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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 1
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday
Sunday Late
*updated

Prediction: CIN 20, BAL 23

Here's the meeting between two teams that are expected to go nowhere this year but one starts out with a win. The Bengals tried to revamp their offense but ended up back where they started other than Rudi Johnson. The Ravens are into rebuilding with first year head coach John Harbaugh and OC Cam Cameron but look to start their rookie quarterback largely thanks to injuries to the veterans. This game could be a wonderful mess since Cincinnati was only 2-6 on the road last year and the Ravens are still learning their playbook.

The Bengals swept the Ravens last year, winning 27-20 in the season opener at home and later 21-7 in Baltimore.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)
Homefield: Paul Brown Stadium
FieldTurf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @BAL - -1 39
2 TEN - - -
3 @NYG - - -
4 CLE - - -
5 @DAL - - -
6 @NYJ - - -
7 PIT - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 JAX - - -
10 @HOU - - -
11 PHI - - -
12 @PIT - - -
13 BAL - - -
14 @IND - - -
15 WAS - - -
16 @CLE - - -
17 KC - - -
CIN at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Palmer     240,2
RB Chris Perry 50 30  
TE Ben Utecht   20  
WR Chad Johnson   60,1  
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh   70,1  
WR Jerome Simpson   30  
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: It was an incredibly active and interesting offseason considering that it was the same coaches, players and scheme employed. No doubt that Marvin Lewis is feeling the heat to get a winning season but the team has not made it easy from Chad Ocho Cinco wanting out but settling for a new name instead to somehow ending up with Chris Henry like someone used a lemon law to make them take him back.

Quarterback: Carson Palmer had a respectable 2007 when he passed for 4131 yards and 26 touchdowns but it just felt like much less given that four other quarterbacks topped 30 touchdown passes and passing was up all over the league. This year the franchise tried stocking up on some rookie wideouts in anticipation of a Chad O. C. problem or the absence of Chris Henry (at the time anyway) but Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell both struggled when they were not injured. So Palmer is back to the same receivers once Henry is off suspension.

There is a chance that Palmer may need to throw more this year since the schedule is as tough as it has been in years and the rushing game is now in the hands of Chris "and he's down again" Perry.

Palmer passed for 194 yards and two scores in the home opener against the Ravens last year and later passed for 271 yards but no scores in the road matchup.

Running Backs: The Bengals made their point when they released Rudi Johnson. Chris Perry is healthy again, for now, as of this writing and to my knowledge. He is the starting tailback until injured again and Kenny Watson steps in to hear us say "that guy is pretty good - they don't they use him more?" But the bottom line here is that the Bengals are going to have a tough rushing schedule that will make it hard for Perry to produce much if he even stays healthy.

No Bengals runner gained more than 50 rushing yards against the Ravens last year and none of them scored.

Wide Receivers: What a nutty year. Chad Johnson Ocho Cinco wants to be traded, insults the team and coaches, changes his mind and then changes his name. Sure, he's changed. But not for the better. He is also playing with a partially torn labrum that he decided is now 100% healed. T.J. Houshmandzadeh has remained delightfully quiet and stands to once again profit on not being the guy the defense hates. Jerome SImpson will open the year as the #3 but Andre Caldwell will figure in and after a month Chris Henry is back.

Chad Johnson Ocho Cinco had games of 95 and 73 yards against the Ravens last year with one score in the home meeting. Houshmandzadeh also scored in that game and had 50 yards while only managing 45 yards on six receptions with no score in the second meeting.

Tight Ends: Here's the odd part. The Bengals have talked up Ben Utecht as a new option for Palmer but the team has never used the tight end in recent seasons. Last year they were ranked 32nd in tight end yards (333) and touchdowns (0) so Utecht has a very low bar to step over. He's worth watching to see what happens but not yet worth owning.

Match Against the Defense: The Bengals catch a break with this road trip as the season opener when the Ravens themselves are not sure how it all works yet. The Ravens will be without Ed Reed and the corners are not 100% healthy so the passing game should work better than it might in a few weeks. The Ravens are always tough against the run so hold off on starting Chris Perry if you can.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CIN 12 19 2 32 5 15
Preventing Fantasy Points BAL 20 3 30 2 31 25
Rank Advantage (-31 to 31) CIN 8 -16 28 -30 26 10


Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CIN - +1 39
2 @HOU - - -
3 CLE - - -
4 @PIT - - -
5 TEN - - -
6 @IND - - -
7 @MIA - - -
8 OAK - - -
9 @CLE - - -
10 BYE - - -
11 @NYG - - -
12 PHI - - -
13 @CIN - - -
14 WAS - - -
15 PIT - - -
16 @DAL - - -
17 JAX - - -
BAL vs CIN Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     190,1
RB Willis McGahee 50 10  
RB Ray Rice 60,1 20  
TE Todd Heap   50,1  
WR Mark Clayton   40  
WR Demetrius Williams   10  
WR Derrick Mason   50  
PK Matt Stover 3 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Ravens come off a horrible 5-11 season with a new head coach in John Harbaugh and a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron (of Miami and San Diego renown). The team has opted to start the rookie Joe Flacco with both Kyle Boller and Troy Smith injured which could be a good thing since the Ravens start out against CIN, HOU and CLE before getting into far rougher venues like @PIT or @IND. The Ravens also have a tough schedule overall this year that includes finishing the season against PIT, DAL and JAX.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco gets tossed into the fire out of necessity but facing the visiting Bengals may be as easy as it gets all year. In his favor as well is the new playbook that the Bengals have not see. He's still too risky for a fantasy start, but getting to face the Bengals while at home is like wading through the kiddie pool before heading out into deeper water. It nice and all but it still has its dangers.

Running Backs: Willis McGahee was brought in last year to re-energize a rushing attack that had gone stale with Jamal Lewis but McGahee almost exactly replicated what Lewis has done the previous year. He also required knee surgery in the offseason that has only recently seen him able to practice. The Ravens drafted Ray Rice who has been impressive enough to warrant consideration even when McGahee is completely healthy. McGahee is expected to play this week but Rice will get significant use as well. I am projecting a split workload that slightly favors Rice until McGahee is proven completely healthy.

McGahee rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries in the road meeting with the Bengals last year. He only gained 60 yards on 17 carries in the home game but scored once.

Wide Receivers: The Ravens brought Flacco on board but they did him no favors with wideouts and ignored this unit in free agency and the early NFL draft. Derrick Mason is back and turning 35 in January. Mark Clayton was a hot commodity coming off a 939 yard second year in 2006 but only had 531 yards and no scores last year. If any player is worth watching here it is Clayton but his progress will be entirely dictated by the quarterback play.

Mason had seven catches for 76 yards in the road meeting with the Bengals but later only managed four receptions for 29 yards in Cincinnati. Mark Clayton had eight catches for 107 yards in the home meeting but was held catchless in the season opener on the road.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap burned fantasy owners with his season last year that only produced one score and minimal play over six games. But he did have two seasons previous that were 750+ yards and 6+ touchdowns and the more the rookie Flacco plays, the more likely he will rely on his tight end.

Heap had games of 29 and 38 yards against the Bengals last season and never scored.

Match Against the Defense: As always, it is more a question of the offense brought in than the defense faced with the Ravens. This should provide Flacco with a decent starting point for his career but anything beyond average numbers would be hard to justify. Rice should get decent play here as well but he and McGahee could end up limiting what either could have done alone. Week one is always a coin flip but in this case, the better defense is at home and the worse defense has not yet seen this offense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 28 18 20 27 22 23
Preventing Fantasy Points CIN 28 14 29 23 16 11
Rank Advantage (-31 to 31) BAL 0 -4 9 -4 -6 -12

The Huddle
WEEK 1
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
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