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

Prediction: NO 31, CAR 24 (Line: NO by 2)

Players to watch: Brandon LaFell, Louis Murphy, all Carolina Rushers

Updated Players: Steve Smith, Jonathan Stewart

The Saints lost their home opener to the Redskins in a game that just seemed destined to get away from them. The Panthers also come off a loss when their offense could do almost nothing in Tampa Bay where no defense was previously known to exist. The Saints swept the Panthers in 2011, winning 30-27 in Carolina and later 45-17 in New Orleans. The Saints look a little shakier than expected but should be plenty for the Panthers to handle.

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL -----
2 @CAR ----- 11 @OAK -----
3 KC ----- 12 SF -----
4 @GB ----- 13 @ATL -----
5 SD ----- 14 @NYG -----
6 BYE ----- 15 TB -----
7 @TB ----- 16 @DAL -----
8 @DEN ----- 17 CAR -----
9 PHI ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 350,3
RB Mark Ingram 40,1
RB Adrian Peterson 90,1 2-10
TE Coby Fleener 6-60,1

Pregame Notes: You knew it was going to be one of those games when Marques Colston lost a fumble that rolled out the back of the endzone for a touchback. Always close and never close enough against the Redskins who deserved some credit for bringing a whole team to the party. What was most troubling was a defense that already had plenty of distractions and defections thanks to Bountygate, and just could never stop the Redskins in any facet of their offense.

Drew Brees has his standard monster fantasy game but his passing alone is not enough to win. Troublesome too was the rushing effort that only gamed 32 yards on ten carries in a home game. Granted - the scoreboard forced the Saints to abandon the run sooner than later but there was little to no run support. Mark Ingram only gained 15 yards on six runs as the primary rusher. Darren Sproles salvaged what was nearly a disastrous game when he caught a touchdown late and ended with five catches for 35 yards. He had no rushing attempts and typically always had his best games at home last year. Hard to imagine that he only had five touches when Brees threw 52 passes in the game.

What is nicer about the passing offense - at least in fantasy terms - is that Brees has only relied on three receivers. Lance Moore (6-120, TD), Marques Colston (4-71) and Jimmy Graham (6-85, TD) accounted for all but eight completions and did all the damage to the Skins. That at least makes forecasting more straight forward than when Brees spreads the passes among all receivers equally. Colston almost scored last week too and the trio provides the core of this offense.

The Saints need to get a win to shake off that loss to the Skins and the Panthers should be just the ticket since their offense is struggling, The Panthers are already familiar and return the same players and offense from last year making it easier to prepare for them. If the Saints lose this one - every bad thing possible from Bountygate is starting to happen.

Gaining Fantasy Points NO 4 17 11 4 24 31
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 4 21 2 2 20 18

QB Drew Brees, NO @ATL 0000031031 ***
Brees connected on 36-for-54 passing for 376 yards, three TDs and an interception the last time out. Since Week 11, stats against the Falcons have amounted to this being an average opponent for quarterbacks to exploit.
RB Mark Ingram, NO @ATL 5004301000 ***
Ingram put up 20.7 PPR points in the early-season meeting between these teams. The veteran has four TDs in his last five games and should be used in all formats.
RB Travaris Cadet, NO @ATL 003301000 ***
Playing Cadet is a big risk. He has limited value in traditional formats and is best used in DFS with PPR scoring.
WR Ted Ginn, Jr., NO @ATL 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.
WR Michael Thomas, NO @ATL 006700000 ***
Thomas had a fine day in Week 3 against Atlanta, hauling in seven balls on 11 targets. He went for 71 yards and a score. The Falcons have given up only two TDs on the last 61 receiver catches entering Week 17.
WR Willie Snead IV, NO @ATL 005600000 ***
Snead faces a midrange matchup has has little fantasy utility without assuming a sizeable degree of risk. Atlanta is the 19th best PPR matchup for Week 17.
TE Coby Fleener, NO @ATL 005501000 ***
Fleener enjoyed one of his best fantasy games of the year versus Atlanta in Week 3, logging seven catches for 109 yards and a score. The Falcons have given up the 10th highest average of fantasy points in the last five weeks.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO @ATL 1133 ***
Atlanta has allowed the second fewest fantasy points, which correlates to providing the second fewest three-point kicks since Week 11.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 10-16 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
CAR vs NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 30,1 250,2
RB Jonathan Stewart 30 4-30
TE Ed Dickson 20
TE Greg Olsen 4-50,1

Pregame Notes: Last week was troubling on a number of fronts for the Panthers who wanted to take a step forward this year - not backwards. They had produced 183 rushing yards and four touchdowns in Tampa Bay last year and now come off a game where they only managed ten total rushing yards and no scores. That's more than a little drop-off and of more than a little concern.

Jonathan Stewart was unable to play but may suit up this week if his ankle heals enough. Updates as warranted on Stewart but err to the side of caution for now. DeAngelo Williams had the rare chance to run without any interference from Stewart and his six carries actually netted one less yard than Stewart gained sitting on the sideline. This was a very bad game and what was once the premier rushing team suddenly had no chance to advance the ball on the ground.

Cam Newton threw for 303 yards and a score but also had two interceptions. He never had a big game against the Saints in 2011 with never more than 224 passing yards and two scores. This will be a big test because DeAngelo Williams and Stewart combined for 135 rushing yards on just 15 carries against the visiting Saints last year and WIlliams scored once. Even Newton had a running touchdown though he gained just 27 yards as a rusher.

The good news - if there is any from a game with just ten points scored - is that the passing game looks a bit more diverse than "Where is Steve?". Sure, Smith ended with 106 yards on seven carries but Brandon LaFell caught the lone touchdown on his three receptions for 65 yards. Louis Murphy is the new #3 there and also caught three passes and gained 63 yards. It is encouraging that the wide receivers are all getting involved. But losing the entire rushing attack doesn't make this any great compensation.

Greg Olsen was the second most frequently used target last week when he caught six of his seven passes for 56 yards and he does look like he is taking the next step. He is worth monitoring to see if he really can deliver top ten tight end production with any consistency.

The Panthers picked a bad week to face the Saints who are smarting from last week. And scoring ten points will never work against a team like the Saints so the Carolina offense has to figure out what is wrong while the car is still doing 70 mph down the road. The defense is unlikely to stop the Saints but the more important part of this likely loss is what the offense does. If it struggles again like week one, then the Panthers may well be one of those two or three teams each season that just become inexplicably bad.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 20 31 8 18 29 28
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 31 25 27 11 31 17

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.
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.
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.
WR Russell Shepard, CAR @TB 002300000 ***
Trusting any receiver not named Mike Evans is merely a coin toss in fantasy. Shepard is wild flier in DFS only.
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.

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

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