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
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.

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 @PIT 0000030031 ***
The Steelers have allowed multiple TD tosses in five straight; Brees has multiple scores in nine of his last 10, so no reason to let his three-game losing streak lead you to believe he won't be a fantasy helper here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO @PIT 7002200000 ***
With Pierre Thomas back in the mix it was business as usual for the Saints' backfield--and that's a bad thing, as it means productivity spread too thin for any member to be a reliable fantasy option.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Stills, NO @PIT 006901000 ***
Stills was Drew Brees' target of choice last week, and while it's still a bit of a cluster in New Orleans he appears to be the most reliable fantasy option--especially against a Pittsburgh defense that's given up some big fantasy games to speed guys.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Marques Colston, NO @PIT 005700000 ***
Colston scored last week and remains in the mix of New Orleans receivers, but we've learned by now he's more of a fringe option than someone to be banked on.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jimmy Graham, NO @PIT 007802000 ***
Not that you'd deviate from Graham, but you really have to like his chances against a Steelers defense that's already served up eight TE TDs on the year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Shayne Graham, NO @PIT 2133 ****
The only favorable trend working for Graham is that the Saints' offense is struggling, but even then they're going for it on fourth and close rather than kicking more field goals. He's not the sterling option you'd think tacking on points for this offense.

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
RB DeAngelo Williams 40 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.

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 @MIN 40000025012 ****
Cam's had his way with the Vikings in two previous meetings, totaling 532 passing yards, six passing TDs, 83 rushing yards and another rushing score. He's posted a pair of multiple-TD games with at least 292 yards in each and catches a Vikings D fresh off allowing 539 and 5 the past two games. That's about as good as it can get for Newton this season.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR @MIN 3013200000 **
With the split backfield and Cam Newton swiping goal line looks there's not a fantasy relevant game to be had in the Carolina backfield.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR @MIN 3002100000 ****
Williams has out-touched Jonathan Stewart each game since returning to the lineup, but he hasn't even approached fantasy relevancy. No reason to think that changes here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR @MIN 006801000 ***
Expect Benjamin to give the Vikings the same fits fellow big targets Brandon Marshall (7-90-2) and Alshon Jeffery (11-135-1) have given them in recent weeks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @MIN 005600000 ****
The Vikings have allowed two TE TDs in the past four games, and with Olsen heavily targeted he's at minimum on the fantasy radar.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @MIN 1122 ***
The Vikings have given up seven field goals in their past nine games, so this isn't a particularly inviting opportunity for Gano to break out of the five-points-per-game rut he's been in for the past month.

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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