2013 Fantasy Football, Week 11 Monday Night Football: Patriots at Panthers
Monday Night Football week 11 is upon us, and it’s a great matchup. Tom Brady and the first place New England Patriots head down to Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the red hot Panthers. I am picking Carolina to win. They’re at home, with the second best defense in the NFL, against a Patriots team that I am not impressed with on the road. If the Panthers can force the issue with Brady and make him uncomfortable in the pocket, they will take this one down for their sixth consecutive victory. Here is your fantasy football breakdown for this matchup by position.
QUARTERBACK: Carolina has won five in a row, and scored 30 or more points in 5 of those contests. Granted none of the Carolina receivers or tight end jump out at you as a big target, but Cam Newton is getting the job done. Although he’s not gun-slinging and posting monster yards and touchdown passing numbers, his running effectiveness makes him a top 10 fantasy quarter back. Start Cam this week.
Tom Brady broke out last week against the downward spiraling Steelers for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. That will not happen against Carolina Monday. I would strongly consider sitting Brady Monday night. Carolina’s defense is the second best in the NFL, allowing the fewest points behind Kansas City, and tied for the most interceptions (13). Brady will give you a middle of the road point total at best. What do you have for a backup quarterback? The matchup might be the better play. If you are in Hail Mary mode to make the playoffs and want to get nuts, throw Carson Palmer a bone this week against Jacksonville.
RUNNING BACKS: Stevan Ridley is your only real fantasy play out of the running back position from both teams this week. He has scored a touchdown in four consecutive games, and although the Panthers have only given up two rushing touchdowns all season, you have to start him. He has been too consistent, and too good. Shane Vereen will be eased back into action, if he plays at all this week.
As far as the Panthers running game you can say they have a four headed monster made up of Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert for punch-ins. Yes, New England’s run defense is atrocious, but when your quarterback is tied for the most rushing touchdowns, and you have three others sharing carries, you have a unpredictable mix which makes it impossible to comfortably start any of Carolina’s backs in your lineup.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT END: Be wary of Patriots receivers against the Carolina defense. With that said, a healthy Danny Amendola will be Tom Brady’s top target behind Rob Gronkowski, so he is worth a start. If you are in a substantially deep league you can flex Aaron Dobson if you have to but I don’t anticipate him exceeding any projections and he can potentially be shut out of this one. Finally, early season waiver darling Julian Edelman has fallen out of favor with Brady, averaging only 4 targets per game over the last 3 contests.
For Carolina receivers, your only option for a fantasy start would be Steve Smith, but he is nothing more than a WR3 at this point. I know he had a solid game against the acclaimed San Fran defense, but the 34 year old is a FLEX option at best at this point in the game. Brandon LaFell is no more than a bye week replacement and I don’t like Greg Olsen at tight end. If you are a Jason Witten owner (bye week) and have him as a back-up I get it, but in standard 12 team leagues for example, he is probably one of the lowest scoring tight ends owned.
DEFENSE: Carolina has the second best defense in the NFL, not much more needs to be said. If you own them, you’re using them this week. The Patriots running defense is so bad that you are really gambling to start them on the road against a Panthers team that has three options to carry the mail in addition to a running quarterback. The extra bodies New England will need to apply to stop the run will open up the field for Newton’s targets, which could spell chaos for the Patriots.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Newton (QB), Ridley (RB), Amendola (WR), and of course GRONK (TE) can be unleashed this week. I don’t like Tom Brady in this matchup. I only see mediocre fantasy stats from him and if you are playing someone with a better QB matchup, you’re probably toast. I think the Panthers defense will ultimately be too much for the Patriots to overcome, and if Carolina grabs a decent lead, their ability to run the ball from various positions will kill the clock and take the game out of Brady’s hands. In one of the better Monday night matchups in weeks, I think this one comes down to the end, but I have Carolina coming out on top.