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 Pierre Thomas 20 3-20
WR Marques Colston 5-80,1
WR Robert Meachem 3-30
TE Jimmy Graham 7-80,1
TE Benjamin Watson 2-20
PK Shayne Graham 3 FG 2 XP

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 @DET 0000027011 ****
Some might consider it overcoaching, but there are certainly reasons to be wary of Brees this week: road game, staunch opponent, no Jimmy Graham. That said, he's delivered multiple touchdowns on a consistent basis. Plus, if Kyle Orton can throw for 300 yards in Detroit there's no logical reason Brees can't do the same.
RB Pierre Thomas, NO @DET 3014300000 *
If you must start a Saints back this week, Thomas has the most upside given his role as the pass-catcher. It's still not a favorable matchup, but at least Thomas isn't banging heads inside with Ndamukong Suh.
RB Mark Ingram, NO @DET 400000000 *
The expectation is that Ingram returns to his pre-injury gig, which consisted of roughly half of the New Orleans rushing attempts. That's enough to be a fantasy factor when the matchup is favorable; this matchup isn't, and since we don't know for sure Ingram regains his former role you should ease him back into your fantasy lineup--as in, maybe look elsewhere for help this week.
RB Khiry Robinson, NO @DET 300000000 *
With the return of Mark Ingram the Saints' backfield is once again a three-ring circus. The matchup with Detroit isn't favorable to begin with; divide those numbers by three and you get a whole lot of fantasy bench fodder.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @DET 007800000 **
Plenty of targets, but Cooks hasn't seen the end zone since Week 1 and is a difficult start against a Detroit secondary that's allowed but two WR TDs all year.
WR Marques Colston, NO @DET 005400000 ***
What's more unexpected, that the Saints have only scored two WR TDs this year or that the Lions have only given up two WR TDs this year? With Jimmy Graham out maybe Colston gets a few more looks, but given the Lions' defensive prowess this year--as well as Drew Brees' penchant for spreading the ball around--best look elsewhere for fantasy help.
TE Josh Hill, NO @DET 004501000 *
No Jimmy Graham means the Saints will use a combo platter of Hill and Ben Watson. If there's a weak spot to this Detroit D it's tight ends, who have scored more touchdowns against the Lions than wide receivers and as many as running backs. Hill's been in the end zone this season twice already, so he gets the nod to return over Watson.
Update: Graham is listed as questionable; if he's active he'll get the looks and you can relegate Hill to the bench.
TE Benjamin Watson, NO @DET 003400000 **
Jimmy Graham or no the tight end is a major part of the New Orleans offense. The Saints have used Watson and Josh Hill in Graham's absence, with Hill the more likely bet to score. However, don't rule out Watson at least getting you some catches and yardage against a Detroit defense that has struggled to defend the position this season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO @DET 2222 ***
A perfect Week 5 and the bye have put distance between Graham and a couple of shanks, so his job tacking on points for a quality offense looks secure. That said, it's a tough matchup and the Saints tend to score less on the road so there are better options available.

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
RB DeAngelo Williams 40 2-20
WR Jason Avant 2-20
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 @GB 50100024022 ***
Cam without the running is merely ordinary. But take a decent passing outing and tack on a top running back's stats and now he's Superman again. Green Bay has already allowed a couple rushing scores on the year and 49 rushing yards to Ryan Tannehill last week, suggesting Cam's combo platter is set for big things again this week.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR @GB 5001000000 ***
Update: Stewart is listed as probable, so he'll evidently drag his oft-injured carcass around for as many snaps as his brittle legs will hold him. He's been unreliable in the past, tough to bank on him here.
RB Darrin Reaves, CAR @GB 00000000 ***
Reaves has been utterly ordinary thus far, and nothing suggests he'll bust out against Green Bay this week. Plus, Cam is back to swiping scores so the fantasy potential of all Carolina RBs takes a hit.
Update: With Jonathan Stewart expected to play, Reaves goes on the way-back burner.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR @GB 005701000 **
Benjamin's an every-week fantasy starter and the most likely of any Carolina wideout to accumulate helpful fantasy numbers.
WR Jerricho Cotchery, CAR @GB 004600000 ***
10 targets last week suggests Cotchery might be in line for a larger share of Carolina's passing game pie; however, all Cotchery could do with those 10 targets was 58 yards and no scores. So... as you were.
WR Jason Avant, CAR @GB 002300000 ***
Avant is the only Carolina wideout besides Kelvin Benjamin to find the end zone this year, and against a Green Bay defense that's allowed multiple WRs to score in two of the past three games that suggests he has an opportunity here. Still, it's a pretty slim opportunity.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @GB 005501000 ***
The Pack have yet to allow a TE TD, but Olsen is such an integral part of the Carolina passing attack he can bust any trend. He's scored in four of six and is an every-week starter in TE-mandatory formats.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @GB 2233 ***
Green Bay hasn't allowed multiple field goals--or an opposing kicker to top six points--since the season opener. Those are tough odds for Gano to buck.

* 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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