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
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.

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

QB Cam Newton, CAR PIT 40100024010 ***
Cam's 2014 fantasy debut was underwhelming, and he's unlikely to get much of a boost from a Steelers' defense that has allowed a total of 396 passing yards through two games.
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR PIT 800000000 ***
Williams sat out last week and we are awaiting news of his return to work. If he goes it's an extremely favorable matchup, so it's a situation worth monitoring.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR PIT 3002100000 ***
In a rare confluence of Stewart's good health, a DeAngelo Williams injury, and a favorable matchup with a Pittsburgh run D that's allowed 175 and 152 RB rushing yards the past two games... we have an honest to goodness opportunity to give Stewart a fantasy start. Of course, if Williams returns things could change but for now, revel in the possibilities.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR PIT 005800000 ***
The Steelers haven't surrendered much to opposing wideouts, and last week Cam threw as much to Jason Avant as he did Benjamin. Best wait for a more favorable opportunity to plug the rookie into your fantasy lineup.
WR Jerricho Cotchery, CAR PIT 004400000 ***
Cam Newton got Cotchery involved last week, but there isn't much to go around and the Steelers will reduce that number even further. It adds up to Cotchery being a risky fantasy play at best this week.
Update: As an added bonus, Cotchery didn't practice on Friday and is listed as questionable. The risk side of the scale is almost touching bottom.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR PIT 007801000 ***
Olsen remains the Panthers' most reliable pass-catcher, and against a Steelers defense that surrendered two TDs to the position last week and 90 yards to tight ends the week before he's as good a bet as any for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR PIT 1133 ***
The Steelers have allowed multiple field goal attempts in each game thus far this season; Gano has attempted multiple field goals in each game as well. It adds up to... well, multiple opportunities for Gano to be a fantasy helper 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
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.

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

QB Matt Ryan, ATL TB 0000025021 ****
After facing second- and third-string QBs to start the season, the Bucs might be shocked to see Ryan. He's taken Tampa for 300 yards or multiple TDs in five of the last six meetings, including both last year; don't look for Lovie's Tampa-2 to fare much better.
RB Steven Jackson, ATL TB 601000000 ***
Jackson has been topping out around a dozen carries and 50 or so yards--hardly fantasy-helper numbers. You could expect an uptick against a decimated Bucs d-line that's held DeAngelo Williams and Zac Stacy to 72 and 71 yards, respectively, but you're still barely on the fringe of fantasy respectability, hoping for a pass interference call in the end zone to set you up for a one-yard fall into the end zone.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL TB 3001100000 ***
At best Rodgers is sharing the smaller half of the Falcons' backfield pie with the likes of Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman. And while Tampa's defensive front has been hit hard with injuries that's still not enough to suggest he'll be much of a fantasy helper this week.
WR Julio Jones, ATL TB 0081101000 ***
Jones missed both ends of this season series last year, but he's scored or topped 100 yards (or both) in three of four career meetings with the Bucs and has scored or topped 100 yards in each game thus far this season. Sounds like a trend worth riding.
WR Roddy White, ATL TB 004500000 *
White has topped 75 yards against the Bucs just once in their past 16 meetings, and he hasn't hit that mark yet this season. He has, however, found the end zone and he scored the only time he faced Tampa Bay last season. He's clearly running as WR2 to Julio Jones, but this isn't a bad situation to be running WR2 in.
WR Harry Douglas, ATL TB 004400000 ***
Douglas blew up the Bucs with 6-134-1 and 7-149-1 last season, but Julio Jones missed both outings and Roddy White was available for just one. With both Falcons studs back Douglas is clearly the third wheel, so he's a fringe fantasy option at best.
TE Levine Toilolo, ATL TB 003200000 ****
Given Toilolo's role in this offense you'll need a TD to wring fantasy value out of him. It's something Tony Gonzalez couldn't pull off last year and it's not something you should bank on here.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL TB 3333 ****
Only two teams have allowed more field goal attempts thus far this year than the Bucs, so Bryant should have the opportunity to swing his leg 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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