Will the Carolina Panthers really go for 16-0? It’s the question everyone around the NFL and especially in weekly fantasy football circles will hear and ask themselves over the final four weeks of the season.
Panthers fans have enjoyed quarterback Cam Newton’s incredible and MVP-worthy play for 12 straight victories, as well as running back Jonathan Stewart, tight end Greg Olsen, and in spots receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess. And don't forget about their stalwart D/ST.
To put it in perspective, Newton’s the second-highest scoring player in all of fantasy this season and he’s barely 13 points behind New England’s Tom Brady for the top spot, according to FantasyData.com. Stewart’s the eighth-highest scoring RB, and Olsen’s No. 2 behind the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski. That D/ST is also second only to Denver.
Given the Patriots injury woes, Newton and Olsen, making up Carolina’s most lethal combo maybe in its history as a franchise, should both take over the No. 1 slots in most every league format in the next couple of weeks.
But when exactly does Carolina and head coach Ron Rivera turn off the faucet and save some of that undefeated elixir for the postseason? The Panthers already wrapped up the division, rendering three of their last four games (all against NFC South members) moot, and Newton should have no trouble against the New York Giants No. 31 ranked defense in Week 15. That is if he even plays.
We’ve all seen teams put up unbelievable stats and victories during the regular season but flounder late due to injuries or fatigue in the postseason, and it’s something the Panthers and Rivera are undoubtedly debating as they’re on the cusp of just the second 16-0 regular season in history.
Obviously we’ll have to wait and see what Carolina decides, but if they rest Newton, Stewart, or Olsen, fantasy owners should know to check our weekly rankings for the best options in Week 14 and beyond.
Here’s out full breakdown of Week 14 and the players weekly fantasy league players should target at each position
1.Andy Dalton, Bengals
2.Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
3.Aaron Rodgers, Packers
4.Carson Palmer, Cardinals
5.Tyrod Taylor, Bills
Bonus: Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
Such a huge game between Dalton and Roethlisberger, and it figures to be a shootout, with Dalton coming out on top against a Steelers D that’s given up the seventh-most points in fantasy to quarterbacks. The Bengals have the fifth-best defense against QBs, but Roethlisberger should still put up an excellent point total and he’s a far better option than New England’s Brady at this point. Rodgers is strangely an outlier pick vs. a Cowboys D that’s No. 7 against QBs, but then you remember his limited receiving corps and lack of a running game and understand why he's No. 3 this week. Palmer should pick on a Vikings D that’s appeared to have lost its stride of late. Taylor gets the Eagles eighth-worst D versus QBs and the added benefit of a very motivated LeSean McCoy.
1.LeSean McCoy, Bills
2.Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
3.T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
4.Devonta Freeman, Falcons
5.Todd Gurley, Rams
It couldn't have been scripted any better for McCoy. He gets to keep his new team in the AFC playoff hunt and hand his old team, the Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly, a loss at the worst possible time. Philly’s only surrendering 16.8 ppg to RBs, according to ESPN, which puts them smack in the middle of the league. But it will find it difficult to stop McCoy, who’s gained 488 of his 792 yards over the last five games. Meanwhile, Stewart faces Atlanta’s fourth-worst rushing D in fantasy, and Freeman’s a play in PPR leagues even against Carolina’s vaunted D.
1.Antonio Brown, Steelers
2.Sammy Watkins, Bills
3.Alshon Jeffery, Bears
4.A.J. Green, Bengals
5.Mike Evans. Buccaneers
It’s quite simple. When Roethlisberger is under center there’s no touching Antonio Brown, and he stares down a Bengals secondary that’s only No. 12 against receivers this season. Watkins has the most favorable matchup with Philly surrendering 27.8 ppg to receivers, and Jeffery draws Washington’s sixth-worst D versus wideouts as Chicago clings to wild card hopes. Green will either haul in a ton of catches for mid-level yardage or get nothing at all, either way he’s a strong play in PPR leagues only. And Evans will probably ask Jameis Winston for another touchdown throw in Week 14, which should come easily against the Saints.
1.Tyler Eifert, Bengals
2.Eric Ebron, Lions
3.Delanie Walker, Titans
4.Greg Olsen, Panthers
5.Julius Thomas, Jaguars
Bonus: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers
Eifert takes over the top spot with Pittsburgh letting up 64 receptions for 705 yards and eight scores to tight ends this season, and Ebron makes the list for a second straight week against a struggling Rams D. Walker will continue to prove that rookie QBs love their tight ends, even against the Jets No. 3 fantasy D against TEs. Thomas should also extend his streak to four-straight games with a touchdown grab against Indy’s No. 21 D vs. TEs.
1.Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks
2.Charcandrick West, RB, Chiefs
3.Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints
4.Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns
5.Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs
Rawls is a popular pick for the rest of the season, and he’s on top because he belongs there, but he faces a big test against a Ravens D that’s let up just one rushing touchdown all season. West and maybe even Spencer Ware get to carve up the Chargers, by far the worst fantasy rushing defense in the land, and Benjamin’s usually shined with Johnny Manziel under center.
Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota has a bright future, just not in Week 14 against the Jets No. 11 D versus QBs and Darrelle Revis maybe back from a concussion. The Packers really only have to worry about Cowboys running back Darren McFadden. Carolina can terrorize Falcons QB Matt Ryan for a 13th straight win, and the Chiefs can do the same to San Diego’s poor offensive line. Denver’s a tough pick because Oakland certainly has firepower, but the Broncos are back to form now that Brock Osweiler’s probably the starting QB for the rest of the season.