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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
At one point this game was 35-7 Panthers…minutes before halftime. The next thing you know, into the 4th quarter it’s 35-28 and the Panthers are about to blow a 28-point lead. Carolina got it together and scored a TD and held back the Bucs remaining chances to get it back to a one score game (42-28 final). I don’t know how Carolina raced ahead by 28 in the first half so easily and I don’t know how Tampa nearly came back to win it. I don’t know a lot of things about this game. It was weird.
I do know there are two players we have to talk about. One you know full well, and the other a reversal of tone on my part – someone showed me the light on this player Monday. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Carolina is 6-2 now. If they lose to the Steelers this week, they will project to 10 wins and a nice wild card. If they beat the Steelers…things get interesting because if you are holding a lot of Rams or Saints cards for fantasy, you want Carolina to win this week…to put pressure on the Saints for the division, to put pressure on the Rams to lose their #1 seed to another contender -- IF the Panthers win this week and set up a major MNF showdown Week 15 hosting the Saints. That game could be for the division lead…and the #1 seed of the moment. Carolina can add more pressure to NO and LAR not ‘resting’ down the stretch.
We project Carolina falls short this week, gets to 10+ wins and is a wild card.
Tampa Bay could have been in the wild card hunt with a win here, but they lost and fell to 3-5. Their schedule begs them to win their next 3 games, but who trusts TB to win 3 games in a row? We project the Bucs to 6 wins in the end, but if they can win their next three: WAS-NYG-SF, they have wild card life heading down the stretch.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Let’s get to the player I have had my mind changed on…or, at least, clued into a little bit more – Adam Humphries (8-821-0/8).
My first thoughts, on Monday, leading me to write a dismissive statement on him in ‘Quick Notes’ was that this big stat game was ‘typical’ Adam Humphries. A two-bit Julian Edelman knock-off, i.e. Cole Beasley, who has one of these games and then never repeats it. Sometimes he has two good games, and everyone starts sniffing around in PPR (like this week), but then none of us really trusts the targeting holds up.
Trusted IDP advisor JWolfe encouraged me to take another look. I’m glad he did.
7 catches in Week 8…and 8 catches this week…7.5 catches per game on 9.0 targets per game last two games. He had 9 targets in Week 7 (and 4 catches).
9.0 targets per game for three-straight games is not to be sneezed at.
Now, most of Humphries rise was when Jameis Winston returned. Fitzpatrick never seemed that interested (2.7 rec., 31.7 yards, 0.0 TDs per game Weeks 1-3). But, here…Fitz was working Humphries with a purpose. It’s smart – defenses drop back for Fitz bombs away to Evans-DJax, and then he drops passes off to Humphries.
This wasn’t just available dump passes in a huge deficit. It was but it wasn’t. There were many well designed, purposeful throws to Humphries…bubble screens, slants, etc. I was impressed.
The past 5 games for Humphries: 5.6 rec. (7.5 targets), 66.0 yards, 0.40 TDs per game…9.0 FF PPG/14.6 PPR PPG. That’s strong WR2 work in PPR.
Three ‘good’ games on the schedule ahead. I’m starting to be converted. What? You going with Randall Cobb? Doug Baldwin? Golden Tate? Demaryius Thomas? Antonio Callaway? Jordy Nelson?
Julian Edelman’s last 5 games (all his games this season): 6.2 rec. (8.5 targets), 64.4 yards, 0.40 TDs per game…8.9 FF PPG/15.1 PPR PPG. Just a tick ahead of Humphries.
Humphries seems to be working…with some consistency suddenly.
Now, that I’ve noticed/endorsed…enjoy 2-17-0/3 this week from Humphries.
-- Would I rather have Adam Humphries or Curtis Samuel (1-323-1, 2-25-1/4)?
I don’t know.
This week, I might go Humphries to ride consistency. Investing for the future…like 2-3-4 weeks from now, I might sit on Samuel. I might just follow my heart/the major talent and go Samuel no matter what.
This is getting serious now with Samuel. I’m the first to say the Panthers will F-this up (Norv!!)…but Samuel is so good right now he cannot be denied. Samuel is their path to beating the Steelers…he’s their path to taking down the Saints. But, like most NFL teams, they’ll likely ignore it.
But what if they don’t?
How long can you ignore a guy who has touched the ball 11 times this year and has 4 TDs off of it? *Norv, that wasn’t a challenge for you to see how long you could. It was a rhetorical question.
Samuel is not lucking into TDs…he’s a human highlight reel.
See his first TD in this game: https://youtu.be/sfjbletm1Fk
You remember his first touch this season: https://youtu.be/yV47fYxz_Lg
He’s not just a ‘runner’, here’s his 2nd TD in this game: https://youtu.be/FZeR397q0XE
Samuel is not only the best player with the ball in their hands that the Panthers have, he’s also their best WR…a superior WR talent (routes and hands) not just ‘fast guy catching passes’. Curtis Samuel is the most underutilized weapon in all of the NFL today.
You know what he is?
The closest thing to Tyreek Hill there is in the NFL. If Hill were a Pro Bowl catcher of the ball, but not as fast – he would be Curtis Samuel.
Is your fantasy team headed to the playoffs?
Want to sit on the best player on most all your waiver wires right now to see if he gets the starting role and becomes fantasy gold…or do you sit on sensible Doug Martin or Peyton Barber or Randall Cobb and get put to sleep?
-- Mike Evans (1-10-0/10) had quite the fantasy dud.
Targeting was good and constant, just slightly off BUT more so CB James Bradberry (4 tackles, 2 PDs) played an excellent game. Carolina’s DBs are really good on WRs.
-- Ryan Fitzpatrick (24-40 for 243 yards, 4 TDs/2 INTs) did what he always does in games…a better version of Jameis – just heaves deep balls and hopes prayers get answered. They do a bunch, but not so much this game.
Will Fitz get benched for Winston at some point? I say, “No.” If Winston goes back in and gets hurt it will cost the Bucs $19M next year. They will instead cut him/move on. I don’t think there’s a debate anymore. He’s done with Tampa. If Fitz gets hurt it gets interesting, though…
-- ‘Sleepy’ D.J. Moore (1-32-0, 1-16-0/2) is somehow still starting over Curtis Samuel. Sleepy didn’t catch his first pass until 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
-- Fantasy Playoff Notes from these two teams:
Tampa Bay has a pretty nice schedule ahead, but we don’t fully know if it will be Fitz or Winston at the helm. I think Fitz for obvious business reasons – but if Tampa was stupid enough to make this draft pick and then bench Fitz in the middle of a 2018 MVP run for this guy…nothing is off the table.
Carolina’s schedule is pretty clean the rest of the way AND the Panthers will be fighting for a division or wild card down to the wire, so the Panthers look fine for the FF playoff stretch for McCaffrey-Funchess-Cam…and, hopefully, Samuel.
Snap Counts of Interest:
53 = D.J. Moore
45 = Funchess
22 = Jar Wright
17 = Samuel
09 = Byrd
60 = Evans
55 = Humphries
37 = Godwin
32 = DeSean Jackson
05 = Justin Watson
35 = P Barber
26 = Jacquizz