by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We knew there’s was a risk in utilizing Cam Newton, but he was almost a complete disaster last night throwing for 151 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT, as well as losing a fumble. Lucky for fantasy owners who used him his night was saved by a rushing TD.
While we still may have questions regarding his outlook, what questions did we get answered for us last night? Let’s take a look:
1) Is there going to be any value in Carolina’s backfield moving forward?
DeAngelo Williams returned from injury and evenly split the carries with Jonathan Stewart:
- Williams – 8 carries for 20 yards
- Stewart – 8 carries for 46 yards
Obviously Stewart was significantly more successful, but Williams added a reception for 30 yards. Outside of the questionable carries (since this is looking like a true time share moving forward), the only rushing touchdown came courtesy of Cam Newton (10 yard TD run). Those two things put together make it extremely difficult to trust either player for the remainder of the season.
If I had to pick one? It would be Stewart, as he has actually shown glimpses of the electric back he was once thought to be. However, assuming everyone stays healthy (and in this backfield that’s never a given) he’s nothing more than a TD dependent, desperation FLEX play most weeks given the uncertainty. If you have room on your bench both are worth stashing, but don’t plan on depending on either on a weekly basis.
2) Has Mark Ingram emerged as the unquestioned leader in New Orleans backfield?
He has been the man over the past two games, posting the following lines:
- Week 8 – 24 carries for 172 yards and 1 TD
- Week 9 – 30 carries for 100 yards and 2 TD
The thing is, we have to remember that both Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas have missed both of these games. It wasn’t long ago that Robinson took 21 carries for 89 yards and 1 TD in Ingram’s absence, but then again Ingram has truly been the more impressive of the two all season.
He’s been the clear goal line back, with 6 TD in five games (he’s scored in all but one game). He’s received 10 rushing attempts in the red zone, compared to 8 for Robinson. The difference? Ingram has taken them for 3 TD and Robinson has failed to score.
While Robinson is worth stashing in deeper formats, consider Ingram the much better option moving forward. There’s going to be risk, but in most weeks he’ll probably be considered a solid RB2.
3) Is Kenny Stills becoming a viable fantasy option?
He was surprisingly the most targeted receiver for the Saints last night, turning 8 targets into 5 receptions for 72 yards. Obviously Jimmy Graham is going to be the leader (7 receptions for 83 yards and 1 TD), but could Stills be the better option over Brandin Cooks (3 targets) and Marques Colston (3 targets) the rest of the way?
It’s certainly not impossible, and he’s also put together a solid three game stretch (14 catches on 17 targets, 232 yards and 1 TD). After last season he was construed more as a big play receiver, though as we discussed prior to the year (click here for the article http://rotoprofessor.com/football/?p=8758) that’s never been his reputation. Scouting reports across the board didn’t view him that way and it appears like he’s developing into the solid receiver anticipated of him.
While he’s not going to be a must start, yet, he’s definitely a WR4/WR5 worth stashing in all formats.
4) Should we be concerned with Greg Olsen’s recent struggles?
After dominating over the first seven games Olsen suddenly has totaled 4 receptions for 46 yards over the past two weeks. Of course, we cautioned about the potential for last night’s lack of production as the Saints have been the best team at defending opposing tight ends this season.
Things may not get better when the Panthers play again on November 10 (the Eagles are currently allowing the third fewest points to opposing tight ends). After that he draws a Falcons team that are also currently in the Top 5 against TE. That’s not promising, but fantasy owners also shouldn’t be jumping ship. Even with the disappearance he’s on pace for 90 receptions, 1,078 yards and 10 TD and should remain a viable TE1 moving forward.
5) Which rookie wide receivers performance was most disappointing?
Two of the top rookie wide receivers were on display last night, though neither produced as hoped:
- Brandin Cooks – 3 receptions for 38 yards
- Kelvin Benjamin – 2 receptions for 18 yards
We’d vote Benjamin as the bigger disappointment, as his team depends on him much more than Cooks’. Benjamin was targeted 10 times and a lot of the issues could be pinned on Cam Newton and his inconsistency (though not all of them).
Benjamin should bounce back strong, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t risk. On the season he’s turned 78 targets into just 40 catches (51.3%) and is averaging just 65.4 yards per game. Obviously there’s a ton of upside and when the matchup is favorable he’s a must start, but he is likely more of a low-end WR2/WR3 in most weeks.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, CBS Sports
Make sure to check out all of our Week 9 rankings: