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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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Game Predictions Summary

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WEEK 4
2010
NYJ at BUF* CIN at CLE* IND at JAC* CHI at NYG
SEA at STL* BAL at PIT* HOU at OAK* NE at MIA*
CAR at NO* DEN at TEN* WAS at PHI DAL, KC
*updated DET at GB* SF at ATL ARI at SD* MIN, TB

Prediction: BAL 10, PIT 17

Update: Rice was held out on Wednesday and returned for limited work on Thursday. He is expected to have a full day on Friday and play barring a setback to his knee sprain. I am adding him back in but be aware that he is not 100% healthy yet.

Update #2: Rice was still limited on Friday but is expected to play despite being listed as questionable.

Huge game in the AFC North that pits the Ravens on the road against the undefeated Steelers. If the Ravens could pull this off, they'd remain in the thick of the race for the division. If they lose, they fall two games behind the Steelers and trail the Bengals by one with no tie beakers with either. Steelers will treat this game serious no doubt but the Ravens are looking at an almost need-to-win game only a month into the season.

The Steelers won 23-20 when the Ravens visited last year.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @NYJ W 10-9 10 @ATL --
2 @CIN L 10-15 11 @CAR --
3 CLE W 24-17 12 TB --
4 @PIT -- 13 PIT --
5 DEN -- 14 @HOU --
6 @NE -- 15 NO --
7 BUF -- 16 @CLE --
8 Bye - 17 CIN --
9 MIA --   - -
Ravens Report | Statistics | Roster
BALTIMORE at PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco - - 160,1
RB Willis McGahee 40 10 -
RB Ray Rice 70 20 -
TE Todd Heap - 40 -
WR Anquan Boldin - 50,1 -
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh - 20 -
WR Derrick Mason - 30 -
PK Billy Cundiff 1 XP 1 FG -
Pregame Notes: The Ravens win over the Jets was followed by a painful loss - again - to the Bengals with an offense that has yet to score more than 10 points on the road. The Browns were beaten but even then it was only by seven points and the Ravens were at home. Now Ray Rice is banged up and may miss this week and the Ravens are catching no breaks. The only positive in what is a brutal schedule is that the final seven weeks of the season are either at home or against easier opponents so the Ravens could make a late season move.

QUARTERBACK: After a shaky start for the first two weeks that saw Joe Flacco pass for only one touchdown against five interceptions, he came up big last week. Thanks to the visiting Browns, Flacco passed for 262 yards and three scores and that has almost nothing in common with this week since the Ravens embark on yet another road trip against a great defense.

Flacco passed for 166 yards and two scores in Pittsburgh last season.

Problem this time is that the Steelers defense is playing great, will be at home and they have only allowed one passing score this season while intercepting five passes and forcing two fumbles from opposing quarterbacks. Not a good week to start Flacco.

RUNNING BACKS: Ray Rice injured his knee against the Bengals and it has been termed a "significant contusion" that may keep him out this week. The reality is that this would be an excellent week to take a break, maybe get some stuff done around the house and catch up on some TIVO'd shows. The Steelers have not allowed any runner to gain more than 42 yards and only once gave up a score.

Rice gained 141 yards on 30 carries in the road meeting with the Steelers last year. Not going to happen this time. I will project for Rice to miss this week and Willis McGahee to get the unenviable task of playing in Pittsburgh. Not a week to start any Raven's running back.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Anquan Boldin opened the season with 110 yards on seven catches in New York and then only managed 35 yards versus the Bengals but at home against the Browns he had eight receptions for 142 yards and all three receiving touchdowns. What Boldin has done so far is become a good fantasy start and yet killed off the value of Derrick Mason who has yet to gain more than 31 yards in a game. T.J. Houshmandzadeh only has two catches on the season. It's everything that Boldin ever wanted and could never have in Arizona.

Mason ended with 77 yards on seven receptions in Pittsburgh. Roddy White had 111 yards on 13 catches in Pittsburgh and the Steelers will force Flacco to pass. Don't bother with the other receivers but Boldin still has at least some potential here from a volume of catches.

TIGHT ENDS: While it is hardly the stuff of fantasy dreams, Todd Heap has remained consistent with around four catches for 40 yards or so every week, He had two catches for 37 yards in Pittsburgh last year but both were touchdowns. Just look for the yardage this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 19 28 11 21 24 32
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 5 3 10 4 18 9
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) BAL -14 -25 -1 -17 -6 -23


Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 ATL W 15-9 10 NE --
2 @TEN W 19-11 11 OAK --
3 @TB W 38-13 12 @BUF --
4 BAL -- 13 @BAL --
5 Bye - 14 CIN --
6 CLE -- 15 NYJ --
7 @MIA -- 16 CAR --
8 @NO -- 17 @CLE --
9 @CIN -- - - -
Steelers Report | Statistics | Roster
PITTSBURGH vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Charlie Batch 30 - 150,1
RB Rashard Mendenhall 70,1 - -
TE Heath Miller - 30 -
WR Hines Ward - 40 -
WR Antwaan Randle El - 20 -
WR Mike Wallace - 50,1 -
PK Jeff Reed 1 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Steelers have exceeded expectations rising to a perfect 3-0 without the help of Ben Roethlisberger who is slated to return after the bye and who could very well start out with a 4-0 record. The defense has not allowed more than 13 points to any opponent and returns home for only the second time this season. The Steelers have a tough slate once Big Ben returns but starting out 4-0 without him gives a lot of team confidence about what they can do with him back.

QUARTERBACK: After going through Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, the Steelers opted to start Charlie Batch last week and down in Tampa Bay, the long-time backup completed 12 of 17 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 26 yards on five runs while beating the previously unbeaten Buccaneers. Batch is expected to start this one more game before Ben Roethlisberger takes the wheel after the bye week.

Roethlisberger passed for 259 yards and one touchdown against the visiting Ravens last year.

This year the Ravens have only allowed one passing touchdown and never more than 167 passing yards. Batch will not find this game nearly as easy as Tampa Bay and there is no need to consider him for a fantasy start.

RUNNING BACKS: Rashard Mendenhall now has two big games to his credit after gaining 143 yards on 19 carries and scoring once in Tampa Bay. He also had 120 yards and a score in the home opener against the Falcons. His only fantasy failing has been a lack of pass receptions with only three on the season thus far.

Mendenhall gained only 36 yards on 17 carries in the home game against the Ravens last year but scored once. That's likely much closer to what you can expect against a Ravens team though they did surprisingly allowed Peyton Hillis 144 yards and a score. Chances are they were overlooking the Browns because of this game.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Batch connected on two deep bombs for scores with Mike Wallace last week but aside from those two passes did not do much and did not need to do much. One of the scores came on a tipped ball that Wallace grabbed. Batch obviously is well versed in the system though and should continue to rely on this unit. Once Roethlisberger returns, it should spell big games for Wallace and Hines Ward nearly every week.

Santonio Holmes (5-86, 1 TD) had the most success against the Ravens last year while Wallace (3-83) and Ward (4-37) made solid contributions as well. The Ravens have yet to allowed for than 58 yards to a wideout but this time the advantage is with the Steelers at home. Consider both Ward and Wallace as marginal starts this week though one should end up with a score.

TIGHT ENDS: Heath Miller has lost nearly all fantasy value by now but should be re-evaluated once Roethlisberger returns. The Steelers will still have tough matchups in the future that will require some help from MIller but the replacement quarterbacks have no used him much.

Miller caught three passes for 35 yards at home against the Ravens last year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 29 15 18 29 1 1
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 1 12 1 6 32 13
Advantage(+) or Disadvantage(-) PIT -28 -3 -17 -23 31 12

WEEK 4
2010
NYJ at BUF CIN at CLE IND at JAC CHI at NYG
SEA at STL BAL at PIT HOU at OAK NE at MIA
CAR at NO DEN at TEN WAS at PHI DAL, KC
  DET at GB SF at ATL ARI at SD MIN, TB
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