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Fantasy battle of the top quarterbacks in Carolina
When the Seahawks travel to face the Panthers this week in the 2013 season opener Sunday, many Fantasy owners will be honed in the performances of the quarterbacks. Cam Newton and Russell Wilson were both drafted as key starters for Fantasy squads this year.
On NFL.com this season, Newton had an Average Draft Position of 36.60 (Fourth Round), while Wilson had an ADP of 54.70 (Sixth Round). Newton had the fifth-highest ADP of QBs on NFL.com, while Wilson was ninth. Both are being counted on as starters by most Fantasy players in 2013.
Fantasy owners of Newton cannot bench him in most cases, because he offers too much statistical upside over backup options drafted in later rounds. One of the laws in Fantasy Football is to never bench your superstars, and Newton is a Fantasy standout for sure. But with only one wide receiver that can truly be a prime threat against the Seahawks secondary, and a running game that can be shut down by the Seattle front seven, Newton does not have a bright outlook as a passer this week, and you can bet Bobby Wagner and Co. will be ready for his running antics. You can’t reserve Newton if you have him, but do not expect a stellar statistical outing.
Wilson has a much brighter outlook in the opener from Fantasy perspectives. Last year against Carolina, Wilson threw for 221 yards with one TD pass and was intercepted twice. But that game came before Wilson truly hit his stride as a starting NFL quarterback in his rookie year. The Panthers will see an even more poised and dangerous Wilson this time around. The Seahawks wide receivers should overmatch the Carolina secondary, and while the Panthers may generate a significant pass rush, Wilson knows how to get rid of the ball quickly and also dazzles when he slips oncoming defenders who threaten to take him down. So Wilson’s Fantasy owners should expect at least a solid, if not above-average overall statistical performance in the season opener. He is a must-start if you have him.
Panthers CBs Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Thomas are aggressive, and Golden Tate caught a TD pass against the Panthers last year. Sidney Rice caught five passes for 67 yards against Carolina last season, and his height can present significant issues for the Carolina corners. Both Tate and Rice deserve very strong Fantasy consideration as WR3s for this week. Wilson should be able to get them the ball more frequently than he did in the last meeting.
The Seahawks defense enters the 2013 as a top-ranked unit by most Fantasy analysts. Look for a very good performance in the opener. Steve Smith is obviously the top playmaker on offense for the Panthers, but Richard Sherman can certainly handle him. Smith was held to 40 yards on four catches by Seattle last year. Seattle can also double him, making Smith a shaky Fantasy start in the opener.
Newton might connect with TE Greg Olsen a few times, and while Shula would like to run the ball more often this year, DeAngelo Williams does not offer enough of a threat on his own without the injured Jonathan Stewart. The Seahawks defense should be able to keep the Carolina point total very low, and while Newton may be able to evade sacks, he could make more than one turnover if he has to play from behind. Expect the Seahawks defense to at least provide solid Fantasy totals in terms of points allowed and a turnover or two. This is a week when you should roll out most of your ‘Hawks in Fantasy, while not expecting much from their opponent.
In other games, Andrew Luck is a top quarterback selection, as the Colts should roll past the Raiders and their passing game is their main strength. Matthew Stafford should come out blazing as the Lions look to start hot with Reggie Bush as a new weapon. Tony Romo and Eli Manning are viable starters in what could be a higher-scoring affair between the Cowboys and Giants. The rivalry can bring out the better statistical versions of those passers.
At running back, look for Trent Richardson to shine in the opener, as most Norv Turner ballcarriers often do. Steven Jackson could get in the end zone more than once against the Saints. Stevan Ridley should score against Buffalo, and Maurice Jones-Drew could make quite a statement in the opening of a “comeback” season against Kansas City. Ben Tate could be a nice, sneaky flex start if the Texans milk a lead against the Chargers. Mark Ingram may also find the end zone if the Falcons-Saints game lights up the scoreboard as many expect.
Among wide receivers, look for Larry Fitzgerald to instantly make a new statistical splash with Carson Palmer. Danny Amendola looks poised for a huge debut with New England as Wes Welker’s replacement. DeSean Jackson could begin one of the best years of his career in the Chip Kelly offense. A healthy Miles Austin is a fine Fantasy WR3. Anquan Boldin should work well with Colin Kaepernick for PPR leaguers, and rookie Tavon Austin may be unveiled with some big plays after a quiet preseason. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a sleeper starter, as he will likely score against his former team, the Raiders. Any time a player faces his old squad, Fantasy players should take notice.
Look for Cleveland TE Jordan Cameron to have a strong debut, as Turner does like getting the ball to his tight ends. Owen Daniels should be busy against the Chargers. Defensively, Tampa Bay looks like a Fantasy lock against the Jets, and the Steelers should be sturdy against Tennessee. Cincinnati us underrated and could really terrorize Chicago.
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