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David Dorey
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WEEK 4
2012
CLE at BAL (THU) *MIN at DET *OAK at DEN *TEN at HOU
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
Grass
  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
RB DeAngelo Williams 50 1-10
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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 11 17 19 20 32 21
Preventing Fantasy Points ATL 6 27 3 11 1 1

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Cam Newton, CAR CLE 10000025011 ***
Maybe Cam goes this week, but can you trust him to run--key to his fantasy value--with two busted bones in his back? Probably not, which leaves him to his throwing--not nearly enough to warrant a fantasy start in championship week.
Update: Cam is listed as probable and all indications are he'll start this week. Tough to see him running like usual, however, so he'll need to rely on his arm--and specifically on Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen--to carve out fantasy value against a pretty solid Browns secondary.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR CLE 8011100000 ***
You can run on the Brownies; see Cincy's 241 yards and three TDs last week. And with little to no DeAngelo Williams and quite likely no Cam Newton culturing, it'll be another 20-tote day for Stewart. He's produced 228 yards and a touchdown with his last two 20-carry outings; have to like him here as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR CLE 200000000 ***
Williams hasn't played for two weeks and hasn't seen more than 14 carries in a year. All he's doing is harshing Jonathan Stewart's mellow.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR CLE 005600000 **
Joe Haden is not infallible. He also hasn't had a great deal of success with bigger receivers, especially tandems: Mike Evans went for 7-124-6 (or Vincent Jackson had 6-86, take your pick); DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson split 148 yards; and Julio Jones scored (with 68 yards to boot) while Roddy White tallied 96. Benjamin doesn't have nearly as high-profile a running mate, but he's still a solid bet to see his usual volume of targets and provide fantasy value.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jerricho Cotchery, CAR CLE 004500000 ***
You could play the "not covered by Joe Haden" card here, but Kelvin Benjamin's dramatic size advantage over Haden likely puts that matchup in favor of the receiver, negating the need to lean any more heavily on Cotchery than usual.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR CLE 007801000 **
Cleveland has been pretty good against tight ends--except for Jimmy Graham, whom they misguidedly tried to defend with the much smaller Joe Haden. Unlikely that the Browns sic Haden on Olsen, which should free him up to do his usual damage.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR CLE 3322 ***
Gano is heating up at just the right time; with multiple treys in three straight and double-digit points in back-to-back tilts, it's fortuitous that he bumps into a Browns defense that has served up multiple field goals in three straight and double-digit kicker points in three of its last five.

Atlanta Falcons
Homefield: Georgia Dome
FieldTurf
  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
RB Steven Jackson 60,1 4-30
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 40 5-40
WR Harry Douglas 2-20
WR Julio Jones 4-70
WR Roddy White 6-90,1
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.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points ATL 2 20 9 2 6 6
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 11 31 2 21 31 22

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Matt Ryan, ATL @NO 0000027030 ***
The last time Ryan saw the Saints he put up 448 yards and three TDs--and it's only the second-biggest game New Orleans has allowed to an opposing QB. In fact, four quarterbacks have topped 30 fantasy points against the Saints. Heck, the deposed Jay Cutler threw two TDs against them last week. Ryan has four straight games with multiple scoring strikes and an average of 362 and 2 in his last three trips to the Big Easy; what's not to like?
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Steven Jackson, ATL @NO 5001100000 ***
Jackson's numbers have declined in each of his three games as a Falcon, culminating with his 12-52 back in Week 1. And while the Saints have been softer of late against the run, Jackson has been delivering a steady supply of Jackson-like games--especially on the road: 16-50, 17-41, 16-81, 8-22, 13-37, 13-49, 11-46. Those are not the lotto-winning numbers to plug into your fantasy lineup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Harry Douglas, ATL @NO 006901000 ***
Douglas delivered 69 yards as a third wheel in the earlier matchup, so he's usable even if Julio Jones plays. And if Jones can't go... well, you saw last week's 10-131 for yourself.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Roddy White, ATL @NO 007801000 ***
White has taken a back seat to Julio Jones, both against the Saints and in general. However, he did score in the earlier meeting with New Orleans this year and has scored in each of the past two games. He's not quite 1A again, but he's a solid secondary option worthy of a fantasy start in a game that projects to fill plenty of fantasy mugs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Hester, ATL @NO 003401000 ***
Hester had 99 yards against the Saints in his Atlanta debut, and 85 and a score last week with Julio Jones out. Tough to bank on Atlanta going four deep at receiver again, but if Jones can't go Hester climbs onto the fantasy radar.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Julio Jones, ATL @NO 00000000 *
If Jones is deemed ready he's worth the risk against a Saints secondary that's allowed more WR TDs than all but five other teams; something about the 116 yards he had against New Orleans in the opener, or the 42 targets and 26-516-3 he posted the past three games he played.
Update: Jones didn't practice for a second straight week; last week that meant no game, and while he's listed as questionable Atlanta's top beat writer seems to think it means another week without Julio in the lineup. The plan is for him to test his hip on Saturday, so maybe we'll know a little earlier than game time regarding his availability.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @NO 1133 ***
Bryant kicked his way to 13 points the last time he faced the Saints, and he's averaged better than 10 points per game over the past six. New Orleans gave up back-to-back-to-back double-digit games to kickers before encountering the feeble Bears last week. With the Vegas line set at a lofty 56 for this one, expect fireworks--and plenty of opportunities for Bryant.

WEEK 4
2012
CLE at BAL (THU) *MIN at DET *OAK at DEN *TEN at HOU
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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