Fantasy Football Week 2 Instant Reaction: How should Panthers, Fantasy owners replace tight end Greg Olsen?
The Panthers have two receivers to pick up the slack from Greg Olsen's broken foot, but Fantasy owners won't find any reliable tight ends to plug and play while he's out.
One of Fantasy Football's most trusted and reliable tight ends will be out of lineups for a while.
While Ed Dickson took over as the Panthers' primary tight end with Olsen off the field, quarterback Cam Newton found himself leaning on Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. That's unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Olsen's injury will compel Fantasy owners to make Benjamin a routine starter for a while. That's cool, but an uptick in targets doesn't guarantee big numbers. After Week 2, Benjamin has 19 career games with eight-plus targets, but he's come through with 10-plus Fantasy points just nine times, and all but one involved a touchdown. He remains a touchdown-dependent receiver, albeit one who doesn't have to compete with Olsen for targets anytime soon. Benjamin had two red-zone targets against Buffalo plus another big catch-and-run from the Bills 22 to help set up a field goal.
Funchess specifically posted his best numbers since a meaningless regular-season finale in 2015. In that Week 17 game, a home blowout of the Buccaneers, Funchess caught seven passes for 120 yards and a score. In every other game he's ever played he's had 71 yards or fewer and has been just as touchdown dependent as Benjamin. Worse yet, Funchess has caught 60 of 130 targets, a 46.2 percent career catch rate. So if he's going to truly replace Olsen on the field, he's going to need a lot of targets because he won't catch much more than half of them.
The Panthers haven't called on Cam to do much throwing through two games, but that'll change. In the next three weeks the Panthers will play the Saints, Patriots and Lions -- three teams that will certainly put points on the board. It'll either take a grand defensive effort from a Carolina secondary that's tamed only Brian Hoyer and Tyrod Taylor or even more impressive rushing from the Panthers running backs to keep Newton from throwing a bunch. There should be some good weeks ahead for Benjamin and Funchess, as well as rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, certainly as soon as Week 3 against that sad Saints defense.
But these two can't replace Olsen as your starting Fantasy tight end. If you're actively looking to make a trade for a new tight end ... well, good luck. The people who have Delanie Walker will want too much for him (if not, he's OK to target even with a tough matchup in Week 3). Same with those who have enjoyed Zach Ertz's hot start to the season. Tyler Eifert will come fairly cheap in a deal, but he's one of the biggest injury risks at tight end and has gotten off to a miserable start.
Instead, expect to go the streaming route and play the matchups from week to week until you find a good replacement. Jack Doyle (vs. Cleveland), Benjamin Watson (vs. Jacksonville in London), Jared Cook (at Washington), Jason Witten (at Arizona), Julius Thomas (vs. the Jets) and Jesse James (at Chicago) all have a chance to score in Week 3 and are owned in 68 percent or fewer leagues on CBS Sports.
The severity of Olsen's fracture isn't known, but he said himself he's "going to miss a lot of games." A typical broken bone puts a player on the shelf for four-to-six weeks. If there's additional damage, the Panthers could opt to put him on short-term injured reserve, meaning we would be without Olsen for at least eight weeks. Unless you have deep rosters, it's incredibly hard to stash him until Week 12 at the Jets if that ends up being the case. Expect Olsen to hit the waiver wire in a bunch of leagues if the Panthers take that approach.
It's not what you expected from a guy who has played 16 games for nine straight seasons.
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