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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
RB Jonathan Stewart 30 2-20
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 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.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
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.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
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.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
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.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
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.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Russell Shepard, CAR NO 002300000 ***
Shepard is presented with a stellar matchup that conceivably makes him a deep flier for DFS action.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
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.

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 70,1
RB Adrian Peterson 120,1 5-30

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 0000027021 ***
Carolina is one of two teams to prevent a TD pass so far, albeit versus Buffalo and San Fran's passing games. The Saints' star went for 39.3 and 22.3 points in his two matchups with Carolina last year.

Update: Once again, Brees will be without both of his starting offensive tackles. This was the case last week, and he was sacked just once.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Mark Ingram, NO @CAR 3005400000 **
Ingram is the only safe play in this backfield on a week-to-week basis, yet this isn't exactly one of them. Carolina has yet to allow a score to RBs on 44 touches in 2017. He managed only 18.5 fantasy points spread over two contests last year vs. the Panthers.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Alvin Kamara, NO @CAR 1004200000 ***
Kamara is a total flier in PPR DFS for the time being. The Panthers are a poor matchup and haven't permitted a TD to running backs thus far.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Adrian Peterson, NO @CAR 200000000 ***
Peterson is edging closer to being a waiver candidate. Keep him away from starting lineups.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Thomas, NO @CAR 006900000 ***
Lines of 5-78-1 and 5-68-0 summarize Thomas' two meetings with Carolina in his rookie year. This season, with added pressure and defensive scrutiny, Thomas hasn't enjoyed a strong showing.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Ted Ginn, NO @CAR 004400000 ***
Always a possible TD grab away, Ginn isn't worth much without scoring. The Panthers haven't allowed a WR TD yet, albeit against inferior competition. Ginn is as risky as they come.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Brandon Coleman, NO @CAR 003300000 ***
Carolina has clamped down on wideouts so far, allowing only 183 yards on 18 grabs. The Saints spread the rock well, so maybe Coleman gets lucky for a brazen DFSer.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Coby Fleener, NO @CAR 005401000 ***
Fleener has produced adequately in each of the first two weeks, catching two TDs on his 10 targets. The Panthers present a tough TE matchup, so beware this could go south. Fleener scored in both of the meetings last year.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Wil Lutz, NO @CAR 1122 ***
Lutz was good for 19 fantasy points in two games last year against Carolina, a team that has given up two field goals and no extra points in two weeks.

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

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