Eric Adams, Staff Writer
He’s baaaaaaaack. Ladies and Gentleman, Rodgers is ready to roll but wait, what’s this? A stingy Panthers defense awaits him? In all seriousness, if I’m the Panthers then I’m going into this huge matchup with a chip on my shoulder. Last weekend, Carolina dispatched the 2 seed in the NFC beating the Minnesota Vikings and doing it with ease. They took down one of the hottest teams in the conference and yet, not a peep was said this week about that performance. Nope, all the attention turned to their next opponent and it’s returning gunslinger. Carolina is no slouch and they have the opportunity to halt the Packers’ playoff push before it even gets started.
Cam Newton: Superman has indeed returned this season as Cam Newton currently sits as the 5th best QB in all of fantasy football. After the debacle that was the 2016 season, Cam has been rejuvenated with a wide array of weapons in his arsenal. Most notably among those weapons are running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Devin Funchess. Cam should be amongst the top QBs this week in fantasy as the Packers defense is, in a word, awful.
Aaron Rodgers: The second best #12 in the league returns this weekend to face a Panthers defense that has bounced back after a poor 2016 season. Rodgers has all of his usual weapons in Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. Perhaps the biggest improvement in Rodgers’ offense is the addition of a running game. Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones have finally given the Packers the balance they need. Aaron Rodgers and a balanced offensive attack is a sure fire sign that this game will be a shoot out.
Christian McCaffrey/Jonathan Stewart: McCaffrey’s lowest point output was 7 to go along with a pair of 8-point performances and a 9-point performance. This game should be high scoring so he is definitely the Panthers running back you want to own. It is worth noting that Jonathan Stewart ran all over a very good Vikings defense just a week ago but you should still feel more confident in CMC over Stewart.
Aaron Jones/Jamaal Williams: Jamaal Williams has been getting the bulk of the carries in Green Bay so he figures to be the man to own in this backfield. Jones has been very solid in his own right but he’s just not earning carries right now due to the effectiveness of Williams. It is definitely worth noting that the panthers have allowed the 3rd least amount of rushing yards in the league as well as the 5th fewest rushing touchdowns. This is a risky week to trust either Packers running back but the threat of Rodgers at QB is enough to make this a high-risk, high-reward type of start.
Jordy Nelson: Trust me when I say nobody is happier to see Aaron Rodgers back at QB than Nelson. It has been rough sledding for Jordy, failing to post double-digit fantasy points in every week since the game Rodgers got injured. You can safely insert him back into your lineup now, however he will not be the top target.
Davante Adams: The 9th best receiver in fantasy, Adams has put it all together and become one of the must-starts. Combining for 107 points in his last 6 games, he has been very consistent but that was with Brett Hundley as QB. While Nelson appears to be Rodgers’ favorite target, top target nods should go to Adams as he has been playing lights out. Start him, trust him, and watch him go off.
Devin Funchess: The 6’5 wide out for the Panthers has emerged as breakout candidate this season. Newton to Funchess has been an explosive combo this season and that will likely continue against a porous Packers defense. I like Funchess a lot this week in a good matchup.
Lance Kendricks/Richard Rodgers: Rodgers has had the better rapport with Rodgers so I would tend to lean Rodgers over Kendricks. If that isn’t the most confusing sentence of 2017 then I have failed you as a writer. Seriously though, these are both bottom of the barrel options and you can likely find a better starter on the waiver wire.
Greg Olsen/Ed Dickson: This is a tough one to call because Olsens availability makes the task of predicting Dicksons output murky at best. As stated many times above, this is a good matchup for the Panthers offense so one of these guys is likely to make some plays. The smart move would be to start Olsen and hope he plays the entire game but we really don’t know how effective he will be. I could see Dickson coming on for a gimpy Olsen and having a few big catches that could lead to him being an unsung hero of week 15 for fantasy.