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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WEEK 15
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday
Monday
*updated

Prediction: PIT 16, BAL 17

Here's one of the Games-O-The-Week. The 10-3 Steelers have won four straight and are 5-1 in road games but the Ravens are 9-4 and 5-1 at home with a current three game winning streak. A win here by the Ravens ties up the AFC North but a win by the Steelers will lead to a divisional title and a first round bye. One thing that should happen - not many points being scored.

The Steelers beat the visiting Ravens 23-20 back in week four.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3)
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 HOU 38-17 -6.5 43
2 @CLE 10-6 -6 45
3 @PHI 6-15 +3 45
4 BAL 23-20 -6 34.5
5 @JAX 26-21 +4 36
6 BYE - - -
7 @CIN 38-10 -9.5 37
8 NYG 14-21 -2.5 42
9 @WAS 23-6 +1.5 37
10 IND 20-24 -3.5 38.5
11 SD 11-10 -4 43
12 CIN 27-10

-10.5

39
13 @NE 33-10 +1 40
14 DAL 20-13 -3 41.5
15 @BAL - +2 34
16 @TEN - - -
17 CLE - - -
PIT @ BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger     210,1
RB Willie Parker 40    
RB Mewelde Moore 50 20  
TE Heath Miler   40  
WR Hines Ward   60,1  
WR Santonio Holmes   50  
WR Nate Washington   20  
PK Jeff Reed 3 FG 1 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Steelers were fortunate to come away with a comeback win over the Cowboys last week and now have chance to put a big bow around the season with a win here. The key to this season has always been the superior play of the defense but the Steelers have been a very good road team as well. Consider their last four trips away had them favored in only one game and yet they won all four. Last week was a down week because the Steelers almost got caught looking at this week.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger has been highly inconsistent this year and even went three weeks without throwing for any scores. But he has passing touchdowns in each of the last three games and had a rather standard 191 yards and one score against the visiting Ravens this year. He's been sacked 36 times already this year but that is actually slightly lower than previous seasons. The plus side here is that Roethlisberger has been more effective in recent weeks.

Running Backs: The Steelers have opted for a three man rotation at running back now that Gary Russell comes in for the short work. Willie Parker has not rushed well in most games this year and two of the last three weeks he only had 37 rushing yards or less. Mewelde Moore has been a more effective runner despite getting fewer carries and he adds in a third down role as a receiver unlike the other backs. it is an attack that has only been marginally successful and one that has surprisingly little fantasy value coming out of it.

The Steelers used three runners to gain only 59 yards on 25 carries versus the Ravens this season.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward remains the primary receiver but his play has been down for three weeks now and he has only scored once in the last seven games. If there are any big stats from the Steelers receivers they will be Ward's but lately there have not been much at all. Santonio Holmes has been marginally better in recent weeks because he had around 50 yards in the last couple of games but he has been a flop this year with a lack of the deep pass and the return of a healthy Ward.

Holmes scored once on three catches for 61 yards while Ward was limited to two catches for 57 yards against the Ravens this year.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller scored last week and has three touchdowns on the season but he rarely has more than around 40 yards in games and is not consistent enough to warrant anything more than a bye week replacement start.

Match Against the Defense: The Ravens have not allowed any rushing touchdowns at home this year and Jamal Lewis holds the current record of rushing for 56 yards there. The rushing game is already divided up and playing here makes it lose all fantasy value.

Roethlisberger will have to be the one that makes the difference here even though he has not been that hot for three weeks now. The Ravens have never allowed more than one passing score to an opposing quarterback in Baltimore this season and 228 yards is the best that anyone has managed there. Then again, the Ravens have yet to host a team that throws much. Expect one passing score here that almost has to end up with Ward.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 16 23 10 21 13 6
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 4 1 4 5 2 23


Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
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 37-27 +1.5 36.5
10 @HOU 41-13 +1.5 41.5
11 @NYG 10-30 +6.5 42
12 PHI 36-7 -1 38.5
13 @CIN 34-3 -7.5 36.5
14 WAS 24-10 -5 36.5
15 PIT - -2 34
16 @DAL - - -
17 JAX - - -
BAL vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     230,1
RB Le'Ron McClain 50,1 10  
RB Willis McGahee 30    
TE Todd Heap   40  
WR Mark Clayton   40  
WR Demetrius Williams   20  
WR Derrick Mason   90,1  
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Even beating the Steelers is no guarantee the Ravens end up as the AFC North winners with a trip to Dallas left but it certainly goes a long way towards finally dethroning the Steelers. The offense has been stellar in recent games while the defense has dominated. More than any single thing, the development of Joe Flacco has started to push the Ravens offense to all new levels.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco actually threw his first NFL touchdown when he passed for 192 yards and one score in Pittsburgh during week four. Starting in week seven, he has scored at least once and usually twice in every game while remaining below 200 passing yards in most games. He has only thrown three interceptions against 12 touchdowns in these last eight weeks and the better passing is even helping out the rushing attack. Flacco may still be second to Matt Ryan as a rookie quarterback this year, but he's proven to be far better than most rookie signal callers.

Running Backs: The horribly confusing three-pronged rushing scheme continues on with Le'Ron McClain the most likely to score with two touchdowns over the last three games. He's also been the better bet for yardage with around 80 yards per week but the Ravens also rely on Ray Rice for a handful of carries and catches every week. And Willis McGahee drifts in and out of the game plan enough to water down when McClain is doing and yet not produce enough yards to make McGahee reclaim any of his lost fantasy value.

The Ravens used both McGahee and McClain to total 105 yards on 29 carries in Pittsburgh this year.

Wide Receivers: While the passing numbers wane for the Steelers, the Ravens are enjoying all new heights for their wide receivers. Derrick Mason has scored in the last two games while turning in at least around 60 yards per week. Mark Clayton has a quiet game last week but had 164 yards and a score the previous outing. It may only be around average but considering where it all started, this unit has really developed better this year.

Mason had eight catches for 137 yards in Pittsburgh this year.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap still is too spotty to consider for a fantasy start but had 54 yards last week on just two receptions and scored in week 13. He's not worth owning this season but could develop back into fantasy relevance next season.

Match Against the Defense: The Steelers remain a top defense in all categories but the difference this time around is that the game is played in Baltimore and the Ravens offense has come together nicely in the ten weeks since these teams last played.

The rushing defense has been stellar with Tashard Choice being the surprisingly most productive runner with 88 yards on 23 carries. The Ravens are going to split it all up anyway so look for no real fantasy value here. I like McClain to bull in a touchdown here but with three runners - confidence is never high.

Flacco gets to measure his progress with 192 yards and a score in the first meeting but whatever he does will be picking up after the rushing attack falls short. No reason to expect different that around what was already done back in week three except fro Flacco being better and more poised. Have to like Mason to have a good game here after posting 137 yards in Pittsburgh back in week three.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 21 9 19 23 21 2
Preventing Fantasy Points    PIT 2 4 3 11 4 19

The Huddle
WEEK 15
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Thursday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday
Sunday Late
Sunday
Monday
Other Features
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Tuesday Injury Report
Free Agent Forecast
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