2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, Kelvin Benjamin lead good preseason performance for Panthers

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If only Greg Olsen did something of significance in Thursday night's third preseason game against Jacksonville. Then it might have been the perfect night for the Panthers when it comes to their main Fantasy options.

Alas, Olsen had just two catches for 14 yards on three targets. Ho-hum. He'll just have to settle for being a No. 1 Fantasy tight end and a top-five player at his position. 

You see, not everyone needs a strong preseason showing to solidify or improve their Fantasy value. Many players like Olsen just need to avoid injury and prepare for Week 1.

Others, like Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey and Kelvin Benjamin, have a little bit more to prove for various reasons. For example, this was Newton's preseason debut as he continues his comeback from offseason shoulder surgery. And he looks ready to go.

Newton didn't do much against the Jaguars, but just playing was enough to improve his Fantasy stock. He was 2 of 2 passing for 21 yards and a touchdown, and he should be considered a low-end No. 1 Fantasy quarterback this year. 

While Newton's Average Draft Position might be too expensive for me -- he's the No. 7 quarterback at No. 59 overall -- he does have big bounce-back potential after he was a bust in 2016. And he has a loaded receiving corps, which is led by Olsen and Benjamin.

For Benjamin, he continues to show that he's in shape and ready to go this year after his conditioning was called into question this offseason. He caught the touchdown from Newton on a 9-yard slant and finished the game with four catches for 36 yards on four targets.

Benjamin now has two touchdowns in the preseason and is worth drafting as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver in Round 5. His ADP is the No. 20 receiver at No. 53 overall.

Another player getting rave reviews this preseason has been McCaffrey, who played well against the Jaguars, but didn't have the splash plays in this game like he did in the second preseason outing against Tennessee. McCaffrey finished Thursday's game with seven carries for 21 yards and one catch for 12 yards, which came from Newton.

He played behind Stewart in this game, but both shared touches with the first-team offense. And McCaffrey also got three-consecutive touches inside the 25-yard line on the scoring drive to Benjamin. He had the catch from Newton and two carries inside the 13-yard line, which combined for 4 yards.  

While touchdowns could be a problem for McCaffrey this year, it's clear the Panthers want the ball in his hands as much as possible. There's risk drafting him at his current ADP as the No. 11 running back at No. 24 overall, but there could be plenty of reward if he ends up not being allergic to the end zone.

But Stewart could also present a problem for McCaffrey, and he played well Thursday night. He finished with five carries for 39 yards, including a 31-yard run, and he has the chance to outperform his ADP if he stays healthy this year. Stewart is currently being drafted as the No. 40 running back at No. 118 overall. 

The Panthers look ready to go this season, which is good for the Fantasy outlook of Newton, McCaffrey, Benjamin and Stewart. Even Olsen should play at a high level despite his, well, boring preseason performance against the Jaguars.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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