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Fantasy Forecast: Week 16

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Welcome to week sixteen 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 Pittsburgh Steelers

December 27, 2009, 1:05 pm Pittsburgh, PA

Weather Forecast: Cold/Wind/Snow

Joe Flacco, QB (Week 15: 234 yds, 4 TD, 0 INT)

Another solid outing from Joe Flacco against less than stellar opposition. We all knew the Chicago Bears were toothless, but Flacco looked all world against the struggling secondary. Good quarterbacks beat the teams they are supposed to beat.

Playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh is a horse of a different color. They aren’t the bears, they aren’t the Lions, they are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the dreadnaughts of the AFC North. Like it or not, they are the perennial power in this division and they cannot stand the thought of Baltimore making the playoffs. The last time these two teams meet at Heinz Field, theSuperbowl was up for grabs. This time the prize is far less grand, but make no mistake, these two teams would fight to the death over a nickel and a piece of chewed bubble gum.

I’d like to say that this is the defining moment for Joe Flacco, that this is the moment where he assumes the mantle of savior and leads the team past Pittsburgh and into the playoffs for the second straight year. But from a fantasy standpoint I just don’t see it happening. I’ve been wrong before and I hope to be wrong this weekend, but I would not advise starting Joe Flacco this weekend.

Prediction: 150 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT

Ray Rice, RB (Week 15: 87 yds Rush, 17 yds Rec, 0 TD)

I have to give credit where credit is due. The Chicago Bears were absolutely prepared for Ray Rice and the Baltimore rushing attack. No matter what the Ravens threw their way, the Bears had an answer for it, and largely held Ray Rice and Willis McGahee to ineffective outings (despite a strong 1st quarter from Rice).

Against the Steelers, the Ravens will need Rice in order to win. As goes Ray, so goes the Ravens. I think he’ll have a solid game, but it will not be the barn storming effort we’ve grown accustomed to seeing this year.

Prediction: 60 yds Rush, 40 yds Rec, 1 TD

Willis McGahee, RB (Week 15: 9 yds Rush, 13 yds Rec, 0 TD)

For my analysis of last week’s game against the Bears, please see Rice, Ray.

This week against the Steelers I think Willis reverts back to his goal line role unless Ray Rice is struggling to get his footing during the early portion of the game. If you need a little fantasy boost to get over the hump in your semi-final or championship game, I think Willis will be good for low yardage but at least one TD.

Prediction: 30 yds Rush, 15 yds Rec, 1 TD

Le’Ron McClain, FB/RB (Week 15: 6 yds Rush, 0 yds Rec, 0 TD)

Like the rest of the Ravens’ core of running backs, Le’Ron couldn’t get much going last Sunday against the Bears.

Once again I don’t expect big things this week from Le’Ron, but I do think that due to the weather and the fact that it’s the Steelers, the Ravens will be running the ball until their legs fall off. Le’Ron will block for Ray and Willis, but could see the endzone on a long shot.

Prediction: 10 yds Rush, 5 Yds Rec, 0 TD)

Todd Heap, TE (Week 15: 56 yds, 2 TD)

I completely dropped the ball on Heap in last week’s fantasy analysis. But that just goes to show you how unpredictableCam Cameron’s offense can be in the latter portion of the season. Playing through the pain Heap had a season high 56 yards and two touchdowns. His play was absolutely stellar.

Against the Steelers, Heap will play through the pain once more, but I don’t expect the same huge numbers out of him that he had against the Bears.

Prediction: 40 yds, 0 TD

Derrick Mason, WR (Week 15: 87 yds, 1 TD)

Mason had another huge day against the Bears. His catch and touchdown at the goal line was a thing of absolute beauty. He is an invaluable part of this offense, and is perhaps one of the most underrated wide receivers of the decade.

Against the Steelers I’d expect good numbers out of Mason. He’s the Ravens number one offensive receiving threat so he’ll need to be a factor for the Ravens to win. I think the wind will again play a major factor in the Ravens game plan, but I still like his odds of + yardage and a score.

Prediction: 80 yds, 1 TD

Mark Clayton, WR (Week 15: 0 yds, 0 TD)

Clayton did not play due to injury in last week’s game against the Bears. He is listed as doubtful for this week’s game against the Steelers.

Prediction: 0 yrds, 0 TD

Kelley Washington, WR (Week 14: 0 yds, 0 TD)

Washington did not play due to injury in last week’s game against the Lions. He is listed as doubtful for this week’s game against the Bears.

Prediction: 0 yrds, 0 TD

Demetrius Williams, WR (Week 15: 71 yds, 1 TD)

Another solid effort from Demetrius Williams once again shows us all the potential the scouting staff saw in him. The kid has +speed, good vision, and  is tall enough to beat most corners one on one. If he can remain at this consistent level, he could be the answer the Ravens have been waiting for. However, his history of injuries and suspect hands have some of us worried about over reliance.

For Fantasy sake though, if you need a wide receiver for your final game (or two), you could do a lot worse than Demetrius Williams. He’ll be available in almost all leagues and should be poised for a good game against Pittsburgh who has been hemorrhaging yardage to big wide receivers lately.

Predicition: 75 yds, 2 TD

Billy Cundiff, K (Week 15: 4 PAT, 1/2 FG (40 yds)

Billy Cundiff is once again a solid option at kicker, especially this week against the Steelers. In the poor weather, Cundiff kicked like an old pro and helped lead the Ravens to a dominant victory against the Lions and the Bears. Against the Steelers I still like Cundiff, but the high wind warnings in affect do tend to worry me about his production.

Prediction: 2 PATs, 3 FG (30/20/15 yds)

Defense (Week 15: 4 INT, 3 FF, 2 Sack, 0 TD)

I know the Baltimore Defense looked great against Chicago. But let’s get this straight. Pittsburgh is better than Chicago. Couple that with the natural rivalry between these two teams, and this is a whole new ballgame. The other X-Factor is the mounting Ravens injuries. Lardarius Webb being the latest casualty. Nothing about this matchup smells good to me. If you’re championship is on the line, then I don’t think you should be starting the Baltimore Defense. There are many other options currently available that will put you in a better position to win.


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