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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
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 @ATL 30100030030 ***
After three picks and no touchdown passes last week, Newton stands at five touchdown passes with as many interceptions on the season. The Falcons host Carolina and give him a shot a redemption. No team has been victimized more by quarterbacks than Atlanta. No team has given up more TD passes (10).
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Fozzy Whittaker, CAR @ATL 2005400000 ***
Looking for a sly PPR play? Whittaker, the third-down weapon in Carolina's backfield, could be the beneficiary of Atlanta's terrible pass defense of the position. Running backs have posted 28 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns against this group.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Cameron Artis-Payne, CAR @ATL 4001100000 ***
Artis-Payne is better in non-PPR scoring and has an outside shot at finding the end zone this week. Atlanta has allowed 301 yards and two scores on the ground to the position.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR @ATL 006801000 ***
Despite last week's setback, Benjamin belongs in starting lineups. This matchup should make things right. Atlanta is the 10th softest matchup for the position, giving up 40 fantasy points per game.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ted Ginn, Jr., CAR @ATL 002400000 ***
Ginn is a flier and usually best left for DFS or flex spots for non-PPR scoring, but this week could be different. Carolina will look to exploit the 10th weakest defense of receivers, and Atlanta's explosive offense could force Carolina to throw more than usual.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Greg Olsen, CAR @ATL 0071002000 ***
Not only is Olsen arguably the best fantasy tight end going, he gets a cupcake meeting with fantasy most easily exploitable TE defense.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR @ATL 1144 ***
Only six teams have been stronger against kickers than the Falcons, largely because Atlanta has allowed the most extra points (11) but only two field goals.

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 Dexter McCluster 6-50
RB Danny Woodhead 10 5-30
WR Stevie Johnson 6-80,1
TE Jeff Cumberland 5-50
TE Antonio Gates 4-40

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 NO 0000032030 ***
The Saints haven't picked off a pass yet, although this unit has allowed only one TD per game. The yardage against (927) is high. Rivers has a limited receiving corps at this time, so play him only if your other options are obviously worse.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Melvin Gordon, SD NO 10022200000 ***
Gordon has earned a lineup spot and seems matchup proof to date this season. The Saints are the most favorable of opponents for running backs in fantasy, surrendering seven touchdowns this year.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Dexter McCluster, SD NO 002200000 ***
McCluster knows this offense from his time with the Titans under Chargers play caller Ken Whisenhunt. The miniature runner has only PPR appeal and could materialize as a worthy play given New Orleans' troubles at stopping pass-catching backs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Travis Benjamin, SD NO 006802000 ***
Benjamin could be in for a big game if the Bolts have to heave the ball more than usual. The Saints are the ninth easiest matchup for wideouts, and Benjamin is a must-play with varying degrees of confidence based on your scoring format.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tyrell Williams, SD NO 0061001000 ***
The Saints offer a plus matchup (ranked 9th) and could force San Diego into passing a ton. Williams is a worthwhile fantasy play in all formats, but better in non-PPR.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Dontrelle Inman, SD NO 003400000 ***
Inman picks up scraps and doesn't see enough looks to warrant a fantasy play.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Hunter Henry, SD NO 004500000 ***
In the event Antonio Gates (hamstring) is capable of playing, Henry has zero value. Should the rookie get the start, he has practically no value. New Orleans has been dominant against tight ends, allowing only 12 catches for 87 yards and no touchdowns.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Lambo, SD NO 0055 ***
The Saints have been evenly weak in terms of allowing extra points (8-for-8) and field goals (6-for-7) to create the eighth weakest defense of kickers in fantasy.

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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