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

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 WAS 0000028030 ***
250-plus yards is a given, but the success of the ground game has cut into Matt's touchdown total. Facing a very good Washington run D should help shift some of the offensive emphasis back to Ryan--enough for him to be his usual quality fantasy play this week.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL WAS 7015500000 ***
Freeman very nearly scored more fantasy points last week than the Redskins have allowed to running backs this season. And while Washington hasn't exactly been shutting down studs they have been extremely difficult to run on. Freeman's punched his every-week starter card; just don't bank on another multiple touchdown effort.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL WAS 00000000 *
Coleman may return from his rib injury this week, but he'll have to carve out a role after watching Davonte Freeman blow up in his absence. Best let him do that before trusting him with a fantasy lineup spot.
WR Julio Jones, ATL WAS 0081002000 ***
Jones is a must-play regardless of foe, and the fact that Washington's secondary is fantasy favorable only contributes that much more to his prospects.
WR Leonard Hankerson, ATL WAS 006801000 ***
Hank wore the big-boy pants in Atlanta's receiver rotation last week, but it wasn't a fluke. He's been north of 75 yards and scored in two of the past three games and is poised to unleash the same on his former club. Worth noting the Redskins are allowing an average of 216 yards and 2 TDs to opposing wide receivers over the past fortnight, so even after Julio gets his there's enough for Hankerson to be a fantasy factor again.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL WAS 1144 ***
The only downer kicking for the red hot Atlanta offense is that Bryant is counting by ones instead of threes: 15 PATs already this season, but only two field goal attempts the past three weeks. And in the big picture, that's not much of a problem at all.

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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