Fantasy Football: Breaking down the Carolina Panthers

• Inside the Locker Room

With Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer

Is Cam Newton the Week 1 starter?
Probably not. Rivera knows that he and Newton will forever be linked — each a rookie in a critical year in 2011. So it stands to reason that he will protect the Panthers’ investment in Newton a little and not throw him to the wolves too early. With as little time as the lockout afforded, Newton is probably best served sitting on the bench for at least a few games. But by midseason, he’s likely the starter.

What’s the most intriguing question regarding fantasy football and the Panthers?
What will Newton’s value ultimately be? Based on name and draft status alone, he likely will be picked higher in many fantasy drafts than he ultimately deserves in Year 1 (unless you’re in a keeper league). Don’t expect anywhere near Newton’s gaudy production at Auburn (50 total TDs for the season), in part because the Panthers’ wide receiving corps is mediocre at the moment. But we’ve all seen what Newton can do, and if he plays and stays healthy, he’s going to be something else at some point. But when that point comes is anyone’s guess.

• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: ATL, @HOU, TB
Cam Newton is a wild card. Houston will have never seen him, and Tampa Bay will have seen him just three weeks earlier. And let’s pray the RBs are healthy. If so, they get a Texans D that has switched to the 3-4 and a Bucs D that was 28th vs. the run last year.

• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: David Gettis, WR
Deep-Sleeper: Mike Goodson, RB
Overvalued: None
Top Rookie: Cam Newton, QB
Bounce-Back: DeAngelo Williams, RB
Top IDP: Jon Beason, LB

• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
Despite spending a second-round pick on Jimmy Clausen last year, the Panthers went early on a quarterback once again. This time it was No. 1 overall with Newton. The Heisman Trophy winner has enormous talent and athletic ability but may be a year or two away from contributing to a fantasy roster. Newton should be stashed in keeper leagues.

More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs

011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Exclude From Games: 
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