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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 30000023021 ***
The Bucs have allowed only three aerial strikes to seven interceptions since Week 11. One of the 20 carries by QBs against has scored. Overall, this is a negative-leaning matchup, but Tampa has stumbled two straight weeks. Newton missed the Week 5 contest.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR @TB 5001100000 ***
Tampa is a neutral matchup, having given up an offensive score per game in the last five to the position. Stewart missed the earlier contest with the Bucs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR @TB 005601000 ***
KB landed five of nine targets for 70 yards in Week 5. The big man has been mostly quiet this year, but he has a touch of upside in Week 17. Think WR2 area in PPR vs. the Bucs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ted Ginn, Jr., CAR @TB 004501000 ***
Ginn is a weekly flex flier, and the last time he played Tampa illustrates his risky ways. The veteran landed only one ball for five yards. Play him only if you are struggling to find a clearer path to points.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @TB 006700000 ***
Going back to Week 5 against the Bucs, Olsen creamed them with nine catches on 13 targets for 181 yards. The Tampa defense of his position hasn't allowed a score on the last 28 receptions faced.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @TB 1122 ***
The Buccaneers have allowed 14 field goal attempts (11 made) since Week 11, which is the fourth highest on a weekly tally. The position has kicked only seven extra points in the last five games versus 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 20000027011 ***
Carolina has given up seven touchdowns while picking off six balls in the last five games. This is a neutral matchup using data from that window. Winston managed only 219 yards and a TD in the Week 5 game vs. the Panthers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, TB CAR 9015400000 ***
Carolina has been a good place to find success for fantasy backs. In the last five games, the position has averaged a rushing TD per game and the second most receptions (6.8).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB CAR 0061001000 ***
He posted a 6-89-1 line in Week 5's meeting, and after a few quiet games, Evans was a help to gamers last week with 22.7 PPR points. The Panthers have given up a lot of yards and catches to receivers of late, but this is the second stingiest defense for allowing TDs. Evans should change that trend.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB CAR 004500000 ***
Humphries is a wildcard most any week, and the Panthers provide a top-10 matchup to exploit. You could do worse if the thought is finding a flex flier.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Russell Shepard, TB CAR 002300000 ***
Trusting any receiver not named Mike Evans is merely a coin toss in fantasy. Shepard is wild flier in DFS only.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Roberto Aguayo, TB CAR 3322 ***
The rookie has been pretty darn good over the last five weeks in comparison to his early-season woes. Carolina gave up the most field goal chances per game in the last five weeks, which helps propel this to being Week 17's best matchup for kickers.

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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