By Kenny Bowers
Week 3 is here! Hope that your season-long fantasy teams are doing well, and if you haven’t yet, you need to try your hand at DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports). Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel offer contests of all sizes, even free ones if you don’t want to jump in right away. One of the things I love most about DFS is the added excitement it adds to games that the average NFL fan wouldn’t pay attention to. Unfortunately, the Bengals-Panthers game falls into that category for most fans, except us! While this game doesn’t pop out with high Vegas totals, there is always the possibility that the game you least expect turns into a shootout. Let’s dig in and see how our Panthers match up for Sunday!
Cam Newton ($6,000 DraftKings, $8,300 FanDuel):
Cam has only faced the Bengals once, in 2014. That game ended up a tie 37-37, but he was effective throwing for 284 yards and rushing for 107, accounting for 3 TD. As I mentioned last week, his read option is as effective as ever now with McCaffrey and Anderson running backs you can’t ignore. I will talk more about McCaffrey later, but Panther fans don’t need to see it as a weakness that he is and will probably continue to be our best receiving option. We haven’t seen a lot of throws downfield, mainly because beyond Funchess and Jarius Wright, there have been injury or drop issues. I will say this every week, what makes Cam a top QB in fantasy is what he does with his legs. While his price has increased on FanDuel, it’s decreased on DraftKings. If you are looking for a cheaper, very low owned (in terms of who drafts him in DFS contests) QB that should easily exceed expectations, you can do a lot worse than Cam against a Bengals D not known for handling mobile QB’s well.
Projections: 250-275 yards passing, 3 TD, 1 INT; 60-80 yards rushing, 1 TD.
Christian McCaffrey ($7,800 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel):
Now here’s someone who isn’t going to sneak by anyone. If anything, people will be looking for reasons not to play him because he will be popular (fading). His average stats on the ground aren’t what makes him popular, of course. It’s his pass catching ability, and leagues where PPR (Points Per Reception) are in play like DFS make him worth a look every week. This week is no exception, as the Bengals are a below average 22nd in defending the pass and 19th against the run. As evidence by CJ Anderson ($3,700 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel) getting the first snap last week, don’t forget about him if you’re looking for a cheap, low risk option (punt). The only drawback to rostering McCaffrey in DFS is that Cam and CJ Anderson will get more goal-line looks then him. However, the big-play potential he possesses as well as the volume of passes his way makes him a top 5 DFS RB, which his price dictates.
Projections: 50-70 yards rushing; 8-10 receptions, over 100 yards, 1 TD
Here’s where it gets a little iffy for the Panthers in terms of rostering them in your DFS lineups. Beyond Devin Funchess ($5,300 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel), there doesn’t seem to be a solid #2 option. Even Funchess has had his issues with drops as well as drawing the top corner each time out. While I think he will continue to grow into the #1 role, I am looking more towards Jarius Wright ($3,700 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel). As I mentioned last week, Wright is familiar with Norv Turner’s system. He turned in a very good performance, catching 5 of 7 targets for 62 yards and a TD. At his price on both sites, a performance like that you’ll take all day. I expect more of the same and eventually should replace Torrey Smith ($3,500 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel) as a #2 target. I think that any downfield action would benefit Smith, but Cam hasn’t shown the willingness to do that just yet. He would be a boom or bust option for me. Same for DJ Moore ($3,800 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel), except in his case there is no telling what his snap count will be. When it comes to picking receivers, it’s all about volume. If you are stacking Carolina I would go with Cam/McCaffrey/Wright, mainly to balance the high McCaffrey salary. Beyond them, you are rolling the dice until we can see some consistency out of this bunch.
Projections: Funchess: 5-7 receptions, 60-75 yards, TD.
Wright: 4-6 receptions, 50-70 yards, TD
Smith: 2-4 receptions, 30-40 yards
Moore: 1-2 catches, 15 yards; 10 rushing yards
Thomas:2-4 catches, 30 yards
Defense/Special Teams: I tip my cap to anyone who saw Tevin Coleman ripping up our D, and Matt Ryan running for 2 TD’s? Let’s not read too much into that, and especially this week against a Bengals offense missing one of it’s biggest stars in Joe Mixon. This leaves former Tar Heel Giovani Bernard as the top RB, and I am very confident Luke and the gang can handle him. I gained more respect for Bradbury and the secondary last week. That loss wasn’t on them, and they will have their hands full with AJ Green and an emerging Tyler Boyd this week too. The Bengals are also missing their starting center, so there is an added opportunity for fumbled snaps and potential turnovers. Otherwise, I think Dalton will be able to do just enough to keep this competitive, while the Panthers D rebounds from an outlier last week and makes it a point to shut down the run.
Projections: 14-20 points, 4-6 sacks, 2 TO’s.
I feel overall like the Panthers should be able to execute on offense, and as long as they can keep AJ Green in check and prevent Boyd and Bernard from doing anything unusual we should have a Panthers W in the books. Good luck with your teams and as always, Keep Pounding!
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