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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey  
WILCARDS CIN at HOU PIT at DEN ATL at NYG DET at NO

Prediction: PIT 24, DEN 6

Line : PIT by 8.5 / OU = 34.5

This is bound to be the lowest scoring game of the weekend and if it went off 10-7 no one would be surprised. The 12-4 Steelers lost the division to the Raiders and take their 5-3 road record to Denver where the 8-8 Broncos back into the playoffs on a three game losing streak and thanks mostly to the Raiders who also last last week. The Tebow magic has been mostly a disappearing act lately while the Steelers defense have held five of their last six opponents to fewer than 10 points.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @BAL 7-35 10 @CIN 24-17
2 SEA 24-0 11 Bye -
3 @IND 23-20 12 @KC 13-9
4 @HOU 10-17 13 CIN 35-7
5 TEN 38-17 14 CLE 14-3
6 JAC 17-13 15 @SF 3-20
7 @ARI 32-20 16 STL 27-0
8 NE 25-17 17 @CLE 13-9
9 BAL 20-23      
Steelers Report | Statistics | Roster
PITTSBURGH at DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger - - 250,1
RB Isaac Redman 60,1 20 -
TE Heath Miller - 20 -
WR Antonio Brown - 70 -
WR Hines Ward - 40 -
WR Emmanuel Sanders - 20 -
WR Mike Wallace - 60,1 -
PK Shaun Suisham 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: This is the better of the two road venues for the AFC wildcards but that only delays what is likely a road rematch with the Ravens next week. The Steelers rushing game was pedestrian this year anyway and now has lost Rashard Mendenhall. That means the great defense is going to be attached to mostly a passing offense and the Steelers have not shown up that big in any road game this year. At least the Broncos barely score in their games.

I like a defensive score.

QUARTERBACK: Ben Roethlisberger is still taking it easier in practice to rest his sore ankle but is expected to play in this obviously critical game. He ended the regular season with 4077 yards and 21 touchdowns which was a bit higher in yardage than most seasons and about average in scoring. Eight seasons into his career he has only lasted 16 games once and missed a game this year as well.

Big Ben has been limited to only one passing score (or none) in seven of his eight road games so expecting a big score here is hard to rely on. The Broncos at home have only allowed nine passing touchdowns and five were split between Tom Brady and Matt Stafford. Big Ben should have one score and could have two but that would be upper end based on the history of both teams.

RUNNING BACKS: Now that Rashard Mendenhall is on injured reserve, the Steelers turn to Isaac Redman who has been rarely used more than eight times in most games but recorded 92 yards and a score on 19 carries in Cleveland last week. Mewelde Moore may still be out with a sore knee and that would only mean Redman gets a bigger share.

The Broncos are about average against the run but have allowed five rushing scores over the last five home games so Redman has a shot at one touchdown. His yardage is likely to be moderate at best and he has not been used as a receiver much in the past.

WIDE RECEIVERS: While all four wideouts get work in every matchup, both Hines Ward and deep threat Emmanuel Sanders have only two touchdowns each this year and rarely produce more than 30 or 40 yards in a game. Antonio Brown has only scored twice but has produced 80+ yards in six of ten recent games. Mike Wallace remains the lead receiver with eight touchdowns on the year and four games over 100 yards though none since week seven.

The Broncos at home have been solid against the position and allowed only two of the last four teams to get a wideout score. The Steelers have not had individual players with big stats since midseason so expect only moderate yardage here. The score is most likely to end up here and that would have to favor Wallace though he should draw Champ Bailey.

TIGHT ENDS: Heath Miller gets only marginal use each week and has not scored since back in week seven. He rarely turns in more than around 30 yards per game anymore.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 17 18 6 21 20 31
Preventing Fantasy Points DEN 21 21 15 7 31 31


Denver Broncos
Homefield: Invesco Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 OAK 20-23 10 @KC 17-10
2 CIN 24-22 11 NYJ 17-13
3 @TEN 14-17 12 @SD 16-13
4 @GB 23-49 13 @MIN 35-32
5 SD 24-29 14 CHI 13-10
6 Bye - 15 NE 23-41
7 @MIA 18-15 16 @BUF 14-40
8 DET 10-45 17 KC 3-7
9 @OAK 38-24      
Broncos Report | Statistics | Roster
DENVER vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Tebow 40 - 90
RB Willis McGahee 60 - -
TE Daniel Fells - 10 -
WR Eric Decker - 30 -
WR Eddie Royal - 10 -
WR Demaryius Thomas - 30 -
PK Matt Prater 2 FG XP -

Pregame Notes: The string of six straight wins has now morphed into three losses in a row with the vaunted defense allowing 40+ points in two of them. The problem is not only that there is plenty of game tape out there with Tim Tebow and the option read but that he also is facing the toughest defense yet for the youngster. This has been one of the worst passing attacks in the last eight weeks and now faces the #1 defense against both quarterbacks and wide receivers.

QUARTERBACK: When the Broncos needed Tim Tebow the most to make the playoffs, he comes off his worst game of the year with only six completions on 22 attempts for 60 yards versus the visiting Chiefs. Tebow had been going through a nice set of weak secondaries with only moderate results but now faces the best defense.

The Steelers have only allowed 15 passing scores all year and should have no problem shutting him down. Tebow has been running much less too with less than 50 yards in four of the last five games.

RUNNING BACKS: Willis McGahee has been a nice surprise this season but he has only scored in four games so far and has been tailing off in rushing yardage until a 28 carry game in the season finale that produced 145 yards on the visiting Chiefs. That sort of yardage should not happen again with the Skins sporting a defense that has held all but Arian Foster and Ray Rice to less than 90 rushing yards in a game. They have only allowed one rushing touchdown in the last four road games.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Limiting himself to only Demaryius Thomas, Tebow has been ineffective as a passer in recent games and Thomas has been in decline after his two weeks with a touchdown. The paltry passing here makes none of these wideouts have any fantasy value and even Thomas has become irrelevant again. No reason to consider any of these against the #1 defense for wide receivers.

TIGHT ENDS: No fantasy value.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DEN 12 20 27 29 30 15
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 4 1 10 3 16

WILCARDS CIN at HOU PIT at DEN ATL at NYG DET at NO

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