Fantasy Football: Week 4 Outlook for Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIISeptember 28, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 11:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers tries to break away from Dan Connor #55 of the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

One of the benefits of previewing a divisional matchup in fantasy football is that we have relatively recent history to consider in our projections. Carolina Panthers sophomore quarterback Cam Newton has been more slump than sensation in 2012 thus far.

But he should have a chance to turn things around against the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.

He improved his fantasy passing performance from the first to the second time that he faced Atlanta in 2011.

While completing a smaller percentage of his passes in Week 14 than Week 6, Newton threw for 39 more yards (276 to 237), two more touchdowns (zero in his first game) and one fewer interception (three in his first game).

His fantasy performance the first time around was salvaged by his 47 rushing yards and rushing touchdown. He ran for 36 yards on the same amount of carries (seven) and did not score in his second encounter with the Falcons.

The Panthers’ greatest offensive success in 2011 came in Week 2. That was the only game in which Jonathan Stewart played to this point in the season, but he doesn’t deserve all of the credit for Carolina’s ability to move the ball.

The defense that they faced is one of the most favorable matchups in fantasy football: the New Orleans Saints.

Nonetheless, Stewart doesn’t have a lot of touches to his credit against the Falcons in 2011. The Panthers running back only received 15 carries and seven passes in two games. That’s not exactly inspiring for a player coming off of an injury, even if he does play.

DeAngelo Williams has done more damage against Atlanta recently. He had one fewer touch than Stewart did (21) facing the Falcons defense but put up 87 rushing yards and a touchdown in the teams’ second meeting.

He had 12.4 yards per carry with a long of 74 yards.

Steve Smith didn’t score against the Falcons in 2011, but he did post a 125-yard outing in his Week 14 matchup. In Atlanta, he received five passes for 66 yards.

I’m not interested in starting Brandon LaFell, as he caught just three passes for 40 yards in both matchups with Atlanta in 2011.

Tight end Greg Olsen was moderately productive against Atlanta last season. He caught seven total passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. There should be better tight end options this week, however.

Lastly, I wouldn’t touch the Panthers D/ST against the Atlanta offense. Matt Ryan has been incredible this season.