Fantasy Forecast: Week 9


Welcome to week nine 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.

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

November 8, 2009, 1:05 pm Cincinnati, OH

Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy

Joe Flacco, QB (Week 8: 175 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT)

It wasn’t spectacular, it wasn’t flashy, but good Lord was it efficient. Joe Flacco commanded his offense brilliantly and did not fail to complete a pass in the latter half of the game as he led his team to a much needed victory. Flacco is quickly showing us what he is likely to become over the course of his career. He has the capability to put up big numbers, and will often do so, but when the situation calls for it he reverts back into his game manger persona and chews up the field.

Against the Broncos, Joe needed to be efficient and control the clock. That sort of mindset isn’t going to throw up the big fantasy points. Conversely against the Vikings, Joe was down big and had to throw the ball every which was but loose to get his team back in the game. That led to 380 yards and three touchdowns.

Joe is a good quarterback and a solid fantasy option. This week he faces the 28th ranked pass defense in the NFL. Assuming Cam doesn’t stick to a slow the ball down running attack, Joe should be poised to have a big day offensively.

Prediction: 250 yds, 2 TD

Ray Rice, RB (Week 8: 84 yds Rush, 24 yds Rec, 1 TD)

When Ray Rice was drafted, the Ravens envisioned him to be more or less what he was in college; a straight ahead runner with good explosiveness between the tackles. What they got was a whole other animal all together. Ray Rice is one of the top all around offensive weapons in the NFL, he has speed, great vision, and superior hands. Smart and savvy players who managed to pick him up in later rounds of the draft have used him to decimate their opponents week in and week out.

If you have him he’s a must start this week against the Bengals. Cincy has a solid rush defense, but their pass coverage is a tad suspect. I’d look for Ray to have another strong showing this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, perhaps not on the ground, but definitely through the air.

Prediction: 50 yds Rush, 80 yds Rec, 1 TD

Willis McGahee, RB (Week 8: -1 yds Rush, 4 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 Broncos, 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: 20 yds Rush, 10 yds Rec, 0 TD

Le’Ron McClain, FB/RB (Week 8: 31 yds Rush, 0 yds Rec, 0 TD)

Welcome back to the land of Fantasy Football relevance Le’Ron, you were sorely missed. Once the Denver defense had been fully worn down by Flacco’s punishing no huddle ofense, Le’Ron came into to truck down the last remaining energy they had left to fight.

It remains to be seen whether this was an aberration, or a sign of things to come, but for the time being Le’Ron should not be on your bench, nor on any team in your league (for now).

Prediction: 20 yds Rush, 5 Yds Rec, 0 TD)

Todd Heap, TE (Week 8: 16 yds, 0 TD)

There really isn’t much to add about Todd Heap that I didn’t already say last week, so I’ll just repeat myself with one caveat. 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 Bengals, Heap should probably have a pretty solid outing. The Broncos pass coverage unit is not the best, but their linebackers are solid. They’re adept at shutting down the short throws, which does not favor Heap, but if they’re drawn back to cover Washington, Mason and Clayton, Heap could be poised to have a breakout game.

Prediction: 45 yds, 1 TD

Derrick Mason, WR (Week 8: 40 yds, 1 TD)

Derrick Mason returned to form in his last two games against the broncos and Vikings respectively. Although he was shut out by the Bengals (whom he faces this week) there is no reason to suspect the same will happen as Baltimore makes the trip into Paul Brown Stadium. Mason is the consummate professional and will not tolerate another zero reception game. Leon Hall is a damn fine cornerback, but there is no way in heaven or on earth that Derrick Mason will be contained for all 60 minutes as he was three weeks ago.

Prediction: 60 yds, 1 TD

Mark Clayton, WR (Week 8: 33 yds, 0 TD)

Clayton has filled into his role as the number two receiver on this team. He’s never going to throw up huge fantasy umbers, but then again, unless you’re in the deepest of deep fantasy leagues he’s not even sniffing your bench let alone making a case for a starting spot.

The Bengals cannot cover the pass very well outside of about 20 yards. If Clayton can find a way to get separation and stay open, Flacco should reward him handsomely with any number of targets.

Prediction: 45 yrds, 1 TD

Kelley Washington, WR (Week 8: 58 yds, 0 TD)

After struggling a bit against the Bengals and Vikings respectively, Kelley Washington had a solid game as slot receiver against the Denver Broncos. Kelley has good hands and good vision, not to mention the fact that he’s 6’4, which allows him to catch some of Joe Flacco’s rainbow shots down the field. All of this adds up to him growing into a solid weapon of choice for his young QB. This will be Kelley’s first trip back to Cincinnati since his playing days there as a young Bengal. Hopefully that will add some much needed incentive to come up with the big plays.

Prediction: 65 yrds, 0 TD

Steven Hauschka, K (Week 8: 4 PATs, 1/2 FG (29 yds)

After a devastating game against the Vikings, Hauschka recovered nicely and went a very solid 3/3 on FG’s including a long 44 yarder which cost the Ravens the game in Minneapolis.

Against the Bengals, one would expect at least 2 FG’s out of young Hauschka, but beware the pressure of a division game if the score is close with little time remaining. He’s choked once badly, there’s no reason to think he may not do it again.

Prediction: 3 PATs, 2 FG (36/40 yds)

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

Last week against the Broncos, the Ravens’ Defense came buckled down and ready to play. Swarming all over the field, the unit resembled the fabled defenses of old and held the normally explosive Denver to 7 total points (gained largely in part to a series of defensive miscues).

Against the Bengals, proceed with more caution. Kyle Orton is no Carson Palmer. Chicago has a defense very similar to Baltimore’s and the Bengals torched them for 41 points. If the Ravens aren’t careful this could be a long day for them as well.

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