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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 3
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
*updated

Prediction: CLE 13, BAL 24

Update: Braylon Edwards is listed as questionable with a sprained shoulder and was limited in practice this week but is expected to play. Donte Stallworth is also questionable but appears all but certain to miss this week as well. I will not be adding him in yet. Jamal Lewis is listed as probable but was limited in practice all week with a hamstring strain. He is expected to play though the match-up is not going to make it any easier. I am slightly lowering Lewis' projections and leaving Edwards alone. This is not an advantageous match-up for any of the Browns outside of Kellen Winslow.

The Browns dropped a close one to the Steelers in a game with wicked wind and rain and going 0-2 after opening with two home games is not likely to make this year resemble the nice surprise of 2007. The Ravens come off their accidental bye week when the stadium in Houston was damaged and while they looked dominating in the season opener over the Bengals, that ends up to be less an accomplishment as it seemed at the time. This game should be more competitive than it may seem at first sight.

The Browns swept the Ravens in 2007, winning 27-13 at home and later 33-30 in Baltimore.

Cleveland Browns (0-2)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DAL 10-28 +5.5 49
2 PIT 6-10 +6 45
3 @BAL - +2 38.5
4 @CIN - - -
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG - - -
7 @WAS - - -
8 @JAX - - -
9 BAL - - -
10 DEN - - -
11 @BUF - - -
12 HOU - - -
13 IND - - -
14 @TEN - - -
15 @PHI - - -
16 CIN - - -
17 @PIT - - -
CLE at BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson 20   190,1
RB Jamal Lewis 50 10  
TE Kellen Winslow   70,1  
WR Braylon Edwards   50  
WR Syndric Steptoe   20  
WR Steve Sanders   10  
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Browns suffered through 40 mile an hour winds but still had a nice shot at beating the Steelers last week until Anderson just couldn't connect at the end of the game. The first road game of the year will be against a rejuvenated defense and the Browns are looking a little desperate for only having played two games so far. The schedule is no friend to be sure, but the next couple of road games may be the only chance the team has at a win away from Cleveland.

Quarterback: After only passing for 114 yards against the Cowboys and being plagued by dropped passes, Derek Anderson improved slightly last week with 166 yards against the Steelers but he failed to score and threw two very costly interceptions. The main problem continues to be a lack of any consistent weapon outside of Kellen Winslow since Braylon Edwards just not connecting with Anderson as he did last year. It's not going to get any easier this week.

Anderson threw for 204 yards and two scores in the home game against the Ravens last year and later passed for 274 yards and no scores in Baltimore though he did rush in a score in that game.

Running Backs: Going against a great Steeler defense only allowed Jamal Lewis to rush for 38 yards on 19 carries and still not have a score this year. While Lewis doesn't share carries at all, he's not getting as many as last year and facing better opponents.

Lewis ran for 64 yards on 23 carries with one score against his old team last year and later ran 22 times for 92 yards and one touchdown in Baltimore with four catches for 30 yards in that meeting.

Wide Receivers: The Braylon Edwards watch continues wondering where the prolific wideout from 2007 has been hiding. In both games this year, Edwards was thrown nine passes and of those eighteen chances, he caught five for 46 yards and dropped five. The rest were just bad or hurried throws. Edwards has yet to get any help from Donte Stallworth who has missed games with a strained quadriceps but he had no one across from him last year and still turned in top three numbers. If there is one critical element missing from last year, it is Edwards almost disappearing.

Edwards turned three catches into 97 yards and a score against the visiting Ravens last year and later had eight receptions for 85 yards in Baltimore.

Tight Ends: Not only has Kellen Winslow been the only consistently productive receiver for the Browns, he has the only offensive touchdown and his 12 catches so far are double that of any other Browns player. He has yet to turn in more than 55 yards in a game but no other player has topped 32 yards.

Winslow caught four passes for 96 yards in the first meeting with the Ravens last year and later had 64 yards on five receptions.

Match Against the Defense: The problem here is that the Ravens have been able to prepare for this game for a few extra days thanks to having last week off and back at home will present a major problem for the struggling Browns. Expect no more than moderate rushing yardage from Lewis who has already played his old team twice. The Ravens are at home and all healthy and should manage to stuff Lewis better this time around.

Look for Derek Anderson to throw for one touchdown here that has to favor Winslow. The Edwards problem will be solved but it probably won't improve too much in this game against an aggressive defense that currently ranks in the top two against the fantasy positions of note.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 28 30 32 6 27 31
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 1 1 2 7 5 28


Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CIN 17-10 +1 39
2 BYE - - -
3 CLE - -2 38.5
4 @PIT - - -
5 TEN - - -
6 @IND - - -
7 @MIA - - -
8 OAK - - -
9 @CLE - - -
10 @HOU - - -
11 @NYG - - -
12 PHI - - -
13 @CIN - - -
14 WAS - - -
15 PIT - - -
16 @DAL - - -
17 JAX - - -
BAL vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 10   140
RB Willis McGahee 70,1 20  
RB Ray Rice 40 10  
RB Le'Ron McClain 40,1    
TE Todd Heap   20  
WR Mark Clayton   10  
WR Demetrius Williams   20  
WR Derrick Mason   40  
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: Having a week two bye won't do much to keep the Ravens fresh down the stretch and coming into this week is a must win against a divisional opponent who is on the ropes already. The trip to Pittsburgh looms large next week but the Browns still present plenty of challenge for an offense that

Quarterback:The debut of Joe Flacco went well enough with a win but the rookie only completed 15 of 29 passes for 129 yards and no scores. That was rather Boller-ish other than not using Todd Heap. But Flacco also was not sacked nor had any turnovers and he rushed four times for 37 yards and a very important touchdown. Flacco favored Derrick Mason the most with six passes thrown to him, but he also had five throws to Heap but only connected on one.

Steve McNair passed for 307 yards and one score in Cleveland last year and Kyle Boller had 279 yards and a score in the home game against the Browns.

Running Backs:Willis McGahee dressed in week one but was held out of action by the coaching staff because it was feared he might hurt his knee after not practicing much in recent weeks. HC John Harbaugh said that McGahee could get some carries this week which is really saying nothing. The Ravens split duty last week between Ray Rice (22-64) and converted fullback Le'Ron McClain (19-86). It was an effective rushing attack and last week the Ravens just pounded the Bengals.

Now that there are three running backs at play for the Ravens, it makes relying on any one of them harder. You should also be concerned if you paid much for McGahee in your draft because the Ravens rushed well last week and should have success again on Sunday. Start any of the Ravens running backs at your own risk.

McGahee gained 104 yards on 14 carries and added two receptions for 32 yards in Cleveland last season. He later rushed for 102 yards on 21 carries and scored once in the home meeting with the Browns.

Wide Receivers: The more things change, the more they remain the same. Derrick Mason (4-44) was the primary receiver last week though Mark Clayton (3-21) wasn't far behind and neither had reliable fantasy value. Clayton did run in a 42-yard double reverse for a score last week but otherwise the wideouts here did little against a soft secondary of the Bengals. The rushing game ensured that they would not throw much and Flacco barely completed 50% when he did. Demetrius Williams has been hampered by a hamstring strain but I will assume he plays unless he cannot practice this week.

Mason had 10 receptions for 78 yards and later 83 yards on six receptions against the Browns last year. Devard Darling later had 107 yards and a score in the second meeting.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap only had one catch for five yards last week and he fumbled on that play anyway. But he had five passes thrown to him and had his number called as much as any other receiver. Too early to assume the demise of Heap's fantasy value but Flacco needs to complete those passes.

The Raven tight ends accounted for 70 yards and a score in Cleveland last year and 53 yards in the home game last year.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns have allowed over 100 rushing yards in both games this year but the Ravens are playing around with three running backs this week. McGahee returns but Rice and McClain are still around and should get playing time, especially McClain in short yardage. There is no secret here - the Ravens will pound the ball all game long. Expect great numbers in total from the rushing game but the breakout is harder to predict. This week should answer the questions about the ongoing roles of these backs.

Flacco will have another low yardage effort as a game manager. it is optimistic to expect decent fantasy numbers from any of the Ravens passing game. I do love the chance for a defensive score in this game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 13 17 18 31 25 16
Preventing Fantasy Points    CLE 20 24 25 25 3 6

The Huddle
WEEK 3
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Monday
Sunday Late
Other Features
Fantasy Statistics
Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
Commentary From the Edge
Game Recaps
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