Kickoff: Monday, September 18th, 7:15 PM ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte North Carolina
Betting Odds: CAR +3, 40 total via PFF.com
Writer: Justin Mello (@JustinMelloNE on Twitter)
New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr (Start, QB2)
The former Raider Derek Carr had a decent debut with his new team. He threw for over 300 yards passing and had one passing touchdown. Now ten years into his career, we are just about certain that Carr offers minimal upside as a rusher which severely hurts his appeal as a fantasy QB. He does, however, have great poise in the pocket and looked to already have a nice rapport with his new receivers as he completed nearly 70% of his passes in Week 1. The Panthers held the Falcons to 115 yards passing which may make some people nervous about starting Carr in this matchup. It is important to remember though that Arthur Smith is allergic to throwing the football, unlike Dennis Allen. The Saints also have much better depth at receiver than the Falcons. Most importantly, Derek Carr is a more proven reliable QB than Desmond Ridder. All this to say, I’m not too worried about this matchup for Carr. With that said, he offers limited upside and is simply a QB2 with a safe floor against the Panthers.
Jamaal Williams (Start, FLEX), Kendre Miller (Sit)
Jamaal Williams essentially had the backfield to himself in Week 1 with Alvin Kamara suspended and Kendre Miller injured. Unfortunately, he disappointed big time. Williams couldn’t seem to get the run game going as he averaged only 2.5 yards per carry and had a miserable PFF grade of 46.3 (72nd of 78 HBs) in his Saints debut. The good news is that Williams now goes from playing Jeffrey Simmons and the Titans front seven to a Panthers defense that just let Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier run all over them. In fact, the Panthers had the lowest-graded run defense of Week 1 per PFF. That can partially be attributed to the talent that the Falcons have on the offensive line and at running back (as well as Arthur Smith’s previously mentioned obsession with running the ball), but it is a good sign for Williams and the Saints regardless. Williams is difficult to trust, but he should be a worthwhile FLEX in this matchup.
Rookie Kendre Miller could get his NFL debut on Monday night, but it is still uncertain if he will recover from his hamstring injury and be ready to go. Even if he is, you would be ill-advised to start the RB2 on a team that doesn’t have a strong run game. Especially with this game being played on Monday night, you’re better off playing it safe and starting somebody on Sunday instead.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Chris Olave (Start, WR1), Michael Thomas (Start, WR3), Rashid Shaheed (Start, FLEX), Juwan Johnson (Start, TE2)
Last week may have been the beginning of a big-time breakout for second-year receiver Chris Olave. He received a whopping ten targets (eight of which he caught) and had 112 yards receiving. He was really just a touchdown away from a truly elite fantasy outing. He also had PFF’s fourth-highest receiving grade of all WRs in Week 1. With a great chance to get the same volume this week, Olave should squeeze into the WR1 ranks.
Michael Thomas has barely played more NFL football than you or me since the conclusion of his historic 2019 campaign. While he may not be what he once was anymore, he still looks like a legitimate receiving threat when healthy. He received eight targets in Week 1 and looks to be a very involved part of the offense. Carolina’s secondary lacks depth, especially with starting CB Jaycee Horn now nursing a hamstring injury, which bodes well for Thomas. He is a solid WR3 option while playing next to Olave.
The Saints’ other starting receiver, Rashid Shaheed, proved to be a dangerous big-play threat as he went for 89 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. He likely will not get the same volume as the other receivers in New Orleans, and it’s probably not too often that Derek Carr’s WR3 is a great play in fantasy. With that said, Shaheed has enough “boom” potential for FLEX consideration.
Juwan Johnson was involved in the offense in Week 1, but probably not to the extent that a lot of people had hoped for. He was targeted on 16% of his routes run which is solid but far from great. Like many TEs in today’s NFL, he is a dart throw at the TE2 spot for fantasy
Bryce Young (Sit)
The first overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft could have a bright future ahead of him, but that brightness will likely have to wait. Rookie quarterbacks are historically hard to trust, especially ones who don’t run the ball very frequently. Bryce Young struggled mightily on Sunday en route to a 24-10 loss to Atlanta where he threw two interceptions. It doesn’t help that his receiving core is one of the worst in the league. In Week 1, the Panthers had the single worst-graded passing offense by PFF. Meanwhile, the Saints ranked 7th in pass rush and 11th in pass coverage. This looks like a recipe for disaster for the former Heisman winner. You best steer clear of Young in this one.
Miles Sanders (Start, RB2), Chuba Hubbard (Sit)
Former Eagle Miles Sanders got plenty of work in Week 1 and looks to be a solid fantasy play based on volume going forward. The Saints weren’t great against the run last week as they allowed the Titans to rush for over 100 yards on them. Even with a favorable matchup though, Sanders has a limited ceiling. All five of his offensive linemen were graded poorly by PFF in Week 1, and this game has the potential to become lopsided earlier than the game against the Falcons did. This means that Miles Sanders may not get enough volume to make up for his bad offense to catapult himself into RB1 territory. He should still get enough work to be a back-half RB2 though.
Backup Chuba Hubbard looked surprisingly explosive in Week 1. He was PFF’s second-highest-rated RB on the week. Unfortunately for him, he has the same concerns that Sanders does with a bad offensive line and a bad offense in general. Although he may end up carving out a larger role as the season progresses, his 36% snap share isn’t enough to compensate for the concerns in Week 2. He should remain on the bench.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Adam Thielen (Sit), DJ Chark (Sit), Jonatan Mingo (Sit), Terrace Marshall Jr. (Sit), Hayden Hurst (Start, TE2)
I couldn’t stop myself from cringing as I typed the word “Sit” next to each and every Panther receiver’s name. I simply had to though. Last week, none of them had more than two catches. Terrace Marshall Jr., whose name I almost didn’t even feel worthy of including in the header, led the bunch with 27 yards. This is a situation to stay away from for the foreseeable future. Marshall surprisingly led the team in routes run, but with DJ Chark likely back in the mix for Week 2, he seems like the logical fit to fill that role in the offense. Adam Thielen figured to be the safest bet for volume this season but only was targeted on 5% of his routes run. Jonathan Mingo is an exciting specimen of a rookie, but he seems more like a long-term project than an immediate solution given his disappointing PFF receiving grade of 56.4 (87th of 123 WRs) in Week 1.
Free agent addition Hayden Hurst was the lone bright spot in this passing offense on Sunday. He was targeted on 26% of his routes run and was able to produce 5 receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown while finishing as the overall TE2 on the week. Unfortunately, this week he draws a Saints defense that didn’t allow a single catch to the TE position in Week 1. It’s also unlikely that Hurst continues this stellar production while playing on such an unfruitful offense. He still has enough upside to be considered a TE2 though.