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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
WILDCARDS
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Saturday
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Prediction: BAL 17, MIA 20

Update: The Ravens listed 12 players as questionable this week but none are expected to miss the game. Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason will definitely play and Todd Heap is expected to suit up though he has negligible fantasy value anyway. Mason was held out of practices on Wednesday and Friday to rest his shoulder.

David Martin is the only notable Dolphin with injury and he is recovering from what was likely a concussion. He should still play and returned to limited work on Thursday and Friday.

The Ravens claimed their wildcard with a big win in Dallas and they are 5-3 in road games this year. The Dolphins are the surprise of the league coming from a 1-15 record to winning the AFC East with a 11-5 record. The Dolphins are 5-3 at home this year but have won their last five straight. The Ravens are favored in this one but the Dolphins are on a roll. This should be the lowest scoring game of the weekend which means every play counts more - particularly mistakes.

This game is a replay of week seven with the Ravens won 27-13 in Miami.

Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
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 9-13 -2 34
16 @DAL 33-24 +4 39.5
17 JAX 27-7 - -
18 @MIA   -3 37.5
BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     220,1
RB Willis McGahee 30 20  
RB Le'Ron McClain 60,1 10  
TE Todd Heap   20  
WR Mark Clayton   40  
WR Terrance Cooper   20  
WR Derrick Mason   80,1  
PK Matt Stover 1 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Ravens have ridden their defense to the playoffs but the offense has been coming along as well with the rookie Joe Flacco getting better and rushing game turning into a two-headed monster that has been effective even if detested in fantasy football circles. Since the week seven meeting, the passing game has also improved here if only incrementally.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco has not been a big scorer with only 14 passing scores this year but he has recorded at least one touchdown in all but one road game this year. At home, the Ravens are happy enough with defense and rushing but on the road, Flacco has always been more tested and produced bigger numbers. That usually translate into around 240 yards in most games with one or two scores.

Flacco passed for 232 yards and one score in Miami this year.

Running Backs: The Ravens have settled on mixing Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain with very good results though it is typically McClain with the fantasy relevant numbers. He has ten rushing scores on the season and around 70 or 80 rushing yards in most games including scoring in four of the last six contests.

Willis McGahee has become more of a third down back and relief player but has scored in each of the last two games. Those were more exceptions than rule though. McGahee almost disappears in tough games. Back in week seven, McGahee was the lead runner with 105 yards and one score in Miami but has been little used since.

Wide Receivers: Derrick Mason remains the primary wideout here though he has not been 100% thanks to his shoulder. Still, he has managed to score in three of the last five games and has been the only consistently used wideout.

Mark Clayton has laid claim to the other starting spot this year but only has three touchdowns and ends most games with fewer than 40 yards of production.

Mason had six catches for 87 yards and a score in Miami this season while Clayton was held to just one catch for 13 yards.

Tight Ends: Todd Heap does figure in each week but only to the extend of two or three catches for around 25 yards. He has scored in only two games this year and both were against soft secondaries (HOU and CIN). He had three catches for 29 yards in Miami.

Match Against the Defense: The Dolphins have been stellar against running backs this year and only allowed five rushing scores in Miami this year. McGahee actually had one of the best efforts against the Fins this year back in week seven but he shared the ball more now and Dolphins are better. Look for one rushing score by McClain but barely moderate rushing yards.

Flacco was marginally successful the last time and there's nothing new about the Ravens passing game. Expect a very similar result to last time. The Fins have never allowed a tight end to score in Miami and should shut down all but Mason who is not 100% healthy anyway. The Ravens passing attack is terribly limited to Mason and Clayton.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points BAL 23 9 20 24 11 2
Preventing Fantasy Points    MIA 23 6 28 2 18 6


Miami Dolphins (11-5)
Homefield: Dolphins Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 NYJ 14-20 +3 36
2 @ARZ 10-31 +7 38.5
3 @NE 38-13 +13 34.5
4 BYE - - -
5 SD 17-10 +6.5 45.5
6 @HOU 28-29 +3 45
7 BAL 13-27 -3 36.5
8 BUF 25-16 +1.5 42.5
9 @DEN 26-17 +3 49
10 SEA 21-19 -9 43
11 OAK 17-15

-10.5

38.5
12 NE 28-48 -2 42
13 @STL 16-12 -7.5 43.5
14 @BUF 16-3 +1 42
15 SF 14-9 -6.5 42
16 @KC 38-31 -3.5 39.5
17 @NYJ 24-17 - -
18 BAL   +3 37.5
MIA Rush Catch Pass
QB Chad Pennington     190,1
RB Ronnie Brown 50 20  
RB Ricky Williams 40,1 10  
TE Anthony Fasano   30  
TE David Martin   30,1  
WR Davone Bess   50  
WR Ted Ginn Jr.   50  
PK Dan Carpenter 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Jumping from 1-15 to winning the AFC East 12 months later sets the stage for a disappointment in 2009 - where do you go from here? The Fins improved ten wins from last year and have done it in a very Parcel-esque way - no real stars, solid defense and a committee backfield. The previous loss to the Ravens in week seven left the Dolphins 2-4 and at their lowest point in the season. They lost only to New England during the last ten games.

Quarterback: Chad Pennington has been the veteran leadership that the young team needed and he's been passing much better in the latter half of the season. He had just seven scores over the first eight games but then scored 12 over the last eight weeks with seven coming in just the last three games. His 20 touchdown passes have been joined with only seven interceptions and never more than one per week.

Pennington passed for 295 yards and one score against the Ravens this season.

Running Backs: The Ronnie Brown show hasn't been much to watch in the last six weeks with only one touchdown and never more than 48 rushing yards in any of those games. His role as a receiver has been minimal as well but he never has more than 16 carries and usually ends up around 12 per week. Brown gained just 27 yards on 13 carries against the Ravens this year.

Ricky Williams has been no better with only one score in the last five weeks and never more than 54 rushing yards in that time. In the only loss by the FIns in the last ten weeks, Williams did score once against the Patriots via a pass. Williams gained 98 yards on 16 carries in the last meeting with the Pats.

Wide Receivers: The Dolphin wideouts have been in transition much of the year but have settled on Davone Bess and Ted Ginn Jr. now for better or worse. Bess is the perfect "Parcels type" as an undrafted player who never scores but has averaged around six catches per week over the last six games and usually has around 50 or 60 yards.

Ted Ginn Jr. scored last week in New York but only has two receiving scores this year along with two rushing touchdowns. His yardage is all over the map from week to week but he has been better whenever the Fins are facing a better defense. Back in week seven, Ginn had 48 yards on four receptions while Bess caught two passes for 12 yards and one touchdown.

Tight Ends: The bulk of scoring recently has been coming from the tight ends and Anthony Fasano has four touchdowns over the last four games while David Martin scored twice in the last three weeks. Neither offer reliable yardage though it could be as high as 66 yards. Martin caught four passes for 71 yards in the first meeting with the Ravens and Fasano had two receptions for 25 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The Ravens defense is ranked #1 against running backs but on the road they have allowed four scores and four players had 70+ rushing yards against them. In Baltimore - forget running against the Ravens but on the road they are less dominating. Look for moderate yardage at best thanks to the split and a shot at one rushing score by Williams.

Pennington faces a top secondary and the main goal will be to make no mistakes. Expect one passing score here (two if Williams cannot run it in) that will favor the tight ends. This will be a slow, low scoring game with both sides avoiding mistakes.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points MIA 17 11 26 4 24 12
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 4 1 4 9 4 20

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