Carolina Panthers (5-10, 5-10 ATS) at New Orleans Saints (7-8, 7-8), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Panthers Stats and Trends
The Panthers beat the Saints 26-7 as three-point home underdogs in a game totaled at 45 points back in Week 2.
The Panthers are 5-1 toward overs in their last six games.
Cam Newton has now lost 13 straight games as Carolina’s starting quarterback dating back to 2018, and he’s yet to cover a spread in five starts this season. Newton is averaging 5.5 YPA while completing 54.1% of his passes in his five starts, and Sam Darnold didn’t show much improvement as he rotated in with Cam in Week 16. He hasn’t averaged more than 6.0 YPA in each of his last six appearances and he hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in four consecutive games. Darnold finished with 305/2 passing against the Saints back in Week 2, but that was a much different time.
D.J. Moore has seen double-digit targets in four straight games and he’s reached double-digit FP in five straight contests. He’s scored just one touchdown in his last 11 games, and he hasn’t reached 20+ FP since he did it in three straight games in Weeks 2-4. Moore hung 8/79/1 receiving on 11 targets when these teams met back in Week 2, and he’s reached 79+ yards with five overall TDs in his last five games against the Saints.
The Panthers have come out slinging it to Robby Anderson in their first three games after firing OC Joe Brady, peppering Anderson with 30 overall targets. He’s posted 9+ FP in all three contests after posting 5/58 receiving on 10 targets against the Buccaneers. Robby finished with 3/38 receiving on six targets when these teams met in September.
Chuba Hubbard managed just 6/9 rushing on a 49% snap share last week against the Buccaneers, and Ameer Abdullah wasn’t any better with 5/9 scrimmage on a 33% share. Hubbard posted 8/10 rushing against the Saints earlier this season when he was the second option behind Christian McCaffrey, and New Orleans is giving up miserly 3.5 YPC to RBs this season.
Brolley’s Saints Stats and Trends
New Orleans hasn’t covered at home in four straight games
The Saints are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as a favorite.
New Orleans has played under the total in five straight games.
Taysom Hill will look to return this week after a stay on the COVID list last week. Taysom needed some late magic to get to 24+ FP in Weeks 13-14 before busting in Week 15 (9.5 FP) with 154 scoreless passing yards and 11/33 rushing. Hill has posted exactly 11 carries in each of three starts, and he accounted for 10+ FP as a runner in his first two starts. Jameis Winston managed just 111 passing yards and 5.0 YPA against the Panthers back in Week 2, and Carolina is allowing the fourth-fewest FPG (16.2) to QBs.
Marquez Callaway has been the #1 option in the passing game the last two weeks with 10/158 receiving on 14 targets, but he has just one performance with double-digit FP in his last six games. Callaway posted only 2/8 receiving on four targets when these teams met in September.
Alvin Kamara has been washed under by his terrible quarterback and offensive line situation. He has just 13.0 FP in his last two games combined with just 24/70 rushing (2.9 YPC) and 4/20 receiving against the Dolphins and Buccaneers. Kamara had a miserable day at the office when these teams met in Week 2, posting just 8/5 rushing and 4/25 receiving on six targets. The Panthers have allowed five RBs to post between 13-16.6 FP in their last three games.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 25.1 (6th)
Plays per game: 61.4 (24th)
Pass: 62.8% (11th) | Run: 37.2% (22nd)
Pace: 26.3 (17th)
Plays per game: 62.1 (21st)
Pass: 58.8% (22nd) | Run: 41.2% (11th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
The Saints are getting Taysom Hill back, which is a welcomed sight after the Ian Book disaster last week. HC Sean Payton went 57% run-heavy on early-downs in Hill’s three starts from Weeks 13-15 and New Orleans should be able to take a similar plan here as 7-point favorites. Meanwhile, the Panthers are averaging just 14.4 points per game over the last five weeks and are 0-5 ATS in this span as a result. HC Matt Rhule got his wish – the Panthers are running a ton (+9.5% above expectation) – but it’s clearly not working. This game is well-deserving of the second-lowest total on the slate (38 over/under).
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
When Donte Jackson hit IR, the Panthers were forced to move C.J. Henderson into a featured role. Among 78 qualified perimeter corners, Henderson is feeding his coverage with 1.65 YPCS (third-most), 0.40 FP/CS (second-most), 0.18 AY/CS (ninth-most), and a 142.1 TPR (the highest). He’s also allowing the ninth-highest rate of 20-plus completions. Running two-thirds of his routes on the left side will put Marquez Callaway into the coverage of Henderson. That’s a heck of a matchup if you’re desperate for a WR this week.
We can view the well below-average coverage metrics for Marshon Lattimore to evaluate this matchup, or we can look at the fact that he’s held his responsibilities to a combined 13/145/0, an average of 6.9 FPG, two INTs, six passes defensed, 0.04 FP/CS, 0.85 YPCS, and a 34.9 TPR. The otherworldly reversal of fortune for Lattimore could be due to finally having his surgically-repaired hand being 100% healed. Whatever the reason, the 48% of reps D.J. Moore will be devoting to the left sideline will completely go to waste with the way Lattimore is locking down his responsibilities. With Cam Newton and/or Sam Darnold delivering the ball, I want nothing to do with the Carolina offense.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Nobody’s going to say Taysom Hill is a great — or even good — player, but the struggles for rookie Ian Book last week highlight just how valuable even OK QB play can be for a team.
And that doesn’t even mention how valuable Hill is for fantasy. Here’s Jake Tribbey from Streamers:
“Hill is currently on the COVID list, and was inactive Monday night, but does have a good chance to play in Week 17.
It’s tough to consider Hill any less than a QB1 for as long as he’s the starter in New Orleans. In his 7 career starts at QB, Hill averages 21.0 FPG.
21.0 FPG, if extrapolated out for the full season, would rank 9th among all QBs, just behind Lamar Jackson and just ahead of Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott.
And Hill’s floor is basically unmatched. He’s averaging 11.1 rushing FPG in his 7 career starts, which, if sustained for an entire season, would rank as the greatest fantasy QB rushing season of all-time, ahead of 2019 Lamar Jackson (10.8 rushing FPG).
Any fantasy team that’s still competing in the playoffs and doesn’t have a top-8 QB needs to consider Hill as a potential streaming option this week, if he’s available and activated off the COVID list. His Week 17 matchup with Carolina is on the tougher end, as they’ve allowed the 4th-fewest FPG to opposing QBs this season (16.0). But, the Saints are 7.0-point favorites, so we can still anticipate that they take a run-heavy approach, which surely benefits Hill. He’s the top streaming option of Week 17 by a significant margin.”
Of course, Hill might not start this week, but I have to imagine he will. If not, it can’t be Book — it would be Trevor Siemian.
Sean Payton didn't name this week's starting QB because A) he wants to see who's back in the building first and B) he wouldn't ever name Sunday's starting lineup on a Wednesday anyway. But he does anticipate getting Taysom Hill back, among many others.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) December 29, 2021
It would be really nice to see Sean Payton put the ball in the hands of his best player, RB Alvin Kamara, but of course they gotta get Mark Ingram going! Kamara has played on just 60% of the snaps the last two weeks and has just 4 catches for 20 yards. That is criminal usage.
It’s not easy to trust any Saint WR, but if you are desperate and need to use WR Marquez Callaway, Panthers CB Stephon Gilmore will not play this week.
Meanwhile, for Carolina, I don’t know how to trust anyone here. They still have the Cam Newton and Sam Darnold rotation going, with Darnold drawing the start this week.
Matt Rhule said Sam Darnold will start at quarterback this week for the #Panthers.— Will Palaszczuk (@WilliePStyle) December 29, 2021
Cam Newton is "ready to play".
Yeah, so Darnold will probably play the most, with Newton coming in for certain packages. Fun!
It’s worth pointing out that Panther WR DJ Moore did have a great game with Darnold at QB in Week 2 against the Saints… but top CB Marshon Lattimore did not play in that game. Moore does have a strong overall history against the Saints, but with the shaky QB situation and Lattimore playing at as high a level as he has in his entire career, I consider Moore a WR3 for fantasy championships.