Fantasy Football season is upon us and some of you may have already drafted your teams. For those of you who drafted Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, you have my condolences. However there is a good portion of fantasy footballers who will not draft until closer to the season’s start so as to have the most accurate understanding of the players.
With that in mind, who are the Panthers players you should be looking at? The Panthers are an interesting team for fantasy prospects, because they have four people who run the football. This devalues DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart as picks. Since running backs used to be the gods of fantasy, this makes a list harder to create. Let’s identify five guys you should look at.
1. Cam Newton, quarterback
Cam is a no brainer. Some people are picking Cam to have a step back year because of question marks on the offensive line and receiver corps. I tend to think Cam will get his. Cam’s passing yards have leveled off from his rookie production, but he is still the most likely NFL quarterback to use his legs. This includes at the goal line. He was taken as the 16th most valuable QB by ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, which is a decision that I still can’t wrap my head around. Someone in your fantasy league will draft Newton to captain their team. They will likely be pleasantly surprised.
2. Greg Olsen, tight end
It is common for leagues to have a tight end spot, and you want a tight end that is going to get looks. Olsen will get those this year, as he will have the most chemistry with Cam to start the season. Olsen led the team in receptions last year, an important fact for those in reception scoring leagues. In the right conditions, Olsen could have a 1,000 yards receiving. Of course that is bad for the Panthers, because it means a lack of other weapons.
The Panthers defense is built to rush the passer. That means that there should be opportunities for things that pass rushing creates. Those would be interceptions, fumbles, and the occasional safety. Drafting defense in fantasy is often luck, since high scoring fantasy defenses may not necessarily be good NFL defenses. With Greg Hardy available to start the season, it at least sounds like a good idea to draft the Panthers defense.
4. Graham Gano, kicker
This is a pick that Panther pessimists should agree with. With Newton’s weapons stall then the offense will too, and that might mean more kicking opportunities for Graham Gano. The fly in the ointment is the ‘Riverboat Ron’ mentality and whether that will cost Gano kicks. If you are scratching your head a little bit, this is coming from a guy who used to draft former Detroit kicker Jason Hanson on a regular basis and it worked out.
5. Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver
You are drafting on potential here. Benjamin could be the number one target of the offense. More importantly, Cam knows it. He has been taking the time to work with Benjamin specifically. No one has seen Benjamin drop a ball in camp. I’ll remind fantasy drafters that Julio Jones had 960 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns as a rookie. Benjamin will be more important to the Panthers in 2014 than Jones was to the Falcons in 2011. As a fantasy owner, would you take a flyer on that production?
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