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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
Divisional
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Saturday
Sunday
   
   

Prediction: BAL 14, TEN 20

Update: Todd Heap did not practice until Friday when he was still limited by his back but he is expected to play at least a limited role. Derrick Mason stayed out of practice on Wednesday to rest his sore shoulder but then had some practice on Thursday and Friday and will play as he has the last couple of weeks when he had at least 70 yards in those games.

The Titans are at full strength and even DT Albert Haynesworth practiced fully all week and is not on the injury report. There is an 80% chance of rain or snow and it should be around 40 degrees at gametime with 13 mph winds. Not a huge impact on what should be a game of mostly rushing and lesser passing.

This should be the lowest scoring game of the weekend and hence the one with the least fantasy value outside of defenses and maybe kickers. These teams have already played back in week five when the Titans won 17-10 in Baltimore. The Titans went on to be the #1 seed in the AFC and hold a 7-1 record at home losing only a meaningless week 15 game to the visiting Steelers. The Ravens are fresh from their solid win in Miami and hold a 6-3 record on the road this year. The great thing about this game is that it will likely tilt based on just one or two plays made by the defense.

This game has a chance of rain and will be around 40 degrees with a slight wind.

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 -10 37.5
18 @MIA 27-9 -3.5 38
19 @TEN   -3 34.5
BAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Joe Flacco     180
RB Willis McGahee 30 10  
RB Le'Ron McClain 70,1    
TE Todd Heap   40  
WR Mark Clayton   40  
WR Derrick Mason   80  
PK Matt Stover   2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Ravens continue to live - and win - on the strength of their defense and rushing game that has been no less than adequate and at times even impressive. The first year of head coach John Harbaugh has already been a major success and while the rookie Joe Flacco has not set any passing records, he's been a solid addition that is getting better every week and he hasn't thrown an interception in the last three games.

Flacco passed for 153 yards and two interception in the previous meeting with the Titans but that was only the fifth game for the first-year player. He relied mostly on Todd Heap (4-41) and Derrick Mason (5-38). He's come to rely on Heap a bit more in road games and all three of the tight end's touchdown came in away games though against soft opponents of the Bengals and Texans.

Mason has been the primary receiver this year and his role has always been much bigger in road games when the rushing attack is not enough to win games. Mason has five scores and four came on the road. He typically turns in around 70 yards in most games and has two efforts over 100 yards so far.

No other wideouts have really mattered here all season long and not when they played the Titans as well. Mark Clayton has turned in two big games thanks to catching long passes in each but again - only against soft secondaries.

Flacco is showing good signs of progress and is proving to be a very valuable draft pick but his first year has been more of a standard sub-200 yard variety with fewer turnovers than most rookies would create.

Back in week five, Le'Ron McClain was the better runner with 11 carries for 51 yards and one touchdown while Willis McGahee turned in 64 yards on 22 carries. McClain has been the primary runner for the last six weeks and while he has been much less productive in most road games, three of his best efforts have come in the most recent games which included two away venues. He has scored in each week at least once and had around 20 carries or more each week.

McGahee is still in the mix but hasn't had more than 11 carries since McClain reclaimed the starting role.

The Ravens will rely on their defense again but they are going against the #1 team for not giving up fantasy points to opposing defenses. That's a major blow for a team that relies heavily on their defense for turnovers - best in the league - and even occasional touchdowns.

The Titans have been outstanding against the pass and Flacco is just another sub-200 yard passer for now. No reason to expect a big change in the playoffs against one of the best passing defenses. The Ravens have been one of the better rushing teams as of late and the Titans have been tough statistically against the run at home but have not faces many top rushing teams there. Look for one rushing touchdown that should belong to McClain and I like the chance for one defensive score as well.

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    TEN 5 11 3 20 1 1


Tennessee Titans (13-3)
Homefield: LP Field
Grass
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 JAX 17-10 +3 37
2 @CIN 24-7 +1 37.5
3 HOU 31-12 -5 38.5
4 MIN 30-17 -3 36
5 @BAL 17-10 -3 35
6 BYE - - -
7 @KC 34-10 -8 35.5
8 IND 31-21 -4 42
9 GB 19-16 -5.5 42.5
10 @CHI 21-14 -3 38.5
11 @JAX 24-14 -3 39.5
12 NYJ 13-34 -6 40.5
13 @DET 47-10 -11 44.5
14 CLE 28-9 -13.5

37.5

15 @HOU 12-13 -3.5 44
16 PIT 31-14 +2 34.5
17 @IND 0-23 -3 39.5
19 BAL   -3 34.5
TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Kerry Collins     190,1
RB Chris Johnson 70,1 40  
RB Lendale White 20 10  
TE Bo Scaife   60,1  
WR Justin Gage   40  
WR Justin McCareins   30  
PK Rob Bironas 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Titans finally get to play a meaningful game after being the most successful team for most of the year before getting bored at 11-0. There are a number of similarities between the Titans and Ravens - great defenses, sound rushing games and a reluctance to pass often. There were questions about the Titans once injuries happened but this week is expected to see both Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch return to the defensive line and provide a crucial role in the defense.

The previous meeting between these teams had Kerry Collins pass for 163 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Brandon Jones accounted for three catches for 54 yards but most of the action ended up with the tight ends of Alge Crumpler (2-15, 1 TD) and Bo Scaife (7-72). It was only week five but Chris Johnson had one of his worst games as a professional when he only gained 44 yards on 18 carries in Baltimore and LenDale White had just four yards on three carries. No doubt playing this game in Nashville will help out the rushing game.

In home games this season, Johnson has scored in six of the eight matchups and has tended to gaining around 70 to 80 rushing yards in most games there. Even in the tougher contests, Johnson at home scored against MIN, IND and PIT.

Lendale White has tended to be more productive in road games though that was more related to the schedule since away games included KC and DET. At home this season, White has also scored in six of the eight games but has rarely had more than 50 rushing yards and often ended with fewer than 20 yards when facing a good defense.

The Ravens defense has been #1 against the running backs for a very good reason. They have never allowed a rushing score in Baltimore and held every runner there to 56 yards or less. On the road, the Ravens are still formidable though slightly less so. The Giants ran for 210 yards and two scores back in week 11 and Tashard Choice of the Cowboys had 90 yards and one score as well but those were about the only two runners who had any success against the Ravens this year. Johnson should improve on the 44 yards he gained back in week five in Baltimore but it is not likely that he'll turn in any big game here. Better yardage and a score would be success enough. He should figure in more as a receiver this time as well.

Collins won't throw the ball much more than necessary but should end up with similar numbers from the week five meeting. The Ravens has allowed at least one passing score to almost every opponent this year and away fro Baltimore the secondary has been much less successful considering they only allowed six passing scores at home but then 12 touchdowns on the road. The Ravens are the #1 team with turnover differential and that will make the Titans reluctant to throw much and no doubt more reliant on the tight ends as they were in the first meeting.

This game turns on defensive play and that makes it more challenging to forecast given the effect of defensive scores. But the Titans defeated the Ravens once this year and get the benefit of playing at home. It is not a given to win here but this will probably be the toughest game for the Titans to win this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 31 5 30 13 9 7
Preventing Fantasy Points    BAL 4 1 4 9 4 20

Other Features
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