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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

Prediction: CAR 20, SD 25 (Line: SD by 3 )

Players to Watch: Cam Newton, Ryan Mathews

The 4-9 Panthers come off their game of the year when they beat the Falcons but are only 2-4 in road games. The 5-8 Chargers are fresh from their own upset winning in Pittsburgh last week and are only 2-4 at home. Neither team is as good as they played last week but that makes this game more of a coin toss. This week will depend on how well the Chargers can run and how well the Panthers can pass.

Carolina Panthers
Homefield: Bank of America Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TB 10-16 10 DEN 14-36
2 NO 35-27 11 TB 21-27
3 NYG 7-36 12 @PHI 30-22
4 @ATL 28-30 13 @KC 21-27
5 SEA 12-16 14 ATL 30-20
6 BYE ----- 15 @SD -----
7 DAL 14-19 16 OAK -----
8 @CHI 22-23 17 @NO -----
9 @WAS 21-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR @ SD Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 60,1 230,1
RB Jonathan Stewart
RB DeAngelo Williams 40 1-10
WR Jason Avant 5-60
TE Greg Olsen 4-50,1
PK Graham Gano 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: You cannot say that Cam Newton is not earning his money lately. Once again he provided almost all the offense needed to win a game and after struggling in the first half of the season, he's come on well for the last three weeks and is ending the season on a higher note.

Newton's previous big games came at the expense of inferior teams but winning against the Falcons was impressive, trap game or not. He matches well with them since he posted two passing scores and a rushing touchdown in both meetings with the Falcons. He also comes off a season best 116 rush yards on nine runs and has done more to add the run back into his repertoire in recent weeks. Of course facing the Eagles and Chiefs hardly pitted him against elite teams. This week is back against a weaker team though it will be on the road. With only the Raiders and the Saints left on the schedule, Newton is bound to finish strongly.

Jonathan Stewart remains out with a high ankle sprain but DeAngelo Williams has been nothing special despite getting a heavier load. He comes off a season high 17 carries for 56 yards and scored on his two catches for 56 yards. But his 53-yard catch for a touchdown was an exception to the extreme. Williams only totaled 48 receiving yards in his entire season up until that one catch. Even at home against soft opponents, Williams has never rushed for more than 69 yards this year and ran in a score just once in the last nine games.

Brandon LaFell remains out with a chipped bone in his foot and turf toe though he should be back soon. Steve Smith posted seven catches for 109 yards versus Atlanta which makes it two consecutive games over the 100 yard mark. Louis Murphy fills in for LaFell but offers little. Greg Olsen scored against the Falcons which now makes two of his games with a touchdown going against the Falcons. He also scored last week in Kansas City but it was on his only catch in that game.

This should be another decent game for Newton against a defense that has not faced a running quarterback all year. This is less likely a big game for Smith since only one receiver broke 100 yards as a visitor and no wideout scored there in the last three games. Olsen is a better bet given that three of the last four visitors to San Diego scored via a pass to their primary tight end.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 6 29 22 10 32 12
Preventing Fantasy Points SD 18 14 18 7 3 25

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Cam Newton, CAR @BAL 10000025012 ***
Cam needs the rushing stats to push him from fringe fantasy contributor to viable fantasy option--and the past two weeks he's set and then re-established career lows for rushing attempts in a game. Nothing special here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB DeAngelo Williams, CAR @BAL 3002200000 ***
The Panthers hope Williams will be able to shoulder the load in their injury-ravaged backfield, but even if he's healthy and flying solo he's looking at an upside well shy of 100 yards and an outside chance at a score.
Update: Williams is probable while fellow feature back Jonathan Stewart is questionable, so Williams at least will see the bulk of the touches. What he'll do with them, on the other hand...
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Darrin Reaves, CAR @BAL 300000000 ***
Reaves could wind up being the last man standing in the Carolina backfield. That's hardly enough to warrant a fantasy start.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR @BAL 00000000 *
Update: Stewart officially lists as questionable, but since he's expected to miss about a month with his current knee injury that seems optimistic.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR @BAL 006601000 ****
Talented and targeted receivers have had success against the Ravens, and Benjamin is both.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Jerricho Cotchery, CAR @BAL 004500000 ***
Cotchery missed last week's game with an injury, but he should return to his usual pedestrian production this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @BAL 005600000 ***
Olsen will see his targets and put up his yardage as essentially the number two target in this offense, but don't expect much more against a Baltimore defense that has surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to the position this season.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @BAL 1122 ***
Baltimore has allowed multiple field goal attempts in every game thus far; Gano has kicked multiple treys in each game this season. It's a match made in fantasy football heaven.

San Diego Chargers
Homefield: Qualcomm Stadium
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @OAK 22-14 10 @TB 24-34
2 TEN 38-10 11 @DEN 23-30
3 ATL 3-27 12 BAL 13-16
4 @KC 37-20 13 CIN 13-20
5 @NO 24-31 14 @PIT 34-24
6 DEN 24-35 15 CAR -----
7 BYE ----- 16 @NYJ -----
8 @CLE 6-7 17 OAK -----
9 KC 31-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SD vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Philip Rivers 230,1
RB Ryan Mathews 90,1 2-10
RB Danny Woodhead 10 5-30
WR Malcom Floyd 4-60,1
TE Antonio Gates 4-40
PK Nick Novak 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The win in Pittsburgh ended a four game losing streak but that's not nearly enough to save Norv Turner's job the moment the offseason starts. Last week was an exception to just about everything the Chargers are about this year. With two home games against the Panthers and Raiders left to play, the winning is not over and the Chargers can find a little redemption in ending strongly before the team is torn apart and put back together in the spring.

Philip Rivers threw for three touchdowns in Pittsburgh to add to the general twilight zone quality of the game but he only managed 200 passing yards and continues to struggle to find receivers besides Danario Alexander. Even with the big win, RIvers was only 21 of 41 in passing completions. The entire season, he has never been any better than the defense allows anyone to be until last week and even then it was more about key defenders being out for the Steelers.

Ryan Mathews comes off a season high 25 carries for 65 yards and finally had the sort of workload that the offense needs. For whatever reason, Norv Turner waited until the 13th game of the season and in the very worst of all spots to play but at least Mathews gutted out not having decent blocking and both did not fumble and remained healthy. Facing one of the worst defenses this week should be far more profitable assuming the Chargers don't suddenly decide they need to throw more or use Ronnie Brown instead. That's highly unlikely but given the history of this year just because something seems reasonable does not mean it will be followed. Brown's role has been shrinking in recent weeks and he's been given six or fewer touches for the last five games. He had just three last week and no longer warrants projecting.

Antonio Gates is done. He only managed three catches for 31 yards in Pittsburgh and has been without fantasy merit for the last four games now. He's no longer reliable for more than a few carries and mediocre yardage with no scores.

Danario Alexander continues to amaze. He comes off an 88-yard effort on seven catches with two touchdowns and has yet to turn in less than 74 yards in any of the last five games while scoring five times over that span. Compared to all other receivers for the Chargers, that's astronomic and exactly what River's had been missing all year. Vincent Brown is not going to play this year so Alexander is as good as it will ever get. And that's pretty good.

Michael Spurlock caught seven passes for 64 yards as the replacement slot receiver last week since Eddie Royal remains out but that was his first game of the year and is not the start of anything significant.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SD 22 17 27 16 21 6
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 11 27 5 21 32 17

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Philip Rivers, SD JAC 0000027030 ***
Gotta love ol' Bolo Tie against a defense that's allowed at least 250 and 2 in every game thus far. The last time he was at home he sliced up the Seahawks for 284 and 3; solving the Jags should be mere child's play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Donald Brown, SD JAC 7014200000 ***
With every other Bolts back injured, Brown inherits the bulk of the touches against a Jacksonville defense that's giving up 184 combo yards and two TDs a game to opposing backs. Nice timing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keenan Allen, SD JAC 005701000 ***
Plenty of receivers have had their way with the Jacksonville secondary; the question is, will it be Allen's turn or does that just mean he'll keep ceding stats to Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal? Allen's too talented to be off to the lousy start he's having, so bet heavily on the former.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Eddie Royal, SD JAC 005600000 ***
It would be easy to say you're chasing Royal's two TDs from last week, but the Jags just let four different Colts wideouts score and/or top 50 yards against them last week so... go ahead, chase.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Malcom Floyd, SD JAC 003400000 ***
Seven different receivers have scored and/or topped 50 yards against the Jags, including four last week alone. Floyd has been outperforming Keenan Allen, though Allen has been drawing some pretty elite coverage. This week Floyd likely regresses to WR2, though there's still fantasy value to be had here.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Antonio Gates, SD JAC 006802000 ***
One week after lighting up the Seahawks Gates was usurped by Ladarius Green. The split is problematic, but it's an extremely favorable matchup with a Jaguars defense that's allowed four TE TDs already this year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Nick Novak, SD JAC 2234 ***
With the Jags giving up almost 40 points per game, Novak should have plenty of opportunity to swing the leg this week.

WEEK 15
2012
CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
CAR at SD IND at HOU *NYG at ATL TB at NO
DEN at BAL *JAC at MIA *PIT at DAL *WAS at CLE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

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