Panthers vs. Falcons start/sit advice: Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones
Hey, it’s a winner-take-all game. That’s cool, even if the teams are terrible.
There’s only one game in Week 17 in which the winner will make the playoffs while the loser goes home, and it’s the de facto NFC South championship game, in which either the 6-8-1 Carolina Panthers or the 6-9 Atlanta Falcons will find themselves being the NFC’s fourth seed.
The Panthers will likely get running back DeAngelo Williams back from injury on Sunday, though his role in the offense has basically evaporated. For the Falcons, it’s looking like running back Steven Jackson could miss Sunday’s game with a quadriceps injury, while wide receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas should all play despite injuries.
The Falcons will host Sunday’s winner-take-all game, scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET. Let’s take a look at the game’s fantasy considerations:
Start ‘em: There were no signs in Week 16 that Cam Newton was coming off an injury from a car wreck. He’s shaping up as an easy QB1. … Jonathan Stewart has played himself into must-start territory with his recent production. … Kelvin Benjamin hasn’t been quite as productive lately as he was earlier in the season, but he’s still an easy WR2. … Greg Olsen is my No. 1 tight end across the league this week.
Start ‘em?: With a crucial game and some subpar defensive play, Graham Gano could see lots of kicking chances.
Sit ‘em: As good as Stewart has been, DeAngelo Williams isn’t likely to see a lot of touches in his return to active duty. … The Panthers’ defense has improved of late, but against Atlanta, you’d probably rather look elsewhere.
Start ‘em: It hasn’t been a perfect season from Matt Ryan, but when he has his full complement of wide receivers, he’s good. … Even at less than 100 percent, Julio Jones is still Julio Jones, and you’re definitely starting him. … Roddy White‘s season has been much better in the second half than the first. He’s a starter. … Matt Bryant has been one of the game’s best kickers in the second half.
Start ‘em?: With Steven Jackson likely out for Sunday, the Falcons will turn to some combination of Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers to carry the load. Rodgers was the better runner last week, while Freeman had more targets. If you’re using one, it should probably be Freeman, though both are very risky.
Sit ‘em: With both Jones and White healthy or close to it, Harry Douglas‘ fantasy value is low. … Levine Toilolo has been terrible most of the year. … The Falcons’ defense has had some good games this season, but overall it’s been pretty terrible.
Start in every league: Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Matt Bryant
Start if you’re desperate: Graham Gano, Devonta Freeman, Jacquizz Rodgers
Bench: DeAngelo Williams, Carolina defense, Harry Douglas, Levine Toilolo, Atlanta defense