FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 15 SD at DEN (THU) CIN at PIT NE at MIA SEA at NYG
ARI at TEN GB at DAL NO at STL SF at TB
BUF at JAC HOU at IND NYJ at CAR WAS at ATL
*UPDATED CHI at CLE KC at OAK PHI at MIN BAL at DET (MON)

Prediction: BAL 20, DET 31 (Line: DET by 6)

Update: Both Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush were held out of practices until Friday when they got in limited work. Both are expected to play and this is no different for Johnson than the last couple of weeks. He and Bush appear to be ready to play on Monday but check on their news to see if anything changes before Monday. Best bet currently is that both will start.


Here is a Monday night game with some meaning. The 7-6 Ravens are in a tie for the final wild card but are only 1-5 away from home. The 7-6 Lions are in a tie for the NFC North lead with Chicago but currently have tie breakers over them. That bad road record by the Ravens should be the difference maker.

1 @DEN 27-49 10 CIN 20-17
2 CLE 14-6 11 @CHI 20-23
3 HOU 30-9 12 NYJ 19-3
4 @BUF 20-23 13 PIT 22-20
5 @MIA 26-23 14 MIN 29-26
6 GB 17-19 15 @DET -
7 @PIT 16-19 16 NE -
8 BYE WEEK 17 @CIN -
9 @CLE 18-24 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
BAL @ DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 290,2
RB Bernard Pierce 20 1-10
RB Ray Rice 40 4-20
WR Marlon Brown 4-50
WR Jacoby Jones 4-50
WR Steve Smith 6-60
WR Torrey Smith 6-100,2
TE Dennis Pitta 7-60
PK Justin Tucker 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Ravens have the playoff in reach but facing three division leaders here at the end is not going to make it any easier. And two of them are on the road where the Ravens have just one win all year. The return of Dennis Pitta helps the passing game but that won't change the lack of rushing that the Ravens have struggle to create all year.

QUARTERBACKS: Joe Flacco comes off his first three touchdown game of the year when he passed for 245 yards on the visiting Vikings. Some of that is due to the return of Dennis Pitta and a lot of it is because it was the Vikings visiting. Even then it required a near miracle to win the game. This is still an offense that cannot generate more than around 21 points per week.

RUNNING BACKS: Ray Rice turned in a very respectable 109 total yards in the win over the Vikings but still has just one score over the last two months. Rice produced fewer than 40 rushing yards in eight games this year and remains a mediocre start each week. Bernard Pierce takes between eight and ten carries each week just to ensure that Rice doesn't really matter.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Brandon Stokley just landed on injured reserve with another concussion though he was a nonfactor this year anyway. Torrey Smith is the only reliable fantasy play here but even he just flopped against the Vikings when he only caught one pass for 11 yards. Smith usually ends up around 70 yards or better in most games and scored three times over the last five weeks. Marlon Brown just scored and had a team high seven catches for 92 yards and one score but his three previous games totaled only three catches for 23 yards. Adding Dennis Pitta back into the mix will not make anyone here more consistent or reliable.

TIGHT ENDS: Somehow the return of Dennis Pitta led to Ed Dickson catching his first touchdown of the year but that was a fluke. Pitta came back and led the team with 11 targets that became six catches for 48 yards and one score. Flacco spoke to how much getting PItta back means to the offense. He can provide that safety net for Flacco that has been missing this year.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Lions are very good against the run and allowed no scores or more than 35 rushing yards to any runner over the last four games played in Detroit. No reason to expect Ray Rice to change that. But the Lions are weaker against the pass and wide receivers in particular. Tight ends have only scored on the Lions once this year. Wideouts account for nine scores in the home games for the Lions and plenty of big performances. This should be a good week for Torrey Smith and even Marlon Brown can be considered though he's a huge risk to do nothing as well. Consider Flacco and Brown as moderate plays and Smith as the only strong start.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 27 30 14 24 3 21
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 16 4 29 9 30 16

 

1 MIN 34-24 10 @CHI 21-19
2 @ARI 21-25 11 @PIT 27-37
3 @WAS 27-20 12 TB 21-24
4 CHI 40-32 13 GB 40-10
5 @GB 9-22 14 @PHI 20-34
6 @CLE 31-17 15 BAL -
7 CIN 24-27 16 NYG -
8 DAL 31-30 17 @MIN -
9 BYE WEEK ----- ----- -----
News | Stats | Roster
DET vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Matthew Stafford 320,3
RB Joique Bell 50,1 1-10
RB Reggie Bush 70 4-40
WR Kris Durham 3-40
WR Calvin Johnson 7-120,2
WR Golden Tate 4-60
TE Brandon Pettigrew 3-20,1

Pregame Notes: The bad news is that a blizzard actually can stop Matt Stafford and Megatron when nothing else has. The good news is that the next three games are all played under a roof. The Lions have already beaten the Bears twice which means all they need to do is match their wins for the next three weeks. Since the remaining schedule includes two home games and all of them facing teams with struggling offense, the Lions are actually in control.

QUARTERBACKS: Matt Stafford was held to only 148 yards and lost one of his five fumbles in Philadelphia. The snow was no friend to a quarterback born in Florida, raised in Texas and who played college ball in Georgia. But Stafford scored in every other game and never failed to log at least two touchdowns. He averages 345 yards in home games this year. He scored 15 times over those six home venues.

RUNNING BACKS: Reggie Bush is day to day with his calf injury. He dressed for snowmagaeddon last week but re-aggravated it in pregame warmups that led to him sitting it out. I will assume that he can play and update on Friday if it looks that he won't play. Joique Bell becomes an immediate fantasy consideration when Bush doesn't play. Bell scored once and produced 127 total yards in Philly last Sunday.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Calvin Johnson was held to only 49 yards on three catches last week but he was on a streak of six straight monster games that included five 100+ yard games, eight touchdowns and one 329 yard behemoth for the ages. All in six games. Kris Durham and Nate Burleson pitch in minor catches and yards but Johnson dwarfs all others in this offense. His last four home stands all produced over 100 yards.

TIGHT ENDS: No fantasy value for Brandon Pettigrew who scored just twice this year and rarely tops 30 yards in any week.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Ravens are far less formidable when they leave home and every opponent scores via the pass on them in road games. Most only manage one but then most are not the Lions and Matt Stafford. The Ravens are good against the run and allowed just three rushing touchdowns this year along with only one 100 yard rushing game. Stafford, Johnson and Bush should be considered for a start here and Bell is worth a shot if Bush cannot go or will be limited. The Ravens have already allowed five 100 yard games to wide receivers this year. The Ravens have not allowed any tight end to score in Baltimore but on the road five touchdowns have been scored on them so Pettigrew has a shot at least at a score this week.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DET 4 4 5 11 24 22
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 11 3 15 16 24 17

WEEK 15 SD at DEN (THU) CIN at PIT NE at MIA SEA at NYG
ARI at TEN GB at DAL NO at STL SF at TB
BUF at JAC HOU at IND NYJ at CAR WAS at ATL
*UPDATED CHI at CLE KC at OAK PHI at MIN BAL at DET (MON)


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