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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Team Talk: Carolina Panthers

By Adam Filadelfo (@Frostt24)

Let's take a look at the defending NFC South champions the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers had a phenomenal 2013 and will look to repeat as division champions once again in a very tough division. The wide receiver corp has been decimated and a top defensive lineman has had some off the field issues lately. Come September, none of that could matter when the Panthers take the field. Let's look at some key fantasy contributors coming from the reigning NFC South champions.

Cam Newton- Cam had offseason ankle surgery and is on track to participate in offseason workouts and isn't in any jeopardy of missing preseason or regular season time. Coming off of another spectacular fantasy season, Cam didn't disappoint his fantasy owners in 2013. He finished with over 3,300 yards passing and another 587 on the ground. Add to that a total of 30 touchdowns and you have yourself a stud quarterback heading into the 2014 season. There is a concern regarding Cam since his receiving corp has been depleted from last season and the Carolina run game isn't what it used to be. Owners will still draft Cam as a top fantasy signal caller but realize there could be some regression heading his way.

DeAngelo Williams- Missing just one game in 2013, DeAngelo Williams handled a bulk of the carries with Jonathan Stewart playing in only six regular season games. As the lead back for the Panthers, Williams finished the season with 141 fantasy points averaging almost nine points per contest. Don't expect too much  more heading into this season.

Jonathan Stewart- Stewart was a non factor to fantasy owners last season appearing in only six games and did not provide any value in that limited time. He had 180 rushing yards and barely broke 20 fantasy points along the way. If healthy, Stewart should provide a little more value than what his 2013 numbers showed but expecting much more from him will not help your fantasy team at all.

Greg Olsen- Olsen was one of the more reliable fantasy tight ends in 2013 finishing with 73 catches for over 800 yards and six touchdowns. As long as Cam Newton is healthy, Olsen should provide his fantasy owners with stability at the tight end position once again in 2014.

Ed Dickson- Dickson did not provide much value to fantasy owners in 2013 when he was with the Baltimore Ravens which comes as a bit of a surprise considering Dennis Pitta missed most of the regular season. Fantasy owners were expecting a bit more from Dickson but he just didn't come through. Appearing in 13 games, Dickson finished with just over two fantasy points per contest in 2013 and with Greg Olsen as the every week tight end in Carolina, don't expect too much from Dickson in 2014 either.

Kelvin Benjamin- The rookie receiver from the National Champions Florida State Seminoles, Kelvin Benjamin will most likely be the number one receiver in Carolina. If only for the reason that there aren't many options to choose from. That could mean big numbers from the rookie and could help fantasy owners who draft him. The opportunity will be there but that doesn't necessarily mean the production will. Benjamin did produce while at Florida State finishing his college career with 84 receptions for 1,506 yards and 19 touchdowns in the two years he played. He's definitely worth a late round pick in fantasy drafts based on opportunity alone.

D/ST- The Panthers defensive unit finished the 2013 season in the top five of fantasy defenses. Some of that had to do with the return ability of Ted Ginn Jr but most of that had to do with the ability of top defenders like Luke Kuechly and Greg Hardy causing opposing offenses headaches. While Carolina could take a slight step back as far as defense/special teams is concerned with the departure of Ginn Jr, there's no reason to think the Panthers can't be a top fantasy defense once again in 2014.