FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: CLE 3, PIT 20 (Line: OFF)

Players to Watch: Emmanuel Sanders

This is a replay of week 12 when the Browns won 20-14 in Cleveland. But the 5-10 Browns are only 1-6 on the road and the 7-8 Steelers need this win to avoid a losing season. Both teams are having a bad year though it is nothing new for the Browns who have already won one more game than last year. It was no worse than the last five seasons. The Steelers have not had a losing season in ten years and that was four years before Mike Tomlin took over. This is all new to the current Steelers. This will be a cold game with a chance of snow.

Cleveland Browns
Homefield: Cleveland Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 PHI 16-17 10 BYE -----
2 @CIN 27-34 11 @DAL 20-23
3 BUF 14-24 12 PIT 20-14
4 @BAL 16-23 13 @OAK 20-17
5 @NYG 27-41 14 KC 30-7
6 CIN 34-24 15 WAS 21-38
7 @IND 13-17 16 @DEN 12-34
8 SD 7-6 17 @PIT -----
9 BAL 15-25 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
WR Rod Streater 4-30

Pregame Notes: The year may have not been a major step forward, but at least the Browns are ending with more points scored than any other time in the last five years. The defense has been instrumental in keeping the team in games and keeping overall scoring lower. This is a team moving in the right direction but they are not breaking any speed records getting to where they want to be.

Brandon Weeden will likely not play this week because of his shoulder injury that kept him out last week. But he has thrown for a respectable 3385 yards and 14 touchdowns with 17 interceptions. Nothing awe-inspiring but considering Colt McCoy led them last year with 1576 yards and six touchdowns... Weeden wasn't all that bad.

The Browns have a storied history of crappy quarterbacks with recent inclusions of Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy and Charlie Frye over the last seven years. This week McCoy is not a lock to play because of his shoulder and may end up letting practice squad player Thaddeus Lewis take the start. And yes, things can always get worse.

Trent Richardson injured his ankle last week but it is not as serious as first feared when he was in a walking boot. He's questionable for the final game and I will assume he plays a limited role and update if needed. He's a risk this week and may end up with Montario Hardesty helping out or even taking the start. I'll project for Richardson but playing in Pittsburgh is going to be tough anyway. Richardson ran for 85 yards on 29 carries and scored once in the first meeting. He even added 27 yards on four catches. He was on a four game scoring streak until last week.

Mohamed Massaquoi was placed on injured reserve because of his knee. Greg Little scored last week for only the third time all year and was held to one catch for six yards against the Steelers in week 12. Josh Gordon went for 60 yards on four receptions in that game. Weeden only passed for 158 yards and one score in that game. On the road, there is no Browns player worthy of a start this week aside from potentially Richardson who will not have a great game in Pittsburgh even if he is completely healthy.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 27 20 22 24 16 13
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 1 2 6 7 17 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Tyrod Taylor, CLE NYJ 40100022011 ***
New York has yielded 234 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game while intercepting five balls in two games (four in the opener). Taylor always is a threat with his legs, but his weaponry is weaker with the loss of Josh Gordon. He's a low-level gamble in any format.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, CLE NYJ 5011100000 ***
One in the last 46 touches has found the end zone against the Jets by a running back, which is the 12th-toughest figure. Running backs have mustered only 56 rushing yards an outing, although Miami and Detroit aren't known for their ground attacks. Hyde has a low-tier matchup, on paper, which could be deceiving.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Nick Chubb, CLE NYJ 200000000 ***
Chubb just isn't seeing enough work to matter in fantasy. Keep him in reserve.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Callaway, CLE NYJ 003501000 ***
A week after being blanked in the opener, the rookie caught a 3-81-1 line on four grabs. The Jets haven't buckled easily vs. receivers trying to score touchdowns, giving up one in 15 catches, or the sixth-lowest ratio in the league. Overall, it is a positive-leaning opponent for Callaway, whose role will greatly expand with Josh Gordon now out of the mix.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarvis Landry, CLE NYJ 0081000000 ***
The matchup is favorable for receptions (11th best) and decent enough for yardage (13th), but the Jets have limited receivers to the sixth-lowest touchdown frequency in this young year. The veteran receiver will be tasked with picking up some slack now that Josh Gordon is a Patriot.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Rashard Higgins, CLE NYJ 002300000 ***
Higgins was brilliant all summer in practices and will see a few looks now that Josh Gordon is in another uniform. The 2017 leading receiver for Cleveland has a middling matchup and could benefit from added attention paid to Jarvis Landry. However, Higgins should be in reserve.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE David Njoku, CLE NYJ 004300000 ***
Despite a hearty 14 targets, Njoku has only seven catches for 33 yards. The total stat line by tight ends in two games against the Jets: 3-31-1. There is little reason to expect much from the second-year tight, but at least the Jets' opponents didn't exactly favor the position.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Greg Joseph, CLE NYJ 1133 ***
Kickers have made only 33 percent of their field goal attempts against the Jets and four of five PATs. Joseph replaces Zane Gonzalez and shouldn't be utilized at this time.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Homefield: Heinz Field
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DEN 19-31 10 KC 16-13
2 NYJ 27-10 11 BAL 10-13
3 @OAK 31-34 12 @CLE 14-20
4 BYE ----- 13 @BAL 23-20
5 PHI 16-14 14 SD 24-34
6 @TEN 23-26 15 @DAL 24-27
7 @CIN 24-17 16 CIN 10-13
8 WAS 27-12 17 CLE -----
9 @NYG 24-20 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 250,1
RB Stevan Ridley 80,1
WR Antonio Brown 5-50
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey 3-30

Pregame Notes: No other way to paint the year other than a colossal disappointment for a team that went 12-4 for the last two seasons.This year the offense was supposed to be better and more pass-oriented. It succeeded in not being a run-oriented offense. The best of any runner is Jonathan Dwyer and his 571 rushing yards. While Roethlisberger has improved slightly with touchdowns - 23 over the 21 from last year - he also missed three games and only has 3131 passing yards on the year. Roethlisberger did not play in the first meeting with the Browns this year and Charlie Batch was the starter for that loss.

Roethlisberger has openly questioned the play calling by OC Todd Haley though they claim to have made up now. This has never been a good scoring team and have not managed more than 27 points for 11 weeks now.

The rushing effort has rarely been reliable or productive this year with four running backs often taking carries in each week and even in the first meeting, Dwyer led with only nine runs for 19 yards. Rashard Mendenhall carried four times for six yards and Isaac Redman went seven yards on his two runs. Chris Rainey carried for five runs and gained 17 yards plus the one rushing score. It has been largely that sort of mess all year. Dwyer is the best of the bunch but it doesn't mean much with mo more than 50 yards for the last five weeks.

More bad news - Heath Miller blew his ACL and will miss this final week and get the surgery. He'll be a big 30-year old tight end trying to rehab his knee which means he's likely to be less effective in 2013 and beyond.

Mike Wallace will also possibly miss this week with a strained hip that kept him out of practices. Mike Wallace was held to only one catch for nine yards - with Batch throwing the ball. Antonio Brown was unable to play in that game and Emmanuel Sanders was tops with his 79 yards on five catches. Brown has been on a roll lately with three straight games of catching a touchdown pass.

This is a cold game, maybe snowing. The Browns are using a banged up quarterback or a practice squad player so this all favors the Steelers even without Miller or Wallace. But the overall score is likely to remain low and the only plays here are Roethlisberger, Dwyer and Brown assuming Haden doesn't switch sides and slam-dance with him for the entire game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 14 23 17 5 15 27
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 22 26 28 2 6 12

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Ben Roethlisberger, PIT @TB 0000034031 ***
"Bend but don't break" has been the mantra of the Bucs. They have given up a whopping 386.5 yards (2nd most) and a touchdown every 18 completions (10th-stiffest ratio). Big Ben has everything needed to exploit the Tampa defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB James Conner, PIT @TB 5014300000 ***
A week after 36 touches, Conner was given the ball only 13 times. He scored a touchdown to salvage some value and turn in a 17.5-point day in PPR scoring. The Buccaneers have given up the third-most PPR points in the first two weeks. One of every 9.6 touches has scored against the Bucs, good for the seventh-softest clip.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Antonio Brown, PIT @TB 0071001000 ***
Following an early-week dust-up, Brown should be among the best fantasy choices of the week. Nothing new there ... The Buccaneers have granted receivers the second-most catches and seventh-highest yardage figure in the first two weeks, but giving up three scores on 36 grabs ranks as the 10th-lowest clip.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT @TB 0061001000 ***
This could be another shootout for the Steelers. Tampa has given up 36 catches (2nd) for 395 yards (7th) and a trio of scores to receivers in this young season. The ratio of catches-to-TDs is low, but this group is not invincible.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR James Washington, PIT @TB 002300000 ***
The rookie is a reasonable bet for a touchdown almost any week, but his role is too limited to be considered seriously for anything but a DFS spot.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jesse James, PIT @TB 004601000 ***
James has been involved in the early season. The return of Vance McDonald could lessen James' role, yet he's a flier because of the matchup. Tampa Bay has given up the most receptions (tied) at 20 and yards (210) while not allowing a touchdown to the position.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chris Boswell, PIT @TB 1144 ***
Kickers have made just one of two field goal boots against the Bucs, adding 6-for-6 on field goals. The Buccaneers rate as the sixth-toughest matchup of the week based on early-season data.

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

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