Playing the first game of the 2016 NFL regular season, who are some select Panthers you should look to start and avoid having in your fantasy lineup?
Coming off of a long offseason and preseason, the Carolina Panthers are rolling into Week 1 with a chip on the shoulder, playing the team that emerged victorious over Carolina in the Denver Broncos. For fantasy owners, there are a few things to take note of before you lock in Panther players into your fantasy lineup.
Carolina Team Defense – Most season long fantasy leagues opt for a team defense over a position by position selection of players like the offensive side of fantasy football. Look to start the Carolina Panthers defense this week. With Peyton Manning retiring the Broncos offense is now led in Week 1 by Trevor Siemian, a seventh round draft pick out of Northwestern.
Siemian has taken one snap in his NFL regular season career, a kneel down, and was six picks away from being Mr. Irrelevant in the 2015 NFL Draft. Siemian even had a job lined up in Chicago in 2015, anticipating that he wouldn’t be drafted.
Yet here he is, a second year player in the NFL taking over the reins of the defending Super Bowl champions beating out a first round pick in this year’s draft (Paxton Lynch). While Siemian has certainly a lot of poise and potential, his preseason numbers were largely just the best of a shallow pool of candidates. Siemian had a 62% completion percentage in preseason but also did throw two interceptions.
An inexperienced quarterback, coupled with an inconsistent running game fronted by C.J. Anderson and new backup Devontae Booker, look to start the Panthers defense despite the youthful secondary.
Greg Olsen – In Super Bowl 50, tight end Greg Olsen had four catches on nine targets and commanded a lot of attention from the Denver secondary and linebackers. Now with Kelvin Benjamin back and a more experienced Devin Funchess, Olsen may slip a little lower under the Broncos radar than he did in February.
What still remains is that he is one of Cam Newton’s favorite options. Coming off another 1,000 yard plus (1,104) receiving season, Olsen should pick up where he left off and turn in a nice Week 1 performance.
Johnathan Stewart – For Johnathan Stewart, this year won’t be full of tribulation as long as the bell cow back can stay healthy. However, due to a stifling defense such as Denver’s coupled with his poor stats against Denver in the Super Bowl (12 carries for 29 yards), it may be best to keep Stewart on the bench. If you feel he is your only option, consider picking up Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware, who is only owned in 60% of ESPN fantasy leagues and is looking to start Week 1 with an ailing Jamaal Charles.
Ted Ginn Jr. – While Ginn did command the most targets out of any receiver in Super Bowl 50, Ginn is now in a more crowded receiving corps with Benjamin back and Funchess and Brenton Bersin turning in solid preseason performances. Ginn has always been a decent flex option or WR3 but in a game that could easily start off slow with the rust of playing regular season football having to be shaken off, don’t count on a high explosive play from a deep route runner like Ginn. One option you may want to look at instead on the Panthers front is Funchess, who may get more looks at the ball than Ginn.