FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 2
2012
* 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 Benjamin Watson 2-20

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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 4 17 11 4 24 31
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 4 21 2 2 20 18

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO @ATL 0000031021 ***
Brees posted fairly similar lines in his Week 14 (271-2-1) and Week 16 (239-1-1) lines in the two contests with the Falcons last year. The matchup is not ideal, with the Atlanta defense having held quarterbacks to 226 yards and a 1.5 TDs a game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alvin Kamara, NO @ATL 30010901000 ***
Kamara's worst game of 2017 came against the Falcons in Week 13 (5.7 PPR points). Two weeks later, eh was good for 16 points. He failed to score in either contest. The primary back this time out, Kamara should be a safer fantasy play. Atlanta has permitted the sixth-most receptions (9) and eighth-most yards (62) per contest in 2018.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Thomas, NO @ATL 00101001000 ***
Thomas went for 10-117-1 (27.7 PPR) in last year's Week 14 game against the Falcons, following it up with a 4-66-0 day in Week 16. Wideouts have posted three receptions for scores against this defense in the last two games, averaging 12.5 catches (18th) for 133 yards (24th) along the way.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ted Ginn Jr., NO @ATL 005600000 ***
The Falcons have been scored on three times by wideouts over the span of 25 receptions allowed. That is the only highlight of the matchup, on paper, as it soundly sits in the bottom half of the league based on data over the first two weeks. Ginn managed only 2.7 PPR points in Week 14 and returned to post 19 PPR in Week 16 last year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tre'quan Smith, NO @ATL 002300000 ***
Smith's role is too fringe at this time to utilize him with any confidence in fantasy lineups. Look for a better combination of ceiling-to-floor ratio.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Benjamin Watson, NO @ATL 004300000 ***
Atlanta has kept tight ends under wraps, giving up only eight catches for 62 yards and no scores over two weeks of play. Watson can be ignored.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO @ATL 3322 ***
Lutz made five fantasy points worth of kicks in the 2017, Week 14 game, adding 11 more in the meeting two weeks later. Atlanta has given up six total kicks (2 FGAs) in its first two games, checking in as the fourth-lowest possible points against.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
Grass
  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
WR Torrey Smith 3-60
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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 20 31 8 18 29 28
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 31 25 27 11 31 17

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Cam Newton, CAR CIN 50100028011 ***
Cincinnati has yielded the third-most yards per game (347.5) and two scores, on average, to quarterbacks. The TDs have come once every 17.8 completions, which is in the lower half of the league for exploitation ease. The Bengals have not allowed a rushing touchdown to passers, though they haven't faced a beast like Cam yet.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR CIN 50091000000 ***
McCaffrey has 18 carries and 20 receptions through two games, touchdown-less. Cincinnati has allowed running backs to catch nine passes (9th) for 72.5 yards (5th). None of the passes have scored. This is the third-worst matchup for rushing yardage and 11th-hardest for finding the end zone on the ground.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB C.J. Anderson, CAR CIN 400000000 ***
Anderson has thus far proven useless for fantasy purposes. Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton are overwhelmingly the preferred choices of this backfield's designs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Torrey Smith, CAR CIN 002301000 ***
Smith is merely a shot in the dark in any fantasy lineup. The veteran has a so-so matchup against a defense that sits 17th against WRs in standard scoring.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Funchess, CAR CIN 005600000 ***
Cincinnati falls into the neutral category for matchups after two weeks of data. The defense has permitted the seventh-most receptions but the fifth-lowest touchdown efficiency. Yardage-wise, it ranks 15th. Funchess is a better PPR play and is a flex consideration.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jarius Wright, CAR CIN 003300000 ***
Wright has carved out a nice role so far, but can gamers trust him in a lineup? It's a big question. Wright's 12 targets eclipse the 11 by Torrey Smith and D.J. Moore combined through two games. The matchup is just average this week, however. Wright is a coin flip.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DJ Moore, CAR CIN 003300000 **
Moore's lone NFL reception was a 51-yard touchdown, where he demonstrated his ability after the catch. The rookie has some upside due to his athletic skills, but counting on him is asking a bit much based on limited involvement. Cincy ranks in the middle of the pack vs. WRs.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR CIN 3322 ***
All four of the extra point kicks and four of the five field goal tries against the Bengals have been true. The nine total kicks rank as the 10th-highest combination.

WEEK 2
2012
* 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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