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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 50100027020 ***
Cam left you high and dry last week, throwing for 120 yards and three TDs less against the Falcons than he did just two weeks previous. Using the same math he'll be good for four yards and negative-one TD in this rematch with the Bucs. He should outperform that as Carolina needs a win to hang on to home field advantage and the Bucs have served up QB multiple scores in nine of the last dozen games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Cameron Artis-Payne, CAR TB 6001100000 ***
Artis-Payne is sharing touches with Fozzy Whittaker, and there's a chance Jonathan Stewart returns to action as well. Mix in a Bucs defense that hasn't allowed a rusher to top 88 yards since Week 3--and only three RB rushing scores since then--and there's not nearly a big enough pie to feed any Panther back this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Funchess, CAR TB 004601000 ***
Funchess totaled eight grabs for 87 yards in the past month before being shut out last week. Tough to trust him with a fantasy start here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Philly Brown, CAR TB 003500000 ***
Brown is the only non-Ted Ginn Panthers receiver with a fantasy helper in the past month, but it's debatable as to whether there will be enough passing game production to float more than one WR boat in Carolina this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR TB 007801000 ***
Carolina's top target was held to 2-28 by the Bucs in the earlier meeting. After giving up big games to Jordan Reed (11-72-2) and Jacob Tamme (10-103-1) in Weeks 7 and 8, the Bucs haven't surrendered a TE TD. Find a little upside in Olsen's typical volume and the fact that a tight end has topped 60 yards in three straight against the Bucs.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR TB 2244 ***
Four field goals allowed
in three of the last five games
Go Gano vs. 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 20000020012 ***
Volume begats at least modest success against Carolina's pass D, as the last four QBs with 40 or more attempts have all thrown multiple TDs as well. Winston threw for 287 and 2 on 43 attempts in the previous meeting, but he's only been in the 40s or higher twice all season so temper expectations accordingly.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Charles Sims, TB @CAR 2004301000 ***
Sims scored a receiving TD in the earlier meeting with Carolina as Bucs RBs compiled 67 receiving yards. And the Panthers are just a couple weeks removed from Shane Vereen's 8-43-1 receiving line against them. Sims tallied a receiving score last week and has 12-158 receiving over the past three games, so there's PPR and performance upside in this matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Doug Martin, TB @CAR 5001100000 ***
Martin rushed for 106 yards and a TD in the earlier meeting with Carolina, and as he's still very much in contention for the rushing title he'll get plenty of carries. Asking for another hundo is optimistic, however.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Mike Evans, TB @CAR 003300000 ***
Evans mustered 3-32 against Josh Norman and the Panthers in the earlier meeting while Vincent Jackson went off for 10-147-1 on 15 targets. No VJax this week means more Norman for Evans; he still might be force-fed targets, but the upside is limited by Carolina's pass defense.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Adam Humphries, TB @CAR 002300000 ***
The upside would be Humphries capitalizing on Carolina's focus on Mike Evans and having the kind of day Vincent Jackson had (10-147-1) against the Panthers. The more likely outcome is another non-fantasy helper for a tertiary Tampa Bay target.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Donteea Dye, TB @CAR 001300000 ***
While Vincent Jackson's absence opens a door, Dye has yet to top one catch in a game so he's not rushing through that opening any time soon.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB @CAR 002200000 ***
ASJ was absent for the earlier meeting with Carolina; now he's back, with 22 targets in the past month and touchdowns in each of the past two games. The Panthers haven't given up as much as 50 yards to a TE since Week 10, only two TE TDs in that span, so lower expectations accordingly.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Connor Barth, TB @CAR 3311 ***
Kickers average
Four points per game vs. Panthers
last two months; stay away!

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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