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 Kendall Hunter 40 2-10
RB Mark Ingram 40,1
RB C.J. Spiller 80 6-40,1
TE Coby Fleener 6-60,1
PK Josh Scobee 1 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 @ATL 0000027010 ***
Who needs an intact plantar fascia? Not Brees, who has 753 passing yards and six TDs over the past two games, most of that time spent with the injury. He's vowed to play again this week, though it won't be easy against an Atlanta defense that's held five straight visiting QBs under 220 yards and given up a total of four passing TDs in those five games.
RB Tim Hightower, NO @ATL 9013400000 ***
Mark Ingram scored twice as the Saints' feature back in the earlier meeting with Atlanta, and Hightower scored twice last week--with 169 combo yards to boot--in that same role. Bodes well for a strong fantasy finish for Hightower.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @ATL 004500000 ***
Cooks has 100 yards and a touchdown in three of his last four, but the Falcons held him in check (4-41) in the earlier meeting and have been solid against WRs of late as well so temper expectations accordingly.
WR Willie Snead, NO @ATL 003400000 ***
Snead has some PPR upside, but he was held to just 4-55 in the earlier meeting and the Falcons have not given up much to secondary targets--only once in the past 10 games have two receivers from the same team scored and/or topped 60 yards in the same game.
TE Coby Fleener, NO @ATL 002200000 *
The last time Fleener was fantasy relevant none of the Colts' current quarterbacks were even a gleam in Indy's eye. Nothing to see here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Kai Forbath, NO @ATL 1122 ***
Saints scoring plenty,
and Forbath getting his share;
highest O/U, too

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
WR Stephen Hill 4-70
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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

* 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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