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
WR Torrey Smith 5-90,1
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 TB 60100017010 ***
Cam was lousy in the Week 8 contest at Tampa. This go-around, he has thrown just one pick since that contest and has a pair of four-TD games mixed in with a pair of outings in which he failed to throw a scoring strike. Tampa Bay has permitted 271.8 yards (4th) per outing but also has the fifth-strongest defense for touchdown efficiency.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR TB 6015300000 ***
Tampa is not a great matchup on paper for receiving backs (30th in receptions), though it is the best place to find a rushing score. The rookie has a spot in all lineups this week, even though he was good for just 9.8 PPR points in the last match with Tampa. This time around, the Bucs are facing several key injuries on defense.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR TB 003501000 ***
Funchess (shoulder) is playing hurt but has remained productive-ish with two TDs in his last three games on only eight catches. In Week 8, he went for a 2-11-0 line on six looks vs. Tampa. The Buccaneers have given up 202.2 yards on 15 receptions per game (both No. 2 in the league) since Week 10, allowing a TD every 12.5 snags (14th).

Update: Funchess sat Wednesday and Thursday before returning to a limited session Friday. He probably will play, but gamers should check the inactives to be safe.
WR Torrey Smith, CAR TB 001200000 ***
Smith has not been enough of a factor to consider him as anything more than the wildest of flex gambles for deeeeeeep leagues.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR TB 005600000 ***
Olsen proved he was healthy in Week 14 by playing 92 percent of the offensive snaps, and he was no worse for wear during the week. In Week 15, he put it together for a 26.6-point PPR day. The veteran missed the earlier meeting and was good for 12 catches, 203 yards and no scores in two games last season. Furthermore, the Bucs are beaten up on defense right now.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Graham Gano, CAR TB 1144 ***
This is a top-five matchup for extra point chances but only 15th for the more valuable three-point attempts. Kickers have averaged a moderate 7.6 fantasy points a game vs. the Bucs.

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
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 @NO 0000023012 ***
Ryan was terrible in the Week 14 game, tossing three picks against one TD and 221 yards gained. He has just three TD passes in his last four games and doesn't deserve consideration.
RB Devonta Freeman, ATL @NO 6013200000 ***
Freeman is coming off his best performance of the year and most well-rounded effort. The Falcons could be without Tevin Coleman again, so check back Friday. The Saints provided Freeman 91 yards on 24 carries in the Week 14 contest. He scored once and didn't add a reception. The Saints are a midrange defense stats-wise over the last five weeks.

Update: Coleman has been removed from the injury report.
RB Tevin Coleman, ATL @NO 3002200000 *
Coleman remains in the concussion protocol as of Wednesday's session. He last played in Week 14 against these Saints, finishing with 32 yards on nine carries before an early exit. They may not rush him back with the way Devontae Freeman played last week.

Update: Coleman has been removed from the injury report.
WR Justin Hardy, ATL @NO 002301000 ***
Hardy has two scores in the past five weeks (3 games), though gamers can look elsewhere for a deep flier.
WR Julio Jones, ATL @NO 004600000 ***
Jones (ankle) has just two scores (in one game) over the last eight contests, and his season total is somehow only three. The last time he played the Saints was just two short weeks ago, and the veteran saw 11 targets for five catches and 98 yards worth of gains. New Orleans has allowed big receptions (6th) and yardage (4th) figures over the last five games, though only one in 13.6 snares has found paydirt (17th).
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL @NO 003400000 ***
Sanu (knee) is enjoying his best fantasy season to date, and his strongest PPR effort came two weeks again vs. New Orleans (6-83-1). The veteran sidekick gets another crack at exploiting a defense that will be trained on limiting Julio Jones. Wideouts have scored six times in the last five games vs. this defense.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL @NO 002300000 ***
Hooper has gone five straight games without a score, and his limited role makes the second-year tight end a fantasy anchor without finding the end zone. He caught a 2-23-0 line in Week 14 vs. the Saints.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Matt Bryant, ATL @NO 2222 ***
Bryant has a midrange matchup, on paper, but anything can happen went two divisional talents face off. The Saints have given up two field goal attempts and 2.4 extra point tries per game, or the 13th-most for both on a weekly average.

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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