Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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BUF at ARI *GB at HOU *NE at SEA *DEN at SD (MON)
*CIN at CLE *IND at NYJ *NYG at SF Bye:
*Updated DAL at BAL *KC at TB OAK at ATL CAR, CHI, JAC, NO

Prediction: PIT 31, TEN 13 (Line: PIT by 5.5)

Players to Watch: Kendall Wright, Rashard Mendenhall

The 2-2 Steelers head to Tennessee looking for their first road win and the 1-4 Titans have only their freak win over the Lions to keep them from the cellar where they belong. The Steelers won 38-17 when the Titans were the visitors last season. This is the Thursday night game and that should keep the Steelers motivated.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC -----
2 NYJ 27-10 11 BAL -----
3 @OAK 31-34 12 @CLE -----
4 BYE ----- 13 @BAL -----
5 PHI 16-14 14 SD -----
6 @TEN ----- 15 @DAL -----
7 @CIN ----- 16 CIN -----
8 WAS ----- 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT @ TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 280,3
WR Antonio Brown 7-90
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 2-30

Pregame Notes: The Steelers barely nipped the Eagles last week and Ben Roethlisberger fell from his normal high yardage and multiple passing scores to only 207 yards and no touchdowns. But his last road game resulted in 384 yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders in Oakland. The return of Rashard Mendenhall provided a spark top the rushing effort but nothing so big as to detract from what this passing offense intends to do each week. If anything, adding any success running the ball will only help the passing effort since defenses have had no reason to concern themselves with the run when they play the Steelers.

Mendenhall is one of the several running backs returning from a torn ACL who apparently have healed completely and without any signs of lingering problems. In his first action since last year, Mendenhall ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and even added two catches for 20 yards. And that came against a normally good Philly rush defense. Playing at home is a bit of a help but overall the results were very encouraging for an offense that has seen nearly no rushing success from Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman who have combined for just one touchdown over the first three games. This will remain a committee backfield of sorts and a reality is that Mendenhall is not likely to get a heavy rushing load in this pass-first offense. But he is new to the 2012 fantasy starters and so far has been rather impressive.

Heath Miller scored in each of the first three games including twice in Oakland but finally posted a low-key effort when he only turned in four catches for 41 yards versus the Eagles. He still remains the leading scorer for the Steelers and a favorite for Roethlisberger.

Mike Wallace had a problem holding onto the ball and dropped three passes last week including one potential long-gainer. He ended with just two receptions for 17 yards after having scored in each of the first three weeks and posted 123 yards on the Raiders. Antonio Brown has been far more consistent and has remained between 74 and 87 yards every week with just one touchdown that came, of course, against the Raiders. Last week he was pitted against Nnamdi Asomugha and still turned in seven receptions for 86 yards.

No reason to overanalyze here. The Titans have never allowed less than 30 points to any opponent and yet just one was able to score more than 14 points. That means the Steelers get a nice stats day so long as they remain motivated.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 11 18 9 8 13 27
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 26 26 18 32 31 27

QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT CIN 0000025011 ***
A rushing score against Cincy makes this a bottom-12 opponent. Remove it and we're looking at fantasy's ninth-toughest enemy. Overall, this is a harsh matchup for Big Ben. The Bengals have allowed the fifth-fewest in yards per game, TD efficiency and points per play. Roethlisberger went for 26.4 fantasy points in Week 2 last season but then posted 17.8 in encore.
RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT CIN 10017600000 ***
Bell played vs. Cincy only once last year, going for 18.1 points in PPR scoring. The Bengals have granted RBs the most receptions on a per-game average with 8.3, though none of those 33 balls went into the end zone. This D rates as the third-toughest against rushing yards and sixth-hardest in giving up ground TDs.
WR Antonio Brown, PIT CIN 0071001000 ***
Cincinnati held AB to 4-39-0 and 3-58-0 in two meetings last year. In 2015, he went for 6-47-1, 7-87-0 and 7-119-0 in three contests. All told, Cincy does a pretty good job of keeping him in check. This year could be different, since the position has scored once every 11.7 snares in the past four games.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT CIN 004400000 ***
The rookie has out-snapped Martavis Bryant four straight games. He'll get a taste of the Bengals' formidable secondary, however. It's the sixth-toughest, in fact.
WR Martavis Bryant, PIT CIN 003300000 ***
Allowing only 35 receptions to receivers in the past four games ranks as the fourth-lowest per-game figure, but giving up three TDs along the way is the 11th-highest frequency. Playing with limited snaps, Bryant is a hard sell in any format.
TE Jesse James, PIT CIN 003200000 ***
Cincinnati ranks as fantasy's sixth-hardest matchup in PPR and eighth in standard, yielding a single TD in the last 18 receptions.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT CIN 3322 ***
Only six teams have been tougher on kickers. The little bit of work against them has coming via 2.0 FGAs and 1.5 XPAs against, on average.

Tennessee Titans
Homefield: LP Field
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 NE 13-34 10 @MIA -----
2 @SD 10-38 11 BYE -----
3 DET 44-41 12 @JAC -----
4 @HOU 14-38 13 HOU -----
5 @MIN 7-30 14 @IND -----
6 PIT ----- 15 NYJ -----
7 @BUF ----- 16 @GB -----
8 IND ----- 17 JAC -----
9 CHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
TEN vs PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Brandon Weeden 240,1
RB DeMarco Murray 40 6-50
WR Eric Decker 6-70
WR Harry Douglas 2-20
PK Ryan Succop 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: It just keeps getting worse for the Titans. Last week without Jake Locker, the Titans hit a season low with only seven points scored despite allowing 30 points or more in every game. The schedule has been no friend and is not again this week but it gets slightly better in the second half of the season. The switch to Matt Hasselbeck had little results when he only passed for 200 yards and one score in Minnesota. After five weeks, this offense only has a total of seven touchdowns and a few of those came in trash time of decided games.

Chris Johnson somehow rang up 141 yards on 25 runs in Houston where they clearly did not care when he would run a draw in the second half when the Titans were being pummeled and needed to throw. Last week Johnson was back to normal when he only gained 25 yards on 15 runs.

Javon Ringer is out for up to six weeks with a torn MCL so there is no one else to turn to even if they wanted. Even with his one big game, Johnson only has 3.0 yards per carry. Take that away it is dives to 1.4 yards per run. There is just no reason to assume he is going to have a good game in any given week. Much less against the Steelers.

Jared Cook scored in two of the last three weeks which is big on a team with so little success passing. Cook ends with three or four catches per week with moderate yardage at best. He still remains below the fantasy radar.

Kenny Britt returned last week to post two receptions for 23 yards but his ankle is still not completely healed. He is expected to play in this game though he may be on a snap count with limited work. Nate Washington had early success and scored in the first two home games but has been shut down in every road venue. He'll need to step again at home this week for the Titans to remain in the game for any length of time. Kendall Wright comes off a career high nine catches for 66 yards in Minnesota and the rookie has been getting over eight passes per game since week two, He has already become the primary wideout for the Titans though the title so far brings only two touchdowns so far and even less respect. Wright has been a bright spot on a dull team.

The offense has been sluggish at best and needs for the opponent to stop caring and allow trash time and yardage. That is not likely to happen on Thursday night football against the Steelers. There is nothing on this team that suggests a trap game is in the making and the Steelers are just 2-2 so need every win.

Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 19 31 17 4 27 21
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 13 7 12 23 5 9

QB Marcus Mariota, TEN @CLE 10000023021 ***
Mariota's mobility was limited last week and he still posted a quality fantasy effort. The Browns have given up only 236.2 yards per game (18th) but touchdowns with the second-easiest frequency (one per 8.9 completions). This is the fifth-best matchup rating for Week 7.
RB Derrick Henry, TEN @CLE 7011100000 ***
Power backs haven't done so well against the Browns. Only two of the last 126 carries have scored, and the 78 yards per contest against this group rates 22nd. Short of another huge run, Henry may slide back into the realm of fantasy mediocrity.

Update: Henry should see more work, even if DeMarco Murray plays. Murray is a game-time decision.
RB DeMarco Murray, TEN @CLE 3001100000 *
The matchup suits Murray's versatility nicely. Don't expect a monster game, because Cleveland is at least respectable against the position, allowing a combined 128.4 yards per game (22nd). One of every 63 rushing attempts in the past five games has made its way into the end zone.

Update: A questionable status with hamstring, Murray sat two days before being limited Friday. This one is iffy, at best, and he's a true game-day call.
WR Rishard Matthews, TEN @CLE 004501000 **
While allowing the third-fewest receptions and sixth-lowest yardage figures in per-game data, this is the second-weakest defense against which to score a TD. Last season, Matthews posted a 3-70-1 line in Week 6 vs. Cleveland.
WR Eric Decker, TEN @CLE 004500000 ***
Decker should signs of life in Week 6 and has a reasonable matchup this time out. Cleveland has given up only 8.6 catches per game (3rd fewest) while surrendering a TD every 6.1 grabs (2nd highest). Decker is an intriguing boom-or-bust start.
WR Taywan Taylor, TEN @CLE 002300000 ***
The rookie is showing a knack for making splash plays, which inherently makes him a risky fantasy choice. The Browns only fuel the temptation, since this is the second-easiest team to score a TD on and also No. 2 in fantasy points per play.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN @CLE 003201000 **
Update: The rookie has a great matchup and appears to be in line for a start with Delanie Walker missing Friday's practice with a calf injury.
TE Delanie Walker, TEN @CLE 002200000 *
In 2016, against Cleveland, he caught one pass for 21 yards. The Browns have been pounded by the position, giving up the highest average of receptions per game (7.4) and the third-most yardage (75.4). PPR TEs rate third and non-PPR go fourth against this group.

Update: Walker is questionable and didn't practice Friday after being limited Thursday. Not good. Not good at all. Look for Jonnu Smith if you need a one-week replacement.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Ryan Succop, TEN @CLE 3333 ***
Succop is a lock from inside of 50 and draws a Browns team that has given up a mess of extra points (15-for-16) but only five three-pointers.

BUF at ARI *GB at HOU *NE at SEA *DEN at SD (MON)
*CIN at CLE *IND at NYJ *NYG at SF Bye:
*Updated DAL at BAL *KC at TB OAK at ATL CAR, CHI, JAC, NO

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