I love fantasy football. I always have at least three teams in different leagues, and religiously watch the injury reports as they come in. I am also one of those fantasy football sadists who will pick up players from her own favorite team. There is nothing worse than your favorite team losing — and your fantasy team losing — at the same time.
The players to watch from the Panthers for your fantasy team this year:
QB – Cam Newton. This one is easy. Last year, literally during the first quarter of the first game of the season, I picked Cam Newton off of waivers. And boy, was that the correct decision to make. Cam Newton outperformed many of the “top” QB prospects of the year, and made for some delicious trash talking. You can’t really go wrong with Cam Newton as your fantasy QB. The kid’s got it all. The throwing yardage, the throwing TDs, the rushing yards and rushing TDs. Last year Cam’s numbers never fell during the fantasy season, and would be a great addition to your fantasy team.
RB – DeAngelo Williams. The Panthers’ RB situation is a tough one to draft fantasy players for, and this year it gets even tougher. The Panthers always play in a multiple-back system, with each of the RBs taking some of the carries. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart usually split the workload, and with the addition of Cam Newton last year both saw some slightly lower numbers. For the 2012 season, throwing a dash of Mike Tolbert in the mix is only going to lead to slightly lower fantasy numbers for all RBs involved. There are many other RBs who are better fantasy-wise for your team, but DeAngelo Williams is not a bad RB to have if you run in a flex or 3-RB league.
TE – Greg Olsen. Expect Greg Olsen to split carries with young TE Gary Barnidge, and perhaps even Richie Brockel (of the famed Chudrooskie). Greg Olsen and Cam Newton hooked up a good bit last year, with 45 receptions for 540 yards and 5 touchdowns. You can expect a little more production out of Olsen after having an entire offseason to work with Newton.
WRs – Steve Smith. Do I need to say much about Steve Smith? If you’re going to take a WR from the Panthers, your safe bet this year is Steve Smith. Explosive, with good hands and an attention to defensive detail, expect Steve Smith to be getting touches every game. With all the WR options out there, he is a great 3-WR league pickup, and also an excellent flex selection.
D/ST – The Carolina Panthers’ defense should be on the up and up this year, as long as they stay healthy. The Panthers always have some miscues on Special Teams, many of which are the end of games for the team. Frankly, the last year the Panthers D/ST was good for fantasy football was 2008. This year may the the gamechanger. I personally always keep Carolina as my bench defense, in case I can see a gimme-game coming up for the team, and my usual defense is playing a tough one. You could do a lot worse than the Panthers defense, however, you could also do better in terms of special teams efforts, takeaways, forced fumbles, and the like.