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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 9
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CAR
Monday
NO
SD
*updated
SF

Prediction: BAL 20, CLE 16

Update: Willis McGahee did not practice on Wednesday and then was limited on Thursday and Friday. He is listed as questionable and is not a lock to play though the team has not said that he would miss this week or be a gametime decision. I am lowering his projections which should be realistic anyway and realize that there is still a chance that he does not play or is really limited this weekend.

Winslow is expected to play this week even after he publicly put a negative light on the team about the quality and health conditions of their training facilities. Stallworth is not a lock to play this week but he's already given low projections and is not fantasy relevant this week anyway.

his is a rematch of when the Ravens won 28-10 when the Browns visited in week three of this season. The Browns are better now but so are the Ravens. With the Steelers losing last week, the Ravens are only one game back and the Browns are just two games out of the lead for the AFC North. Of course all those teams get two free wins from the Bengals this year but that only makes matchups like this even more critical. A Ravens win would keep them in strong contention while harming the Browns chances of digging out of their hole. But the Ravens are only 1-2 on the road.

Baltimore Ravens (4-3)
Homefield: M&T Bank Stadium
Sport Turf
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CIN 17-10 +1 39
2 BYE - - -
3 CLE 28-10 -2 38.5
4 @PIT 20-23 +6 34.5
5 TEN 10-17 +3 35
6 @IND 3-31 +4.5 39
7 @MIA 27-13 +3 36.5
8 OAK 29-10 -7 36
9 @CLE - +1.5 36.5
10 @HOU - - -
11 @NYG - - -
12 PHI - - -
13 @CIN - - -
14 WAS - - -
15 PIT - - -
16 @DAL - - -
17 JAX - - -
BAL @ CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco 10,1   160
RB Willis McGahee 50 20  
RB Ray Rice 70,1 30  
TE Todd Heap   10  
WR Mark Clayton   10  
WR Demetrius Williams   20  
WR Derrick Mason   40  
PK Matt Stover 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Colts loss has been covered up with two solid wins and the offense is starting to show signs that they too can contribute to winning a game. This is the start of a three game road stretch but with the Browns and then Texans on tap, they are games the Ravens could win. In fantasy terms this is a team with a lack of stars but the defense keeps them in most games and the offense somehow mixes and matches enough to win most weeks. The biggest failing so far is that this is not a "play from behind" team thanks to an anemic passing attack.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco's best play last week was when he gained 43 yards - as a receiver on a trick play. But Flacco did record a touchdown giving him three on the season while his 140 yards against the Raiders reversed a recent trend that saw him top 200 yards for two weeks in a row. This is not a productive passing attack yet and Flacco has almost as many rushing scores (2) as he does passing (3). Still a long way to go in this offense.

Flacco only passed for 129 yards against the Browns this year.

Running Backs: This rushing attack is a mess to figure out. Willis McGahee did score last week but only gained 58 yards on 23 carries. He only had 18 yards on eight runs the previous week at Indianapolis. But Le'Ron McClain was given seven runs (for 32 yards) and even Ray Rice pitched in a team high 64 yards on eight carries. This is now a three-way attack and that spells disaster to fantasy owners. And just when McClain appeared to be phased out, he was back again with seven runs last week. I will continue to project for McGahee and will include RIce over McClain but the roles change nearly every week.

McClain scored two touchdowns and had 66 yards on 17 carries against the Browns this year. McGahee turned in 15 runs for 64 yards and one score.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason was feeling under the weather last week but still played and only produced one catch for three yards. He has been the only receiver on this team with any reliable value and that went away last Sunday. Demetrius Williams had a 70-yard touchdown catch in the game for his only reception and realize that he had no catches the week before that. There have only been two touchdowns caught by the wideouts here all season.

No wideout had more than 42 yards against the Browns this season.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap still plays but you wouldn't know it from the box scores.

Match Against the Defense: The Browns have been weak against the run and that is how they lost to the Ravens earlier this year. Look for the Ravens to rush for well over 100 yards as a team but the breakdown is harder to gauge. McGahee will lead the bunch in carries with a nice chance for a score. I like two rushing scores in this game but there are three running backs and one quarterback that are all equally likely to get it.

Flacco goes against a softer secondary but he's still learning the ropes and not likely to post a score for his third consecutive week. Look for moderate yardage at best with no receiver worth a fantasy start.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 26 6 27 26 27 9
Preventing Fantasy Points    CLE 9 21 18 9 2 4


Cleveland Browns (3-4)
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 DAL 10-28 +5.5 49
2 PIT 6-10 +6 45
3 @BAL 10-28 +2 38.5
4 @CIN 20-12 -3.5 44
5 BYE - - -
6 NYG 35-14 +8 43
7 @WAS 11-14 +7.5 42.5
8 @JAX 23-17 +6.5 41
9 BAL - -1.5 36.5
10 DEN - - -
11 @BUF - - -
12 HOU - - -
13 IND - - -
14 @TEN - - -
15 @PHI - - -
16 CIN - - -
17 @PIT - - -
CLE vs BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Derek Anderson     180,1
RB Jamal Lewis 70 10  
TE Kellen Winslow   50,1  
WR Braylon Edwards   60  
WR Donte Stallworth   20  
WR Syndric Steptoe   30  
PK Phil Dawson 3 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: Three wins in the last four games and the lone loss was nearly a win in Washington. After a horrible start to the year, the Browns are brushing off the dust and trying to make a season of it. Anderson has gone three games without a turnover and Jamal Lewis has been solid for a month. The last meeting with the Ravens in week three was as low as the Browns were to get. Since then it has been looking up and this week is critical for the Browns to prove they are back on track.

Quarterback: After nearly losing his job early on, Derek Anderson has been improved though he still has only one game with more than one touchdown. His two best efforts of the year - very clearly - were in the two big upsets when he posted 310 yards and two scores on the Giants and then 246 yards and a score on the Jaguars. Otherwise he has struggled to gain more than 150 yards through the air. A bad showing this week will reverse whatever goodwill he has built up recently and the Ravens intercepted him three times in the last game. Anderson only passed for 125 yards and one score in Baltimore this year.

Running Backs: Jamal Lewis had a slow start to the season but has come one better for the last month. While he still has not topped 100 rushing yards this year, he has been over 79 yards in each of the last four games and scored in three of them. Lewis isn't winning games for any fantasy owners but at least he isn't losing them either. Just very middle of the road lately with around 80 rushing yards and a score each week and perhaps one catch.

Lewis rushed for 56 yards on 12 carries in Baltimore in week three.

Wide Receivers: While Braylon Edwards still lags 2007, he has been worth at least 60 yards per week for the last month and scored twice. Donte Stallworth hooked up with Anderson for one touchdown already though he's only been worth two or three catches per week so far and for never more than 24 yards in a game. Aside from the very rare long catch, none of these wideouts have any real fantasy value outside of Edwards who has been only marginal at best.

No receiver had more than Braylon Edwards' meager 27 yards in Baltimore this year.

Tight Ends: Kellen Winslow is expected back this week after missing week eight because of reported swollen testicles. He has also battled a staph infection over the past month. So far Winslow has only one score on the season and never more than 55 yards in a game and twice he has turned in less than 20 yards. Winslow only managed two catches for 14 yards against the Ravens earlier this year..

Match Against the Defense: The Browns already struggled against the Ravens this year and while this game is played in Cleveland, the Ravens defense has been good everywhere. They have only allowed one rushing touchdown this year and never more than 73 yards to any runner. Expect no score and moderate yardage from Lewis at best.

The Ravens secondary has been hit by injury but Anderson has hardly been the hot hand this season. The addition of Winslow will help and Edwards at home should be better but the Ravens have already crushed his offense once. Look for no more than one passing score and decent yardage from needing to throw. I like Winslow to score here if he is healthy enough to play.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 29 27 30 14 25 17
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 5 1 5 14 7 24

The Huddle
WEEK 9
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Bye Week
CAR
Monday
NO
SD
SF
Other Features
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Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
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