FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 12 NO at ATL (THU) DEN at NE NYJ at BAL TEN at OAK
CHI at STL IND at ARI PIT at CLE SF at WAS (MON)
CAR at MIA JAC at HOU SD at KC On Bye:
*UPDATED DAL at NYG MIN at GB TB at DET BUF, CIN, PHI, SEA

Prediction: PIT 20, CLE 23 (Line: CLE by 2.5)

Players of Interest: Markus Wheaton

This is the first meeting of these divisional rivals and the final one comes as the season finale in a game that undoubtedly carries no meaning or significance. There is currently a three-way tie for the AFC North cellar with the Steelers, Browns and Ravens all 4-6. For this game, the Steelers bring in a two game winning streak thanks in part to home games but they are only 1-4 in road venues. The Browns are 3-2 at home. These are always coin flip games and should be lower scoring.

1 TEN 9-16 10 BUF 23-10
2 @CIN 10-20 11 DET 37-27
3 CHI 23-40 12 @CLE -
4 @MIN 27-34 13 @BAL -
5 BYE WEEK 14 MIA -
6 @NYJ 19-6 15 CIN -
7 BAL 19-16 16 @GB -
8 @OAK 18-21 17 CLE -
9 @NE 31-55 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT @ CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 250,2
RB Le'Veon Bell 50 4-40
RB LeGarrette Blount 30
WR Antonio Brown 5-40
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-40
WR Lance Moore 3-30
WR Markus Wheaton 2-30
TE Heath Miller 5-40
PK Shaun Suisham 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Steelers won their last two and beating the Lions was much more impressive than taking down the Bills. The offense played better than it had all season and it seemed almost suspicious how much better the passing game went. Meaning the Lions were not as prepared as they should have been. There is still a chance for ending at .500 on the year but the Steelers have to play more like week 11 and less like weeks one to 10.

QUARTERBACKS: It is certainly counterintuitive but Ben Roethlisberger produced only two big games all year and they were arguably against the best defenses that he had faced. He threw for 400 yards and four scores in New England and then 367 yards and four scores against the Lions. Otherwise, just give him about 250 yards and one score in almost all other games. Aside from the Patriots game, he's never thrown more than one score in a road game.

RUNNING BACKS: Le'Veon Bell had one of his worst games of the year in the win over the Lions when he only gained 36 yards on 18 carries but added four receptions for 52 yards. He still has yet to break 100 rushing yards but at least he is adding enough via receptions to merit a fantasy start for yardage that usually hits around 100 and reception points make him that much more valuable. He's scored only twice in the last six weeks.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Emmanuel Sanders injured his foot last week and could not finish the game. Markus Wheaton used the opportunity to catch three passes for 38 yards. No word was given on Sanders condition so I will assume he can play a limited role and update as needed. Involving Wheaton is worth watching though more for next year's implications.

Antonio Brown Came up huge against the Lions when he caught seven passes for 147 yards and two scores but it only reinforces the reality that he only does that in home games. All three of his 100+ yard games and four of his five touchdowns were in Pittsburgh. He's still worth around 80 yards in all the away venues, but he almost never scores or exceeds the 80 yard mark. He's good away and great at home so far. Jerricho Cotchery may not be much for yardage in most weeks but he has scored in each of the last three games.

TIGHT ENDS: Heath Miller only scored once all year but he does show up well in games where the opposing defense forces Roethlisberger to use tight ends. He recorded a season best eight catches for 67 against the Lions and twice broke 70 yards in other road games. When he is bad he is very bad - a single catch for instance. But he can show up so far in games where the Steelers have to throw to more than just wideouts.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: This is interesting since the Browns vary between being great against the pass or bad. Just like the Steelers passing offense. Chances are that the Steelers can throw for at least one or two scores here even though Big Ben is usually sticking to just one. The yardage has remained lower with no one better than 272 yards against them. The Browns have not allowed a 100 yard rusher as well though six different runners have scored. Joe Haden should match on Antonio Brown and should keep him quiet this week. Roethlisberger and Bell are moderate plays. Sanders would be a possible play here since the #2 is the more likely to score but there is no certainty any wideout scores and Sanders is banged up anyway.

WHAT TO WATCH: Wheaton was much touted in the summer and looked good. He's taking the standard one year to get used to playing and trying to stay healthy. He can add a lot to this defense as a slot receiver if he reaches his potential in the next year or two.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 15 29 3 27 6 32
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 11 20 6 18 16 17

 

1 MIA 10-23 10 BYE WEEK
2 @BAL 6-14 11 @CIN 20-41
3 @MIN 31-27 12 PIT -
4 CIN 17-6 13 JAC -
5 BUF 37-24 14 @NE -
6 DET 17-31 15 CHI -
7 @GB 13-31 16 @NYJ -
8 @KC 17-23 17 @PIT -
9 BAL 24-18 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Ben Tate 90,1 3-20
WR Miles Austin 6-70
WR Josh Gordon 5-80,1
TE Jordan Cameron 4-30
PK Billy Cundiff 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Browns crumbled in Cincinnati as they always do on the road. They beat them 17-6 in their meeting in Cleveland. At home the Browns have taken down the Bengals, Bills and Ravens. This is a team that plays much better at home though mostly the defense does because the offense is still struggling to score more than 20 points in most games. The remaining road games look like probable losses but winning two of the next three home stands is possible.

QUARTERBACKS: Jason Campbell was good against the Chiefs and great versus the Ravens but he flopped in Cincinnati where he passed for 248 yards and only one touchdown with three interceptions. This week is he playing in Cleveland for only the second time this year so the home magic needs to rub off on him. Campbell has passed for around 250 or more yards in all his starts so far.

RUNNING BACKS: Bet they wished they had Bobby Rainey back instead of letting the Buccaneers snatch him off their waivers. Willis McGahee gets a little worse every week and by December will literally be going backwards on every play. He was limited to only six carries in Cincinnati and gave way to more use of Chris Ogbonnaya who ran for a very credible 69 yards on only eight rushing attempts that included one 43-yard scamper. He added six catches for 30 yards and this is all very reminiscent of 2011 when he was used heavily for around a month with decent results. Fozzy Whittaker is still around for minimal work as well but the main player for the time being is Ogbonnaya who so far merits the promotion and fantasy consideration.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Josh Gordon was back form against the Bengals when he ended with five catches for 125 yards and one touchdown. His problem is that most of his big games all came on the road and at home he's only caught one touchdown this year while being as bad as 44 yards just two weeks again versus the visiting Ravens. Greg Little has his one big performance in that game and then settled back to only one catch for four yards in Cincy. The only fantasy value here is Gordon who is good for around 80+ yards in nearly every week and four times broke 100 yards. But twice he ended with minimal yardage thanks to the Chiefs and Ravens. Last year against the Steelers he never had more than 60 yards in a game and never scored on them.

TIGHT ENDS: Two weeks into being the starter and so far Campbell has killed what little fantasy value that Jordan Cameron had. He was good for around 55+ yards every week but after only catching one pass against the Ravens, he ended with six receptions for just 29 yards versus the Bengals. That's not likely to improve much this week unless Campbell really changes his trends.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Steelers were as formidable as ever until week nine when the Pats scorched them. They still hold most teams to only one or two touchdowns and Campbell is seemingly getting a little worse every start. No reason to expect more than moderate passing numbers here. The Steelers are much less limiting against wide receivers than they were in years past. Gordon is the only reasonable play here and he runs a risk of a down game to be sure. But Campbell will force the issue with Gordon if needed since he's the only real weapon downfield. The Steelers have been great against tight ends other than with Rob Gronkowski but Cameron has been on a two-game downturn since Campbell started. The only other reasonable play here would be Ogbonnaya hoping for total yards since he'll catch as well.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 19 31 21 5 28 16
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 9 24 11 11 23 26

WEEK 12 NO at ATL (THU) DEN at NE NYJ at BAL TEN at OAK
CHI at STL IND at ARI PIT at CLE SF at WAS (MON)
CAR at MIA JAC at HOU SD at KC On Bye:
*UPDATED DAL at NYG MIN at GB TB at DET BUF, CIN, PHI, SEA


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