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 @DAL 40100024010 ***
At this point Cam's a force of nature. He has multiple touchdowns in every game since Week 1, and you can expect at least a kid or two wearing a Cam jersey in JerryWorld to get a souvenir this week as well.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR @DAL 8001100000 ***
Volume, volume, volume. The only two teams to run the ball more than 25 times against Dallas produced 173 & 2 and 141 & 3; the Panthers have run the ball at least 25 times in five straight games, with Stewart seeing at least 20 of those carries in all five (and six straight overall). The only concern is Cam swiping a goal line look, but once Stew gets to 100 yards it's all gravy anyway.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR @DAL 005700000 ***
Funchess has emerged in Carolina, highlighted by team highs in targets (8) and yards (64) last week as he tallied his second NFL touchdown. Scores might be hard to come by against a Dallas secondary that's allowed only two WR TDs since their Week 6 bye, but the targets and Funchess' chance at a score make him the best option among Carolina receivers.
WR Ted Ginn, CAR @DAL 002400000 ***
Just when it appeared as if Ginn's butterfingers had cost him targets he sees 16 balls over the past two games and finds the end zone as well. Still, he's hardly reliable, plus those targets yielded just 82 yards in the two games and Dallas is a tough matchup for wideouts.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @DAL 007801000 ***
The Cowboys have been tough on tight ends, allowing just three TDs to the position and a high-water mark of 75 yards to Jimmy Graham. But while it won't be easy you can't count out Olsen, who has touchdowns or at least 65 yards in six straight games--with scores in four and at least 54 yards in all six.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @DAL 2233 ***
Gano has had nine or more points in five straight and seven of eight; a visit to Dallas, where opposing kickers are averaging almost 10 points per game, should help him extend his streak.

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 MIN 0000027011 ***
Quarterbacks facing the Vikings have ranked with that week's top 10 exactly once all season--David Carr checked in at number 9 in Week 10. So put your expectations for Matty Ryan on ice.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL MIN 6012100000 *
Coleman likely gets the carries with Devonta Freeman still in concussion protocol, but it's not a great week to do so against a Minnesota defense that's allowed only four RB TDs on the year.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL MIN 00000000 *
Freeman remains in concussion protocol, and his availability for this weekend is unknown. We'll check back on Friday.

Update: Freeman has been ruled out of this weekend's game. Tevin Coleman will handle the feature back duties for Atlanta.
WR Julio Jones, ATL MIN 0091201000 ***
The good news is that heavily targeted wideouts have success against Minnesota; the six WRs with at least 10 balls thrown their way have produced an average of 9-102-1, and four of the six have been of the big-bodied ilk a la Jones. So respect the matchup, but don't put Julio on the sidelines because of it.
WR Leonard Hankerson, ATL MIN 000500000 *
Only once all season have two wideouts found the end zone against Minnesota in the same game, and the best yardage output by a secondary receiver is Emmanuel Sanders' 68 back in Week 4. No need to reach here.

Update: Hankerson has been ruled out of this week's game.
WR Roddy White, ATL MIN 002200000 ***
White has been a fantasy afterthought all season; that's unlikely to change against a Vikings defense that allows WR1s to get theirs but holds other wideouts in check.
TE Jacob Tamme, ATL MIN 005600000 **
Tamme's targets tumbled with the return of Leonard Hankerson last week, and a Vikings defense that's allowed only one TE TD in the past month--with no tight end topping 46 yards in that span--isn't going to help Tamme get more looks.

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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