This game is pretty unlikely to shoot out, but that doesn’t mean fantasy football value cannot be had on Monday night. The New Orleans Saints fantasy preview involves an underrated running game while the Carolina Panthers fantasy outlook shines a light on a surprise tight end.
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New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
- Spread: Saints -3
- Total: 40
- Saints implied points: 21.5
- Panthers implied points: 18.5
Derek Carr: Carr checked all of the boxes I needed him to in the Saints’ Week 1 win, and I think he’ll be a phenomenal bye-week filler when the time comes. He hit four different players with a 25-yard pass and showcased good touch on the deep ball.
His lack of rushing upside hurts, and Jamaal Williams’ potential to soak up scores will keep Carr outside of my top 15 most weeks, but mark my words – his floor will be appealing as the weather cools.
Bryce Young: Maybe Young will turn into something with time, but a fantasy football asset in 2023 is not in the cards. In his debut, he completed just 20 of 38 passes for 146 yards with a touchdown and two picks. The 16-yard run was good to see – he’s a dynasty stash that is nothing more than a Superflex streamer at the moment.
Jamaal Williams: Williams was the only Saint with more than three carries last week, and he had 18, which makes it safe to call this backfield his. I think that’s the case for at least the next two weeks, and that role on a road favorite has him penciled in as a low-end RB2 for me.
Williams was on the field for 79% of New Orleans’ Week 1 offensive snaps – a great sign when you consider that Alvin Kamara averaged 19 carries per game against these Panthers as the lead man in this backfield last season.
Williams needs to score to prove he’s valuable, and he has a good chance to do that against a Carolina team that was gashed for 130 yards and two TDs last week in Atlanta.
Kendre Miller: A hamstring held the rookie out last week, and there is hope that he can make his NFL debut this weekend. There were nine carries last week that Jamaal Williams did not account for, a decent estimation of what Miller can be expected to handle when at full strength.
The injury was a poorly timed one, as he is not getting the chance to carve out a role with Alvin Kamara suspended. Miller should remain stashed, but my expectations aren’t high.
Miles Sanders: I wasn’t thrilled that Sanders only held a 2:1 carry edge over Chuba Hubbard last week, though his 19.4% target share was a more than fair trade-off. Reports surfaced this preseason of Sanders returning to his 50-catch form from his rookie season this year, and one week in, that sentiment was proven accurate.
Running backs totaled 147 yards against the Saints in Week 1, and if Carolina is going to stay competitive, they need to have similar success. The number of dangerous carries is a concern, but I do like Sanders to James Conner his way to viable fantasy numbers.
We aren’t looking at a highlight-filled performance, but 10 fantasy points would do the trick, and I think he gets there. He’s a low-end RB2/Flex play for me on Monday night.
Chris Olave: Olave did Olave things against the Panthers last season, earning a 39.1% target share across those two games while averaging 16.9 half-PPR PPG. Those numbers are plenty impressive by themselves, but even more so when you remember that the Saints totaled just 21 points in those games.
I’m expecting them to surpass that number in this game alone, making Olave a very easy sell in DFS formats and a top-10 option at the position in all annual formats.
Michael Thomas: We aren’t talking about a repeat performance of his record-breaking 2019 campaign, but his 2023 debut was encouraging. The former All-Pro was targeted on two of Carr’s first three passes, and both of them came 10+ yards downfield. He finished the week with eight targets, an end-zone look, and a team-high 34 routes run.
Due to my belief that the strength of this passing game is going to be down the field, Thomas’ ceiling is somewhat capped, but he is on the fast track to cracking my top 30 at the position. For this week, I have him sitting at WR35, though I will admit that his stock is trending up.
Rashid Shaheed: This dude can play. It’s that simple. Coming into this season, we knew his speed was a weapon, and the nice thing about speed is that it doesn’t slump. He showed us some of that burst on his 19-yard touchdown against the Titans and when he all but iced the Week 1 win with a 41-yard catch on a late 3rd-and-6.
When the Saints trot him out onto the field, he has one role and one role only: make defenses feel him. Here are the percentage of snaps that resulted in a route run in Week 1:
- Shaheed: 71.4%
- Thomas: 66.7%
- Olave: 62.7%
The sheer depth of the WR position in today’s NFL has Shaheed just outside of my top 35. That said, I encourage you to have him on your roster; what we saw last week was not a flash in the pan.
DJ Chark: Chark sat out the season opener with a hamstring injury, and while there is optimism about his Week 2 status, a roster stash is the best-case scenario for fantasy football managers. His size and potential target share make him a fine bye-week filler as the season moves on – you need not worry about him in the short term.
Adam Thielen: The ankle injury that limited him in practice last week didn’t stop him from getting on the field against the Falcons, but the game was little more than a cardio session for the veteran receiver. Thielen was on the field for 70 snaps and ran 38 routes, earning a whopping two targets in the process. This offense is going to struggle more often than not, meaning you can do better as a roster filler.
Jonathan Mingo: Feel free to move on if you took a flier on the 39th overall pick. He hauled in two of his five targets for 17 yards, including a nice toe-drag catch on an out route that showed his awareness, but there simply isn’t enough volume or efficiency in Carolina to roster a secondary option. He’s on dynasty radars as this offense grows with time, but he is not a player that matters in redraft formats.
Juwan Johnson: How you shuffle up and deal out TEs 8-15 is little more than a dart throw, given how little separates that tier at the position. Understanding that, I want a route runner who is out on the field and a part of an offense I trust. Check, check, check.
Johnson played 50 snaps in Week 1, and his 32 routes tied Olave for the second most on the team. We saw his touchdown prowess last season, and with the Saints’ offense trending up, now is the time to grab Johnson and potentially end your need to stream.
Bryce Young 🤝 Hayden Hurst. TD pic.twitter.com/PHSpQHtOj7
— 32BeatWriters (@32BeatWriters) September 10, 2023
Hayden Hurst: I was impressed by Hurst’s season debut, as he caught five balls for 41 yards and a touchdown in Atlanta. He had Young’s attention, and that initial trust from a rookie quarterback cannot be overstated.
That said, I think it’s unlikely that Hurst will be targeted on 25.9% of his routes moving forward, and given the lack of scoring opportunities this Panthers offense is going to have, it’s still going to be an uphill battle for Hurst to matter consistently. I have him outside my top 15 this week, with the thought being that the Panthers don’t get to 20 points.
Who Should You Start in Week 2?
Should You Start Rashid Shaheed or Kadarius Toney?
The big Week 1 from Shaheed was not a fluke. I can’t pretend to know what the future holds for Toney after his shaky season opener. But I do know that the Saints are built to challenge defenses vertically, and Shaheed’s upside jumps off the screen.
Should You Start Miles Sanders or Najee Harris?
In a perfect world, your fantasy matchup doesn’t come down to counting on either of these boring running backs. I lean the way of Harris due to me having slightly more confidence in the Steelers offense as a whole and the targets he could pick up in the absence of Diontae Johnson. He wins this battle for me, but neither is a top-15 option in our PFN Consensus Rankings.
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