QB Tony Pike - Carolina Panthers
|6-6, 223||Born: 3-10-1986||College: Cincinnati||Drafted: Round 6, pick |
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Week 3: at Arizona Cardinals
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FBG says: Good matchup. Now 30 years old, and has undergone two shoulder surgeries over the past two years, Cam Newton is struggling. He's been erratic all over the field, but particularly on deep balls (15+ yards), where he's completed just 3 of 10 attempts thus far. As a result, neither D.J. Moore nor Curtis Samuel has been able to create much downfield magic. Moore has been dependable in the No. 1 role, catching 67% of his targets, but has averaged just 10.3 yards apiece. He's yet to find the end zone or even record a play of more than 18 yards. Samuel did make a great deep catch last Thursday, skying over Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargeaves for a 44-yard gain, but hasn't exactly been unleashed yet (just 7.2 yards per target thus far). At least 34-year-old Greg Olsen looks spry and recovered from foot surgery, working the seams as a security blanket with plenty of foot-speed left. Newton's Week 3 availability remains up in the air; if he can go, the team will keep having to manufacture production with after-the-catch yardage. Moore and Samuel are dynamic athletes, while Christian McCaffrey may be the game's best pass-catching back. There's enough talent to keep this attack afloat with Newton under center, but a move to undrafted youngster Kyle Allen would ding the whole group. Allen looked serviceable in Week 17 of last year, going 16-of-27 for 228 yards and 2 scores against the Saints. But he's not to be trusted yet in fantasy - and most of his supporting cast goes into wait-and-see status.
With All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson in the lineup, the Cardinals still field a subpar pass defense, but he remains suspended. Without him, this is one of football's worst units. Late moves and miscommunications have resulted in far too many splash plays to open the year. In Week 1, the Lions got their passing game on-track with 385 and 3 touchdowns. And last Sunday, Lamar Jackson continued his torrid start to the season, hitting on 24 of 37 for 272 and 2 more scores. Peterson's replacements, Tramaine Brock and Chris Jones, have been shaky on the outside, and rookie slot man Byron Murphy has been beaten frequently. The cornerback play has been bad, but thus far, opposing tight ends have caused the most damage. T.J. Hockenson (6 for 131 and 1 touchdown) and Mark Andrews (8 for 112 and 1) have exploited major vulnerabilities over the middle and up the seams; both made huge downfield plays that came far too easily. This is a unit that could allow Greg Olsen to have one more big game that we have seen many times throughout his career.
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