games though going against the Dolphins and playing in Baltimore is tougher than playing in Minnesota and hosting the Bengals. Hoyer has been accurate and gets two more home games against average secondaries.

RUNNING BACKS: Willis McGahee currently has 23 runs for 55 yards with the Browns and is not used as a receiver. Chris Ogbonnaya has been the most productive running back since Richardson left. He's produced nearly 80 total yards in both matchups while catching four or five passes. That will come into play even more when the schedule gets tougher in a few weeks. The Browns still have not scored a rushing touchdown this season.

WIDE RECEIVERS: The comparisons between Weeden and Hoyer are not all that fair given that Josh Gordon returned just when Hoyer took over. After a monster first week in Minnesota, Gordon still managed 71 yards on four receptions against the Bengals. Both his weeks are the best by any wideout for the Bengals this year. Greg Little actually is worse and never caught a pass last week. Gordon will always be the most targeted wideout. Little was rumored to be offered up for trade.

TIGHT ENDS: Jordan Cameron is no flash in the pan. The Browns leading receiver is the focus of the defense and yet already scored five touchdowns and three times ended with more than 90 yards. He's money every week and a huge difference maker in a position with few stars.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Bills still have not allowed any rushing touchdowns by a running back though they gave up a few decent yardage games. But there is reason to expect Willis McGahee to improve on his mediocre stats against the Browns front defensive line. Where the Browns have to win is through the air and the Bills have allowed every opponent exactly two passing touchdowns and very healthy yardage. No reason to avoid playing Gordon or Cameron who should both manage good efforts here. Hoyer is even a consideration but McGahee is a very low end flex start at best.

WHAT TO WATCH: The Browns need more diversity to their offense than just Gordon and Cameron. Maybe not this week but in the future. Willis McGahee needs to be more than one of the worst backs in the league.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 22 28 27 3 26 18
Preventing Fantasy Points BUF 24 8 31 7 29 12

WEEK 5 BUF at CLE (THU) DET at GB NE at CIN SEA at IND
DEN at DAL KC at TEN SD at OAK NYJ at ATL (MON)
BAL at MIA HOU at SF NO at CHI On Bye:
*UPDATED CAR at ARI JAC at STL PHI at NYG MIN, PIT, TB, WAS


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