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 NO 20000027020 ***
This should be the week in which Newton shakes off the rust. He'll be without his trusted tight end, so finding other weapons for short-area passing is a must. Last year, he posted 30.2 points in Week 6 at the Saints and then just 14.3 in the Week 11 follow-up.

Update: Both CBs Marshon Lattimore and Sterling Moore have been ruled out for the Saints. Panthers center Ryan Kalil also is out, and Newton is listed as questionable. He was limited Friday but should be fine to play.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR NO 5005401000 ***
Look for more targets with Greg Olsen out. McCaffrey had a wide-open TD pass that Cam Newton overthrew. The Saints have allowed 19 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown to the position so far in 2017.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR NO 6012200000 ***
Look for Carolina to pound the ball as much as possible to keep Drew Brees on the sideline. The Panthers' veteran rushed four three TDs in two games last year facing the Saints, including a 20.5-point fantasy day in Week 6.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR NO 0061001000 ***
No Greg Olsen should get KB involved more this week. Assuming Cam Newton doesn't struggle delivering the ball again, Benjamin should have no trouble exploiting the worst pass defense in football.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR NO 005600000 ***
The Saints have allowed three WR touchdowns in two games, in addition to yielding a league-worst 461 yards on 28 catches. Funchess, though, is a flier until he shows more consistency.
WR Russell Shepard, CAR NO 002300000 ***
Shepard is presented with a stellar matchup that conceivably makes him a deep flier for DFS action.
TE Ed Dickson, CAR NO 003200000 ***
Don't rely on Dickson to replace Greg Olsen. The veteran tight end has had plenty of chances to show he is just a bit player.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR NO 2233 ***
Two teams have permitted more fantasy kicker points in 2017 than the Saints, and that includes two missing point-after tries.

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
QB Matt Schaub 270,2
WR Julio Jones 4-70
WR Andre Roberts 4-50
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 @DET 0000028010 ***
Detroit has picked off twice as many passes (4) as touchdowns allowed this year, which is quite the surprise. A strong pass rush has created opportunities. The Falcons have a far better line than either of Detroit's previous opponents. Expect a quality day from the 2016 MVP.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL @DET 5012200000 ***
RBs have scored one time on 47 touches against the Lions. The veteran back is a decent bet to change this as Detroit focuses on Julio Jones.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL @DET 2003300000 ***
Detroit has allowed nearly twice as many receiving yards as rushing to RBs so far, with the only TD granted coming on the ground. Coleman is versatile and could be worth a flex given his history of doing a lot with little.
WR Julio Jones, ATL @DET 006800000 ***
The Lions have surrendered a single TD in the last 24 catches to receivers, rating in the tougher half of the league. The secondary is improved and aided by a pass rush. Jones is a fine play but may not find the end zone.
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL @DET 005600000 ***
Sanu could see extra work with Detroit focusing on keeping Julio Jones from going bonkers. The veteran is a capable third-down asset and should be deployed only as a desperation play in PPR.
WR Taylor Gabriel, ATL @DET 003400000 ***
Always a home run threat, Gabriel is a dangerous play in fantasy. Detroit's defense has played quite well thus far, making him a suspect start.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL @DET 003201000 **
Detroit gave up its first tight end score of 2017 to rookie Evan Engram last week. Overall, Hooper faces the 12th-best matchup for exploitation in Week 3, but he remains a risk-reward gamble.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @DET 3322 ***
Kickers have averaged only 4.5 fantasy points per game through two weeks against the Lions, but that is bound to increase after facing the high-powered Falcons.

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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