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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Team Talk: Carolina Panthers

The Team Talk series rolls on! Today, Carolina and the Windy City as presented by The Fantasy Sports Brain newcomer Adam Filadelfo.  Follow him on Twitter: @Frostt24.

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It isn't every day you can say "Superman" has a chance to be on your fantasy football team but you can make it a reality by drafting a Carolina Panther.  Well, one for sure, and maybe another one...  Options here are rather top-heavy, so let's break it down:

Cam Newton - What makes Cam so valuable in fantasy football is that he is a dual threat: He can make plays with both his arm and his legs. He will rack up yards through the air and on the ground and he also scores touchdowns in both aspects of the game.  When Carolina is in the red zone they look for Newton to score one way or the other and consider him to be their primary rushing threat closer to the goal line. The last two seasons, Cam has stayed healthy but there's always an increased injury risk with running quarterbacks so keep that in mind and prioritize a backup in the middle rounds.

Steve Smith - Thought to be done for fantasy purposes, Steve Smith returned to glory two years ago when Cam Newton took over in Carolina. "Superman" made Steve Smith a household name again. Only problem with Smith is there isn't much else going on in Carolina. Defenses can focus in on Smith almost making the Panthers offense one dimensional. He still remains a viable option at the receiver position but a receiver three with receiver two potential if all goes right.

Brandon LaFell - Last year, hopes were high for LaFell but he failed to make much of a fantasy impact. The emergence of LaFell would have really helped Carolina since defenses would have had to focus on more than just Steve Smith. I wouldn't hold my breath that LaFell breaks out this season either, but he is slated to be the #2 receiver in an offense with a quality #1 and a strong quarterback... so there is potential there very late in your drafts.

Greg Olsen - With Tight End being relatively weak this season, Olsen may be a value pick in drafts. He's a good receiving Tight End that will help Carolina on offense who will be more useful in PPR leagues. Olsen still needs to take that next step to be considered a top tier Tight End for fantasy. Although not quite at that Gronk/Graham level just yet, you can feel confident if Greg Olsen is your starting Tight End in 2013.

DeAngelo Williams -  The Panthers have a dynamic duo at the running back position yet neither can seem to hit that elite level. This year could be Williams year though. With Jonathan Stewart banged up, Williams should see more carries which could lead to better production. I could see two problems that could halt that production though. First the obvious. Cam Newton will still get his rushing yards and goal line carries. Vulturing touchdowns from Stewart could hurt his value significantly. The other problem is injuries. DeAngelo hasn't exactly been the epitome of health over his career. If you can draft Williams as your third or fourth running back, he may pay off as a value pick. Anything more than that is asking too much from him at this point.

Jonathan Stewart - He's starting the season banged up, which doesn't bode well for him. He has the potential to be a serviceable running back but he always seems to get hurt. With Williams and Stewart in the backfield together, they can cancel each other out even if healthy. But the biggest issue is time on the field so until Carolina figures out how to keep their tailbacks healthy, I wouldn't want any part of them.