Week 3 Fantasy Football Preview: Giants at Panthers

Contributed by: Jason Stolberg
Last Updated: Sep 20, 2012 2:08 PM

Here’s to hoping we get to see some semblance of real offensive fireworks on Thursday night football; I mean, is it just me or do teams seem a bit lackadaisical when playing this early in the week?  It’s now Week 3, and fantasy-wise the Thursday night games haven’t lived up to the billing.  Perhaps 3rd time’s the charm?

New York Giants

Eli Manning went crazy last week in the second half of the game against the Buccaneers; like Madden ’13 crazy.  Thanks to that crazy 510 yard explosion (most of which he collected in the second half, mind you), Manning is tops in the league in terms of passing yardage.  So far, the Panthers have only faced one elite QB, and even though they won the game, they still got torched by Drew Brees to the tune of 325 yards and a couple of scores.  Look for much the same type of stat line from Manning, even without his top target and top RB.

That means receiver wise, this is a game where both team’s lead pass catchers should have big days.  Hakeem Nicks is unfortunately out of the lineup this week (surprise surprise, Nicks is banged up), so that leaves Victor Cruz as the lone Giants receiver worth starting with confidence.  Conventional wisdom says  a possession guy like Cruz would struggle without the threat of Nicks on the other side; but that isn’t the case with Cruz.  Nicks missed 3 games last season and Cruz’s stat lines went like this for those games:  7-99-1TD, 9-157-2TDs, 7-119.  So what I’m saying is don’t sweat Nicks being gone if you’re a Cruz owner.  Martellus Bennett should also be solid again, but Nicks being gone doesn’t necessarily mean a much bigger day for Bennett.  He’ll still get what’s looked like a steady 5-6 passes, around 70 yards, and a good possibility of a score.

If you’re feeling particularly gutsy, go ahead and roll with Andre Brown this week, especially if you’re a burned Ahmad Bradshaw owner.  Brown proved by posting 90 total yards and a TD that’s a competent plug-in; just be aware that talented rookie David Wilson could escape Tom Coughlin’s doghouse at any time and take a good chunk of the carries on an offense that doesn’t run the ball much anyhow.  So temper those expectations.

Good Starts:  Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Martellus Bennett

Middle of the Road:  Andre Brown

Bad Starts:  David Wilson, Ramses Barden

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton will attempt to go blow for blow with the younger Manning brother, but his stats will look a little different.  Newton rarely hits the 300 yard passing mark (just once in his last 14 games, and 4 times total in his career), but he is always a threat to clear it in total yardage (6 times in the last 14 games, and 9 out of 18 career games) and score multiple touchdowns (12 out of 18 games).  Since the Giants have proven they can’t stop anyone in 2012 (been rung up for over 240 and 2 by Josh Freeman and 300 and 3 by Tony Romo), this looks like as good a bet as any for Newton to clear 300 total yards and score at least twice, if not three times.

As for the receivers, Steve Smith is a must start as always, as this game should end up with lots of offense as long as Thursday night football isn’t actually cursed.  Brandon LaFell has also proven to be valuable as Smith’s running mate, so I’d give him a shot at the flex position if you have him on your roster.

It was a fantasy boon for the three-headed headache known as the Carolina running game.  DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and even Mike Tolbert scored touchdowns last week.  Don’t expect that to continue; in fact, I’d say there’s probably an average of one score per week for this group and good luck picking who it’s going to be this week.  If you have to roll with any of them, I’d go with Stewart due to his inclusion in the passing game, but even then, I’d avoid as much as possible until something happens to cull this herd.

Good Starts:  Cam Newton, Steve Smith

Middle of the Road:  Brandon LaFell, Jonathan Stewart

Bad Starts:  DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Greg Olsen

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