Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) is brought down by Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short (99) and outside linebacker Chase Blackburn (93) during the second half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers Fantasy Football Primer


The regular season is just around the corner, and the glorious game of fantasy football is as well. Whether you want to earn bragging rights over your friends, or prove to your father-in-law that you are man enough for his daughter, being successful in your fantasy league is a great way to showcase your skills. I’m here to help you not only win your league, but win it with a few of our beloved Panthers.

Jan 30, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton attends the Madden Bowl XX Red Carpet event at the USS Intrepid Mandatory. Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

PANTHERS YOU SHOULD DRAFT:

1) Cam Newton: If you’re lucky enough to pick high in your draft, don’t screw around and draft someone you think will have ‘a breakout season’. First round picks are for sure-thing fireballs, and Cam Newton is muy caliente. Cam certainly isn’t the best passer in the league, but his dynamic game is a gold mine for fantasy owners. Newton is a guaranteed lock for at least 5 rushing TDs each season, which is what makes him such a dynamo. He continues to lead the NFL each year in rushing points for quarterbacks, and should be even more effective on the ground now that his ankle has been repaired.

2) Greg Olsen: Tight-end is one of the most valuable positions in fantasy, and Greg Olsen should be up for grabs in the later rounds. His value is often overlooked, which makes him a steal for fantasy vultures. Now that head coach Ron Rivera plans to run more two tight-end sets in 2014, Olsen is shaping up to have a career season in 2014. Consider that he’ll be lining up alongside a fairly inexperienced Carolina receiving corps, and Olsen should have even more opportunities; especially in the red-zone. There aren’t many TEs I’d take before Olsen, and he is an absolute robbery in the 5th or 6th round.

3) Graham Gano: As far as kickers go, Gano is as dependable as they get. Not only that, but he hits field goals from ranges that earn you the most points. In 2013, Graham pummeled 24/27 FG’s through the goal posts, earning a total of 128 fantasy points. The most intriguing stat for 2013, however, is that his leg nailed 6/6 field goals from 50+ yards out. Talk about dependability. You certainly can’t go wrong with Gano, as he is one of the most reliable guys to choose from.

4) Panthers’ D/ST: I scoured the dictionary, looking for adjectives that did the Panthers’ defense justice. The word I decided on was DOMINANT. With an elite front seven and one of the greatest turnover ratios in the league last season, the Panthers have the most valuable fantasy defense amongst the league. 60 sacks and 20 interceptions was enough to earn 185 points last season, and fantasy gurus have them performing even better in 2014. This defense could easily earn you 200 points over 16 weeks of play, and you shouldn’t hesitate to select Luke Kuechly and co. during the last three rounds. Although, I’m sure there will be some crazy Panthers fan out there that will select them in Round 2. There always is.

PANTHERS YOU SHOULD AVOID DRAFTING:

1) DeAngelo Williams: We all love DeAngelo, but he simply isn’t a viable fantasy option. With an overloaded backfield, DWill was only able to put up 4 touchdowns in 2013, producing a measly 128 points. That’s an average 8 points/game.

Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) stretches prior to the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) stretches prior to the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

While #34 can be explosive, the Panthers usually go with the bulldozer Mike Tolbert at the goal line, which unfortunately doesn’t bode well for Williams’ touchdown totals for 2014. Now that fellow RB Jonathan Stewart is looking healthier than he ever has, carries in the Panthers backfield will be scarce to come by, and monumental to capitalize on. DeAngelo garners at most a late round selection, and could be an emergency bench option. I love Williams’ talent, but despise his situation.

2) Kelvin Benjamin: For the love of everything fantasy football, please do not draft Kelvin Benjamin. I know one of you knuckleheads is going to do it, but resist temptation. Benjamin is the definition of unproven, and while I’m just as excited as anyone about his potential, he isn’t worth the pick. Via a recent interview with Ross Tucker , Benjamin revealed that he had been working as the #1 receiver in the 2nd team offense. While we don’t know what’s going to go down in training camp, it seems that the Panthers will be putting Benjamin in limited, specialized packages out of the gate. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this means limited receptions until he can prove he deserves a bigger role. Will Benjamin be a big red zone target? Yes, but that doesn’t mean  that he’ll be a successful one. If no one in your league drafts Kelvin, see how he performs week one, and continue to monitor the waiver wire. He could potentially be a steal, but right now, he’s a high risk.

Dishonorable mentions: Jonathan Stewart, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood

 


There you have it, folks. Carolina is chock-full of great fantasy options, but also has an abundant selection of temptable risks. While we all love our Panthers, fantasy football demands the attention of your brain, and not the love for players. Draft smart, and draft safe. *Hunger Games salute*

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