Christian McCaffrey, Kelvin Benjamin Fantasy Outlook After Week 6

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2017

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 12:  Kelvin Benjamin #13 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against Patrick Robinson #21 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 12, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 28-23 on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and their biggest weaponsnamely running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Kelvin Benjaminwere a mixed bag in terms of fantasy production.   

McCaffrey was generally non-existent as a rusher although effective as a receiver, while Benjamin dominated targets after Devin Funchess flashed true No. 1 potential in wins over the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions

With six weeks complete, here's a look at how the two dynamic contributors should be valued by fantasy owners moving forward. 

    

Christian McCaffrey 

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

Let's get the obvious out of the way first: The Panthers' rushing attack was simply abysmal Thursday night. 

All Panthers running backs combined for one yard on 13 carries against the Eagles' stout front, and an inability to establish a consistent ground game ultimately forced quarterback Cam Newton to throw 52 times in the face of a constantly collapsing pocket. 

NFL.com's Matt Harmon provided a breakdown of how futile McCaffrey's efforts were between the tackles: 

The saving grace for McCaffrey's fantasy owners was that the rookie hauled in a season-high 10 receptions on a team-high 14 targets for 56 yards and a score. The Stanford product has now scored through the air in back-to-back weeks and registered at least five catches in four of six appearances. 

Needless to say, that production is music to the ears of fantasy owners, even if it hasn't been rife with chunk gains. 

But as Yahoo Sports' Frank Schwab noted, McCaffrey's lack of electricity in space has been a recipe for disappointment thus far: 

McCaffrey remains a fairly high-floor play in PPR leagues thanks to his regular role as a receiver, but owners in standard formats shouldn't consider him more than a touchdown-dependent flex based on his efforts to date. 

Kelvin Benjamin

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 12:  Kelvin Benjamin #13 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against Patrick Robinson #21 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 12, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carol
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

McCaffrey was Newton's preferred target in the flats and on screen concepts, but Benjamin was far and away the signal-caller's No. 1 downfield option on Thursday. 

Working against an undermanned Eagles secondary, Benjamin piled up nine catches for 99 yards on a season-high 13 targets. 

According to ESPN.com's Mike Clay, Benjamin has now stitched together a month's worth of impressive outings: 

On the flip side, Funchess fell back to earth as he reeled in three of his nine targets for 36 yards. Needless to say, that represented significant regression after he repeatedly caught Newton's eye in the red zone and hauled in three touchdown catches combined over the past two games.  

Funchess still owns a 44-38 target edge over Benjamin on the season, but considering he's had at least 70 yards once while Benjamin has done so three times, it feels safe to say Benjamin is Carolina's most dynamic and consistent downfield threat. 

Looking ahead, Benjamin should still be viewed as a rock-solid WR2 and could flirt with WR1 status if he can become a regular bet to find paydirt.