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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) *IND at CHI *PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC JAC at MIN *PIT at DEN *WAS at NO
*BUF at NYJ *MIA at HOU *SEA at ARI *CIN at BAL (MON)
*UPDATED *CAR at TB *NE at TEN SF at GB *SD at OAK (MON)

Prediction: CAR 31, TB 23 (Line CAR by 2.5)

Players Updated: Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith

Players to Watch: Brandon LaFell, Doug Martin, Dallas Clark, Greg Olsen

These divisional rivals traded spots last year when the Panthers were far better than anyone guessed while the once-promising Buccaneers dropped into the cellar with a ten game losing streak to end the year. Granted, even the Panthers were only 6-10 but provided fantasy fans with a major treat in Cam Newton. The Buccaneers swept the Panthers in 2010 but they swept Tampa Bay last year, winning 38-19 on the road and later 48-16 at home.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB ----- 10 DEN -----
2 NO ----- 11 TB -----
3 NYG ----- 12 @PHI -----
4 @ATL ----- 13 @KC -----
5 SEA ----- 14 ATL -----
6 BYE ----- 15 @SD -----
7 DAL ----- 16 OAK -----
8 @CHI ----- 17 @NO -----
9 @WAS ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: While it rarely translated into wins, there is no denying that the Panthers offense became much more potent and fantasy relevant with the addition of Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton. He not only played well, he set numerous records along the way not the least of which were passing for 4051 yards and rushing in 14 touchdowns. He also threw for 432 yards in a game and is one of only seven players to ever pass for over 400 yards in two consecutive games. He was a total package.

What we need to see this year is if he will follow all other quarterbacks who rushed in more than 10 scores in a season since they all took a deep plunge the following year. None had more than five and most only had one or two. Newton also slowed down in his passing yardage later in the year when his final six games only produced one week with more than 210 passing yards.

Newton's rushing yards and score mostly came in addition to what Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams were producing. Both runners still had decent seasons in 2011 with Williams (155-836-7) the better runner than Stewart (142-761-4) but then Stewart (47-413-1) was a better receiver than Williams (16-135). Put their numbers together and you have a Super Back. But split them in two and you have marginal fantasy players. Nothing has changed here.

Nothing has changed in the receivers as well which is a mild surprise. Steve Smith rejuvenated his career with 1394 yards and seven touchdowns but his final eight games were far less than the first half of the season. That mirrored the drop in Newton's passing stats. Brandon LaFell is the one to watch in this offense as he enters his third season and was connecting better with Newton later last season. With Steve Smith already 33 years old, someone else needs to be there to take over in the next few seasons. Louis Murphy has been added to be the #3 but there's no fantasy value there.

With less than spectacular receivers at hand, Greg Olsen could be poised for a big year and has the confidence from his coaches that he can be an elite tight end on par with the Gronks and Grahams of the world. That remains to be seen and he only had 45 catches for 540 yards and five scores in his first year in Carolina. it is possible for a sixth year tight end to break out but it would be a major step up for a player who rarely had more than 50 yards in any game last year. To his advantage, the Panthers parted ways with Jeremy Shockey so there are theoretically 455 yards and four scores to distribute to other tight ends now.

On the road, this should still be a win for the Panthers who had no problems handling the Buccaneers last season. Worst stat of them all - Tampa Bay was ranked 32nd against running backs last year and only 28th against quarterbacks. Now they face both in Cam Newton.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 4 16 22 6 19 23
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 28 32 16 11 24 29

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Cam Newton, CAR TB 60100017010 ***
Cam was lousy in the Week 8 contest at Tampa. This go-around, he has thrown just one pick since that contest and has a pair of four-TD games mixed in with a pair of outings in which he failed to throw a scoring strike. Tampa Bay has permitted 271.8 yards (4th) per outing but also has the fifth-strongest defense for touchdown efficiency.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR TB 6015300000 ***
Tampa is not a great matchup on paper for receiving backs (30th in receptions), though it is the best place to find a rushing score. The rookie has a spot in all lineups this week, even though he was good for just 9.8 PPR points in the last match with Tampa. This time around, the Bucs are facing several key injuries on defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, CAR TB 701000000 **
Only the Colts have yielded more rushing yards a game than the Redskins in the past five weeks, and it is by the nose of the football ... maybe even an index card's width. Anderson gashed those very Colts last week and could shine again in the title round. This is the 19th-best matchup for a ground score, and Paxton Lynch figures to start, so there's a little bit of risk.

Update: It looks like Brock Osweiler will start instead of Lynch.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Funchess, CAR TB 003501000 ***
Funchess (shoulder) is playing hurt but has remained productive-ish with two TDs in his last three games on only eight catches. In Week 8, he went for a 2-11-0 line on six looks vs. Tampa. The Buccaneers have given up 202.2 yards on 15 receptions per game (both No. 2 in the league) since Week 10, allowing a TD every 12.5 snags (14th).

Update: Funchess sat Wednesday and Thursday before returning to a limited session Friday. He probably will play, but gamers should check the inactives to be safe.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, CAR TB 001200000 ***
Smith has not been enough of a factor to consider him as anything more than the wildest of flex gambles for deeeeeeep leagues.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR TB 005600000 ***
Olsen proved he was healthy in Week 14 by playing 92 percent of the offensive snaps, and he was no worse for wear during the week. In Week 15, he put it together for a 26.6-point PPR day. The veteran missed the earlier meeting and was good for 12 catches, 203 yards and no scores in two games last season. Furthermore, the Bucs are beaten up on defense right now.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR TB 1144 ***
This is a top-five matchup for extra point chances but only 15th for the more valuable three-point attempts. Kickers have averaged a moderate 7.6 fantasy points a game vs. the Bucs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CAR ----- 10 SD -----
2 @NYG ----- 11 @CAR -----
3 @DAL ----- 12 ATL -----
4 WAS ----- 13 @DEN -----
5 BYE ----- 14 PHI -----
6 KC ----- 15 @NO -----
7 NO ----- 16 STL -----
8 @MIN ----- 17 @ATL -----
9 @OAK ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster

Pregame Notes: The Bucs entered 2011 full of hope after a promising 2010 but it all fell apart almost in indescribable ways. What once worked no longer did and Josh Freeman went from passing for 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions to only scoring 16 times via the pass and yet throwing 22 interceptions. A new offense and coaching staff seeks to change that this season with Eli Manning's old coach now calling plays. Freeman seemed poised for a big breakout that never happened in 2011. He seeks to resume his progress of 2010.

This time around he'll have better receivers. Mike Williams is back after following Freeman's lead and taking a very encouraging rookie season (65-964-11) and then falling back to only 65-771-3 for 2011. He'll be across from Vincent Jackson who signed a five-year deal worth $55 million to become the stud wideout that Williams was unable to become. Both wideouts have big production in their past and need to mesh with Freeman to bring that back. Preston Parker remains the #3 that has no fantasy significance. The success of the passing effort revolves around Jackson and Williams.

Kellen Winslow left so that he could be cut by the Seahawks and he is replaced by Dallas Clark. He's been healthy all summer unlike any given month for the last two years and the coaching staff is excited that he looks like he is back to the form that made him an elite tight end once upon a time in Indianapolis. Even last year Kellen Winslow ended with 75 catches for 763 yards and two scores in Tampa Bay. Clark is worth watching to see if he can once again become a TE1 at a very cheap price to you.

The Buccaneers also gave up on Legarrette Blount at the end of last year and drafted Doug Martin who has easily won the primary back duty. Martin has been impressive in camp and preseason games and should bring a more complete back to the Bucs than Blount who had no role in the passing game as a receiver or blocker. Rookie backs have a spotty history in recent years but Martin is in a very good situation with a nice schedule.

The Buccaneers should be improved this year but in week one it is a bit much to expect it all to come together instantly. They will put up a better fight than in 2011 and may even challenge the Panthers in week 11 but expect a lower effort while the packaging and duct tape is taken off all the new parts of the offense and defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 14 27 21 15 23 20
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 24 31 11 22 25 15

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Jameis Winston, TB @CAR 20000021012 ***
Winston's Week 8 game against the Panthers was his worst fantasy effort with more than 13 attempts this year. Over the past five weeks, Carolina has been slaughtered by the position. No team has been worse, in fact. In those contests, quarterbacks averaged 286.5 yards (2nd) and a TD every 10.8 connections (4th).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Peyton Barber, TB @CAR 4002200000 **
Barber probably will see the majority of the touches, though he has a matchup that isn't too appealing. Carolina has given up a TD every 25.3 totes since Week 10, which is good for ninth. Otherwise, every other notable fantasy determinant is in the bottom half of the league.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB @CAR 007700000 ***
No team has provided receivers more receptions (15.8), yards (204.5), standard fantasy points (31.1) and PPR points (43) per outing than the Panthers in the past five weeks. Evans caught 50 percent of his Week 8 targets for a 5-60-0 line vs. Carolina.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB @CAR 004500000 ***
Humphries could see a few more looks if D-Jax doesn't play. Even then, his role is limited. Despite the upside of the best matchup of the week, starting him is tough to justify.

Update: Jackson will not play in Week 16.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Cameron Brate, TB @CAR 006601000 ***
Carolina presents a so-so matchup -- tough on receptions, easier on allowing scores -- for Brate. His role will be increased by the severity of O.J. Howard's injury, one that has landed him on IR.

Update: Brate (hip, knee) is questionable and was limited in practice all week. He's a gametime decision.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, TB @CAR 2222 ***
The Chargers present the fourth-worst matchup for each of FGAs per game, fantasy points per contest, combined kicking chances and possible fantasy points since Week 10.

WEEK 1
2012
DAL at NYG (WED) IND at CHI PHI at CLE STL at DET
ATL at KC JAC at MIN PIT at DEN WAS at NO
BUF at NYJ MIA at HOU SEA at ARI CIN at BAL (MON)
  CAR at TB NE at TEN SF at GB SD at OAK (MON)

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