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Fantasy Football 2013: Panthers at Saints Week 14 Preview

Carolina Panthers (9-3) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)

Sunday, December 8, 2013: 8:30 PM (ET)

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Capping off the NFL’s weekend action on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 14 will be a marquis matchup between two divisional rivals and powerhouses in the NFC. The Carolina Panthers will be traveling down to New Orleans to take on the Saints, and the outcome of this one is sure to have plenty of playoff implications down the road. The Panthers (9-3) are coming off a lopsided win over the Buccaneers in Week 13, while the Saints (9-3) fell flat against the Seahawks in an embarrassing loss. The winner will take control in the NFC South.
As you can imagine, there are a ton of notable fantasy names involved in this one. Let’s take a look at a few of the noteworthy players on both sides so that we can get a feel for what to expect on our rosters.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Newton must really like playing the Buccaneers, because he’s put up two solid games against them this season. In their most recent matchup this past Sunday, he tossed a pair of touchdowns and ran for another one. Newton ended up with 263 yards through the air and another 68 on the ground. That gives him 181 rush yards through the past three games. Not too shabby. He’s obviously a must-start in fantasy.

Fantasy Football 2013: Panthers at Saints Week 14 Preview

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: Speaking of must-starts in fantasy, Brees definitely fits that category. He didn’t look like it Monday night, however, posting just 147 yards, one touchdown and a lost fumble against the Seahawks. It was the first time in the last 44 games that he had thrown for under 200 yards. Brees now has just four passing TDs in his last three games, but the home-field (and indoor) environment should give him an advantage.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers: We could very easily have put DeAngelo Williams or Mike Tolbert in this space, but since Stewart got the start last week we’ll go with him. He didn’t do much with it against the Bucs, notching only 39 yards on 14 carries. Fantasy-wise, he and his pair of backfield-mates are all low-end considerations, as they’ll probably get out-gained by Newton once again.

Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints: The Saints were down big early against Seattle, so there really was no point in trying to run the ball. As a result, Thomas posted all of zero rush yards on four attempts, but added 21 on four catches. It was a big letdown after he totaled 130 yards in Atlanta the week before. Even with the lousy outing, Thomas is still a huge part of the Saints’ plans, and he should fare better on Sunday night. (He really couldn’t do much worse.)

Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers don’t throw a ton, but when they do, the ball usually goes to Smith (or Greg Olsen). Their star WR posted 51 yards on just three grabs against the Bucs, so it was another quiet week for him. We’re beginning to sense a pattern with Smith: more often than not, he’ll get a handful of catches and come away with around 50-70 yards and probably won’t score. Needless to say, all of that makes him a lower-end consideration in fantasy.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: Graham managed an early touchdown against Seattle, but that really was the only bright spot for him--and the entire Saints team. He managed to snag just three of nine targets, resulting in an unusually tepid 42 yards. Regardless, Graham is a no-duh fantasy start as usual, so just keep your hopes up that he’ll get back to beast mode this week.

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