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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 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.

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 @SD 0000034020 ***
A cross-country trip to play outdoors is mildly unnerving, but Brees gets to attack his former employer -- and it doesn't hurt this group has allowed the second most aerial yards and fourth highest fantasy points total to the position.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO @SD 6014200000 ***
San Diego has been pounded on the ground and bombarded through the air by running backs. This is the sixth strongest matchup for fantasy production, and Ingram must be in all conventional lineups.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandin Cooks, NO @SD 0071101000 ***
Cooks is a must-play and has to be licking his chops after watching what T.Y. Hilton -- a similar receiver -- did to San Diego in Week 3. Cooks faces a Chargers defense that now ranks as the 15th toughest against his position.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Coleman, NO @SD 006700000 ***
Coleman's fantasy worth is directly tied to whether Willie Snead suits up. Check back Friday.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Thomas, NO @SD 005700000 ***
Thomas has proven to know the system well and display great body control. He's a WR3 PPR weapon in all leagues. San Diego has yielded 13 WR receptions per game this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Willie Snead IV, NO @SD 00000000 *
Snead sat out last week. Check back to see if he's likely to play in Week 4.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, NO @SD 006701000 ***
No team has given up more catches to tight ends than San Diego. Fleener more than made up for his quiet start to the season with a studly performance in Week 3. Only he stands in his way of another brilliant showing.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO @SD 1133 ***
The Chargers aren't a great matchup statistically, so this one comes down to game flow. Kickers have averaged only 6.3 fantasy points on the backs of 4-for-5 FGAs and 7-for-7 XPAs.

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
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.

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 @ATL 30100030030 ***
After three picks and no touchdown passes last week, Newton stands at five touchdown passes with as many interceptions on the season. The Falcons host Carolina and give him a shot a redemption. No team has been victimized more by quarterbacks than Atlanta. No team has given up more TD passes (10).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Fozzy Whittaker, CAR @ATL 2005400000 ***
Looking for a sly PPR play? Whittaker, the third-down weapon in Carolina's backfield, could be the beneficiary of Atlanta's terrible pass defense of the position. Running backs have posted 28 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns against this group.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Cameron Artis-Payne, CAR @ATL 4001100000 ***
Artis-Payne is better in non-PPR scoring and has an outside shot at finding the end zone this week. Atlanta has allowed 301 yards and two scores on the ground to the position.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR @ATL 006801000 ***
Despite last week's setback, Benjamin belongs in starting lineups. This matchup should make things right. Atlanta is the 10th softest matchup for the position, giving up 40 fantasy points per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ted Ginn, Jr., CAR @ATL 002400000 ***
Ginn is a flier and usually best left for DFS or flex spots for non-PPR scoring, but this week could be different. Carolina will look to exploit the 10th weakest defense of receivers, and Atlanta's explosive offense could force Carolina to throw more than usual.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @ATL 0071002000 ***
Not only is Olsen arguably the best fantasy tight end going, he gets a cupcake meeting with fantasy most easily exploitable TE defense.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @ATL 1144 ***
Only six teams have been stronger against kickers than the Falcons, largely because Atlanta has allowed the most extra points (11) but only two field goals.

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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