August 30, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) takes the field at the start of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
It's Saturday and that means you have to make your final decisions on which Panthers to start and which should stay on your bench. I'll tell how I would play it I had these guys on my roster in week 1 on the road in Tampa Bay.
QB Cam Newton - If you have Newton on your team its because you drafted him high and therefore you should play him. If that's not good enough for you then consider the Panthers put up 86 points on the Bucs in two games, Newton ran all over the Bucs last season to the tune of 119 yds on 20 carries (5.9 ypc) for 4 TDs. He added another 4 TDs passing. It's a no brainer to start Newton week 1.
WR Steve Smith - I realize Smith missed some preseason action with a foot infection but he has practiced all week and is way too tough not to suit up. Though the Bucs have very capable corners in Talib and Eric Wright Smith can and will score deep on the Bucs. He has too much big play potential to sit. Start Steve Smith with confidence.
More fantasy sit & start after the jump...
RB Jonathan Stewart - Stewart sprained his ankle in the preseason and though he has improved he is questionable for the game. Even if he does play I expect him to be limited. Therefore though I think he will be worthy of a start soon week 1 is not it. Sit Jonathan Stewart until we know he is healthy.
RB DeAngelo Williams - With Stewart likely to get fewer touches if any at all that has to be good for DeAngelo Williams owners. Williams is usually only worth a spot start because of the platoon with Stewart but as I just said above Stewart should not play much. Hence I think Williams gets at least 15 touches if not more. Hence 80 yards and a 1 TD becomes very likely. Throw in one more long score and you have a nice afternoon. Prior to the Stewart injury my advice would be different but as it stands Williams is a great flex position starter or even a #2 RB starter. On teams where I have Williams he will start.
RB Mike Tolbert - The TD vulture Tolbert should get the chance to do just that in week 1. Even with a healthy Stewart Tolbert will still get the goal line carries and I expect the Panthers to be there several times. An improved Bucs defense should limit the Panthers big plays but it won;t stop them from driving down the field. Hence Tolbert should get 8 to 10 carries and though the yardage will be low he could score once or more. Yet with fantasy football its too risky to start a guy like Tolbert this early when we really aren't too sure how much he will touch the ball in this offense. Tolbert is a solid sit.
TE Greg Olsen (135.7, 14.3) - Now it gets hard. Olsen has been an average TE option in seasons past but if he is going to emerge this is the season it will happen. Does that make him worthy of a week 1 start? In the first game against the Bucs last season Olsen had only one catch for 21 yards. Conversely the weakest link in the Bucs defense is their LBs. Olsen might instead be matched up on the rookie SS Mark Barron. I like either of those match-ups. If you want to take a rsik I think Olsen is a good one. He should get plenty of targets so if he can haul them Olson will have a nice day; something like 6 catches for 85 yards and a TD. It's a risk but start Olsen.
WR's Brandon LaFell - Though I think he is up for a breakout year I'm not sure he will start big out of the gate. I would take a wait and see approach with LaFell to see how many touches he gets and whether he gets any red zone targets. Sit LaFell
Louis Murphy - For the same reasons as LaFell you should sit Murphy and see how the offense uses him.
K Justin Medlock - If you have Medlock on your roster then you probably plan to start him anyway. It's a good week as the Panthers should move the ball and score points. Medlock should get at least 3 or 4 FG opportunities and we know will let him take a crack a 50 to 55 yarders. If you have Medlock he is a solid start.
Panther Defense - Until they prove they can stop the run and the big play I would leave them on the bench. Special Teams adds zero value to this unit. Sit the Panthers defense.
Any other Panthers should remain on the bench or waiver wire.