Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

Prediction: CAR 13, ATL 30 (Line: ATL by 7.5)

Players to Watch: Jacquizz Rodgers, Greg Olsen

The 1-2 Panthers first trip outside of the division resulted in a drubbing by the visiting Giants and now they face the 3-0 Falcons who have already made plans for the divisional trophy with 13 games left to play. The Falcons swept the Panthers in 2011, winning 31-17 at home and 31-23 at Carolina. We still cannot be certain if these Panthers are better or worse than last year, but it seems very apparent that the Falcons are improved. The Panthers have lost six of the last seven meetings and their last win was in 2009.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 10-16 10 DEN -----
2 NO 35-27 11 TB -----
3 NYG 7-36 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 @ ATL Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 50,1 260
RB Jonathan Stewart 40 4-40
TE Greg Olsen 6-50

Pregame Notes: Beating the Saints is starting to be less of an accomplishment as was originally thought which means otherwise, the Panthers not only lost two games but only had one touchdown in each. The offense had a decrease in passing late last season and now even the rushing has been no advantage.

Cam Newton only has two passing touchdowns against five interceptions and a lost fumble. He made up with 71 rush yards in New Orleans but the other two games only totaled 11 runs for ten yards though he did score against the Giants on a one-yard dive. This is not bad for most second year quarterbacks. This is disappointing for the Offensive Rookie of the Year who shattered many rookie records last season.

Jonathan Stewart has missed two games because of both toe and ankle injuries but is expected to return for this game. It's not like his absence has been any great benefit for DeAngelo Williams who posted 69 rush yards and a score in New Orleans and only 50 yards on 11 runs versus the Giants. The two weeks that Stewart has been gone had Newton stealing short rushing touchdowns. Now that Stewart should be back, it just takes mediocrity and halves it.

It is not all gloomy here though. Steve Smith has posted three games with at least 86 yards in each though he has yet to score a touchdowns. Greg Olsen finally had a big game with 98 yards on seven receptions and his 14 targets were nine more than any other receiver. That sort of attention by Newton means good things in the future for an offense that is struggling to move the ball, particularly with two tough defenses up next with the Falcons and Seahawks.

This week is not likely to be any better. The Falcons are playing very well on both sides of the ball and even when they get a big lead, they do not relent. The Falcons have been weaker against the run but game situation here may mean the Panthers abandon the run as they did last week. And whatever rushing happens has to include Stewart this week.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 11 17 19 20 32 21
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 6 27 3 11 1 1

QB Cam Newton, CAR @TB 50100020021 ***
Cam missed both ends of last season's series with the Bucs, but the last two times he's faced them he's thrown a pair of scores and run in another. That's been his MO the past two weeks as well; the Bucs don't offer much resistance to a three-peat.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR @TB 7001100000 ***
The trends suggest Stewart should score against a Tampa D that's let the likes of Bishop Sankey, Austin Johnson and Alfred Blue find the end zone against them this season. But Stew has failed to build on the promise he flashed late last season despite getting the vast majority of Carolina's carries, and Cam Newton is swiping touchdowns at the stripe once again. Start Stew if you must, but prepare to be disappointed.
WR Ted Ginn, CAR @TB 005501000 ***
There's allure to starting a wideout against a Tampa Bay secondary that's surrendered at least one WR TD in every game this season. Plus, Ginn's only two outings as a Panther against the Bucs have yielded 2-47-1 and 5-80. He's also seen twice as many targets as any other wideout on the Carolina roster. Did we just talk ourselves into starting Ted Ginn this week? We just talked ourselves into starting Ted Ginn this week.
WR Philly Brown, CAR @TB 003300000 ***
Philly had one moderately successful game, then vanished last week. No need to go looking for him.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR @TB 001200000 ***
Before Funchess can even hold a candle to Kelvin Benjamin he'll need to give us more than one catch a game. Still waiting for that.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @TB 0081001000 ***
Olsen's owned the Bucs of late; last season he took them for 10-110 and 8-83-1, and the year before he scored in one meeting and racked up 85 yards in the other. He's the only show in town for Carolina's passing game and should have little difficulty putting up numbers on par with what he did to Tampa last year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @TB 2133 ***
Lowest O/U on the Vegas board, and a Tampa D that's been stingy with the field goals. Bad combo for Graham this week.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @KC 40-24 10 @NO -----
2 DEN 27-21 11 ARI -----
3 @SD 27-3 12 @TB -----
4 CAR ----- 13 NO -----
5 @WAS ----- 14 @CAR -----
6 OAK ----- 15 NYG -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @DET -----
8 @PHI ----- 17 TB -----
9 DAL ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
ATL vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Matt Ryan 10 270,2
WR Leonard Hankerson 6-90,1
WR Julio Jones 4-70
WR Roddy White 6-90,1
TE Tony Moeaki 2-10
TE Jacob Tamme 4-40,1
PK Matt Bryant 3 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Falcons are undefeated and looking like one of the big contenders in the NFC. Their match-up in San Diego proved to be their finest game yet with so many weapons to use on offense that it does not matter when one or two are having an off game. And when it hits on all cylinders the Falcons are very hard to beat by anyone in the league. Support that with an improved and opportunistic defense and it is a fun time to have Falcons on your fantasy roster.

Matt Ryan is taking the proverbial "next step". He has passed for at least two scores in each game, has been deadly accurate and has already passed touchdowns to four different players. The rushing effort is adequate at times but is never going to overtake the need to pass. At times, the rushing has been so lackluster as to ensure that Ryan has to throw.

Michael Turner comes off his best game of the year with 80 yards on 14 runs against his old employer but on the season he still only has 42 runs for 154 yards for a 3.7 yard average. And if you have watched him, that seems kind of high. Jacquizz Rodgers has not been that more effective but was given ten carries in San Diego (33 yards) and was finally used as a receiver with five catches for 35 yards and one score. That is a capacity for Rodgers that would yield decent weekly fantasy value but then again - there already are three great receiving options anyway. Turner gets the short touchdown runs but he has marginal fantasy value with no receiving work and usually a somewhat ineffective rushing average in most weeks.

Tony Gonzalez is leaving the league in style. Three games - one score in each and never worse than 5-53. Against the Chargers he led the team with nine catches for 91 yards. He's been a tremendous value for a tight end that was being largely ignored in fantasy drafts.

Julio Jones bounced back from his minimal production against the Broncos when he posted 67 yards on five catches against the Chargers with one score. That has been his typical pattern. Jones has been deadly in road games and then marginal in home stands. Six career games over 100 yards and every one was away from Atlanta.

Roddy White is the opposite again this year. Big game against the visiting Broncos and no scores on the road. It isn't that the two wideouts cannot do well in all venues. It is just that they usually don't and it is consistent enough to merit consideration.

The Panthers have been bad against the run but the Falcons are not going to win games on the ground. The higher ranking the secondary gets is because most teams just do not throw much because rushing is easier. That should be changing this week against the Falcons who are going to throw and so far - always throw well.

Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 2 20 9 2 6 6
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 11 31 2 21 31 22

QB Matt Ryan, ATL HOU 0000026021 ***
Ryan has been a rock star as the Falcons took a spin through the NFC East, posting at least 285 yards and throwing five TDs in meetings with the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys. Crossing the border into the AFC should yield similar results, as the Texans haven't really seen an elite level passer yet have still surrendered six passing scores.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL HOU 5005300000 **
Freeman gashed the Cowboys last week but will find the going significantly more difficult against a Houston defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 9 of last year and only one back to top 62 yards in that span. But while rushing expectations need to be dialed back, Freeman should still get his through the air against a team that's allowed two 40-yard receivers (each with receiving touchdowns) already this season.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL HOU 00000000 *
Coleman is still dealing with a rib injury, and while last week's outing by Devonta Freeman might push him to hustle back to the lineup it's unlikely that happens this week.
WR Julio Jones, ATL HOU 00101301000 ***
Houston gave up 7-101 to the lightly targeted (by comparison) Mike Evans, so no reason to think Julio doesn't throw up his usual big numbers on massive targets.
WR Leonard Hankerson, ATL HOU 005601000 **
Hankerson has played his way into the wingman role in Atlanta as Roddy White fades to the background. Granted, Hank is to Julio Jones as Andrew Ridgley was to George Michael in Wham, but gold records are gold records. This week, however, it's not a favorable enough matchup to go any deeper in the Atlanta receiver rotation than Julio.
TE Jacob Tamme, ATL HOU 002300000 ***
Tamme isn't used with nearly the frequency that Travis Kelce or Greg Olsen--the two tight ends who've had success against Houston--are, so no reason to look for a fantasy contribution here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL HOU 3322 ***
Atlanta has been putting up plenty of points; JJ Watt can do only so much to stop them this week.

CAR at ATL *NE at BUF *SD at KC *WAS at TB
*CIN at JAC *NO at GB *SEA at STL *CHI at DAL (MON)
*Updated *MIA at ARI *NYG at PHI *SF at NYJ Bye: IND, PIT

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