Fantasy Forecast: Week Eight

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Welcome to week eight of the NFL Regular Season. Before each game RavensGab will take a look at the various Ravens players poised to make a significant fantasy impact, and provide the strengths and weaknesses associated with each based on current trends and matchups.

Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens

November 1, 2009, 1:05 pm Baltimore, MD

Weather Forecast: Rain

Joe Flacco, QB (Week 6: 385 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT)

It seems like every other week that Joe Flacco is setting new career marks for yards thrown in a single game. Against the Vikings stout defensive core, Flacco posted his best performance of the season thus far. Not only did the Vikings have no answer for everything he tried to do, but the Offensive came together admirably for the fourth quarter en route to 21 points and a chance to win the game.

This is what were coming to expect week in and week out from the young Quarterback. He’s strong, he’s patient, and he’s smart. He’s everything a fantasy owner could possible want. He faces each defense with determination and never backs down in the face of adversity.

However, Joe is heading into a rough three weeks coming up. First he had the Bengals, then he faced the fearsome Vikings, now he must face off against Elvis Dumervil and the destructive Denver Broncos. Each week the test has gotten progressively more difficult. But each week Joe has managed to find a way and put up respectable if not solid fantasy numbers.  This week I’d expect a ton of Flacco/Rice hookups. The Denver defense will use Champ Bailey to shutdownDerrick Mason, and the front 4 will do their best to create all sorts of pressure. This means Joe is going to be counted on for a lot of running plays, and a lot of quick dumps over the middle and to the sidelines. I wouldn’t expect a lot of big down the field throws from Bazooka Joe, but I would expect a solid game.

Prediction: 310 yds, 1 TD

Ray Rice, RB (Week 6: 77 yds Rush, 117 yds Rec, 2 TD)

What else can I say about Ray Rice other than Wow! This kid has proved to everyone why the Ravens felt confident enough to take him in the 2nd round of last years draft. He has quickly become Joe’s go to guy, and has single handedly carried this team on his back for more than one game this season.

If you have him he’s a must start this week against the Denver Broncos. Denver has a great defense and a ton of playmakers, but Ray Rice projects to have an absolutely monster day. As mentioned above, if Champ Bailey is all over Derrick Mason (as expected), be sure that the first look will be to Ray Rice.

Prediction: 65 yds Rush, 80 yds Rec, 1 TD

Willis McGahee, RB (Week 6: 3 yds Rush, 0 yds Rec, 0 TD)

Willis McGahee continues to be missing in action and presumed dead. No one is sure what’s going on behind the purple curtain in Owings Mills, but Willis is being denied a place in Cam Cameron’s game plan.  As in the game against the Vikings, there’s no logical explanation why, but he’s just disappeared entirely.  One would think that Willis is just poised for a breakout game but only God knows when and if that will happen.

Prediction: 40 yds Rush, 5 yds Rec,  1 TD

Todd Heap, TE (Week 6: 51 yds, 0 TD)

Heap has been playing OK football for the past several weeks. Long gone are the days in which he’s going to nab you 10 pts a game on average, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a serviceable fantasy option in a pinch.

Against the Broncos, Heap should likely factor heavily into the game plan. If the Broncos secondary does a good job of shutting down the wide receivers like they’ve done up to this point, Heap should be a prime target for receptions and targets. So long as Ray Rice isn’t picking off Heap’s receptions, he should have a productive day. The Broncos like to cover heavy on the outsides and rush the QB from the inside. That leaves the middle wide open for attack.

Prediction: 60 yds, 1 TD

Derrick Mason, WR (Week 6: 97 yds, 1 TD)

After being shutdown by the Bengals, Derrick Mason had a solid rebound day against the Vikings. His hands and dependability were the #1 reason why the Ravens had the chance to win the game as time expired. Against the Broncos, expect Derrick to be covered and swallowed up by Champ Bailey. Leon Hall is a good corner, but Champ is flat out great. I would be shocked if Derrick has numbers comparable to the game against the Vikings.

Prediction: 50 yds, 0 TD

Mark Clayton, WR (Week 6: 57 yds, 1 TD)

Sometime around the start of the 4th quarter in Minneapolis two weeks ago, Joe Flacco shrugged off the pain in his ankle, marched onto the field and decided, for the hell of it, to put on a clinic. He threw the ball all over the field, to every conceivable target. He was making completions like he was playing sandlot ball. Mark Clayton was lucky enough to be in the vicinity and made a couple of good solid grabs and even got into the end zone for a touchdown.

This week against the Broncos, Clayton should put up similar numbers assuming Joe can get the ball to him enough to make a difference.

Prediction: 50 yrds, 0 TD

Kelley Washington, WR (Week 6:48 yds, 0 TD)

Kelley Washington is struggling to find a place in the Ravens’ offense. He’s a solid wide receiver and can contribute a great deal when targeted, however, he has to do a better job of getting separation and getting open so Joe can get him the ball. Kelley is a tall fast receiver with good hands, he just has to work on his fundamentals and establish the trust necessary to become the go to guy.

Against the Bengals, look for Washington to have a decent day. If Mason is shut down as expected, he and Mark Clayton will have to step up and fill the void.

Prediction: 65 yrds, 0 TD

Steven Hauschka, K (Week 6: 4 PATs, 1/2 FG (29 yds)

Wide left… I keep seeing it in my nightmares. WIDE LEFT? The game is on the line, this is your one opportunity to make sure no one in Baltimore ever mentions the name Matt Stover ever again, and you blew it. Every loss the Ravens have suffered has come at the hands of a goat. Against the Patriots the goat was Clayton, against the Bengals the goat was Frank Walker… against the Vikings, the goat is Steve Hauschka. Ok now that we’ve said that, Hauschka will be a good kicker in this league. He’s young, he’s inexperienced, and he will make mistakes. He’s a dependable option for PATs on a high scoring offense, but Lord knows if you can count on him in the clutch. He’s an ok option if you can’t do better.

Prediction: 3 PATs, 1 FG (36 yds)

Defense (Week 6: 0 INT, 0 FF, 3 Sacks, 0 TD)

The Ravens’ Defense has officially becoming a glaring liability. They’ve been allowing play after play after play, and have exactly zero protection in the secondary. The big plays can and will continue to hurt this team unless they show significant signs of improvement.

That being said, Kyle Orton cannot throw the ball deep. If there is one team on Baltimore’s schedule whose offense is tailored made for this struggling defense, its Denver’s. Kyle Orton is relying very heavily on the run game and the short throw. If the Ravens can shore up their run defense, the linebackers will assuredly make life touch on Kyle Orton. However, unless Dominique Foxworth somehow magically manages to channel his old mentor (Champ Bailey), Brandon Marshallcould ding this team badly.

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