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With the Packers laying an egg a week ago in Denver, the temptation is to bench the Green Bay players on your roster when facing the Carolina defense, which has been trouble for fantasy opponents all season long. However, it's not quite that simple this week.
In general, I will recommend avoiding the Packers' key players in weekly leagues this Sunday, as their dollar values are probably still somewhat inflated, but there are some players who should be useful for you in your season-long leagues in week nine.
The Panthers have a couple of key players who would make great plays in any format this week, especially against a Packers' D that has allowed 500 yards in each of the past two games.
Start With Confidence
One of the best plays this week is Stewart, who's coming off three straight games of at least 12 points or more. The Packers' defense allowed 160 rushing yards and three scores to Broncos running backs a week ago, and though they'll be able to play more base defense this week to defend the run, that 4.7 yards per carry against number is still painful. Stewart is likely to have a heavy workload this week and should have a good day.
The Packers have struggled with big, athletic tight ends this year, and Olsen certainly fits the mold. More than that, though, he's the top option in the Panthers' passing game. Expect a lot of targets for Olsen (he has four games this year with 11 or more targets) and he's on pace for just under 1,200 yards and about nine touchdowns for the year.
Newton's value comes not only as a passer but as a runner, of course, and he has five games with at least five points added via rushing yards and touchdowns this year. Of course, the Packers allowed 78 rushing yards to Russell Wilson and 57 yards on the ground to Colin Kaepernick, the only other "mobile" quarterbacks they have faced this year. Expect a touchdown pass or two, at least 50 yards on the ground, and maybe another score with his legs from Newton this week.
Start in Redraft Leagues but avoid in Weekly
Think Rodgers would love to take out his frustration from last week on the Panthers' defense this week? You bet he would. The Panthers are third int he league in fewest quarterback fantasy points against, allowing multiple touchdowns just twice this year and 250 passing yards or more twice also. However, we're betting that Rodgers finds some matchups to exploit. One of those might be Randall Cobb on slot corner Bene Benwikere (more on that shortly).
At first, Cobb's matchup with the tough Panthers secondary looks like a bad one, with corner Josh Norman playing as well as any corner in the NFL right now. However, Carolina almost never moves Norman into the slot, where Cobb makes his living, instead using second-year corner Bene Benwikere as their primary nickel corner. That's a much more winnable matchup for Cobb, and the bet here is also that the Packers' coaches try to use more schematic adjustments to get their receivers open. I really think this could be the week that Cobb bounces back.
Carolina's D has been one of the better fantasy units this year, thanks in large part to a couple of games with lots of turnovers. Their pass rush has been just okay, though, ranking right in the middle of the league in sack percentage. Start them, knowing that there's a chance for a special teams score but with the understanding that the floor is pretty low as well.
The Packers will hope to get their pass rush going again after their first game with no sacks on the season. The only bright spot last week was a pick by rookie corner Damarious Randall, but the secondary should have more opportunities against Newton and company, as Carolina turned the ball over three times on Monday against the Colts and have eight turnovers total in the past three games.
Lacy found the end zone a week ago and had a couple of impressive runs, but didn't get a whole lot of opportunities and was largely bottled up. This week, he faces a Carolina defense that has allowed 114 yards per game at a 4.2 yards per carry clip. Plus, the Panthers' offense isn't likely to get Carolina out to a big early lead, so Lacy should still get a decent number of touches and should probably find the end zone.
Leave on the Bench
Davante Adams and James Jones
With Cobb likely drawing a matchup with Benwikere, Adams and Jones will get Norman and veteran Charles Tillman, who has lost a step a bit but is still an excellent, physical corner. I expect Tillman to line up opposite Jones. neither one of those options is a great one for the Packers, though.
I whiffed on Rodgers as a sleeper pick last week. He has just nine targets combined in the past two games, and has caught just four of them for 50 yards. That's a big drop from the previous contests, and he shouldn't be on your radar this week with excellent linebacker Luke Kuechly likely matching up with him often on Sunday.
Ted Ginn, Jr. and Corey Brown
Don't bother with any of the Panthers' wideouts this week - Ginn averages about seven targets a week, but caught an abysmal two of ten passes on Monday.