August 31, 2015

Carolina Panthers

NFC South

2014 Schedule

  • Week 1

    CAR @ TB


    4:30 pm

  • Week 2

    DET @ CAR


    1:00 pm

  • Week 3

    PIT @ CAR


    8:30 pm

  • Week 4

    CAR @ BAL


    1:00 pm

  • Week 5

    CHI @ CAR


    1:00 pm

  • Week 6

    CAR @ CIN


    1:00 pm

  • Week 7

    CAR @ GB


    1:00 pm

  • Week 8

    SEA @ CAR


    1:00 pm

  • Week 9

    NO @ CAR


    8:30 pm

  • Week 10

    CAR @ PHI


    8:30 pm

  • Week 11

    ATL @ CAR


    1:00 pm

  • Week 12


  • Week 13

    CAR @ MIN


    1:00 pm

  • Week 14

    CAR @ NO


    1:00 pm

  • Week 15

    TB @ CAR


    1:00 pm

  • Week 16

    CLE @ CAR


    1:00 pm

  • Week 17

    CAR @ ATL


    1:00 pm

PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart

The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.

Carolina Panthers - 2014 Preseason #FF Preview





“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape,

You don’t spit into the wind,

You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger,

And you don’t mess around with” Cam, Newton that is!





Well, Superman might not live up to Jim Croce’s expectations this year. Before we jump into the reasons to avoid Newton, let’s look at the Cam we know and love. Last year, he finished 3rd in fantasy points for QBs. He has finished in the top 4 every year he has been a pro. In those three years, he has thrown for at least 3,300 yards every season. He has at least 27 total touchdowns in every season. He is the definition of a dual threat QB.


Alright, here it is, my devil’s advocate speech. I don’t think I even need to invoke Al Pacino in order to win this argument.





If Cam does not score a rushing TD, his fantasy output suffers severely. If you look at his rushing numbers, they have dwindled every season. Currently, there is not one wide receiver on roster that caught a pass from him in 2013. As always, I like to look at trends. So, let us focus on how he played in 2013. Last year was his lowest totals for rushing attempts, yards, and rushing TDs. Last year also marked career lows in the passing department. In 2013, he turned out his lowest attempts, lowest passing yardage, lowest yardage per attempt, lowest per completion, and lowest total yards per game. He only had one game over 300 yards. He did however, have six games where he did not even reach 200 yards passing.  In the last five games, he averaged 10th in fantasy points per game. In the last three games, his average in fantasy points per game fell to 16th. In 2014, the Panthers have the 13th easiest schedule for quarterbacks this year. Last year, they were ranked 7th. Now, Cam has a whole new receiving core to get accustomed to. Granted the rookie, Kelvin Benjamin, has looked good in the preseason, but how about the rest of the crew? On roster, he will be throwing to Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, and Tiquan Underwood. The pro Cam side has stated the fact that he has always worked with unknown receivers before. Well, I say to you Mr. Underwood, you sir, are no Steve Smith. Oh yeah, one more fact to sure this debate up. Superman suffered a cracked rib in the 3rd preseason game, not to mention his most recent ankle surgery was in March. As they say in tennis: Game. Sip. Macked… Bitch! What, like you really watch Wimbledon either?






Alright, even though Cam should be sliding down your tiers, he does have a good looking rookie receiver. Kelvin Benjamin has been getting a lot of hype, and perhaps deservedly so.



The one thing he has going for him is his athleticism and perhaps, the lack of positional competition. But damn, does everyone have him as their rookie pick or what? As of his ADP in late August, he is going in the middle of the 8th round in 12 team leagues. It was just one short month ago, Benjamin’s ADP was the start of the 11th round.  He falls in the 50’s for the Pyro collective wide receiver tiers. His ADP has him going in the late 30’s.  Personally, he falls in the low 40’s for me. He is easy to fall for, especially given the lack of competition. Benjamin is a big guy but lacks speed and ups. He is 6”5’ and 240 pounds, but only ran a 4.61 and has a vertical leap of merely 32.5 inches.  He does not possess breakaway speed, and was not known for his route running, nor his run after the catch. So, this means he will most likely end up with TDs as he is a red zone mismatch, but chances are, he will not have those big yardage games that often give you those extra points. If your league awards for this, or long scores, Benjamin falls down the tier sheet a bit. Like I said, he could be a TD monster. The Panthers come in to 2014 with the 8th best WR schedule. But, keep this stat in mind, in the history of the NFL, there have only been 8 rookie wide receivers to go for 1,000 yards.  Personally, if there is a rookie that is going to make it 9, my money (and D-rx’s for that matter) is on Brandin Cooks. For more info on this, check out Houdini’s piece “Does Height Matter for Wide Receivers?”



Looking at the rest of the receivers in Carolina, it makes you want to simultaneously bump Benjamin up your tiers, and then adjust Cam down.  Out of the remainders, Cotchery has the best shot at fantasy relevance. Avant and Underwood will not make any of my rosters, nor should they be on yours if you want to roll into the playoffs. Cotchery could actually be a sneaky pick up.  Although he has been in the league since 2004, and has only gone for over 1,000 yards once, he might just lead the team in yardage. After all, look how Smith had a resurgence with Newton on his team. Smith was in his 11th season when Newton came to Carolina. He more than doubled his yardage and TD totals from the previous year. Now, Cotchery is also going into his 11th year and it will be his first with cam Newton. I don’t know if he will have as much success as Smith did that first year, but I think it is safe to say Cotchery should see a significant jump in his stats playing with Cam. Jerricho is more of a route runner than Benjamin. Still, comparing the two, Benjamin will score more fantasy points, but Cotchery might have some value as he is currently going undrafted. In Pyro’s collective tiers, Cotchery is ranked in the high 60’s right in the neighborhood of Rod Streater and Andrew Hawkins. Even if he goes undrafted, he could be one to watch on the waiver wire if indeed Cam relies on the veteran’s steady performances week in and week out.


If it is reliability you are after, than look no further than Greg Olsen. Lord knows Cam will be looking for a familiar face out there, and we do not mean Owen Wilson. But you have to admit, there is some similarity there.






The fact that Olsen will be one of the very few players on the team that actually caught a pass from Superman last year will undoubtedly work in his favor. Pyro has Olsen rated inside the top 10 for tight end. He does have a tough go of it this year; the Panthers are ranked with the 29th easiest schedule at the tight end position. There could be several weeks where Olsen leads all Panthers in receptions. If you are in a PPR league, this could be Olsen’s biggest year to date. In fact, in our PPR mock draft, Olsen actually went ahead of Cam. Doing mocks is one of the best ways to prepare for your draft. I would say it is second only to listening to the Pyro podcast. So, we combined both into one earth shattering event. 





Olsen does not get the respect he deserves. In the last six season, he has played in every single game. Last year, his 73 receptions was a career high. Although he did not post a 100 yard game last year, I think that will change in 2014. Besides, when drafting Olsen, you get solid production week in and week out. He is a guy you can plug in and have a steady performance week in and week out.  In 2012, he was the 6th best fantasy tight end. Last year, he ranked #8. The situation in Carolina should allow a repeat of those numbers if not improve upon them.


Turning to the running game, Carolina uses a committee approach with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart working as the two main backs. Mike Tolbert gets most of the goal line looks. In order to capture what it actually feels like to own one of these players, Pyro secretly recorded a Williams owner checking his team’s performance on Monday morning. Let’s watch!





They have a tough road to hoe in 2014. They are ranked with the 25th easiest schedule. Pyro’s collective tiers shows the Carolina backs roughly in the same neighborhood. Williams is in the low 40’s with Tolbert actually coming in next. He and Stewart are found in the low to mid 50’s. Personally, I have these guys moved even farther down my tiers. I will not have a Carolina RB on any of my teams. One, health is always a concern. Two, you never know who, if any, will have the hot hand. Three, if you count Newton, there are four guys that could score a rushing touchdown on any given Sunday. Look, I want to win my league. I take the Ricky Bobby approach. “If you ain’t first, your last”. 





The goal is to win week in and week out. That means you are going to have to take some chances, go for the high ceiling guys. I don’t mind some stability to your line up, sprinkle in some steady guys to balance your roster, but drafting a Carolina running back is a sure way to find yourself in 5th place. Let’s face it, if you want to “piss excellence” guess which word of the two these running backs are missing?


Finally, on the defensive end, Carolina finished most leagues as the number 3 ranked defense. That is exactly where they are being drafted as of late August. Pyro is down on them defensively, ranking them outside the top 12. They lost many of their secondary in the offseason. Not to mention, they play in the NFC South, with teams like New Orleans, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay all boasting big play guys in their passing game. With Carolina’s suspect secondary, they could be in some high scoring affairs. In many leagues, points allowed is where the defensive position draws the majority of its scoring. If they are going against big guns like Breeze and Ryan, chances are Carolina’s defense will allow some major scoring this year. Do not draft them expecting a repeat of last year’s performance. There are far better defensive units to be had in the last round of your draft.




By Mo



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Double Trouble

DeAngelo Williams was a record setting running back in college where he holds the NCAA record for most 100-yard rushing games with 34. DeAngelo would finish his career as the fourth all time leading rusher in the NCAA with 6,026 yards. He would measure out at 5’9” 215 pounds, leading many NFL teams to worry about his size and durability, but his 4.4 speed made him the 27th pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2006. In 2006 and 2007, Williams would play a back up role to DeShaun Foster being effective on the ground and through the air compiling 1,218 yards on 265 carries with five rushing touchdowns and adding 56 catches for 488 yards and two touchdowns. 2008 looked to be the season in which DeAngelo would get the lion’s share of the carries but the Panthers would select Jonathan Stewart 13th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Stewart was one of the most sought after high school recruits in the entire nation and choose the University of Oregon over USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and others. Stewart was one of the biggest recruits to ever attend the University of Oregon at the time and would start his college career with a bang leading the nation in kick return average during his freshman season. His junior season he was selected as a first team All Pac-10 performer and would enter the NFL draft. Stewart would become a hot commodity at the NFL draft combine where he posted an impressive size (5’10” 235 pounds) and speed (4.46 forty time) combination. Stewart would be selected by the Panthers with the 13th overall pick in 2008 and join DeAngelo Williams in one of the most dynamic backfields ever.

While this may have been a luxury pick for the Panthers the tandem was extremely effective until DeAngelo was bit by the injury bug in 2010 and defenses could stack the box against the Stewart and the failed experiment that was Jimmy Clausen. The Panthers would finish 2010 with a 2-14 record and be rewarded with the number one pick in the 2011 NFL draft which the Panthers would use to select Cam Newton which would forever change this groups value at the running back position. To make matters worse both running backs were signed to big long term deals that continue to haunt the Panthers to this day. In 2011, Williams signed a five-year contract worth $43 million. Stewart signed a five year 30.65 million dollar contract in August of 2012. To make matters worse the Panthers also added Mike Tolbert on a 4 year deal in 2012 making for one of the most crowded backfields in the league and recurring nightmares for fantasy owners. The Panthers backfield has gone from a highly efficient group to a nightmare in recent season as Cam Newton has also played a giant role in the run game.



DeAngelo and Stewart


By Stagg Party

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Julius Peppers was a Beast

Julius Peppers is one of the more interesting stories in the NFL as he came up playing only basketball until high school when the Head Coach of the football team would end up asking him to play, even though he had never played before. As a freshman, Peppers was already a man among boys standing at 6’5” 225 pounds and would star in football, basketball, and track during his high school years. Julius would later be named the Male Athlete of the Year by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for his standout play in all three sports which included being an All American on the football field, an All Conference performer on the basketball court, and a state champion sprinter and triple jumper.

Peppers would choose to attend the University of North Carolina as he was given the ability to walk onto the Basketball team to go along with his football scholarship. Peppers would redshirt in 1998, before exploding in his sophomore season to lead the nation with 15 sacks and earn first team ACC honors as well as second team All American honors. Peppers would walk on with the Tar Heel Basketball team for two seasons and play power forward, where he would average 5.7 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game in his 56 games with the team, before deciding to focus solely on football for his junior season. In 1999-2000 Peppers would be a reserve on a Tar Heels team that went to the final four. Pepper’s junior season was the icing on the cake though as he would prove to be one of the most dominant forces in the college game being named a unanimous All-American, the Chuck Bednarik Award winner, the Lombardi Award winner, and the Bill Willis Trophy winner.

Peppers would enter the NFL draft after his junior season and would attend the NFL Scouting combine in February of 2002. He would measure out at 6’7” and 283 pounds and would run a 4.68 forty yard dash exciting every NFL team. Peppers would be selected second overall by the Carolina Panthers and help turn their last place defense around immediately as he accounted for 12 sacks and five forced fumbles in just 12 games during his rookie season and be named the NFL Rookie of the Year for his work. In his second season Peppers would help the Panthers make it to the Playoffs for the second time in franchise history and eventually reach the Superbowl. Peppers would become one of two players in history to play in the NCAA Men’s basketball Final Four and the NFL Superbowl.

Peppers would be one of the most sought after commodities in IDP drafts as he was a consistent sack performer with a penchant for making big plays. Peppers would play eight seasons with the Carolina Panthers and holds numerous team records including having the most sacks in team history. In his 122 games played with the Panthers Peppers picked up 81 sacks, 6 interceptions, 2 interceptions for touchdowns, 46 passes defended, 30 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown, and 387 tackles. Peppers would also be named to numerous pro bowls during his time in Carolina and would earn himself a 91 million dollar contract with the Chicago Bears for his efforts. As of the end of the 2013 season Peppers currently ranks 17th on the all time sack list with 119 career sacks.

By Stagg Party

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The 1996 Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers were an expansion team in 1995, and had a very successful entry season with a 7-9 record. That is a far cry from the pitiable play that plagued the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints franchises in their inaugural seasons’ and for many years beyond. The Panthers represented the dream of Pete Rozelle, where an expansion team can compete early in their existence. The Panthers, as well as their expansion mate Jacksonville Jaguars, would shock the NFL world with their performance in 1996.

Defensive minded coach Dom Capers led the Panthers, and they added a lot of NFL veterans to their roster through the expansion draft.  Capers then put all his eggs in the basket of the franchise’s first ever draft pick quarterback Kerry Collins. The weapons that the Penn State product had to work with in the offense were running back Anthony Johnson, wide receivers Mark Carrier and Willie Green, along with Pro Bowl tight end Wesley Walls. Collins was not counted on to win a lot of games for the Panthers, as the strength of the team lied with the defense.

The defense was led by linebackers Sam Mills, Kevin Greene, Lamar Lathan and cornerback Eric Davis all who made the Pro Bowl in 1996. Those three linebackers combined for 33.5 sacks on the season. It was the job of the defense to keep the games close, so the offense could do enough to win the game.

The season started off on the right foot with the Panthers going 3-0, while outscoring their opponents 74-33. The next six games would see the Panthers lose a bunch of close games, and they would go 2-4 during that stretch, but still outscored their opponents 116-98. The final game of that stretch, a 17-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, would be the last loss of the regular season for the Panthers and the second to last time they allowed over 20 points the rest of the regular season.

The Panthers would go on to reel off seven straight wins to finish the regular season at 12-4 and clinch the NFC West Division title. During that seven game win streak the defense was top notch allowing only 87 points. That win streak not only clinched them the division title, but they also clinched a first round bye in the playoffs. Their first opponent would be the Dallas Cowboys who were still led by Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith and Michael Irvin, and were coming off a 40-15 trouncing of the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys were the favorite in the match-up against the expansion Panthers, but Sam Mills and the defense had other ideas.

The Cowboys ran the ball for 255 yards against the Vikings with three touchdowns. The Panthers held the Cowboys to 96 yards rushing on the day with no scores. In fact the defense was so tough that day, they intercepted Troy Aikman three times. Dallas scored first in the game with a field goal, but the Panthers answered with touchdown passes to Wesley Walls and Willie Green and never relinquished the lead. The defense continued to stand tall against Aikman down the stretch to earn the Panthers their first ever playoff victory 26-17. That win also placed the Panthers in the NFC championship game, in only their second season, where they would face off against Brett Favre, Reggie White and the Green Bay Packers.

The Panthers started the NFC Championship game in fine fashion scoring first in Lambeau on a pass from Kerry Collins to Howard Griffith, but that was the end of the offensive power for the Panthers this day. The Packers would hold the Panthers to two more field goals the rest of the game in route to a 30-13 victory. Carolina was unable to run the ball with only 45 yards, while Kerry Collins was intercepted twice. The Packers would go on to defeat New England in the Super Bowl.

The Panthers still had one of the most magical seasons ever by an expansion team in their second season. They also proved that just because you are an expansion team, does not mean that you are relegated to being a losing team for your first 10 years. Pete Rozelle, who passed on Dec 6th of 1996, would have been so proud to see the Panthers and Jaguars both reach their conference title games in their second seasons.

By Houdini

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According to the NFL network, Cam Newton will be starting in today's game. "Cam Newton WILL start on Sunday."

Pyro's take: This is basically your, "If the team was in the playoffs I would have been out there." Because its basically win or go home for the Panthers, its a playoff situation.

12/21/14, 10:41 AM CST by Vaaal-verde

Not Listed

Cam Newton was not listed on the injury report, so no news is good news. Steve Reed, who covers the Panthers for the AP, stated via twitter "Cam Newton again NOT LISTED on the injury report. So no new injuries."

Pyro's take: Carolina doesnt find him to be hurt, so all systems go. Newton has a strong Week 11 matchup in the Falcons, but his Week 10 matchup in the Eagles was inviting, as well. He's a boom-or-bust QB1.

11/13/14, 05:10 PM CST by Vaaal-verde

Being Limited

Steve Reed, who covers the Carolina Panthers for the AP, has stated that "Bene Benwikere (ankle), Melvin White (knee) and Jonathan Stewart (ankle) were limited. Everyone else practiced."

Pyro's take: Looks like another game time decision for Jonathan Stewart. Even if he plays, use caution, as he should only be used in an special situations, against the Falcons, he could be considered as a flex.

11/13/14, 04:35 PM CST by Vaaal-verde

Practices in Full

Kelvin Benjamin practiced in full on Friday. This is significant, as it looks like he will pass the concussion test to play in Sunday's game. It looked grim earlier this week, but a full practice could have diminished in bad vibes.

Pyro's take: Keep an eye out for Sunday's report, as he is listed as questionable, but if you have to enter your lineups early, I say he starts and plays as though he never had a concussion occur.

10/18/14, 02:18 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Benjamin Concussed

Kelvin Benjamin suffered a concussion in Sunday's game against the Bengals. "Ron Rivera said he doesn't yet know if wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin will be able to play after suffering a concussion last week at Cincinnati."

"Kelvin came in on Monday and had a little bit of a headache. They looked at him and they said he has a mild concussion," Rivera said. "They put him in the protocol, and we are going to go from there.

"We feel good about the guys that are playing," Rivera said. "I think we are going to be OK whether he (Benjamin) is out there or not."

Pyro's take: At this point I would assume that Benjamin will be out this week. In that case, Jerricho Cotchery will become the number one receiver and Brenton Bersin, and Philly Brown.

10/16/14, 11:22 AM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Stewart Returning

Johnathan Stewart expects to play this week and according to Max Henson, the staff writer for Carolina Panthers, says that "he is feeling much better and expects to play this week." Stewart practiced fully Wednesday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in Week 3 against Pittsburgh and said following practice that he expects to play when the Panthers visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

"Jonathan looked good. He had a good day," Rivera said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. He took the majority of the reps, all the reps he was slated to take.

"I was excited to see him on the football field, and hopefully there are no residuals tomorrow and he'll be ready to roll for practice."

Pyro's take: Johnathan Stewart will be coming into the crowded backfield his has grown accustomed too. He should be his normal self, mostly useless to your fantasy team.

10/16/14, 10:59 AM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Practicing Again

Jarrett Boykin is back at practice, after suffering a groin injury. According to Packers reporter Rob Demovsky via his twitter "WR Jarrett Boykin, who has missed the last 3 games (groin), is practicing again."

Pyro's take: Even though Boykin has returned his role as a number three receiver has gone to talented rookie Davante Adams. Boykin therefore will be the fourth in line, and now fantasy irrelevant.

10/16/14, 01:07 AM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Fig Newton

Around this time of year, when Carolina looks like they are going to lose their season, let Cam Newton explore his running side. Every time he does, they win.Cam Newton rushed for 107 yards on a career-high 17 carries after having just 14 carries in his previous four games combined.

Due to injuries the coaches wanted to play it safe and not aggravate it more so. Carolina had not been ready to “unleash” Newton, as Rivera called it.

Newton rushed 11 times for 70 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime period. Darrin Reaves was Carolina’s only other ball carrier, and he had four rushes for 7 yards in that same time frame.

Pyro's take: Look for more production from Newton, as the drop-back passer that he is not is now gone. In replace is the move on a notice and pick up yards with his feet, which is Newton. He still makes a solid back-up and bye-week starter.

10/13/14, 07:56 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Benjamin ROM

Kelvin Benjamin is the rookie of the month. Ron Rivera let Benjamin know prior to practice, and while everyone clapped for him, Mr. Benjamin responded with “I have a lot of things I can keep working on,” Benjamin said. “I haven’t even scratched the surface of my game yet.”

Benjamin has been an absolute stud, he is playing like a veteran as he leads the team in catches, yards, receiving touchdowns, yards per catch and yards per game. If that wasnt enough he also is ninth among NFL receivers in yards and 10th in the league with three touchdowns.

Rivera went on to say about Kelvin Benjamin “When he got here and just started going the way he did at training camp, it was not too big for him. And it was evident he was going to start.

“The kid’s doing a great job. He’s by no means where we want him to be but he’s outdone the expectations.”

Pyro's take: There is no doubt that Benjamin is one of the better talented rookies, and deserves the success he has achieved, but when the second best receiver is a tight end, the ranked statistical categories are going to be inflated. He makes a nice flex, or low second receiver, in all leagues.

10/06/14, 01:29 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Olsen twin

Greg Olsen caught his second touchdown this year against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He may be having his best career, as he is the Panthers leader in receptions and tied for touchdowns. He has one less target than leader wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, and tied with Benjamin for touchdowns. On the year, Olsen has 19 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns.

Pyro's take: Anytime that a tight end is putting competition with the team's leading wide receiver just spells good news for fantasy owners. Olsen shouldn't see these numbers slip against the Ravens.

09/24/14, 07:02 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Newtonian Physics

Cam Newton is struggling not just with the recent injuries to Mike Tolbert, DeAngelo Williams, and Johnathan Stewart, but with the patch-work offensive line as well.

Offensive lineman Byron Bell went on to say: “We’re going to have to change our attitude. Running the football ain’t nothing but attitude,” Bell said. “We got to get the snot bubbles going. We’ve got to fit up on our guys and stay on ‘em. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

Cam Newton is also struggling with injuries himself, that show he is very limited as a mobile quarterback.

"Directing the read-option offense, Newton was the epitome of a dual-threat quarterback until his ankle surgery. Newton posted 13,331 combined rushing and passing yards from 2011-13, the most in NFL history over a player’s first three seasons." In his last two games he has a total of six rushes.

Pyro's take: Cam Newton relies on his legs as does Colin Kaepernick, and if those dont work, they become very pedestrian like. Newton just doesnt face his own issues though, he has one talented wide receiver, one tight end and that's his offense right now. Until things get better for him and the team, Newton is a bye-week replacement at best.

09/24/14, 03:58 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Newton ready to roll in Week 2

After sitting out the Panthers Week 1 game versus the Buccaneers (ribs), Cam returned to practice in full this week and is set to play on Sunday.

Pyro's take: Newton may be ready to go, but we'd stay clear of him this weekend anyway. His main source of fantasy points comes from running the ball, something we doubt he does very much of not only due to the issue with his ribs, but because he'll be facing a Lions defense that allowed the third-fewest rushing yards to opposing QBs last season (just 7.75 yards per game).

09/12/14, 03:40 PM CDT by Dawgmaticå

Named week 2 starter

It didn't take too long for the Carolina Panthers to name Cam Newton a week two starter. Head coach Ron Rivera made the announcement Monday. Derek Anderson filled in admirably throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-14 victory. He also completed 24 of 34 passes with no interceptions, but all along this is Cam Newton's team. Newton should resume practice on Wednesday.

Pyro's take: Cam Newton is excited to get out there as well. In fact, he couldn't contain himself on Sunday, as during a commercial break he ran on the field to inspire his team.

Look for Newton to be back in action and try to do as equally if not better than Anderson's game on Sunday. Newton will face the Lions.

09/08/14, 04:29 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Hill cut by Jets

Stephen Hill was released by the New York Jets. The Jets tried to trade Hill, but had no takers, and at the end, they felt it was best just to send him on his own way. Hill has the size (6-4) and athletic ability to be a top producer, but he struggled holding on to the ball. The second-round pick in 2012 had a lot heaped onto his shoulders early in his career and never panned out. He was demoted down the stretch in 2013 before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Hill had shown no signs of improving his game, and even though the Jets are slim at wide receiver depth, they found it not worthwhile to keep Hill. But on the flip side, Stephen Hill's camp saw it differently. "I'm disappointed in (general manager John) Idzik and Rex (Ryan) with the way the whole thing went down there," Hill's agent, Alan Herman, told USA TODAY Sports. "Two years in that kind of situation is disheartening. "He didn't have a chance that first year with that whole Tim Tebow-Mark Sanchez fiasco. ... His second year, Geno Smith was learning how to play quarterback. So they never threw the ball deep because they wanted to simplify things for Geno."

Pyro's take: Stephen Hill has the youth, and talent, but can he remain healthy? This will be what general managers will be asking themselves before making the decision on bringing Hill in for a look. The Cleveland Browns may take a shot at him, after releasing Nate Burleson.

If you own him, hang on, I am pretty confident he will land somewhere. If not, keep an eye out for him on the waiver wire depending on where he lands.

08/30/14, 12:32 PM CDT by Vaaal-verde

Newton has a fractured rib

uarterback Cam Newton has a hairline fracture on one of his ribs, and has been ruled out of the Panthers preseason finale in Pittsburgh. Head coach Ron Rivera expects his team’s most-important player to be ready for the regular season opener two weeks from Sunday in Tampa Bay, but that’s certainly not a guarantee.

“There is a lot of concern. This morning he came in, and he was very, very sore,” Rivera said after Sunday’s practice, one Newton watched while walking the sidelines gingerly. “We expect him to get past the soreness the next few days, and then be able to do a lot more as the days go.”

Newton, who’s still not 100 percent after offseason ankle surgery, took a knee to his back and rib area after scrambling during the second half of the Panthers preseason loss Friday in New England. After going back to the huddle, Newton took a knee and eventually came out for the next play. He finished the second quarter and played the opening series of the second half despite the injury.

Last week, the fourth-year player said “I’m not a sliding type of guy,” but it may finally be time for Newton to avoid the hits he’s so readily taken.

Pyro's take: Yet another player hit with a preseason injury. This is real tough news for Carolina as Newton is still dealing with recovering from his ankle injury. The chemistry that needs to develop with his receivers continues to wait on hold, and now the biggest weapon Cam has, his legs, takes a shot with this rib injury. This could be the start to a long year for Cam.

08/24/14, 05:48 PM CDT by Houdini

Boykin showing he has trust of Rodgers

So this is how Jarrett Boykin positioned himself as a starting wide receiver. After many reps in the offense, a trust developed.

The two (Boykin and Aaron Rodgers) didn't play together often last season due to Rodgers' fractured collarbone. But against Cleveland (eight receptions, 103 yards, TD) and Minnesota (5-89), Rodgers targeted the former undrafted receiver often.

So far in camp, it's been more of the same. Outside of Nelson, Rodgers has probably looked to Boykin most. After practice, the quarterback said Boykin "became an expert of our offense." He stayed in Rodgers' ear, a lesson for all receivers in camp.

"And if you’re consistently in the right place at the right time," Rodgers said, "you can’t help but make plays. The ball is going to find you. We throw to the open guy in this offense, we go through our progressions. We don’t lock in on one person. And if you’re consistently doing the right thing, running the right route at the proper depth you can’t help but make plays. And that’s what happened with Jarrett. The more plays you make, the more confidence you’re going to have and that’s when you’re going to see guys reach and times exceed their potential."

Pyro's take: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are going to get all the attention in your fantasy drafts, but you should not be sleeping on Boykin. Aaron Rodgers has a way of making stars in this league, and Boykin is next on his list.

Defenses are going to be focusing on Cobb and Nelson, which is going to give Boykin one-on-one match-ups all the time. With the precision of Rodger's Jarrett will become a valuable fantasy player, who can be had later in drafts.

08/02/14, 10:37 PM CDT by Houdini

Kelvin Benjamin dealing with bone bruise

The athletic training staff wants to make sure the Panthers' first-round draft choice is fully healed from a bone bruise to his left knee sustained Sunday before he returns to practice. Benjamin also missed practice Monday when he returned to Charlotte for an MRI.

"I went for a catch and just came down with all my body weight on my knee," Benjamin explained. "We looked at it and iced it, and the doctors checked it. Once I woke up the next morning, it was stiff, so (head athletic trainer) Ryan (Vermillion) just wanted to make sure it was OK."

Benjamin admitted to being nervous awaiting the results – "You always worry that it will be bad news," he said – but shortly after returning to Wofford College on Monday, he got the good news.

"It's minor," Benjamin said. "I'm going to come back even harder."

Pyro's take: Never a good sign to come down with an injury early in camp, especially when you are a rookie, and especially when you are a rookie receiver on the Panthers who has a chance for a lot of playing time. This time in camp is so important for a rookie receiver to create chemistry with his quarterback, and that translates into slow starts. Hopefully Benjamin gets back on the field soon, but this injury hurts his fantasy chances off the bat.

07/29/14, 08:12 PM CDT by Houdini

Stewart looking for bounce back season

The last time the Panthers produced a 1,000-yard rusher was 2009, when Williams and Stewart became the only teammates in NFL history to top 1,100 rushing yards in the same season.

Last season was a tough one for Stewart. He started the year on the physically unable to perform list recovering from offseason surgery on both ankles. He ended the year trying (unsuccessfully it turned out) to return from a partially torn medial collateral ligament. All told, he saw action in six games.

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.

Pyro's take: Stewart is going to have a very hard time getting back to his 1,100 yard form, especially with the crowed backfield in Carolina. Now that Cam Newton has less options at receiver, it is conceivable that he will run even more this season. Once Cam came to Carolina, the running backs have taken a backseat, and the biggest problem is that there are three guys on that seat.

07/26/14, 02:21 PM CDT by Houdini

Panthers take Benjamin over Lee

The Panthers continued the overhaul of their receiving corps Thursday when they took former Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Dave Gettleman said the choice of Benjamin over the 6-foot, 192-pound Marquise Lee came down to size.

"You can't coach 6-5, 240," Gettleman said. "He's got a lot of upside. ... He gives us a legitimate threat to have a No. 1."

Pyro's take: The Panthers believe they have their big receiver of the future in Benjamin. He is a big dude, but he does not possess breakaway speed. The fact that Carolina is so thin at wide receiver gives him a chance to be an immediate fantasy producer. Although, I don't believe he has as high of a ceiling as many of the other receivers in this draft. This rookie reminds me of Dwayne Bowe.

05/13/14, 05:11 PM CDT by Houdini

Newton talks about his recovery and receivers

Newton said he’s recovering at a “rapid pace” from March 19 surgery to tighten the ligaments in his ankle. Newton’s surgery came six days after the release of Steve Smith, the franchise’s all-time receiving leader who was cut after 13 seasons in Charlotte.

Newton said he was surprised when he learned the Panthers planned to let Smith go.

“Did it catch me by surprise? It caught all of us – if you were in the 704 region, you were caught by surprise,” Newton said Tuesday at Bank of America Stadium. “Everybody in the Carolinas was surprised, including myself.”

“Hopefully when we do play the Baltimore Ravens it will be guts and – whatever he said – everywhere on both sides,” Newton said. “We all understand who Steve Smith was and what he brought to this community, to this organization. And it was a hard-nosed mentality. He has taught a lot of players under him, including myself, the attitude (of) don’t take nothing for granted.”

In addition to Smith, the Panthers lost three other receivers in free agency – Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon. To replace them, they signed Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood, none of whom is considered a No. 1 receiver.

Though Newton won’t be on the field with the group until training camp, he said he has “plenty of time” to develop chemistry. He met with the new receivers for the first time Monday, when the Panthers began their offseason program.

“We had a great talk. A lot was said, a lot was given, a lot was taken,” Newton said. “No matter who or what the receivers look like, this is a team game. We all are (aware of) what has been done this offseason as far as acquisitions and trades and releases. But the fact is we have our team right now.”

Pyro's take: In terms of fantasy Cam has an uphill battle facing him in 2014. There is a good possiblity the best receiver on the Panthers will come via the draft next month. That is not great news for Cam, who finally showed the development as a passer last season, and would really benefit from having a game changing play-maker on offense.

As far as his ankle injury, he seems to be doing well, but he will definitely need to be at a 100%, as he will likely be running more this season. The lack of weapons is the biggest reason to fear Cam this season in fantasy drafts...unless you believe in Tiquan Underwood, Jericho Cotchery and Jason Avant.

04/22/14, 10:27 PM CDT by Houdini


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