Panthers Fantasy News
Previewing the Steelers' WR2 competition
Friday, July 25, 2014, 1:06pm
Steelers beat writer Scott Brown on the team's WR pecking order: (Lance Moore) looked really good during offseason practices, and he is such a solid player and one of those guys who just knows how to get open. I don’t see much of a difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receivers since the Steelers will use a three-wideout formation frequently. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Moore gets the majority of the snaps opposite Brown when the Steelers use only two wide receivers. Markus Wheaton will be given every opportunity to win a starting job in camp but it won’t be given to him. If he stays healthy I think he will emerge this season and become a big part of the passing game. Wheaton wants to be great and he has the physical talent to succeed at this level.
The Steelers play a lot of three-WR sets, so we’re expecting big snaps for Wheaton even if Lance Moore is on the field for two-WR sets. (Emmanuel Sanders played 76% of the snaps in 2013, while Jerricho Cotchery played 60%.) Wheaton was a 3rd round pick and is a terrific athlete. He’s not big (5’11”) but he fits the mold of a typical Steeler receiver. Despite a short resume, Wheaton is a breakout candidate if he sees big snaps in his second year. In the last four seasons, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown (x2) and Sanders have averaged 65-848-4.5 in the Steelers' WR2 role.
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Rams QB Sam Bradford a 'full go' for camp
Friday, July 25, 2014, 12:47pm
Bradford is coming off a torn ACL, but coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday that there wouldn’t be any limits on the quarterback during practice.
“Sam is in great shape,” Fisher said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s ready to go. We don’t have [reservations] — right now as we speak, as camp starts — he’s full-go. If we need to back him down here and there, we’ll back him down.”
Through the first seven games of the season, Bradford averaged 16.9 FP and was the #11 QB before injuring his knee late in a game against the Panthers. Fantasy-wise, he may have turned a corner, but he's going to have to put together a full, productive season to get a sizable extension from the Rams. The team didn’t do much this offseason to improve the receiving corps.
Eagles TEs Ertz, Celek 'playing two different positions'
Friday, July 25, 2014, 12:34pm
Brent Celek is the starter and that's not expected to change this year. In a way, Celek and Zach Ertz are playing two different positions. Kelly explained that Ertz [as well as James Casey] is being used as a "move" tight end in this offense. That is similar to the way Aaron Hernandez was deployed in New England -- as more of a "Joker" that lines up in various spots and is used primarily as a pass-catcher. Celek is more of the traditional "in-line" tight end where blocking is a bigger priority.
Celek could very well end up with more snaps, but that doesn't mean that Ertz won't be featured prominently.
Ertz averaged 2.8-32-.56 over the final nine games of the season (including the Eagles' sole playoff game) and that included two goose eggs in Week 10 and Week 14. That equates to 6.6 fantasy points per game, which is what Martellus Bennett averaged as the #10 TE in fantasy football. With Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson gone, Ertz could play a lot in the slot, though the arrival of WR Jordan Matthews may limit Ertz’s snaps there.
Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) to miss 1-2 weeks
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:37pm
Stewart has been injury-prone and this hamstring pull will do nothing to endear himself to the fantasy community heading into 2014 draft season. It's not a serious injury but it's a reminder that he's not physically dependable. His ADP is in the 15th round, so he's a very low-risk option at this point.
Cam Newton (ankle) cleared for camp
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:33pm
Newton has finished in the top 4 in each of his three NFL seasons, but his PPG has dropped from 22.9 to 20.6 to 18.7 in that same span. He was unable to do much at OTAs, but has threw with his new receiving corps before training camp. He should still be a solid QB1 given his ability to run the ball, but there are several red flags heading into the season.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:54pm
Observation from a offseason throwing session involving QB Cam Newton and his receivers:
"At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Kelvin Benjamin has the most trouble with routes that force him to come back to the ball. He gets out of his cuts slower than most receivers because of his size, and he needs to work on his hips.
"Newton whistled at Benjamin after one route in which the rookie flailed his arm out just before making the cut. Newton re-enacted the motion to discourage Benjamin from doing it again."
While it's good to see that Newton is developing chemistry with his new receiving corps, the article also mentions that he still occasionally experiences a sharp pain when pushing off his surgically repaired ankle.
Panthers are 'better' at receiver
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 12:10pm
The Panthers are better at receiver than they were a year ago. Nothing against Steve L Smith, but at 35 he was no better than a No. 2 receiver and at the end of his career. Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon really weren't big losses when you look at it closely. Hixon wouldn't have been a loss at all were it not for the game-winning touchdown against New Orleans. The key here will be chemistry, but first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin looks like a red zone beast at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. Free agent signees Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant are solid possession receivers, and more dependable than the players they replaced. Who steps up as the fourth receiver will be the biggest question, whether it's free agent Tiquan Underwood or one of the young receivers. The Panthers plan to run a lot more two tight-end sets makes that less critical.
We project Cotchery and Benjamin to start but believe that Greg Olsen will once again lead the team in catches. Benjamin has upside, but Cotchery is a dirt cheap WR5/WR6 option available in the final rounds.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 5:38pm
Eagles beat writer Sheil Kapadia was asked to come up with a couple possible surprises in the team's starting lineup:
"It's difficult to come up with a second one, but I'll go with Zach Ertz. I know that won't "shock" anybody, but the TE situation is a fascinating one to monitor. We won't know until the season starts how much the offense misses DeSean Jackson. But if teams continue to play man coverage against the Eagles, and guys don't get open, Kelly will have to feature Ertz more. He's a superior option to Brent Celek in the passing game at this point.
"If I'm putting money down, I still say Celek starts and plays more snaps - primarily because he's a much better run blocker. But the TE situation is one to keep an eye on."
For Ertz, snaps may be the only thing standing in the way of a breakout season. Ertz averaged 2.8-32-.56 over the final nine games of the season (including the Eagles' sole playoff game) and that included two goose eggs in Week 10 and Week 14. That equates to 6.6 fantasy points per game, which is what Martellus Bennett averaged as the #10 TE in fantasy football. With Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson gone, Ertz could play a lot in the slot, though the arrival of WR Jordan Matthews may limit Ertz’s snaps there.
Cam Newton will throw to receivers before camp
Friday, July 11, 2014, 10:34am
Cam Newton participated in 7-on-7 drills during the team's June workouts, a month earlier than expected coming off March ankle surgery.
Still, with a completely new receiving corps, the lack of chemistry building this offseason has made the transition more difficult, Panthers wideout Tiquan Underwood told USA Today's Tom Pelissero Thursday.
However, as training camp approaches, the quarterbacks and receivers plan to meet in an attempt to compensate for lost time.
With an entirely new receiving corps, chemistry with his receivers is one of the concerns we have with Newton heading into training camp. It sounds as if the ankle injury is behind him, so if he can quickly build a rapport with Jerricho Cotchery and Kelvin Benjamin, the passing game shouldn't see a major downgrade in 2014.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 9:41am
With the loss of DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, the Eagles appear to be thin at wide receiver heading into the 2014 season. Jeremy Maclin is back from a torn ACL to pair with Riley Cooper. Arrelious Benn is also competing against second-round pick Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt and third-round pick Josh Huff from Oregon.
Ifeanyi Momah is also in the mix with some others, including free agent Quron Pratt, who is wearing the No. 10 jersey formerly donned by Jackson.
"I'm doing everything now that I was doing before I got hurt," Maclin told the Press of Atlantic City. "I feel like I'm all the way back."
Cooper had 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He improved steadily as the season continued but many feel the loss of Jackson will hurt Cooper's production. Matthews and Huff have impressed coach Chip Kelly through OTAs and they could definitely receive snaps early in the regular season, according to the story.
Beat: Two-TE sets will be Eagles' 'bread and butter' early in season
Saturday, June 28, 2014, 6:36pm
It makes sense for Eagles HC Chip Kelly right now to get as many snaps for his receivers as he can. But when the season starts Sept. 7 against the Jags, Kelly’s most experienced (and therefore most reliable) offense will feature Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. I would anticipate that two tight-end offensive packages will be the bread and butter of the Eagles’ attack earlier in the season until Jordan Matthews is ready to see an uptick in playing time.
Last year, Kelly went with experience over upside when he designed his offense around three-wide formations featuring DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant, with Celek at tight end. Even though he used the 34th overall pick on Ertz, Kelly gradually eased the rookie tight end into the offense and didn’t feature more two tight-end formations until later in the season.
The same thinking can be applied be applied to the start of this season, with Kelly using Celek and Ertz more at the start of the year until Matthews and Josh Huff are ready.
Ertz averaged 2.8-32-.56 over the final nine games of the season (including the Eagles' sole playoff game) and that included two goose eggs in Week 10 and Week 14. That equates to 6.6 fantasy points per game, which is what Martellus Bennett averaged as the #10 TE in fantasy football. With Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson gone, Ertz could play a lot in the slot, though the arrival of WR Jordan Matthews may limit Ertz’s snaps there. If he can take a step forward in the blocking department, it will help his overall fantasy outlook.
Cam Newton's ankle shouldn't be 'a worry'
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 8:25am
A surprise left ankle surgery in March created a stir about whether Panthers QB Cam Newton would be ready for the fall. Two major concerns have been whether he will still be able to make the type of plays on his feet that earned him runner-up status for this year's "Madden NFL" cover and whether his injury will significantly compromise his work with his receiving corps. Neither should be a worry. Newton underwent a procedure to stabilize the lateral ankle, something that proved necessary after his ankle didn't respond to conservative treatment. In fact, Newton's ankle had been increasingly problematic for some time; surgery and rehab may ultimately enhance his mobility. Newton has shown positive signs of recovery since coming out of his walking boot, including doing some side throwing during organized team activities with Panthers first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin. By training camp, Newton's activity should increase substantially, and there should be no physical limitations as the season rolls around.
Newton has finished in the top 4 in each of his three NFL seasons, but his PPG has dropped from 22.9 to 20.6 to 18.7 in that same span. He lost his entire receiving corps and is recovering from ankle surgery, so he hasn’t been able to practice with his new receivers. He should still be a solid RB1 given his ability to run the ball, but there are several red flags heading into the season.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 12:36am
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart looked ready to go the last few weeks, and there's no reason to believe he can't return to form. Despite foot problems that often limited him in practice, Stewart only missed two games in his first four NFL seasons, both because of a concussion. He's missed 17 games the last two seasons, but the ankle surgeries last offseason strengthened that trouble area.
Beat: Jonathan Stewart 'showed great burst' in OTAs
Monday, June 23, 2014, 10:57am
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart, plagued by ankle and knee injuries the past two years, showed great burst every time he touched the ball. A healthy Stewart will make a deep running back rotation even deeper.
DeAngelo Williams had a bounce on his runs, too.
This is a murky RBBC, but fantasy owners should target Williams or Stewart if the other player goes down with an injury. Stewart is still relatively young, and shouldn't be written off given his current fantasy value.
Saturday, June 21, 2014, 5:23pm
Eagles WR Jordan Matthews isn't just a try hard guy. He has great size at 6'3, 215-ish, he ran a 4.46 at the Combine, and he was the all-time receptions leader at Vanderbilt. He also stood out in OTAs and minicamp, making catch after catch after catch. It may take some time for Matthews to be an impact player at this level, but at a minimum, he should be a significant 'day one' upgrade over Jason Avant.