Game Predictions & Player Projections - CAR vs. JAC

Game Predictions & Player Projections - CAR vs. JAC


Game Predictions & Player Projections - CAR vs. JAC


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Prediction: CAR 24, JAC 20 (Line: CAR by 3.5)

The Panthers come off a 7-8-1 season where they were just 3-4-1 on the road. But they return Ron Rivera for his fourth season making him the 8th most tenured head coach in the NFL. Mike Shula is in his third season as the offensive coordinator and has had some success last year with Kelvin Benjamin and Jonathan Stewart. DeAngelo Williams left and his place was taken by the rookie Cameron Artis-Payne. They also added Devin Funchess which looms even bigger now that Benjamin has been lost for the year.

The Jaguars only managed a 3-13 mark but at least all three wins came at home. The only notable changes are the additions of T.J. Yeldon to the backfield that has been a problem since the glory days of Maurice Jones-Drew and Julius Thomas was the big free agent move. At least on paper, this offense should be improved. Gus Bradley remains the head coach for his third season but once again the offense changes with Greg Olson coming over from the Raiders to be the offensive coordinator.

The Panthers are staggering a bit from losing their star receiver but the team is still otherwise intact and consistent from last year. The Jags are still trying to put all the pieces together.

Carolina Panthers

1 @JAC —— 10 @TEN ——
2 HOU —— 11 WAS ——
3 NO —— 12 @DAL ——
4 @TB —— 13 @NO ——
5 BYE —— 14 ATL ——
6 @SEA —— 15 @NYG ——
7 PHI —— 16 @ATL ——
8 IND —— 17 TB ——
9 GB ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR @ JAC Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 60,1 190,1
RB Jonathan Stewart 80,1 1-10
WR Devin Funchess 4-50
TE Greg Olsen 6-70,1
PK Graham Gano 1 FG 3 XP

It is hard to overstate the impact of losing Kelvin Benjamin. Instead of having a star wideout, the Panthers are left looking at a rookie wideout and a smattering of players that wouldn’t rank as starters on any other team. While this is not a pass-heavy team, the season suddenly has the weakest outlook for wide receiver help maybe since before Steve Smith played. Fantasy leaguers are happy to see DeAngelo Williams leave and hopefully get the full effect of Jonathan Stewart. With a lesser passing ability, the rushing effort is bound to be relied on more.

QUARTERBACK : Although the Panthers saw a boost from Kelvin Benjamin last year, the reality was that Cam Newton had the worst passing season in his career. He did lose two games to injury but ended with just 3127 yards and 18 touchdowns. His rushing totals were done slightly but could see an uptick if there is any problems finding open receivers. Newton is still a very capable quarterback and his stock probably fell too much in fantasy drafts because of Benjamin. He’ll figure out a way to advance the ball and he always ends up with over 500 yards and five scores as a runner anyway.

RUNNING BACK : The Panthers turned to Jonathan Stewart for a heavy workload over the final seven games played in 2014 with nice results. He broke 100 rushing yards three times including 123 yards and a score in the win over the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs. His role as a receiver is minimal and the Panthers only ranked 30th in running back receptions. As always, the success that Newton has as a runner hurts the backfield that only ran in five scores last year and eight in 2013. Unless Devin Funchess proves a formidable end zone threat, the rushing touchdowns could see an upturn this year.

The Panthers will rely on fifth round pick Cameron Artis-Payne to be the #2 in the offense and he has received little press this summer. The ex-Auburn back is playing behind Stewart who missed 20 games over the last three seasons. Payne has little experience as a receiver but this offense won’t ask him to catch the ball much anyway.

WIDE RECEIVER : The Panthers 2.09 pick of Devin Funchess suddenly became the #1 wideout with the loss of Kelvin Benjamin. Those are big shoes to fill for a converted tight end who only played one season as wideout at Michigan. Funchess is huge at 6-4, 237 lbs. and would have been a great complement to Benjamin. He had a problem with drops in college and is not ready to be the same star as Benjamin. Funchess only caught 62 passes as a wideout in college and was even considered a tight end on some draft boards. But he has undeniable opportunity and a massive frame if he can get up to speed quickly enough.

The rest of the receivers are nothing special. Corey Brown is rumored to be on the outs and Ted Ginn was never meant to do more than return kicks. Jerricho Cotchery is a 33 year old journeyman wideout on his third team and has just one season when he topped 1000 yards (2007). Even with Benjamin last year this unit only ranked 25th in catches.

This week will be interesting to see the pass distribution and how well Funchess might play. But chances are that even after the game there won’t be any reliable fantasy value here.

TIGHT END : Say hello to a lot of catches. Greg Olsen already comes off a monster season of 84-1008-6 and is a lock to again lead the Panthers in catches and yards.He is the only known quantity in the passing equation and could easily end up even better for 2015. The loss of Benjamin will see more attention tendered here but in the words that every fantasy leaguer loves to hear – “who else you gonna throw to?”

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Jaguars biggest weakness is against the run but that is also a function of them often being far behind on the scoreboard and their opponents just running to end the game. This is an excellent place to trot out Stewart who should be at least moderately good if not have a big game. It will be interesting to see how Payne figures in (or doesn’t). Newton has to be considered a moderate start and he should at least rush for decent fantasy points. Olson will be a weekly start without question but using Funchess this early is very risky and likely to disappoint. Stick with Stewart and Olson – that will likely be the mantra for the next 17 weeks.

Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 6 31 24 6 14 22
Preventing Fantasy Points JAC 16 28 15 19 29 32

Jacksonville Jaguars

1 CAR —— 10 @BAL ——
2 MIA —— 11 TEN ——
3 @NE —— 12 SD ——
4 @IND —— 13 @TEN ——
5 @TB —— 14 IND ——
6 HOU —— 15 ATL ——
7 BUF —— 16 @NO ——
8 BYE —— 17 @HOU ——
9 @NYJ ——  
News | Statistics | Roster
JAC vs CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Blake Bortles 40 190,1
RB Jonas Gray 60,1 1-10
RB Chris Ivory 100,1 2-10
RB Denard Robinson 20 4-30
RB T.J. Yeldon 60,1 3-20
WR Allen Hurns 5-50,1
WR Allen Robinson 4-50
PK Jason Myers 2 FG 2 XP

The Jaguars stood pat on their wideouts but coughed up major money on Julius Thomas as if his previous success had nothing to do with Peyton Manning. Adding T.J. Yeldon made a lot of sense and he’ll find out quickly enough the difference between running behind the Alabama line versus the Jaguars line. Installing a new offense will take a bit of time and this was one of the worst offenses in 2014. But the pieces are genuinely in place for improvement.

QUARTERBACK : Blake Bortles‘ first season as a starter did not go as well as hoped. The former first round pick only threw for 2908 yards and 11 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. But by all reports, Bortles has made major strides this offseason and is prepared to take a big step up. Coming from the 30th ranked passing team, that won’t be too hard. Almost half of his games failed to reach 200 passing yards and over the final seven games he only threw three touchdowns.

RUNNING BACK : Denard Robinson led the team with just 582 rushing yards last year and the Jaguars ranked dead last in running back carries (298). There is a new offensive coordinator in Greg Olson so how he wants to share the ball or throw to the backs isn’t yet clear. Olson hails from the 30th ranked team in rushing attempts but at least the Raiders completed the fifth most passes to running backs (106). That bodes well for Robinson in a third down role since Jordan Toddman was just released.

T.J. Yeldon was a three year starter at Alabama and the Jaguars spent their 2.04 pick to acquire him. At 6-1, 226 lbs. he is the prototypical size for a workhorse back and should fill that role immediately. His biggest challenge is making plays behind one of the worst offensive lines.

WIDE RECEIVER : No wideout here had more than 677 yards last year but four of them turned in at least 400 yards. All combined they only scored ten touchdowns and six went to Alan Hurns. Allen Robinson has been a surprisingly popular pick this year for a wideout who only managed 48-548-2 last year with just an 11.4 yard average. Blake Bortles has really talked up Robinson which helped spawn the hype but this did come from a quarterback who threw fewer touchdown passes (11) than six different wideouts caught last year.

Robinson and Hurns will start and both are young and talented. This unit will improve but how much depends entirely on Bortles.

TIGHT END : In a somewhat surprising shocking move, the Jaguars signed Julius Thomas to a five-year, $46 million contract with $24 million guaranteed. No arguing the value that Thomas brought to the Broncos with 12 touchdowns in both of the last two seasons. No arguing how much Peyton Manning had to do with that, along with defenses more worried about several other receivers than Thomas. And no arguing how he faded badly at the end of both his good seasons and missed games both years.

Thomas needed hand surgery already and will miss at least the first three games. Clay Harbor will take his place and still play when the Jags use a two tight end formation.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: A new offense is being installed and their star tight end is missing. The Panthers only have an average defense but unless Bortles and crew vastly improved on their own practice field alone, average can beat the Jaguars. Charles Tillman should end up covering Allen Robinson so Hurns has the better matchup. Yeldon faces an average rush defense and is worth a start here if only because it is at home and there is no game film on him year. Consider Yeldon the only strong play but again – how much Denard Robinson may figure in for the first week could obviously impact Yeldon. Hurns and especially Robinson are only moderate plays with risk.

Gaining Fantasy Points JAC 29 27 25 26 31 21
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 18 17 21 14 10 26

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