Broken ribs and a patchwork group of wide receivers have last year's NFC Cinderella story looking like less of a competitive team and more of a fantasy liability.
Ron Rivera announced Cam Newton has a hairline fracture in ribs. Newton won't play in preseason finale but team hopes he's ready for opener.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 24, 2014
Yet there's a bright spot on Carolina's offense that may have gone (or will go) unnoticed in your fantasy draft this year.
Rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has looked solid in training camp and has had a statistically noteworthy preseason, particularly against the New England Patriots, catching five passes for 47 yards. More importantly, he has a real chance to be Newton's No. 1 target since there's little else to write home about on the Panthers offense.
Wow. Kelvin Benjamin playing playing physical with Darrelle Revis. Panthers love his progress. Lost 12 lbs b/w minicamp and training camp.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 23, 2014
Per ESPN, he's currently owned in only 51.2 percent of leagues, which means he'll likely be available off waivers in most 10- and 12-team leagues.
Benjamin is a true boom-or-bust fantasy candidate, considering his size at 6'5" and the mediocrity of Carolina's current group of wide receivers.
Though his size does slow him down to a degree, you should expect him to get looks in the red zone, where he'll have a significant height advantage over most cornerbacks, allowing him to match up well physically. Thus, he's more likely to help your fantasy team by hauling in touchdowns as opposed to compiling yards.
He's worth keeping on your bench while monitoring the injury news coming out of Carolina.
If Greg Olsen, Jerricho Cotchery or one of the running backs go down with an injury, Benjamin will immediately get an opportunity to put up more significant numbers.
At this point, he's a mid- to low-end FLEX or WR3, yet his potential in Carolina's offense makes him well worth a bench spot on your roster.
Pick him up and stash him for the first couple of weeks to see how Carolina's coaching staff uses him.
If he develops some chemistry with Newton and takes off, or if another receiver goes down with an injury, Benjamin gets a major upgrade and could be worthy of a regular spot in your lineup.