Saturday Divisional Round Preview: Panthers at Seahawks
Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks
Saturday January 10, 2015. 8:15 p.m. EST, FOX
This should be the biggest mismatch of the entire playoffs. You have the sub-.500 NFC South champions heading to Seattle to take on the defending champs on their home field. The Seahawks have a historically great defense, a budding superstar at QB, BeastMode in the backfield and just to pile on, the best home field advantage in the NFL. The Panthers pretty much made the playoffs by default and beat arguably the worst QB to ever start a playoff game in the first round. They had been playing better down the stretch, however, knocking off the champs appears to be extremely unlikely. If somehow Cam Newton can go in to Seattle and beat the Seahawks, it will be a career changing moment. This is his chance to take that next step. Unfortunately, odds are he’ll just go down like most everybody does. There isn’t even really a key matchup in this game. Seattle is pretty much just better at every aspect of the game. What Carolina needs is Newton to somehow play the game of his life. The type of game that turns mere mortals into legends. Unless that happens, this probably isn’t going to be a classic.
Carolina Panthers: What to look for
Newton is the cheapest of the eight starting QBs this week on DraftKings.com and with good reason. He is in Seattle taking on the Legion of Boom. In all honesty, Aaron Rodgers would be a bad play in the same situation. I love Newton but he’s certainly not Rodgers. It’s not just him. There really isn’t anybody, at any position, that’s a great start in Seattle. Find someone else to start this week.
As dominant as the Seahawks are against the pass, they’re almost as good against the run. Plus the Panthers will likely be playing from behind and forced to throw the ball. At $4,800 Jonathan Stewart is priced as the seventh starting RB ahead of only whoever New England decides to start. Since he is so cheap, he could perhaps be a desperation play. However, that’s all we can give him. You are probably better off avoiding the Carolina backfield.
The only WR in Carolina that deserves consideration on a weekly basis is Kelvin Benjamin. We love this kid! He is no doubt a young, talented star in the making. He’s still a bit raw, so he is up-and-down at times. Nonetheless, if you’re a Panthers fan or fantasy owner you have to be thrilled with the big bodied first round pick out of Florida State. With all that said, stay far away from him this week. All of the Seahawks secondary will be focused on KB and that does not bode well for his prospects on Saturday. In fairness there is less than a handful of WRs in the league you should consider starting in Seattle. Benjamin is not one of them. He may be great one day, he’s just not there yet.
If the Seahawks do have one weakness on defense, just one chink in the armor, it’s against TEs. They rank 16th in the league when it comes to allowing fantasy points to opposing TEs. That is dead center of the league. So it’s not like they’re awful against TEs. However, Greg Olsen is a decent start this week. He is an excellent TE and his price is down to $5,100 because he is up against that Seahawks defense. He is by no means a sure thing, but he is also not a terrible play like everybody else on the Panthers.
Seattle Seahawks: What to look for
What Russell Wilson has been able to accomplish as an NFL QB is unbelievable. He is as close to great as you can get. Wilson is the best combination we have in the league of rushing and passing in a QB. He led all QBs in rushing but still is a pass first QB with excellent accuracy. He was great in the fantasy playoffs and there is no reason to believe he won’t be great in the NFL playoffs. At $7,800, he’s an excellent star this week with great value.
What’s not to love about Marshawn Lynch? He is a unique combination of size and power and runs with a fury rarely seen. He always tends to step up when it matters most. We all remember his ridiculous run against the Saints in the Wild Card round and what he did against Arizona on Sunday night when the NFC West was on the line. The guy is a Beast, plain and simple. He is a bit pricey at $8,000, behind only DeMarco Murray ($8,400), nevertheless, he’s well worth the price tag. The guy is just that good. If you can make cap room for him, plug him in. He will not let you down.
At only $4,500 this week, Doug Baldwin is perhaps my favorite value pick of the week. He comes cheaper than Brandon LaFell, Steve Smith, Torrey Smith and Benjamin. At the same price I like Baldwin as much as any of those guys this week. So cheaper, he’s a must start for me. The only way I don’t pick up Baldwin is if I decide to build my team around superstar WRs or I just can’t afford him. Otherwise, he is a very smart play this week. No other Seahawks WR is worth starting as more than a desperation play. In that case Jermaine Kearse at $3,200 would be your best bet.
Whether it’s Luke Wilson, Tony Moeaki or Cooper Heflet, no Seahawks TE should be trusted. They are nothing more than a desperation play at best and then deciding between which one is like throwing a dart. Dwayne Allen cost only $100 more than Wilson and Owen Daniels $200 more. Find a way to budget them in.
Panthers: Greg Olsen
Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch