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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

Prediction: CAR 23, NO 30 (Line: NO by 5)

Players to Watch: Steve Smith, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles

The 6-9 Panthers are on a three game winning streak and already beat the Saints 35-27 back in week two. The Panthers are just 3-4 on the road this year though. The 7-8 Saints have a chance to break even and avoid a losing season with a win here and are 4-3 at home with a two game winning streak going. This is a playing for pride" game for both sides but the Saints are much better now than they were back in week two and they play at home.

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 31-7
7 DAL 14-19 16 OAK 17-6
8 @CHI 22-23 17 @NO -----
9 @WAS 21-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR @ NO Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 50,1 260,1
WR Torrey Smith 5-70,1
WR Jarius Wright 3-40
TE Greg Olsen 6-70
PK Graham Gano 3 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Panthers had only that one Saints win to open the season and was 1-6 by week eight. At 5-3 the rest of the way, the Panthers have something to build upon for next year. The defense improved over the course of the season which was one main reason for the improved win-loss record and the offense that stumbled badly in the first half of the year finally turned around for the rest of the way but just returning to the same sort of equation as last year. Let Cam Newton throw to Steve Smith and failing that, just take off on a run. That pretty much explains the entirety of offensive success this year.

Newton has scored in each of the last eight games. He only managed to throw for six touchdowns over his first eight games and turned that up to 13 scores in just the last seven. He's also been more likely to run and scored eight times as a rusher this year. The was on a hot streak at the end of the year but cooled off a bit against the Raiders last week. He threw for 253 yards and one score in the first meeting with the Saints and ran for 71 yards with a touchdown on the ground as well.

The rushing effort here has been lackluster all year. The running backs combined for eight scores - the same as Newton - and never once had any runner top 100 yards in any game. Jonathan Stewart was finally given the starting job, did nothing with it and then has been out since week 12 with a high ankle sprain. Stewart only scored once all year and never ran for more than 51 yards in any game and never was allowed more than 17 runs. DeAngelo Williams is likely done in Carolina and had three touchdowns this year on the ground plus two as a receiver. Michael Tolbert existed only to steal the occasional touchdown himself.

Stewart almost played last week when he was only questionable and got some practice time on Friday. I'll assume he mixes in this week to ensure no runner matters here.

Greg Olsen enjoyed a career year with five scores and nine games over 50 yards but has mostly been marginal as a fantasy starter along with most every other tight end in the league. Olsen has been on a nice streak to end the year though with around 50 yards in each of the last eight games. He's clearly the best receiver behind Steve Smith though he only managed one catch for 13 yards in the last Saints game. Brandon Lafell had 90 yards on six catches in that game while Steve Smith accounted for 104 yards on just three catches.

No different ending here. Newton and Smith are must starts and the rest are risky bets that are even less likely to do well in a road game.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 4 25 23 10 32 18
Preventing Fantasy Points NO 32 29 32 25 22 13

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Cam Newton, CAR NO 30100026021 ***
The matchup couldn't be better for Newton, but he needs to be much improved. In the last five weeks, he has thrown eight picks and has not rushed for a touchdown. Superman has a shoulder injury that has proven to be problematic-ish. He still has scored at least 26 fantasy points in three of those five games, and until last week, Newton had at least two touchdown throws in every game since Week 1. He had two TD passes and one rushing score in the two regular-season games last year and was brilliant in the playoff loss.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR NO 6009802000 ***
These teams haven't met yet in 2018, and the matchup couldn't be much worse for McCaffrey on the ground. The Saints offer a little reprieve through the air. On the ground, this defense has held running backs to one touchdown over the last 79 carries, covering five games. McCaffrey scored in two of the three meetings last year and went over 100 receiving yards in a pair of those games. He managed at least 15.9 PPR points and wasn't a factor on the ground in last year's system.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR DJ Moore, CAR NO 2004600000 ***
Moore has one score since Week 2, but he has been consistently involved over the last four games. Since Week 10, he has no fewer than eight targets in any contest and has produced a minimum of 10.5 PPR points. While he probably won't jump out as a marquee contributor this week, the matchup is ripe for the pickin'.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Curtis Samuel, CAR NO 1004700000 ***
Samuel has generated no fewer than 12 points in PPR in each of the last four games and five of six. He has three TDs in that greater window and is coming off consecutive efforts of 80-plus yards. New Orleans has surrendered the most receptions and yardage (by a mile) in 2018 to WRs. No squad has permitted more points per contest in PPR.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Devin Funchess, CAR NO 004400000 ***
He was blanked on his three targets last week and now has caught just three balls over his last 14 looks, going for 49 yards and a 10-yard TD. With just one score since Week 7, Funchess is basically unplayable at this point. Look for other options, which is a shame given the matchup.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Ian Thomas, CAR NO 005500000 ***
Thomas is intriguing for gamers in dire need of a warm body. New Orleans has been vulnerable to the position and could force Carolina into a pass-happy script.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Chandler Catanzaro, CAR NO 3322 ***
No writeup available

New Orleans Saints
Homefield: Superdome
Sportexe Turf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 WAS 32-40 10 ATL 31-27
2 @CAR 27-35 11 @OAK 38-17
3 KC 24-27 12 SF 21-31
4 @GB 27-28 13 @ATL 13-23
5 SD 31-24 14 @NYG 27-52
6 BYE ----- 15 TB 41-0
7 @TB 35-28 16 @DAL 34-31
8 @DEN 14-34 17 CAR -----
9 PHI 28-13 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NO vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Drew Brees 320,2
RB Mark Ingram II 70,1
WR Dez Bryant 6-100,1
TE Benjamin Watson 3-30

Pregame Notes: The Saints have a chance at a .500 season which is remarkable considering that they were 1-5. The problem all along has not been with the offense which is just as good as it has ever been and is actually more balanced now. The effects of BountyGate was devastating to a defense that wasn't that great to start with and it really showed with seven opponents scoring 28 points or more. That's been good business for fantasy teams owning Saints players and Drew Brees has been a gold mine again this year.

Brees already threw 39 touchdowns this year and crossed 300 yards nine times including the last four weeks and two efforts over 400 yards. His 446 yards and three scores last week came at the perfect time in fantasy championships. Brees was held to only one passing score by the Panthers last time but threw for 315 yards and ran in one touchdown as well.

What happens with the Panthers is that they have good cornerbacks and their one strength is against wide receivers. They are below average against running backs and tight ends. In week two, Darren Sproles had 13 catches for 128 yards in Carolina as a season best. Mark Ingram ran for 53 yards and one score and has scored in three of the last four games. Pierre Thomas rushed for 110 yards on just nine carries in Carolina but has been marginal as a runner in almost all other games.

Jimmy Graham reeled in seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting but has been hampered by his wrist for most of the last two months. He has not scored for the last five weeks but still ends up around 60 yards in games. He has the current lead in the NFL with 13 drops this season thanks to the bad wrist.

The Panthers play the corners very well so that makes relying on Lance Moore or Marques Colston harder to do this week. But Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles should both benefit from facing the weakest part of the defense. Even Pierre Thomas could show up with something significant again as he did in the first meeting.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NO 1 3 8 2 23 21
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 8 22 3 21 27 16

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Drew Brees, NO @CAR 0000025020 ***
These teams haven't met in 2018. Brees was good for 220-3-0 in the 2017 Week 3 trip to Carolina, and he managed lines of 269-1-0 in Week 13 and 376-2-2 in the wildcard playoff game. Carolina has been respectable against RBs of late, which suggests Brees will indeed be asked to throw.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alvin Kamara, NO @CAR 4007601000 ***
Kamara scored four times in three games vs. the 2017 Panthers, but he wasn't exceptional in any of the games. He posted 29.6 PPR points in the Week 13 game, rushing for two touchdowns and adding 120 offensive yards -- really dang good but not bonkers. Carolina has been throttled in the last five weeks by the position, giving up five rushing TDs, one receiving score and 22 receptions.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram II, NO @CAR 5011100000 ***
Tides have turned. The Panthers entered Week 10 with one of the best run defenses in football. Only Tevin Coleman had run for more than 100 yards, and that was in Week 2. Since Week 9 concluded, Carolina has given up five touchdowns only 108 carries and has allowed a receiving score, as well. Ingram was average (10.6 points), great (24.2) and poor (4.5) in three games last year vs. Carolina.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Thomas, NO @CAR 006801000 ***
The top receiver for each opponent over the last six games has gone for at least 21.1 PPR points vs. the Panthers. These rivals haven't met yet in 2018, and Thomas was able to 21-plus PPR points twice and 18 points in his three battles last season with Carolina.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tre'quan Smith, NO @CAR 001300000 ***
Carolina has been a good matchup across the board for receivers. Smith is a big-play option at this stage of his young career, so without a touchdown, his returns are limited. Trust him only in DFS right now.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Keith Kirkwood, NO @CAR 003300000 ***
Kirkwood has deep-flier value in DFS but isn't worthwhile in a conventional league. The matchup is actually favorable, but it would take a team being in one heck of a tight spot to trust him in the playoffs.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Benjamin Watson, NO @CAR 003300000 ***
Carolina has been a favorable opponent all year for tight ends. Unfortunately, Watson's role is too inconsistent to instill any sense of confidence in season-long formats. Think daily only.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO @CAR 2233 ***
No writeup available

WEEK 17
2012
ARI at SF CLE at PIT JAC at TEN OAK at SD
BAL at CIN DAL at WAS KC at DEN PHI at NYG
CAR at NO GB at MIN MIA at NE STL at SEA
  CHI at DET HOU at IND NYJ at BUF TB at ATL

a d v e r t i s e m e n t