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
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 SEA 0000028031 ***
Following dominant defensive efforts versus Ryan Tannehill, Case Keenum, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick, Seattle may have shown its true colors against Matt Ryan (29 fantasy points) and Carson Palmer (342 yards). Brees is arguably the best quarterback this unit has faced in 2016. Don't be scared by the name value of Seattle.
RB Mark Ingram, NO SEA 4004301000 ***
Only two of the last 119 touches by running backs have gone for a score against the Seahawks. This helps contribute to a bottom-10 rating with just 21.0 PPR points per game allowed. Ingram is a low-end RB2.
WR Michael Thomas, NO SEA 005601000 ***
Thomas has become a fantasy monster lately, checking in as the sixth overall receiver in per-game figures since Week 2. Three of his 26 catches have scored, and that's in four games worth of work. Seattle has allowed the 16th most fantasy points to receivers in this time. This unit is not bullet-proof.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO SEA 006800000 ***
Seattle has shown vulnerabilities against receivers over the past five weeks. Cooks is a fine play and can break one each time he touches the ball. Don't be scared off by the name value of Seattle.
WR Willie Snead IV, NO SEA 004600000 ***
Snead has dipped out of the top 50 of per-game fantasy receiving points in the last five weeks. He has fringe PPR appeal because of the heavy dosage of bye weeks.
TE Coby Fleener, NO SEA 005701000 ***
Seattle ranks as a strong defense of tight ends, but none of this year's opponents have used the position enough to matter at all ... MIA, LA, SF, NYJ, ATL, ARI ... this one screams fake reading. Fleener is a fine play while Seattle's secondary focuses on all of these dangerous receivers.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO SEA 2133 ***
Seattle is a tough matchup -- the fourth worst -- for Lutz, who is a midrange option based on the number of bye teams.

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 ARI 40100024012 ***
Cam accounted for 335 passing yards and four offensive TDs in their playoff meeting last year. A lot has changed since that game, and Newton takes on fantasy's toughest defense of QBs in the past five weeks. Arizona has allowed five offensive TDs in those five games.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR ARI 5001100000 ***
J-Stew should be healthy after a break and takes on a Cardinals' D that has given up three rushing scores in its last five games. Overall, though, this is a harsh matchup.
WR Philly Brown, CAR ARI 004500000 ***
This a bottom-barrel matchup for receivers, one who resides there on his side of the coin.
WR Ted Ginn, Jr., CAR ARI 003500000 ***
Ginn is a wild flier any week and is better in non-PPR leagues. This is a brutal matchup, but we have six bye teams.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR ARI 003400000 ***
Patrick Peterson should follow Benjamin and lock it down. The dynamic receiver is a playable option but with a low ceiling.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR ARI 006701000 ***
Olsen is the top tight end in the past five weeks using PPR scoring. The Cards rate as the toughest opponent over this time, including a 5-53-0 day from Jimmy Graham last week.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR ARI 1122 ***
Only two teams have been harder on PKs in the past five weeks, and Gano rates as the worst fantasy foot over this time.

* 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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